The many faces of the church

Maintaining unity a challenge for new pope

By Greg Botelho

(CNN) -- There is one Roman Catholic Church, headquartered in the Vatican. Then there are thousands of churches -- located in rural and metropolitan, traditional and progressive, affluent and impoverished communities worldwide.
From Manila to Marseilles, New York to Nairobi, more than one billion Catholics belong to these churches, each with their own major influences and issues.
Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, will be charged with guiding and serving this diverse, dispersed and demanding membership.
"He's got to be in touch -- to listen, to speak and to pray -- so as to keep a sense of unity among people who see things differently," said the Rev. James Halstead, chairman of religious studies at DePaul University.
In some cases, Catholics' differences lie with the Vatican itself. South African bishop Kevin Dowling, for instance, has broken with the church in promoting condom use -- something he hopes could curb the spread of AIDS, but that the Vatican says does not respect the sanctity of life.
A recent poll of U.S. Catholics showed that a majority support changes to church policy on issues such as birth control, stem cell research and allowing priests to marry.
"The church has become quite polarized between the right and left," said the Rev. Keith Pecklers, a professor at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. "[Pope Benedict XVI] will very much need to deal with this kind of polarization."
Besides those issues, Benedict must also function in a media and technological age in which he can travel easily and transmit messages instantly. Addressing a lack of clergy and aging church population in the West and intense competition for adherents in Africa (from Islam) and South America (from Pentecostals and evangelicals) head a roster of other pressing issues, according to experts.
"It's a very different world," said the Rev. Robert Sullivan, head of Notre Dame University's Erasmus Institute. "[Benedict] faces a more complicated set of problems than John Paul II did in 1978."

Reaching out in the modern world

In 26 years as pontiff, John Paul traveled to 129 countries on 104 foreign trips, far more than any of his predecessors. Technical innovations helped make the globetrotting possible, advancing the former pope's goal of reaching out to Catholics worldwide, experts said.
In his book "Papal Power," Australian priest Paul Collins wrote that by traveling so widely and using mass media so well, the pope created "an entirely new situation in church history: the seemingly omnipresent papacy."
Benedict will travel, but maintaining his predecessor's pace could be difficult, said John Allen, a National Catholic Reporter correspondent and CNN analyst. Allen cited the physical limits of the pope's age (he just turned 78) and his temperament, saying Benedict is less gregarious and theatrical than his predecessor.
Still, Halstead said, a modern pope must leave Rome to be effective.
"What he's got to do is travel, make himself visible, reach out and touch people," he said.
The church can also embrace other elements of technology -- from television to the Internet -- to address existing followers and attract new ones, wrote Professor Neil Ormerod, head of the theology and philosophy department at Australian Catholic University's Sydney campus, in an e-mail interview with CNN.com.
"Modern technology has made centralization easier to achieve," Ormerod wrote. "Instant communication and the possibility of instant response ... could allow for greater dialogue and collegiality. But so far, this has not occurred. It could be used to build bridges or just to issue central commands."
Some experts are skeptical that Benedict will embrace modernity, believing he will instead focus more on internal church changes than on reaching out globally. That said, he remains -- by definition -- the leader of hundreds of millions of Catholics in most every corner of the world.
"As pope, he has to be the pastor of everyone," Allen said.

Growth, complexity to the south

More and more, the temporary structure in the Kitisuru neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, teems with parishioners -- about 500, more than 12 times the number when the church formed in 2003.
The Rev. Martin Ndegwa attributes the growth to the church's incorporation of native traditions.
"Bringing the [Catholic] faith, not just the way it came from Europe ... but interpreting that [in harmony with] the cultural set-up ... has made it more in tune with the people, linking their belief and their way of life with their religion," Ndegwa said.
About 150 years ago, Catholic missionaries began arriving in Africa -- trying, often unsuccessfully, to spread their faith.
"They used to say that Africa [was] the missionary graveyard," said John Maugbekanliho of Sacred Heart Parish in Badgary, Nigeria.
But the expansion of this Kenya parish mirrors a recent continent-wide trend. About 140 million Catholics live in Africa -- 2.5 times more than in 1978. That number also makes up about 13 percent of the church's worldwide membership, compared with 1 percent in 1900.
More than 400 million Catholics, meanwhile, live in Latin America, more than in any other region, including Europe.
Sullivan said high birthrates account for some of this surge in developing nations. But he added that very fact could be related to religion, noting that the Vatican opposes birth control and abortion.
Yet the numbers are not all good for the church. Half a century ago, for example, 90 percent of Latin Americans identified themselves as Roman Catholic; today that figure is 70 percent, a drop that corresponds with a rise in the number of Pentecostals, particularly in Brazil.
The case of Bishop Dowling, moreover, is one of many in which some Catholics (including local leaders) are at odds with Vatican policy.
"We have to develop a theology ... that takes [into account the] reality of people's lives here," Dowling told CNN, claiming that promoting condom use does not undermine the church's pro-life policy. "We've got to develop ... a hopeful response."
Similar divisions exist in Latin America over sex, culture and other subjects. There, as elsewhere, the hot topics (and complications) might vary by country, by region, even from church-to-church and individual-to-individual, according to Halstead.
"A goodly number of people in the Third World, if you ask them what they think, [say] we love the pope, but he doesn't know how our lives are," he said. "Don't underestimate the independent thoughts of poor people."
That could prove problematic for Benedict, according to Ormerod, should he concentrate on strengthening the church in Europe at the expense of maintaining and enlarging the ranks in developing nations where other faiths are competing for adherents.
"The new pope's vision is largely Euro-centric, and he will find this a difficult challenge," Ormerod wrote. "His focus is on secularization in Europe, while the big issue is the confrontation of religions in Asia, Africa [and Latin America]."

