POPE RECALLS CARDINAL FOLEY
Benedict XVI said he hoped the legacy of the late Cardinal John P. Foley, who died December 11 in Darby, Pennsylvania, after a battle with leukemia, would inspire others to make the Gospel known through the mass media.
“I recall with gratitude the late cardinal’s years of priestly ministry in his beloved Archdiocese of Philadelphia, his distinguished service to the Holy See as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and most recently his labors on behalf of the Christian communities of the Holy Land” (as grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem), the pontiff wrote.
POPE CELEBRATES GUADALUPE FEAST
Celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, Benedict XVI called on the people of Latin America to hold firm to their faith.
During his homily at the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pontiff prayed that God would guide the decisions of the Latin American people, so they could progress in “building a society based on the development of good, the triumph of love and the expansion of justice.”
Pope Benedict added that he intends “to make an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba before Easter to proclaim the word of Christ and to strengthen the conviction that this is a precious time to evangelize with a steady faith, a lively hope and an ardent charity.”
The Pope’s Mass also marked the bicentennials of many Latin American countries, which gained their independence from Spain between 1810 and 1825.
The bicentennial celebrations should not only recall historical, social and political events, the Pope said; they also should include recognition of the Christian faith of the vast majority of the region’s people and how that faith contributed to the development of society.
Concelebrating with Benedict XVI were Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state; Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City; and Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil.
POPE MEETS BRITISH CHIEF RABBI, SIR JONATHAN SACKS
The chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth traveled to the Vatican to speak with Benedict XVI about united efforts to bring morality back to the marketplace. He also delivered a major speech at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Speaking to reporters after both events, Rabbi Sacks said he and the Pope focused “on principles we share about the need for moral markets and a people-centered approach to economics that His Holiness set out two years ago in his document, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) and that the Jewish community shares.”
“PRAYER MUST INCLUDE PRAISE, THANKS, NOT JUST REQUESTS”
Prayer should not center just on asking God to fulfill one’s hopes and desires, but must include praise, thanks and trust in God’s plan which may not match one’s own, Benedict XVI said during his weekly general audience.
In his catechesis, Pope Benedict continued a series of talks on Christian prayer.
At the end of his main audience talk, Pope Benedict greeted 49 newly ordained priests of the Legionaries of Christ. Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the papal delegate to the Legionaries, ordained the men on December 12 in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
Fifteen of the new priests are from the United States, including Fathers Jason and Michael Mitchell, who are brothers from western Pennsylvania, and 20 are from Mexico.
At the end of the audience, the Pope prayed a few moments before a traditional Mexican Nativity scene decorating the Paul VI Audience Hall. The large painted ceramic figures were handcrafted by artisans and were a gift from the Mexican state of Puebla.
LOOKING FOR PEACE, JUSTICE
When young people recognize the dignity and beauty of every human life, including their own, and are supported in their natural desire to make the world a better place, they become agents of justice and peace in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012.
The Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day on January 1.
The Pope’s message for the occasion was released at the Vatican and sent, through Vatican ambassadors, to the leaders of nations around the world.
The theme the pontiff chose for the 2012 celebration was “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.”
Presenting the message at a Vatican news conference, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the pontiff’s message highlights the fact that he sees young people not only as hope for the future, but as “an active part, the most vital part of the human family” in a world that needs energy and new ideas now.
POPE ADVANCES SAINTHOOD CAUSES OF MARIANNE COPE, KATERI TEKAKWITHA
During a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Benedict XVI signed the decrees recognizing the miracles needed for the canonizations of Blesseds Marianne and Kateri.
Before a date is set for the canonization ceremonies, there must be an “ordinary public consistory,” a formal ceremony opened and closed with prayer, during which cardinals present in Rome express their support for the Pope’s decision to elevate the new saints.
Blessed Marianne, who worked as a teacher and hospital administrator in New York, spent the last 30 years of her life ministering on the Hawaiian island of Molokai to those with leprosy. She died on the island in 1918 at age 80 and was beatified in St. Peter’s Basilica in 2005.
