Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI


“The three most recent popes exemplify the soul, head and heart of religion, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has suggested.

Speaking to a lay interfaith group in New York, the cardinal said Blessed John Paul II was a ‘particular gleaming example of the primacy of the soul’.

Despite the challenges he faced in war-torn Poland and throughout his life, the cardinal said, Blessed John Paul lived by the words he spoke to the public when he was elected pope in 1978: ‘Be not afraid.’

‘The primacy of the spiritual, the essence of the soul,’ he said, was demonstrated during the pope’s visit to Poland in 1979, when 1.5 million people gathered for Mass chanted spontaneously for 17 minutes: ‘We want God!’

Blessed John Paul ‘died before the world and was able to radiate the primacy of the soul even better’, Cardinal Dolan said.

Benedict XVI ‘brilliantly reminded us of the role of the head’, he said. Benedict showed that reason, truth and faith blend together and ‘faith and reason are allied, they are best friends’. Religious groups should avoid the extremes of theism on one side and rationalism on the other, he added.

‘Now, in Pope Francis, we have a man of heart on steroids,’ Cardinal Dolan said. ‘He couldn’t play for the Yankees, his pastoral heart is so pumped up.’

He said the Pope, like his namesake, St Francis of Assisi, ‘has a radar for those in need’.”
– This article by Beth Griffin was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue October 11 2013. For subscriptions please visit (external link).


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“The historic Catholic venue of Ushaw College near Durham [did] host “Word of the Lord”, the first conference of its kind in a generation to celebrate the gift of the scriptures at the heart of the Church in England and Wales. It’s part of a multi-facetted initiative of the English and Welsh bishops’ department for evangelisation and catechesis to promote the Bible in Catholic life. Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master of the Order of Preachers, well-known author and international speaker, will deliver the keynote speech. Recently returned from one of his many speaking engagements, he spoke to me about why he considers the conference to be such an important event in the life of the Church.

÷ Why do you think the conference is such an important initiative? ÷

The focus of the conference is at the heart of our life as a Church. It’s interesting that the Second Vatican Council called bishops “servants of the Word”. For every Catholic, our life is focused on receiving the gift of the Word. When you are following the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), at one point you are given the Scripture as a gift, and it’s something that gathers us into community with each other. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus says that “whoever hears my Word and does it is my brother and sister”. The Word of God brings unity in the Church as brothers and sisters.

÷ Why did you prioritise coming to speak at the conference in Durham? ÷

For about 14 years I taught Scripture at Blackfriars in Oxford and it was the most wonderful thing that happened to me. I had not been specially trained in the Scriptures and was rather nervous, but it was a gift to be asked to teach about it. I always find the scriptures fresh and exciting, and so the moment I was invited to talk about it I jumped at the chance.

÷ How do you think the profile of Catholic Scripture study and pastoral reading of the Bible has changed since Vatican II? ÷

I suspect that one of the ways that we’ve seen a positive shift is in the increasing popularity of Lectio Divina. There are now so many books on it. It’s a wonderful way of praying with the scriptures which encourages us to listen, not to get information about God but, as the Vatican II document Dei Verbum teaches, it’s a way in which we can be “addressed by God”. We listen to Scripture as a Word of God addressed to his friends. This is a different way of listening to Scripture, rather than as an ordinary non-spiritual text. In the Church for the last 50 years, there has been a big stress on the Word of God as a word of friendship, and it’s a transforming word. Pope Benedict XVI, in his beautiful exhortation Verbum Domini, stresses how revelation is dialogical, it involves entry into conversation with God and that emphasis is a fruit of the Second Vatican Council in this post-conciliar period.

Scripture is not just for “specialists” but is a gift for everyone. We have to help everyone to discover how to listen and that’s a big part of the focus of the … conference at Ushaw. We read a manual to work out how to use a central heating system in one way and we read a novel in another way. We also have to help people learn how to listen to Scripture. Many people still worry about whether they have to believe every part of the scriptures literally or not and Vatican II is helpful here. It affirmed that Scripture is not a scientific document or historical document at every point, but it’s a saving Word. This has great significance for evangelisation. What we read in the Scriptures is Good News and that’s what we’re invited to present to everyone.

÷ How significant is it to have a Scripture conference during the Year of Faith? ÷

It’s interesting that in the Bible the human vocation is always sourced in God’s call to us all by name. He calls Abraham and summons him out to the Promised Land, and the minute he hears God’s call he says: “Here I am.” I think faith is always hearing the Word of God addressed to us, to which we respond. Isaiah says: “Here I am, send me.” Faith is essentially that response. The most important way we are addressed by God is in the Bible. We listen in the silence of our hearts, to anyone who speaks truthfully and through the example of the saints. There are all sorts of ways that God addresses us but they all derive from the Word – Jesus. That is why it’s so important to have a focus on Scripture during the Year of Faith.

