Benedict flew to Latin America for his second papal visit to the region on March 23. Arriving in Mexico as a “pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love,” Benedict XVI promoted the cause of religious freedom, social progress and the Catholic Church’s charitable works.

In Mexico, the Holy Father called for a revival of faith. In Cuba, the Pope called for freedom and, when he celebrated Mass, Raul Castro, Cuban president, was sitting in the front row.

Benedict XVI spent more than 40 minutes meeting privately with Raul Castro and asked the Cuban leader for further freedoms for the Catholic Church in Cuba and attention to certain “humanitarian” situations.

  • My Brother, the Pope is a book based on interviews with Msgr. Georg Ratzinger by German writer Michael Hesemann and was originally published in German last year. Recounting their rural Bavarian childhood and subsequent lifelong friendship, the elder brother of Pope Benedict XVI offered a privileged look at the personal side of the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church. Msgr. Ratzinger also recounted anecdotes about their time together as adults: watching a German television series about a police dog named “Inspector Rex” and dividing tasks in the kitchen — the monsignor drying the dishes which his brother, by then a cardinal, washed.
  • Vatileaks: the Pope established a commission to investigate a series of leaks of letters exchanged among Vatican officials and between the officials and the pontiff himself (March 19). The leaks being investigated by the Vatican began in January with the publication of letters written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano when he was secretary-general of the Governor’s Office of Vatican City State. Later leaks included a letter from a Vatican official questioning the current reform of the Vatican’s finance laws, and letters from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan arguing over control of a Catholic hospital.
  • First trial: a three-judge panel of Vatican jurists found Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler, guilty of aggravated theft and sentenced him to 18 months in jail for his role in leaking private papal correspondence and other confidential documents (October 6). The Pope granted his former butler a pardon before Christmas.
  • Second trial: a Vatican court declared Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer expert at the Vatican, guilty of aiding Paolo Gabriele, the former papal butler. Initially Sciarpelletti was sentenced to four months in jail but the sentence was reduced to two months, since Sciarpelletti had never been in trouble with the law before 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 (November 10).
  • In Milan, Italy, the Pope visited the archdiocese of Saints Ambrose and Charles Borromeo (June 1-3). Benedict XVI visited San Siro Stadium, in Milan, where tens of thousands of families from all over the world were gathered for the 7th World Meeting of Families. He rode in his popemobile along with Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan.
  • Benedict XVI went to Lebanon (September 14-16), saying that he came “as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of men.” He urged young Christians in the Middle East not to flee violence and economic insecurity through emigration, but to draw strength from their faith and make peace in their troubled region.
  • Pope Benedict finished his trilogy on Jesus with the publication of the third and final volume, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, at the end of November. The Gospels are “true history” and not a pure theological construction, the Pope writes.

Source: Inside the Vatican archive.

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