Blessed Kateri, known as “The Lily of the Mohawks,” was born to a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in 1656 in upstate New York along the Mohawk River. She was baptized by a Jesuit missionary in 1676 when she was 20, and she died in Canada four years later. In June 1980, she became the first Native American to be beatified.
“HIGHLIGHT RELIGIOUS MEANING OF CHRISTMAS”
Benedict XVI asked Christians to highlight the real meaning, the religious meaning, of Christmas as they celebrate the holidays.
“Let us make sure that even in today’s society our Christmas greetings do not lose their profound religious meaning and the celebration is not absorbed by exterior aspects,” the Pope said in his weekly general audience.
BENEDICT XVI MEETS TOP VATICAN OFFICIALS
Meeting members of the Roman Curia for his annual exchange of Christmas greetings, the Pope said the “faith fatigue” seen in various areas of Church life contrasts sharply with the faith and joy he witnessed during World Youth Day in Madrid and during his November trip to Benin.
The two trips, he said, hold lessons for Church leaders and for the faithful.
In what usually amounts to a review of the past year, Pope Benedict’s speech to the Curia included an acknowledgment of the global financial crisis, particularly in Europe, as well as of the dwindling number of practicing Catholics and the priest shortage on the continent.
Pope Benedict said the lessons for the Church are:
— A need for an “experience of catholicity, of the Church’s universality,” so that people understand that, despite differences of age, language and culture, “we know one another” and are united in faith and in the experience of being children of God.
— Learning through volunteer work “a new way of living our humanity.” The youth day volunteers “were visibly and tangibly filled with a great sense of happiness,” because they gave of themselves.
— Cultivating a spirituality based on Eucharistic adoration, “an act of faith” that says one recognizes God is present, which leads one to bow down in adoration.
— Returning to the sacrament of confession, recognizing “we need forgiveness over and over again, and that forgiveness brings responsibility.”
— Showing others the joy that comes from knowing “I am wanted; I have a task; I am accepted; I am loved.”
“CHRISTMAS SHOWS GOD’S WILL TO SAVE PEOPLE FROM SIN, VIOLENCE”
“The child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace,” Pope Benedict XVI said in his Christmas message “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) as he stood on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and gave his solemn Christmas blessing on Christmas Day.
As is customary, Pope Benedict used his message to ask Christians to pray and offer concrete help to people who are suffering this Christmas: famine in the Horn of Africa; flooding in Thailand and the Philippines; tensions between Israelis and Palestinians; violence in Syria; a lack of peace and security in Iraq and Afghanistan; the struggle for democracy and human rights across North Africa and the Middle East; and for the people of Myanmar, South Sudan and Africa’s Great Lakes region.
MIDNIGHT MASS (Dec. 24)
During the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope said, “God has appeared — as a child. It is in this guise that he pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace.”
At the beginning of the two-hour liturgy, children from Italy, Guatemala, Gabon, Burkina Faso, South Korea and France brought white flowers up to a statue of the Baby Jesus near the altar.
In his homily, Pope Benedict said the birth of Jesus was something completely new in salvation history: God became visible.
POPE CONDEMNS CHRISTMAS BOMBINGS IN NIGERIA
Benedict XVI appealed for an end to violence in Nigeria, condemning the Christmas church bombings that led to the deaths of at least 39 people. “Once again I want to repeat: Violence is a path that leads only to pain, destruction and death; respect, reconciliation and love are the paths to peace,” the Pope said.
“CHRISTIANS LOOK TO NEW YEAR WITH HOPE, COMMITMENT TO PEACE”
“God is love, He is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honor him must first of all act like a child following his father’s example,” the Pope said during a Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God and World Peace Day.
For World Peace Day 2012, Pope Benedict focused on the theme of educating young people in justice and peace.
The pontiff ended 2011 by celebrating an evening prayer service December 31 in the basilica and offering God thanks for the past year.