÷ What do you think are the challenges to the biblical apostolate? ÷

In a very busy world you really need to give the Bible time. If it’s a word of friendship, you have to give time to your friends. In a hectic society it’s difficult for people to be with the Word of God and sit with it, listen to it.”
– The above is an excerpt of an article by Clare Ward entitled “The Bible is not just for the specialist”, published in the Catholic Herald on April 12, 2013.


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I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19th April 2005, in such a way, that from 28th February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer. Benedictvs PP XVI

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Pope Benedict, we love you. ♥


Virgin Mother of God, most august Mother of the Church, we commend the whole Church to you. You bear the sweet name of “Help of Bishops”; keep the bishops in your care, and be at their side and at the side of the priests, religious, and laity who offer them help in sustaining the difficult work of the pastoral office.

From the Cross, the Divine Saviour, your Son, gave you as a most loving Mother to the disciple whom He loved; remember the Christian people who commit themselves to you. Be mindful of all your children; join to their prayers your special power and authority with God. Keep their faith whole and lasting, strengthen their hope, and enkindle their love. Come to the aid of those who find themselves in hardship, in need, in danger, and especially those who are suffering persecution.

We commend the whole human race to your Immaculate Heart, O Virgin Mother of God. Lead it to acknowledge Jesus as the one true Saviour. Drive far from it all the calamities provoked by sin. Bring it peace, which consists in truth, justice, liberty, and love. Amen.


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we thank you for the ministry of our beloved Benedict XVI.
Thy will be done.
You gather your people
in the unity of the Spirit
in the new covenant instituted by Christ.

Keep, we beseech you, continuity for your flock
under the successor of St Peter,
and keep your Church faithful to her mission
as a leaven in the world,
renewing all peoples in Christ
and transforming them into your own family.
Through Christ our Lord.


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Dear Brothers and Sisters, six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved Predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s people showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of Beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what is pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of St Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed Saints and blessed during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasising the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution of the Church ‘Lumen Gentium’. All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church.

Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Bl. Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for 23 years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Church.

Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, we implore you, to sustain from Heaven the faith of God’s people. You often blessed us in this Square from the Apostolic Palace: Bless us, Holy Father! Amen.


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A group of Anglican nuns from the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV) in Wantage, Oxfordshire, is to be received into the full communion with the Catholic Church in January 2013. Eleven sisters from the historic community will join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the structure established by Pope Benedict XVI to enable groups of Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church while retaining elements of their liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral heritage. The group includes the Superior of the community, Mother Winsome CSMV.

The CSMV sisters will be joined by Sr Carolyne Joseph, formerly of the Society of St Margaret in Walsingham, who joined the Ordinariate in January 2011. Together, they will initially be established as a Public Association of the Faithful within the Personal Ordinariate. They will be known as the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and will continue in their work of prayer and contemplation, while retaining certain of their Anglican traditions and practices. Foremost amongst these is the tradition of English plainchant for which these sisters are well known.

After consultation with Church of England authorities, it has been decided that the sisters will move from their convent in Wantage and, after reception into the Catholic Church, will spend a period of time with an established Catholic community. Following this, the newly established Ordinariate community will seek to find a suitable new home. Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said: “The Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage has been at the heart of the Church of England’s religious life since the mid-19th-century.

“The contribution of the community to the life of the Anglican Communion has been significant, not least through the community’s care for those marginalised by society in Britain, and also in India and South Africa. Speaking of the decision of the sisters to enter the Personal Ordinariate, Mgr Newton continued, “Those formed in the tradition of the Oxford Movement cannot help but be moved to respond to Pope Benedict’s generous invitation to Anglicans.

The sisters have always prayed for the unity of Christians with the See of Peter, now this is to become a reality for them by means of the Ordinariate. We are truly grateful for their faith, courage, and resolve.” The community has been in discernment about the way forward since the publication of the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus” in 2009. Mother Winsome CSMV said: “We believe that the Holy Father’s offer is a prophetic gesture which brings to a happy conclusion the prayers of generations of Anglicans and Catholics who have sought a way forward for Christian unity. The future of our community is a fulfilment of its origins, and, as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, we will continue with many of our customs and traditions whilst also seeking to grow in Christ through our relationship with the wider Church.” One sister, who was ordained in the Church of England and is now to be received as a Catholic, said: “The call to Christian unity must always be the primary motivating factor in the decision of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church. Anything which impedes that process cannot be of God, and so must be set aside to achieve this aim, which is the will of Christ.”

