Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Last Words of Pope Benedict XVI as Pope

This afternoon at 5:38 PM from the balcony of his Castel Gandolfo residence, overlooking the small town square and street filled to capacity with a few thousand well wishers.

Thanks!  Thank you!
Dear friends, I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of creation and by your kindness which does me much good.  Thank you for your friendship, your affection.  You know this day of mine is different from those previous; I am no longer Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church: I shall yet be so until eight, then no more.
I am simply a pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth.  But I should wish once more, with my heart, with my love, with my prayer, with my reflection, with all of my interior strength, to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity.  And I feel very much supported by your kindness.  Let us move ahead together with the Lord for the good of the Church and of the world.  Thanks, now I impart to you my Blessing, with all my heart.  May God almighty bless us, Father and Son and Holy Spirit.  Thanks, good night!  Thank you all.



Grazie a voi!

Cari amici, sono felice di essere con voi, circondato dalla bellezza del creato e dalla vostra simpatia che mi fa molto bene. Grazie per la vostra amicizia, il vostro affetto. Voi sapete che questo mio giorno è diverso da quelli precedenti; non sono più Sommo Pontefice della Chiesa cattolica: fino alle otto di sera lo sarò ancora, poi non più. 

Sono semplicemente un pellegrino che inizia l’ultima tappa del suo pellegrinaggio in questa terra. Ma vorrei ancora, con il mio cuore, con il mio amore, con la mia preghiera, con la mia riflessione, con tutte le mie forze interiori, lavorare per il bene comune e il bene della Chiesa e dell’umanità. E mi sento molto appoggiato dalla vostra simpatia. Andiamo avanti insieme con il Signore per il bene della Chiesa e del mondo. Grazie, vi imparto adesso con tutto il cuore la mia Benedizione.
Ci benedica Dio onnipotente, Padre e Figlio e Spirito Santo. Grazie, buona notte! Grazie a voi tutti!

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Final Five Latin Tweets of Pope Benedict XVI

4 hrs. ago.
Pervolo equidem esse ut sese christifideles gaudeant omnes abs Deoque, Nobismet Suum Qui crediderit Filium, diligi perspicue.

24 Feb.
Obsecro unico hoc temporis puncto ego vos obtestor Deo ut pro me preces moveatis et omni Ecclesia dum eidem Domino fidimus provido cuncti.

17 Feb.
Idoneum praebet Quadragesimale se tempus quo veluti nostrae ipsius vitae fides in Deum recipiatur fundamentum totiusque immo Ecclesiae.

13 Feb.
Quadragesimae hoc quod iam inimus tempore nostrum conversionis officium redintegramus studiumque plus nempe Deo spatii tribuendo.

10 Feb.
Confidamus misericordis Dei necesse est potentia. Sumus tametsi peccatores, transfigurat Illius tamen nos ex integroque format gratia.

Here are the other (the first seven) Latin Tweets of the Pope.

We should have a few weeks to figure out their meaning before any other Pope begins Latin tweeting!  Perhaps the new Pontiff can enlist the Pope Emeritus to be his Latin Tweet ghost writer. Just a thought.

What Retirement Means For a Pope: In His Own Words Given Today

In his penultimate day as Pope His Holiness Benedict XVI gave some practical indications on what it means to retire as Pope.  The Pope resigning cannot be a return to a private life of leisure and personal gratification, viz. fleeing the cross! because the acceptance of the Petrine ministry is the gift of one's entire life and person always and forever to the service of the Church.

"...I am not abandoning the cross, but am remaining beside the Crucified Lord in a new way...

"...I am not returning to private life, to a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc..." 

His Holiness gave this message in the closing paragraphs of his discourse for today's General Audience in Saint Peter's Square.

In these last months I have felt that my strength had diminished and I asked God earnestly in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me make the right decision, not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its seriousness and also its newness, but with a profound peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, agonized choices, always keeping in mind the good of the Church, not of oneself.

Allow me here to return once again to 19 April, 2005. The gravity of the decision lay precisely in the fact that, from that moment on, I was always and for always engaged by the Lord. Always—whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and entirely to everyone, to the whole Church. His life, so to speak, is totally deprived of its private dimension. I experienced, and I am experiencing it precisely now, that one receives life precisely when they give it. Before I said that many people who love the Lord also love St. Peter's Successor and are fond of him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion; because he no longer belongs to himself but he belongs to all and all belong to him.

"Always" is also "forever"--there is no return to private life. My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I am not returning to private life, to a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc. I am not abandoning the cross, but am remaining beside the Crucified Lord in a new way. I no longer bear the power of the office for the governance of the Church, but I remain in the service of prayer, within St. Peter's enclosure, so to speak. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example to me in this. He has shown us the way for a life that, active or passive, belongs wholly to God's work.

I also thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have received this important decision. I will continue to accompany the Church's journey through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and His Bride that I have tried to live every day up to now and that I want to always live. I ask you to remember me to God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals who are called to such an important task, and for the new Successor of the Apostle Peter. Many the Lord accompany him with the light and strength of His Spirit.

We call upon the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the entire ecclesial community. We entrust ourselves to her with deep confidence.

Dear friends! God guides His Church, always sustaining her even and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the path of the Church and of the world. In our hearts, in the heart of each one of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is beside us, that He does not abandon us, that He is near and embraces us with His love. Thank you.

Final Year of Faith Thoughts as Pope: The Real Council (of the Fathers) and the False/Predominant Council (of the Media)

Below is the Discourse Pope Benedict XVI gave two Thursdays ago in his last audience with the Roman clergy, much of which he had not prepared; but nonetheless a superbly organized and succinct historical survey and critique on the purpose and difficulties of the Second Vatican Council within it's historical context.


