Cardinal: Pope Will Preserve Sex Abuse Law
Apr 20, 11:17 AM (ET)
By RACHEL ZOLL
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Chicago Cardinal Francis George said Wednesday that new Pope Benedict XVI indicated he would preserve a new U.S. church law that gives bishops broader power to discipline sexually abusive priests.
The policy, adopted nearly three years ago at the height of the clergy molestation crisis, was under Vatican review when Pope John Paul II died. Advocates for victims worried it would be weakened.
But George said he had spoken about the policy with the former German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger a few days before the conclave, where Ratzinger was elected pontiff Tuesday.
George said he stressed the need to maintain those new powers, which allow church leaders to bar guilty priests from any church work without going through the lengthy Vatican process of removing the cleric from the priesthood.
George said that when he kissed the new pope's hand in the conclave, Benedict, speaking English, recalled their earlier talk.
"He remembered our conversation and said he would attend to that, so he immediately zeroed in our conversation," George said. Asked if he believed that the new pope would extend the policy, George said: "Based on that conversation, I believe that he will."
Separately, American bishops will consider whether to suggest any revisions to the policy when they meet in June.
The policy was due to expire March 1. But two days before John Paul died, the U.S. bishops' announced that the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops had temporarily extended it while it was under review.
George, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, serves on a commission of Vatican officials and U.S. bishops that oversaw the development of the special church law. The Vatican had demanded revisions of the original policy the bishops had adopted in June 2002, saying it did not properly protect due process rights of priests.
U.S. Cardinals: Pope Is Caring, Brilliant
Apr 20, 9:11 AM (ET)
By RACHEL ZOLL
VATICAN CITY (AP) - American cardinals said Wednesday that new Pope Benedict XVI had been unfairly caricatured as an unfeeling conservative in his longtime role as the Vatican's chief doctrinal watchdog.
They described him instead as a caring, brilliant churchman who listens to those with opposing views.
"He wants to be collegial. He wants the advice of cardinals," Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said in a news conference at the Pontifical North American College one day after the papal election. "That for me is one of the great things."
The former German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected in a swift conclave that ended Tuesday, just a day after it began.
Chicago Cardinal Francis George, citing the conclave's oath of secrecy, declined to give specifics of the vote, but said, "It was a choice that was clear almost from the beginning."
New York Cardinal Edward Egan called Benedict "calm" and "strong," while Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony said, "we have to get to know this man" beyond his public image as a cold disciplinarian.
"I think he'll play well as soon as people come to know him," said Egan, who worked for years at the Vatican as an appellate judge and oversaw revisions of the church's code of canon law. "This is a very unprepossessing, humble, and if I may say, lovely gentleman."
Some American Catholics may be slow to warm to the new pope who spent 24 years as head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The majority told pollsters in recent weeks that they favor ordaining women and making celibacy optional for priests.
Anguished liberals noted Ratzinger's role in enforcing orthodoxy at Catholic universities, his hard line against gay relationships and his warning that voters would be "cooperating in evil" if they backed a politician specifically because he supported abortion rights.
However, many Catholics predicted Americans would come to admire the new pope for his intellect, spirituality and consistent support for the traditions of their faith.
Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler, who leads outreach to the Jewish community for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Ratzinger was sensitive to the concerns of Jews. Israeli leaders and American Jewish leaders praised him for his strong condemnations of anti-Semitism despite his ties to the Nazi Party as a youth - which was compulsory for young Germans at the time.
Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali said that in the excitement inside the conclave after the ballots were tallied, Benedict took the time to wish him a happy birthday.
"With all the things he had to think about, he had the very human touch," said Rigali, who worked for more than two decades as a Vatican diplomat, among other duties.
And Egan recalled how Ratzinger took the time to personally wish him well before he became a U.S. archbishop. "He is a very lovely and loving person," Egan said. "I think you're going to like him very much."
Eleven American cardinals voted in the papal election. Egan and Rigali called the election moving after the tense days leading up to the conclave and said the new pope organized a party in the hotel where the cardinals were staying inside the Vatican. Unlike the election of Pope John Paul II, when he led the cardinals in singing Polish folk songs after his election, the cardinals sang in Latin this time, George said.
"There were no folk songs or anything like that. It's a different style," he said.
Asked his thoughts heading into the conclave, Egan said he was impressed by Ratzinger's moving homily at John Paul's funeral. Egan went as far as to say its sensitivity reminded him of Pope John XXIII, a beloved pontiff known as "Good Pope John."
