Current Issue
Spring, 2017
Volume 43, Number 1
4 March 2013
Greg Kandra

Cardinals attend a meeting at the synod hall in the Vatican on 4 March. Preparations for electing a new pope began as the College of Cardinals met. Catholic News Service has additional details about the pre-conclave meetings. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano Via Reuters)

4 March 2013
Greg Kandra

A Swiss Guard salutes as U.S. Cardinals Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, Edward M. Egan, retired archbishop of New York, and Donald W. Wuerl of Washington arrive for the first general congregation meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican on 4 March.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Vatican says 12 cardinal electors still to arrive for conclave (Vatican Radio) 142 of the 207 Cardinals from the College of Cardinals were present Monday morning for the First General Congregation in preparation for the Conclave to elect the 265th Successor to St. Peter. Of those present Monday 103 are Cardinal electors, meaning that 12 Cardinal electors are still on their way to Rome...

Patriarch thanks Benedict for firmness, humility (Interfax) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has thanked Pope Benedict XVI, who has stepped down from his post, for his uncompromising position on faith issues and wished him strength, the patriarch’s press service reported. “In these days, which are special to you, I would like to express feelings of brotherly love in Christ and respect,” the patriarch said in his message to the pontiff...

Thousands demand tougher adoption laws in Russia (Vatican Radio) Pro-Kremlin activists have rallied in central Moscow to demand that the government extends a ban on American families adopting Russian children to all foreign nationals. Saturday’s protest of up to 20,000 people came a day after authorities in the U.S. State of Texas said the death in January of 3-year-old Max Shatto, was “an accident.” Protesters also demanded his brother to be returned to Russia...

Kidnapping ring in Eritrea reaches into the U.S. (Wall Street Journal) To the outside world, Eritrea is a little-known sliver of Red Sea coastline above the Horn of Africa. But refugees fleeing its single-party regime have become the primary victims of what human rights groups say is one the world’s more elusive and terrifying kidnapping rings. The refugees are typically captured as they cross Eritrea’s border, then trafficked into regions of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula that are virtually lawless, creating an open season for smugglers who hold victims while extorting family members in Africa, Europe and the U.S...

Syrian government urged to seize window of opportunity (Vatican Radio) United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is urging the Syrian government to take up a proposal of opposition representatives for a meeting to discuss a resolution to the ongoing conflict, calling it a “small window of opportunity” that “may soon close.” Ban met Saturday with a senior group of UN advisers in order to discuss a possible resolution for the ongoing conflict in Syria...

Tags: Syria Pope Benedict XVI Russia Orthodox Eritrea

1 March 2013
Greg Kandra

Workers remove the banner with Pope Benedict XVI's coat of arms after the pope's final public appearence as pope in the town square in Castel Gandolfo on 28 February. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Catholic Pope Papacy

1 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Pope Benedict XVI leaves after appearing for the last time at the balcony of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on 28 February. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI: from humble servant to simple pilgrim (CNS) Pope Benedict XVI, who began his papacy describing himself as a “humble servant in the Lord’s vineyard,” described his retirement in similar terms. “I am a simple pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth,” he told the crowd outside of Castel Gandolfo. “But with all my heart, with all my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, with all my interior strength, I still want to work for the common good and the good of the church and humanity,” he told them. Pope Benedict thanked the people for their support and asked them to continue to pray and work for the good of the church, too…

Coptic Catholic Cardinal Naguib will attend conclave (Fides) Though health complications had cast doubt on his attendance, Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Coptic Catholic patriarch emeritus, confirmed his participation in the conclave. Hemorrhagic cerebral ischemia had struck on 31 December 2011, forcing him to resign from his patriarchal office the following January. But now his condition has improved, making it possible for him to travel to Rome. “I am delighted to be able to take part in this important moment in the life of the church. It was something that I did not dream of anymore. In the beginning I said that it was not possible for me to go to the Eternal City for the conclave. But then I reflected on the fact that the first duty of a cardinal is to participate in the choice of the Successor of Peter. And I changed my initial decision”…

