Thursday, February 27, 2014

Time to Prep for Lent!


He became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich 

(cf2 Cor 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor8:9). The Apostle was writing to the Christians of Corinth to encourage them to be generous in helping the faithful in Jerusalem who were in need. What do these words of Saint Paul mean for us Christians today? What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean for us today?

1. Christ’s grace

First of all, it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: "though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor …". Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things (cf. Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15). God’s becoming man is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us. Indeed, Jesus "worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he truly became one of us, like us in all things except sin." (Gaudium et Spes, 22).

By making himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but, as Saint Paul says "that by his poverty you might become rich". This is no mere play on words or a catch phrase. Rather, it sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross. God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery. It is striking that the Apostle states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. Yet Saint Paul is well aware of the "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8), that he is "heir of all things" (Heb 1:2).

So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is his way of loving us, his way of being our neighbour, just as the Good Samaritan was neighbour to the man left half dead by the side of the road (cf. Lk 10:25ff). What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us. Christ’s poverty is the greatest treasure of all: Jesus’ wealth is that of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his desire always and only to do the Father’s will and give glory to him. Jesus is rich in the same way as a child who feels loved and who loves its parents, without doubting their love and tenderness for an instant. Jesus’ wealth lies in his being the Son; his unique relationship with the Father is the sovereign prerogative of this Messiah who is poor. When Jesus asks us to take up his "yoke which is easy", he asks us to be enriched by his "poverty which is rich" and his "richness which is poor", to share his filial and fraternal Spirit, to become sons and daughters in the Son, brothers and sisters in the firstborn brother (cf. Rom 8:29).
It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.

2. Our witness
We might think that this "way" of poverty was Jesus’ way, whereas we who come after him can save the world with the right kind of human resources. This is not the case. In every time and place God continues to save mankind and the world through the poverty of Christ, who makes himself poor in the sacraments, in his word and in his Church, which is a people of the poor. God’s wealth passes not through our wealth, but invariably and exclusively through our personal and communal poverty, enlivened by the Spirit of Christ.
In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope. There are three types of destitution: material, moral and spiritual. Material destitution is what is normally called poverty, and affects those living in conditions opposed to human dignity: those who lack basic rights and needs such as food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. In response to this destitution, the Church offers her help, her diakonia, in meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity. In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.

No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person - is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope! And how many are plunged into this destitution by unjust social conditions, by unemployment, which takes away their dignity as breadwinners, and by lack of equal access to education and health care. In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide. This type of destitution, which also causes financial ruin, is invariably linked to the spiritual destitution which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love. If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.
The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life. The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep. In union with Jesus, we can courageously open up new paths of evangelization and human promotion.

Dear brothers and sisters, may this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can do this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.

May the Holy Spirit, through whom we are "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (2 Cor 6:10), sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy. In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.
From the Vatican, 26 December 2013
Feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr

By Bishop James Conley: 

"Create in us clean hearts" 
Three hundred years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Saint Ephraim the Syrian

became a Christian. In the desert of Syria, he was baptized and ordained a deacon. When he was baptized, he wrote a simple prayer:

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness,
lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother,
for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

To this day, Syrian Christians pray Ephraim’s prayer when they begin the Holy Season of Lent. We should, too.

We cannot become saints if we do not recognize the spirit of sinfulness that keeps us from following Jesus Christ. We’re called, each one of us, to confess our sinfulness and trust in God’s mercy.

But God wants to do more than forgive us. God wants to turn our shame into joy, our vice into virtue, our bondage into freedom. God wants to transform us; to create new, clean hearts in us.

Lent is a reminder that Jesus Christ came into this world to bear our sin, and to offer his life for us on the cross. Our part is to offer our own lives in union with him: to ask the Lord to make us worthy followers of Jesus Christ; and to trust that God, and God alone, can set us free from the spirit of sin.

We know, and God knows, the extent to which we are in need of his mercy. We know about the sinfulness we’ve been clinging to, or are carrying in our hearts. Each of us knows the times when we have chosen sin – have chosen our will over God’s will.
This is why Lent should begin with the sacrament of penance – with a good confession. In the sacrament of penance we reveal our sinfulness to God. We reveal our sorrow, and express our commitment to amend our lives. And then, through his priest, we are forgiven by God the Father.

As we confess our sins and encounter mercy, we can be transformed in holiness, as loving disciples of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis recently said that confession is like a second baptism. Through God’s mercy
we have the chance to begin again, with new, clean hearts.

I encourage each of you to begin the Holy Season of Lent with the sacrament of confession. Bring your spouses, your children, or your friends. Confess your sins to Jesus Christ, and ask him to make in you a new heart—ask him to transform the spirit of sin into the spirit of love.

During the season of Lent, we’re called to prayer, and fasting, and almsgiving. The Gospel of St. Matthew, read on Ash Wednesday, commends these practices to us. Christ calls us to pray, and fast, and live charitably in hidden ways—without boasting or complaining about our Lent. The reason is because our Lenten sacrifices are not designed to be a measure of our virtue, or an affirmation of our Catholicism. Our Lenten sacrifices are meant to draw us close to God, so that he can form our hearts in His image.

Our virtue—our love for God and neighbor—should be the witness of our Lenten sacrifice. The fruit of God’s love should be evident. Christ invites us to follow him quietly, and unassumingly, so that God’s glory will shine, instead of our own.

As we begin Lent, may we begin by confessing our sins. And may we ask the Lord to transform our hearts—to make us love as he does—so that the glory of Jesus Christ may shine through our lives, and transform the world.

From the Carmelite Fathers; 

We are a week from beginning the Lenten Season, and it is a good time for remote preparation before Ash Wednesday comes around. What is remote preparation? It is the things we do to prepare a good time before the event happens. As we approach Lent, we are called to begin to think about those spiritual practices we want to engage in to make our Lent fruitful in the ways of the Lord.