But Rigali said the decision to choose Ratzinger was not made in the days ahead of the conclave or because of the German cardinal's leadership in mourning John Paul.
"Decisions like this are not made on how a person impresses you in the last five minutes, the last hours, the last days," he said.
Ratzinger's Views Were Nurtured in Bavaria
Apr 20, 7:52 AM (ET)
By DAVID McHUGH and MATT SURMAN
TRAUNSTEIN, Germany (AP) - It was 1964, and young theologian Joseph Ratzinger felt a deep unease as he shuttled between his native Germany and Rome for the groundbreaking sessions of the Second Vatican Council.
The 37-year-old priest, serving as a cardinal's aide, found all the talk of change exciting. But he couldn't shake the feeling that things were sliding out of control at the council sessions, which marked a major attempt to modernize the faith.
"Each time I found, coming back from Rome, the mood in the church and among theologians was more turbulent," he later wrote. "More and more the impression took shape, that in fact nothing was steadfast in the church, that everything was open to change."
That fear has stayed with Ratzinger through 40 years of post-Second Vatican Council upheaval in the Roman Catholic Church.
At Monday's services opening the conclave that chose him as pope, he warned of "a dictatorship of relativism, which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's ego and one's own desires."
That willingness to confront what he sees as error earned him the enmity of liberals and nicknames such as "The Grand Inquisitor," an image strengthened by his dark eyes, his German-accented Italian, and his shy, scholarly ways.
Yet his former students of theology say they know a different Ratzinger. They say he encouraged wide-ranging seminar discussions, and was so reticent about pushing his own views on students that he was sometimes faulted for not creating his own "Ratzinger School" of theology. His students included a man from Africa interested in the relationship between Roman Catholicism and voodoo and another researching Kafka.
"The negative image arises from something I think goes against the grain for him, and that is having to say no all the time," said the Rev. Vincent Twomey, who studied under Ratzinger at the University of Regensburg in the 1970s and now teaches at Pontifical University in Maynooth, Ireland.
The Rev. Stephan Otto Horn, another former student from Regensburg, recalled that one of the seminar participants once objected strenuously to remarks Horn had made about Christians in Germany during the Nazi period.
Ratzinger stepped in immediately to defend his right to speak.
"In my circle," Horn remembered Ratzinger saying, "one must be able to say what one thinks."
Two major threads in Ratzinger's makeup - wide-ranging intellectual activity and a highly traditional Roman Catholic piety - became part of him early on.
He was born on April 16, 1927, on the Saturday before Easter - to parents named Joseph and Mary - and was baptized the same day in the small Bavarian town of Marktl Am Inn. The baptismal font is now displayed proudly by the town's small museum.
The future cardinal did not see his birth date as coincidence.
"That my life from the beginning was in this way immersed in the Easter mystery has always filled me with gratitude," he says in his German autobiography, published in English as "Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977."
The family moved often due to his father's work as a policeman, and he said that "it's not easy to say where exactly I'm at home."
The family eventually settled in Traunstein, a town in Germany about 20 miles from the Austrian cultural center of Salzburg.
The church was a constant in small-town Bavarian life, and the young Ratzinger was deeply impressed by the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church - candlelight services during Advent in the early morning dark and an Easter service in which the Resurrection was announced by suddenly dropping the curtains and letting in the light.
The family lived in an 18th-Century farmhouse surrounded by an oak forest. Ratzinger considers the town his real home, and the feeling is mutual among locals. He returns regularly, says the head of St. Michael's seminary where he studied, the Rev. Thomas Frauenlob.
"I like the cardinal very much, I admire him, and it looks like he's coming under attack as very conservative,'" Frauenlob said. "But he is really dedicated and he wants to preserve the church."
He said that Ratzinger's strengths come from his honest belief in God and the church, which are more important to him than public opinion or peer pressure.
Ratzinger got a good education in the local church schools but his studies were interrupted at age 14 in 1943 when he was drafted to assist flak batteries and dig antitank ditches.
After release from a POW camp in June 1945, he attended another seminary in the town of Freising, a place where the students were driven by pent-up hunger for reading and learning after the disruption of the war.
He read widely, not just Catholic works such as St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas but novelists such Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Paul Claudel, and Jewish thinker Martin Buber.
