Pope Benedict XVI: February 2010 Archives

On the 18th World Day of the Sick observed each year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes the Pope Benedict sends to the world a message. The Pope draws my attention, and perhaps yours, to the fact that Jesus tells us to do what He has done: be an instrument of healing by allowing divine grace to actually work. To "go and do likewise" is the reason why priests reconcile sinners, strengthen the sick through the sacrament of the sick, to "go and do likewise" is why Sr Mary Ellen Genova visits the sick weekly bring the Gospel and the Eucharist to those who can't come to church, to "go and do likewise" is why Fr Jordan Kelly and the NY Dominican Friars have a healthcare ministry at 4 of the world's prestigious hospitals, to "go and do likewise" is doing what Jesus did when we had the anointing of the sick for breast cancer survivors on the feast of Saint Agatha on February 5th, and to "go and do likewise" is why Fr Thomas Berg and the Westchester Institute works on healthcare ethics. There is no end to what we do in order to follow Christ more closely, focusing not on ourselves but on God the Father asking for the grace to deal directly with illness and suffering in a graced-filled manner.

 I extracted three paragraphs from the 2010 message for our consideration here today. The points emphasized are what I think the crucial elements of the papal message to be used for prayer and consideration.

At the end of the parable, Jesus said: "Go and do likewise" (Lk 10: 37). With these words he is also addressing us. Jesus exhorts us to bend over the physical and mental wounds of so many of our brothers and sisters whom we meet on the highways of the world. He helps us to understand that with God's grace, accepted and lived out in our daily life, the experience of sickness and suffering can become a school of hope. In truth, as I said in the Encyclical Spe salvi, "It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love" (n. 37).

The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council had already recalled the Church's important task of caring for human suffering. In the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium we read that "Christ was sent by the Father "to bring good news to the poor... to heal the contrite of heart' (Lk 4: 18), "to seek and to save what was lost' (Lk 19: 10).... Similarly, the Church encompasses with her love all those who are afflicted by human misery and she recognizes in those who are poor and who suffer, the image of her poor and suffering Founder. She does all in her power to relieve their need and in them she strives to serve Christ" (n. 8). The ecclesial community's humanitarian and spiritual action for the sick and the suffering has been expressed down the centuries in many forms and health-care structures, also of an institutional character. I would like here to recall those directly managed by the dioceses and those born from the generosity of various religious Institutes. It is a precious "patrimony" that corresponds with the fact that "love... needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 20). The creation of the Pontifical Council for Health-Care Workers 25 years ago complies with the Church's solicitude for the world of health care. And I am anxious to add that at this moment in history and culture we are feeling even more acutely the need for an attentive and far-reaching ecclesial presence beside the sick, as well as a presence in society that can effectively pass on the Gospel values that safeguard human life in all its phases, from its conception to its natural end.

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In this Year for Priests, my thoughts turn in particular to you, dear priests, "ministers of the sick", signs and instruments of Christ's compassion who must reach out to every person marked by suffering. I ask you, dear presbyters, to spare no effort in giving them care and comfort. Time spent beside those who are put to the test may bear fruits of grace for all the other dimensions of pastoral care. Lastly I address you, dear sick people and I ask you to pray and to offer your suffering up for priests, so that they may continue to be faithful to their vocation and that their ministry may be rich in spiritual fruits for the benefit of the whole Church.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Richard Pampuri, pray for us.

In early June, Pope Benedict XVI travesl to Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean and a mixed group of religions. He's making a pastoral visit where he will give the Middle East bishops the Instrumentum laboris (the working document focusing the meeting) of the Synod of Bishops on the Eastern Churches due to be held next October in the Vatican. This is yet another example of the Pope reaching out to the local Catholic churches and to the Orthodox Christians, Muslims and political leaders. It is hard for me to say this is a strategic visit but it certainly opens the mind that there are significant reasons in the pope's mind as to why Cyprus and not another mixed culture. A good reason may be that he's been to the Holy Land already and that neither Lebanon, Egypt nor Syria are willing to host the pope. At any rate, Cyprus is a logical choice because of the confluence of faith and reason.

