"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Thursday 14 February 2013


my source: Sandro Magister
ROME, February 14, 2013 – On the evening of an unremarkable Thursday in Lent, at 8 p.m. on February 28, Joseph Ratzinger will take the step that none of his predecessors had dared to take. He will place upon the throne of Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Which another will be called to take up.

There is the power of a revolution in this action that has no equal even in centuries long ago. From that point on, the Church enters into unknown territory. It will have to elect a new pope while his predecessor is still alive, his words still resounding, his orders still binding, his agenda still waiting to be implemented.

Those cardinals who on the morning of Monday, February 11 were convoked in the hall of the  consistory for the canonization of the eight hundred Christians of Otranto martyred by the Turks six centuries ago were stunned at hearing Benedict XVI, at the end of the ceremony, announce in Latin his resignation of the pontificate.

It will be up to them, in the middle of Lent, to choose his successor. On Palm Sunday, March 24, the newly elect will celebrate his first Mass in St. Peter's Square, on the day of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, acclaimed as the “blessed one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

There will be 117 cardinals who in the middle of March will close themselves up in conclave, the same number as those who eight years ago elected pope Joseph Ratzinger at the fourth scrutiny with more than two thirds of the votes, in one of the most rapid and least contentious elections in history.

But this time it will be completely different. The announcement of the resignation has taken them by surprise like a thief in the night, without a long twilight of the pontificate as had happened with John Paul II, allowing them to arrive at the conclave with sufficiently vetted options already in place.

In 2005, the candidacy of Ratzinger did not emerge all of a sudden; it had already matured for at least a couple of years, and all of the alternative candidacies had fallen one after another. Today this is certainly far from the case. And to the difficulty of identifying candidates is added the unprecedented overshadowing of the retired pope.

The conclave is an electoral mechanism unique in the world that, refined over time, has succeeded in the last century in producing astonishing results, elevating as pope men of decisively higher quality than the average level of the college of cardinals that has voted for them.

To cite the most remarkable case, the election in 1978 of Karol Wojtyla was a master stroke that will remain forever in the history books.

And the appointment of Ratzinger in 2005 was no less so, as confirmed by the almost eight years of his pontificate, marked by an unbridgeable distance between the greatness of the elect and the mediocrity of so many of his electors.

Moreover, the conclaves have often been characterized by the capacity of the college of cardinals to set new lines of action for the papacy. The sequence of the most recent popes in this regard as well.

It is not a long, gray, repetitive and boring queue. It is a succession of men and events, each marked by powerful originality. The unexpected announcement of the council made by Pope John XXIII to a group of cardinals gathered at St. Paul's Outside the Walls was certainly no less surprising and revolutionary than the announcement of the resignation made by Benedict XVI to another group of stupefied cardinals a few days ago.

But in the upcoming weeks, something will happen that has never been seen before. The cardinals will have to evaluate what to confirm or innovate with respect to the previous pontiff, with him still alive. Everyone recalls and admires the respect with which Ratzinger dealt even with those who disagreed with him: for Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the most authoritative of his opponents, he always manifested a profound and sincere admiration. But in spite of his promise to retire in prayer and study, almost in cloister, it is difficult to imagine that his presence, as silent as it may be, would not weigh upon the cardinals called to conclave, and then upon the newly elect. It is inevitably easier to debate with freedom and frankness about a pope in heaven than about a former pope on earth.


Until February 28, the agenda of Benedict XVI will not undergo any modifications. After the rite of Ash Wednesday and with a “lectio" to the priests of Rome on Vatican Council II, he will face the Sunday Angelus, hold the Wednesday general audience, attend the spiritual exercises and listen to the preaching of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, receive on their “ad limina" visit the bishops of Liguria led by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, and then those of Lombardy, headed by Cardinal Angelo Scola.

Fate would have it that precisely in one of these two cardinals, he could be greeting the future pope.

In Italy, in Europe, and in North America the Church is going through difficult years, of general decline. But here and there with real awakenings of vitality and of public influence, even unexpectedly, as has recently happened in France. Once again, therefore, the cardinal electors could focus on candidates from this area, which in any case continues to hold the theological and cultural leadership over the whole Church. And Italy itself might be back in the race, after two pontificates that have gone to a Pole and a German.