Ordained a priest in 1951, Ratzinger took a doctorate in theology from the University of Munich. He later taught theology at the universities of Bonn, Muenster, Tuebingen and Regensburg.
He built a reputation as someone who welcomed far-ranging discussion, even with members of other faiths such as Eastern Orthodoxy or Protestantism.
He was named bishop of Munich in 1977, and served there until being summoned to the Vatican by John Paul II in 1981 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - a position he used to discipline church dissidents and uphold church policy against attempts at reform by liberals and activist priests.
There were those who early on thought Professor Ratzinger a progressive, among them liberal theologian Hans Küng, who pushed hard for his hiring at Tübingen.
Küng, who would later feel the sting of attack by Ratzinger, remembers him as friendly but not overly welcoming - even "timid" - when they first met in a cafe on the Via della Conciliazione in Rome, where both were serving as advisers at the start of the Second Vatican Council.
"But all in all, he was a quite sympathetic contemporary, with whom one could argue over any question that came up on an equal footing," Küng wrote in his memoirs.
Later, however, Ratzinger would attack Küng's writings, and in 1979 - before Ratzinger made his way to the Vatican - the church authorities deprived Küng of the right to officially teach Catholic theology, though he has gone on teaching and writing at Tübingen.
Later, Küng would wonder at what he considered Ratzinger's transformation: "It's often wondered at, how such a gifted, friendly, and open theologian could make such a transformation, from advanced Tübingen theologian to Roman Grand Inquisitor."
Some Hopeful, Others Disappointed by Pope
Apr 20, 10:14 AM (ET)
By ROBERT BARR
LONDON (AP) - Joy and disappointment loomed large in the world's reaction to Pope Benedict XVI, perceived as either the welcome embodiment of continuity in the Roman Catholic faith or the major obstacle in the path of necessary change.
The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, known as the enforcer of orthodoxy during the long reign of Pope John Paul II, may surprise the world with his gentleness, some of his supporters said.
Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales said he met Ratzinger during a gathering of bishops from around the world and found him "a very warm man."
But to some, the new pope was alarming.
"This election creates as much hope as fear," said Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, who is responsible for government relations with religious communities.
"The fear is because of the past of the new pope - great defender of religious doctrine and a great conservative. One can fear he will not respond to the need for openness of the church," she said in an interview with Le Soir newspaper, insisting she was speaking in a personal capacity.
"He would not have been my candidate," said Desmond Tutu, the retired archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, who had hoped for a pope from the developing world.
Ratzinger was known for holding "very strongly to a rigid line which most people found conservative," Tutu said. "We hope very much that sitting on the papal throne will have the effect of easing the rigidities."
Although the new pope said Tuesday his primary goal was to promote Christian unity, a French Protestant leader was wary.
"He will need to give us concrete signs of dialogue, leave behind his dress of the great inquisitor and wear the clothes of the pastor that he must be now," said Gill Daude, in charge of ecumenical relations for the Protestant Federation of France.
Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn cautioned against categorizing church leaders on a "conservative-progressive" spectrum. "It's about something much bigger than such labels, and that is to be a witness of faith in today's world."
"Never in recent history has a pope been announced who has such a firmly established public image, and a negative one at that," said Irish Times columnist Breda O'Brien. "He ... may take some comfort from the fact that public expectation is so low that indeed, the only way is up."
An editorial in the Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias said the church "has to realize that the complex problems of today's world require dynamic responses. Ratzinger does not appear to have the profile nor the energy to provide the 'small signs' that so many people, inside and outside the church, are waiting for."
Jose Ramos Horta, foreign minister of the predominantly Catholic country of East Timor, welcomed the choice of Ratzinger.
"Although he is theologically conservative, he is also known as a very sensitive about Third World issues," Horta said while in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Priests and bishops from Iraq's tiny Christian minority converged on the Vatican's embassy in Baghdad to present congratulations.
"We are very happy at the election of a new pope in such a short time. The theology of this person in particular is deep and constant," said Luwis Zarco, the Catholic archbishop for the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
In the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued a statement expressing hope that Benedict will follow John Paul II's role as a peacemaker.
"May this be the seed for ending the conflicts that divide us," said Arroyo, who strongly supports the church's positions against abortion and birth control.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakar al-Qirbi, whose predominantly Muslim nation has a small Christian minority, said he was sure the new pope would promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation.
