Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meanwhile, in China....

....Bishop escapes from abductors to avoid participating in an ordination not allowed by the Holy See via Asia News

A bishop abducted by the Religious Affairs Bureau to force him to participate in an Episcopal ordination not sanctioned by the Holy See was able to escape and is now in hiding until the ritual is performed. Mgr Li Liangui of Cangzhou (Xianxian) was detained along with Mgr Peter Feng Xinmao, bishop of Hengshui, and taken to Xuzhou (Jiangsu) to take part in the ordination of Fr Wang Renlei as bishop.

Both prelates were taken away by car on the pretext of seeing some property owned by the Church in Tianjin. Instead they found themselves in Xuzhou, under guard. In a moment of distraction, Mgr Li was able to elude officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau and escape.

The incident is symptomatic of how much bishops in the official Church are unwilling to put up with government interference in sacramental and Episcopal issues.

The Episcopal ordination took place without the approval of the Holy See anyway. In Xuzhou’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, Fr Wang Renlei, 36, became an auxiliary bishop of the diocese in a ceremony celebrated at 8 am.

However, there were some glitches in the event. Mgr Qian Yurong, 94, the bishop of the diocese, who was supposed to preside over the ordination, remained seated throughout the ceremony.

Said to be gravely ill, he is one of the few bishops in the official Church not in communion with the Holy See. He has not reconciled with the Pope and well-known for his pro-government positions.


Cardinal Zen denounces ordination: Episcopal ordination in Xuzhou is “indecent and astounding"
Today’s illegitimate ordination in Xuzhou was done with “indecent methods, almost unimaginable”. It is “astounding because no one could expect such a thing”, Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop of Hong Kong, told AsiaNews speaking about the illegitimate Episcopal ordination of Fr Wang Renlei.

Schizoid media on the 'rigid Pope'

~The Pope Tones Down His Act in Turkey
Long known for his rigid thinking, Benedict XVI shows new flexibility in trying to mend fences in the wake of his controversial speech about Islam

~Pope hardens tone on third day of Turkey trip from The Australian
POPE Benedict XVI put the brakes on his charm offensive in EU-hopeful, Muslim majority Turkey, stressing Europe's "Christian roots" and taking a strong stand on religious freedoms and minority rights.

Flanked by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I after mass at the patriarchal Church of S. George, the pontiff complained in a speech that “the process of secularisation has weakened the hold of (Christian) tradition” in Europe.

“In the face of this reality, we are called, together with all other Christian communities, to renew Europe's awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and values, giving them new vitality,” he said.

Pope Benedict's visits today around Istanbul

Pope Benedict XVI, right, is greeted by Istanbul's Mufti Mustafa Cagrici outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006. The pope visited the Blue Mosque in Istanbul on the third day of his four-day trip to Turkey. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Benedict XVI (C) talks to Muslim clerics as he visits the Sultanahmet, or Blue Mosque, in Istanbul November 30, 2006. The Pope visited Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque on Thursday during his trip to predominantly Muslim Turkey, becoming only the second Roman Catholic Pontiff ever to enter a mosque. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (TURKEY)

Pope Benedict XVI's black limousine, center left in between two white vehicles, leaves from the Haghia Sophia Museum, rear, in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday Nov. 30, 2006. The pontiff is on the third day of a four-day official visit to Turkey marked by a message of dialogue and 'brotherhood' between Christians and Muslims in an attempt to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Watching EWTN

Thank goodness for Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Commentary is better today.

Pope Benedict's address at Divine Liturgy

~from the Vatican News Service

This Divine Liturgy celebrated on the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Patron Saint of the Church of Constantinople, brings us back to the early Church, to the age of the Apostles. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew relate how Jesus called the two brothers, Simon, whom Jesus calls Cephas or Peter, and Andrew: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt 4:19, Mk 1:17). The Fourth Gospel also presents Andrew as the first to be called, "ho protoklitos", as he is known in the Byzantine tradition. It is Andrew who then brings his brother Simon to Jesus (cf. Jn 1:40f.).

Today, in this Patriarchal Church of Saint George, we are able to experience once again the communion and call of the two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, in the meeting of the Successor of Peter and his Brother in the episcopal ministry, the head of this Church traditionally founded by the Apostle Andrew. Our fraternal encounter highlights the special relationship uniting the Churches of Rome and Constantinople as Sister Churches.

With heartfelt joy we thank God for granting new vitality to the relationship that has developed since the memorable meeting in Jerusalem in December 1964 between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. Their exchange of letters, published in the volume entitled Tomos Agapis, testifies to the depth of the bonds that grew between them, bonds mirrored in the relationship between the Sister Churches of Rome and Constantinople.

On 7 December 1965, the eve of the final session of the Second Vatican Council, our venerable predecessors took a new and unique and unforgettable step in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George and the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican respectively: they removed from the memory of the Church the tragic excommunications of 1054. In this way they confirmed a decisive shift in our relationship. Since then, many other important steps have been taken along the path of mutual rapprochement. I recall in particular the visit of my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to Constantinople in 1979, and the visits to Rome of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

In that same spirit, my presence here today is meant to renew our commitment to advancing along the road towards the re-establishment – by God’s grace – of full communion between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople. I can assure you that the Catholic Church is willing to do everything possible to overcome obstacles and to seek, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, ever more effective means of pastoral cooperation to this end.

The two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, were fishermen whom Jesus called to become fishers of men. The Risen Lord, before his Ascension, sent them out together with the other Apostles with the mission of making all nations his disciples, baptizing them and proclaiming his teachings (cf. Mt 28:19ff.; Lk 24:47; Acts 1:8).

This charge left us by the holy brothers Peter and Andrew is far from finished. On the contrary, today it is even more urgent and necessary. For it looks not only to those cultures which have been touched only marginally by the Gospel message, but also to long-established European cultures deeply grounded in the Christian tradition. The process of secularization has weakened the hold of that tradition; indeed, it is being called into question, and even rejected. In the face of this reality, we are called, together with all other Christian communities, to renew Europe’s awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and values, giving them new vitality.

Our efforts to build closer ties between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches are a part of this missionary task. The divisions which exist among Christians are a scandal to the world and an obstacle to the proclamation of the Gospel. On the eve of his passion and death, the Lord, surrounded by his disciples, prayed fervently that all may be one, so that the world may believe (cf. Jn 17:21). It is only through brotherly communion between Christians and through their mutual love that the message of God’s love for each and every man and woman will become credible. Anyone who casts a realistic glance on the Christian world today will see the urgency of this witness.

Simon Peter and Andrew were called together to become fishers of men. This same task, however, took on a different form for each of the brothers. Simon, notwithstanding his human weakness, was called "Peter", the "rock" on which the Church was to be built; to him in a particular way were entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 16:18). His journey would take him from Jerusalem to Antioch, and from Antioch to Rome, so that in that City he might exercise a universal responsibility. The issue of the universal service of Peter and his Successors has unfortunately given rise to our differences of opinion, which we hope to overcome, thanks also to the theological dialogue which has been recently resumed.


Homily by the Ecumenical Patriarch (Must Read)

~from the Ecumenical Patriarchate

With the grace of God, Your Holiness, we have been blessed to enter the joy of the Kingdom, to "see the true light and receive the heavenly Spirit." Every celebration of the Divine Liturgy is a powerful and inspiring con-celebration of heaven and of history. Every Divine Liturgy is both an anamnesis of the past and an anticipation of the Kingdom. We are convinced that during this Divine Liturgy, we have once again been transferred spiritually in three directions: toward the kingdom of heaven where the angels celebrate; toward the celebration of the liturgy through the centuries; and toward the heavenly kingdom to come.