Among the Italian candidates, Scola, 71, appears the most solid. He was trained as a theologian in the cenacle of “Communio,” the international magazine that had Ratzinger among its founders. He was the disciple of Fr. Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion and Liberation. He was rector of the Lateranense, the university of the Church of Rome. He was the patriarch of Venice, where he demonstrated effective managerial abilities and created a theological and cultural center, the Marcianum, reaching out with the magazine “Oasis” toward the confrontation between the West and the East, Christian and Islamic. For almost two years he has been archbishop of Milan. And here he has introduced a pastoral style very attentive to the “far away,” with invitations to the Masses in the cathedral distributed on street corners and in subway stations, and with special care for the divorced and remarried, who are encouraged to approach the altar to receive not communion but a special blessing.

In addition to Scola, another entry for the list of candidates could be Cardinal Bagnasco, 70, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian episcopal conference.

Not to mention the current patriarch of Venice, Francesco Moraglia, 60, a rising star of the Italian episcopate, a pastor of strong spiritual life and very much beloved by the faithful. His limitation is that he is not a cardinal. Nothing prohibits the election of someone who is not part of the sacred college, but even the highly credentialed Giovanni Battista Montini, although projected as pope in1958 after the death of Pius XII, had to wait until he received the scarlet before he was elected in 1963 with the name of Paul VI. 

Outside of Italy, the college of cardinals seems to be focusing on North America.

Here one candidate who could meet the expectations is the Canadian Marc Ouellet, 69, multilingual, he as well trained theologically in the cenacle of “Communion,” for many years a missionary in Latin America, then archbishop of Québec, one of the most secularized regions of the planet, and today the prefect of the Vatican congregation that selects the new bishops all over the world.

Apart from Ouellet, two North Americans who elicit appreciation in the college of cardinals are Timothy Dolan, 63, the dynamic archbishop of New York and president of the episcopal conference of the United States, and Sean O'Malley, 69, the archbishop of Boston.

But nothing prevents the next conclave from deciding to abandon the old world and open up to the other continents.

If from Latin America and Africa, where indeed the majority of the world's Catholics live, there do not seem to emerge prominent personalities capable of attracting votes, the same is not true of Asia.

On this continent, soon to become the new axis of the world, the Catholic Church also is wagering its future. In the Philippines, which is the only nation in Asia where Catholics are in the majority, there shines a young and cultured cardinal, archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle, the focus of growing attention.

As a theologian and Church historian, Tagle was one of the authors of the monumental history of Vatican Council II published by the progressive “school of Bologna.” But as a pastor, he has demonstrated a balance of vision and a doctrinal correctness that Benedict XVI himself has highly appreciated. Especially striking is the style with which the bishop acts, living simply and mingling among the humblest people, with a great passion for mission and for charity.

One of his limitations could be the fact that he is 56, one year younger than the age at which pope Wojtyla was elected. But here the novelty of Benedict XVI's resignation again comes into play. After this action of his, youth will no longer be an obstacle to being elected pope.



Benedict XVI's resignation from the papacy is for him neither a defeat nor a surrender. “The future is ours, the future belongs to God,” he said against the prophets of disaster in his last public proclamation before the announcement of the resignation, on the evening of Friday, February 8 at the Roman seminary.

And two winters ago, speaking precisely of his possible future resignation, he had cautioned: “One cannot run away at the moment of danger and say: Let someone else take care of it. One can resign at a moment of serenity, or when one simply cannot go on anymore.”

If now, therefore, pope Joseph Ratzinger has decided in conscience that his day as a “humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" has come to an end, it is simply because he has seen two conditions fulfilled: the moment is serene, and the vigor of "administering well" has failed him under the burden of years.

In effect, a calm seems to have intervened after the many tempests that have followed one after another in the almost eight years of his pontificate. A calm that has however left intact the positions of power in the curia that for many years have fostered disorder.

It will be the last two secretaries of state, cardinals Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone, neither of whom is innocent, who will govern the interregnum between one pope and the other, the former as dean of the college of cardinals, the latter as camerlengo. But afterward both will definitively leave the stage. For the other heads of the curia, the “spoils system” that is set into motion by canon law at each change of pontificate will free the new pope, if he so desires, from the administrators of the previous management.

Over his nearly eight years of pontificate, Benedict XVI has been resolute and farsighted in indicating the destinations and keeping the rudder straight. But on the barque of Peter, the crew has not always been faithful to him.

This is what happened when he dictated a rigorous line of conduct in order to fight the scandal of pedophilia among the clergy, clashing with hypocritical and delayed implementations..