Independent adherents

The open-minded approach of St. Francis Xavier Church in Manhattan flies in the face of some conservative Catholic doctrines advocated by the Vatican.
"We try to welcome those who may have felt alienated from the institutional," said the Rev. Matthew Roche. "They can find a home here."
The parish embraces not only the disabled and seeing-eye dogs, but also gay and lesbian couples.
"The bottom line is my faith and my belief in God," said Harold Forbes, who attends St. Frances Xavier with his partner, Bill Mulloy. "My dialogue with God or Jesus is separate from the church."
The Second Vatican Council gave hope to many reformers keen on liberalizing the church and its doctrines. Yet Pope John Paul II helped to stifle this impetus by taking conservative stances on issues like homosexuality, contraception and stem cell research.
A recent poll showed that a majority of U.S. Catholics disagreed with the Vatican on those matters. Such sentiments are echoed by fellow followers in Western Europe, according to experts, as well as some in developing nations. The appointment of Pope Benedict, widely viewed as a conservative, riled some in Latin America, for instance.
"It seems that he is too conservative," Jurandir Arauj of the National Conference of Bishops' Afro-Brazilian Section told Reuters. "We expected a person ... who could give the church alternatives [and] open the church to the world; look more at reality."
Experts say this political and cultural divide might help explain the decline in churchgoing in Europe, where most identify themselves as Catholic but many are less conservative on social, sexual, political and other issues than the church hierarchy.
A recent visit to a church in Marseilles, France, illustrates this problem: The structure is woven into the culture but is cavernous even on Sundays, except for a few, often elderly, parishioners.
"It's a frightening thing," said John Wilkins of The Tablet, an independent Catholic newspaper based in Britain. "To go to France, the elder daughter of the church, it's always called, and you get the feeling the church has gone away."
Yet despite significant drops in new priests, the church's power base still lies in Europe. Just over half the cardinals are from the continent, with 38 in Italy alone.
Moreover, a higher standard of living and average education level in Western nations tends to produce followers who are opinionated, self-involved and less reliant on Catholic services, for the poor and homeless, for instance, experts said.
"The old notion of run to God with your troubles, that will have to be supplemented with how do you be rich and religious at the same time," said Halstead, who also preaches in Chicago, Illinois, of the situation facing many U.S. and European churches.
"And once you've got an economic development plan working [in developing nations], you'll have to develop a spiritual life that goes with living better there, too."

Faith 'a personal thing'

As people increasingly focus more on their careers, amassing wealth and other personal matters, they tend to devote less time to rituals and other means that unite communities -- including members of the same religion -- Sullivan said.
"There are very few ritual occasions in modern society, and rituals are ways of overcoming individualism," he said. "What is obvious about our society is that we're individuals."
Whereas once people may have identified themselves by their family and their faith, today sports teams, political parties, alma maters, community groups and other organizations vie for allegiances.
"There are many more influences on people's lives than decades ago," Halstead said. "The church is one voice among many."
The pope, too, must fight to be heard in today's world. Blind adherence to Vatican policy has become more and more rare, experts added.
An influx of information and options makes today's Catholics more demanding spiritually as well -- asking for help not only to meet their material needs, but also psychologically, as they cope with the hustle and stresses of modern life.
More and more, Sullivan said, spirituality has become about one's personal relationship with God -- as opposed to one's place within a larger religious community or culture.
"Where do we find meaning? It's partially from families, [extracurricular] commitments, education and work, but also from reflection," he said. "It's very much a personal thing."

CNN's Maria Hinojosa, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Tumi Makgabo and Walt Rodgers contributed to this report.

