Pope Benedict XVI: September 2008 Archives

A growing concern is the sustainability of the earth given the life we lead. Uncritical earth cust.jpgconsumption of goods and lack of regard for sound ecological principals can be distressing and theologically bankrupt. The good stewardship of the gifts God has given is paramount. In the recent past the pope told assembled audiences that the created world is a great gift of God but it is "exposed to serious risks by life choices and lifestyles that can degrade it. In particular, environmental degradation makes poor people's existence intolerable." In another place Pope Benedict said, "In dialogue with Christians of various churches, we need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world, without squandering its resources, and sharing them in a cooperative way."


Reading The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church we see a teaching that says the world's poor, who very often live in slums, are connected to the environmental crisis. In cases of poverty and hunger, it is "virtually impossible" to avoid environmental exploitation.


The Holy Father urges us to listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying it.  Moreover he said, "We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us."


Noting that the world's religions have shown a growing interest in the environment, particularly the ramifications of climate change; look at the statements of Patriarch Bartholomew, known as the "Green Patriarch," on environmental matters. He voices his concern and pledges support; so I would say that Orthodox Christians are ahead of Western Christians when it comes to working for a more green environment. A rather dire prediction was given by Benedict: "We must respect the interior laws of creation, of this Earth, to learn these laws and obey them if we want to survive. This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness...than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive."


At the new year, Pope Benedict's World Day of Peace message of 2008 focused two paragraphs on our responsibility for the earth today and for the future. He said,


The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships. Mother earth.jpgFor the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations. Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.


In this regard, it is essential to "sense" that the earth is "our common home" and, in our stewardship and service to all, to choose the path of dialogue rather than the path of unilateral decisions. Further international agencies may need to be established in order to confront together the stewardship of this "home" of ours; more important, however, is the children garden.jpgneed for ever greater conviction about the need for responsible cooperation. The problems looming on the horizon are complex and time is short. In order to face this situation effectively, there is a need to act in harmony. One area where there is a particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is that of the stewardship of the earth's energy resources. The technologically advanced countries are facing two pressing needs in this regard: on the one hand, to reassess the high levels of consumption due to the present model of development, and on the other hand to invest sufficient resources in the search for alternative sources of energy and for greater energy efficiency. The emerging counties are hungry for energy, but at times this hunger is met in a way harmful to poor countries which, due to their insufficient infrastructures, including their technological infrastructures, are forced to undersell the energy resources they do possess. At times, their very political freedom is compromised by forms of protectorate or, in any case, by forms of conditioning which appear clearly humiliating. 


solar.jpgYahoo carries a video story on the installation of solar panels at the Paul VI Audience Hall and Ecotality Life publishes a story on the greening of the Vatican. The point is not that we garner Catholic support for green technology, green gadgets and green gizmos for a new industry but that we take seriously the needs of the planet, our own needs and those of our brothers and sisters. 


The Catholic News Service carried two stories yesterday on the eco-friendly work of the Pope:


First saplings of Vatican reforestation project to be planted

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first saplings of the Vatican Climate Forest, a reforestation project to offset the Vatican's carbon dioxide emissions, will be planted in November, the Vatican newspaper said. The U.S.-based Planktos Inc. and its Hungarian partner, KlimaFa Ltd., are restoring more than 600 acres of forests in Hungary along the Tisza River to offset emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO2. The two companies earn money by selling greenhouse-gas mitigation credits to individuals and businesses. Whatever carbon dioxide emissions an individual or company cannot eliminate can be offset by planting trees or buying the carbon mitigation credits of a company that plants trees or takes other action to eliminate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Planktos and KlimaFa announced in 2007 that they would donate to the Vatican enough mitigation credits to offset the Vatican's annual CO2 production, estimated at 10,000 tons.


People must live morally, ethically, to save environment, says pope

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- The only way to put an end to environmental degradation is for people to live more simply and ethically, said Pope Benedict XVI. All of creation represents "an enormous gift from God to humanity" so people have a responsibility to "protect this treasure" and dedicate themselves "against an indiscriminate use" of the earth's resources, he said. The pope made his comments during a Sept. 27 audience with members of the Italian Tourist Youth Center and the Belgium-based International Bureau of Social Tourism. The audience also marked World Tourism Day which is sponsored by the U.N. World Tourism Organization. It was dedicated this year to the theme "Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change." The pope said, "Environmental degradation can only be stopped by spreading an appropriate culture of behavior that includes more sober lifestyles."