Damascus in the grip of a tense stalemate (L.A. Times) After nearly two years of fighting in Syria that has mostly spared the capital, an uneasy stalemate reigns in Damascus. In recent days, the city has experienced mortar attacks and car bombings, while the military has responded in its usual fashion: withering bombardment of outlying rebel strongholds. Rebel forces have dug in to the north, east and south of Syria’s capital, occupying stretches of suburban and rural terrain and threatening to break through to the heart of Damascus. Government troops have largely pulled back to a well-defended core, including the city center and loyal bastions to the west. Residents of Damascus are edgy, fearing that the fighting is closing in. “I don’t go anywhere unless I have specific business,” said a woman in her early 50s who requested anonymity for safety’s sake. “No one does”…

As war stretches on, Syrians turn to self-governance (New York Times) With Syria’s two-year-old civil war showing signs of stalemate, scores of new local councils in rebel-held towns like Tilalyan are not only fighting deprivation but trying to set up courts, police forces and social services. Their efforts amount to Syria’s first experiments in self-government after decades of tyranny under President Bashar al Assad and his father, Hafez al Assad. They are struggling to outlast Mr. Assad in what is increasingly a war of attrition. But civilian leaders say the councils are also trying to pry power from the armed rebel brigades that are already staking out control of resources and territories in the vacuum left by the government’s retreat. Tilalyan’s council illustrates the challenge: it has been forced to depend entirely on the patronage of either the Western-sponsored opposition-in-exile or competing armed factions, including hard-line Islamists. Three months after it was formed, though, the council can claim two achievements: four hours a day of electricity and a daily ration of two pieces of flatbread for each adult and child. That in turn has brought credibility and legitimacy, even in the eyes of skeptical town elders…

Tags: Syria Egypt Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Coptic Catholic Church

28 February 2013
Greg Kandra

Pope Benedict XVI addresses the College of Cardinals at the Vatican on 28 February, the final day of his papacy. In attendance were 144 cardinals, including many of the 115 younger than 80 who are eligible and expected to vote in the upcoming conclave. Read the text of his final remarks to the cardinals here. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope Papacy

28 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

A helicopter carrying Pope Benedict XVI takes off from inside the Vatican on its way to the to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on 28 February, the final day of his papacy. (photo: CNS/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI begins the last day of his pontificate (Vatican Radio) The Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will come to an end with the Sede Vacante (“Vacant See”) beginning at 8 p.m. Rome time (2 p.m. EST). Shortly before 5 p.m., the Pope bid farewell to the pontifical household and departed the Apostolic Palace by car from the San Damaso Courtyard. From there, he was driven to the Vatican heliport and seen off by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. After being flown to Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father will then briefly greet the faithful of the Diocese of Albano from the central balcony of the Apostolic Palace. This will be the last public appearance of Pope Benedict XVI while in office. At 8 p.m, the reign of the 265th Pope, the 264th successor of St. Peter, will come to an end, having lasted 7 years, 10 months, and 9 days…

Pope pledges obedience to next pope (CNS) On 28 February, hours before resigning from the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI briefly addressed the College of Cardinals in Clementine Hall, calling for unity and harmony among the men who will choose his successor and pledging his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to the next pope. The pope addressed 144 cardinals, including many of the 115 under the age of 80 who are eligible and expected to vote in the upcoming conclave. “I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new pope. May the Lord show you what is wanted of you”…

Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch elected (Global Post) The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has elected a new patriarch to replace the previous head who died in August, officials say. Archbishop Abune Matthias of Jerusalem was elected on Thursday, 28 February 2013, with about 500 out of 806 votes cast by members of the church living in Ethiopia and elsewhere. The patriarch-elect, 71, has lived abroad for over 30 years, initially fleeing Ethiopia following a military coup by Hailemariam Mengistu in 1974. He has since traveled throughout Europe and North America, and will now settle in Ethiopia to serve as the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church…