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The Media and the Vatican: Opposing Goals

The New York Times, April 23, 2005


Now that the rooftop sets with a view of St. Peter's Cathedral have been struck and the rented satellite trucks have been returned, the remaining media contingent in Rome is left with the question of how to cover a new pope.
The first few days of the tenure of Pope Benedict XVI have revealed two very different institutional imperatives. The Vatican, with a favorite son as the new pontiff, must give heft to the doctrinal assumption that he is, by virtue of his selection, infallible. And the media, while for the most part respectful of both the institution and the man, must do its job as well: discerning and describing every public figure's feet of clay.
As reporters crawl all over the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's hometown in Germany and tease apart his extensive public record as a Catholic leader, most seem less concerned about his singular status than about his personal and theological history.
"We don't feel compelled to treat him gently because he is the pope," said Dean Baquet, managing editor of The Los Angeles Times. "Obviously there is a certain amount of respect, but we have the same obligation as we do with any public figure - to examine what he believes and the effect it will have on the world."
And so as the days have passed since Tuesday's white smoke signaled Cardinal Ratzinger's ascension, the new pope's public image has become more textured and perhaps less exalted. Readers and viewers of the American media have learned that Pope Benedict was briefly and unenthusiastically a member of the Hitler Youth, that he was conscripted to serve in the German Army in World War II and that his tenure as the chief enforcer of doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church has occasionally been bruising. The uneasy truce between an ancient organization and a hungry media hoard will be tested anew in the coming weeks.
"The Vatican and the previous pope were so skilled at using the media, they should not be surprised when the media looks back at them," said Diane Winston, a professor of media and religion at the University of Southern California.
Reporters in Rome have lived through an extremely compressed equivalent of an American presidential illness, funeral and vote to replace the president in less than a month. After any election of significance, here or abroad, the media reflexively examine the victor from every angle. When John Paul II was elected in 1978, he came virtually out of nowhere. There was no free press in Poland then, much less an Internet or round-the-clock cable news coverage, so media outlets had to rely on official Vatican biographies paired with seemingly random interviews of Polish citizens. It is a very different media world that greets Benedict.
"Never has the world media been more competitive," said Jack Shafer, media critic for the online magazine Slate. "Reporters are going to turn over every stone, track every lead and examine every navel."
In the last three decades a huge media apparatus has developed, and the speed of the coverage has increased.
"Because this pope is such a known quantity, the media is jumping much more quickly into the evaluative and critical," said John L. Allen Jr., the new pope's biographer and a reporter for National Catholic Reporter.
David Gibson, the author of "The Coming Catholic Church," said, "If the media is perceived as being too critical, it could raise echoes of anti-Catholicism, which is something that many people who are still alive remember as all too real."
William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said as much. "I am concerned that some non-Catholics have crossed the line from being voyeurs to meddlers," he said, pointing to secular coverage that has prescribed an agenda for the new pope. He added: "I am entirely tolerant of the high scrutiny the new pope has been given. He is a world leader and the leader of a nation-state."
Some components of the ritual pat-down that American political figures receive have already appeared, but most have approached the task gingerly.
"I don't know if deference is the right word, but it is a different story," said Mark Lukasiewicz, an executive producer at NBC News. "It has a political element, but there was no campaign. Still, we do have a well-documented, very deep record of his thoughts and actions on a number of controversial issues, including the sex-abuse scandals."
And Cardinal Ratzinger himself has raised questions about the role of the American media in the affairs of the church.
"I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower," he said in 2002, The Associated Press reported.
Mr. Shafer of Slate said that the Vatican was merely engaging in the modern media tactics of any large organization. "The Vatican is partaking of the star-making machinery as best it can to transform this man who was previously described as the pope's chief enforcer and transform him into the vicar of Christ," he said.
Others say that there are or should be limits to the coverage of the pontiff.
"I think there has been an acknowledgement of the difference between the pope and a candidate for political office," said R. Scott Appleby, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. "I am not saying that he has been given a pass, but some appropriate deference has been shown."
"Today there is a cult of celebrity around every public figure," he said. "I appreciate the largely symbolic reserve that the Vatican has shown. Some details do not belong in the public domain." He pointed out that the Vatican never confirmed that the previous pope had Parkinson's disease.
But when reporters were notified by e-mail that the pope had died and when bells were added to smoke as a signal that his successor had been chosen, the pattern of engagement had clearly been joined.
"As you saw during the conclave, when no information is available, the media will continue to say what they want to whether there is information available or not," said Alberto Melloni, a Vatican historian. "The media is not a partner is this process, but they are part of it."