Pope incensing.jpgALBANO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI' homily today at Mass in the Cathedral of Albano, Italy, near the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. The cathedral's altar was dedicated at this Mass. (emphasis mine)


* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!


Today's celebration is so rich in symbols and the Word of God that has been proclaimed helps us to understand the meaning and value of what we are doing here. In the first reading we heard the story of Judas Macabeus' purification of the Temple and the dedication of the new altar of holocausts in 164 B.C., three years after the Temple had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes (cf. 1 Macabees 4:52-59). The Feast of the Dedication, which lasted eight days, was instituted to commemorate that event. This feast, initially linked to the Temple, where the people went in procession to offer sacrifices, was also connected with the illumination of the houses, and it survived in this form after the destruction of Jerusalem.


The sacred author rightly underscores the joy that characterizes that event. But how much greater, dear brothers and sisters, must our joy be, knowing that every day on this altar, that we are preparing to consecrate, the sacrifice of Christ is offered; on this altar he will continue to immolate himself, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, for our salvation and that of the whole world. In the Eucharistic mystery, that is renewed on every altar, Jesus is really present. His is a dynamic presence, which seizes us in to make us his, to assimilate us to him; it draws us with the power of his love, bringing us out of ourselves to unite us with him, making us one with him.


Christ's real presence makes each of us his "house," and we all together form his Church, the spiritual edifice of which St. Peter speaks. "Come to him," the apostle writes, "a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:4-5).


Somewhat developing this beautiful metaphor, St. Augustine observes that through faith men are like wood and stone gathered from forests and mountains for building; through baptism, catechesis and preaching they are cut, squared, and filed down; but they only become the Lord's house when they are ordered by charity. When believers are reciprocally connected according to a determinate order, mutually and closely arranged and bound, when they are united together by charity they truly become the house of God that does not fear ruin (cf. Sermon 336).


It is therefore the love of Christ, the charity that "never ends" (1 Corinthians 13:8), the spiritual energy that unites those who participate in the same sacrifice and who nourish themselves from the same Bread broken for the salvation of the world. Is it indeed possible to be in communion with the Lord if we are not in communion with each other? How can we present ourselves divided and far from each other at God's altar? May this altar upon which the sacrifice of the Lord will soon be renewed be for you, dear brothers and sisters, be a constant invitation to love; always draw near to it with a heart open to the love of Christ and to spreading it, to receiving and bestowing forgiveness.


In this regard the Gospel passage that was proclaimed a little while ago offers us an important lesson for life (cf. Matthew 5:23-24). It is a brief but pressing and incisive call to fraternal reconciliation, a reconciliation that is indispensable if we are to present our offering worthily at the altar; it is a reminder that takes up again a teaching that is already quite present in the preaching of the prophets. The prophets vigorously denounced the uselessness of those acts of worship that lacked the correspondent moral dispositions, especially in relation to one's neighbor (cf. Isaiah 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8). Every time that you come to the altar for the Eucharistic celebration your soul opens to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the apologies of those who have hurt you and ready, in turn, to forgive.


In the Roman liturgy the priest, having offered the bread and wine, bows toward the altar LITURGY.JPG and prays in a low voice: "Lord, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice that we offer with humble and contrite hearts." The priest thus prepares to enter, together with the whole assembly of the faithful, into the heart of the Eucharistic mystery, into the heart of that celestial liturgy to which the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, refers.

St. John presents an angel who offers "incense together with the prayers of all the saints, burning them on the altar of gold placed before the throne" of God (cf. Revelation 8:3). The altar of sacrifice becomes in a certain way the point of encounter between heaven and earth; the center, we could say, of the one Church that is at the same time heavenly and in pilgrimage on earth, where, in the midst of the persecutions of the world and God's consolations, the Lord's disciples proclaim his passion and death until he returns in glory (cf. Lumen Gentium, No. 8). Indeed, every Eucharistic celebration already anticipates the triumph of Christ over sin and the world, and shows in mystery the splendor of the Church, "immaculate bride of the immaculate Lamb, Bride that Christ loved and gave himself up for to make her holy (cf. Lumen Gentium, No. 6).


