Pope Benedict XVI: December 2011 Archives

The review of the proclamation of the Gospel in 2011 by the Pope is a stunning reminder that not all is complete if not rooted and grounded in Christ. His questions are good points for self-examination. Be careful to read the emphasis added to the text.

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The occasion that brings us together today is always particularly moving. The holy feast of Christmas is almost upon us and it prompts the great family of the Roman Curia to come together for a gracious exchange of greetings, as we wish one another a joyful and spiritually fruitful celebration of this feast of the God who became flesh and established his dwelling in our midst (cf. Jn 1:14). For me, this is an occasion not only to offer you my personal good wishes, but also to express my gratitude and that of the Church to each one of you for your generous service; I ask you to convey this to all the co-workers of our extended family. I offer particular thanks to the Dean of the College, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has given voice to the sentiments of all present and of all who work in the various offices of the Curia and the Governorate, including those whose apostolate is carried out in the Pontifical Representations throughout the world. All of us are committed to spreading throughout the world the resounding message that the angels proclaimed that night in Bethlehem, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will" (Lk 2:14), so as to bring joy and hope to our world.

As this year draws to a close, Europe is undergoing an economic and financial crisis, which is ultimately based on the ethical crisis looming over the Old Continent. Even if such values as solidarity, commitment to one's neighbour and responsibility towards the poor and suffering are largely uncontroversial, still the motivation is often lacking for individuals and large sectors of society to practise renunciation and make sacrifices. Perception and will do not necessarily go hand in hand. In defending personal interests, the will obscures perception, and perception thus weakened is unable to stiffen the will. In this sense, some quite fundamental questions emerge from this crisis: where is the light that is capable of illuminating our perception not merely with general ideas, but with concrete imperatives? Where is the force that draws the will upwards? These are questions that must be answered by our proclamation of the Gospel, by the new evangelization, so that message may become event, so that proclamation may lead to life.

The offers us a yearly letter for the World Day of Peace celebrated on January 1 of the new year. This year's theme is "Educating Young People in Justice and Peace." His hope is that the "conviction that the young, with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world." Indeed. we need their witness and work to be agents of justice and peace today. The letter sets an important course for us in whatever we do in life. Emphasis in the text is my own.

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1. THE BEGINNING OF A NEW YEAR, God's gift to humanity, prompts me to extend to all, with great confidence and affection, my heartfelt good wishes that this time now before us may be marked concretely by justice and peace.

With what attitude should we look to the New Year? We find a very beautiful image in Psalm 130. The Psalmist says that people of faith wait for the Lord "more than those who watch for the morning" (v. 6); they wait for him with fi rm hope because they know that he will bring light, mercy, salvation. This waiting was born of the experience of the Chosen People, who realized that God taught them to look at the world in its truth and not to be overwhelmed by tribulation. I invite you to look to 2012 with this attitude of confident trust. It is true that the year now ending has been marked by a rising sense of frustration at the crisis looming over society, the world of labour and the economy, a crisis whose roots are primarily cultural and anthropological. It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time, preventing us from clearly seeing the light of day.

Communion and Liberation posted a new flyer entitled, "Laity, that is, Christians."  It is a selection from the Pope Benedict's address to the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity that he gave on 25 November 2011.

The Pope's address is a remarkable confirmation of what Father Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation has proposed to us since January: that Christ's companionship reawakens the depths of our "I" (that is, our entire person).

I highly recommend that you read the flyer attentively and to reflect upon the deep communion between our CL charism and the leadership of the Pope at this historical moment witnessed by it. As someone of the CL movement said, "We are truly being led by the Good Shepherd in this moment of such great difficulty for so many!"

Papal address is available in Italian and Spanish at the moment. Here is the Italian version. Hopefully the English edition will be available soon.

From a little known text by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published in 1998

The pastoral approach to marriage should be founded on truth

Concerning some objections to the Church's teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful

In 1998 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, introduced the volume entitled "On the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried," published by the Libreria in the CDF's series ("Documenti e Studi", 17). Because of its current interest and breadth of perspective, we reproduce below the third part along with the addition of three notes. The text was published today by L'Osservatore Romano.

The Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of 14 September 1994 concerning the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful was met with a very lively response across wide sections of the Church. Along with many positive reactions, more than a few critical voices were also heard. The fundamental objections against the teaching and practice of the Church are outlined below in simplified form.

Several of the more significant objections - principally, the reference to the supposedly more flexible practice of the Church Fathers which would be the inspiration for the practice of the Eastern Churches separated from Rome, as well as the allusion to the traditional principles of epicheia and of aequitas canonica - were studied in-depth by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Articles by Professors Pelland, Marcuzzi and Rodriguez Luño 2, among others, were developed in the course of this study. The main conclusions of the research, which suggest the direction of an answer to the objections, will be briefly summarized here.

Generally once a year the Pope calls together all those involved in the work of each of the Pontifical councils for a plenary session, usually addressing some key item. Today was the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family

I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, on the occasion of a double XXX anniversary: that of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, published November 22, 1981 by Blessed John Paul II and the Congregation itself, which he established on May 9 with the Motu Proprio Familia a Deo instituta, as a sign of the importance to be attributed to family ministry in the world and at the same time, as an effective tool to help promote it at every level (cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 73). I cordially greet Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, thanking him for the words with which he introduced our meeting, as well as the Bishop Secretary, other employees and all of you gathered here.

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The new evangelization depends largely on the domestic Church (cf. ibid., 65). In our time, as in times past, the eclipse of God, the spread of ideologies contrary to the family and the degradation of sexual ethics are intertwined. And just as the eclipse of God and the crisis of the family are linked, so the new evangelization is inseparable from the Christian family. The family is indeed the way of the Church because it is the "human space" of our encounter with Christ. Spouses, " not only receive the love of Christ and become a saved community, but they are also called upon to communicate Christ's love to their brethren, thus becoming a saving community " (ibid., 49). The family founded on the Sacrament of Matrimony is a particular realization of the Church, saved and saving, evangelized and evangelizing community. Just like the Church, it is called to welcome, radiate and show the world the love and the presence of Christ. The reception and transmission of divine love are realized in the mutual commitment of spouses, generous and responsible procreation, in the care and education of children, work and social relationships, with attention to the needy, in participation in church activities, in commitment to civil society. The Christian Family to the extent it succeeds in living love as communion and service as a reciprocal gift open to all, through a process of ongoing conversion supported by the grace of God, reflects the splendor of Christ in the world and the beauty of the divine Trinity. Saint Augustine has a famous quote: "immo vero vides Trinitatem, si caritatem vides ", "If you see charity, yes indeed you see the Trinity " (De Trinitate, VIII, 8). And the family is one of the fundamental places where you live and are educated to love and charity.

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Today's known as World AIDS Day. The focus of the day is "an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988." This dreadful disease has claimed many millions of people world-wide --and sex is not always to blame. AND condom use is the answer.

With all the advances in medicine, there are still gaping holes in education and prevention in the fields of medicine, pharmacology, spirituality and society. The recent trip of Pope Benedict to Benin highlighted yet again the need before us. Specifically Benedict called for a holistic response to the AIDS pandemic.

Pope Benedict stated:

The problem of AIDS,in particular,clearly calls for a medical and pharmaceutical response. This is not enough, however: the problem goes deeper. Above all, it is an ethical problem. The change of behavior that it requires -for example, sexual abstinence, rejection of sexual promiscuity, fidelity within marriage- ultimately involves the question of integral development,which demands a global approach and a global response from the Church. For if it is to be effective, the prevention of AIDS must be based on a sex education that is itself grounded in an anthropology anchored in the natural law and enlightened by the word of God and the Church's teaching.

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"In our prayer also, we must learn increasingly to enter into this history of salvation whose summit is Jesus; [we must learn] to renew before God our personal decision to open ourselves to His Will, and to ask Him for the strength to conform our will to His -- in every aspect of our lives -- in obedience to His plan of love for us" (Benedict XVI, November 30, 2011)

The general intention

That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect.

The missionary intention

That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation.

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Pope Benedict XVI category from December 2011.

Pope Benedict XVI: November 2011 is the previous archive.

Pope Benedict XVI: January 2012 is the next archive.

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