Paul VI Audience Hall
Thursday, 14 February 2013
Your Eminence,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

For me it is a particular gift of Providence that, before leaving the Petrine ministry, I can once more see my clergy, the clergy of Rome. It is always a great joy to see the living Church, to see how the Church in Rome is alive; there are shepherds here who guide the Lord’s flock in the spirit of the supreme Shepherd. It is a body of clergy that is truly Catholic, universal, in accordance with the essence of the Church of Rome: to bear within itself the universality, the catholicity of all nations, all races, all cultures. At the same time, I am very grateful to the Cardinal Vicar who helps to reawaken, to rediscover vocations in Rome itself, because if Rome, on the one hand, has to be the city of universality, it must also be a city with a strong and robust faith of its own, from which vocations are also born. And I am convinced that, with the Lord’s help, we can find the vocations that he himself gives us, we can guide them, help them to mature, so as to be of service for work in the Lord’s vineyard.

Today you have professed the Creed before the tomb of Saint Peter: in the Year of Faith, this seems to me to be a most appropriate act, a necessary one, perhaps, that the clergy of Rome should gather around the tomb of the Apostle to whom the Lord said: "To you I entrust my Church. Upon you I will build my Church" (cf. Mt 16:18-19). Before the Lord, together with Peter, you have professed: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16:16). Thus the Church grows: together with Peter, professing Christ, following Christ. And we do this always. I am very grateful for your prayers, which I have sensed, as I said on Wednesday – almost palpably. And although I am about to withdraw, I remain close to all of you in prayer, and I am sure that you too will be close to me, even if I am hidden from the world.

For today, given the conditions brought on by my age, I have not been able to prepare an extended discourse, as might have been expected; but rather what I have in mind are a few thoughts on theSecond Vatican Council, as I saw it. I shall begin with an anecdote: in 1959 I was appointed a professor at the University of Bonn, where the students included the seminarians of the diocese of Cologne and the other dioceses in the area. Thus I came into contact with the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Frings. Cardinal Siri of Genoa, in 1961 if I remember rightly, had organized a series of talks on the Council given by various European Cardinals, and he had invited the Archbishop of Cologne to give one of them, entitled: the Council and the world of modern thought.

The Cardinal asked me – the youngest of the professors – to write a draft for him. He liked the draft, and to the people in Genoa he delivered the text just as I had written it. Soon afterwards, Pope John invited him to come and see him, and the Cardinal was anxious that he might have said something incorrect, something false, and that he was being summoned for a rebuke, perhaps even to be deprived of the cardinalate. Indeed, when his secretary vested him for the audience, the Cardinal said: "Perhaps I am now wearing these robes for the last time". Then he went in, Pope John came to meet him, embraced him, and said: "Thank you, Your Eminence, you said the very things I wanted to say myself, but I could not find the words". So the Cardinal knew that he was on the right track and he invited me to go with him to the Council, firstly as his personal advisor; and then, during the first session – I think it was in November 1962 – I was also named an official peritus of the Council.

So off we went to the Council not just with joy but with enthusiasm. There was an incredible sense of expectation. We were hoping that all would be renewed, that there would truly be a new Pentecost, a new era of the Church, because the Church was still fairly robust at that time – Sunday Mass attendance was still good, vocations to the priesthood and to religious life were already slightly reduced, but still sufficient. However, there was a feeling that the Church was not moving forward, that it was declining, that it seemed more a thing of the past and not the herald of the future. And at that moment, we were hoping that this relation would be renewed, that it would change; that the Church might once again be a force for tomorrow and a force for today. And we knew that the relationship between the Church and the modern period, right from the outset, had been slightly fraught, beginning with the Church’s error in the case of Galileo Galilei; we were looking to correct this mistaken start and to rediscover the union between the Church and the best forces of the world, so as to open up humanity’s future, to open up true progress. Thus we were full of hope, full of enthusiasm, and also eager to play our own part in this process. I remember that the Roman Synod was thought of as a negative model. It was said – I don’t know whether this was true – that they had read out prepared texts in the Basilica of Saint John, and that the members of the Synod had acclaimed, approved with applause, and that the Synod had been conducted thus. The bishops said: no, let’s not do that. We are bishops, we ourselves are the subject of the Synod; we do not simply want to approve what has already been done, but we ourselves want to be the subject, the protagonists of the Council. So too Cardinal Frings, who was famous for his absolute fidelity – almost to the point of scrupulosity – to the Holy Father, said in this case: we are here in a different role. The Pope has called us together to be like Fathers, to be an Ecumenical Council, a subject that renews the Church. So we want to assume this new role of ours.

The first occasion when this attitude was demonstrated was on the very first day. On the programme for this first day were the elections of the Commissions, and lists of names had been prepared, in what was intended to be an impartial manner, and these lists were put to the vote. But straight away the Fathers said: No, we do not simply want to vote for pre-prepared lists. We are the subject. Then, it was necessary to postpone the elections, because the Fathers themselves wanted to begin to get to know each other, they wanted to prepare the lists themselves. And so it was. Cardinal Liénart of Lille and Cardinal Frings of Cologne had said publicly: no, not this way. We want to make our own lists and elect our own candidates. It was not a revolutionary act, but an act of conscience, an act of responsibility on the part of the Council Fathers.

And so began an intense period of actively getting to know our counterparts, something which did not happen by chance. At the Collegio dell’Anima, where I was staying, we had many visits: the Cardinal was very well known, and we saw cardinals from all over the world. I well remember the tall slim figure of Monsignor Etchegaray, the Secretary of the French Episcopal Conference, I remember meetings with Cardinals, and so on. And this continued throughout the Council: small-scale meetings with peers from other countries. Thus I came to know great figures like Father de Lubac, Daniélou, Congar, and so on. We came to know various bishops; I remember particularly Bishop Elchinger of Strasbourg, and so on. And this was already an experience of the universality of the Church and of the concrete reality of the Church, which does not simply receive instructions from on high, but grows together and moves forward, always under the guidance – naturally – of the Successor of Peter.