Flow of Syrian refugees into Jordan surges (Al Jazeera) Ten thousand Syrian refugees have arrived in Jordan in the last 72 hours, army sources at the border have told local Jordanian media. Jeffrey Feltman, United Nations under secretary-general, said on Tuesday that a record 150,000 people fled Syria this month to escape the worsening conflict now trapped in a “destructive military spiral.” He told the U.N. Security Council that abuses committed by President Bashar al Assad’s forces were “significantly” worse than those of the opposition, even though both could face war crimes charges. “The humanitarian situation is becoming worse in Syria,” Feltman said. There are now 413,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, a number the U.N. expects to reach 500,000 as early as the end of next month. Four million people in the country now need humanitarian assistance. Of these, two million are internally displaced…

Tags: Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Jordan Vatican Ethiopian Orthodox Church

27 February 2013
Bradley H. Kerr

This 13th-century icon of the Theotokos Orans is found in the Spasky Cathedral in Yaroslavi, Russia. (image: Wikipedia)

We’ve had a ton of positive feedback about the special Way of the Cross With Pope Benedict XVI booklet that we sent to our friends and benefactors for Lent. Many thanks to all who called and wrote. But I was struck by a note from Father J.S. Custer, pastor of Resurrection Byzantine Catholic Church in Smithtown, N.Y. He writes:

The vast majority of your benefactors must be Roman Catholics who have already been exposed to the Way of the Cross in some form. What CNEWA might offer, consistent with your mission, is … what the Byzantine “lung” of the church experiences during Great Lent.

What a great idea! And so I tracked down one of Father Custer’s helpful suggestions to share with you today: the Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The hymn is more than its name suggests. It is actually an entire service — and a very beautiful one, I might add — devoted to the Mother of God. Parts are used throughout the Lenten season, and the entire hymn is chanted on the fifth Friday of Lent.

Here is a taste:

By singing praise to your maternity, we all exalt you as a spiritual temple, Mother of God! For the One Who Dwelt Within Your Womb, the Lord Who Holds All Things in His Hands, sanctified you, glorified you, and taught all men to sing to you:

Hail, O tabernacle of God the Word!
Hail, O Holy One, more holy than the saints!
Hail, O ark that the spirit has gilded!
Hail, inexhaustible treasure of life!
Hail, precious crown of rightful authorities!
Hail, sacred glory of reverent priests!
Hail, unshakable tower of the church!
Hail, unbreachable wall of the kingdom!
Hail, O you, through whom the trophies are raised!
Hail, O you, through whom the enemies are routed!
Hail, O healing of my body!
Hail, O salvation of my soul!
Hail, O bride and maiden ever-pure!

To read and pray the entire Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, you can find it here. Plus, check out this article from our magazine for more about this devotion. It just might enrich your Lenten journey and deepen your love of Christ.

In the meantime, you can also get a sense of this beautiful devotion in the video below:

27 February 2013
Greg Kandra

Signs salute Pope Benedict XVI with words of gratitude as he arrives to lead his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 27 February. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Benedict XVI held his final public audience this morning. CNS describes the scene:

On his last full day as pope, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an unusually personal and emotional farewell address, thanking the faithful around the world for their support and assuring them that he would remain in their service even in retirement.

“I will continue to accompany the path of the church with prayer and reflection, with that dedication to the Lord and to his bride that I have tried to live every day till now and that I want to live always,” the pope told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square on 27 February, the eve of his resignation.

Under a clear blue sky with temperatures in the low 40s, the pope arrived for his last public audience shortly after 10:30 a.m., standing and waving for almost 15 minutes as his white popemobile made a circuit through the square. Cheering pilgrims waved national flags and banners with slogans such as “always with the pope” and “you will never be alone.”

The crowd spilled over into the adjacent Via della Conciliazione, which had been closed to motorized traffic, and the Vatican estimated turnout at 150,000.

Abandoning his usual practice of giving a catechetical talk on a devotional text or theme at public audiences, the pope spoke about his time as pope and his historic decision to resign. He looked tired but composed as he read his speech, and he smiled at the frequent interruptions by applause.

Pope Benedict recalled his almost eight-year pontificate as a time of “joy and light, but also difficult moments.”

“The Lord has given us so many days of sun and light breeze, days in which the catch of fish has been abundant,” he said, likening himself to St. Peter on the Sea of Galilee.