"John Paul was instrumental in Islamic-Christian-Catholic dialogue, and I don't think there will be any attempt to derail that dialogue," said al-Qirbi, who was in Jakarta attending a summit of Asian and African leaders.
President Pervez Musharraf of Muslim-dominated Pakistan said that while divisions between religions and countries need political and socio-economic action to resolve, the pope can play a significant role.
"He can bring some harmony into the tough process, into the thinking of the world, which today is divided," Musharraf said during a visit to Manila.
The pope's participation in the Nazi youth movement rang alarms for some in Israel. "White smoke, black past," said the headline in the mass circulation Yediot Ahronot.
But others played down that wartime role, in which the young Ratzinger, like all other German teenagers, was enrolled in the Hitler Youth.
"I don't believe that there is any room for doubt that (the pope) of today is very different than the days he belonged in the Hitler Youth," said Moshe Zimmerman, a professor of German history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
China's government suggested relations with the Vatican could improve - if it cuts ties with Taiwan.
China, which suspended relations with the Vatican in 1951, demands that Chinese Catholics worship only in churches approved by a state-controlled church group that does not recognize the pope's authority.
"We hope under the leadership of the new pope, the Vatican side can create favorable conditions for improving the relationship between China and the Vatican," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.
Pilgrims Watch New Pope With Mixed Emotion
Apr 20, 6:45 AM (ET)
By NIKO PRICE
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pilgrims gathered on the cobblestones of St. Peter's Square on Wednesday to watch Pope Benedict XVI's first Mass with a mix of joy at the election of a new pontiff and wariness over his rejection of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church.
In contrast to the crowd of more than 100,000 who rushed to the square Tuesday evening to see the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emerge from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, the pilgrims numbered in the dozens at the start of the Mass, and the hundreds by the end.
Many, like the new pope, were German.
"After the big surprise yesterday, I wanted to come back here to see that it's really true," said a beaming Daniel Stricker, 25, of Cologne, who wrapped himself in a German flag. "I have to say, I'm a bit proud."
The groups of tourists following guides into the Vatican museums often outnumbered the pilgrims on the square. Plastic chairs that people stood on to catch a glimpse of Benedict the previous night were scattered about. A truck swept trash left on the cobblestones even as Benedict offered his blessings from the Sistine Chapel.
Many of the pilgrims kneeled, and some held hands as they followed the Mass on giant screens.
"It's just so beautiful. The sun is shining. We have a new father," said Elizabeth Lev, a 38-year-old art history teacher from Boston who couldn't stop smiling. "We Catholics aren't orphaned any more."
But some of the pilgrims said they were wary of the policies Benedict might institute, saying the church needs to change to staunch an exodus of believers in Latin America and growing secularism in Europe.
"I think the church needs some new ideas and blood, mainly about contraception, homosexuality and abortion," said Jude Nathalie, a 23-year-old flight attendant from Quatrebornes, Mauritius.
Elisabeth Otzisk, a 33-year-old musician from Bottrop, Germany, said she was proud as a German but apprehensive as a Catholic. "In Germany he's not so beloved, but we will see," she said.
She recalled the papacy of "the good pope," John XXIII. He was seen as a conservative when he became pope in 1958 but modernized the church with the Second Vatican Council, which allowed Mass to be said in languages other than Latin and improved relations with other faiths.
"John XXIII changed, and maybe he will too," she said. "Now he's a pope. Before he was not."
A sole Polish flag fluttered in the square in tribute to the late Pope John Paul II. It was held by Bartholomew Wroblewski, a 30-year-old lawyer from Posnan, who said he missed John Paul but didn't see a German pope as a loss.
"Surely the pope was Polish and it was wonderful for us, but it was an exception," he said. "We will remember our John Paul II, but we will love this pope too."
And he shall be called . . .
By Joan Chittister, OSB
We’ve been living in an ecclesiastical tsunami this week. The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Pope Benedict XVI has had all the force of a universal avalanche. The questions never end.
Journalists are rushing from source to source trying to determine the future of a church led by a theologian considered by many to be both doctrinaire and dogmatic. The apparent answers to their questions leave many in more darkness than light, in search of some kind of spiritual security that their church still includes them, too.
The questions may be difficult but the answers are even more unsettling. They read like an inquisition–and a conviction-- of their own. Is there any possible hope to be had here?
Did anyone really think such an election could happen at a time when the church is apparently more in need of openness than intransigent resistance in the face of so much new information and emerging new questions? Answer: No.
