from issue no.11 - 2011


The Pope to the children: communion, prayer, the rosary

Pope Benedict XVI in the church of Saint Rita, Cotonou, Benin on Sunday 20 November [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Pope Benedict XVI in the church of Saint Rita, Cotonou, Benin on Sunday 20 November [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

During the course of the pastoral visit to Benin (18-20 November), the Pope had a meeting with children. From this meeting, which took place in Cotonou, in the parish church of Saint Rita, we publish ample excerpts: “God our Father has gathered us around His Son and our brother, Jesus Christ, who is present in the host consecrated during the Mass. This is a great mystery before which we worship and we believe. Jesus, who loves us very much, is truly present in the tabernacles of all the churches around the world, in the tabernacles of the churches in your neighbourhoods and in your parishes. I ask you to visit Him often to tell Him of your love for Him.

Some of you have already made your First Holy Communion, and others are preparing for it. The day of my First Holy Communion was one of the most beautiful days of my life. It is the same for you, isn’t it? And why is that? It’s not only because of our nice clothes or the gifts we receive, nor even because of the parties! It is above all because, that day, we receive Jesus Christ for the first time! When I receive Communion, Jesus comes to live in me. I must welcome Him with love and listen closely to Him. In the depths of my heart, I can tell Him, for example: ‘Jesus, I know that You love me. Give me Your love so that I can love You in return and love others with Your love. I give You all my joys, my troubles and my future’. Do not hesitate, dear children, to speak of Jesus to others. He is a treasure whom you should share generously. Throughout the history of the Church, the love of Jesus has filled countless Christians, and even young people like yourselves, with courage and strength. In this way, Saint Kizito, a Ugandan boy, was put to death because he wanted to live according to the baptism which he had just received. Kizito prayed. He had realized that God is not only important, but that He is everything.

What, then, is prayer? It is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our brother. Jesus often went off by himself to pray. Like Jesus, I too can find a calm place to pray where I can quietly stand before a Cross or a holy picture in order to speak to Jesus and to listen to Him... May the Virgin Mary, His Mother, teach you to love Him more and more through prayer, forgiveness and charity. I entrust you to her, together with your families and teachers. Look! I have this rosary in my pocket. The rosary is like a tool that we can use to pray. It is easy to pray the rosary. Maybe you know how already; if not, ask your parents to help you to learn how. At the end of this meeting, each one of you will receive a rosary. When you hold it in your hands, I would ask you to pray for the Pope, for the Church and for every important intention. And now, before I bless you all with great affection, let us pray together a Hail Mary for children throughout the world, especially for those who are sick, who are hungry and in places of war. Let us pray together: Hail Mary…”.


The primacy of prayer over action

St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer in the Grotto of Lourdes [© Opus Dei]

St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer in the Grotto of Lourdes [© Opus Dei]

“‘Of maximum usefulness in the Church of Jesus are not the so-called practical men, nor even the pure announcers of theories, but the true contemplatives’, thus wrote Monsignor Álvaro del Portillo, his immediate successor, in L’Osservatore Romano on 23 June 1985, in the days of the tenth anniversary of the death of Josemaría Escrivá. The theme of contemplation – of that ‘frequentation’ofGod which, according to St Josemaría leads to ‘knowing Him and to knowing ourselves’ – was also central in a homily of Bishop Javier Echevarría, third prelate of Opus Dei, given a few days ago in the Basilica of Sant’ Eugenio in Rome at the ordination as deacons of 35 future priests”. So begins an article published in L’Osservatore Romano on 16 November, which ends this way: “It would be a gross error, even more in our present historical moment, to ignore this teaching. Faced with frenzied activism, inhuman because it is distanced from God, the true Christian message has always been shocking: the primacy of prayer over action. Mother Teresa of Calcutta gives us the key to a better understanding of this primacy: everything she did ‘in the middle of the road’, as St Josemaría would say, had a secret motor, running quietly in the middle of the night: prayer before her Eucharistic Jesus. Who knows whether our night also, if used in such a way, will not lead to the dawn of a really new and perhaps unexpected day”. Article title: It is necessary to talk with God. The primacy of prayer over action.


