Friday, December 31, 2010


Radio Vaticana report; During the course of a joint radio and television interview early in his reign, Benedict XVI made a remark to the effect that he would not likely do much travelling as Pope. Nevertheless, his Apostolic voyages were among the most important highlights of the year, 2010.

A visit to the island of Cyprus – part of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, to present the instrumentum laboris for the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which took place in Rome in October, where he spoke of the changeless mission of the Church:

We are called to overcome our differences, to bring peace and reconciliation where there is conflict, to offer the world a message of hope. We are called to reach out to those in need, generously sharing our earthly goods with those less fortunate than ourselves. And we are called to proclaim unceasingly the death and resurrection of the Lord, until he comes. Through him, with him and in him, in the unity that is the Holy Spirit’s gift to the Church, let us give honour and glory to God our heavenly Father in the company of all the angels and saints who sing his praises for ever.

The Pope made another to Malta, in the footsteps of St Paul, during which he returned to the fundamental truth of Christian living:

More than any of the cargo we might carry with us – in terms of our human accomplishments, our possessions, our technology – it is our relationship with the Lord that provides the key to our happiness and our human fulfilment. And he calls us to a relationship of love.

The Holy Father also made pilgrimage to Portugal to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of 2 of the visionary children of Fatima; the pilgrimage to Spain, with stops in Santiago de Compostela, to mark the Year of St. James, and to Barcelona to rededicate the basilica of la sagrada familia; each of these was a powerful moment of Apostolic witness and an important element in the Pope’s pastoral plan for the renewal and revitalization of the Church’s basic mission – to make the Gospel known to all the nations and peoples of the world.

It was, however, the historic state visit to the United Kingdom, that was the highlight of the Pope’s travels in 2010, and the high point of that Apostolic journey was the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman:

Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness.

Cardinal Newman was a model Christian, and also a model citizen – and the profound historical connection between Christian faith and responsible citizenship was a major theme of Pope Benedict’s historic address at Westminster Hall:

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.

The Holy Father went on frankly to discuss the damage that a distorted notion of religion, and mangled reason can and have done to society – citing the slave trade and 20th century totalitarianism as just two of the many disastrous effects of degenerate reason and warped religion.

This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

The good of our civilization: the civilization that has longest and most basically been shaped by the Gospel; the Pope’s plan for renewal and revitalization includes those areas of culture and civilization, which first received the Good News long ago – a plan, the implementation of which took a major step forward with the creation this year of a new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

The Holy Father also released his Post-synodal Exhortation on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. Titled Dei verbum, the three hundred-page document is the longest and most sustained Papal treatment of sacred scripture as a vessel of divine revelation in the post-Conciliar period.

Then, there was the impact of the Pope’s personal encounters with the faithful. During 2010, Pope Benedict met with 2,272,650 people through audiences, liturgies, Angelus and regina coeli prayers.

In scores of meetings with Catholic bishops come from around the world to make their ad limina visits, and with leaders of Churches and communities not yet in full communion with the Church, the Holy Father carried out his mission of strengthening the brethren and presiding in love.

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