This overwhelming continuity with heaven as well as with history means that the Orthodox liturgy is the mystical experience and profound conviction that "Christ is and ever shall be in our midst!" For in Christ, there is a deep connection between past, present, and future. In this way, the liturgy is more than merely the recollection of Christ's words and acts. It is the realization of the very presence of Christ Himself, who has promised to be wherever two or three are gathered in His name.

At the same time, we recognize that the rule of prayer is the rule of faith (lex orandi lex credendi), that the doctrines of the Person of Christ and of the Holy Trinity have left an indelible mark on the liturgy, which comprises one of the undefined doctrines, "revealed to us in mystery," of which St. Basil the Great so eloquently spoke. This is why, in liturgy, we are reminded of the need to reach unity in faith as well as in prayer. Therefore, we kneel in humility and repentance before the living God and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious Name we bear and yet at the same time whose seamless garment we have divided. We confess in sorrow that we are not yet able to celebrate the holy sacraments in unity. And we pray that the day may come when this sacramental unity will be realized in its fullness.

And yet, Your Holiness and beloved brother in Christ, this con-celebration of heaven and earth, of history and time, brings us closer to each other today through the blessing of the presence, together with all the saints, of the predecessors of our Modesty, namely St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. We are honored to venerate the relics of these two spiritual giants after the solemn restoration of their sacred relics in this holy church two years ago when they were graciously returned to us by the venerable Pope John Paul II. Just as, at that time, during our Thronal Feast, we welcomed and placed their saintly relics on the Patriarchal Throne, chanting "Behold your throne!", so today we gather in their living presence and eternal memory as we celebrate the Liturgy named in honor of St. John Chrysostom.


We in the West have some serious work to do restoring our liturgy. How many of us can say that our liturgy anywhere near approaches the divine? For most of us, our experience tends to tip the cringe-factor scale. When I was in the process of conversion, I asked about the starkness of the current Catholic liturgy and of emptiness of worship spaces. I was told that they were "less distracting" and yet we were/are constantly assaulted by overamplified cantors and ugly vestments and lack of the sense of reverence. Pray for the restoration.

Common Declaration by Pope and Patriarch

~from the Ecumenical Patriarchate

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Ps 117:24)

This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is God’s work, and in a certain sense his gift. We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion. This commitment comes from the Lord’s will and from our responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ. May our meeting be a sign and an encouragement to us to share the same sentiments and the same attitudes of fraternity, cooperation and communion in charity and truth. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare the great day of the re-establishment of full unity, whenever and however God wills it. Then we shall truly be able to rejoice and be glad.

1. We have recalled with thankfulness the meetings of our venerable predecessors, blessed by the Lord, who showed the world the urgent need for unity and traced sure paths for attaining it, through dialogue, prayer and the daily life of the Church. Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I went as pilgrims to Jerusalem, to the very place where Jesus Christ died and rose again for the salvation of the world, and they also met again, here in the Phanar and in Rome. They left us a common declaration which retains all its value; it emphasizes that true dialogue in charity must sustain and inspire all relations between individuals and between Churches, that it “must be rooted in a total fidelity to the one Lord Jesus Christ and in mutual respect for their own traditions” (Tomos Agapis, 195). Nor have we forgotten the reciprocal visits of His Holiness Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Dimitrios I. It was during the visit of Pope John Paul II, his first ecumenical visit, that the creation of the Mixed Commission for theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was announced. This has brought together our Churches in the declared aim of re-establishing full communion.

As far as relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople are concerned, we cannot fail to recall the solemn ecclesial act effacing the memory of the ancient anathemas which for centuries had a negative effect on our Churches. We have not yet drawn from this act all the positive consequences which can flow from it in our progress towards full unity, to which the mixed Commission is called to make an important contribution. We exhort our faithful to take an active part in this process, through prayer and through significant gestures.


The Patriarch

~Simply resplendent (is that an oxymoron?). God willing, the western rite can recover its own sense of splendor. Here's a closer look at the Patriarch's mitre.

Pope and Patriarch on St. Andrew's Day

Today in Turkey

~A roundup of today's news postings.
from Reuters: Pope and Patriarch vow to pursue unity
Pope Benedict and the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians held a solemn prayer service together on Thursday and re-committed their Churches to the quest for unity to patch up a nearly 1,000-year-old schism.

"The divisions which exist among Christians are a scandal to the world and an obstacle to the proclamation of the gospel," Benedict said in his homily at the colourful service in the incense-filled Church of St. George.

Benedict's service with Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians, was held on the feast of St. Andrew the apostle, who is said to have preached in what is now Istanbul after Christ's death.

Benedict's visit has been marked by the tightest security ever seen for a foreign visitor. A few dozen supporters of a nationalist Islamist party protested against the Pope outside Istanbul University under heavy police guard.

During the Byzantine rite service, dotted by gestures of bowing, crossing oneself, crucifix waving and chalice kissing, the white bearded Bartholomew called it another step on "the unwavering journey towards the restoration of full communion among our Churches".

~from Fox News: Pope Prays With Head of Orthodox Church at Joint Service in Istanbul
Pope Benedict XVI and the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians prayed together in an Istanbul church Thursday, a service intended to underline their commitment to healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the two churches.

Benedict went to St. George Church at the start of his third day in Turkey and embraced Ecumenical Patriarch Barthlomew I -- called the "first among equals" of the Orthodox leaders.

Their meeting was watched with suspicion in Turkey for possible challenges to state-imposed limits on Christian minorities and others. Benedict has declared a "fundamental" commitment to try to close rifts between the two ancient branches of Christianity, which split nearly 1,000 years ago over disputes including papal authority.

Thousands of police lined the pope's route in one of the biggest security operations in Turkish history.

~from International Herald Tribune: Pope, patriarch stress need to 'preserve Christian roots' in Europe
Pope Benedict XVI called divisions among Christians a "scandal to the world" and recalled the faith's deep roots in Europe at a joint ceremony Thursday with the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians at his ancient enclave.

"The divisions which exist among Christians are a scandal to the world," the pope said after joining Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to mark the feast day of St. Andrew, who preached across Asia Minor and who tradition says ordained the first bishop of Constantinople, now called Istanbul.

The symbolism of the nearly three-hour Orthodox Liturgy was highly significant to Roman Catholics. Andrew was the brother of St. Peter, who was martyred in Rome and is considered the first pope.

Benedict has made outreach to the world's more than 250 million Orthodox a centerpiece of his young papacy and has set the difficult goal of full unity between the two ancient branches of Christianity, which split nearly 1,000 years ago over disputes including the extent of papal authority.

It's also a key part of the pope's drive to reinforce the Christian bonds in Europe and around the world.

He said all Christians should "renew Europe's awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and values, giving them new vitality."

In a joint communique signed by the pope and patriarch, they stressed the need to "preserve Christian roots" in European culture while remaining "open to other religions and their cultural contributions."

The comments could send conflicting signals to Turkey after the Vatican suggested there was room in the European Union for its first Muslim member. The comments could serve as a rallying point for groups opposed to bringing a predominantly Muslim country into the bloc.

The pope also recalled how the faith was shaped by the encounters of early Christians with the scientific and intellectual traditions of ancient Greece. It was the same theological backdrop — faith and reason — that was the basis for his explosive remarks in September on violence and the Prophet Muhammad.

The pope avoided any direct mention of Islam after praying with Bartholomew at the gilded St. George Church in Istanbul — which as Constantinople was the capital of Christian Byzantium before falling to Muslim forces in 1453.