Everyone, as I said, came with great expectations; there had never been a Council on such a scale, but not everyone knew what to do. The most prepared, let us say, those with the clearest ideas, were the French, German, Belgian and Dutch episcopates, the so-called "Rhine alliance". And in the first part of the Council it was they who pointed out the path; then the activity rapidly broadened, and everyone took part more and more in the creativity of the Council. The French and the Germans had various interests in common, albeit with quite different nuances. The first, initial, simple – or apparently simple – intention was the reform of the liturgy, which had begun with Pius XII, who had already reformed the Holy Week liturgy; the second was ecclesiology; the third was the word of God, revelation; and finally ecumenism. The French, much more than the Germans, were also keen to explore the question of the relationship between the Church and the world.

Let us begin with the first theme. After the First World War, Central and Western Europe had seen the growth of the liturgical movement, a rediscovery of the richness and depth of the liturgy, which until then had remained, as it were, locked within the priest’s Roman Missal, while the people prayed with their own prayer books, prepared in accordance with the heart of the people, seeking to translate the lofty content, the elevated language of classical liturgy into more emotional words, closer to the hearts of the people. But it was as if there were two parallel liturgies: the priest with the altar-servers, who celebrated Mass according to the Missal, and the laity, who prayed during Mass using their own prayer books, at the same time, while knowing substantially what was happening on the altar. But now there was a rediscovery of the beauty, the profundity, the historical, human, and spiritual riches of the Missal and it became clear that it should not be merely a representative of the people, a young altar-server, saying "Et cum spiritu tuo", and so on, but that there should truly be a dialogue between priest and people: truly the liturgy of the altar and the liturgy of the people should form one single liturgy, an active participation, such that the riches reach the people. And in this way, the liturgy was rediscovered and renewed.

I find now, looking back, that it was a very good idea to begin with the liturgy, because in this way the primacy of God could appear, the primacy of adoration. "Operi Dei nihil praeponatur": this phrase from the Rule of Saint Benedict (cf. 43:3) thus emerges as the supreme rule of the Council. Some have made the criticism that the Council spoke of many things, but not of God. It did speak of God! And this was the first thing that it did, that substantial speaking of God and opening up all the people, the whole of God’s holy people, to the adoration of God, in the common celebration of the liturgy of the Body and Blood of Christ. In this sense, over and above the practical factors that advised against beginning straight away with controversial topics, it was, let us say, truly an act of Providence that at the beginning of the Council was the liturgy, God, adoration. Here and now I do not intend to go into the details of the discussion, but it is worth while to keep going back, over and above the practical outcomes, to the Council itself, to its profundity and to its essential ideas.

I would say that there were several of these: above all, the Paschal Mystery as the centre of what it is to be Christian – and therefore of the Christian life, the Christian year, the Christian seasons, expressed in Eastertide and on Sunday which is always the day of the Resurrection. Again and again we begin our time with the Resurrection, our encounter with the Risen one, and from that encounter with the Risen one we go out into the world. In this sense, it is a pity that these days Sunday has been transformed into the weekend, although it is actually the first day, it is the beginning; we must remind ourselves of this: it is the beginning, the beginning of Creation and the beginning of re-Creation in the Church, it is an encounter with the Creator and with the Risen Christ. This dual content of Sunday is important: it is the first day, that is, the feast of Creation, we are standing on the foundation of Creation, we believe in God the Creator; and it is an encounter with the Risen One who renews Creation; his true purpose is to create a world that is a response to the love of God.

Then there were the principles: intelligibility, instead of being locked up in an unknown language that is no longer spoken, and also active participation. Unfortunately, these principles have also been misunderstood. Intelligibility does not mean banality, because the great texts of the liturgy – even when, thanks be to God, they are spoken in our mother tongue – are not easily intelligible, they demand ongoing formation on the part of the Christian if he is to grow and enter ever more deeply into the mystery and so arrive at understanding. And also the word of God – when I think of the daily sequence of Old Testament readings, and of the Pauline Epistles, the Gospels: who could say that he understands immediately, simply because the language is his own? Only ongoing formation of hearts and minds can truly create intelligibility and participation that is something more than external activity, but rather the entry of the person, of my being, into the communion of the Church and thus into communion with Christ.

And now the second topic: the Church. We know that the First Vatican Council was interrupted because of the Franco-Prussian War, and so it remained somewhat one-sided, incomplete, because the doctrine on the primacy – defined, thanks be to God, in that historical moment for the Church, and very necessary for the period that followed – was just a single element in a broader ecclesiology, already envisaged and prepared. So we were left with a fragment. And one might say: as long as it remains a fragment, we tend towards a one-sided vision where the Church would be just the primacy. So all along, the intention was to complete the ecclesiology of Vatican I, at a date to be determined, for the sake of a complete ecclesiology. Here too the time seemed ripe because, after the First World War, the sense of the Church was reborn in a new way. As Romano Guardini said: "The Church is starting to reawaken in people’s souls", and a Protestant bishop spoke of the "era of the Church". Above all, there was a rediscovery of the concept that Vatican I had also envisaged, namely that of the Mystical Body of Christ. People were beginning to realize that the Church is not simply an organization, something structured, juridical, institutional – it is that too – but rather an organism, a living reality that penetrates my soul, in such a way that I myself, with my own believing soul, am a building block of the Church as such. In this sense, Pius XII wrote the Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi as a step towards completing the ecclesiology of Vatican I.

I would say that theological discussion in the 1930’s and 1940’s, even in the 1920’s, was entirely conducted under the heading Mystici Corporis. It was a discovery that brought so much joy at that time, and within this context emerged the formula: We are the Church, the Church is not a structure; we Christians, all together, we are all the living body of the Church. And naturally, this obtains in the sense that we, the true "we" of believers, together with the "I" of Christ, are the Church; every single one of us, not a particular "we", a single group that calls itself Church. No: this "we are Church" requires me to take my place within the great "we" of believers of all times and places. Therefore, the primary idea was to complete ecclesiology in a theological way, but also in a structural way, that is to say: besides the succession of Peter, and his unique function, to define more clearly also the function of the bishops, the corpus of bishops. And in order to do this, the word "collegiality" was adopted, a word that has been much discussed, sometimes acrimoniously, I would say, and also in somewhat exaggerated terms. But this word – maybe another could have been found, but this one worked – expressed the fact that the bishops collectively are the continuation of the Twelve, of the corpus of Apostles. We said: only one bishop, the Bishop of Rome, is the successor of a particular Apostle, namely Peter. All the others become successors of the Apostles by entering into the corpus that continues the corpus of the Apostles. Hence it is the corpus of bishops, the college, that is the continuation of the corpus of the Twelve, and thus it has its intrinsic necessity, its function, its rights and duties. To many this seemed like a power struggle, and maybe some were thinking of their power, but substantially it was not about power, but about the complementarity of the different elements and about the completeness of the corpus of the Church with the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, as structural elements; and each of them is a structural element of the Church within this great corpus.

