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First sixty days of Benedict XVI's pontificate.

Vatican City--Pope Benedict XVI is seeking to expand the Vatican's diplomatic ties, which currently stand at 174 countries. In an address to ambassadors at the Vatican, he indicated that he was reaching out to the civil authorities of countries not now represented at the Vatican, which include China, Vietnam, North Korea and Saudi


In the same address, the Pope reassured the ambassadors that he is committed to peace and human rights. As a youth in Germany during World War II, he was personally acquainted with the violence and human destruction that occurred.

The papal office confirmed that the next world Synod of Bishops would be convened in Rome on October 2-23, with the theme "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."

Pope Benedict's first apostolic trip was to Bari for the 24th Italian National Eucharistic Congress, where he highlighted that the Church cannot exist without the Blessed Sacrament. In a letter (May 16) to his special envoy to the Congress in advance of the Congress, the Holy Father said that "in the bread and wine, changed in the holy Mass into the body and blood of the Lord, the Christian people find the nourishment and support to undertake the path of holiness, the universal vocation of all the baptized." The theme of the Congress was "We cannot live without Sunday,"

In his homily at the closing Mass at the Congress, Pope Benedict said that we need the Eucharist "to cope with the toil and exhaustion of the journey. Sunday, day of the Lord, is the propitious occasion to draw strength from Him, who is the Lord of Life ... The Lord does not leave us alone on this journey. He is with us; what is more, he wishes to share our destiny by absorbing us ... He assimilates us to Himself ... He is the one and same Christ who is present in the Eucharistic bread everywhere on earth. This means that we can only encounter Him together with others. We can only receive Him in unity ... As Paul said: Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (1 Cor10:17).

He reiterated his commitment to Christian unity, saying that "expressions of good sentiments are not enough." He affirmed, as he had often done as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that the Eucharist is "the sacrament of unity," and together with the Sunday liturgy nourishes the Catholic who then has the energy necessary to continue the journey of faith.

The president of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy said that "when Benedict XVI celebrates Mass he is a catechist," and "his manner of celebrating is at the same time a catechesis in act and a praise of the Trinity, the two dimensions--vertical and horizontal--of all liturgical celebrations." In an interview with Zenit news service May 29, Fr. Flores stated that the Pope John Paul II's death and Pope Benedict XVI's election were "living catecheses" for millions of people.

In a letter to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Benedict XVI said that, "in keeping with God's plans, the Church cannot fail to proclaim that marriage and the family are irreplaceable and admit no other alternatives (Zenit, 29 May). The World Meeting of Families will be held in Valencia, Spain in July 2005.

In his general audience at St. Peter's Square on May 11, Pope Benedict assured the 20,000 pilgrims present that "the Lord rises, supreme arbiter of historical events." The Holy Father continued that "God is not indifferent to human events ... nations must learn to 'read' in history a message of God ... humanity's history is the confused and without meaning; there is the possibility to recognize divine action hidden in it (Zenit, 11 May 05).

The Pope insists that Europe's integration must be based on the fundamental values of the dignity of the human being, not on geographical or economic interests. He maintained that the proper ordering of society will reclaim the soul of Europe "acquired through the decisive contribution of Christianity" which affirms "the transcendent dignity of the human person and the values of reason, freedom, democracy and the constitutional state (Zenit, 19 May 05).

In receiving the new ambassador of Macedonia, Pope Benedict thanked the country for having "reaffirmed its commitment to forge a path of peace and reconciliation" following the Balkan conflict in the 1990s. The Pope mentioned Sts. Cyril and Methodius, evangelizers of the Slavic peoples, through whose example peoples and nations could be drawn toward that peace and freedom which God intended for them.

Pope Benedict's representative at the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, addressed the General Assembly at an event commemorating the end of World War II. He stated that global peace and security are possible only if human life is respected. He also stressed that the international community had to develop a strong commitment for just and lasting peace after war "to help all the parties involved re-knot bonds of friendship and neighbourliness." These last comments were dear to the heart of Pope Benedict XV, who, at the end of World War I, tried to forge a peace between Germany and the allies which would not destroy Germany's self respect and its economic base. He was unsuccessful and World War II came close on the heels of "the Great War."

* Following the screening of a TV miniseries on the life of Karol Wojtyla, Pope Benedict said that "evil can only be conquered with forgiveness." He asked: "How can we not read in the light of a providential divine plan the fact that in the chair of Peter a Polish Pontiff was succeeded by a citizen of that land, Germany, in which the Nazi regime was able to affirm itself with great virulence, afterwards attacking the nearby nations, among them, in particular, Poland?"

A book just released by Fr. Jose Perez Asensi entitled The Ethics of Faith in the Work of Joseph Ratzinger (in Italian), highlights the Pope's view, as a theologian, that the crisis of faith and the crisis of morality that exist today are closely related. Pope Benedict bases the following of Christ on what he calls the ethics of faith. For him, "Christian morality must be founded on faith in Christ which stems from an encounter with Him, not only as a personal experience but also as a reality full of meaning ... To follow Christ includes both the spiritual religious moment, which means intimacy with Christ, as well as the moral movement, our response to Christ."

Last December, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger agreed with the president of the Italian Senate that "there must be collaboration among Catholics, nonbelievers and believers of other religions to 'rediscover a common morality.'" Ratzinger, the theologian and Senator Marcello Pera, a self-proclaimed non-believer, coauthored a book Senza radici/Without roots in which Cardinal Ratzinger proposed the rediscovery of natural law as the basis to individualize common responsibilities between Catholics and secularists. He proposed that secular culture which separates from its Christian roots loses its moral force.
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Title Annotation:Vatican
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:4EXVA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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