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Posts Tagged ‘Pope Benedict XVI’

Retiring Pope Benedict XVI in uncharted territory

In Catholic News, Religious News, World News on February 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm
English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP

 
For months, construction crews have been renovating a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where nuns would live for a few years at a time in cloister.

 

Only a handful of Vatican officials knew it would one day be Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement home.

 

On Tuesday, construction materials littered the front lawn of the house and plastic tubing snaked down from the top floor to a cargo container. The restoration has become even more critical following Benedict’s announcement that he will resign Feb. 28 and live his remaining days here in prayer.

 

From a new name to this new home to the awkward reality of having a reigning pope and a retired one, Benedict is facing uncharted territory as he becomes the first pontiff in six centuries to retire.

 

The Vatican on Tuesday tried to quash any notion that Benedict aimed to pull strings behind the scenes. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a top spokesman, said Benedict will have no influence on the election of his successor.

 

“The pope will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of election,” he told reporters.

 

The 85-year-old Benedict said Monday he was stepping down simply because he simply no longer had the strength in mind or body to carry on. Lombardi on Tuesday also revealed for the first time that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years and had its battery replaced just a few months ago.

 

Although no date for a conclave to choose the next pope has been announced, it must begin within 20 days of his Feb. 28 retirement. That means a new pope will likely be elected by the College of Cardinals by Easter — March 31 this year.

 

The decision immediately raised questions about what Benedict would be called, where he would live — and how that might affect his successor.

 

The Vatican’s senior communications adviser, Greg Burke, said Tuesday the fact that Benedict had chosen to live in a monastery is significant.

 

“It is something that he has wanted to do for a while,” Burke said. “But I think it also suggests that his role is going to be a very quiet one, and that is important so you don’t have a situation of … two different popes at the same time, and one influencing the other.

 

“I think the obvious thing is when he says retirement, it really means retiring,” he said.

 

As for his name, Burke said Benedict would most likely be referred to “Bishop of Rome, emeritus” as opposed to “Pope Emeritus.” Lombardi also said Benedict would take some kind of “emeritus” title.

 

Other Vatican officials said it would probably be up to the next pope to decide Benedict’s new title, and wouldn’t exclude that he might still be called “Your Holiness” as a courtesy, much as retired presidents are often referred to as “President.” It was not clear whether the retired pope will retain the name Benedict – or revert to being called Joseph Ratzinger again.

 

Benedict had important unfinished business before his retirement: He has been widely expected to issue his fourth encyclical, concerning faith, before Easter. But Lombardi ruled out that the encyclical would be ready before his retirement.

 

Already, Benedict was changing his schedule to take into account his new circumstances. He had been scheduled to go to a church on Rome’s Aventine hill for the annual Ash Wednesday service this week starting the church’s Lenten season; the service will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome instead. Lombardi said a larger space was needed to accommodate the throngs expected to greet the outgoing pope – but observers suspect the Vatican may have also wanted to spare Benedict from the crowds along the hill.

 

Immediately after his resignation, Benedict will spend some time at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, overlooking Lake Albano in the hills south of Rome where he has spent his summer vacations reading and writing. By March, the weather may start to warm up and he should be able to enjoy the gardens and feed the goldfish in a pond near a statue of the Madonna where he often liked to visit.

 

If he’s interested, he can do some star gazing; The Vatican Observatory is located inside the palazzo, complete with a telescope and a world-class collection of meteorites.

 

Lombardi said Benedict would eventually return to the Vatican and live at a monastery inside the Vatican gardens. Asked if he might like to go somewhere else, Lombardi said the pope would feel “much safer” inside the Vatican walls.

 

The Mater Ecclesiae monastery was built in 1992, on the site of a former residence for the Vatican’s gardeners. Pope John Paul II had wanted a residence inside the Vatican walls to host contemplative religious orders, and over the years several different orders would come for spells of a few years, said Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

 

The last such order of nuns left the residence in October, and renovation work began immediately afterward, Vian told AP. He said Benedict had decided to retire last April after his taxing but exhilarating trip to Mexico and Cuba in March.