A good place to start is with the question everyone asks themselves: What am I going to give up for Lent? One way to answer this question is to ask yourself: What is the one thing that keeps me away from Jesus? When you can answer that question, then you can begin to address you Lenten penance seriously, for it now becomes a question of: How can I address that “one thing” in Lent? How can I cooperate with God’s grace to diminish this “one thing?”

Also, we are called to deepen our commitment to those four areas of Lent that need our attention: Prayer, penance, fasting, and alms-giving. Throughout Lent, we try to deepen our union and love of Jesus, so we can perform these acts of mercy for ourselves and the whole world.

Reading a spiritual book is also important. For example, “The Imitation of Christ” is great to read during Lent. Reading one of the four gospels is an important way to deepen our Lenten journey of faith. There are also many other important spiritual books that will assist us in living our faith in Jesus in a serious manner.

To be able to do our Lenten spiritual practices, we need time alone with Jesus. We are to do our best with this, trying to make time in our lives to be alone with Jesus, so we can hear His voice, and listen, listen, listen.

To help our Facebook readers during this season of Lent, we will be presenting daily Lenten reflections to assist all during this special time of faith. These will begin on Ash Wednesday and conclude on Easter Sunday.

Let us begin to pray for one another, that this Lent will be a special time of grace, not just for us individually, but for the entire world, that the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ may enter into every heart, and all may bend the knee at the name of Jesus.

Fr. Matthew Williams OCD

By Archbishop Jose Gomez: 

We begin another Lent this coming Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday.

In these next 40 days, we share the desert time of Jesus. We share in his fasting, in his prayers, and in the trials he endured as the Son of God.

Every Lent reminds us that our Christian life is a journey, that we are all following the call of Jesus in our lives.

Lent reminds us that we are walking with him. Companions in his mission of bringing all men and women to know his salvation. Striving for his Kingdom, until the world is filled with God’s glory.

In these 40 days, we are preparing for Easter when we renew the promises of our Baptism. The traditional Lenten practices — fasting, prayer, almsgiving and penance — are meant to strengthen us in our identity as children of God and followers of Jesus.

Following Jesus means two basic things. It means being disciples — people who are always learning from the words and example of our one Teacher and true Master. And it means being missionaries — people with a life-mission to spread his teaching and the love of God in everything we do.

Jesus shows us the way we should approach our lives and he invites us to find joy on a journey of daily conversion, trying to grow every day a little more in our likeness to him.

This Lent, I want to invite all of us to deepen our journey of conversion by reflecting on the Beatitudes. I’ve found myself reflecting on the Beatitudes since my pilgrimage to the Holy Land late last year. There was something powerful about being in the place where Jesus first spoke these words to his disciples.

Jesus gives us the Beatitudes at the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount, the great program of life we find in St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5, 6 and 7. They are familiar to us:

Blessed are the poor in spirit ...

Blessed are those who mourn …

Blessed are the meek …

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness …

Blessed are the merciful …

Blessed are the pure in heart …

Blessed are the peacemakers …

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake …

Blessed are you when men revile you … on my account.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus isn’t talking about different sorts of people — such as people who are poor, or people who are meek or merciful.

If we notice, Jesus is really describing himself in the Beatitudes.

In assuming our human condition, Jesus made himself poor for our sake, with no place to lay his head. He wept for sin and death and was merciful to sinners. He was meek and pure in heart. He made himself hungry and thirsty for justice and our salvation. Reviled and persecuted for his righteousness, on his Cross he made peace, reconciling all things to God.

The Beatitudes show us the face of Jesus. And his face should be like a mirror in which we see ourselves. When Jesus looks at us, he wants to see us living the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are what a child of God looks like.

Beatitude means “blessedness” — perfect happiness. So the Beatitudes are the summary of the path of Christ, the way of love that leads to the happiness that every human heart desires — the holiness and eternal beatitude of God’s Kingdom.

God’s ways are not our ways. The way of life that Jesus calls us to follow is a way the world calls foolishness. How can we find happiness in being poor and powerless, persecuted and mourning?

In his Beatitudes, Jesus turns the world’s expectations inside out and upside down. The challenge for us is to have the courage to believe him, and to really follow the path he sets before us.

Lent is a time for doing that.

During my columns this Lent, I want to keep reflecting on the Beatitudes. And let’s try to use this Lent to help us deepen the attitudes and actions of the Beatitudes in our lives.

Our fasting can help make us poor in spirit. Our almsgiving can help us to hunger and thirst for justice, to be peacemakers. Our penance can help us mourn our sins and be merciful to others. Our prayer can help us to become meek and willing to suffer for the sake of God.

So, as we begin Lent next week, let’s pray for one another. May we set the Beatitudes before us as a path for our own lives and for our Church. We cannot change the world without the spirit of the Beatitudes.

So let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us grow in this spirit, in the joy of living as God wants us to live.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cardinal Burke on the 'Francis Effect"

During a recent visit to the United States, I was repeatedly impressed by how deeply Pope Francis has penetrated the national conversation on a whole range of issues. His special gift of expressing direct care for each and all has resonated strongly with many in my homeland.

At the same time, I noted a certain questioning about whether Pope Francis has altered or is about to alter the Church’s teaching on a number of the critical moral issues of our time, for example, the teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, and the integrity of marriage and the family. Those who questioned me in the matter were surprised to learn that the Holy Father has in fact affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions. They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation of Pope Francis and his views.

Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach. My friend and colleague at the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, put it this way in a recent article in this newspaper: “The Holy Father instructs with his words, but effectively teaches through his actions. This is his uniqueness and his magnetism” (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, [ore] 13 December 2013, p. 7). In other words, Pope Francis is exercising strongly his gift for drawing near to all people of good will. It is said that when he manifests his care for a single person, as he does so generously whenever the occasion presents itself, all understand that he has the same care for each of them.

With regard to his manner of addressing the critical issues, the Holy Father himself has described his approach, when he stated: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time” (“The Pope’s Interview”, ore, 25 September 2013, p. 14). In other words, the Holy Father wants, first, to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context. But his approach cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time. I think, for instance, of the Holy Father’s words to the participants in the second annual March for Life in Rome on 12 May of last year, or of his Twitter message to the participants in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on 22 January.

Pope Francis chose the moment for himself to speak unambiguously on these issues, and to do so within the context of pastoral charity, when he addressed the Dignitatis Humanae Institute at our Fifth Anniversary Papal Audience. Exhorting the assembled politicians, the Holy Father warned of a modern-day “throwaway culture” which threatens “to become the dominant mentality”. He went on to identify those who suffer most from such a culture, declaring: “The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people… who are in danger of being ‘thrown out’, expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness’” (lor, English edition, 13 December 2013, p. 7).

In a similar way, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, as well as the practical importance of the Church’s canonical discipline in seeking the truth regarding the claim of the nullity of a marriage. I think in particular of his words to the Plenary Assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: “It is always necessary to keep in mind the effective connection between the action of the Church which evangelizes and the action of the Church which administers justice. The service of justice is an undertaking of the apostolic life.... I encourage all of you to persevere in the pursuit of a clear and upright exercise of justice in the Church, in response to the legitimate desires that the faithful address to their Pastors, especially when they trustingly request that their own status be authoritatively clarified” (ore, 15 November 2013, p. 8).

Pope Francis has clearly reaffirmed the Church’s moral teaching, in accord with her unbroken tradition. What, then, does he want us to understand about his pastoral approach in general? It seems to me that he first wishes to have people set aside every obstacle which they imagine to prevent them from responding with faith. He wants, above all, that they see Christ and receive His personal invitation to be one with Him in the Church.

The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness. We all know individuals who say things like: “Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce”, or “I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality”. The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives. Once they come to understand the immeasurable love of Christ, alive for us in the Church, they will be able to resolve whatever has been troubling them about the Church, His Mystical Body, and her teaching.

Surely, persons whose hearts are hardened against the truth will read something very different into the approach of Pope Francis, claiming that, in fact, he intends to abandon certain teachings of the Church which our totally secularized culture rejects. Their false praise of the Holy Father’s approach mocks the fact that he is the Successor of Saint Peter, totally grounded in the Beatitudes, and that, therefore, with humble trust in God alone, he rejects the acceptance and praise of the world.

It is not that the Holy Father is not clear in his opposition to abortion and euthanasia, or in his support of marriage as the indissoluble, faithful and procreative union of one man and one woman. Rather he concentrates his attention on inviting all to nurture an intimate relationship, indeed communion, with Christ, within which the non-negotiable truths, inscribed by God upon every human heart, become ever more evident and are generously embraced. The understanding and living of these truths are, so to speak, the outer manifestation of the inner communion with God the Father in Christ, His only-begotten Son, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In seeking to put the person of Jesus Christ at the heart of all of the Church’s pastoral activity, the Holy Father is following closely the teachings of his predecessors in the See of Peter. Over a century ago, Pope St Pius x wrote in his first encyclical letter, E supremi: “Should anyone ask Us for a symbol as the expression of Our will, We will give this and no other: ‘To renew all things in Christ’” (n. 4). Ten years after the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Venerable Pope Paul VI stated in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi: “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed” (n. 22). At the close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, Blessed Pope John Paul II reminded the Church: It is not therefore a matter of inventing a “new programme”. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem (Novo millennio ineunte, n. 29).

In the Mass for the inauguration of his ministry as Successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, echoing the words of his predecessor, summed up the invitation which the Church proposes in every age: “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ — and you will find true life” (Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, 24 April 2005) It is this invitation, to the fulness of life in Christ, which Pope Francis wishes to put at the center of his pastoral outreach.

At the same time, we should not think that such an invitation requires that we be silent about fundamental truths of the natural moral law, as if these matters were somehow peripheral to the message of the Gospel. Rather, the proclamation of the truth of the moral law is always an essential dimension of the proclamation of the Gospel, for it is only in light of the truth of the moral law, written on every human heart, that we can recognize our need to repent from sin and accept the mercy of God offered to us in Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that Our Lord begins His own proclamation of the Kingdom of God with the challenge to “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). The call to repentance involves both the reminder of our sinfulness and failure to keep God’s law and, at the same time, the offer of God’s forgiveness. Thus, we see the Apostles, in their preaching after Pentecost, both admonishing their hearers for their sins, and inviting them to accept the mercy that God wishes to offer them through the Risen Christ (Acts 2: 38-40; 3:14-20). St Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, begins his comprehensive presentation of the Gospel precisely by reminding us of the natural moral law, written on every human heart, which reveals to us our sinfulness and our need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 1-3).

In this way, the Church’s insistent proclamation of the moral law, especially regarding the issues most disputed in our time, provides an essential service to her mission of evangelization. This proclamation, however, is always in the context of the call to life in Christ, in whose merciful Heart, opened for us on the Cross, we find the grace to be converted from our sins and to live in accord with God’s commandments, above all the supreme commandment of charity.