These reflections draw our attention to the rite that we are about to perform in this cathedral of yours, which we admire today in its renewed beauty and that we rightly desire to continue to make welcoming and decorous. It is a task that involves all of you and that, in the first place, calls upon the whole diocesan community to grow in charity and in apostolic and missionary dedication. Concretely, it is a matter of bearing witness with your life to your faith in Christ and the total confidence that you place in him.


It is also a matter of cultivating ecclesial communion that is, first of all, a gift, a grace, fruit of God's free and gratuitous love, that is, something divinely efficacious, always present and working in history, beyond all contrary appearances. Ecclesial communion is, however, also a task entrusted to the care of each individual. May the Lord grant you to live an evermore convinced and active communion, in cooperation and co-responsibility at every level: among the priests, the consecrated, and the laity, among the different Christian communities of your region, among the various lay groups.


Certainly ... difficulties, challenges and problems are not lacking, but the hopes and the opportunities for announcing and witnessing to God's love are also great. May the Spirit of the risen Lord, who is also the Spirit of Pentecost, disclose his horizons of hope to you and strengthen the missionary drive in you to the vast horizons of the new evangelization. Let us pray for this, continuing our Eucharistic celebration.

Pope Benedict met today with the Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF). The PTWF met in Rome this week to hold a symposium to study the papacy of Pope Pius XII. "Pave the Way has identified this period in history as one of the most difficult between Catholics and Jews, and so we have taken on this challenge in the furtherance of our mission" says PTWF President, Gary L. Krupp. "PTWF has launched an independent investigation by video interviewing eye witnesses to events of war years. We have uncovered a great deal of information which is not known by any of the scholarly institutions including the Vatican itself." Krupp believes there is considerable evidence from eye witnesses and other archival materials to help to answer questions of what in fact the Pius XII papacy did during World War II and its importance today.


In his audience the Pope said:


The focus of your [Pave the Way Foundation] study has been the person and the tireless Pius 12.jpgpastoral and humanitarian work of Pius XII, Pastor Angelicus. Fifty years have passed since his pious death here at Castel Gandolfo early on the ninth of October 1958, after a debilitating disease. This anniversary provides an important opportunity to deepen our knowledge of him, to meditate on his rich teaching and to analyze thoroughly his activities. So much has been written and said of him during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light. The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favour of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people.


Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies, your symposium offers to the public forum the Pope Pius XII.jpgpossibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes. One understands, then, that wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. In the proceedings of your convention you have also drawn attention to his many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them. One need only recall Pius XII's meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.

Pope Benedict XVI went to pray at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes. This weekend the Pope made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, to visit the place where Our Lady visited Saint Bernadette Soubirous 150 years ago to offer prayer for the Church, the sick and to plead for peace in the world.

Thumbnail image for OL Lourdes Church.jpgThe Pope stated the goal of his pilgrimage:

I go as a messenger of peace and fraternity. Your country is not unknown to me. On several occasions I have had the joy to visit it and to appreciate its generous tradition of hospitality and tolerance, as well as the solidity of its Christian faith and its lofty human and spiritual culture. After visiting Paris, your country's capital, I will have the great joy to join the crowd of pilgrims who are going to follow the stages of the jubilee journey, after Saint Bernadette, to the Massabielle grotto.


My prayer will intensify at the feet of Our Lady for the intentions of the whole Church, in particular for the sick, the abandoned, as well as for peace in the world.


May Mary be for all of you in particular for young people, the Mother always attentive to the needs of her children, a light of hope that illuminates and guides your ways. I invite you to join me in prayer so that this trip will bring abundant fruits.


At the beginning of the candlelight procession in Lourdes the Holy Father said:


Dear Brothers and Sisters!


1. When the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in the grotto at Massabielle, she began OL Lourdes.jpga dialogue between Heaven and earth which has lasted through time and continues to this day. Speaking to the young girl, Mary asked that people should come here in procession, as if to signify that this dialogue cannot be limited to words, but must become a journey at her side along the pilgrim way of faith, hope and love.


Here in Lourdes, for more than a century the Christian people have faithfully responded to that maternal summons, walking each day behind Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and processing each night amid songs and prayers in honor of the Lord's Mother.


