St. Joan of Arc's fearless witness invites greater love for Christ, Church, Pope says

Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / CNA/EWTN News).- St. Joan of Arc was united in prayer to Christ even at the end of her short life, when she yelled his name while being burned at the stake, the Pope said, holding her up as a model of strength.

Pope Benedict XVI shared the story of St. Joan of Arc and her heroic sanctity at the general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Jan. 26. More than 3,000 people were gathered in the auditorium for the occasion.

She was just 19 years old when she was sentenced to death, but the French teenager was one of the “strong women” at the end of the Middle Ages, “who fearlessly brought the splendid light of the Gospel into the complex events of history,” said the Pope.

Born to a peasant family in a time of war between England and France, Joan brought herself to the attention of an important nobleman at the time. She was just 17, but hoped to achieve peace by imploring a settlement between the two Christian nations in the name of Jesus.

The nobleman, convinced of her Christian goodwill by local theologians, allowed her to try. When her efforts failed she soon found herself at the head of an army defending the French city of Orleans.

The Pope recalled that she lived among the troops for a year, evangelizing them with her strong witness of faith, until her capture by enemy forces.

She was put on trial by ecclesiastical judges and condemned to death. As Joan’s life was taken on that day in 1431, her last moments were spent invoking the name of Jesus aloud.

“The Name of Jesus invoked by this saint in the last instants of her earthly life was like the continual breath of her soul … the center of her entire life,” said Benedict XVI.

“(She) understood that Love embraces all things of God and man, of heaven and earth, of the Church and the world.”

A picture of St. Joan D'Arc

Joan knew that loving Christ was obeying Him and she lived in constant dialogue with Him, said the Pope.

The saint’s will to liberate her countrymen “was an act of human justice, which Joan performed in charity, for love of Jesus,” said the Pope. This example of sanctity is especially relevant as a “beautiful example” for laity who are involved in politics today, he added.

She saw the reality of the Christ’s Church in heaven and that on earth, said the Pope. Her words that “Our Lord and the Church are one … takes on a truly heroic aspect in the context of the trial, in the face of her judges, men of the Church who persecuted and condemned her.”

“In the Love of Jesus,” recalled the Pope, “Joan finds the strength to love the Church up to the end, even in the moment of condemnation.”

She was exonerated 25 years later by Pope Callixtus III and canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

Pope Benedict XVI noted a close connection between Carmelite St. Therese of Lisieux, France and the medieval saint. St. Therese “felt very close to Joan, living in the heart of the Church and participating in the suffering of Christ for the salvation of the world,” despite her very different circumstances in life as a cloistered nun.

“With her shining witness St. Joan of Arc invites us to the highest degree of Christian life, making prayer the ‘conducting wire’ of our days, having complete trust in fulfilling the will of God whatever it may be, living in charity without favoritism, without limitations and finding in the love of Jesus, as she did, a profound love for the Church.”  (*)

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Pope Benedict XVI says prayer most important for Christian unity

Pope Benedict XVI

Jan 15 (KATAKAMI.COM / VATICAN RADIO) — Pope Benedict XVI greeted an ecumenical delegation from Finland on Saturday. The group of Lutherans were making their annual pilgrimage to Rome to mark the feast of Saint Henry, the patron of their country. The meeting is coming just before the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins next week.

The majority of Finns belongs to The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which has nearly 4 ½ million members.

Speaking in German, the Pope reminded the delegation that Christian unity is ultimately a fruit of the action of God, and its success depends on the effectiveness of efforts which come from persistent prayer.

He noted the recent final report on Justification in the Life of the Church prepared by the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Group in Finland and Sweden, whose members he was able to meet last year.

He said a deepening of the understanding of justification will help Catholics and Lutherans reach a common view regarding the nature of the church and the episcopal office.

He also drew attention to the awareness that the ecumenical journey has become in many ways more difficult and more challenging. The Pope said questions have been asked about the ecumenical method and the achievements of recent decades, and some express uncertainty about the future.

In this light, the Holy Father said this annual pilgrimage to Rome for the feast of St. Henry is important, and an encouragement for ecumenical efforts.  (*)

Pope John Paul II to be beatified May 1

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2010 file photo made available by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, Pope Benedict XVI prays before the tomb of Pope John Paul II for the traditional November 2nd All Soul's day prayers, in the Vatican Grottoes. Evidence is mounting that the pope will soon approve the miracle needed to beatify Pope John Paul II. On Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, workers began restoring a mosaic near the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica where John Paul's remains are expected to be moved for better public access once he takes the key step toward possible sainthood. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File)

 

VATICAN CITY, Jan 14 (KATAKAMI / AP)  — The pope on Friday signed off on the miracle needed to beatify Pope John Paul II, and set May 1 as the date to honor one of the most beloved popes of all times as a model of saintliness for the church.