The Pontificate of Pope Francis should therefore be seen as a radical call to redouble our efforts for the new evangelization. Radical in the sense that, in our dialogue with others and with the world, we must start with the beginning, Christ’s call to life in Him. This call of Christ is the good news of God’s love and mercy which our world so badly longs for. At the same time, as Simeon foretold to Our Blessed Mother when Our Lord was presented in the temple, it is also “a sign that will be contradicted” (Lk 2:34), in every age and particularly in our “post-Christian” society. This is because the proclamation of Jesus Christ can never be authentic without the proclamation of his Cross. Pope Francis reminded us of this most eloquently in his homily to the cardinal electors on the afternoon following his election: When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord. My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward (Homily of Pope Francis, 14 March 2013).

In the face of a galloping de-Christianisation in the West, the new evangelization, as Pope Francis underlines, must be clearly grounded in Christ crucified who alone can overcome the world for the sake of its salvation.
Prefect of the Sacred Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;
President of the Advisory Board of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Consistory of Cardinals

Pope Francis creates 19 new Cardinals

2014-02-22 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis created nineteen new Cardinals on Saturday, the Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle. The newly created Cardinals received the insignia of their office – the red biretta and the cardinal’s ring – in a streamlined ceremony conducted entirely in Latin.
Eighteen of the new princes of the Church were present, while Cardinal Loris Capovilla, the 98 year-old former secretary to Bl. John XXIII and Archbishop-emeritus of Chieti-Vasto in Italy, was created in absentia. Listen:
A very special guest was on hand, as well: Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, whom Pope Francis had invited to share in the occasion. The Pope and the Pope-emeritus embraced warmly and exchanged greetings before the ceremony began.
In his allocution, Pope Francis encouraged the whole College of Cardinals to recognize their office as one of service and readiness for sacrifice. “The Church needs your courage, to proclaim the Gospel at all times,” said Pope Francis, “both in season and out of season, and to bear witness to the truth.”
The Holy Father went on to say, “The Church needs your prayer for the progress of Christ’s flock,” reminding the Cardinals that prayer, along with the proclamation of the Word, is the primary task of the Bishop.
Calling on the Cardinals to pray especially for suffering peoples, and to express with him their spiritual closeness to the ecclesial communities and to all Christians suffering from discrimination and persecution, he said, “The Church needs us also to be peacemakers, building peace by our words, our hopes and our prayers.”
On Sunday, February 23rd, Pope Francis shall celebrate Mass with the new Cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 AM Rome Time.
Below, please find a list of the names of the new Cardinals, with brief biographical sketches.

Part of the Holy See’s diplomatic corps since 1986, he was Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela between 2009 and 2013, when Pope Francis nominated him Vatican Secretary of State.

LORENZO BALDISSERIPreviously Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil, where he welcomed Pope Benedict XVI on his visit in 2007, he was Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops from January 2012 until nominated Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops by Pope Francis in September 2013.

Having graduated in philosophy and theology, he was professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich (Germany) between 1986 and 2002, travelling as visiting professor to universities worldwide. In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI nominated him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and President of the International Theological Commission.

BENIAMINO STELLAPart of the Holy See’s diplomatic corps since 1970, he was previously Apostolic Nuncio in Cuba and Colombia, and was nominated Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy by Pope Francis in September 2013.

Master of Arts in Theology and previously Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, he was Metropolitan Archbishop of Birmingham (UK) between 2000 and 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI nominated him Metropolitan Archbishop of Westminster (UK).

LEOPOLDO JOSÉ BRENES SOLÓRZANO He obtained his Licentiate of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome (Italy) and was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua) by Pope John Paul II in March 2005.

Part of the “Institut Séculier Pie X” since 1975, he has been both Secretary General and Director General of the institute, as well as Director General of its centre for spiritual formation “Maison du Renouveau”. He was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Québec (Canada) by Pope Benedict XVI in February 2011.

JEAN-PIERRE KUTWADoctor of Philosophy in Biblical Theology and previously Metropolitan Archbishop of Gagnoa (Ivory Coast), he was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast) in May 2006.

A member of the Cistercian Order since 1969, he was Prior of the São Bernardo monastery in São José do Rio Pardo (Brazil) from 1984 until the monastery became an abbey in 1996, when he was elected its first Abbott. Previously President of Brazil’s National Commission for Culture, Education and Social Communications, he was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in February 2009, in which capacity he welcomed Pope Francis on his visit in July 2013.

GUALTIERO BASSETTIHe was previously a member of the Episcopal Commission of the Italian Episcopal Conference for the Clergy and Consecrated Life, and a member of the Managing Board of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration with Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine tradition and Eastern Orthodox Churches. He is currently Vice-President of the Italian Episcopal Conference for Central Italy, and Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy).

Having graduated as Doctor of Philosophy in Theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, he was appointed there as professor of Ecclesiastical History in 1980. He is currently President of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education and of the Episcopal Commission for Ministries with the Argentinian Episcopal Conference, and was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina) by Pope Francis in March 2013.

ANDREW YEOM SOO-JUNGArchbishop of Seoul (South Korea) since May 2012, he previously occupied a series of senior administrative posts within parishes and seminaries across South Korea.

A member of the Salesians of Don Bosco since 1966, he worked with the Salesian Society in parishes and educational institutions all over Chile. Previously Metropolitan Archbishop of Concepción (Chile), he was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Santiago (Chile) in December 2010.

PHILIPPE NAKELLENTUBA OUEDRAOGOPreviously a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, he was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Ouadraogo (Burkina Faso) by Pope Benedict XVI in May 2009.

Already a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, he graduated in Pedagogy from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila (Philippines). He was appointed first Bishop of Kidapawan (Philippines) when the diocese was created in November 1982, and nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Cotabato (Philippines) by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

CHIBLY LANGLOISNominated Bishop of Les Cayes (Haiti) by Pope Benedict XVI in August 2011, he was previously professor of Pastoral Theology at the Grand Séminaire Notre-Dame in Port-au-Prince (Haiti) and professor at the Diocesan Institute for Human Education and Promotion in Jacmel (Haiti).