These, let us say, were the two basic elements – and in the meantime, in the quest for a complete theological vision of ecclesiology, a certain amount of criticism arose after the 1940’s, in the 1950’s, concerning the concept of the Body of Christ: the word "mystical" was thought to be too spiritual, too exclusive; the concept "People of God" then began to come into play. The Council rightly accepted this element, which in the Fathers is regarded as an expression of the continuity between the Old and the New Testaments. In the text of the New Testament, the phrase Laos tou Theou, corresponding to the Old Testament texts, means – with only two exceptions, I believe – the ancient People of God, the Jews, who among the world’s peoples, goim, are "the" People of God. The others, we pagans, are not per se God’s People: we become sons of Abraham and thus the People of God by entering into communion with Christ, the one seed of Abraham. By entering into communion with him, by being one with him, we too become God’s People. In a word: the concept of "the People of God" implies the continuity of the Testaments, continuity in God’s history with the world, with mankind, but it also implies the Christological element. Only through Christology do we become the People of God, and thus the two concepts are combined. The Council chose to elaborate a Trinitarian ecclesiology: People of God the Father, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Yet only after the Council did an element come to light – which can also be found, albeit in a hidden way, in the Council itself – namely this: the link between People of God and Body of Christ is precisely communion with Christ in Eucharistic fellowship. This is where we become the Body of Christ: the relationship between People of God and Body of Christ creates a new reality – communion. After the Council it became clear, I would say, that the Council really discovered and pointed to this concept: communion as the central concept. I would say that, philologically, it is not yet fully developed in the Council, yet it is as a result of the Council that the concept of communion came more and more to be the expression of the Church’s essence, communion in its different dimensions: communion with the Trinitarian God – who is himself communion between Father, Son and Holy Spirit – sacramental communion, and concrete communion in the episcopate and in the life of the Church.

Even more hotly debated was the problem of Revelation. At stake here was the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, and it was the exegetes above all who were anxious for greater freedom; they felt themselves somewhat – shall we say – in a position of inferiority with regard to the Protestants, who were making the great discoveries, whereas Catholics felt somewhat "handicapped" by the need to submit to the Magisterium. So a very concrete struggle was in play here: what sort of freedom do exegetes have? How does one properly read Scripture? What is the meaning of Tradition? It was a multifaceted struggle which I cannot go into now, but the important thing, for sure, is that Scripture is the word of God and that the Church is under Scripture, the Church obeys God’s word and does not stand above Scripture. Yet at the same time Scripture is Scripture only because there is the living Church, its living subject; without the living subject of the Church, Scripture is only a book, open to different interpretations and lacking ultimate clarity.

Here the battle – as I said – was difficult, and an intervention of Pope Paul VI proved decisive. This intervention shows all the delicacy of a father, his responsibility for the progress of the Council, but also his great respect for the Council. The idea had arisen that Scripture is complete; everything is found there; consequently there is no need for Tradition, and so the Magisterium has nothing to say. At that point the Pope transmitted to the Council, I believe, fourteen formulae for a phrase to be inserted into the text on Revelation and he gave us, the Council Fathers, the freedom to choose one of the fourteen formulae, but he said that one of them needed to be chosen in order to complete the text. I remember more or less the formula "non omnis certitudo de veritatibus fidei potest sumi ex Sacra Scriptura", in other words, the Church’s certainty about her faith is not born only of an isolated book, but has need of the Church herself as a subject enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit. Only then does the Scripture speak with all its authority. This phrase, which we selected in the Doctrinal Commission from the fourteen formulae, is decisive, I would say, for showing the Church’s absolute necessity, and thus understanding the meaning of Tradition, the living body in which this word draws life from the outset and from which it receives its light, in which it is born. The fact of the canon of Scripture is already an ecclesial fact: that these writings are Scripture is the result of an illumination of the Church, who discovered in herself this canon of Scripture; she discovered it, she did not create it; and always and only in this communion of the living Church can one really understand and read the Scripture as the word of God, as a word which guides us in life and in death.

As I have said, this was a rather difficult debate, but thanks to the Pope and thanks, we may say, to the light of the Holy Spirit who was present in the Council, there emerged a document which is one of the finest and most innovative of the entire Council, and still needs to be studied more deeply. Because today too, exegesis tends to read Scripture apart from the Church, apart from faith, only in the so-called spirit of the historical-critical method, a method which is important, but never to the extent of being able to offer solutions with ultimate certitude. Only if we believe that these are not human words, but God’s words, and only if there is that living subject to which God spoke and speaks, can we interpret sacred Scripture properly. And here – as I said in the foreword of my book on Jesus (cf. Part One) – much remains to be done in order to arrive at an interpretation that is truly in the spirit of the Council. Here the application of the Council is not yet complete, more needs to be done.

Finally, ecumenism. I do not want to enter now into these problems, but it was obvious – especially after the "passions" suffered by Christians in the Nazi era – that Christians could find unity, or at least seek unity, yet it was also clear that God alone can bestow unity. And we are still following this path. Now, with these themes, the "Rhine alliance" – so to speak – had completed its work.

