FaithWorld

Pope breaks tradition with BBC broadcast

pope bbcPope Benedict called for people to remember the significance of Christ’s birth in a Christmas message specially recorded for Britons and aired on the BBC on Friday. It was the first time the pope has addressed a Christmas message specifically to one of the countries visited during the year, the BBC said. (Photo: Pope Benedict records his BBC ”Thought for the Day” address at the Vatican December 24, 2010/Osservatore Romano)

Pope Benedict XVI is seen during a recording session for BBC radio’s ”Thought for the Day” programme, at the Vatican December 24, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Osservatore Romano

Pope Benedict XVI is seen during a recording session for BBC radio’s ”Thought for the Day” programme, at the Vatican December 24, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Osservatore Romano)

The pope recalled his four-day state visit to England and Scotland in September, and told the people of Britain and every part of the English-speaking world that they were in his prayers in the Holy season.

“Let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down. He gives us hope, he brings us life,” he said in the message pre-recorded at the Vatican.

Pope records special Christmas message for the BBC

pope waves (Photo: Pope Benedict waves from his private apartment in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican January 4, 2009/Tony Gentile)

Pope Benedict has recorded a Christmas message at the Vatican specially for Britain following his successful state visit to the country in September, according to the BBC. It is the first time the pope has addressed a Christmas message specifically to one of the countries visited during the year, the state-funded broadcaster said.

The recording will be broadcast on Christmas Eve in the “Thought for the Day” slot on the BBC Radio 4 current affairs programme “Today.”

“Thought for the Day” lasts about three minutes and has a regular place on the morning programme broadcast Monday to Saturday. It offers a personal perspective, from leaders of a variety of religious denominations, on topical issues.

Condoms still banned for birth control: Vatican

Pope Benedict’s acknowledgement that using condoms may be justified to stop the spread of AIDS did not signify a change in the Catholic Church’s ban on their use as contraception, the Vatican said Tuesday. cdf(Image: Heading of statement on condom use, Dec 21, 2010/ Bollettino Sala Stampa della Santa Sede)

In a statement, the Vatican’s doctrinal department said there had been “erroneous interpretations” of the pope’s words which had caused confusion concerning the Church’s views on sexual morality. In a book published last month entitled “Light of the World”, the pope used the example of a prostitute to say there were cases where using a condom to avoid transmitting HIV could be justified as a “first step” toward moralization, even though condoms were “not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.”

Liberal Catholics welcomed the comments in the book but the conservative wing of the Church expressed concern and Tuesday’s statement appeared partly aimed at reassuring them.

Pope Benedict decries growing Christianophobia in Europe

creche (Photo: Pope Benedict XVI blesses a nativity scene at the Vatican December 15, 2010/Tony Gentile)

Pope Benedict voiced the Catholic Church’s deep concern over “hostility and prejudice” against Christianity in Europe on Thursday, saying creeping secularism was just as bad as religious fanaticism. In the message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, marked on Jan. 1, he also reiterated recent condemnations of lack of religious freedom in countries in the Middle East where Christians are a minority, such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

He said Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world and that it was “unacceptable” that in some places they had to risk their lives to practise their faith. But he reserved his strongest words for Europe, where the Church says it is under assault by some national governments and European institutions over issues such as gay marriage, abortion and the use of Christian religious symbols in public places.

“I also express my hope that in the West, and especially in Europe, there will be an end to hostility and prejudice against Christians because they are resolved to orient their lives in a way consistent with the values and principles expressed in the Gospel,” he said in the message.  “May Europe rather be reconciled to its own Christian roots, which are fundamental for understanding its past, present and future role in history.”

Dutch public believes Catholic Church covered up abuse-poll

abuse victimsA large majority of the Dutch public believes Roman Catholic Church authorities covered up sexual abuse, a poll found on Sunday, revealing the extent of the damage to the Church’s reputation in the Netherlands.

An independent commission said Thursday 1,975 people have declared themselves victims of sexual and physical abuse while under the care of the Church since 1945, ranking the Netherlands second worst in Europe behind Ireland in a scandal that has rocked the Church in Europe and the United States. (Photo: Pictures of sexual abuse victims placed outside the Vatican Embassy in London September 9, 2010/Stefan Wermuth)

The Maurice de Hond poll showed 82 percent of respondents believe most Church authorities knew about the problems, while 81 percent believe the pope also knew. Some 78 percent said they were “extremely disappointed” by the abuses.

