Pope Benedict XVI: July 2006 Archives



Here is a translation from Zenit of the address Pope Benedict gave at a prayer vigil for peace in the Holy Land.

Here is an excerpt, but please read the whole thing:

To trust means to enter actively in this divine love, to participate in this endeavor of pacification, to be in line with what the Lord says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, the agents of peace, because they are the sons of God." We must take, in the measure of our possibilities, our love to all those who are suffering, knowing that the Judge of the Last Judgment identifies himself with those who suffer.

Therefore, what we do to those who suffer, we do to the Last Judge of our life. This is important: At this moment we can take his victory to the world, taking part actively in his charity. Today, in a multicultural and multireligious world, many are tempted to say: "For peace in the world, among religions, among cultures, it is better not to speak too much of what is specific to Christianity, that is, of Jesus, of the Church, of the sacraments. Let us be content with what can be more or less common."

But it is not true. Precisely at this time, a time of great abuse of the name of God, we have need of the God who overcomes on the cross, who does not conquer with violence, but with his love. Precisely at this time we have need of the Face of Christ to know the true Face of God and so be able to take reconciliation and light to this world. For this reason, together with love, with the message of love, we must also take the testimony of this God, of God's victory, precisely through the nonviolence of his cross.

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Benedict the Augustinian


Over at Mirror of Justice, ("A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory") new blogger Elizabeth Schiltz's first post is "Benedict XVI on Women and St. Augustine". In it she quotes a passage of Ratzinger's on the Marian dimension of the Church and asks:

My first question is whether this Marian dimension of the Church finds much (or any) expression in Catholic Social Teaching or Catholic Legal Thought. Or do we run the professional risk, as legal academics trying to change the world through our blogging, conferencing, and even old-fashioned paper articles, of “treating the Church almost like some technological device that we plan and make with enormous cleverness and expenditure of energy”?

My second question is about St. Augustine. At the UST Summer Seminar, much was made of the fact that Benedict is very “Augustinian”, in contrast to JPII, who was apparently much more Thomistic. Indeed, Benedict certainly does seem to quote Augustine a lot in the things I’ve read so far. As someone whose familiarity with Augustine consists of having read The City of God in college, and more recently reading Gary Will’s biography of Augustine, I was too timid to ask what that meant in the roomful of philosophers and theologians at the seminar. Do any of you have any thoughts about this distinction between JPII and Benedict? More importantly, though, is this distinction likely to make any practical difference with respect to any of the issues of interest to MOJ?

Unfortunately, nobody has taken up the first question over at MOJ (Mama-Lu has: her answer is "No, it doesn't), but in response to the second question, Thomas Berg chimes in with several points, two of which I wish to highlight:

He is somewhat more pessimistic about the world and the possibilities for the Church benefiting from secular thought. Not totally pessimistic, but more so, compared with the Thomistic emphasis on human reason in which both Christians and non-Christians share...

Does this contrast with John Paul II? I'm no expert on this. But wasn't there frequently a sense in his writings that he was calling the world back to its highest and deepest principles -- protection of life, true freedom, and so forth -- rather than claiming that the orientation of the world was more fundamentally and deeply flawed (the Augustinian emphasis)? Again, no polar opposites here, but possibly differences in emphasis.

In his writings on economic life, John Paul II is relatively positive about the market system and the opportunities it affords for human growth and creativity. Not unqualifiedly so, of course, but reasonably positive: a kind of "two cheers for capitalism," as Joseph Bottum put it last year. Augustinians, according to the article I cited above, tend to "take a more critical approach, arguing that there are economic practices characteristic of [global capitalism] that cannot be squared with the social teaching of the Church." This may fit with Bottum's assessment that Benedict has given and will give only "one cheer for capitalism": that, although certainly no socialist, he "stands to the left of his predecessor on economic issues."

The other point:

"This Augustinian orientation has made the new pope more sensitive to issues of spirituality in the life of faith" in contrast with a relatively greater Thomisic emphasis on reason. That's a quote from evangelical theologian, and a leader in the evangelical-Catholic discussions, Timothy George. I doubt that there's much difference from John Paul II here -- didn't he place a great deal of emphasis on spirituality (although it seems to have come from other philosophical sources)? In any event, the analysis I cited in #1 adds:
Pope Benedict is one of the many members of his
generation who, while not disagreeing with the content of Thomist thought, believed that the scholastic presentation of the faith doesn't exactly set souls on fire unless they happen to be a particular type of soul with a passion for intellectual disputation. He has said that "scholasticism has its greatness, but everything is impersonal."

In contrast, with Augustine "the passionate, suffering, questioning man is always right there, and you can identify with him."

This last point really rings true over here. I know Aquinas was a great saint; I know how important the Summa and the rest of his works are, but engaging them leaves me cold. The very words sed contra give me frostbite (apologies to David Morrison. I have no problem with Aquinas: I don't disagree with him, and I really do believe that the scholastic approach is good and necessary to elucidate truths of faith and of natural reason, and God bless those who take up that particular yoke in order to get to the bottom of things, but yaaaaaaawn... Yet another reason to love Benedict (without dissing JP2, of course). And yet another reason to love the Catholic Church, with its diversity of spirituality that allows me to respect and admire the indespensible and world-changing contributions of Thomas Aquinas while opting to reach for my beloved Augustine's Confessions.

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Pope: Pray for Peace


From the Vatican press office:

The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.