Benoît XVI se veut un pape "disponible", attendu sur les dossiers de société

[vendredi 22 avril 2005 - 14h00]

CITE DU VATICAN (AFP) - Le pape Benoît XVI a placé vendredi son pontificat sous le signe de la "simplicité" et de la "disponibilité", mais le successeur de Jean Paul II est déjà attendu sur les dossiers de société qui opposent l'Eglise aux sociétés civiles occidentales alors que l'Espagne s'apprête à autoriser les mariages homosexuels.
Benoît XVI a reçu vendredi matin tous les cardinaux présents à Rome dans la salle Clémentine du palais apostolique, ceux qui l'ont élu en conclave mardi et ceux, âgés de plus de 80 ans, qui n'ont pas participé à l'élection.
Le pape Joseph Ratzinger leur a demandé de l'aider dans sa tâche par leur "proximité spirituelle", leurs "conseils éclairés" et leur "coopération concrète". Mais l'ancien préfet de la congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, réputé pour sa rigueur dogmatique, n'a pas développé les orientations qu'il entendait donner à son pontificat.
Mercredi, au lendemain de son élection, il avait souligné sa volonté de poursuivre l'oeuvre du concile Vatican II et son engagement oecuménique. "J'ai conscience des limites de ma personne et de mes capacités", a-t-il affirmé vendredi, ajoutant qu'il voulait accomplir sa mission "avec simplicité et disponibilité". Benoît XVI a rendu hommage à son prédécesseur Jean Paul II, évoquant "l'ultime messe" célébrée par le pape défunt durant son agonie. Une messe "culminant dans l'+amen+ d'une vie entièrement offerte pour le salut du monde", a-t-il souligné.
Le nouveau pape, qui avait à sa droite le cardinal Angelo Sodano, son secrétaire d'Etat après avoir été celui de Jean Paul II, a reçu l'hommage de chacun des cardinaux venus s'agenouiller devant leur nouveau chef spirituel.
Le souverain pontife doit rencontrer samedi tous les journalistes accrédités au Vatican (ils sont plusieurs milliers, accourus pour les obsèques de Jean Paul II puis pour l'élection de son successeur).
Dimanche matin, il présidera la messe d'inauguration de son pontificat sur la place Saint-Pierre et prononcera sa première homélie de pape devant plusieurs centaines de milliers de fidèles.
Ces deux rendez-vous sont particulièrement attendus, pour les références que Benoît XVI pourra éventuellement y faire aux questions qui agitent le monde.
Au lendemain de vote par les députés espagnols d'une loi autorisant les mariages homosexuels, c'est le cardinal colombien Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, président du Conseil pontifical pour la famille, qui a fustigé "une loi profondément injuste" et appelé les élus catholiques espagnols à la "désobéissance civile".
"Toutes les professions" qui auraient un lien avec l'application de la loi "doivent exercer la même objection de conscience demandée aux médecins et infirmières contre un crime comme l'avortement", a déclaré le haut prélat dans le Corriere della Sera. "Ceci n'est pas facultatif", a-t-il insisté. "Tous les chrétiens (...) doivent être prêts à payer le prix le plus élevé, incluant aussi la perte de l'emploi".
Lorsqu'il était encore Joseph Ratzinger, Benoît XVI avait condamné comme "destructive pour la famille" la légalisation des unions homosexuelles. Une position défendue par Jean Paul II et par tout le haut clergé de l'Eglise catholique.
L'opposition réaffirmée de l'Eglise au mariage homosexuel met au second plan l'annonce par le journal La Repubblica d'une avancée du dossier douloureux des divorcés-remariés, qui concerne des centaines de couples catholiques privés de la communion.
Le cardinal Ratzinger s'apprêtait à donner un avis favorable à la réintégration dans la communion des personnes qui ne seraient pas responsables de la rupture d'un premier mariage.
Par ailleurs, selon la Stampa un "document secret" sur les scandales et manquements aux règle de l'Eglise parmi le clergé aurait contribué de manière indirecte au choix du successeur de Jean Paul II.
Ce document aurait inspiré la méditation particulièrement dure du cardinal Ratzinger lors du Chemin de Croix du vendredi saint. Il y avait parlé de "souillures dans l'Eglise, et particulièrement parmi ceux qui, dans le sacerdoce, devraient lui appartenir totalement".