This year the Pope joins you in this act of devotion and love for the Most Holy Virgin, the glorious woman of the Book of Revelation, crowned with twelve stars (cf. Rev 12,1). Holding in our hands the lighted torch, we recall and profess our faith in the Risen Christ. From Him the whole of our life receives light and hope.


2. To you, dear brothers and sisters, I entrust a particular intention for our prayer this evening: join me in imploring the Virgin Mary to obtain for our world the longed-for gift of peace.


May forgiveness and brotherly love take root in human hearts. May every weapon be laid down, and all hatred and violence put aside.


May everyone see in his neighbor not an enemy to be fought, but a brother to be accepted and loved, so that we may join in building a better world.


3. Together let us invoke the Queen of Peace and renew our commitment to the service of reconciliation, dialogue and solidarity. In this way we shall merit the happiness which the Lord has promised to the peacemakers (Mt 5,9).


I accompany you with my prayer and my blessing. May God bless you!

The Beauty of the Name of Mary

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BVM with female saints.jpgA blessed feast of Mary to you!


Today is the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. It has a feast of the Church since 1683 when Pope Innocent XI made it a universal feast. It was removed from the Church's liturgical memory after Vatican II but was restored  when Pope John Paul II published the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in 2002. His tremendous love for the Mother of God is a significant benchmark for all of us.


Pope Benedict XVI said the following about Mary's holy name at Abbey of Heiligenkreuz (9 September 2007):


Let us say a few words about this Name which means "Star of the Sea" and is so appropriate to the Virgin Mother. She -- I tell you -- is that splendid and wondrous star
stephansplatz2.jpgsuspended as if by necessity over this great wide sea, radiant with merit and brilliant in example.
O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land: if you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star. When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of tribulation, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.


Whether you are being tossed about by the waves of pride or ambition, or slander or jealousy, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary. When rage or greed or fleshly desires are battering the skiff of your soul, gaze up at Mary. When the immensity of your sins weighs you down and you are bewildered by the loathsomeness of your conscience, when the terrifying thought of judgment appalls you and you begin to founder in the gulf of sadness and despair, think of Mary. In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary. Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart. Follow the example of her life, and you will obtain the favour of her prayer. Following her, you will never go astray.


Asking her help, you will never despair. Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away. With your hand in hers, you will never stumble. With her protecting you, you will not be afraid. With her leading you, you will never tire. Her kindness will see you through to the end. Then you will know by your own experience how true it is that the Virgin's Name was Mary.


Holy Name of Mary.jpg


Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God,
that to all who are celebrating her glorious name, the Blessed Virgin Mary herself may dispense the benefits of your mercy.

Today the press office of the Holy See published the names of those the Pope asked to Pope and Gospel.jpgassist the work of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops being held in Rome October 5-26, 2008. The Synod will be dealing with the topic of "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."


Pope Benedict's Janaury 21st address to attending the general meeting for the Synod is here. In the address, the Holy Father says: "Among the Ecclesial Community's many and great duties in today's world, I emphasize evangelization and ecumenism. They are centred on the Word of God and at the same time are justified and sustained by it. As the Church's missionary activity with its evangelizing work is inspired and aims at the merciful revelation of the Lord, ecumenical dialogue cannot base itself on words of human wisdom (cf. I Cor 2: 13) or on neat, expedient strategies, but must be animated solely by constant reference to the original Word that God consigned to his Church so that it be read, interpreted and lived in communion with her."


On Sunday October 5, at 9:30 a.m., in the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Pope Benedict will open the Synod.


The list of the Ordinary members with the assistance of experts and auditors is extensive and likely to be meaningless for many but there are some names that we ought to raise an eyebrow and say, "Well...." Of interest to me and perhaps to you are the following:



Ordinary members  

-Marc Cardinal Ouellet, P.S.S.