The same thing happened when he ordered cleanliness and transparency in ecclesiastical financial offices, seeing these disregarded.

This is what happened when he saw himself betrayed by his trusted butler, who violated his privacy and stole his most personal papers.

But there is more than that. Pope Ratzinger has fought first of all and above all to  revive the faith of the Church, to correct its waywardness in doctrine, morality, the sacraments, and the commandments. And here as well he has often found himself alone, opposed, misunderstood.

It has been, in short, an incomplete reform that Benedict XVI has pursued. In resigning, he has recognized that he can no longer move it forward with his diminished strength. And he has trusted the conclave to elect a new pope with the strength necessary to do the job.

His is a supernatural wager that recalls that of his predecessor John Paul in the last painful years of his life.


Among the analysts of the Church, it is Professor Pietro De Marco of the University of Florence who has grasped most incisively the significance of the audacious resignation of Benedict XVI.

There seems to be a vast difference between the current pope and his predecessor John Paul II, who instead of resigning wanted to “stay on the cross” until the end. But this is not the case.

Pope Karol Wojtyla was facing a symmetrical risk: entrusting the governance of the Church, meaning its “good,” to the intact powers of a successor of his, instead of to the spiritual benefits offered by a prolonged resignation to his own weakness, remaining in office.

The charisma of John Paul II and the rationality of Benedict XVI are the two inseparable sides of the last two pontificates, the cipher of which is found in their respective final acts.

It is therefore senseless to see in the resignation of the current pope the dawn of a new praxis that would oblige future pontiffs to resign on account of infirmity or advanced age, possibly under the judgment of a visible or invisible jury made up of physicians, bishops, canonists, psychologists.

The decision of a pope to resign or to remain in office for life is always and only his own, in the constitution of the Church. Benedict XVI decided on his resignation “in conscience before God,” and did not submit it to anyone. He simply announced it.

And now he has placed everything back in the imponderable hands of the next conclave and of the future pontiff. De Marco comments:

"What is at stake, as far as human judgment can determine, is enormous. But in this I trust: just as the supreme risk of John Paul II in governing the Church with his suffering being obtained the miracle of the election of Pope Benedict, so also the risk, just as radical, of Benedict in handing the leadership of the Church back to Christ in order that he may give the burden of it to a new and vigorous pope will obtain another pontiff equal to the challenge of history.”


The two articles by Sandro Magister were published in “L'Espresso" no. 7 of 2013, on newsstands as of February 15.

Pope Benedict XVI - General Audience
Ash Wednesday - 13 February AD 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the liturgical time of Lent, forty days that prepare us for the celebration of Holy Easter, it is a time of particular commitment in our spiritual journey. The number forty occurs several times in the Bible. In particular, it recalls the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness: a long period of formation to become the people of God, but also a long period in which the temptation to be unfaithful to the covenant with the Lord was always present. Forty were also the days of the Prophet Elijah’s journey to reach the Mount of God, Horeb; as well as the time that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public life and where he was tempted by the devil. In this Catechesis I would like to dwell on this moment of earthly life of the Son of God, which we will read of in the Gospel this Sunday.

First of all, the desert, where Jesus withdrew to, is the place of silence, of poverty, where man is deprived of material support and is placed in front of the fundamental questions of life, where he is pushed to towards the essentials in life and for this very reason it becomes easier for him to find God. But the desert is also a place of death, because where there is no water there is no life, and it is a place of solitude where man feels temptation more intensely. Jesus goes into the desert, and there is tempted to leave the path indicated by God the Father to follow other easier and worldly paths (cf. Lk 4:1-13). So he takes on our temptations and carries our misery, to conquer evil and open up the path to God, the path of conversion.

In reflecting on the temptations Jesus is subjected to in the desert we are invited, each one of us, to respond to one fundamental question: what is truly important in our lives? In the first temptation the devil offers to change a stone into bread to sate Jesus’ hunger. Jesus replies that the man also lives by bread but not by bread alone: without a response to the hunger for truth, hunger for God, man can not be saved (cf. vv. 3-4). In the second, the devil offers Jesus the path of power: he leads him up on high and gives him dominion over the world, but this is not the path of God: Jesus clearly understands that it is not earthly power that saves the world, but the power of the Cross, humility, love (cf. vv. 5-8). In the third, the devil suggests Jesus throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem and be saved by God through his angels, that is, to do something sensational to test God, but the answer is that God is not an object on which to impose our conditions: He is the Lord of all (cf. vv. 9-12). What is the core of the three temptations that Jesus is subjected to? It is the proposal to exploit God, to use Him for his own interests, for his own glory and success. So, in essence, to put himself in the place of God, removing Him from his own existence and making him seem superfluous. Everyone should then ask: what is the role God in my life? Is He the Lord or am I?

