Archive for the ‘Benedict XVI’ Category

From the Telegraph‘s Damian Thompson:

Two and a half years after the name “Josephum” came booming down from the balcony of St Peter’s, making liberal Catholics weep with rage, Pope Benedict XVI is revealing his programme of reform. And it is breathtakingly ambitious.

The 80-year-old Pontiff is planning a purification of the Roman liturgy in which decades of trendy innovations will be swept away. This recovery of the sacred is intended to draw Catholics closer to the Orthodox and ultimately to heal the 1,000 year Great Schism. But it is also designed to attract vast numbers of conservative Anglicans, who will be offered the protection of the Holy Father if they covert en masse.

… The liberation of the Latin liturgy, the rapprochement with Eastern Orthodoxy, the absorption of former Anglicans – all these ambitions reflect Benedict’s conviction that the Catholic Church must rediscover the liturgical treasure of Christian history to perform its most important task: worshipping God.

One might recall this passage from a prophetic letter to Pope Paul VI written by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, on the eve of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae:

The Apostolic Constitution makes explicit reference to a wealth of piety and teaching in the Novus Ordo borrowed from Eastern Churches. The result – utterly remote from and even opposed to the inspiration of the oriental Liturgies – can only repel the faithful of the Eastern Rites. What, in truth, do these ecumenical options amount to? Basically to the multiplicity of anaphora (but nothing approaching their beauty and complexity), to the presence of deacons, to Communion sub utraque specie.

Against this, the Novus Ordo would appear to have been deliberately shorn of everything which in the Liturgy of Rome came close to those of the East.

Moreover in abandoning its unmistakable and immemorial Roman character, the Novus Ordo lost what was spiritually precious of its own. Its place has been taken by elements which bring it closer only to certain other reformed liturgies (not even those closest to Catholicism) and which debase it at the same time. The East will be ever more alienated, as it already has been by the preceding liturgical reforms.

By the way of compensation the new Liturgy will be the delight of the various groups who, hovering on the verge of apostasy, are wreaking havoc in the Church of God, poisoning her organism and undermining her unity of doctrine, worship, morals and discipline in a spiritual crisis without precedent.


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In August, Pope Benedict XVI released a letter commemorating the 1,600th anniversary of the death of Saint John Chrysostom. Until an official English translation becomes available, Father John Zuhlsdorf offers his own translation (Microsoft Word format), as well as some interesting comments on the letter (see especially his comments on the connection between the Roman Church’s liturgical “Reform of the Reform” and relations with the Orthodox Churches).

Here’s an interesting excerpt, germane to the themes discussed at this blog:

In view of the ecumenical progress made between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches since the Second Vatican Council and especially in recent years, we wish to recall the outstanding efforts that St John Chrysostom made in his day in promoting reconciliation and full communion between Eastern and Western Churches. Singular among these achievements was his contribution in ending the schism which separated the See of Antioch from the See of Rome and other western churches. At the time of his consecration as Archbishop of Constantinople, John sent a delegation to Pope Siricius at Rome. He also won in advance of this mission the crucial collaboration of the Archbishop of Alexandria in Egypt for his plan to end the schism. Pope Siricius responded favorably to John’s diplomatic initiative, and the schism was peacefully resolved so that full communion between the churches was restored.

Later, toward the end of his life, following his return to Constantinople after his first exile, John wrote to Pope Innocent at Rome as well as to bishops Venerius of Milan and Chromatius of Aquileia. He appealed for their assistance in his effort to restore order in the Church at Constantinople which continued to suffer ecclesial divisions spawned by the injustice committed against him. John asked Pope Innocent and the other western bishops for a compassionate response, one which “confers a favor not upon ourselves alone but also upon the Church at large.” In fact it is clear in John’s thinking that when one part of the Church suffers injury, the whole Church suffers the same injury. Pope Innocent defended John in letters to Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria. The Pope maintained full communion with him, thus ignoring a deposition which he regarded as unlawful. He wrote to John in order to console him, and he wrote to the Constantinopolitan clergy and faithful who were loyal to John to express his full support of their lawful bishop. “John, your bishop, has unjustly suffered,” the Pope wrote to John’s followers. Moreover, Pope Innocent convened a synod of Italian and eastern bishops in order to seek justice for the beleaguered bishop. With the western emperor’s support, the Pope sent a delegation of western and eastern bishops to the eastern emperor at Constantinople to defend John and to demand that an ecumenical synod of bishops be convened to seek justice on his behalf. When, shortly before John’s death in exile, these measures failed, John wrote to Pope Innocent to thank him for “the great consolation” he received from having his support. In this letter John insisted that although he was separated from the Pope by the great distance of his exile, he was nevertheless in “daily communion” with him. Aware of the Pope’s efforts on his behalf, John wrote to him, “You have surpassed even affectionate parents in your good will and zeal concerning us.” John urged the Pope to continue with this zeal to seek justice on behalf of himself and the Church at Constantinople, because “the contest now before you has to be fought on behalf of nearly the whole world, on behalf of Churches humbled to the ground, of people dispersed, of clergy assaulted, of bishops sent into exile, of ancestral laws violated.” John also wrote to other western bishops to thank them for their support, among them Chromatius of Aquileia, Venerius of Milan and Gaudentius of Brescia.