Pope Benedict XVI said in a decree that a French nun’s recovery from Parkinson’s disease was miraculous, the last step needed for beatification. A second miracle is needed for the Polish-born John Paulto be made a saint.

The May 1 ceremony, which Benedict himself will celebrate, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Rome — a major morale boost for a church reeling from a wave of violence against Christians and fallout from the clerical sex abuse scandal.

“This is a huge and important cause of joy,” Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz told reporters at his residence in the Polish capital.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul’s longtime secretary and friend, expressed “huge thanks” to Benedict for the decree. “We are happy today,” he said.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast track to possible sainthood just weeks after he died in 2005, responding to the chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood immediately!” that erupted during his funeral.

Benedict waived the typical five-year waiting period before the process could begin, but he insisted that the investigation into John Paul’s life be thorough so as to not leave any doubts about his virtues.

John Paul’s beatification will nevertheless be the fastest on record, coming just over six years after his death and beating out Mother Teresa’s then-record beatification in 2003 by a few days.

The last remaining hurdle in John Paul’s case concerned the approval by Vatican-appointed panels of doctors and theologians, cardinals and bishops that the cure of French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, was a miracle due to the intercession of the late pope.

The nun has said she felt reborn when she woke up two months after John Paul died, cured of the disease that had made walking, writing and driving a car nearly impossible. She and her fellow sisters of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards had prayed to John Paul, who also suffered from Parkinson’s.

On Friday, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre said John Paul was and continues to be an inspiration to her because of his defense of the unborn and because they both had Parkinson’s.

John Paul “hasn’t left me. He won’t leave me until the end of my life,” she told French Catholic TV station KTO and Italy’s state-run RAI television.

Wearing a white habit and wire-rimmed glasses, she appeared in good health and showed no signs of tremors or slurred speech which are common symptoms of Parkinson’s.

John Paul II did everything he could for life, to defend life,” she said. “He was very close to the smallest and weakest. How many times did we see him approach a handicapped person, a sick person?”

Last year, there were some questions about whether the nun’s original diagnosis was correct. But in a statement Friday, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said Vatican-appointed doctors had “scrupulously” studied the case and determined that her cure had no scientific explanation.

Once he is beatified, John Paul will be given the title “blessed” and can be publicly venerated. Many people, especially in Poland, already venerate him privately, but the ceremony will make it official.

Born in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920, Karol Wojtyla was the youngest pope in 125 years and the first non-Italian in 455 years when he was elected pope in 1978.

He brought a new vitality to the Vatican, and quickly became the most accessible modern pope, sitting down for meals with factory workers, skiing and wading into crowds to embrace the faithful.

His Polish roots nourished a doctrinal conservatism — opposition to contraception, euthanasia, abortion and women priests — that rankled liberal Catholics in the United States and Western Europe.

But his common touch also made him a crowd-pleasing superstar whose 26-year papacy carried the Roman Catholic Church into Christianity’s third millennium and emboldened eastern Europeans to bring down the communist system.

He survived an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square in 1981 — and then forgave the Turk who had shot him.

He was the most traveled pope ever, visiting more than 120 nations during the third-longest papacy and covering distance equal to nearly 1 1/2 trips to the moon.

After suffering for years from the effects of Parkinson’s disease, he died in his Vatican apartment on April 2, 2005, at the age of 84.

While adored by Catholics, John Paul did not escape scrutiny about the clerical abuse scandal which came to light in the final years of his papacy. Many of the thousands of sexual abuse cases that emerged in Europe and beyond last year concerned crimes or cover-ups that occurred under his watch.

Vatican officials have said there was nothing in John Paul’s record that called into question his path to beatification.

Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, one of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organizations, noted that John Paul’s beatification process is not a “score card on his administration of theHoly See.”

Rather, he said, it’s a statement about his personal sanctity since beatification is way of holding up Catholics as models for the faithful.

“Pope John Paul’s life is precisely such a model because it was lived beautifully and with love, respect and forgiveness for all,” Anderson told the AP in an e-mail. “We saw this in the way he reached out to the poor, the neglected, those of other faiths, even the man who shot him. He did all of this despite being so personally affected by events of the bloodiest century in history.”

Dziwisz, John Paul’s most trusted friend who seemed at times impatient with the slow pace of the process, gave thanks on Friday from Krakow, where he is archbishop.

“We are happy that this process came to an end, that what people asked for — “Santo Subito” — was fulfilled,” Dziwisz said. “I express great joy on behalf of the entire diocese of Krakow — and I think I am also authorized to express this on behalf of all of Poland.”  (*)

 

Pope Benedict XVI urges leaders to defend Christians after bombing

Pope Benedict XVI

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VATICAN CITY (KATAKAMI / THE STRAITS TIMES) — POPE Benedict XVI on Saturday urged world leaders to defend Christians against abuse and intolerance after a New Year’s day bomb attack in a Coptic church in Egypt claimed 21 lives.