But the pope urged "all world leaders to respect religious freedom as a fundamental human right."

~from Washington Post: Turkey holds 18 in Qaeda swoop during Pope visit
Turkish police detained 18 people suspected of having links to al Qaeda late on Wednesday, but Istanbul's police chief said the move was unconnected to Pope Benedict's visit to Turkey, NTV television reported.

Istanbul police could not confirm the report on Thursday.

In an Internet statement on Wednesday, al Qaeda in Iraq condemned Pope Benedict's visit, saying it was part of a crusade against Islam aimed at pulling Turkey away from the Muslim world.

The Pope flew to Istanbul late on Wednesday, the second day of his four-day visit to Turkey, for talks and religious celebrations with Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.

But Istanbul's security chief Celalettin Cerrah was quoted as saying the detentions were unconnected.

Turkey has suffered several attacks blamed on al Qaeda: in November 2003, more than 60 people were killed in bombings of two synagogues, the British Consulate and HSBC's office in Istanbul.

Feast of St. Andrew, apostle

Andrew, Peter's brother, and John were the first disciples to follow the Lord. With tender delicacy the Gospel (John 1:35-42) describes their first meeting with Jesus. Andrew did not belong to the inner circle of the apostles, Peter, James and John, and the evangelists narrate nothing extraordinary about him (John 6:8); but tradition (resting on apocrpyhal Acts) extols his great love of the Cross and of the Savior; and the Church distinguishes him both in the Mass (his name occurs in the Canon and in the Libera since the time of Pope St. Gregory I who had a special devotion to him) and in the Breviary.

The story of his martyrdom rests on the apocryphal Acts which lack historical foundation. The pagan judge exhorted him to sacrifice to the gods. Andrew replied: "I sacrifice daily to almighty God, the one and true God. Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats do I offer, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar. All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living." Angered by the reply, Aegeas commanded him to be thrown into prison. With little difficulty the people would have freed him, but Andrew personally calmed the mob and earnestly entreated them to desist, as he was hastening toward an ardently desired crown of martyrdom.

When Andrew was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from a distance he cried out: "O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul I confident and rejoicing come to you; exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you." Forthwith he was nailed to the cross. For two days he hung there alive, unceasingly proclaiming the doctrine of Christ until he passed on to Him whose likeness in death he had so vehemently desired. --The legendary account of our saint's martyrdom has this value: it presents to us the mysticism of the Cross of later times.

~from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

We have found the Messiah

~by St. John Chrysostom

After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother. Notice what Andrew said to him: We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ. Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth. They reveal the zeal and concern of men preoccupied with this question from the very beginning.

Andrew’s words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce so great an event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, of loving kinship and sincere affection.

Notice, too, how, even from the beginning, Peter is docile and receptive in spirit. He hastens to Jesus without delay. He brought him to Jesus, says the evangelist. But Peter must not be condemned for his readiness to accept Andrew’s word without much weighing of it. It is probable that his brother had given him, and many others, a careful account of the event; the evangelists, in the interest of brevity, regularly summarise a lengthy narrative. Saint John does not say that Peter believed immediately, but that he brought him to Jesus. Andrew was to hand him over to Jesus, to learn everything for himself. There was also another disciple present, and he hastened with them for the same purpose.

When John the Baptist said: This is the Lamb, and he baptizes in the Spirit, he left the deeper understanding of these things to be received from Christ. All the more so would Andrew act in the same way, since he did not think himself able to give a complete explanation. He brought his brother to the very source of light, and Peter was so joyful and eager that he would not delay even for a moment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rosary for Pope Benedict's apostolic journey to Turkey

Pope Benedict's Crest

"I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me.

" My dear friends -- at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more.

"Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more -- in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another."

Pray the Rosary
The Glorious Mysteries

The First Glorious Mystery:  The Resurrection of Our Lord

Reflections for each Hail, Mary:

  1. The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb on the evening of Good Friday.
  2. His soul descends into the realm of the dead to announce to the Just the tidings of their redemption.
  3. Fearing the body of Jesus will be taken, the chief priests place guards at the tomb.
  4. On the third day Jesus rises from the dead, glorious and immortal.
  5. The earth quakes as the angel rolls back the stone, the guards flee in terror.
  6. The holy women coming to anoint the body of Jesus are amazed and frightened to find the tomb open.
  7. An angel calms their fears: "He is not here. He has risen as He said."
  8. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalen and Peter and two disciples on the way to Emmaus.
  9. That evening He appears to the apostles behind locked doors: "Peace be unto you ... do not be afraid."
  10. Jesus breathes on them and gives them the power to forgive sin.

The Second Glorious Mystery:  The Ascension of Our Lord

Reflections for each Hail, Mary:

  1. Jesus remains on earth forty days after His Resurrection to prove He has truly risen from the dead.
  2. He commissions the apostles to preach the gospel to every creature, and promises to be with them forever.
  3. He will not leave them orphans, but will send the Holy Spirit to enlighten
  4. Jesus proceeds to Mt. Olivet accompanied by His Mother and the apostles and disciples.
  5. Extending His pierced hands over all in a last blessing, He ascends into heaven.
  6. As He ascends a cloud takes Him from their sight.
  7. Jesus ascends to take His place at the right hand of the Father.
  8. What jubilation there must be amid the angels of heaven at the triumphant entry of Jesus.
  9. The wounds in His glorified body are an endless plea before the Father on our behalf.
  10. The disciples leave Mt. Olivet and "return to Jerusalem with great joy."

The Third Glorious Mystery:  The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Reflections for each Hail, Mary:

  1. The apostles are gathered in the upper room where Jesus had held the Last Supper.
  2. They are persevering in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus.
  3. A sound comes from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it fills the whole house.
  4. The Holy Spirit descends on each of them in the form of tongues of fire.
  5. Filled with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are enlightened and strengthened to spread the gospel.
  6. Having lost all fear of the Jewish leaders, the apostles boldly preach Christ crucified.
  7. The multitudes are confounded because every man hears them speak in his own tongue.
  8. The Holy Spirit comes upon the Infant Church never to leave it.
  9. That first day Peter goes forth to preach and baptizes three thousand.
  10. The feast of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, for on that day it begins to grow.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery:  The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reflections for each Hail, Mary:

  1. After the apostles have dispersed, the Blessed Mother goes to live with John, the beloved disciple.
  2. Mary lives many years on earth after the death of Christ.
  3. She is a source of comfort, consolation and strength to the apostles.
  4. As she had nourished the infant Jesus, so she nourishes spiritually the infant Church.
  5. Mary dies, not of bodily infirmity, but is wholly ravished in a rapture of divine love.
  6. Her body as well as her soul is taken up into heaven.
  7. After her burial the apostles go to the tomb and find only fragrant lilies.
  8. Jesus does not permit the sinless body of His Mother to decay in the grave.
  9. Corruption of the body is an effect of original sin from which Mary is totally exempted.
  10. The bodies of all mankind, at the last judgment, will be brought back and united again to the soul.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery:  The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth

Reflections for each Hail, Mary:

  1. As Mary enters heaven, the entire court of heaven greets with joy this masterpiece of God's creation.
  2. Mary is crowned by her divine Son as Queen of heaven and earth.
  3. More than we can ever know the Hearts of Jesus and Mary overflow with joy at this reunion.
  4. Only in heaven will we know the great majesty of that coronation, and the joy it gave to the angels and saints.
  5. Even the angels, who by nature are greater than humans, hail Mary as their Queen.
  6. Mary shares so fully in the glory of Christ because she shared so fully in His suffering.
  7. Only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption.
  8. The angels and saints longed for the coming of her whose heel crushes the head of the serpent.
  9. Mary pleads our cause as a most powerful Queen and a most merciful and loving Mother.
  10. A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Hail, Holy Queen:  HAIL holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.  That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

O God whose only begotten Son has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, Grant that we beseech Thee while meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord Amen.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  AMEN

Vespers with Bartholomew and Benedict

~from Asia News

Magnificent Greek chants, embraces, statements about mutual commitment to continue working for full unity filled the meeting which Benedict XVI called a moment “of good will and ecclesiastic meaning”.