Does anyone know why the Cardinals of the church elected as Pope one of its most polarizing personalities? Answer: No.
Is anyone sure what will happen to church unity now if the oppression of thinkers and the suppression of questions becomes a papal norm? Answer: No.
Is it possible for a disciplinarian of the church to become its universal pastor? Answer: God willing.
And therein lies my hope.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI is said to have taken the name ‘Benedict’ to indicate that the model of his papacy would be the great Patron of Europe, Benedict of Nursia. If that’s really the case, I can’t think of anything more hopeful for the church.
As a Benedictine, I state my case for hope in any leader who sees Benedict of Nursia as the measure of his leadership.
The Rule of Benedict, a document now over 1500 years old and the basis for the lifestyle of monastics around the world, is based on four major concepts that are totally incompatible with authoritarianism or suppression of the human spirit.
Listening is at the center of this Rule for those who live in community. “Listen...with the ear of the heart,” its Prologue counsels. Listen, in other words, not so much for what is canonically right but for what is spiritually true, for what speaks to the deepest part of the human being. Listening to the Word of God, to the tradition, to one another, to the circumstances of life becomes the cornerstone of spiritual growth. It is questions, not answers, that guide this life.
Humility, the second major concept of Benedictine monasticism, requires that each of us come to realize how limited is our own understanding of the universe. It demands that we let God be God. It’s not for any of us, Benedict teaches, abbot or monk, to think we can bend the world to our own designs. After precisely defining the mode of community in twelve separate chapters, Benedict ends the chapters dealing with the most important aspect of monastic life by saying, “If any brother knows a better way, let him arrange things differently.” We cannot look to the Rule of Benedict to legitimate authoritarianism in the name of God.
Community, the third dimension of Benedictine spirituality, brings us to realize how bright and good and essential to our own growth is everyone else around us. We learn from the community. We serve the community. Benedict is clear: “Whenever weighty matters are to be discussed,” the Rule requires, “let the abbot call the community together and, starting with the youngest, ask each their advice.” No thought suppression here. No smothering of fresh thought here. The abbot does not come to the community with answers. The abbot comes with questions and finds his answers there.
Hospitality, the fourth dimension of Benedictine spirituality, takes everyone in. No one is excluded from the Christian community. No one is too bad, too poor, too useless, too unimportant to be part of the community. “Let the Guest be treated as Christ,” the Rule says. Treating one another as Christ becomes the norm.
Finally, St. Benedict had a sister, St. Scholastica, whom he treated as an equal. They came together yearly ‘to speak of holy things together.’ She learned from him, yes, but he learned from her as well and her monastery was independent of his. In Benedictinism lies a holy model of male-female relationships and the authority of women.
Each of us has a piece of the truth, Benedict shows us; no one has all the truth. We need to learn from one another.
Believe me, if this pope really takes Benedict of Nursia for a model, this will be a very healthy church.
U.S. cardinals tout a kinder, gentler Benedict XVI
By Stacy Meichtry
Pope Benedict XVI struck a conciliatory tone in his first Mass Thursday, promising to reach out to other faiths and Christian denominations as his cardinals urged the public not to judge the new pope based on “caricatures” of the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
In a message delivered to cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, Benedict pledged to do “everything in (my) power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism.”
Improving relations with other Christian churches requires “concrete acts that enter souls and move consciences” rather than “good intentions,” he said. He also expressed hope for “sincere dialogue” with other religions.
The call for dialogue provided sharp contrast with the dogmatic thrust of his Pro Eligendo Mass, when he warned cardinals to resist modern society’s “dictatorship of relativism.” The tone of the appeal also seemed to distance Benedict from his role as the Vatican’s theological watchdog.
Benedict invoked John Paul several times during the Mass, at one point echoing the late pontiff’s call to younger generations to continue the work of the Second Vatican Council.
Benedict said that he too hoped to “affirm with decisive willingness to follow in the commitment of carrying out the Second Vatican Council, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the 2,000-year-old tradition of the church."
Shortly after the Mass, the U.S. cardinals who voted in the conclave held a joint news conference, during which they dismissed public impressions of the former Cardinal Ratzinger as a ruthless enforcer.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago attributed these impressions to media “caricatures” that misrepresented Benedict’s “humble genius.”
New York Cardinal Edward Egan described Benedict as “extremely kind” and a “lovely gentleman.”