Good Wishes and Requests Flood the New Pope's E-Mail

VATICAN CITY, April 22 (AP) - Father George, of Suceava City, Romania, wrote simply "Habemus papam!" - Latin for, "We have a pope!"
Carmen, an employee at the University of Navarra, in Spain, told Pope Benedict XVI not to be afraid, and then asked for two favors: a prayer for her family and a rosary blessed by him, "if it's not too much trouble."
Shane, a 17-year-old from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, added a final thought to his e-mail: "P.S. When are you coming to Canada?"
They were just a few of 56,191 messages sent in the first 48 hours that Pope Benedict's Vatican e-mail address has been operational, the Vatican said Friday.
In English, the address is benedictxvi@vatican.va; in Italian, benedettoxvi@atican.va; in Spanish, benedictoxvi@vatican.va; in French, benoitxvi@vatican.va; in German, benediktxvi@vatican.va; and in Portuguese, bentoxvi@vatican.va.
Of the messages received so far, the bulk have been messages of congratulations written in English - 30,844 at last count. Italian well-wishers were next on the list with 12,621, followed by 6,024 messages in Spanish, 2,961 in German, Benedict's native tongue, 2,286 in Portuguese and 1,455 in French.
The Vatican released a handful of the messages on Friday - all positive and welcoming of Benedict's election Tuesday as the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church. It did not release any negative comments, and blacked out the senders' e-mail addresses and last names.
"I'm not so naïve as to think that you'll respond, much less read this, but I have to thank you for having accepted this fabulous job," Damien wrote in French.
Someone by the name of Kurt wrote from the Philippines that he hoped Pope Benedict would pray for his family - that his father gets out of a court case he is in, that his mother can focus on her job, "and that I may find the right girl who will love me and care for me and live my life with me."
Further, he said he hoped the girl's initials were "A.C.," adding, "I hope that you may show me signs that she's the one."

What Does British Press See in Pope? Just a German

The New York Times, April 22, 2005


LONDON, April 21 - It has been 60 years since World War II ended, and 30 or so since the fictional hotelier Basil Fawlty felt strangely compelled to goose-step around the dining room upon the arrival of some German guests. But Britain's obsession with Germany's role in the war, at least as expressed in its news media, still shows no signs of letting up.
Which is why headlines about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's selection as pope this week have been dominated by allusions to his wartime past.
"From Hitler Youth to Papa Ratzi," was the headline in the popular newspaper The Sun on Tuesday, while The Daily Express prominently made the point that the new pope, Benedict XVI, has gone by the nicknames not only of "God's Rottweiler," but also of "panzer cardinal."
Actually, claimed The Daily Mirror, which also put "Hitler Youth" in its headline, Benedict XVI finds the Rottweiler and panzer nicknames "amusing," along with a third, "Joe the rat."
In an article exploring the pope's conduct in wartime, The Mirror quoted Elizabeth Lohner, an 84-year-old woman from his hometown in Bavaria, as saying that contrary to the pope's contention that he had no choice but to enroll in the Hitler Youth, "it was possible to resist." Her own brother, she said, was a conscientious objector who was sent to Dachau for his beliefs.
In Germany, where British reporters were seen trawling the countryside apparently in an effort to find evidence of shady wartime activities by the new pope, people were not pleased at what they saw as further evidence of Britain's inability to let go of the Nazi era.
"It's disgraceful to reduce the German pope, on the day after his election, to a member of the Hitler Youth," said the popular newspaper Bild. "The British have done it. They are reporting on Benedict XVI with mockery and undisguised rage."
Meanwhile, a Bild columnist, Franz Josef Wagner, wrote an open letter to British tabloids, warning them that the devil "seems to have slipped into your newsroom" and that "your headlines on the new German pope stink of him, like sulfur and rotten eggs."
He added, "Anyone reading your British popular newspapers must have thought Hitler had been made pope."
Xenophobic and eager to pander to its readers' prejudices about foreigners, the British tabloids have a proud history of anti-German sentiment. Anti-French sentiment, too. The Germans might still be the Krauts or the Hun in tabloid-speak, but the French are and will forever be the Frogs. "Frogs Need a Good Kicking," The Daily Star reported on its front page in 1998, in an article about what it perceived as Gallic mismanagement of the World Cup soccer tournament that summer.
But it is the Germans, once Britain's mortal enemies, who come in for the worst of it. The most notorious example took place in 1996, when The Mirror, in another soccer-related article, treated its readers to an enormous front-page headline "Achtung! Surrender!" Meanwhile, Prince Harry, the younger son of the heir to the throne, was caught recently wearing a Nazi outfit to a fancy-dress party.
By now, many Germans are thoroughly sick of the whole thing. "If you want to learn to goose-step, go to Britain," the German foreign minister once complained. German students traveling in Britain regularly report that they have been ridiculed, spat at and called "Nazis" by random British people. The British government has intimated that the history curriculum could do with some tweaking, to round out the portrait of Germany taught to students.
"It is right that the Second World War and the crimes of the Nazi period are taught and understood," the British ambassador to Germany, Sir Peter Torry, said recently. "But British children should also learn about what German democracy has achieved since 1945."
The German ambassador to Britain, Thomas Matussek, has often spoken out about the media's seeming preoccupation with Nazism - "hardly a day goes by without a documentary or a film about the Nazi era," he once said - and the frequent "repetition of clichés and stereotypes" about Germany.
In Der Spiegel, Matthias Matussek, who is the ambassador's brother, wrote a stern article on the subject after some German schoolchildren were attacked in London.
"In Britain, the Germans have always been part of everyday life, as Nazi caricatures to be scorned at will," he wrote. "Sixty years after the end of the war, 10-year-old German children are hunted down in the parks of London for being 'Krauts.' "

Mark Landler contributed reporting from Germany for this article.