The second part of the Council was much more extensive. There appeared with great urgency the issue of today’s world, the modern age, and the Church; and with it, the issues of responsibility for the building up of this world, of society, responsibility for the future of this world and eschatological hope, the ethical responsibility of Christians and where we look for guidance; and then religious freedom, progress, and relations with other religions. At this moment, all the parties of the Council really entered into the discussion, not just America, the United States, with its powerful interest in religious freedom. In the third session the Americans told the Pope: we cannot go home without bringing a declaration on religious freedom voted by the Council. The Pope, however, had the firmness and the decision, the patience, to take the text to the fourth session, for the sake of greater discernment and the fuller consent of the Council Fathers. I mean: it was not only the Americans who intervened forcefully in the unfolding of the Council, but also Latin America, well aware of the extreme poverty of its people, on a Catholic continent, and the responsibility of the faith for the situation of these people. Likewise, Africa and Asia saw the need for interreligious dialogue; problems arose which we Germans – I have to admit – had not foreseen. I cannot describe all of this now. The great document Gaudium et Spes analyzed very well the issue of Christian eschatology and worldly progress, and that of responsibility for the society of the future and the responsibility of Christians before eternity, and in this way it also renewed a Christian ethics, the foundations of ethics. But – let us say unexpectedly – alongside this great document there arose another document which responded in a more synthetic and more concrete way to the challenges of the times, and this was the Declaration Nostra Aetate. From the beginning our Jewish friends were present, and they said, primarily to us Germans, but not to us alone, that after the tragic events of the Nazi period, the Nazi decade, the Catholic Church had to say something about the Old Testament, about the Jewish people. They said: even if it is clear that the Catholic Church is not responsible for the Shoah, it was Christians for the most part who committed those crimes; we need to deepen and renew Christian awareness of this, even though we know full well that true believers have always resisted these things. Thus it was clear that our relationship with the world of the ancient People of God needed to be an object of reflection. Understandably, too, the Arab countries – the bishops of the Arab countries – were unhappy about this: they feared somewhat a glorification of the State of Israel, which naturally they did not want. They said: fine, a truly theological statement about the Jewish people is good, it is necessary, but if you speak about that, speak of Islam too; only then will there be a balance; Islam too is a great challenge and the Church also needs to clarify her relationship with Islam. This was something that, at the time, we did not much understand: a little, but not much. Today we know how necessary it was.

When we began to work also on Islam, we were told that there were also other world religions: the whole of Asia! Think of Buddhism, Hinduism…. And so, instead of a declaration as initially conceived, concerning only the People of God in the Old Testament, a text was created on interreligious dialogue, anticipating what only 30 years later would be demonstrated in all its intensity and importance. I cannot enter now into this theme, but if one reads the text, one sees that it is very dense and prepared truly by people who were familiar with the realities, and it indicates briefly, in a few words, what is essential. Likewise it indicates the foundation of dialogue, in difference, in diversity, in faith, on the unicity of Christ, who is one, and it is not possible for a believer to think that religions are all variations on a single theme. No, there is one reality of the living God, who has spoken, and there is one God, one incarnate God, thus one word of God, that is truly God’s word. But there is religious experience, with a certain human light from creation, and therefore it is necessary and possible to enter into dialogue, and thus to become open to one another and to open everyone to the peace of God, the peace of all his sons and daughters, the peace of his entire family.

Therefore, these two documents, on religious freedom and Nostra Aetate, linked to Gaudium et Spes, make a very important trilogy whose importance has been demonstrated only after decades, and we are still working to understand better the interlinked realities of the unicity of God’s revelation, the unicity of the one God incarnate in Christ, and the multiplicity of religions, by which we seek peace and also hearts that are open to the light of the Holy Spirit, who illumines and leads to Christ.

I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the latter, through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers was conducted within the faith – it was a Council of faith seeking intellectus, seeking to understand itself and seeking to understand the signs of God at that time, seeking to respond to the challenge of God at that time and to find in the word of God a word for today and tomorrow – while all the Council, as I said, moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of the journalists, naturally, was not conducted within the faith, but within the categories of today's media, namely apart from faith, with a different hermeneutic. It was a political hermeneutic: for the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different trends in the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world. There were those who sought the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression "People of God", power for the people, the laity. There was this threefold question: the power of the Pope, which was then transferred to the power of the bishops and the power of all – popular sovereignty. Naturally, for them, this was the part to be approved, to be promulgated, to be favoured. So too with the liturgy: there was no interest in liturgy as an act of faith, but as something where comprehensible things are done, a matter of community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a tendency, not without a certain historical basis, to say: sacrality is a pagan thing, perhaps also a thing of the Old Testament. In the New Testament it matters only that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, in the profane world. Sacrality must therefore be abolished, and profanity now spreads to worship: worship is no longer worship, but a community act, with communal participation: participation understood as activity. These translations, trivializations of the idea of the Council, were virulent in the process of putting the liturgical reform into practice; they were born from a vision of the Council detached from its proper key, that of faith. And the same applies to the question of Scripture: Scripture is a book, it is historical, to be treated historically and only historically, and so on.

We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real force of the Council was present and, slowly but surely, established itself more and more and became the true force which is also the true reform, the true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force. And it is our task, especially in this Year of Faith, on the basis of this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, be accomplished and the Church be truly renewed. Let us hope that that the Lord will assist us. I myself, secluded in prayer, will always be with you and together let us go forward with the Lord in the certainty that the Lord will conquer. Thank you!

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"I Am Not Leaving (Abandoning) the Church" says the Pontiff

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI made a rare personal reference in his final Angelus message this past Sunday (on the Gospel of the Transfiguration--Mt. Tabor).

Dear brothers and sisters, I feel this Word of God referring in a particular way to me in this moment of my life.  Thank you!  The Lord calls me to "go up the mountain", to dedicate myself all the more to prayer and meditation.  But this does not mean abandoning the Church; on the contrary, if God asks this of me it is so that I might continue to serve Her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have sought to do it until now, but is a way better suited to my age and my strength.  We invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may She help us all to always follow the Lord Jesus, in prayer and in operative charity.