“I firmly believe that Cardinal Ratzinger with all of his gifts and talents, and even some of his shortcomings, will somehow be able to reach others,” said Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit.
Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles told reporters “to be very careful about caricaturing the Holy Father and putting labels on him.” He added: "I've already seen some headlines doing that.”
Most of the headlines that caused a stir Thursday came out of Europe. A headline in Britain’s Telegraph read: “God’s Rottweiler,” while Italy’s communist daily Il Manifesto opted for a more subtle pun: “German Shepherd.”
U.S. Cardinals also suggested that Benedict’s election held strategic importance for the church in its fight to stem declining values in Western Europe.
"Twenty-six years ago, when Karol Wotjlya was chosen as the successor of Peter some of the most difficult challenges to the church's mission came from the East,” Mahony said, referring to the key role John Paul II played in toppling Soviet Communism.
“Twenty-six years later,” he added, “the most difficult challenges to church's mission come from the West. And there is a man now very well prepared.”
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia said Benedict’s name carried symbolic value for the church’s mission in Europe, which has undergone a steep decline in church attendance and a rise in secularity.
“The pope evoked the memory of the great St. Benedict,” who was declared the patron saint of Europe for his role in establishing Europe’s Christian roots, said Rigali. “He himself is conscious of the fact that he comes from Europe.”
Moderate European Cardinals, who had clashed with the former Cardinal Ratzinger, were cautious in their estimates of what his papacy would bring in the future.
"I think he will be a pope of conciliation and peace," Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany said Wednesday after Benedict’s election.
At a press conference following the conclave, Godfried Danneels of Belgium indicated that the papacy could have a softening effect on Benedict.
"Ratzinger has now become the universal shepherd of the church,” the Belgian daily De Standaard quoted him as saying. “He is no longer the head of the theological congregation. In the capacity of pope, he has to be the shepherd of all men. He can no longer specialize in (one) field or another."
"We will have to wait and see. The proof of the pudding is in the eating," he said.
Text of Cardinal Ratzinger's homily at conclave's opening Mass
By Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- This is the unofficial Vatican translation provided to television broadcasters of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's Latin-language homily April 18 at the opening Mass of the conclave that elected him the 265th pope:
At this hour of great responsibility, we hear with special consideration what the Lord says to us in his own words. From the three readings I would like to examine just a few passages which concern us directly at this time.
The first reading gives us a prophetic depiction of the person of the Messiah -- a depiction which takes all its meaning from the moment Jesus reads the text in the synagogue in Nazareth, when he says: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing" (Lk 4:21). At the core of the prophetic text we find a word which seems contradictory, at least at first sight. The Messiah, speaking of himself, says that he was sent "to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God" (Is 61:2). We hear with joy the news of a year of favor: Divine mercy puts a limit on evil -- the Holy Father told us. Jesus Christ is divine mercy in person: Encountering Christ means encountering the mercy of God. Christ's mandate has become our mandate through priestly anointing. We are called to proclaim -- not only with our words, but with our lives, and through the valuable signs of the sacraments, the "year of favor from the Lord." But what does the prophet Isaiah mean when he announces the "day of vindication by our God"? In Nazareth, Jesus did not pronounce these words in his reading of the prophet's text -- Jesus concluded by announcing the year of favor. Was this, perhaps, the reason for the scandal which took place after his sermon? We do not know.
In any case, the Lord gave a genuine commentary on these words by being put to death on the cross. St. Peter says: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross" (1 Pt 2:24). And St. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians: "Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, 'Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,' that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal 3:13-14).
The mercy of Christ is not a cheap grace; it does not presume a trivialization of evil. Christ carries in his body and on his soul all the weight of evil and all its destructive force. He burns and transforms evil through suffering, in the fire of his suffering love. The day of vindication and the year of favor meet in the paschal mystery, in Christ died and risen. This is the vindication of God: He himself, in the person of the Son, suffers for us. The more we are touched by the mercy of the Lord, the more we draw closer in solidarity with his suffering -- and become willing to bear in our flesh "what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ" (Col 1:24).
In the second reading, the letter to the Ephesians, we see basically three aspects: first, the ministries and charisms in the church, as gifts of the Lord risen and ascended into heaven. Then there is the maturing of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, as a condition and essence of unity in the body of Christ. Finally, there is the common participation in the growth of the body of Christ -- of the transformation of the world into communion with the Lord.