For those who don't know, Cyprus has a small Catholic community of the Maronite and Latin Churches. The Latin Church is governed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude, Archbishop Fouad Twal, and for centuries have been assisted by the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. Giampiero Sandionigi's interview with Franciscan Father Umberto Barato, a parish priest in Nicosia and Vicar General for Cyprus of the Latin Patriarchate follows in brief.

Father Barato, the Pope receives invitations from many governments and episcopates but cannot accept them all. How do you explain his decision to come to Cyprus, an island with, after all, a fairly small Catholic community? 

I don't know how many invitations the Pope receives and from how many countries. I only know that he decided to accept the invitation of the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, and the President Dimitri Christofias. There had been a precedent and perhaps that also counted: John Paul II had wanted to visit the island but, due to questions of time and the Pope's poor health, he never made the journey. It is true that the Catholic community in Cyprus is small, but I do not think that this is a contra-indication. However that may be, I believe that Benedict XVI decided to make the visit prior to the Synod on the Middle East. In addition, he will also have thought about the political and religious situation of the island. It's not that the Pope can solve the problem of the division of Cyprus or tell the leaders what they should do, but his presence can give courage and a positive impulse to relations between the two sides.

When the trip was announced, some people imagined that it would have particular consequences on ecumenical dialogue at a European, or even global, level. What do you think about this? What are the daily relations between Catholics and Orthodox like in Cyprus, and with the Turkish Muslim minority?

It's natural that people think like that. Going to a country with an Orthodox majority, it is obvious that some people think that the meeting between the Pope and the leaders of the local Church can be ecumenical in character, that it is like a step ahead in the encounter, understanding and reciprocal acceptance. However, I do not believe that it can go further. I expect that after the visit, relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Cyprus will become even closer. They are already excellent and at a level that I do not believe can be found elsewhere in parts of the world where the two Churches coexist. I'll pass over the minor difficulties that sometimes we come up against. In general, these are the fruit of ignorance or prejudice fuelled by the long separation and reciprocal non-recognition between the two sides. The positive fact is that the Catholic Church in Cyprus is accepted, recognized and esteemed for its work of apostolate and education. There are already some forms of collaboration, but the Pope's visit will certainly be a privileged occasion for the bonds to become even closer. With the Muslims, on the contrary, we have no relations.

Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service reports that the Pope got out of the Vatican --with his closest associates and 2 other officials-- without the world knowing it. Good for him!!! Ms Wooden writes:

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Twenty-five years ago, it wasn't unusual for Pope John Paul II to sneak out of the Vatican in the winter to go skiing.

Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican unannounced last evening to visit an art exhibit, according to reports today from Vatican Radio and L'Osservatore Romano.

Yesterday marked the end of the four-month run of the exhibit, "The Power and the Grace: The Patron Saints of Europe," at Rome's Palazzo Venezia Museum, and Pope Benedict was among the last of the more than 100,000 people to visit the show.

The Vatican newspaper said the pope arrived at the museum about 6:30 p.m. with his two private secretaries and the four laywomen who care for the private papal household. The women are members of Communion and Liberation's Memores Domini association.

While the public was held at bay for 35 minutes, the pope and his entourage were shown the more than 100 works on display by the curator of the exhibit, the Italian ambassador to Italy and an undersecretary of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

For the last month of the exhibit, the Louvre in Paris loaned the museum Leonardo DaVinci's painting of St. John the Baptist. Other works on display included Jan van Eyck's painting of St. Francis of Assisi with the stigmata, Caravaggio's St. John the Baptist, and El Greco's painting of St. Louis IX of France.
Uber papa.jpgPope Benedict asks us to keep in mind the following two intentions for the coming month of February. These intentions, as in our intentions offered in prayer show what Christ's word means in all of its richness, the truth. He or she who prays understands, knows, does the will of God, as von Balthasar would say. So, pray for these intentions.

The general intention

That scholars and intellectuals, by sincere search for the truth, may come to know the one true God.

The missionary intention

That the Church, aware of its missionary identity, may strive to follow Christ faithfully and to proclaim his Gospel to all peoples.

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Pope Benedict XVI category from February 2010.

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