LORIS FRANCESCO CAPOVILLAA qualified journalist and former editor of a diocesan weekly magazine in Venice (Italy), he was secretary to Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, first in Venice and then in the Vatican. He was Pontifical Delegate for the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto (Italy) from 1971 until his retirement in 1988. At 98 years old, he is the third oldest archbishop in the world and the oldest member of the College of Cardinals.

A member of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and previously Bishop of León (Spain), he is Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona (Spain), where he served from 1993 until his retirement in 2007.

KELVIN EDWARD FELIXHaving graduated as Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from the University of Bradford (UK) in 1970, he was professor of Sociology at the University of the West Indies at Saint Augustine (Trinidad and Tobago) for many years. Previously President of the Caribbean Conference of Churches, President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, member of the Pontifical Council for the Family and member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, he is Archbishop Emeritus of Castries (Saint Lucia), where he led the diocese from his appointment in 1981 until his retirement in 2008.

Pope Francis' homily At the Consistory for the creation of nineteen cardinals

During the Ordinary Public Consistory for appointed of 19 cardinals, Saturday morning, 22 February, in St Peter's Basilica, the Pope gave the following reflection.

“Jesus was walking ahead of them…” (Mk 10:32).

At this moment too, Jesus is walking ahead of us. He is always before us. He goes ahead of us and leads the way… This is the source of our confidence and our joy: to be his disciples, to remain with him, to walk behind him, to follow him…

When with the Cardinals we concelebrated the first Mass in the Sistine Chapel, the first word
which the Lord proposed to us was “to walk”, to journey with him: to journey, and then to build and to profess.

Today this same word is repeated, but now as an action, an action of Jesus which is ongoing: “Jesus was walking…”. This is something striking about the Gospels: Jesus is often walking and he teaches his disciples along the way. This is important. Jesus did not come to teach a philosophy, an ideology… but rather “a way”, a journey to be undertaken with him, and we learn the way as we go, by walking. Yes, dear brothers, this is our joy: to walk with Jesus.

And this is not easy, or comfortable, because the way that Jesus chooses is the way of the Cross. As they journey together, he speaks to his disciples about what will happen in Jerusalem: he foretells his passion, death and resurrection. And they are “shocked” and “full of fear”. They were shocked, certainly, because for them going up to Jerusalem meant sharing in the triumph of the Messiah, in his victory – we see this in the request made by James and John. But they were also full of fear for what was about to happen to Jesus, and for what they themselves might have to endure.

Unlike the disciples in those days, we know that Jesus has won, and that we need not fear the Cross; indeed, the Cross is our hope. And yet, we are all too human, sinners, tempted to think as men do, not as God does.

And once we follow the thinking of the world, what happens? The Gospel tells us: “When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John” (Mk 10:41). They were indignant. Whenever a worldly mentality predominates, the result is rivalry, jealousy, factions…

And so the word which Jesus speaks to us today is most salutary. It purifies us inwardly, it enlightens our consciences and helps us to unite ourselves fully with Jesus, and to do so together, at this time when the College of Cardinals is enlarged by the entrance of new members.

“And Jesus called them to himself…” (Mk 10:42). Here is the other action of Jesus. Along the way, he is aware that he needs to speak to the Twelve; he stops and calls them to himself. Brothers, let us allow Jesus to call us to himself! Let us be “con-voked” by him. And let us listen to him, with the joy that comes from receiving his word together, from letting ourselves be taught by that word and by the Holy Spirit, and to become ever more of one heart and soul, gathered around him.

And as we are thus “con-voked”, “called to himself” by our one Teacher,

Pope Francis and Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI were BOTH present at the creation of new cardinals 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Continuity of the Popes

Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI- different style but same message!  
No so called "change' of Francis

Inline image 1

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wyoming Catholic College Launches New Online Resourses

The cinematography in incredible, the music is beautiful, and the goal is stirring....have a watch, and spread the word! 

Check Out WCC other websites: 

Redeeming the Republic: 
Main Website:
Dr. Roberts Twitter:

Wisdom in God's Country

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recover America!

Friends, on this President’s Day let’s pray for America. May we recover our Founders’ belief — that we are all created equal in God’s image, with great dignity and a noble destiny. Endowed with God-given rights — to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that no one can take away.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Remembering Pope Benedict XVI

     "...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..."

  Today, it has been exactly one year since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the Petrine office.  So many things have changed since then!  Let's pray for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis and for our Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, who still continues to be a great blessing for the church.  Our Lady of Lourdes (Feast day today), pray for all of our church leaders!  

An important fact to remember:

"I'm not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it's very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I'd also say it's necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don't take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn't think we were so important."

Pope Benedict XVI


Articles remembering that historic day:        

"Today I ask you to join me in prayer for His Holiness Benedict XVI, a man of great courage and humility."   -Pontifex

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI a year from his 

B16 now
(Vatican Radio) It was exactly one year ago, on February 11th, 2013, that the then-Pope, Benedict XVI, stunned the Church and the world with the announcement of his resignation, effective just over two weeks later, at the end of the month.
The resignation set in motion a series of events, the momentum of which is still very much with us. Since his resignation took effect, however, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has stayed largely out of the public eye: “withdrawn from the world,” as he himself described his circumstances.

Nevertheless, the man who served nearly eight years as bishop of Rome and then became the first Pope in nearly 600 years to resign the office, continues his life of prayer, correspondence, and even private visits with old friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

According to a report appearing in The Voice of Romagna, a small regional daily published in the Italian city of Rimini, some recent guests of Benedict were the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, Luigi Negri, and Professor Marco Ferrini, who together lead the John Paul II International Fund for the Social Magisterium of the Church, with the professor describing the Pope-emeritus as, “lively,” though the weight of his 87 years is apparent.