 

“Many people thought they were doing the renovations for new sisters, but it was for the pope,” Vian said. He said only a few people knew of the pope’s plans, yet the secret didn’t get out.

 

“That shows the seriousness and loyalty of the few senior Holy See officials who were aware,” he said — a reference to the 2012 scandal over leaked papal documents by the pope’s own butler.

 

Benedict has visited the monastery, with its own chapel on the grounds, a handful of times over the years.

 

There’s a garden right outside the front door, where the nuns living there would tend to the lemon and orange trees as well as the roses, which are used in liturgical ceremonies or sent as gifts to the pope. No chemical fertilizers are used, just organic fertilizer sent straight from the gardens at Castel Gandolfo.

 

Source: Associated Press.

 

 

 

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Vatican celebrates Knights of Malta’s 900 years

In Catholic News, General News, World News on February 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm

 

English: Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Squa...

English: Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, Rome (2007). Polski: Papież Benedykt XVI podczas Audiencji Generalnej na Placu św. Piotra w Rzymie (2007). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP
 

The Knights of Malta, one of the most peculiar organizations in the world, marked its 900th birthday Saturday with a colorful procession through St. Peter’s Square, a Mass in the basilica and an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, himself a member of the onetime chivalrous order drawn from Europe’s nobility.

The Knights are at once a Roman Catholic religious order, an aid group that runs soup kitchens, hospitals and ambulance services around the globe, and a sovereign entity that prints its own passports and enjoys diplomatic relations with 104 countries — yet has no country to call its own.

Some 4,000 people — volunteers in neon orange civil protection suits, children in red berets and members each draped in a black cloak with a white, eight-pointed Maltese Cross on the front — processed through St. Peter’s Square and into the basilica for the Mass marking the 900th anniversary of the order’s recognition by the Holy See.

After the Mass, which was celebrated by the Vatican No. 2, Benedict came to the basilica for an audience during which he thanked the order for its service and urged it to continue providing health care for the world’s neediest while staying true to its Christian ideals.

The order’s work, he said, “is not mere philanthropy but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love.”

The order traces its history to an 11th century infirmary in Jerusalem set up by a monk to care for pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. During the Crusades, as the order’s humanitarian efforts spread, it took on a military role to protect pilgrims and Christendom as a whole from Muslim attacks. In February 1113 Pope Paschal II recognized the order with a papal bull establishing its sovereign status by saying it was independent of both lay and other religious authorities.

During its heyday, would-be members had to prove nobility through all eight great-grandparents. Such requirements are now largely relaxed except in some European countries. Still, the order’s members are drawn from some of the world’s wealthiest Catholics, who fund its health clinics, homeless shelters and old folks’ homes in 120 countries and rally for special appeals when disasters strike.

Sixty of the 13,500 members are so-called “professed knights,” who make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and live like monks, albeit without being ordained priests.

The order’s international legal status is entirely unique, a sovereign entity that prints its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, yet has no territory over which it rules. Its forces once occupied Cyprus, Rhodes and Malta, but Napoleon expelled the order from Malta in 1798, depriving it of the final patch of land ove it ruled.

Nevertheless, the order still enjoys many of the trappings of a small country: U.N. observer status and diplomatic relations with 104 countries, most of them in the developing world where such ties can smooth the delivery of humanitarian aid. But the United States, for one, has no relations, precisely because it’s a stateless state.

In his speech Saturday, Benedict affirmed the sovereign status that the order enjoys. He acknowledged its peculiar nature, saying the order’s guiding spirit “aims not to exercise power and influence of a worldly character, but in complete freedom to accomplish its own mission for the integral good of man, spirit and body … with special regard for those whose need of hope and love is greater.”

Source: Associated Press

 

 
 
 
 

Pope elevates 6 cardinals to choose successor

In General News on November 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Benedictus XVI in St Peter's Basilica, on June...

Benedictus XVI in St Peter’s Basilica, on June 29th, 2006. He then wore a Papal pallium, similar to those worn till the end of the 9th century. Since June 29th, 2008, he has been wearing another shorter one. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP

Six new cardinals on Saturday joined the elite club of red-robed churchmen who will elect the next pope, bringing a more geographically diverse mix into the European-dominated College of Cardinals.