In particular, the Supreme Pontiff hopes that prayers will be raised to the Lord for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples, and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region, as already indicated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Angelus last Sunday, July 16.

In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis, the right to live in peace in their state, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.

At this sorrowful moment, His Holiness also makes an appeal to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict.

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Pope Writing Book on Jesus

Pope Benedict is writing a book on Jesus that will become the second major theological work of his pontificate, a Vatican source said on Tuesday.

The book, expected to be completed by the end of the summer, focuses on Jesus, the human race and Christianity's relationship with other faiths.

The work, which Benedict started before becoming pope in April 2005, comes at a time when he seeks to restore a strong sense of faith among Catholics in the face of growing secularism and competition form other religions, including Islam.

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Here's a quick roundup of coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Valencia, Spain to close the 5th World Meeting of Families.

  • The Vatican website has the texts of the Holy Father's addresses. Some snips from the major addresses appear at the end of this post.

  • Estimates on attendance at the Sunday Mass range from several hundred thousand to 1.5 million. Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was conspicuously though not exactly surprisingly absent from the Mass. The whole world knows where his sympathies rest, and he felt no need to make a show otherwise.

  • In addition to the major addresses, the Pope made a stop to lay a wreath at the site of last week's train cash that killed 41 people earlier. The Pope later met with families of victims of the crash and prayed an Our Father with them. Here's a particularly moving picture of that encounter.

  • The best pictures of the trip I've found are here. Most of the pics are screen captures posted by devoted Benedict fans.

  • John Allen was in Valencia for the Holy Father's visit, and as always provides detailed coverage. His reports can be found here and here.

  • Click on the link below for excerpts of the Holy Father's major addresses. Better yet, click here and read 'em all.

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Politics and the Pope in Spain


The UK Tablet and Robert Duncan at Spero News (originally published in the National Catholic Register) both take a look at this weekend's papal trip to the World Meeting of Families in light of the Spain's socialist government's progressive social agenda.

Some snips from Duncan's piece:

While many of the international pilgrims may be oblivious to the thick atmosphere, many Spanish Catholics are hoping Pope Benedict’s 24-hour visit to Valencia will be a breath of fresh air infusing the Church’s faithful with the stamina to challenge the permissive platform of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government.


[T}he socialist government — which came to power in March 2004 — [has promoted] a litany of legislation that clashes with Church teaching. Such measures include the passing of same-sex “marriage” legislation, fast-track divorces, reform of religious education, embryonic stem-cell research funding and suggestions that abortion laws could be eased.


Less than two weeks prior to the kickoff of the World Meeting of Families, Spain’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs promoted another “family” congress being held in Valencia. The gathering, intended to highlight “diverse” forms of families, is sponsored by the State Federation of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transsexuals and by the Union of Family Associations, chaired by Maria del Carmen Toledano Rico, a Socialist Party politician from the town of Galapagar.


The Catholic citizen activist website Hazteoir (Make Yourself Heard) claims the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs contributed more than 300,000 euros last year to similar alternative lifestyle meetings.

While Duncan focuses on the struggle between Spanish Catholics and the Spanish government, the Tablet portrays the situation as a "showdown" between the Pope and the Spanish governement. The unsigned Tablet piece (perhaps written by Robert Mickens) speculates that recent statements by the Pope and by the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, may have shifted attention away from the theme of the meeting, "Transmission of the Faith in the Family" and towards a more general "culture war" (my term, not the Tablet's) against the Spanish government.

Despite this claim, we can expect that Pope Benedict's major addresses in Spain will stick to the the passing on of the faith while saving the politics for his meeting with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. It would be greatly underestimating the Pope to think he's going to let politics overshadow this event. That said, it would not be suprising for him to connect the importance of handing down the truths of faith to the handing down of the truth about the human person from one generation to the next and to point to that as the vehicle for social renewal.

The Tablet also notes that two Spanish Catholic theologians have "signed a petition protesting against the Spanish Government’s sanctioning and partial funding of the religious event. They have opposed it on the ground that the Vatican 'imposes a model of the family based on exclusion'."

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Here is the full text of the address Pope Benedict delivered to the Orthodox delegation to the Vatican celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul (referenced in the post two down from here).

Here is a snip:

Dear Brothers in Christ,

With great joy and sincere affection in the Lord, I welcome today your eminence, Metropolitan Ioannis, and the other members of the delegation that his holiness Bartholomew I and the Holy Synod of the ecumenical patriarchate have graciously sent for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of Rome.

To each of you I offer my cordial greetings. It gives me pleasure to welcome you in the words of the Apostle Peter: "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:1-2).

These words call to mind our common faith and the mystery of the salvation we have received, a gift which we must pass on to the men and women of our day. The fact that the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is celebrated on the same day by both Catholics and Orthodox evokes our shared apostolic succession and ecclesial fraternity.

I am pleased to recall here how Byzantine hymnography attributes to St. Peter a title charged with meaning, that of "protocoryphaeus," the first in the choir who has the task of maintaining the harmony of the voices, for the glory of God and the service of his people.

I am therefore grateful to you who have come to unite your prayer to ours, prompted by our common commitment to continue the journey that leads us step by step to eliminate all dissonance from the choir of the one Church of Christ.

Read the rest.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Pope Benedict XVI category from July 2006.

Pope Benedict XVI: June 2006 is the previous archive.

Pope Benedict XVI: August 2006 is the next archive.

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