Let us dwell on only two points. The first is the journey toward "the maturity of Christ" as it is said in the Italian text, simplifying it a bit. More precisely, according to the Greek text, we should speak of the "measure of the fullness of Christ," to which we are called to reach in order to be true adults in the faith. We should not remain infants in faith, in a state of minority. And what does it mean to be an infant in faith? St. Paul answers: It means "tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery" (Eph 4:14). This description is very relevant today.
How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. ... The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves -- thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what St. Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw people into error (cf. Eph 4:14). Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and "swept along by every wind of teaching," looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today's standards. We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.
However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an "adult" means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false and deceit from truth. We must become mature in this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith -- only faith -- which creates unity and takes form in love. On this theme, St. Paul offers us some beautiful words -- in contrast to the continual ups and downs of those who are like infants, tossed about by the waves: (He says) make truth in love, as the basic formula of Christian existence. In Christ, truth and love coincide. To the extent that we draw near to Christ, in our own life, truth and love merge. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like "a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal" (1 Cor 13:1).
Looking now at the richness of the Gospel reading, I would like to make only two small observations. The Lord addresses to us these wonderful words: "I no longer call you slaves ... I have called you friends" (Jn 15:15). So many times we feel like, and it is true, that we are only useless servants (cf. Lk 17:10). And despite this, the Lord calls us friends, he makes us his friends, he gives us his friendship. The Lord defines friendship in a dual way. There are no secrets among friends: Christ tells us all everything he hears from the Father; he gives us his full trust, and with that, also knowledge. He reveals his face and his heart to us. He shows us his tenderness for us, his passionate love that goes to the madness of the cross. He entrusts us, he gives us power to speak in his name: "This is my body," "I forgive you." He entrusts us with his body, the church. He entrusts our weak minds and our weak hands with his truth -- the mystery of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the mystery of God who "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (Jn 3:16). He made us his friends -- and how do we respond?
The second element with which Jesus defines friendship is the communion of wills. For the Romans "Idem velle -- idem nolle," (Same desires, same dislikes ) was also the definition of friendship. "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (Jn 15:14). Friendship with Christ coincides with what is said in the third request of the Our Father: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." At the hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus transformed our rebellious human will into a will shaped and united to the divine will. He suffered the whole experience of our autonomy -- and precisely bringing our will into the hands of God, he gave us true freedom: "Not my will, but your will be done." In this communion of wills our redemption takes place: being friends of Jesus to become friends of God. How much more we love Jesus, how much more we know him, how much more our true freedom grows as well as our joy in being redeemed. Thank you, Jesus, for your friendship.
The other element of the Gospel to which I would like to refer is the teaching of Jesus on bearing fruit: "I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain" (Jn 15:16). It is here that is expressed the dynamic existence of the Christian, the apostle: I chose you to go and bear fruit." We must be inspired by a holy restlessness: restlessness to bring to everyone the gift of faith, of friendship with Christ. In truth, the love and friendship of God was given to us so that it would also be shared with others. We have received the faith to give it to others -- we are priests meant to serve others. And we must bring a fruit that will remain. All people want to leave a mark which lasts. But what remains? Money does not. Buildings do not, nor books. After a certain amount of time, whether long or short, all these things disappear. The only thing which remains forever is the human soul, the human person created by God for eternity. The fruit which remains then is that which we have sowed in human souls -- love, knowledge, a gesture capable of touching the heart, words which open the soul to joy in the Lord. Let us then go to the Lord and pray to him, so that he may help us bear fruit which remains. Only in this way will the earth be changed from a valley of tears to a garden of God.
In conclusion, returning again to the Letter to the Ephesians, which says with words from Psalm 68 that Christ, ascending into heaven, "gave gifts to men" (Eph 4:8). The victor offers gifts. And these gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Our ministry is a gift of Christ to humankind, to build up his body -- the new world. We live out our ministry in this way, as a gift of Christ to humanity. But at this time, above all, we pray with insistence to the Lord, so that after the great gift of Pope John Paul II, he again gives us a pastor according to his own heart, a pastor who guides us to knowledge in Christ, to his love and to true joy. Amen.
Pope Benedict schedules meetings with journalists, cardinals
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI scheduled meetings with journalists, cardinals and international delegations during his first week as pope, the Vatican said.
In one of the first acts of his papacy, the new pope returned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and greeted officials and staff of the office he headed for 24 years.
The visit April 20 came after a morning Mass with the cardinals who elected him the day before. The Vatican described the meeting as "very cordial."