Though he is out of the public spotlight, the Pope-emeritus has maintained an interest in affairs. “He spoke to us of the difficulty of the context in which the Church of today moves and acts, experiencing as it is an ever more virulent attack from the world,” said Ferrini, who went on to say that his host is not discouraged by the state of thing. He quoted the Holy Father as saying, “If there is no struggle, then it is not Christianity.” 
Listen to Chris Altieri's report: 

Benedict XVI's personal secretary: former Pope's resignation "revolutionary and courageous”

 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) In an interview with the Vatican Television Center (CTV) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s personal secretary recalls the day on which Pope Francis’ predecessor announced his decision to resign. “The 11th of February last year was a very special day,” said Archbishop Georg Gänswein, a day he says was marked by feelings of “sadness and gratitude.”

“Clearly, taking one’s leave is always a sad thing, a thing that hurts, that is painful” says Gänswein who is also head of the papal household. “On the other hand, there was also the feeling of gratitude for these years that I was able to live near a great Pope. I knew about (the announcement) a little before, and certainly, when the Pope told me, he told me with orders not to tell anyone, and I did not say anything. I knew about it, however, at the moment he said it, I was shocked. For me, the last day of his pontificate was a day of great sorrow.”

One year on from that historic day, Gänswein reiterates his belief that Benedict’s resignation was an “act of great courage, even a revolutionary act, which opened up possibilities that no one at that moment could see.”

“The Pope said it himself, when he read out the text of his announcement, that he was no longer able to guide the barque of Peter, the Church of the Lord.” Gänswein describes the resignation as “an act of love for the Lord, for the Church and for the faithful, to step aside to open up the possibility to a person who has more strength who can continue his work.”
Gänswein says he “strongly” believes that Benedict’s gesture had a great impact on the faithful’s emotional reaction to Francis, saying that it “is an aspect that should not be underestimated.”

“We are all seeing the impact of Pope Francis on the world, not only on the faithful in the Church, but on the world; it is a huge impact, and this impact was also facilitated by Pope Benedict in his resignation. He opened up a possibility that until then was not there, and we see that Pope Francis has taken up this situation and we are pleased that today it is so. "
To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, CTV has created a box set of five DVDs entitled “From Benedict to Francis,” showcasing recordings of the most important events marking the changeover of pontificates. The DVDs offer an archive of the period from February 11 to March 27, 2013 following the resignation of Benedict to Pope Francis’s first audience.

Benedict's Brother Says Pope Emeritus Has No Regrets  Says Decision of a Year Ago Was Clear and Continues Today

ROME, February 11, 2014 ( - Georg Ratzinger says his brother does not regret at all the decision to resign from the papacy, a decision that was publicly announced one year ago today.

A reporter from Spain’s "La Razon" newspaper spoke with Monsignor Ratzinger by telephone.

The monsignor, who is 90, reported that Benedict XVI is “in a good state of health; he tries to be peaceful although he does not have as much time as he would like to play the piano and to answer telephone calls, because he still has many visits and audiences,” he explained.

Monsignor Ratzinger assured that Benedict XVI continues with his theology studies but did not confirm the possibility that he is writing Memoirs. “I cannot confirm it; moreover, books already exist that recount amply my brother’s life, so that the essence of his work is already contained in those works.”

On asking Monsignor Ratzinger about the first anniversary of the renunciation and the reflections made during these months, he said: “My brother doesn’t regret at all the decision he made a year ago. He is very clear about the tasks and functions he wishes to carry out and what happened a year ago was a clear decision which continues to be valid today.”

Vatican Spokesman Reflects on Benedict's Resignation 
and His Example Today Describes Resignation as "Great Act of Government, Made with Great Spiritual Profundity."

VATICAN CITY, February 11, 2014 ( - On the first anniversary of the announcement of Benedict XVI’s renunciation of the Petrine ministry, Holy See Press Office Director Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi spoke with Vatican Radio's Alessandro Gisotti about the momentous day a year ago.

Father Lombardi: It has been centuries since there was a papal resignation; hence, for the very great majority of people it was an unheard of and surprising gesture. In reality, for those who were closer to Benedict XVI, it was known that he had reflected on this subject, and he said so explicitly in his conversation with Peter Seewald, some time earlier – at an earlier time. Therefore, it was a subject on which he prayed, reflected, evaluated, and made his spiritual discernment. It was something that he then acted on and he gave us a synthetic report about on the day of his resignation, in those brief but very dense words that explained in an absolutely appropriate and clear way the criteria on the basis of which he made his decision. What I say – and I already said it at the time – is that it seemed to me a great act of government, that is, a decision made freely that really affected the situation and the history of the Church. In this sense, it was a great act of government, made with great spiritual profundity, with great preparation from the point of view of reflection and prayer; and great courage because being, effectively, an unheard of decision, all problems and doubts could be exercised about “what” it meant, as reflections, as consequences for the future, as reception on the part of the people of God or of the public. The clarity with which Benedict XVI had prepared himself for this gesture and, I would say, the faith with which he prepared himself, gave him the serenity and strength necessary to carry it out, going with courage and serenity, with a vision that was truly of faith and of awaiting the Lord, who constantly accompanies His Church. [It was] an encounter with this new situation which he lived personally, for several weeks, and which the Church then lived with the coming of the election of the new Pope, as we all know. One sees that there has truly been this sense of accompaniment of the journeying Church by the Spirit of the Lord.

In regard, precisely, to this last passage: a year ago many wondered how the unheard of coexistence of two Popes would be. Today we see that the many fears – perhaps more of the “experts” than of the people of God – were exaggerated.