Sergio Romano and Iranian nuclear power

The nuclear facility in Isfahan, Iran [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

The nuclear facility in Isfahan, Iran [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

A recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has raised the possibility that Iran is equipping itself with a nuclear device. In a commentary published in the Corriere della Sera on 16 November, Sergio Romano notes that, even though he considers it necessary to “prevent” Iran from acquiring such a weapon, an Iranian attack on Israel “looks altogether unlikely”. Romano continues: “I still wonder, on the other hand, if the progress made in recent times really will enable Tehran to have a bomb within a couple of years. In the last decade we have been bombarded by a series of predictions based on very different calendars. Then, in December of 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate (a report prepared by the organization which brings together the intelligence and counterintelligence services of the United States) informed us, to the astonishment of all observers, that Iran had given up its military nuclear program in 2003. Should we believe this report or the recent one of the International Atomic Energy Agency? Some people are beginning to think that this sudden reappearance of the specter of Iran on the international stage is the outcome of political intentions and strategies. After the outbreak of the Arab revolts, the State of Israel is more isolated, therefore more insecure, and fears that future governments in the region will busy themselves with the Palestinian issue far more than their predecessors did. The debate on the possibility of a preemptive strike against Iranian sites would thus serve to create more concern for its fears. The United States considers it too risky and has already publicly expressed itself in these terms through the statements of their Secretary of Defense... One last observation. A political battle has been under way in Iran for several months now between President Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, backed by the powerful organization of the Revolutionary Guards. While the former now seems more open to an understanding with the West, the Pasdaran think that increased international tension will aid their political battle. An Israeli strike against Iran is probably the factor that would most contribute to their victory”.


A Crucifix fresco, Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian, in Rome

A Crucifix fresco, Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian, in Rome


The more secret source of Jesus’ prayer


‘In our previous Catecheses we have reflected on several examples of prayer in the Old Testament. Today I would like to begin to look at Jesus, at his prayer, that flows through the whole of his life like a secret channel that waters existence, relationships and actions and that leads Him, with progressive firmness, to the total gift of Himself in accordance with the loving design of God the Father. Jesus is also our teacher in prayer, indeed He is our active and fraternal support on every occasion that we address the Father. Truly, “prayer”, as it is summed up in a heading in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “is fully revealed and realized in Jesus”… Jesus’ teaching on prayer undoubtedly derives from the approach to prayer that He acquired in his family but its deep, essential origins are found in His being the Son of God and in His unique relationship with God the Father. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church answers the question: “From whom did Jesus learn how to pray?” in this way, “Jesus, with His human heart, learned how to pray from his Mother and from the Jewish tradition. But His prayer springs from a more secret source because He is the eternal Son of God who in His holy humanity offers perfect filial prayer to His Father’. So said Pope Benedict XVI during the general audience of 30 November.




As if faith were a given acquired once and for all


On 25 November, speaking at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Benedict XVI said: “Efforts have sometimes been made to make the presence of Christians in social assistance, in politics or in the economy more incisive, and the soundness of their faith may not have been sufficiently taken into account, almost as if it were a given acquired once and for all. In fact, Christians do not dwell on a far off planet, immune from the world’s ‘diseases’”.



Sacred College

Cardinal Simonis’ eightieth birthday


On 26 November Cardinal Adrianus Johannes Simonis, Archbishop of Utrecht from 1983 to 2007, was eighty years old. The Dutch cardinal, a priest since 1957, Bishop of Rotterdam from 1970 to 1983, received the cardinal’s hat from Pope John Paul II in 1985. At the end of November then, the components of the College of Cardinals were 193, of whom 111 are voters. On 7 December another cardinal, the Korean Nicholas Cheong Jin-Suk, Archbishop of Seoul since 1998, was also eighty.



Kirill in Beirut, 15 November <BR>[© Reuters/Contrasto]

Kirill in Beirut, 15 November
[© Reuters/Contrasto]


The appeal of the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites to the Russian Orthodox Church for the protection of the Christian minorities in the Middle East


“An appeal for closer cooperation in order to preserve the Christian presence in the Middle East countries was made by the Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï to that of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill. The meeting took place on Tuesday 15, at the residence in Bkerké, the Lebanese town where the twentieth session of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East was held.” This is the beginning of a 19 November article in L’Osservatore Romano, which goes on to explain how the Maronite Patriarch, “directly addressing the Patriarch Kirill, proposed a ‘collaboration with the Russian Church to safeguard the Christian presence in the Middle Eastern countries and to help Christians not to emigrate’. But also ‘to deal with the political conflicts in the region, the attacks against the faithful and fears of seeing the Arab Spring bring to power groups that may threaten the stability and coexistence in the region’”.