Both at Antioch and at Constantinople John spoke passionately about the unity of the Church throughout the world. He observed that “the faithful in Rome consider those in India as members of their own body.” He insisted that there is no place for division in the Church. “The Church,” John exclaimed, “exists not in order that we who come together might be divided, but that they who are divided might be joined.” He found divine authority for this ecclesial unity in the Sacred Scriptures. Preaching on Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians, John reminded his hearers that “Paul refers to the Church as ‘the Church of God’ showing that it ought to be united. For if it is ‘of God,’ it is united; and it is one, not only in Corinth, but also throughout the world. For the Church’s name is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord.”

For John, the Church’s unity is founded in Christ, the Divine Word, who through his Incarnation unites Himself to the Church as the head of his own body. “For where the head is, there is the body also,” John proclaimed, so that “there is no separation between the head and the body.” John understood that in the Incarnation, the Divine Word not only became man, he united Himself to us in his own body. “For neither was it enough for Him to be made man, to be beaten and slaughtered, but He also commingles Himself with us, and not by faith only, but also in very deed makes us His body.” Commenting on the Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: “He has put everything under Christ’s dominion, and made him the head to which the whole Church is joined, so that the Church is his body, the completion of him who everywhere and in all things is complete,” John teaches that “the head is, as it were, filled up by the body, because the body is composed and made up of all its several parts. It is by all then that His body is filled up. Then is the head filled up, then is the body rendered perfect, when we are all knit together and united.” John thus concludes that Christ unites all the members of His Church to Himself and to each other. Our faith in Christ requires that we work for an effective, sacramental unity between the members of the Church; such faith seeks to put an end to divisions in the Church.

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Rome and Cyprus

Papal Address to Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus

Chrysostomos II’s Address to Benedict XVI

Common Declaration of Pope and Chrysostomos II

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Receives Orthodox Delegation on Feast of Apostles

VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- St. Peter’s profession of faith continues to be a guarantee of Christian unity, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Friday, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, in a homily during a Eucharistic concelebration with 46 metropolitan archbishops upon whom he imposed the pallium.

A delegation sent by Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, also attended the Mass.

In his homily, the Holy Father commented on the dialogue between Jesus and the apostles when Christ asked them, “And you, who do you say that I am?”

“In Peter’s profession of faith, dear brothers and sisters, we can feel and be one, despite the divisions that throughout the centuries have wounded the unity of the Church with consequences that still exist today,” the Pontiff said.

Benedict XVI reaffirmed his “commitment to fulfill the will of Christ, who wants us to be united.”


After the Mass, the Pope gave an address to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus.

In words directed to the orthodox delegation: “Our meetings, the reciprocal visits and the dialogues taking place at the moment are not simple gestures of courtesy, or attempts at reaching a compromise, but the sign of a common will to do whatever possible so that we can reach that full communion which Christ prayed for in his prayer to the Father at the Last Supper: ‘Ut unum sint.’

“Among these initiatives there is also the ‘Pauline Year’ that I proclaimed last evening, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, at the tomb of the Apostle Paul.”

The orthodox delegation included Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis of France, director of the Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; Metropolitan Gennadios Limouris of Sassima, co-president of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church; and by Deacon Andreas Sophianopoulos, third deacon of the Patriarchal See of Phanar.

After the Angelus, the Holy Father received the delegation in audience in the Apostolic Palace, followed by lunch.