Overcoming the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests or to put Him in a corner and converting oneself to the proper order of priorities, giving God the first place, is a journey that every Christian must undergo. "Conversion", an invitation that we will hear many times in Lent, means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by “losing" our life in Him can we truly have it. This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God. Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.

The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one’s faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one’s life.

The major conversions like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus, or St. Augustine, are an example and stimulus, but also in our time when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God's grace is at work and works wonders in life of many people. The Lord never gets tired of knocking at the door of man in social and cultural contexts that seem engulfed by secularization, as was the case for the Russian Orthodox Pavel Florensky. After a completely agnostic education, to the point he felt an outright hostility towards religious teachings taught in school, the scientist Florensky came to exclaim: "No, you can not live without God", and to change his life completely, so much so he became a monk.

I also think the figure of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she found Him looking deep inside herself and wrote: "There is a well very deep inside of me. And God is in that well. Sometimes I can reach Him, more often He is covered by stone and sand: then God is buried. We must dig Him up again "(Diary, 97). In her scattered and restless life, she finds God in the middle of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah. This young fragile and dissatisfied woman, transfigured by faith, becomes a woman full of love and inner peace, able to say: "I live in constant intimacy with God."

The ability to oppose the ideological blandishments of her time to choose the search for truth and open herself up to the discovery of faith is evidenced by another woman of our time, the American Dorothy Day. In her autobiography, she confesses openly to having given in to the temptation that everything could be solved with politics, adhering to the Marxist proposal: "I wanted to be with the protesters, go to jail, write, influence others and leave my dreams to the world. How much ambition and how much searching for myself in all this!". The journey towards faith in such a secularized environment was particularly difficult, but Grace acts nonetheless, as she points out: "It is certain that I felt the need to go to church more often, to kneel, to bow my head in prayer. A blind instinct, one might say, because I was not conscious of praying. But I went, I slipped into the atmosphere of prayer ... ". God guided her to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a lifetime spent dedicated to the underprivileged.

In our time there are no few conversions understood as the return of those who, after a Christian education, perhaps a superficial one, moved away from the faith for years and then rediscovered Christ and his Gospel. In the Book of Revelation we read: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me"(3, 20). Our inner person must prepare to be visited by God, and for this reason we should allow ourselves be invaded by illusions, by appearances, by material things.

In this time of Lent, in the Year of the faith, we renew our commitment to the process of conversion, to overcoming the tendency to close in on ourselves and instead, to making room for God, looking at our daily reality with His eyes. The alternative between being wrapped up in our egoism and being open to the love of God and others, we could say corresponds to the alternatives to the temptations of Jesus: the alternative, that is, between human power and love of the Cross, between a redemption seen only in material well-being and redemption as the work of God, to whom we give primacy in our lives. Conversion means not closing in on ourselves in the pursuit of success, prestige, position, but making sure that each and every day, in the small things, truth, faith in God and love become most important.

The Holy Father’s summary and greetings in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin our yearly Lenten journey of conversion in preparation for Easter. The forty days of Lent recall Israel’s sojourn in the desert and the temptations of Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry. The desert, as the place of silent encounter with God and decision about the deepest meaning and direction of our lives, is also a place of temptation. In his temptation in the desert, Jesus showed us that fidelity to God’s will must guide our lives and thinking, especially amid today’s secularized society. While the Lord continues to raise up examples of radical conversion, like Pavel Florensky, Etty Hillesum and Dorothy Day, he also constantly challenges those who have been raised in the faith to deeper conversion. In this Lenten season, Christ once again knocks at our door (cf. Rev 3:20) and invites us to open our minds and hearts to his love and his truth. May Jesus’ example of overcoming temptation inspire us to embrace God’s will and to see all things in the light of his saving truth.

* * * * *

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark and the United States. My particular greeting goes to the many student groups present. With prayers that this Lenten season will prove spiritually fruitful for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you God’s blessings of joy and peace.

Translation by Radio Vaticana


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