“IT’S WONDERFUL BEING OLD”
Presenting himself as “an elderly man visiting his peers,” Benedict XVI visited a Rome residence for the elderly run by the lay Community of Sant’Egidio, urging the residents to see their age as a sign of God’s blessing and urging society to value their presence and wisdom.
The Pope visited several of the residents in their rooms and apartments before addressing them and members of Sant’Egidio in the garden.
POPE ESTABLISHES PONTIFICAL LATIN ACADEMY
The new academy, the pontiff said, should promote the study of Latin, particularly in Catholic schools, universities and seminaries, helping young generations learn Latin, “including through the use of modern means of communication.”
Pope Benedict named as president of the new academy Ivano Dionigi, 64, a Latinist and rector of the Alma Mater Studiorum at the University of Bologna. The secretary of the academy is Salesian Father Roberto Spataro, secretary of the Pontifical Institute for Higher Latin Studies at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.
The Holy Father placed the new academy under the Pontifical Council for Culture. It replaces the Latinitas Foundation, which Pope Paul VI established in 1976 and placed under the authority of the Vatican secretariat of state.
The seven members of the secretariat’s Office of Latin Letters — mainly responsible for translating papal documents and correspondence into Latin — carried out the bulk of the foundation’s activities, including overseeing its journal, Latinitas. The magazine now passes to the Latin Academy.
VATILEAKS: SECOND TRIAL
A Vatican court found Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer expert in the secretariat of state, guilty of aiding and abetting the papal butler, who was convicted of stealing sensitive Vatican correspondence.
The three-judge panel hearing the case November 10 initially sentenced Sciarpelletti to four months in jail but reduced the sentence to two months, saying Sciarpelletti had never been in trouble with the law and previously had served the Vatican well.
The judges suspended even the two-month sentence and said that if over the next five years he commits no other crimes, the penalty would be lifted.
VATICAN CONGREGATION SETS UP OFFICE FOR ART, ARCHITECTURE, MUSIC
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is establishing an office to promote the development and use of appropriate liturgical art, architecture and music.
The new office was approved in early September by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state; final arrangements and the designation of personnel are being made, said Marist Father Anthony Ward, undersecretary of the congregation.
The office will provide advice, encouragement and guidance, he said, but it will not attempt to impose specific styles.
FACING THE CHALLENGE OF SECULARIZATION
“The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a privation, represents a challenge for all Christians,” the Pope said in a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Efforts to reunite all Christians are an essential part of the new evangelization, Benedict XVI said. Responding to the obligation to share the Gospel and to heal a divided Christianity, he said, every Christian must “return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, giving the world a witness of the living God, that is, a God who knows us and loves us and in whose gaze we live; a God who awaits the response of our love in our everyday lives.”
THE ROLE OF SACRED MUSIC
“Sacred music can, above all, promote the faith, and, what’s more, cooperate in the new evangelization,” Benedict XVI told participants attending a conference and pilgrimage sponsored by the Italian St. Cecilia Association. St. Cecilia, whose feast day is November 22, is traditionally honored as the patron saint of musicians.
In the evening, in the Sistine Chapel, the Pope attended a concert with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who was the director of the Regensburg Boys’ Choir for decades.
They listened to music from a Mass composed by Msgr. Ratzinger, as well as to pieces by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Msgr. Massimo Palombella — the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir — and Colin Mawby, a contemporary British composer who has served as director of music at Westminster Cathedral.
“PROTECTING MARRIAGE, HUMAN LIFE, PART OF SERVING COMMON GOOD”
Being Catholic means being faithful “to the moral teaching of the Church” and having “the courage to demonstrate their Christian convictions — without arrogance, but with respect — in the various spheres in which they work,” Pope Benedict said as he welcomed a group of bishops from France making their periodic ad limina visits to the Vatican.
In several French cities November 17-18, thousands of Catholics took to the streets to protest government plans to legalize same-sex marriage. President Francois Hollande said he wanted to legalize gay unions by mid-2013.
“HEALTH IS UNIVERSAL GOOD TO BE DEFENDED, NOT COMMODITIZED”
The new evangelization is needed in the health field, especially during the current economic crisis “that is cutting resources for safeguarding health,” the Pope said, addressing participants at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.
Hospitals and other facilities “must rethink their particular role in order to avoid having health become a simple ‘commodity,’ subordinate to the laws of the market, and, therefore, a good reserved to a few, rather than a universal good to be guaranteed and defended,” he said.
Nearly 600 people who work in the field of health care attended the Council’s November 15-17 international conference, which focused on the theme: “The Hospital, Setting for Evangelization: A Human and Spiritual Mission.”
POPE BENEDICT’S LATEST BOOK
The Nativity story, like the whole story of Christ, is not merely an event in the past, but has unfolding significance for people today, with implications for such issues as the limits of political power and the purpose of human freedom, Pope Benedict writes in his third and final volume on the life and teachings of Jesus.
Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives is only 132 pages long, yet it includes wide-ranging reflections on such matters as the significance of the Virgin Birth and the distinctive views of nature in ancient pagan and Judeo-Christian cultures.
The book was formally released at the Vatican, and it is scheduled for publication in English and eight other languages in 50 countries.
In the book, Pope Benedict examines Jesus’ birth and childhood as recounted in the Gospels of Sts. Matthew and Luke. His interpretation of the biblical texts refers frequently to the work of other scholars and draws on a variety of academic fields, including linguistics, political science, art history and the history of science.
The book’s publication completes the three-volume Jesus of Nazareth series, which also includes From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration (2007) and Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (2011).
“LIVES, PLANET AT STAKE WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S TRUTH”
“Faith, truly lived, does not conflict with science; rather it cooperates with it, offering it basic criteria so that it promotes the good of everyone, asking that it forsake only those efforts that — by going against God’s own plan — can produce effects that backfire against humanity,” Benedict XVI said during his weekly general audience.
The Pope spoke about “the reasonableness of faith as an encounter with the splendor of God’s truth.”
At the end of his general audience talk, the pontiff noted that the November 21 celebration of the feast of the Presentation of Mary was also a day of prayer for cloistered religious.
He expressed his special closeness to all religious women who have been called to contemplative life.
POPE CALLS FOR TRUCE, TALKS
“I am following with great concern the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” Pope Benedict said at the end of his general audience.
“Hatred and violence are not the solution to problems,” he said to applause from those gathered in Paul VI Hall.
He also called on leaders on both sides of the conflict to make “courageous decisions in favor of peace and put an end to a conflict that has negative repercussions throughout the entire Middle East region, which is already troubled by too many conflicts and is in need of peace and reconciliation.”
POPE CREATES NEW CARDINALS
Benedict XVI created six new cardinals from four different continents:
U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, 63, former prefect of the papal household;
Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, 72;
Indian Archbishop Baselio Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church;
Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, 68, of Abuja;
Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, 70, of Bogota;
Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle, 55, of Manila.
The six new cardinals received from Pope Benedict symbols of their office: a ring, the “zucchetto” skull cap and the three-cornered hat called a biretta. The headwear was colored scarlet, like the cardinals’ robes, to symbolize the blood they risk shedding in service to the Church.
The Holy Father also assigned each of the new cardinals a “titular church” in Rome, making them full members of the Roman clergy and closer collaborators of the Pope in governing the Universal Church.
At the end of the ceremony, the College of Cardinals had 211 members, 120 of whom were under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope.
POPE APPEALS FOR PEACE IN MIDEAST
“I wish to encourage the life and presence of Christians in the Middle East where they should be able to live their faith freely and to launch once again an urgent appeal for peace in the region,” Benedict XVI said, greeting hundreds of Christians from Lebanon during an audience with six new cardinals and their families and friends in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
NEW RULES TO STRENGTHEN CHARITIES’ CATHOLIC IDENTITY
Warning that Catholic charitable activity must not become “just another form of organized social assistance,” Benedict XVI issued new rules to strengthen the religious identity of Catholic charities and ensure that their activities conform to Church teaching.
The Pope’s apostolic letter on the “service of charity,” issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative), directs bishops in overseeing charitable works in their dioceses.
The document is the Vatican’s latest measure aimed at reinforcing the religious identity of Catholic institutions.
In May 2012, the Vatican issued rules strengthening its control over Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 164 Catholic relief, development and social service agencies around the world, including Catholic Relief Services in the United States.
Pope Benedict specified that the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office in charge of coordinating and promoting charitable giving, would be primarily responsible for “promoting the application of this legislation and ensuring that it is applied at all levels.”
THE MEANING OF ADVENT
Advent, Pope Benedict said at his weekly general audience, “places before us the bright mystery of the coming of God’s Son, the great plan of God’s goodness through which he desires to draw us to himself to let us live in full communion, joy and peace with him.”
The pontiff also asked for prayers for peace in Congo, where continuing ethnic violence and civil strife have led to dozens of deaths and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.
In his main audience talk, Pope Benedict continued his reflections on the Year of Faith, which he opened in October.
Among the pilgrims at the audience were representatives of an association of Italian bakers and pastry chefs; the Pope thanked them for their gifts of panettoni, Italian Christmas cakes, which he said would be distributed to the poor.
FEAST OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Standing before a statue of Mary near the Spanish Steps, in the midst of Rome’s ritzy shopping district, Pope Benedict said Mary is a reminder that silence is essential for hearing God’s word, that salvation comes from God alone and that joy comes from being freed of sin.
As he does every year, the Pope prayed the Angelus at noon in St. Peter’s Square, and then — riding in a brand new, Mercedes-Benz M-class popemobile — went to the Spanish Steps late in the afternoon for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.