At the end of the second day of his visit to Turkey, Benedict XVI arrived in the Phanar district, seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the first “in honour” amongst Orthodox patriarchate. It is the eve of the Feast Day of Saint Andrew, patron saint of the Eastern Churches.

The meeting with Bartholomew I is the main purpose for the Pope’s visit. And right after flying in from Izmir, Benedict XVI goes straight away to the Patriarchate.

There is an imposing deployment of police at the airport and along the road. The 22-kilometre route is closed off to all traffic: an empty freeway in the heart of the city with a police car at each intersection, police officers everywhere, and an armoured vehicle as part of the convoy.

Along the Golden Horn, impossibly crowded at this time of the day, lighted fishmonger stalls are empty, clients are missing. People waiting for the ferry come forward guardedly to edge of the road, more out of curiosity than anything else.

Al-Qaeda’s threats are too recent to have had any impact on the tight security. For now as the Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said, they don’t worry the Pope or his entourage.

Upon arrival in the Phanar, the small Church of Saint George—without its dome because under Ottoman rule only mosques could have domes, and without any cross at the entrance because it is a religious symbol—is illuminated as it were a feast day. Inside the gold of the icons, the walls and the magnificent patriarch’s throne are bright and shine.

Bartholomew and Benedict already know each other and have met before, but the Pope’s visit to Istanbul, where the Pontiff will meet the Patriarch three times, is an expression of their shared desire to pursue the ecumenical journey.

Bartholomew made this point reminding popes and patriarchs of their responsibility along the path of reconciliation. Benedict XVI echoed it when explaining that his visit to the patriarchate is part of the journey to strengthen “the impetus towards mutual understanding and the quest of full unity.”

Earlier, the Pope mentioned “the momentous events that have sustained our commitment to work for the full unity of Catholics and Orthodox. I wish above all to recall the courageous decision to remove the memory of the anathemas of 1054,” taken in a joint declaration by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, and “written in a spirit of rediscovered love”.

“Signs of this love,” the Pope said, “have been evident in numerous declarations of shared commitment and many meaningful gestures.”

During the ceremony, a celebration of Vespers in all but name, seven antiphons were sung. Two were dedicated to Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Church of Rome and the Church of Saint Andrew. The fifth was composed for Pope Paul VI’s visit and expressed the joy of the Church of Constantinople in receiving the one who sits in the Seat of Peter. A passage from Zachariah, which calls upon the peoples of the East and the West to come together in Jerusalem, is read.

Afterwards Bartholomew and Benedict XVI held a private meeting inside the small compound surrounded by a maze of streets in a district that is relatively close to the heart of Istanbul.

The Pope and Patriarch will meet again tomorrow for the solemn celebration of Saint Andrew in the Church of Saint George and are scheduled to sign a joint declaration. Nothing ground-breaking is expected from the statement, nor is it expected to be a giant leap along the ecumenical path, but it is certainly another step forward, especially in light of the work by the re-established joint commission that is dealing with Catholic-Orthodox theological issues. Just a few weeks ago in fact, the same commission meeting in Belgrade touched upon the fundamental issue of the Petrine primacy.

From Foe to Friend in Turkey

~from Der Spiegel

Before he arrived, the Turks hated him. Now that Pope Benedict XVI is in Turkey though, he has made 73 million new friends. Not only has he sought to heal the Christian-Muslim divide. But he also supports Turkish EU membership at a time when the country really needs an ally.

It didn't take long for Pope Benedict XVI to transform himself from one of Turkey's worst enemies to one of the country's best friends. Already on Wednesday, the pope was being given praise for his attempts to bridge the gaps between Christians and Muslims -- and mend the fence that he crashed through in September with comments that many Muslims took to be insulting to the Prophet Muhammad. His comments on Tuesday saying that Islam was a religion of peace was well received.

But that wasn't all. The pope came bearing a surprise gift as well: support for Turkish membership in the European Union. "This trip is important for Turkey's EU membership," wrote the daily Milliyet. "This is a big warning for conservative politicians who think the EU is a Christian club."

With pressure growing on Turkey on Wednesday to open up its ports to trade from EU member Cyprus by mid-December or face a possible freeze in its accession negotiations, support from any quarter is welcome. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn on Wednesday did say, however, that Turkey still has time to "score a golden goal" before the meeting of EU foreign ministers on Dec. 11. Still, the atmosphere this week in Brussels has become increasingly critical of Turkey's intransigent stance.


Benedict meets Bartholomew

Some news sources on the historic meeting between Pope and Patriarch:

~from Euronews: Pope and Patriarch pray together

Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Christian leader Patriarch Bartholomew 1st have joined in prayer in an historic meeting in Istanbul. It came on the second day of the Pontiff's visit to Turkey - a trip which the Vatican hopes will build bridges both with Orthodox Christianity and Islam.

During a mass earlier the Pope highlighted common ground between Christians and Muslims. A speech he made in September appeared to stress differences between the two faiths and the ensuing controversy has overshadowed the trip. He celebrated mass at a shrine said to be where the Virgin Mary lived out her last days.

Pope Benedict spoke of the devotion both religions had for the mother of Jesus Christ. He also called for peace and reconciliation between Jews, Christians and Muslims in the region. The Turkish government has praised what it regards as the conciliatory tone adopted by the Pontiff since his arrival yesterday. It also expressed appreciation for his apparent new support for Ankara's bid to join the EU. But many in the largely Muslim country are angered by the visit and there have been protests against it.

~from BBC: Pope meets world Orthodox leader
The meeting with Bartholomew - who heads a community of some 250 million Christians around the world - was the original reason for the pontiff's decision to travel to Turkey.

The two leaders began their meeting by holding a joint prayer service at the St George Church in Istanbul.

The two ancient branches of Christianity - the Eastern and the Western rites - split nearly 1,000 years ago over disputes including papal authority.

Pope and Patriarch

Pope Benedict XVI, accompanied by Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, leaves from the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. The pope's visit to Turkey was born out of Benedict's desire to meet Bartholomew, who has his headquarters in Istanbul, once ancient Constantinople. The pontiff has been trying to foster better relations between the Orthodox and Catholics. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)

In this pictures released by the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate, Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I light candles upon their arrival to the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. The pope's visit to Turkey was born out of Benedict's desire to meet Bartholomew, who has his headquarters in Istanbul, once ancient Constantinople. The pontiff has been trying to foster better relations between the Orthodox and Catholics. (AP Photo/Nikos Manginas)

In this picture released by the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate Pope Benedict XVI, right, is greeted by Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I as he arrives at Istanbul's St. George's church for a service, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. At left in background American Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios looks on. The two major branches of Christianity represented by Bartholomew and Benedict split in 1054 over differences in opinion on the power of the papacy, and the two spiritual heads will meet in an attempt to breach the divide. (AP Photo/Nikos Manginas)

Pope Benedict in Mary's House

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass at the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, near Selcuk, Turkey, Wednesday Nov. 29, 2006. (AP Photo/Cem Oksuzl)