Il 24 aprile 2005, V Domenica di Pasqua, alle ore 10, sul sagrato della Basilica Vaticana, il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI presiederà la Celebrazione dell’Eucaristia per l’Inizio del Suo Ministero Petrino di Vescovo di Roma.
Concelebreranno con il Sommo Pontefice gli Em.mi Signori Cardinali.

* * *

La Chiesa che è in Roma e nelle varie parti del mondo è invitata a rivolgere a Dio filiale ringraziamento e fervente supplica per ottenere al nuovo Romano Pontefice, che sarà insignito del Pallio petrino e dell’Anello del Pescatore, copiosa grazia sul Suo Ministero per il bene di tutta la Chiesa.

* * *

Nel pomeriggio del giorno seguente, lunedì 25 aprile, alle ore 18.30, per esprimere il legame inseparabile della Chiesa di Roma con l’Apostolo delle Genti insieme al Pescatore di Galilea, il Santo Padre si recherà al sepolcro dell’Apostolo Paolo nella Basilica sulla Via Ostiense.

* * *

Coloro che, in conformità al Motu Proprio "Pontificalis Domus" compongono la Cappella Pontificia e desiderano prendere parte alla celebrazione, vorranno trovarsi domenica 24 alle ore 9.30 in piazza San Pietro e lunedì 25 alle ore 18 nella Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura per occupare il posto che verrà loro indicato.

Quanto all'abito, i partecipanti si regoleranno nel modo seguente:

- i Signori Cardinali, i Patriarchi, gli Arcivescovi e i Vescovi: sulla veste propria indosseranno il rocchetto e la mozzetta;
- gli Abati e i Religiosi: il proprio abito corale;
- i Prelati: il rocchetto e la mantelletta, o la cotta, sopra la veste paonazza con fascia paonazza, a seconda del loro grado;
- i Cappellani di Sua Santità: la cotta sopra la talare filettata con fascia paonazza.

Città del Vaticano, 21 aprile 2005.

Per mandato del Santo Padre

† Piero Marini
Arcivescovo tit. di Martirano
Maestro delle Celebrazioni Liturgiche Pontificie

Attaqué sur son conservatisme, Benoît XVI nuance son discours

LE MONDE | 21.04.05 | 15h45  •  Mis à jour le 21.04.05 | 15h45
Rome de notre envoyé spécial