Father Lombardi: Yes, from this point of view, it seemed absolutely clear to me that there should not be any fear whatsoever. Why? Because the issue is the fact that the papacy is a service and not a power. If problems are lived in the framework of power, then it’s clear that two persons could have difficulties in coexisting because of the fact of giving up a power and having to live with the successor. However, if everything is lived exclusively as service, then a person who has fulfilled his service before God and in full awareness, passes the witness of this service to another person who, with an attitude of service and of full liberty of conscience, carries out this task, then there is absolutely no problem! There is a profound spiritual solidarity between the Servants of God who seek the good of the people of God in the service of the Lord.

Pope Benedict took leave underlining that he would continue to serve the Church with prayer. This is a really extraordinary contribution he has given, and is still giving, no?

Father Lombardi: Yes … a very small personal recollection. Above all, in the early days of the Pontificate, every time there was an audience and I went by to greet the Pope, as usual he gave me a Rosary, because it often happens that one is given an image, a Rosary, a medal … And every time the Pope gave me a Rosary he said: “Priests must also remember to pray.” See, I’ve never forgotten this, because he manifested thus, in a very simple way, his conviction and his attention to the place of prayer in our life, also and in particular in the life of one who has tasks of responsibility in the Lord’s service. Look, Benedict XVI was certainly always a man of prayer, in his whole life, and he wished, probably, to have time in which to live this dimension of prayer with more space, totality and profundity. And this is now his time.

But Pope Benedict’s life of prayer is not lacking in moments of encounter, also with Pope Francis, as we know. What can you say about this hidden, but not isolated, life of Joseph Ratzinger?

Father Lombardi: I think it’s right to realize that he lives in a discreet way, without a public dimension. However, this does not mean that he lives isolated, closed as in a strict cloister. He carries out the normal activity of an elderly person – an elderly religious person. Hence, a life of prayer, of reflection, of reading, of writing in the sense that he answers the correspondence he receives; of conversations, of meetings with persons who are close to him, whom he gladly meets, with whom he considers it useful to converse, who ask him for advice or spiritual closeness. Hence, it is the life of a spiritually rich person, of great experience, in a discreet relation with others … What does not exist is the public dimension to which we were accustomed when he was Pope and was, therefore, always on television screens, before the attention of the whole world. This doesn’t exist, but as for the rest, he lives a normal life of relations. And among these relations is the relation with his Successor, his relation with Pope Francis that, as we know, has moments of meeting, of dialogue … one has gone to the other’s house and vice versa. And then there are the other forms of contact which can be the telephone or messages that are sent: an altogether normal situation of relation, I would say, of solidarity. I think it is very lovely for us, when we have those rare images of the two Popes together and praying together – the present Pope and the Pope Emeritus. It is a very beautiful and encouraging sign of the continuity of the Petrine ministry in the service of the Church.

Finally, Father Lombardi, you followed Benedict XVI throughout his Pontificate. What is Pope Benedict giving to you now, personally, spiritually since last February 11?
Father Lombardi: Well I feel Pope Benedict XVI’s presence very much, as a strong spiritual presence that accompanies, that uplifts … I think of the great figures of the elderly in the history of the Church and of sacred history. In particular, we all think, for instance, of Simeon, who received Jesus in the Temple and who looked with joy also at his eternal destiny and at the future of the community that continues to walk on this earth. See, we all know the very great value of having the elderly with us, elderly who are rich in wisdom, rich in faith, serene. They are truly a very great help for those who are younger, helping them to go forward, to look to the future with confidence and hope. This is what Benedict XVI is for me – and I believe for the Church: the Great Elderly Man, wise, let’s say pure, holy, who invites us with serenity, because it’s also lovely when one sees it. He truly gives an impression of great spiritual serenity. He has kept his usual smile, in lovely moments when we meet him, and which invites us therefore to go forward on the way, with confidence and hope.

Vatican Official: Benedict XVI's Resignation Still "Tugs at My Heart"Msgr. John Kennedy Also Recalls Working Under Cardinal

Ratzinger at CDF

By Ann Schneible

VATICAN CITY, February 11, 2014 ( - On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world with the announcement that he would be stepping down from the Petrine ministry.

Since his resignation took effect less than two weeks later, the now Pope Emeritus has taken up residence in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, located within the Vatican walls. There he quietly prays, studies, enjoys his music, and receives a few select visitors. As he promised, he has remained out of the public’s view.

Yet the resonance of his decision to step down still remains one year later, especially among those who knew him well.

Monsignor John Kennedy is an official of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) who worked under the leadership of the then-prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger.

In this Feb. 11 interview with ZENIT, he shared some of his memories of the former pontiff:
ZENIT: What was going through your mind when you learned that Pope Benedict had announced he would be resigning at the end of the month?

Msgr. Kennedy: You sometimes meet people who ask you: Do you remember where you were on the day when JFK was shot, or the Twin Towers came down, or when World War II ended. I can think very clearly of exactly where I was.

I was in the north of Italy, and I was just ready to leave the hotel after a two-day ski trip, and my brother phoned and said: “What’s going on in Rome?”. I said “I don’t really know. I’m not there.” He said: “Switch on the TV as soon as you can, and you’ll see exactly what’s going on.”

That moment of Pope Benedict announcing that he would almost three weeks later step down was one of those moments that is like throwing a stone into a pond, and watching all the ripples going out towards the edge of the sea. The ripple effects of that moment, I think, are still being felt one year later. What is prolonging this tugging at my heart is that he is, in some sense, gone from the Petrine Ministry but not in the usual way.

ZENIT: You’ve known Pope Benedict for many years, having worked under him at the CDF. What struck you most about him?

Msgr. Kennedy: As a seminarian, the name “Josef Ratzinger” was a household name. If you had read his books, then you knew more about him. You certainly knew who he was and his role in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he had been appointed by Pope John Paul II.