Those members of the community who will remain in the Church of England have expressed their admiration and respect for those who have taken this decision. In a short statement they said: “Whilst remaining committed to their religious vows in the Church of England, the sisters of the Community of St Mary the Virgin wish the sisters joining the Ordinariate every blessing on their new life in the Catholic Church, and respect the integrity of their sense of call.” The Community of St Mary the Virgin was founded by the Reverend William John Butler and Mother Harriet CSMV as one of the first communities of nuns in the Church of England since the Reformation.
– This article by Fr James Bradley was published by “The Universe”, issue 23rd/30th December 2012


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British Catholics must be prepared to face the courts and even prison in order to bear witness to their faith, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has said. In an interview with the Catholic Herald published this week, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said: “If we are called upon in our generation, our time, to give such witness, even being brought before courts, even facing the prospect of imprisonment…that this is our opportunity to give witness, as the Gospel reminds us, not just for our contemporaries but for generations who will follow us.”

Bishop Davies said that it was difficult to know what the future would hold, especially as it once seemed unthinkable that Catholics would be persecuted in Britain in this day and age. He said: “As a young person, I used to pray for those Christians suffering under totalitarian regimes. It would have been unthinkable to believe that in Britain, during the gentle reign of Queen Elizabeth II, Christians would be brought before the courts for giving witness to their faith.”

He continued: “I remember the words of Blessed John Henry Newman when he foresaw a time coming, a time of infidelity which, he said, would leave such courageous hearts as St Athanasius and St Gregory aghast and dizzy.” Bishop Davies, who has been in his post for just over two years, said that when he met Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, the Pope repeatedly said the word “courage” to him. Bishop Davies recalled: “He stretched out his hand several times, and it was very striking, he was using the word in English – “courage” – repeatedly before all the very evident challenges that we are facing.” But Bishop Davies said that he was not naturally courageous himself. He said: “Perhaps that’s what the Pope saw! But he was speaking very clearly of a supernatural courage, which he had spoken of elsewhere, particularly required by bishops, that they need that supernatural courage to carry out their mission. I think what has helped me most of all in that is a sense of eternity and my own mortality.”

In the interview the Bishop of Shrewsbury emphasised the importance of the sacraments, particularly Confession and regular Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He said that in order to sustain his daily routine as a bishop “the essential is prayer and giving that generous time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.” He said: “I seek to spend an hour each day as foundational to my whole day. The most important meeting is before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer and to be able to bring everything to Him, so that I can have some effectiveness in what I seek to do.”

[ In answer to the question: “Is your sense that this time that John Henry Newman spoke about is imminent?” he said: ] “I think it is the dramatic moment that we are living through now. Now, of course Blessed John XXIII reminded the fathers of the Second Vatican Council of this: every stage of the Church’s journey, of our history, has been a dramatic moment. But Blessed John Paul II said as we came into this new millenium that he saw a new spiritual crisis taking shape which would either lead towards a new barbarism or to a new springtime of hope, following what he called the ‘century of tears’, the 20th century. I think that Cardinal Pell was recently speaking about this at the synod: the drama of our time which is caught between hope and fear, the supernatural struggle that we are engaged in. I think that we have to be attentive to the drama of our own time.”
– The above are excerpts from an article published in the Catholic Herald, December 23, 2012


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“We celebrate Advent this year in the context of the ‘Year of Faith’, during which Pope Benedict XVI has called on us all to ‘acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is presently experiencing.’ He calls us to rediscover the joy of believing and to generate a greater enthusiasm for communicating with confidence the joy and hope of the Gospel to the communities in which we live, work and take our leisure. During this Year we remember and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Season of Advent leads us into the celebration of Christmas, focusing on the Incarnation. At the heart of our faith is the person of Jesus Christ. We believe that he, true God and true man, was sent by his Father to redeem us from sin and evil, and to reconcile us to God and to one another. In him ‘we see made visible the God we cannot see’ and in building up our personal relationship with him in prayer, we are drawn into communion with the living God, Father, Son and Spirit. Through the gift of faith which we received in baptism, we are disciples of him who said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’
This year the Holy Father is challenging us to deepen our relationship with the person of Jesus Christ in more frequent and regular times of prayer, and to spend time getting to know in greater depth the faith which we profess as Christians. That faith is summed up in the Creed, which we profess every Sunday at Mass, and is explained more fully in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council reflected on those truths of faith in the light of the changed circumstances of the modern world.

…As we recall and reflect on our faith and the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, my hope is that we will all grow in our understanding of the faith we profess on our lips, and grow too in our personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ in prayer.
+ Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark”


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God of our fathers, renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation, the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal, the charity which purifies and opens our hearts to love you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ, may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide, inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears, our sincere effort to redress past wrongs, and our firm purpose of amendment bear an abundant harvest of grace for the deepening of the faith in our families, parishes, schools and communities, for the spiritual progress of Irish society, and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God, confident in the loving protection of Mary, Queen of Ireland, our Mother, and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints, we do entrust ourselves, our children, and the needs of the Church in Ireland. Amen.
– Pope Benedict XVI


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