Faithful kissing the relic of the Virgin Mary’s girdle in Moscow [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Faithful kissing the relic of the Virgin Mary’s girdle in Moscow [© Associated Press/LaPresse]


The relic of the Virgin Mary’s girdle moves from Mount Athos to Moscow for the first time


“They’re queuing up in the morning and all night defying the icy temperatures of the Moscow autumn to get to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in central Moscow, and kiss a reliquary containing one of the most important relics for the Orthodox Church: the Virgin Mary’s girdle. They trudge with effort through the streets covered with ice and patiently wait an average of 26 hours in a human traffic jam more than 5 kilometers long that for over a week has been paralyzing the increasingly clogged streets of the capital... According to the faithful the relic can cure of any illness and help women conceive children. No one knows what grace the powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asked of the Virgin last month when he was the first to kiss the coveted object on its arrival in St Petersburg from the Greek-Orthodox Monastery on Mount Athos where it is kept”. So began a short reportage published in the Fatto Quotidiano on 26 November last. It is the first time that the venerated relic has left Greece.



Papal basilicas

New archpriest for Saint Mary Major


On 21 November, the Spanish Archbishop Santos Abril y Castelló was appointed as the new archpriest of the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. He succeeds the US Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was eighty last 4 November, and was appointed to this position by Pope John Paul II in 2004. The new archpriest is 76 years old and was ordained priest in 1960. He has a degree in Social Sciences from the Angelicum and in Canon Law from the Gregorian and entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1967, working in Pakistan, Turkey and the Secretariat of State. In 1985 he was appointed archbishop and nuncio to Bolivia, where he remained until 1989 when he became pontifical representative in Cameroon. Appointed nuncio to Yugoslavia in 1996, he arrived in Argentina in 2000 where he remained until 2003, when he became nuncio in Slovenia. Since last January 22 he has been vice-chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, and from April a member of the Congregation for Bishops.




Cultural delegate appointed


On 11 November, the 58 year-old Portuguese Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, was appointed delegate of the Pontifical Council for Culture. He was auxiliary bishop of Lisbon since 2005. The bishop, ordained priest in 1977 for the Diocese of Porto, was vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University. He now joins the president, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and the secretary, Bishop Barthélemy Adou­ko­nou in the guidance of the Vatican Congregation.




New bishops of Aosta, Carpi, Taranto, Novara, Teggiano-Policastro


On 9 November 54 year-old Monsignor Franco Lovignana was appointed Bishop of Aosta. A native of the city, ordained priest in 1981, he was vicar general of that diocese since 2004.

On 14 November 56 year-old Monsignor Fran­cesco Cavina was appointed Bishop of Carpi. A native of Faenza, ordained priest in 1980 for the Diocese of Imola, he was official at the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State since 1996.

On 21 November the 63 year-old Bishop Filippo Santoro was promoted to Metropolitan Archbishop of Taranto. A native of Carbonara (Bari), ordained priest in 1972 for the Archdiocese of Bari – Bitonto was Fidei Donum representative priest in Brazil in 1984. Head of Communion and Liberation in Rio de Janeiro, in all of Brazil and Latin America, in 1996 he was appointed Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro; he was Bishop of Petrópolis since 2004.

On 24 November, 62 year-old Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla was appointed Bishop of Novara. Originally from Missaglia (Lecco), in 1975 he was ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Milan. Since 2006 he was dean of the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy and Auxiliary of Milan since 2007.

On 26 November the 55 year-old Redemptorist Father Antonio De Luca was appointed Bishop of Teggiano–Policastro. Originally from Torre del Greco (Naples), he was ordained priest in 1981, and was episcopal pro-vicar for the consecrated life of the archdiocese of Naples since 2007.




New nuncios to Tanzania, Italy, Ireland, Georgia


On 10 November the 58 year-old Filipino Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, was appointed Nuncio to Tanzania; he was pontifical representative in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands from 2006.

On 15 November 69 year-old Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, was appointed nuncio to Italy and San Marino; he was the pontifical representative in Argentina from 2003.

On 26 November 52 year-old Monsignor Charles John Brown, was appointed nuncio to Ireland and raised to the dignity of titular archbishop of Aquileia. Originally from New York, where he was ordained priest in 1989, he was an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1994.

Also on 26 November fifty year-old Monsignor Marek Solczynski, was appointed nuncio to Georgia and raised to the dignity of titular archbishop of Caesarea in Mauritania. Ordained a priest in 1987 for the Archdiocese of Warsaw, he entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1993, serving in the nunciatures of Paraguay, Russia, the UN headquarters in New York, USA, Turkey, the Czech Republic and, most recently, Spain.

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