Pope Benedict XVI leaves after celebrating a Mass at the House of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus, near Selcuk, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. The Pope is on the second day of his four-day trip to Turkey. (AP Photo/Patrick Hertzog, Pool)

Pope Benedict XVI holds a mass at 'Mary's House' near Ephesus, Turkey November 29, 2006. REUTERS/Patrick Hertzog/Pool (TURKEY)

Pope Benedict XVI prepares to kiss the altar at the end of a mass in front of 'Mary's House' near Ephesus November 29, 2006, where the Virgin Mary is reputed to have lived and died. Pope Benedict Pope visited the site near the Aegean town of Ephesus. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (TURKEY)

Pope Benedict XVI welcomes two nuns during a Mass at Virgin Mary's House at Ephesus near Selcuk, Turkey, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)

Pope Benedict XVI gives a mass at the Virgin Mary's House in Ephesus near Selcuk, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. (AP/Video Still)

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates a Mass at the Virgin Mary House in Ephesus near Selcuk, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. It is believed that this house is the last residence of the Virgin Mary. The Pope is on the second day of his four-day trip to Turkey. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)

Nuns cheer at Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives in Ephesus for a Mass at the Virgin Mary House near the western Turkish town of Selcuk, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)

Pope Benedict XVI (L) is greeted by believers in front of 'Mary's House' near Ephesus November 29, 2006, where the Virgin Mary is reputed to have lived and died. Pope Benedict Pope visited the site near the Aegean town of Ephesus, where legend says the mother of Jesus Christ lived out the last years of her life. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

A believer shows a statue of Mary to Turkish residents as they wait for Pope Benedict XVI who was leaving the site of 'Mary's House' near Ephesus November 29, 2006. Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a mass on Wednesday at the site where the Virgin Mary is reputed to have lived and died. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

An airport employee offers Turkish tea to Pope Benedict XVI upon his arrival to the Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. (AP Photo/Muammer Baskan, Pool)

Pope Benedict XVI arrives at the Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Ephesus, near the western Turkish city of Izmir, where the Virgin Mary is thought to have spent her last years, to hold a Mass at the site, one of the holiest Christian places in Turkey. Benedict became the third pope to make a pilgrimage here. Paul VI visited in 1967, and John Paul II came in 1979. (AP Photo)

Pope Benedict XVI, accompanied by Turkish State Minister Besir Atalay, walks pass Turkish honour guards upon his departure from the Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. (AP Photo/Tolga Adanali, Pool)

Pope Benedict's trip through the media lens

~Checking out media coverage. Some headline writers are having fun as you can see. Let's start out with this from the Chicago Tribune:
A tough pope's tough message

Popes usually travel as parochial emissaries of Roman Catholicism, speaking only for themselves and their church. But with this week's visit to overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey, Pope Benedict XVI confronts the broad, Pan-Islamic crescent of nations as a tough-minded ambassador from ... well, from the rest of the world, believers and non-believers alike.

The pontiff arrived Tuesday in Ankara as a gracious guest, talking of the need for dialogue among the "brotherhood" of faiths. But he unmistakably also sought to drive a wedge between any one of those faiths and mortal conflict conducted in its name. He urged that all religious leaders "utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of religion," and voiced his concerns over "recent developments in terrorism and in certain regional conflicts. ... I am thinking of the risk of peripheral conflicts multiplying and terrorist actions spreading."

The pope didn't name names or point fingers. But Benedict's words Tuesday evoked the controversial September lecture in which he alluded to centuries-old allegations that the Prophet Muhammad had wanted Islam to be spread by the sword. The speech lingers in the memory for that unflattering reference to Islam more than for the overriding "invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect" that Benedict simultaneously advocated. He has expressed regret for the hurt his words caused--but he has never retracted them.

The Turkey trip originated as an outreach to Orthodox Christians who split with Roman Catholicism 1,000 years ago. But the juxtaposition of his September speech with the sectarian strife that divides Muslims in Iraq and beyond forced Benedict to make a choice succinctly framed in the Nov. 27 issue of Time magazine:
"Having thrust himself to the center of the global debate [about Islam and violence] and earned the vilification of the Muslim street, he must weigh hard options. Does he seize his new platform, insisting that another great faith has potentially deadly flaws and daring it to discuss them, while exhorting Western audiences to be morally armed? Or does he back away from further confrontation in the hope of tamping down the rage his words have already provoked?"
Benedict's polite but direct approach Tuesday in Ankara suggested that his trip won't be a retreat from confrontation--from asking Muslims to examine violence committed in Islam's name.

~from BBC: Preaching to the unconverted
But on that front Prime Minister Erdogan has revealed what appears to be a complete about-face.

He claimed the Pope told him he does now want to see Turkey as part of the EU.

The Pope is an unfamiliar figure to many in Turkey By evening the focus was back firmly on religion, as the Pope met one of his most vocal critics, the head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate.

In September Ali Bardakoglu accused the Pope of harbouring hatred for Islam.

Now, hosting the head of the Roman Catholic Church in his office, Mr Bardakoglu saluted him as an esteemed religious leader.

But in a statement from the podium he did hint at the Pope's comments about Islam, albeit indirectly.

Mr Bardakoglu spoke of a rise of Islamophobia in the world, and referred to those who link Islam with violence.

"I would like to announce that each member of Islam - a religion of peace - regrets such accusations which are not based on any scientific fact," he said.

"We men of religion should not be slaves of such prejudices."

From the Pope himself, conciliatory messages flowed. He announced that dialogue between faiths cannot be reduced to what he called "an optional extra".

"The best way forward is for authentic dialogue based on truth and inspired by the true wish to know one another better, respecting our differences and recognising what we have in common."

So the tone for this difficult visit has been set. There is no sign of any apology from the Pope, but there is a clear effort to calm tensions and begin to mend relations.

So far, most Turks seem to be accepting that.

~from Times Online, UK: Pope tends his 'little flock'
The Pope used a visit to Turkey today to praise a Catholic priest murdered in a Turkish town during the outbreak of Islamic anger over the publication of cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Celebrating an open-air mass next to the ruins of a house believed to have been used by the Virgin Mary, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the example set by John Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest shot dead in a church in Trabazon in February by a 15-year-old Muslim boy enraged by the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper.

"Let us sing joyfully, even when we’re tested by difficulties and dangers, as we have learned from the fine witness given by the Roman priest John Andrea Santoro, whom I am pleased to recall in this celebration," said the Pope on the second day of his controversial tour of Turkey.

After a day of conspicuous, conciliatory gestures towards Turkey's predominantly Muslim population and an expression of approval of the country's plans to join the EU, the Pope turned today towards Turkey's small but enduring Christian communities, which he called a "little flock".

In a highly exclusive papal mass, the Pope stood on a dais under a white, flower-covered canopy to pray with 250 people who were admitted to a chapel built next to the Virgin Mary's house, near Ephesus. The congregation had to pass through three metal detectors before being admitted to his presence. A military helicopter cluttered overhead.

~from The Australian: Pope turns other cheek to Muslim Turkey
THE Pope has reversed his opposition to Turkey's efforts to join the EU, appearing to back the overwhelmingly Muslim country's hard-fought push towards membership at the start of his visit.
Benedict XVI appealed for Christian-Muslim reconciliation and called on all religious leaders to "utterly refuse to support any form of violence in the name of faith". His controversial and potentially hazardous visit - originally intended to improve relations between Catholics and Orthodox Christians - was "pastoral, not political", he insisted late on Tuesday.

But there were immediate tensions after the country's top Muslim official accused him of stirring up Islamophobia.