When I had the chance to return to Rome to do post-graduate studies in 1998, I had the great opportunity to live at the Teutonic College, which is nestled between the audience hall and Saint Peter’s Basilica. It’s a German stronghold which goes back to 1876, and even beyond that before it became a college.

Cardinal Ratzinger was a person who knew the college very well. He was invited every Thursday morning for the German-speaking pilgrims. You can imagine German pilgrims coming down by buses, by train, and going to the audience on Wednesday, staying overnight (because it was a long journey), but many of them, because they knew he was saying Mass there the next morning, would come to the 7am Mass in German.

Three things really strike me about him. As a priest, you’d come down to the Sacristy to get ready. When we came down at 10 minutes to 7 in the morning, he was already there: vested, ready for Mass, praying, and greeting individuals as they’d come in, remembering faces, catching up with people.

The second thing I noticed was that he almost stood back from the celebration of the Mass so that you had no sense that it was about him in any way, but only about God. He almost disappeared as the Eucharist took central place. I thought I was the only one to see this but on one occasion I was present in Saint Peter’s Square where I overheard two young men saying: “Isn’t it amazing how he does not get in the way of the Eucharist?”

The other thing was that he would stand and greet all the pilgrims after the Mass before slipping quietly in to the dining room to have breakfast. I noticed that his tastes were very simple and that he enjoyed the company of the various people who were present. Most of the time it was the Rector, the post-graduate priests and some seminarians, while at other times there were visiting professors from all over Europe. You could see that the conversation was lively, often with humor and great personal interest. When he had finished, he would stand up, clear away his dishes,and then he was gone by 8am.

A couple of years later when I got to work for him in the CDF, I realized that he was at the office at least half an hour before everybody else, because our office didn’t begin until half past 8 in the morning.

ZENIT: How would you describe Pope Benedict?

Msgr. Kennedy: Pope Benedict was a shy, but extremely intelligent man, a person who was very sincere, very gentle.

I remember when my mother turned 60, I asked if it would be possible for her to meet him, and he said: “Oh yes, bring her in at a quarter to 1.” I brought her in and they sat like two friends on the sofa in his private office, and had a good old chat for about fifteen or twenty minutes. He was very kind. He was very gracious. He’d remember details about you, and years later he’d be able to say: How is that situation, or how is that person that I met years ago?

When it comes up in conversation that you work for someone like Cardinal Ratzinger, many people are curious to know what he is like. The information they had been fed about Cardinal Ratzinger was often a diet of what some newspapers had said about him. I often noticed that people were already changing their minds about him when I began to speak about what it was like to work with him, about how kind, paternal, gentle and interesting he was.

I often said that he was a shy man, but one who was gifted with a most amazing memory. He was able to remember very specific details about people and then ask them, often years later, how a particular situation was, how their mother or father were, or was able to recall something that the individual had said to him often years earlier.

This was a side we saw of him every day in the Congregation.

ZENIT: What sort of response do you hear from pilgrims with regard to Pope Benedict?

Msgr. Kennedy: Various people have come to Rome in the last year, friends, relatives, pilgrimage groups, students, and almost every one of them, almost as a natural part of their appreciation and fondness for Pope Francis, made some mention of the fact the way for the new Pope was prepared by the generous, courageous and humble act of Pope Benedict. They were curious to know where he was living, what he was doing, whether anyone had access to him, whether he might make the odd public appearance or if he had come back to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where he had been Prefect for over two decades.

One thing about living in historical times, and particularly since we live in a media age where it is so easy to document various happenings, is that we have the chance to discuss and record for all posterity our reaction to this phenomenon one year later. This was not so much the case, I imagine, the last time this happened.

Benedict XVI: The Humble Pope

How One Man's Humility Changed the World

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, February 11, 2014 ( - February 11th, 2013 began like any other day for me. I was barely a year in Rome as ZENIT’s English Edition correspondent and there was always a lot of work. I decided the day before that I would work from home in a more relaxing environment. Little did I know, it would be anything but that.

Before midday, I received a call from a good friend of mine asking me if it was true that Pope Benedict had resigned. I gave the usual response: “No, it's probably a rumor.”

“But that’s being reported on ANSA!” he said. Surprised that a reputable agency like ANSA was reporting that, I ran to my computer.

As I was logging on, I received an email notification from the Holy See Press Office stating that there was going to be a press conference in 30 minutes and attached to the email was the text of Pope Benedict’s announcement. Completely shocked, I grabbed all my things and asked my friend to give me a ride to the Vatican since it would’ve taken me over an hour with public transportation.

Luckily, he had a motorcycle which allowed us to bob and weave through traffic and get me to the press conference as it started.

The weather fitted my mood perfectly that day: cloudy, rainy, and frankly a bit sad. I couldn’t understand it at first. I was in Rome for less than a year, but I grew to appreciate the wisdom of Pope Benedict. To know that he would not be Pope anymore really struck me.

As I look back and reflect on this one year anniversary, one thing is absolutely clear: Benedict XVI loved the Church, and I don’t mean the institution. I mean the people within the Church, those who are part of the Body of Christ. Many in the media mischaracterized him and his resignation, speculating that the weight of the scandals rocking the Church and the betrayal of hismaggiordomo was just too much for him.

In reality, what was perceived as his greatest moment of weakness was actually his finest moment of strength. It showed something rarely seen in today’s world: humility.

Many thought that the next Pope needed to be someone who was assertive, who would take the reins of the Church with full force and be the opposite of Benedict XVI’s meek and soft-spoken demeanor. After the conclave, the new Pope from “the end of the world”, asked for the prayers of the People of God as he humbly bowed down to them.

On March 13th, 2013, God proved that humility, shown by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and now in his own way, Pope Francis, is what the Church continues to need today.