WikiLeaks bares even tiny Vatican’s diplomatic soul

vatican (Photo: Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica at left and the square Apostolic Palace — home of the pope and many Vatican offices — to the right and the long Vatican museum in the background, April 6, 2005/stringer)

The Vatican may be the world’s smallest state but even its diplomatic soul has been laid bare by WikiLeaks cables covering everything from sex abuse and media blunders to old “technophobic” cardinals. Cables sent from the U.S. embassy to the Vatican to the State Department depict Pope Benedict as sometimes isolated as aides try to protect him from bad news, and say his number two is seen as a “yes man” with little credibility among diplomats.

The cables were published by the Guardian newspaper, one of several news organizations with have been given access to the leaked cables from U.S. embassies around the world.

A long cable in February 2009, though couched in diplomatic language, reads like a scathing criticism of the Vatican’s internal and external communications structures, which are held responsible for some of Pope Benedict’s biggest public mishaps. “The Holy See’s communications operation is suffering from ‘muddled messaging’ partly as a result of cardinals’ technophobia and ignorance about 21st century communications. Only one senior papal advisor has a Blackberry and few have e-mail accounts. It has led to PR blunders on issues as sensitive as the Holocaust,” a U.S. diplomat writes.

UK envoy feared anti-Catholic violence after Vatican offer to Anglicans

vaticanLondon’s Vatican ambassador feared anti-Catholic violence in Britain after Pope Benedict offered to accept traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks. Catholic-Anglican relations faced their worst crisis in 150 years because of the offer, which undercut the authority of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the cable quoted Ambassador Francis Campbell as saying after the offer last year. (Photo: Pope Benedict and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at the Vatican, November 21, 2009/Osservatore Romano)

The cable, dated November 30, 2009 and published by The Guardian newspaper in London on Saturday, reflected concerns that have since eased. Tensions that it predicted for the pope’s visit to Britain in September this year did not materialise.

The confidential cable, signed by U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Miguel Diaz, said Campbell noted that England’s Catholics were a minority and mostly of Irish origin. “There is still latent anti-Catholicism in some parts of England and it may not take much to set it off,” it said, paraphrasing his words. “The outcome could be discrimination or in isolated cases even violence against this minority.”

Russian Orthodox Church’s Kirill on ecumenism, via Wikileaks

kirillSome interesting comments on Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, back in April 2008 when he was still Metropolitan Kirill, in a cable from the U.S. embassy in Moscow published by Wikileaks:

8. (C) Kirill seemed to be in good health was preoccupied as always with the, in his view, excessive emphasis on the individual in the West, and stressed the need to harmonize traditional human rights concerns with “morality and ethics.” Economic progress had been a two-edged sword for Russia, Kirill thought. With prosperity, Russians had “lost something” and Kirill, who is Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, pointed to less prosperous Smolensk as “better preserved” than Moscow or St. Petersburg.

9. (C) Kirill spoke highly of a UN-sponsored effort to bridge the gap between East and West by seeking an alliance of civilizations. Kirill was attempting to interest the UN in his efforts to sponsor ecumenical dialogue especially, he said, in the Middle East. As he has in past conversations, Kirill contrasted Roman Catholic Pope Benedict favourably with his predecessor John Paul II, and again held out the prospect of significant improvement in Russian Orthodox – Roman Catholic relations. Also on the ecumenical front, Kirill reported to the Ambassador efforts, via the Russian Orthodox Church of America and the National Council of Churches, to reach out to Protestant denominations in the U.S.

Filipinos back contraception bill despite Catholic Church-poll

philippines 1 (Photo: A reproductive health advocate dressed as a condom distributes condoms to jeepney passengers in Manila March 1, 2010/Romeo Ranoco)

Seven in 10 Filipinos support a reproductive health bill permitting education on contraception which would also help check population growth, despite opposition from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Church, a major social and political force in the poor Southeast Asian nation of about 95 million, has blocked similar bills since the 1990s and earlier this year denounced President Benigno Aquino’s support for contraception.

The bill is in the early stages of consideration by Congress, and proponents are confident it can be enacted into law given it has the backing of Aquino, who says slowing population growth will help fight poverty.

from UK News:

A priest’s guide: How to Swim the Tiber Safely

About 50 Church of England priests opposed to the consecration of women as bishops are expected to be in the first wave of Anglicans to take up an offer by Pope Benedict and convert to Rome. The traditionalist priests will be joined by five bishops and 30 groups of parishioners, in a structure called an ordinariate, or a Church subdivision, in the new year.

About 300 priests switched in the early 1900s when women were ordained as priests. Then they did not have the comfort of moving over in groups, and nearly 70 returned to the Anglican fold.

Here, one priest explains why he stayed, while another describes why he returned.