Sous le cardinal Ratzinger perce Benoît XVI. Comme si l'élection au trône de Pierre avait transformé le grand commis de l'Eglise en une figure de "pasteur" qu'on ne lui connaissait pas. La mutation ne se fera pas en un jour. Benoît XVI n'a pas le charisme des foules de Jean Paul II, l'énergie de sa poignée de main et de sa parole.
Mais la première journée du nouveau pape, mercredi 20 avril, a révélé un style qui n'est déjà plus celui de l'intellectuel discret et timide qu'il était, derrière son bureau de l'ex-Saint-Office. Il a commencé à apprendre son métier de pape. Il est allé saluer ses anciens collaborateurs à la congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, puis, avec émotion, a ôté les scellés de l'appartement pontifical posés après le décès de Jean Paul II. Il s'est assis au bureau de son prédécesseur et a signé un document de son nouveau nom. Mais, avant d'occuper des lieux qui doivent être aménagés, il séjournera à la maison Sainte-Marthe. Dans l'après-midi, Benoît XVI a pris son premier bain de foule à la sortie de l'appartement qu'il habitait, Citta Leonina, près du Vatican. Il a embrassé des enfants, répondu aux salutations de la foule, incrédule de le voir là, avant de repartir à bord d'une Mercedes noire. Le sourire est franc, le geste cordial et ample. Est-ce l'homme qui a changé ou le regard posé sur lui ?
Le discours, lui, a changé. L'homélie que le nouveau pape a lue, en latin, lors de la messe de clôture du conclave, mercredi 20 à l'aube, était moins crispée que celle prononcée avant le conclave. Comme s'il voulait donner des gages, rassurer les progressistes qui s'interrogent sur sa fidélité au concile Vatican II, et les partisans du dialogue oecuménique qui se méfient de lui.
Le mystère de son élection si rapide est levé. Les premières indiscrétions ont révélé que le courant réformateur du conclave - très minoritaire et sans leader - s'est vite rallié au vote pro-Ratzinger. En revanche, la perplexité règne sur ses intentions. Faut-il continuer à voir en Benoît XVI l'homme d'une congélation de la "vérité" catholique, agressée par le monde moderne, ou l'avocat, qu'il fut mercredi d'"une Eglise plus courageuse, plus libre, plus jeune, qui regarde avec sérénité le passé et n'a pas peur du futur" ?
Benoît XVI n'a pas choisi le nom des papes du concile (Jean XXIII, Paul VI), mais cela ne veut pas dire qu'il soit un pape "antimoderniste". "Je veux affirmer avec force, a-t-il dit, la décisive volonté de poursuivre l'engagement de la réalisation du concile Vatican II, sur les traces de mes prédécesseurs et dans la fidèle continuité avec la tradition bimillénaire de l'Eglise."
Dans son homélie aux obsèques de Jean Paul II, celui qui n'était encore que le doyen du Sacré Collège n'avait pas fait une seule référence au concile Vatican II.
Mais quelle interprétation faire de cet événement d'il y a quarante ans ? Le concile, mais rien que le concile, disait le cardinal Ratzinger. Les progressistes répondaient : le concile, mais tout le concile !
Le nouveau pape ne reviendra jamais sur ses condamnations passées (de l'homosexualité à l'ordination des femmes), mais certains s'attendent à des assouplissements - en faveur des Eglises locales - sur le mode d'exercice du pouvoir pontifical et l'extrême centralisation du catholicisme.
Sur la relance du dialogue avec les autres confessions, Benoît XVI a aussi tenté de rassurer. Il veut marcher dans les pas de Jean Paul II. "Le nouveau pape s'engage, a-t-il dit, à oeuvrer sans relâche à reconstituer la pleine et visible unité de tous les fidèles du Christ. Telle est son ambition, le devoir urgent qui l'appelle. Il est conscient que les déclarations et les bons sentiments ne suffiront pas, car il faut des gestes concrets qui émeuvent les consciences. C'est la condition de tout progrès dans la voie de l'oecuménisme." Il a repris le thème, cher à Jean Paul II, de la "purification de la mémoire", seule capable d'affronter les désaccords historiques.
Mais quels "gestes concrets" ? L'archevêque de Canterbury (anglicans), Mgr Rowan Williams, a applaudi à son élection, de même que la Fédération luthérienne mondiale qui se souvient de l'accord historique que le cardinal Ratzinger avait permis de signer, en 1999, sur la "justification par la foi" qui, il y a quatre siècles, avait condamné Martin Luther. Mais pour les orthodoxes de Russie, son élection ne change rien au contentieux historique et théologique qui oppose Rome à Moscou. Les engagements pris par Benoît XVI demandent à être vérifiés chez un homme qui s'est toujours montré plus préoccupé par l'affirmation de la vérité catholique que par la réunification entre des Eglises qui bute sur l'"obstacle" (Paul VI) de la primauté de l'évêque de Rome.
Sa bonne volonté semble totale vis-à-vis des religions non-chrétiennes. Le cardinal Ratzinger a approuvé les initiatives de Jean Paul II dans le rapprochement avec le judaïsme et son élection suscite de la satisfaction dans les milieux juifs et en Israël. Mais l'affirmation de tous ses documents que Jésus-Christ est le "seul médiateur" entre Dieu et les hommes, les condamnations des théologiens qui ne le suivaient pas sur ce point, ne sont pas rassurantes pour ceux qui croient au dialogue du catholicisme avec l'islam ou les grandes traditions asiatiques.
C'est le point sur lequel le nouveau pape est resté le plus vague mercredi : "L'Eglise entend poursuivre avec les religions non-chrétiennes un dialogue ouvert et sincère. Je n'écarterai aucun effort pour poursuivre le dialogue prometteur engagé par mes prédécesseurs avec les divers courants de civilisation."

Henri Tincq
Article paru dans l'édition du 22.04.05

Bild répond au Sun: "les Anglais insultent le pape allemand"

[AFP jeudi 21 avril 2005 - 12h30]