Cari fratelli e sorelle, questa Parola di Dio la sento in modo particolare rivolta a me, in questo momento della mia vita. Grazie! Il Signore mi chiama a “salire sul monte”, a dedicarmi ancora di più alla preghiera e alla meditazione. Ma questo non significa abbandonare la Chiesa, anzi, se Dio mi chiede questo è proprio perché io possa continuare a servirla con la stessa dedizione e lo stesso amore con cui ho cercato di farlo fino ad ora, ma in un modo più adatto alla mia età e alle mie forze. Invochiamo l’intercessione della Vergine Maria: lei ci aiuti tutti a seguire sempre il Signore Gesù, nella preghiera e nella carità operosa.

Final Motu Proprio: Papal Instructions for New Conclave: to Begin as Early as 10 March

Monday, February 25, 2013


Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) – In an unofficial translation of the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio by Holy Father Benedict XVI and dated 22 February, following are a few amendments concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff.

“With the Apostolic Letter 'De aliquibus mutationibus in normis de electione Romani Ponteficis' given as a Motu Proprio in Rome on 11 June 2007 in the third year of my pontificate, I established some norms that, rescinding those prescribed in no. 75 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis' promulgated by my predecessor Blessed John Paul II, have re-established the regulation, sanctioned by tradition, according to which a two thirds majority of the votes of the Cardinal electors present is always required for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff.”

“Considering the importance of ensuring the best implementation of what is concerned, albeit with a different significance, regarding the election of the Roman Pontiff, in particular a more certain interpretation and execution of some provisions, I establish and prescribe that some norms of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis', as well as what I myself set forth in the above-mentioned Apostolic Letter, be replaced with the following norms:

35. “No Cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for any reason or pretext, with due regard for the provisions of No. 40 and No. 75 of this Constitution.”

37. “I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent before beginning the Conclave; however, the College of Cardinals is also granted the faculty to anticipate the beginning of the Conclave if all the Cardinal electors are present as well as the faculty to defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election.”

43. “From the beginning of the electoral process until the public announcement that the election of the Supreme Pontiff has taken place, or in any case until the new Pope so disposes, the rooms of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and in particular the Sistine Chapel and the areas reserved for liturgical celebrations are to be closed to unauthorized persons, by the authority of the Cardinal Camerlengo and with the outside assistance of the Vice Camerlengo and the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, in accordance with the provisions set forth in the following Numbers.”

“During this period, the entire territory of Vatican City and the ordinary activity of the offices located therein shall be regulated, for the period mentioned, in a way that ensures the confidentiality and the free development of all the undertakings connected with the election of the Supreme Pontiff. In particular, provision shall be made, with the help of the ClericPrelates of the Chamber to ensure that no one approaches the Cardinal electors while they are being transported from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Apostolic Vatican Palace.”

46, 1. “In order to meet the personal and official needs connected with the election process, the following individuals must be available and therefore properly lodged in suitable areas within the confines mentioned in No. 43 of this Constitution: the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, who acts as Secretary of the electoral assembly; the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations with eight Masters of Ceremonies and two Religious attached to the Papal Sacristy; and an ecclesiastic chosen by the Cardinal Dean or by the Cardinal taking his place, in order to assist him in his duties.”

47. “All the persons listed in No. 46 and No. 55, 2 of this Constitution who in any way or at any time should come to learn anything from any source, directly or indirectly, regarding the election process, and in particular regarding the voting which took place in the election itself, are obliged to maintain strict secrecy with all persons extraneous to the College of Cardinal electors: accordingly, before the election begins, they shall take an oath in the form and using the formula indicated in No. 48.”

48. “The persons listed in No. 46 and No. 55, 2 of this Constitution, having been duly warned about the meaning and extent of the oath that they are to take, before the start of the election process, shall, in the presence of the Cardinal Camerlengo or another Cardinal delegated by him, and in the presence of two numerary participant Apostolic Protonotaries,in due course swear and sign the oath according to the following formula:”

“I, N.N., promise and swear that, unless I should receive a special faculty given expressly by the newly-elected Pontiff or by his successors, I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.”

“I likewise promise and swear to refrain from using any audio or video equipment capable of recording anything which takes place during the period of the election within Vatican City, and in particular anything which in any way, directly or indirectly, is related to the process of the election itself.”

“I declare that I take this oath fully aware that an infraction thereof will make me subject to the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae', which is reserved to the Apostolic See."

“So help me God and these Holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand.”

49. “When the funeral rites for the deceased Pope have been celebrated according to the prescribed ritual, and everything necessary for the regular functioning of the election has been prepared, on the appointed day of the beginning of the Conclave established in conformity with the provisions of No. 37 of the present Constitution, the Cardinal electors shall meet in the Basilica of Saint Peter's in the Vatican, or elsewhere, should circumstances warrant it, in order to take part in a solemn Eucharistic celebration with the Votive Mass 'Pro Eligendo Papa'. This celebration should preferably take place at a suitable hour in the morning, so that in the afternoon the prescriptions of the following Numbers of this Constitution can be carried out.”

50. From the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where they will assemble at a suitable hour in the afternoon, the Cardinal electors, in choir dress and invoking the assistance of the Holy Spirit with the chant of the 'Veni Creator', will solemnly process to the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where the election will be held. The Vice Camerlengo, the General Auditor of the Apostolic Camera, and two members of each of the colleges of numerary participant Apostolic Protonotaries, Prelate Auditors of the Roman Rota, and Cleric Prelates of the Chamber will participate in the procession.

51, 2. “It will therefore be the responsibility of the College of Cardinals, operating under the authority and responsibility of the Camerlengo, assisted by the Particular Congregation mentioned in No. 7 of the present Constitution, and with the outside assistance of the Vice Camerlengo and the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, to make all prior arrangements for the interior of the Sistine Chapel and adjacent areas to be prepared, so that an orderly election and its privacy will be ensured.”

55, 3. “Should any infraction whatsoever of this norm occur, those responsible should know that they will be subject to the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae', which is reserved to the Apostolic See."