The build-up to the Pope's four-day visit has been marked by setbacks in Turkey's bid for EU membership - which the Pope as a cardinal once called a "grave error" - and anger in the Muslim world over the Pope's contentious remarks about Islam in a university address two months ago.

But Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan put resentments aside on Tuesday by agreeing to greet the Pope at Ankara airport and hold talks there.

Following the meeting, he was quick to claim the Pope had expressed hope that Turkey would join the EU.

A papal spokesman later clarified the remarks, saying the Pope had told the Turkish leader the Vatican did not have the power to intervene, but "viewed positively and encouraged" the process of Turkey's entry into the EU "on the basis of common values and principles".

In a break with protocol, Mr Erdogan greeted the Pope, 79, at the steps of his plane, a mark of respect from a leader who had initially said he was too busy to meet the pontiff.

The Pope in turn appeared to nod understandingly when Mr Erdogan explained he had to attend the NATO summit in Riga. Mr Erdogan said: "The most important message the Pope gave was toward Islam, reiterating his view of Islam as peaceful and affectionate.

Pope Honors Slain Priest at Turkey Mass

~AP via Forbes

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday honored the memory of a Roman Catholic priest who was slain amid Muslim anger over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers.

A Turkish teenager shot the priest in February, as he knelt in prayer in his church in the Black Sea port of Trabzon. The attack was believed linked to the outrage over the cartoons. Two other Catholic priests also were attacked in Turkey this year.

"Let us sing joyfully, even when we're tested by difficulties and dangers as we have learned from the fine witness given by the Rev. Andrea Santoro, whom I am pleased to recall in this celebration," Benedict said at an outdoor Mass.

Benedict cited one of his predecessors, Pope John XXIII, who served as a papal diplomat in Turkey in the 1940s. He quoted him as saying, "I love the Turks. I appreciate the natural qualities of these people, who have their own place reserved in the march of civilization."

While reaching out to the Turks and the larger Muslim world during his trip, Benedict also reached out to this country's Catholics, describing them as "the little flock" in largely Muslim Turkey. He said he wanted to "offer a word of encouragement and to manifest the affection of the whole church."

"With great love, I greet all of you here present," he told 250 worshippers who gathered next to the ruins of a house where the Virgin Mary is thought to have spent her last years.

"I have wanted to convey my personal love and spiritual closeness, together with that of the universal church, to the Christian community here in Turkey, a small minority which faces many challenges and difficulties daily," the pope said.

Pope Presides Over Mass at Holy City in Turkey

~from Fox News

SELCUK, Turkey — Pope Benedict XVI held a Mass on Wednesday at one of the holiest Christian places in Turkey as part of his efforts to reach out to the Roman Catholic minority in the mostly Muslim country.

The pontiff conducted the open-air Mass next to the ruins of a house where the Virgin Mary is thought to have spent her last years.

Security forces had sealed off the area and only 250 invited guests attended, making it one of the smallest crowds to attend a papal Mass.

The Vatican said the site could accommodate up to 2,000 people. Many of those attending held small Turkish and Vatican flags. In bright sunshine, the pope stood on a dais under a white, flower-covered canopy.

A paramilitary helicopter hovered low over the crowd as the pope arrived, and registered guests went through three separate metal detectors before reaching the sacred site.

A military policeman said security details weren't given out to officers until the last minute, apparently to keep the pope's exact route secret.

Some Christians believe thatSt. John the Apostle brought the Virgin Mary to the house to care for her after Jesus' death. Others believe that the Virgin Mary died in Jerusalem.

The ruins of the house, whose earliest foundations date to the first century, have become a popular place of pilgrimage since the 1950s. A chapel was built over the ruins, and some believe in the healing powers of both the chapel and waters flowing from a nearby spring. The site is nestled on a wooded mountain between the ancient city of Ephesus and the town of Selcuk, near the Aegean coast.

Of Turkey's 70 million people, some 65,000 are Armenian Orthodox Christians, 20,000 are Roman Catholic, and 3,500 are Protestant, mostly converts from Islam. Another 2,000 are Greek Orthodox and 23,000 are Jewish. The Christian minority has complained of discrimination and persecution by the Muslim majority.

On Tuesday, the first day of his trip to Turkey, Benedict urged religious leaders of all faiths to "utterly refuse" to support any form of violence in the name of faith. Turkey's top Muslim cleric complained to the pontiff of a growing "Islamophobia" in the world.

Benedict sought a careful balance as he held out a hand of friendship and "brotherhood" to Muslims, hoping to end the outcry from many Muslims over the pontiff's recent remarks linking Islam to violence. It is his first trip to a Muslim country.


Woe to the souls where Christ does not dwell!

~attributed to St. Macarius

When God was displeased with the Jews, he delivered Jerusalem to the enemy, and they were conquered by those who hated them; there were no more sacrifices or feasts. Likewise angered at a soul who had broken his commands, God handed it over to its enemies, who corrupted and totally dishonoured it. When a house has no master living in it, it becomes dark, vile and contemptible, choked with filth and disgusting refuse. So too is a soul which has lost its master, who once rejoiced there with his angels. This soul is darkened with sin, its desires are degraded, and it knows nothing but shame.

Woe to the path that is not walked on, or along which the voices of men are not heard, for then it becomes the haunt of wild animals. Woe to the soul if the Lord does not walk within it to banish with his voice the spiritual beasts of sin. Woe to the house where no master dwells, to the field where no farmer works, to the pilotless ship, storm-tossed and sinking. Woe to the soul without Christ as its true pilot; drifting in the darkness, buffeted by the waves of passion, storm-tossed at the mercy of evil spirits, its end is destruction. Woe to the soul that does not have Christ to cultivate it with care to produce the good fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Left to itself, it is choked with thorns and thistles; instead of fruit it produces only what is fit for burning. Woe to the soul that does not have Christ dwelling in it; deserted and foul with the filth of the passions, it becomes a haven for all the vices. When a farmer prepares to till the soil he must put on clothing and use tools that are suitable. So Christ, our heavenly king, came to till the soil of mankind devastated by sin. He assumed a body and, using the cross as his ploughshare, cultivated the barren soul of man. He removed the thorns and thistles which are the evil spirits and pulled up the weeds of sin. Into the fire he cast the straw of wickedness. And when he had ploughed the soul with the wood of the cross, he planted in it a most lovely garden of the Spirit, that could produce for its Lord and God the sweetest and most pleasant fruit of every kind.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Council of Russian Muftis slams protests in Istanbul against papal visit

~from Catholic News Agency

The Council of Muftis of Russia has criticized protests against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey organized by radical Islamic political parties.

According to the RIA Novosti news agency, the vice president of the Council of Mufties of Russia, Damir Guizatullin, said, “We do not support those actions, which we consider to be counterproductive. We have always held that in order to foster harmony and peace between diverse peoples and religious there needs to be dialogue.”

According to the Muslim leader, the protests do not reflect the opinion of the majority of Turks. Some 100,000 Muslim teachers, as well as the leaders of the country, welcome the visit by the Holy Father.

Guizatullin also said he was asked by Turkey’s Minister for Religious Affairs, during phone call, about how Muslims in Russia feel about the Pope’s visit, and told him Muslims there have no plans to protest the trip, and are actually very much in support of the trip.

“At the Council of Muftis we spoke about the unacceptability of provoking a confrontation between different religions and ethic groups,” Guizatullin stressed.

Traditional Mass never abolished, Genoa archdiocese says

~from Catholic World News. The motu proprio still very much alive.