Pope Benedict XVI presided over the ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica to formally elevate the six men, who hail from Colombia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines and the United States. As Benedict read each name aloud in Latin, cheers and applause erupted from their friends and family members in the pews.

The ceremony was both joyful and emotional: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, seen by many to be a rising star in the church, visibly choked up as he knelt before Benedict to receive his three-pointed red hat, or biretta, and gold ring, and wiped tears from his eyes as he returned to his place.

Abuja, Nigeria Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, meanwhile, seemed to want to sit down and chat with each one of the dozens of cardinals that he greeted in the traditional exchange of peace that follows the formal elevation rite.

Benedict has said that with this “little consistory,” he was essentially completing his last cardinal-making ceremony held in February, when he elevated 22 cardinals, the vast majority of them European archbishops and Vatican bureaucrats.

Benedict said Saturday that the new cardinals represent the “unique, universal and all-inclusive identity” of the Catholic Church.

“In this consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the church is the church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents,” he told the crowd, which included Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, the vice president of the Philippines Jejomar Binay and lawmakers from India and Nigeria.

The College of Cardinals remains heavily European even with the new additions: Of the 120 cardinals under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope, more than half — 62 — are European. Critics have complained that the “princes of the church” no longer represents the Catholic Church today, since Catholicism is growing in Asia and Africa but is in crisis in much of Europe.

Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade b...

Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade brasileiro Frei Galvão celebrada pelo papa Bento XVI no Campo de Marte em São Paulo, Brasil. (fragment) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The issue of numbers is significant since these are the men who will elect the next pope from among their ranks: Will the next pontiff come from the southern hemisphere, where two-thirds of the world’s Catholics live? Or will the papacy return to Italy, which has 28 voting-age cardinals, after a Polish and German pope?

The new cardinals do make the papal voting bloc a bit more multinational: Latin America, which boasts half of the world’s Catholics, now has 21 voting-age cardinals; North America, 14; Africa, 11; Asia, 11; and Oceana, one.

Among the six new cardinals is Archbishop James Harvey, the American prefect of the papal household. As prefect, Harvey was the direct superior of the pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, who is serving an 18 month prison sentence in a Vatican jail for stealing the pope’s private papers and leaking them to a reporter in the greatest Vatican security breach in modern times.

The Vatican spokesman has denied Harvey, 63 from Milwaukee, is leaving because of the scandal. But on the day the pope announced Harvey would be made cardinal, he also said he would leave the Vatican to take up duties as the archpriest of one of the Vatican’s four Roman basilicas. Such a face-saving promotion-removal is not an uncommon Vatican personnel move.

Harvey’s departure has led to much speculation about who would replace him in the delicate job of organizing the pope’s daily schedule and arranging audiences.

Aside from Harvey, Tagle, and Onaiyekan, the new cardinals are: Bogota, Colombia Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez; the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon, His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai; and the major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India, His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal.

Cardinals serve as the pope’s closest advisers, but their main task is to elect a new pope. And with Benedict, 85, slowing down, that task is ever more present. For the second time, the consistory ceremony was greatly trimmed back, lasting just over an hour to spare the pope the fatigue of a lengthy ceremony.

He will, however, celebrate Mass on Sunday with them.

While Benedict didn’t mention the cardinals’ primary task in his remarks, he did remind them that the scarlet of their cassock and hat that they wear symbolizes the blood that cardinals must be willing to shed to remain faithful to the church.

“From now on you will be even more closely and intimately linked to the See of Peter,” he said.

The six new cardinals are all under age 80. Their nominations bring the number of voting-age cardinals to 120, 67 of whom were named by Benedict, all but ensuring that his successor will be chosen from a group of like-minded prelates.

Saturday’s consistory marks the first time in decades that not a single European or Italian has been made a cardinal — a statistic that has not gone unnoticed in Italy. Italy still has the lions’ share of cardinals, though, with 28 voting-age “princes” of the church.

Source:  Associated Press.

 

 
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