62. “Since the forms of election known as 'per acclamationem seu inspirationem' and 'per compromissum' are abolished, the form of electing the Roman Pontiff shall henceforth be 'per scrutinium' alone.”

“I therefore decree that, for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff, at least two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present and voting.”

64. “The voting process is carried out in three phases. The first phase, which can be called the pre-scrutiny, comprises: 1) the preparation and distribution of the ballot papers by the Masters of Ceremonies—called meanwhile into the Hall together with the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and with the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations—who give at least two or three to each Cardinal elector; 2) the drawing by lot, from among all the Cardinal electors, of three Scrutineers, of three persons charged with collecting the votes of the sick, called for the sake of brevity 'Infirmarii', and of three Revisers; this drawing is carried out in public by the junior Cardinal Deacon, who draws out nine names, one after another, of those who shall carry out these tasks; 3) if, in the drawing of lots for the Scrutineers, 'Infirmarii' and Revisers, there should come out the names of Cardinal electors who because of infirmity or other reasons are unable to carry out these tasks, the names of others who are not impeded are to be drawn in their place. The first three drawn will act as Scrutineers, the second three as 'Infirmarii', and the last three as Revisers.”

70, 2. “The Scrutineers add up all the votes that each individual has received, and if no one has obtained at least two thirds of the votes on that ballot, the Pope has not been elected; if however it turns out that someone has obtained at least two thirds of the votes, the canonically valid election of the Roman Pontiff has taken place.”

75. “If the votes referred to in Nos. 72, 73, and 74 of the above-mentioned Constitution do not result in an election, a day will be dedicated to prayer, reflection, and discussion. In subsequent votes, in accordance with the procedure established in No. 74 of this same Constitution, only the two whose names have received the greatest number of votes in the immediately preceding ballot will have the passive electoral right. There can be no waiving of the requirement that a valid election takes place only by a qualified majority of at least two thirds of the votes of the cardinals who are present and voting. Moreover, in these ballots, the two persons who enjoy the passive electoral right lose their active electoral right.”

“When the election has canonically taken place, the junior Cardinal Deacon summons into the Hall of election the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, and two Masters of Ceremonies. The Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority, in the name of the whole College of electors, then asks the consent of the one elected in the following words: 'Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?' And, as soon as he has received the consent, he asks him: 'By what name do you wish to be called?' Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses the two Masters of Ceremonies, draws up a document certifying acceptance by the new Pope and the name taken by him.”

“This document will enter into force immediately upon its publication in the Osservatore Romano.”

“This I do decree and establish, notwithstanding any instruction to the contrary.”

“Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 22 February in the year 2013, the eighth of my Pontificate.”

Called to Retire...For the Salvation of Souls

The Pope's biographer Peter Seewald said that the Pope consulted one Person about his retirement from the Papal Throne: Jesus.

One rubric for understanding this type of a decision is the magnanimous missionary zeal of the saints.

"A strange thing in the sanctity of the saints is that when they perceive that their labours are frustrated for a time and bear no spiritual fruit they betake themselves to other places where the results are more palpable, for there is nothing to be gained if one stays in a place without reaping a harvest of souls..."  The Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany (The Life of Saint Boniface by Saint Willibald) p. 36.  Sheed and Ward 1954.

Many have been reticent to convert on the urging of Pope Benedict.  So he will continue to work on them and on the world from a higher place, closer to God and away from the world: the monastery.

Jesus Himself was unable to convert the people of His own town: so He went to the surrounding villages that did receive Him and worked His miracles there. (Mk. 6:5)  And after a mere three years He had said all that needed to be said, according to the will of the Father.

Pope Benedict preached the Gospel among us almost eight years!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

One Mass a Day: A Most Neglected Canonical Norm

One of the Canonical norms most roundly ignored by the diocesan clergy and hierarchy worldwide is the norm for a priest to ordinarily offer only one Mass a day, even on Sunday and Holy Days.  A second Mass and even a maximum third Mass (on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation) is exceptional and permitted only in certain (and presumably unforeseen) circumstances due to a shortage of priests.  In many parishes there are too many Masses on the schedule given the number of priests available and the problem would be easily solved by revising the schedule to include less Masses, to correspond more accurately with the number of priests available on a given day.

The point of the law is that, although a second Mass may be permitted under certain circumstances, no one has the authority (neither pastor nor the bishop) to obligate a subordinate priest to binate, ever!  The present practice of scheduling and expecting priests to say more than one Mass a day on a regular basis is an blatant abuse of authority.

Here is the relevant canon.

Can. 905--Par. 1.  Apart from those cases in which the law allows him to celebrate or concelebrate the Eucharist a number of times on the same day [viz. All Souls and Christmas], a priest may not celebrate more than once a day.

Par. 2.  If there is a scarcity of priests, the local Ordinary may allow priests, for a good reason, to celebrate twice on one day or even, if pastoral need requires it, three times on Sundays or holydays of obligation.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Papal Splendor: Two Centuries of Pope Saints!

It is time for the Church's detractors to shut their mouths about corrupt Popes and to open them about corrupt Anti-Christian and anti-Pope governments, nations and propaganda at all levels; since for well over one and a half centuries Holy Mother Church has been producing a constant line of Very Holy Holy Fathers, most worthy successors of Saint Peter, the Vicar of Christ; a holy succession unparalleled since the first centuries of Christianity (and the early Middle Ages).

Review the illustrious list of these heroic holy men of modern times.

Eight of the eleven have already been declared at least of irreproachable character and heroic in the exercise of the Christian virtues.

256. Blessed Pius IX (1846-78)
257. Leo XIII (1878-1903)
258. St. Pius X (1903-14)
259. Benedict XV (1914-22)
260. Pius XI (1922-39)
261. Venerable Pius XII (1939-58)
262. Blessed John XXIII (1958-63)
263. Venerable Paul VI (1963-78)
264. Servant of God John Paul I (1978)
265. Blessed John Paul II (1978-2005)
266. Benedict XVI (2005-2013)

Many otherwise educated people simply regurgitate the anti-Catholic and anti-Papal venom spewed by the enlightenment ideologues without realizing that those attacks are today quite invalid and false, at least regarding the Papacy, which is again a most splendid witness to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I call on all educators and all persons involved in the media and in government at every level to correct this predominant manifest modern error in education!  The Popes are Saints again for quite  some time now.  You have to get with the times!  Update your history!  Learn something new and teach it, viz. honest history, including the modern history of the Papacy and Holy Church, and the living Gospel which cannot die!