Responding to rumors that Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) will soon issue a motu proprio encouraging broader use of the pre-conciliar liturgy, the Archdiocese of Genoa, Italy, has posted a detailed notice assuring the faithful that the traditional liturgy was not abolished by the Second Vatican Council.

The notice, published on the web site of the Genoa archdiocese on November 27, does not specifically confirm the widespread reports that a motu proprio is imminent. However, after saying that "misleading comments that are in circulation" call for a response, the statement emphasizes that the Pope has the authority to issue new liturgical norms. In order to preserve full communion within the Church, all Catholics should follow those norms, the statement adds.

Regarding the traditional liturgy, the Genoa archdiocese states: "The Second Vatican Council did not abolish or ask for the abolition of the Mass of Pius V." Rather, the Council sought a reform of that liturgy.

The statement goes on to say that the traditional liturgy (the Mass of St. Pius V) and the post-conciliar "Mass of Paul VI" are "two valid expressions of the same Catholic faith." It is seriously wrong, the archdiocese says, to suggest that these two liturgical approaches are somehow in opposition to each other.

Echoing a theme that Pope Benedict XVI raised in his pre-Christmas speech to the Roman Curia, the Genoa archdiocese emphasizes the development of the liturgy should be seen as organic, with the decisions of one Roman Pontiff always interpreted in light of previous papal statements. Similarly, the statement continues, the actions of different Popes "and those of the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council, must not be presented as if they were in conflict."

The statement from the Genoa archdiocese seems to be an effort to prepare the faithful for the appearance of the motu proprio, deflecting the criticism that Pope Benedict intends a repudiation of the liturgy of Vatican II.

Pope's Speech to Diplomatic Corps in Ankara

~from Radio Vaticana

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet you with great joy, Ambassadors charged with the noble task of representing your countries to the Republic of Turkey, and assembled here in the Nunciature to meet the Successor of Peter. I am grateful to your Vice-Dean, the Ambassador of Lebanon, for the kind words which he has addressed to me. I am pleased to reconfirm the appreciation that the Holy See has often expressed for the important duties that you perform, which today take on an increasingly global dimension. In fact, while your mission calls you above all to protect and promote the legitimate interests of your respective nations, “the inevitable interdependence which today increasingly unites peoples of the world, invites diplomats to be, in a new and original way, promoters of understanding, international security and peace between nations” (John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps, Mexico, 29 June 1979).

I want to begin by calling to mind the memorable visits of my two predecessors in Turkey, Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in 1979. Nor could I fail to mention Pope Benedict XV, the untiring promoter of peace during World War I, and Blessed John XXIII, the Pope known as the “friend of Turks”, who after his years as Apostolic Delegate in Turkey and Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Vicariate of Istanbul, left everyone with the memory of an attentive and loving pastor, particularly eager to meet and come to know the Turkish people, whose grateful guest he was! I am therefore happy to be a guest of Turkey today, having come here as a friend and as an apostle of dialogue and peace.

More than forty years ago, the Second Vatican Council wrote that “Peace is more than the absence of war: it cannot be reduced to the maintenance of a balance of power between opposing forces … but it is the fruit of the right ordering of things with which the divine founder has invested human society and which must be brought about by humanity in its thirst for an ever more perfect reign of justice” (Gaudium et Spes, 78). We have come to realize that true peace needs justice, to correct the economic imbalances and political disturbances which always give rise to tension and threaten every society. The recent developments in terrorism and in certain regional conflicts have highlighted the need to respect the decisions of international institutions and also to support them, in particular by giving them effective means to prevent conflicts and to maintain neutral zones between belligerents, through the presence of peacekeeping forces. All this, however, remains insufficient unless there is authentic dialogue, that is to say fruitful debate between the parties concerned, in order to arrive at lasting and acceptable political solutions, respectful of persons and peoples. I am thinking most especially of the disturbing conflict in the Middle East, which shows no sign of abating and weighs heavily on the whole of international life; I am thinking of the risk of peripheral conflicts multiplying and terrorist actions spreading. I appreciate the efforts of numerous countries currently engaged in rebuilding peace in Lebanon, Turkey among them. In your presence, Ambassadors, I appeal once more to the vigilance of the international community, that it not abandon its responsibilities, but make every effort to promote dialogue among all parties involved, which alone can guarantee respect for others, while safeguarding legitimate interests and rejecting recourse to violence. As I wrote in my first World Day of Peace Message, “the truth of peace calls upon everyone to cultivate productive and sincere relationships; it encourages them to seek out and to follow the paths of forgiveness and reconciliation, to be transparent in their dealings with others, and to be faithful to their word” (1 January 2006, 6).

Turkey has always served as a bridge between East and West, between Asia and Europe, and as a crossroads of cultures and religions. During the last century, she acquired the means to become a great modern State, notably by the choice of a secular regime, with a clear distinction between civil society and religion, each of which was to be autonomous in its proper domain while respecting the sphere of the other. The fact that the majority of the population of this country is Muslim is a significant element in the life of society, which the State cannot fail to take into account, yet the Turkish Constitution recognizes every citizen’s right to freedom of worship and freedom of conscience. The civil authorities of every democratic country are duty bound to guarantee the effective freedom of all believers and to permit them to organize freely the life of their religious communities. Naturally it is my hope that believers, whichever religious community they belong to, will continue to benefit from these rights, since I am certain that religious liberty is a fundamental expression of human liberty and that the active presence of religions in society is a source of progress and enrichment for all. This assumes, of course, that religions do not seek to exercise direct political power, as that is not their province, and it also assumes that they utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of religion. In this regard, I appreciate the work of the Catholic community in Turkey, small in number but deeply committed to contributing all it can to the country’s development, notably by educating the young, and by building peace and harmony among all citizens.

As I have recently observed, “we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together” (Address to the Ambassadors of Countries with a Muslim Majority, Castel Gandolfo, 25 September 2006). This dialogue must enable different religions to come to know one another better and to respect one another, in order to work for the fulfilment of man’s noblest aspirations, in search of God and in search of happiness. For my part, on the occasion of my visit to Turkey, I wish to reiterate my great esteem for Muslims, encouraging them to continue to work together, in mutual respect, to promote the dignity of every human being and the growth of a society where personal freedom and care for others provide peace and serenity for all. In this way, religions will be able to play their part in responding to the numerous challenges currently facing our societies. Assuredly, recognition of the positive role of religions within the fabric of society can and must impel us to explore more deeply their knowledge of man and to respect his dignity, by placing him at the centre of political, economic, cultural and social activity. Our world must come to realize that all people are linked by profound solidarity with one another, and they must be encouraged to assert their historical and cultural differences not for the sake of confrontation, but in order to foster mutual respect.

The Church, as you know, has received a spiritual mission from her Founder and therefore she has no intention of intervening directly in political or economic life. However, by virtue of her mission and her long experience of the history of societies and cultures, she wishes to make her voice heard in international debate, so that man’s fundamental dignity, especially that of the weakest, may always be honoured. Given the recent development of the phenomenon of globalized communications, the Holy See looks to the international community to give a clearer lead by establishing rules for better control of economic development, regulating markets, and fostering regional accords between countries. I have no doubt, Ladies and Gentlemen, that in your mission as diplomats you are eager to harmonize the particular interests of your country with the need to maintain good relations with other countries, and that in this way you can contribute significantly to the service of all.

The voice of the Church on the diplomatic scene is always characterized by the Gospel commitment to serve the cause of humanity, and I would be failing in this fundamental obligation if I did not remind you of the need always to place human dignity at the very heart of our concerns. The world is experiencing an extraordinary development of science and technology, with almost immediate consequences for medicine, agriculture and food production, but also for the communication of knowledge; this process must not lack direction or a human point of reference, when it relates to birth, education, manner of life or work, of old age, or death. It is necessary to re-position modern progress within the continuity of our human history and thus to guide it according to the plan written into our nature for the growth of humanity – a plan expressed by the words of the book of Genesis as follows: “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28).