  -Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia, Pres. of the Catholic Biblical Federation

-Very Rev'd Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus

-Rev'd Fr. Julián Carrón, President of Communion and Liberation




Thumbnail image for St Jerome.jpgExperts

-Rev'd Fr. Peter Damian Akpunonu, Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, IL

-Rev'd Fr. Enzo Bianchi, Prior of the Monastic Community of Bose, Italy

-Rev'd Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., Professor of Dogmatic Theology, St. Joseph Seminary, NY

-Rev'd Fr. Juan Javier Flores, O.S.B. Pres. of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, Rome

-Rev'd Fr. Stephen F. Pisano, S.J. Rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute (from the USA)

-Rev'd Fr. Marko Rupnik, S.J., Director of the Ezio Aletti Center for Studies & Research, Rome

-Rev'd Sr. Germana Strola, O.C.S.O., Trappist nun of the Vitorchiano Abbey, Italy

-Rev'd Fr. Cyril Vasil, S.J., Rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome

-Rev'd Mons. Timothy Verdon, Professor of Sacred Art, Theological Faculty of Central Italy, Florence (from the USA)

-Prof. Michael Waldstein, Professor of NT, International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Gaming, Austria (citizen of the USA & Austria)




-Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus (from the USA)

-Luis F. Figari, Superior General of the Sodalitium Vitae Christianae (from Peru)

-Abbot Michel Jorrot, O.S.B., Abbey of Clervaux (from Luxemburg)

-Rev'd Mother Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart (from the USA)

-Andrea Riccardi, Founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio (from Italy)

-Maria Voce, Pres. Of the Focolari Movement (from Italy)


Interesting to note that there are no bishops from the USA among the Ordinary members of the Synod. Plus, a number of the experts already sit on the International Theological Commission which is under the auspices of the CDF. One can also appreciate the presence of the ecclesial movements participating in the Synod!



A foundation devoted to the study of the thought of Pope Benedict XVI will be unveiled in Munich on November 12th. The foundation is devoted to "the promotion of theology in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger." The press release announcing the foundation said: "The board of trustees whose members include former students from Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Benin, and the United States, reflects the international character of the Schülerkreis and the international scope of the foundation's outreach."

For 30 years there has been a meeting of the Schülerkreis since it was set up after then Professor Joseph Ratzinger was named archbishop of Munich in 1977.


UPDATE 17 September: Rome Reports gives us perspective here.


May the Lord bring success to the work of their hands and minds.

What is prayer? It is a complete surrender to God; it is an attitude and way of life that is Pope at Mass.jpg known as a complete abandonment to God's greatness who is beyond all our understanding and need because out of love He creates and redeems us.


The general intention

That those, who because of war and totalitarian regimes have been obliged to leave their homes and country, be supported by Christians in the defense and protection of their rights.

The mission intention

That all Christian families, faithful to the sacrament of matrimony, will cultivate the values of love and community, so that they will be a small evangelizing community, open and sensitive to the material and spiritual needs of their brothers and sisters.

The Pope held his annual Schülerkreis (Circle of Students) according to the Catholic press. It's refreshing to me to know that the duties of being Supreme Pontiff don't sidetrack the Pope from doing some important theological thinking.

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2008 (
Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is meeting with his former students to discuss the historical Christ and the Gospel account of the Passion, reports L'Osservatore Romano.

The Vatican newspaper reported that the meeting is taking place through Monday at Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope is spending the summer.

The meeting is an annual one that the Holy Father has had with 38 former students and doctoral candidates for more than 25 years. The group is called "Ratzinger Schülerkreis" (Ratzinger's Circle of Students).

The colloquium is treating the figure of Jesus both in light of "Jesus of Nazareth," published by Benedict XVI in 2007, and in view of the second volume that the Pope is currently writing.

Two Protestant biblical scholars were invited to this year's colloquium: Martin Hengel and Peter Stuhlmacher. The two presented papers, and then a discussion was held.

Martin Hengel's paper dealt with the historicity of the figure of Jesus, and Peter Stuhlmacher reflected of the passion and death of Jesus.

The two exegetes -- both professors at the University of Tübingen, where Ratzinger taught in the 1960s -- offered suggestive themes for discussion, but will not enter into an exploration of the Pontiff's work.

Hengel, an historian and exegete, is not new to this gathering. In the 1990s he participated in a meeting and spoke on the figure of Peter in the Gospel of Mark.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, and Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke of Hamburg, are also participating in the meeting.

Father Stephan Horn, 72, a German priest of the Society of the Divine Savior, heads the "Schülerkreis" and organized the meeting.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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