Afterward, the new pontiff went to the Apostolic Palace to see the papal apartment, which had been sealed after the death of Pope John Paul II.
The pope then had lunch with several top Vatican officials to determine his schedule in coming days:
-- A meeting April 22 with all the cardinals present in Rome, including those over age 80 who did not vote in the conclave.
-- A meeting April 23 with international journalists.
-- The 10 a.m. Mass April 24 at the Vatican to mark the official start of his pontificate.
-- On April 25, reception of the delegations present for his inauguration Mass.
The Vatican said that on April 20 Pope Benedict visited his old apartment just outside the Vatican, where he lived for years as a cardinal; it was his first foray as pope outside the Vatican walls.
The pope will be staying temporarily in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guest house, until the papal apartment is ready.
New Pope Inspired by Anti-War Pontiff
Apr 20, 2:21 AM (ET)
By ANGELA DOLAND
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The last pope named Benedict guided the church during the dark years of World War I, espousing a policy of strict neutrality and pushing for peace through negotiations. To honor him, Joseph Ratzinger chose the same name.
Ratzinger told cardinals he wanted to pay homage to Benedict XV, known for tireless efforts to help refugees and reunite a world divided by what was then known as the Great War, an archbishop said.
The new pontiff, Benedict XVI, felt his namesake "had done much for reconciliation among peoples," Berlin Cardinal Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky told reporters Tuesday after attending the conclave. Ratzinger also was close to the late John Paul II - another peace-loving pontiff. John Paul openly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Choosing a new name is a pontiff's first significant act in office, and it provides clues about the kind of leader he aspires to be.
Benedict XV, pontiff from 1914 to 1922, had the difficult task of providing leadership for Roman Catholic countries pitted against each other during World War I, each claiming a just fight and praying for victory.
His neutrality, and repeated protests against weapons like poison gas, angered both sides. He worked to help the war's innocent victims and came up with a seven-point peace plan. It failed, but some of his proposals were included in Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, the U.S. president's wartime call for peace in January 1918.
The Italian-born pope was punished for his neutrality by being excluded from 1919 talks at Versailles outside Paris, where a peace treaty was signed.
Elsewhere, his work was honored: Muslim Turkey erected a statue to him in Istanbul, honoring him as "the benefactor of all people, regardless of nation or creed."
John-Peter Pham, a Vatican expert who worked at the Holy See from 1992 to 2002, said Benedict XV was "in many respects the first modern pope."
"Benedict XV's efforts to mediate the Great War as well as his humanitarian outreach, while also embracing the Orthodox and Muslims, is what was for his time an unprecedented choice," said Pham, now a professor at James Madison University.
Ratzinger may also have been thinking of St. Benedict, a monk who died in the 6th century. The saint was the founder of Western monasticism.
An 18th century saint of the same name, Benedict Joseph Labre, was a wandering pilgrim who ended up destitute. His feast day is April 16 - Ratzinger's birthday. The newest Benedict turned 78 on Saturday.
The Italian version of Benedict, "Benedetto," means one who is blessed, and the name's Latin origin refers to a blessing.
The reigns of some of the other Benedicts, however, ended violently. During the 10th century, Benedict V was forcibly deposed by the troops of Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, and Benedict VI was imprisoned and strangled by order of a rival pontiff, Boniface VII.
Benedict is one of a number of papal names of holy origin such as Clement ("mercy"), Innocent ("hopeful" as well as "innocent") and Pius ("pious"). John is the most popular, with 23 pontiffs taking that name. Two - John Paul I and John Paul II - used it in a double name. There have been 16 Gregories and, as of Tuesday, 16 Benedicts.
Associated Press Writers Daniela Petroff and Maria Sanminiatelli contributed to this report.
The Reigns of All Popes Named Benedict
Apr 20, 2:21 AM (ET)
By The Associated Press
A list of the reigns of all popes named Benedict:
Benedict I, 575-579
Benedict II, 684-685
Benedict III, 855-858
Benedict IV, 900-903
Benedict V, 964-964/965
Benedict VI, 972/973-974
Benedict VII, 974-983
Benedict IX, 1032-1044
Benedict X, 1058-1059
Benedict XI, 1303-1304
Benedict XII, 1334/1335-1342
Benedict XIII, 1724-1730
Benedict XIV, 1740-1758
Benedict XV, 1914-1922
Benedict XVI, 2005-