Finally, as my thoughts turn to the first Christian communities that sprang up in this land, and especially to the Apostle Paul who established several of them himself, allow me to quote from his Letter to the Galatians: “You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another” (5:13). I sincerely hope that the good relations between nations, which it is your task to serve, may also contribute increasingly to the genuine growth of humanity, created in the image of God. Such a noble goal requires the contribution of all. For this reason the Catholic Church intends to renew its co-operation with the Orthodox Church and I hope that my forthcoming meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Phanar will effectively serve this objective. As the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council emphasized, the Church seeks to cooperate with believers and leaders of all religions, and especially with Muslims, in order that together they may “preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values” (Nostra Aetate, 3). I hope, from this viewpoint, that my journey to Turkey will bring abundant fruits.

Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, upon you, upon your families and upon all your co-workers, I invoke with all my heart the Blessings of the Almighty.

Pope's Speech to President of Turkey's Office of Religious Affairs

~from Radio Vaticana

I am grateful for the opportunity to visit this land, so rich in history and culture, to admire its natural beauty, to witness for myself the creativity of the Turkish people, and to appreciate your ancient culture and long history, both civil and religious.

As soon as I arrived in Turkey, I was graciously received by the President of the Republic and the Government Representative. In greeting them, I was pleased to express my profound esteem for all the people of this great country and to pay my respects at the tomb of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

I now have the joy of meeting you, the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate. I offer you my sentiments of respect, in recognition of your great responsibilities, and I extend my greetings to all the religious leaders of Turkey, especially the Grand Muftis of Ankara and Istanbul. In your person, Mr President, I greet all the Muslims in Turkey with particular esteem and affectionate regard.

Your country is very dear to Christians: many of the earliest Church communities were founded here and grew to maturity, inspired by the preaching of the Apostles, particularly Saint Paul and Saint John. The tradition has come down to us that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, lived at Ephesus, in the home of the Apostle Saint John.

This noble land has also seen a remarkable flowering of Islamic civilization in the most diverse fields, including its literature and art, as well as its institutions.

There are so many Christian and Muslim monuments that bear witness to Turkey’s glorious past. You rightly take pride in these, preserving them for the admiration of the ever increasing number of visitors who flock here.

I have set out upon my visit to Turkey with the same sentiments as those expressed by my predecessor Blessed John XXIII, when he came here as Archbishop Giuseppe Roncalli, to fulfil the office of Papal Representative in Istanbul: “I am fond of the Turks, to whom the Lord has sent me … I love the Turks, I appreciate the natural qualities of these people who have their own place reserved in the march of civilization” (Journal of a Soul, pp. 228, 233-4).

For my own part, I also wish to highlight the qualities of the Turkish population. Here I make my own the words of my immediate predecessor, Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, who said on the occasion of his visit in 1979: “I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together, for the benefit of all men, ‘peace, liberty, social justice and moral values’” (Address to the Catholic Community in Ankara, 28 November 1979).

These questions have continued to present themselves throughout the intervening years; indeed, as I indicated at the very beginning of my Pontificate, they impel us to carry forward our dialogue as a sincere exchange between friends. When I had the joy of meeting members of Muslim communities last year in Cologne, on the occasion of World Youth Day, I reiterated the need to approach our interreligious and intercultural dialogue with optimism and hope. It cannot be reduced to an optional extra: on the contrary, it is “a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends” (Address to representatives of some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005).

Christians and Muslims, following their respective religions, point to the truth of the sacred character and dignity of the person. This is the basis of our mutual respect and esteem, this is the basis for cooperation in the service of peace between nations and peoples, the dearest wish of all believers and all people of good will.

For more than forty years, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council has inspired and guided the approach taken by the Holy See and by local Churches throughout the world to relations with the followers of other religions. Following the Biblical tradition, the Council teaches that the entire human race shares a common origin and a common destiny: God, our Creator and the goal of our earthly pilgrimage. Christians and Muslims belong to the family of those who believe in the one God and who, according to their respective traditions, trace their ancestry to Abraham (cf. Second Vatican Council, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate 1, 3). This human and spiritual unity in our origins and our destiny impels us to seek a common path as we play our part in the quest for fundamental values so characteristic of the people of our time. As men and women of religion, we are challenged by the widespread longing for justice, development, solidarity, freedom, security, peace, defence of life, protection of the environment and of the resources of the earth. This is because we too, while respecting the legitimate autonomy of temporal affairs, have a specific contribution to offer in the search for proper solutions to these pressing questions.

Above all, we can offer a credible response to the question which emerges clearly from today’s society, even if it is often brushed aside, the question about the meaning and purpose of life, for each individual and for humanity as a whole. We are called to work together, so as to help society to open itself to the transcendent, giving Almighty God his rightful place. The best way forward is via authentic dialogue between Christians and Muslims, based on truth and inspired by a sincere wish to know one another better, respecting differences and recognizing what we have in common. This will lead to an authentic respect for the responsible choices that each person makes, especially those pertaining to fundamental values and to personal religious convictions.

As an illustration of the fraternal respect with which Christians and Muslims can work together, I would like to quote some words addressed by Pope Gregory VII in 1076 to a Muslim prince in North Africa who had acted with great benevolence towards the Christians under his jurisdiction. Pope Gregory spoke of the particular charity that Christians and Muslims owe to one another “because we believe in one God, albeit in a different manner, and because we praise him and worship him every day as the Creator and Ruler of the world.”

Freedom of religion, institutionally guaranteed and effectively respected in practice, both for individuals and communities, constitutes for all believers the necessary condition for their loyal contribution to the building up of society, in an attitude of authentic service, especially towards the most vulnerable and the poor.

Mr President, I should like to finish by praising the Almighty and merciful God for this happy occasion that brings us together in his name. I pray that it may be a sign of our joint commitment to dialogue between Christians and Muslims, and an encouragement to persevere along that path, in respect and friendship. May we come to know one another better, strengthening the bonds of affection between us in our common wish to live together in harmony, peace and mutual trust. As believers, we draw from our prayer the strength that is needed to overcome all traces of prejudice and to bear joint witness to our firm faith in God. May his blessing be ever upon us!

Pope Benedict in Turkey

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Pope Benedict XVI shake hands upon the pontiff's arrival at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006. The pontiff said Tuesday that his visit to Turkey is aimed at promoting the dialogue and bridging differences, speaking minutes before departing for his first trip as pontiff to a predominantly Muslim country.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Turkey on his first visit to a Muslim country, where he will seek to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam and mend a split with the world's Orthodox Christians. (AP Photo/Hikmet Saatci, Pool)

Pope Benedict XVI is escorted by Turkish honour guards to a wreath during his visit to the Anitkabir, mausoleum of the modern Turkey's founder Ataturk, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006. Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Turkey on his first visit to a Muslim country, where he will seek to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam and mend a split with the world's Orthodox Christians. (AP Photo/ Ecvet Atik, Pool)

Pope Benedict XVI stands behind a wreath held by Turkish army soldiers outside Anitkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of the secular Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in Ankara, November 28, 2006. Ataturk's mausoleum is the first official stop for Pope Benedict XVI during his four-day visit to Turkey. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (TURKEY)

Pope Benedict XVI walks with Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (2nd L) as he arrives at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, November 28, 2006. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

I'll continue to post photos as they are filed by the wire services.