“There have also been moments in which the waters were turbulent and the wind contrary, as throughout the history of the church, and the Lord seemed to be asleep,” he said. “But I have always known that the Lord is in that boat and that the boat of the church is not mine, it is not ours, but it is his and he does not let it sink.”

Read the full text of the pope’s remarks here. Below, CNS has posted a video of the final blessing of the general audience:

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope Papacy

27 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 27 February. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope expresses gratitude, trust during final general audience (Vatican Radio) “During this Year of Faith, we have been called to renew our joyful trust in the Lord’s presence in our lives and in the life of the church. I am personally grateful for his unfailing love and guidance in the eight years since I accepted his call to serve as the Successor of Peter. I am also deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also throughout the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new pope. In union with Mary and all the saints, let us entrust ourselves in faith and hope to God, who continues to watch over our lives and to guide the journey of the Church and our world along the paths of history…”

Conclave start date may not be known until next week (CNS) It is possible the world’s cardinals will not begin meeting at the Vatican until 4 March, and they cannot set a start date for the conclave until they have met, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will send out letters on 1 March formally informing the world’s cardinals that the papacy is vacant and calling them to meet at the Vatican. In addition, he said, while many cardinals were arriving in Rome before the papacy ended on 28 February, “the cardinals will not live at the Domus Sanctae Marthae” — the Vatican guesthouse used during the conclave — “until almost the eve of the conclave.” The rooms must be cleaned, the televisions and telephones disconnected and the place swept for listening devices, Father Lombardi said. “It’s completely normal”…

Cardinal Sandri pays tribute to Sts. Cyril and Methodius (L’Osservatore Romano) This week, a conference was held at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome to commemorate the 1150th anniversary of the beginning of the mission of Sts. Cyril and Methodius among the Slavs. The brothers were “authentic precursors of ecumenism, for they labored in service of unity and of the multiform fullness of the church, as they made incarnate the spirit of the originally undivided church,” says Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. “The great intuition of Cyril and Methodius aided the Slavic peoples, whom they had evangelized, to praise God in their own tongue and in respect for the their proper cultural characteristics, at the same time insisting on the unity between all Christians, of the East and of the West, in the sole and universal church of Christ. Their invitation remains today, for a dynamic vision of Catholicity as the symphony of the diverse liturgies in all the languages of the world, as a harmonious chorus of different voices and pitches.”…

Egypt opposition vows to boycott parliamentary elections (Christian Science Monitor) Egypt’s main opposition coalition announced today it intends to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections, deepening the political crisis in Egypt. The National Salvation Front (N.S.F.) coalition of leftist, liberal and socialist parties announced it would not take part in the elections, scheduled to begin in April, because the law governing the elections is unfair, and the president has not met their demands to change the cabinet or amend the new constitution. The vote will elect a new parliament to replace the one dissolved last year after a court found the law the elections were based on to be unconstitutional. The president’s office rescheduled the vote after a controversy erupted because the original schedule had them falling during the Coptic Orthodox Church’s celebration of Palm Sunday and Easter…

Tags: Egypt Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Saints Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

26 February 2013
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2008, Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, left, stand in front of the tomb of St. Peter at the conclusion of a Mass on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 29. (photo: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Yesterday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople paid tribute to Pope Benedict XVI and called him a “friend of the Orthodox Church”:

Pope Benedict leaves an indelible mark on the life and history of the Roman Catholic Church, sealed not only by his brief papacy, but also by his broad and longstanding contribution as a theologian and hierarch of his Church, as well as his universally acknowledged prestige.

His writings will long speak of his deep theological understanding, through his knowledge of the Fathers of the undivided Church, his familiarity with contemporary reality, and his keen interest in the problems of humankind.

We Orthodox will always honor him as a friend of our Church and a faithful servant of the sacred proposition for the union of all. Moreover, we shall rejoice upon learning of his sound health and the productivity of his theological work.

The photograph above is a reminder of the fraternal closeness of the patriarch and the pope: the successor of Peter and the successor of Peter’s brother, Andrew.

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism Orthodox Church Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

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