POPE STRESSES VALUE OF ANOINTING
Anointing of the sick is not a minor sacrament, said Benedict XVI, but one that “deserves greater consideration today” because of its spiritual benefits to both minister and recipient.
The Pope’s words appeared in a message for the 2012 World Day of the Sick, released by the Vatican. The day itself is celebrated annually February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Pope Benedict noted that the sacrament, formerly known as extreme unction, may be administered in “various human situations connected with illness, and not only when a person is at the end of his or her life.”
POPE NAMES 22 NEW CARDINALS
The Pope announced the nominations and a consistory for their formal induction into the College of Cardinals February 18, to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square at noon, before praying the Angelus.
With his latest appointments, Pope Benedict will have named more than 50 percent of the current cardinal electors, with the rest having been named by Blessed John Paul II.
Four of the new cardinals are already over the age of 80 and, therefore, ineligible to vote in a conclave. The Pope uses such nominations to honor churchmen for their scholarship or other service to the Church. Among the new so-called honorary cardinals is Cardinal-designate Karl Becker, a Jesuit and former theology professor at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.
POPE BAPTIZES 16 INFANTS
Benedict XVI baptized 16 infants in the Sistine Chapel on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and told their parents and godparents that prayer and the sacraments will give them the strength and guidance they need to promote the children’s true well-being.
In his homily, the pontiff recalled St. John the Baptist’s baptism of the Lord and said a true teacher, like the saint, leads people to the truth — to Christ — and does not try to establish loyalty to himself.
One of the intentions read during the prayers of the faithful was “for children who suffer from mistreatment, hunger and disease: May the Lord always call forth men and women able to kneel before them with tireless charity and tenacious hope.”
POPE MEETS AMBASSADORS TO THE HOLY SEE
Benedict XVI condemned “religiously motivated terrorism” and restrictions on religious freedom during his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican.
The Pope paid tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and government minister for minorities in Pakistan, “whose untiring battle for the rights of minorities ended in his tragic death” when he was murdered last March.
Pope Benedict focused particularly on the needs and concerns of the world’s young people as he spoke to the ambassadors about the global economic crisis, the Arab Spring democracy movement, wars and social tensions.
The pontiff expressed his hopes for an end to bloodshed and tensions in South Sudan, Syria, the Holy Land, Iraq and the Great Lakes region of Africa, and urged the nations of the world to take seriously their obligation to protect the environment and fight climate change.
Pope Benedict said education in knowledge and in values is crucial today, and among educational settings, “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman.”
“EUCHARIST GIVES STRENGTH TO THOSE WHO ARE WEAK, WEARY, LOST”
The Eucharist sustains those who are tired, worn out or lost in the world and transforms human sin and weakness into new life, Benedict XVI said.
Speaking at his weekly general audience, the Pope focused on Jesus and the Last Supper, where he instituted the Eucharist, “the sacrament of his body and blood.”
At the end of the audience, a rare young Cuban crocodile was shown off to the pontiff in honor of his upcoming trip to Cuba.
The 15-inch long reptile is set to be introduced to its natural habitat in Cuba during the Pope’s trip in March.
POPE SAYS SELFISHNESS, INDIVIDUALISM FED ECONOMIC CRISIS
Addressing the mayor of Rome and the presidents of the province of Rome and the region of Lazio, the Pope said citizens need to “recover values that are at the basis of a true renewal of society and that not only favor economic recovery, but also aim at promoting the integral good of the human person.”
Benedict XVI, as bishop of Rome, traditionally meets at the beginning of the year with the area’s political leaders, addressing social issues of particular concern to the Church.
While Catholic parishes and the diocesan Caritas network are committed to community building, welcoming newcomers and helping the poor, he said, the government and individual citizens also have an obligation to promote solidarity and a renewed social life.
“I encourage you to defend the family founded on marriage as an essential cell of society and to make every effort to guarantee each family has what it needs to live a dignified life,” he said.