In the wake of mounting tensions and ‘especially discrimination, abuse and religious intolerance which are today striking Christians in particular, I once again launch a pressing appeal not to give in to discouragement and resignation,’ he said, speaking at the New Year mass.

He appealed for the ‘concrete and constant engagement of leaders of nations,’ in what he termed a ‘difficult mission.’

The pontiff underscored that ‘humanity cannot display resignation in the face of negative forces of selfishness and violence, it cannot get accustomed to conflicts which claim victims and endanger the future of people.’

The attack in Alexandria also wounded 43 people.

Although there were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack, the bombing came two months after gunmen stormed a Baghdad cathedral and took the worshippers hostage. — AFP

 

The Pope's Christmas message in full

Pope Benedict XVI delivers the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican on December 25, 2010. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

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December 25, 2010 (KATAKAMI / TELEGRAPH.CO.UK) — Dear brothers and sisters listening to me here in Rome and throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim the message of Christmas: God became man; he came to dwell among us. God is not distant: he is “Emmanuel”, God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus.

This message is ever new, ever surprising, for it surpasses even our most daring hope.

First of all, because it is not merely a proclamation: it is an event, a happening, which credible witnesses saw, heard and touched in the person of Jesus of Nazareth! Being in his presence, observing his works and hearing his words, they recognised in Jesus the Messiah; and seeing him risen, after his crucifixion, they were certain that he was true man and true God, the only-begotten Son come from the Father, full of grace and truth (cf. Jn 1:14).

“The Word became flesh”. Before this revelation we once more wonder: how can this be? The Word and the flesh are mutually opposed realities; how can the eternal and almighty Word become a frail and mortal man? There is only one answer: Love. Those who love desire to share with the beloved, they want to be one with the beloved, and Sacred Scripture shows us the great love story of God for his people which culminated in Jesus Christ.

God in fact does not change: he is faithful to himself. He who created the world is the same one who called Abraham and revealed his name to Moses: “I am who I am … the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … a God merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (cf. Ex 3:14-15; 34:6). God does not change; he is Love, ever and always. In himself he is communion, unity in Trinity, and all his words and works are directed to communion. The Incarnation is the culmination of creation. When Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, was formed in the womb of Mary by the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit, creation reached its high point. The ordering principle of the universe, the Logos, began to exist in the world, in a certain time and space.

Dear brothers and sisters listening to me here in Rome and throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim the message of Christmas: God became man; he came to dwell among us. God is not distant: he is “Emmanuel”, God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus.

This message is ever new, ever surprising, for it surpasses even our most daring hope.

First of all, because it is not merely a proclamation: it is an event, a happening, which credible witnesses saw, heard and touched in the person of Jesus of Nazareth! Being in his presence, observing his works and hearing his words, they recognised in Jesus the Messiah; and seeing him risen, after his crucifixion, they were certain that he was true man and true God, the only-begotten Son come from the Father, full of grace and truth (cf. Jn 1:14).

“The Word became flesh”. Before this revelation we once more wonder: how can this be? The Word and the flesh are mutually opposed realities; how can the eternal and almighty Word become a frail and mortal man? There is only one answer: Love. Those who love desire to share with the beloved, they want to be one with the beloved, and Sacred Scripture shows us the great love story of God for his people which culminated in Jesus Christ.

God in fact does not change: he is faithful to himself. He who created the world is the same one who called Abraham and revealed his name to Moses: “I am who I am … the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … a God merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (cf. Ex 3:14-15; 34:6). God does not change; he is Love, ever and always. In himself he is communion, unity in Trinity, and all his words and works are directed to communion. The Incarnation is the culmination of creation. When Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, was formed in the womb of Mary by the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit, creation reached its high point. The ordering principle of the universe, the Logos, began to exist in the world, in a certain time and space. (*)

Pope Benedict XVI speaks about St. Joseph before Christmas

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd gathered below in Saint Peter's square during his Sunday Angelus blessing at the Vatican December 19, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

 

December 19, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VATICAN RADIO) — Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the foster-father of Jesus, St. Joseph, during the last Angelus address before Christmas.

“On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we are filled with joy because the Lord is at hand. We heard in today’s Gospel about the promise made to Joseph, that his wife Mary was to bear a child who would save his people from their sins. This child would be called Emmanuel, meaning that from now on, God is truly with us, he lives among us and shares our joys and sorrows, our hopes and our fears,” he said in his English remarks.

The Holy Father said Saint Joseph is presented as a “righteous man” in the gospel passage, faithful to God’s law, and ready to do his will. For this reason, he becomes a party to the Mystery of the Incarnation, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

He called on the Church to venerate Jesus’ lawful father, because in him we see new man, who looked to the future with confidence and courage, who disregarded his own goals, but entrusted himself completely to the infinite mercy of the One who fulfils prophecies and opens time to salvation.

Pope Benedict concluded his address by entrusting all pastors to Saint Joseph, universal patron of the Church, urging them to quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world.  (*)

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