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Regina Caeli reports that an ecumenical breakthrough may in the works between Rome and Moscow, through the mediation of Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus. According to Chrysostomos (in an interview with the Italian magazine L’Espresso):

… This is really the right time [for a reunification] for several reasons. There is a Pope who deeply knows Greek theology. On the other hand, a Patriarch of Constantinople open to ecumenical dialogue. (…) The great part of Catholics and Orthodox are inside the same common Europe. The reasons are manifold. What is important is that the reunification be not imposed from above, but shared by the people, by the faithful, so that it may be complete and may work.

Yes, I do think that this is a very “Polyanna-ish” statement from the good Archbishop, and I certainly don’t think that any sort of reunification will happen any time soon. I am even a tad skeptical that a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Alexis II will ever take place.  Yet, I am still happy to read about the efforts of the Archbishop of Cyprus.  My guess is that he knows full well that reunification is still an impossibility at this time in history. But perhaps he agrees with some recent words of the Pope on the hard work of Orthodox-Catholic ecumenism: “We are obliged to proceed toward unity, and moving toward unity is already a form of unity.”

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Continuing with our catechetical series on the great figures of the ancient Church, we arrive today to an excellent African bishop of the third century, St. Cyprian, “the first bishop in Africa to attain the crown of martyrdom.” His fame, as his first biographer, the deacon Pontius, testifies, is linked to his literary production and pastoral activity in the 13 years between his conversion and his martyrdom (cf. Vida 19,1; 1,1).


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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. And through today’s liturgy we relive the birth of the Church as it is narrated by Luke in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-13). Fifty days after Easter, the Holy Spirit descended upon the community of disciples — “persevering with one mind in prayer” — gathered together “with Mary, the mother of Jesus” and with the twelve apostles (cf. Acts 1:14; 2,1).

We can say, therefore, that the Church had its solemn beginning with the descent of the Holy Spirit. In this extraordinary event we find the essential and qualifying marks of the Church: the Church is one, like the community of Pentecost, which was united in prayer and “of one mind”: “it had but one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32).

The Church is holy, not because of its own merits, but because, animated by the Holy Spirit, it keeps its gazed fixed upon Christ to become conformed to him and his love. The Church is catholic because the Gospel is destined for all people and for this reason, already at the beginning, the Holy Spirit gives the Church the ability to speak in different tongues. The Church is apostolic because, built upon the foundation of the apostles, it faithfully conserves their teaching through the uninterrupted chain of apostolic succession.

The Church, moreover, is missionary by its nature, and from the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit does not cease to move it along the roads of the world to the ends of the earth and to the end of time. This reality, which we can verify in every epoch, is already anticipated in the Book of Acts, in which the passage of the Gospel from the Jews to the pagans, from Jerusalem to Rome, is described.

Rome represents the pagan world and therefore all peoples who are outside the ancient people of God. In fact, the Acts conclude with the arrival of the Gospel in Rome. We can say, then, that Rome is the concrete name of the catholicity and missionary spirit of the Church; it expresses fidelity to the origins, to the Church of all times, to a Church that speaks in all languages and goes out to meet every culture.

Dear brothers and sisters, the first Pentecost happened when Mary Most Holy was present among the disciples in the cenacle in Jerusalem and prayed. Today also we entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession so that the Holy Spirit descend abundantly upon the Church of our time and fill the hearts of all the faithful and enkindle in them — in us — the fire of his love.

– Pope Benedict XVI
Pentecost, May 27, 2007

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It is important that Christians not be closed off among themselves, but open, and precisely in relations with the Orthodox I see how personal relationships are fundamental. We are to a great extent united in all the fundamental matters of doctrine, but it seems very difficult to make progress through doctrine. But drawing nearer to each other in communion, in the common experience of the life of faith, is the way to recognize one another as children of God and disciples of Christ. And this is my experience of at least forty, almost fifty years: this common experience of discipleship, which we finally live in the same faith, in the same apostolic succession, with the same sacraments and therefore with the great tradition of prayer as well; this diversity and multiplicity of religious cultures, of cultures of faith, is a beautiful thing. Having this experience is fundamental, and it seems to me, perhaps, that the conviction of some, of a segment of the monks of Athos, against ecumenism, is due in part to the fact that this experience is missing in which one sees and feels that the other person also belongs to the same Christ, belongs to dthe same communion with Christ in the Eucharist. Sot this is of great importance: we must endure the separation that exists. Saint Paul says that schisms are necessary for a certain time, and the Lord knows why: to test us, to exercise us, to make us mature, to make us more humble. But at the same time, we are obliged to proceed toward unity, and moving toward unity is already a form of unity.

– Pope Benedict XVI (March 2, 2006)

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