N.B.  There have been 266 Popes, including Saint Peter; 265 successors to the Petrine Office.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

You Flee A Position Coveted by Wise Men and Fools

That is our quote of the day for Pope Benedict XVI: our resigning Pope.

Or, if you prefer en Espanol: Huyes lo que buscan sabios y tontos!

They are the words of Matteo Orsini to
Pope Saint Celestine V of  "the great refusal" (according to Dante's Inferno!).

Enjoy below Butler's biography of the Holy Pope who retired.  Very instructive in comparison to Pope Benedict, especially for their mutual love of silence and the hidden life.

Viva il Papa Benedetto!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lenten Resolution Suggestion: Silence in Church, Sacristy, Choir

Not too long ago, a Manhattan Pastor felt obliged once again to remind those who were serving at Mass in the extraordinary form that the Sacristy should be a place of recollection.  The 2002 General Instruction to the Roman Missal endorses this view (par. 45):
It is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the Sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.

This should be especially true for those of us who are in the Sacristy to serve Mass, Vespers and/or Benediction in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the TLM).  Many older sacristies will still have a sign encouraging silence:

For the last several years, as part of our Lenten devotions, many of the the servers of the TLM at our Parish have made a special commitment to improve our conduct in the Sacristy during Lent consistent with its special status as a place of recollection.   In particular, we have made a resolution during Lent to strictly curtail all unnecessary speech in the Sacristy at all times, especially before, during and after the TLM:  speaking only when spoken to or, otherwise, only when absolutely necessary.

In the past, this resolution has not always been successful during the whole of Lent.  

It might be helpful to send this message to all the servers and also to all those who have reason to be in the Sacristy and who can help the servers with this resolution:  the celebrants and the singers of the TLM.
On behalf of all the servers of the TLM, first, we ask all singers who have a reason to be in the Sacristy to join the servers in this Lenten resolve to eliminate all unnecessary talking at all times while in the Sacristy; and second, we ask all the celebrants of the TLM to help the servers (and singers) do their best in keeping this resolve.

May we all have a blessed and fruitful Lent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

15 March 2013 Conclave Could Begin: Papal Schedule For His Last Days

Holy Father's Schedule for the Final Days of the Pontificate by Father Lombardi (The Vatican Spokesman)

The penultimate General Audience this morning (passe).
Ash Wednesday Mass at Saint Peter's this afternoon (11:00 AM eastern time EWTN live coverage): the last major liturgical celebration with Pope Benedict XVI.

Thursday 14 February: gathering with the Roman Clergy.

Friday 15 February, audience with the president of Romania, gathering with the bishops of Liguria (ad limina) and with the Petri Sede Foundation.

Saturday 16 February, audience with the president of Guatemala, the bishops of Lombardy and a private audience at 6:00 pm with Mario Monti.

Sunday 17, Angelus at Noon. 6:00 pm the beginning of the Lenten spiritual exercises given by Cardinal Ravasi.  Therefore, during the following week all papal activity is suspended including 
Wednesday's general audience.

Sunday 24, 12:00 Noon, the last Angelus of the pontificate with the faithful in Saint Peter's Square.

Monday 25 February, individual meetings with the cardinals.

Wednesday 27 February, the final general audience will take place in Saint Peter's Square.  A great number of people is expected.

Thursday 28 February at 11:00 am the cardinals will greet the Pope in the Clementine Hall.  At 5:00 pm the Pope will go to Castel Gandolfo by helicopter.  At 8:00 pm the sede vacante begins. The Lenten preaching is cancelled along with all of the following events.

The Conclave will begin, according to the present norms, after 15 to 20 days from the beginning of the sede vacante.

Per quanto riguarda il calendario, padre Lombardi ha ricordato la celebrazione di oggi pomeriggio in San Pietro, ultima grande celebrazione con Benedetto XVI: in questa occasione ci sarà anche un indirizzo del cardinale Bertone.

Domani ci sarà l’incontro con il clero di Roma.
Venerdì 15 febbraio, l’udienza al presidente della Romania, l’incontro con i vescovi liguri in visita ad limina e con la Fondazione pro Petri Sede.
Sabato 16 febbraio, l’udienza al presidente del Guatemala, ai vescovi lombardi e nel pomeriggio alle 18 l’udienza privata a Mario Monti.
Domenica 17, alle 12 l’Angelus. Alle 18.00 iniziano gli esercizi spirituali guidati dal cardinale Ravasi. Durante la settimana prossima saranno dunque sospese tutte le attività, compresa l’udienza generale del mercoledì. Sabato 23 febbraio, in mattinata, la conclusione degli esercizi con le parole del Papa. Alle 11.30 Benedetto XVI incontrerà il presidente Giorgio Napolitano. 
Domenica 24, alle 12.00, l’ultimo Angelus del pontificato con i fedeli radunati in Piazza San Pietro.
Lunedì 25 febbraio incontrerà alcuni cardinali in udienze singole. Annullato l’incontro con i vescovi delle Marche. 
Mercoledì 27 febbraio l’ultima udienza generale si svolgerà in Piazza San Pietro. E’ prevista la presenza di molti fedeli.
Giovedì 28 febbraio alle 11.00 i cardinali saluteranno il Papa nella Sala Clementina. Alle 17.00 il Papa si trasferirà in elicottero a Castel Gandolfo. Alle 20.00 inizia la sede vacante. Annullate le prediche di Quaresima e tutti gli impegni successivi. 

Il Conclave - ha detto padre Lombardi - comincerà, secondo le norme vigenti, dopo 15 o 20 giorni dall'inizio della sede vacante. 
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