Journaux allemands annonçant l'élection du cardinal Ratzinger mercredi 20 avril 2005
© AFP/DDP Oliver Lang
BERLIN (AFP) - "Les Anglais insultent le pape allemand", titrait jeudi en Une le quotidien populaire Bild, le plus vendu en Allemagne, en réponse à la couverture la veille du quotidien populaire britannique Sun qui avait mis l'accent sur l'appartenance aux Jeunesses hitlériennes du pape Benoît XVI.
"C'est une effronterie de réduire le pape allemand à un membre des Jeunesses hitlériennes le jour de son élection", clame Bild, également furieux des commentaires des autres quotidiens londoniens mercredi.
L'ancien préfet de la congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi était surnommé "le Rottweiler de Dieu" par le Daily Telegraph, ou "le Panzercardinal" par le Daily Mirror.
Le cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, devenu mardi Benoît XVI, n'a jamais fait secret de son passé pendant la guerre. Dans son autobiographie, il a expliqué qu'il avait été incorporé contre son gré au mouvement de jeunes créé par les nazis alors qu'il était au séminaire, avant de déserter l'armée à l'âge de 18 ans.
"Si vous avez lu les tabloïdes britanniques d'hier, vous avez vraiment pensé que Hitler était devenu pape", écrit Franz Josef Wagner dans l'éditorial de Bild. "Seul le diable aurait pu avoir cette idée. Ou vous, les Anglais, avec vos complexes. C'est comme au football, nous sommes toujours les nazis", ajoute-t-il.
"Nous ne haïssons pas en retour, poursuit le journaliste. Le pape, dans sa bonté, vous incluera dans ses prières, espèces d'idiots. Oui, vous, les journalistes du Sun et du Daily Mirror. Même les idiots vont au ciel".
Le Daily Mirror avait déjà provoqué un scandale lors de l'Euro-96 de football en jouant sur les clichés guerriers envers les Allemands, avant un match entre les deux équipes.





Mercoledì, 20 aprile 2005

Venerati Fratelli Cardinali,
carissimi Fratelli e Sorelle in Cristo,
voi tutti, uomini e donne di buona volontà!

1. Grazia e pace in abbondanza a tutti voi (cfr 1 Pt 1,2)! Nel mio animo convivono in queste ore due sentimenti contrastanti. Da una parte, un senso di inadeguatezza e di umano turbamento per la responsabilità che ieri mi è stata affidata, quale Successore dell’apostolo Pietro in questa Sede di Roma, nei confronti della Chiesa universale. Dall’altra parte, sento viva in me una profonda gratitudine a Dio, che - come ci fa cantare la liturgia - non abbandona il suo gregge, ma lo conduce attraverso i tempi, sotto la guida di coloro che Egli stesso ha eletto vicari del suo Figlio e ha costituito pastori (cfr Prefazio degli Apostoli I).
Carissimi, questa intima riconoscenza per un dono della divina misericordia prevale malgrado tutto nel mio cuore. E considero questo fatto una grazia speciale ottenutami dal mio venerato Predecessore, Giovanni Paolo II. Mi sembra di sentire la sua mano forte che stringe la mia; mi sembra di vedere i suoi occhi sorridenti e di ascoltare le sue parole, rivolte in questo momento particolarmente a me: "Non avere paura!".
La morte del Santo Padre Giovanni Paolo II, e i giorni che sono seguiti, sono stati per la Chiesa e per il mondo intero un tempo straordinario di grazia. Il grande dolore per la sua scomparsa e il senso di vuoto che ha lasciato in tutti sono stati temperati dall’azione di Cristo risorto, che si è manifestata durante lunghi giorni nella corale ondata di fede, d’amore e di spirituale solidarietà, culminata nelle sue solenni esequie.
Possiamo dirlo: i funerali di Giovanni Paolo II sono stati un’esperienza veramente straordinaria in cui si è in qualche modo percepita la potenza di Dio che, attraverso la sua Chiesa, vuole formare di tutti i popoli una grande famiglia, mediante la forza unificante della Verità e dell’Amore (cfr Lumen gentium, 1). Nell’ora della morte, conformato al suo Maestro e Signore, Giovanni Paolo II ha coronato il suo lungo e fecondo Pontificato, confermando nella fede il popolo cristiano, radunandolo intorno a sé e facendo sentire più unita l’intera famiglia umana.
Come non sentirsi sostenuti da questa testimonianza? Come non avvertire l’incoraggiamento che proviene da questo evento di grazia?

2. Sorprendendo ogni mia previsione, la Provvidenza divina, attraverso il voto dei venerati Padri Cardinali, mi ha chiamato a succedere a questo grande Papa. Ripenso in queste ore a quanto avvenne nella regione di Cesarea di Filippo, duemila anni or sono. Mi pare di udire le parole di Pietro: "Tu sei il Cristo, il Figlio del Dio vivente", e la solenne affermazione del Signore: "Tu sei Pietro e su questa pietra edificherò la mia Chiesa… A te darò le chiavi del regno dei cieli" (Mt 16, 15-19).
Tu sei il Cristo! Tu sei Pietro! Mi sembra di rivivere la stessa scena evangelica; io, Successore di Pietro, ripeto con trepidazione le parole trepidanti del pescatore di Galilea e riascolto con intima emozione la rassicurante promessa del divino Maestro. Se è enorme il peso della responsabilità che si riversa sulle mie povere spalle, è certamente smisurata la potenza divina su cui posso contare: "Tu sei Pietro e su questa pietra edificherò la mia Chiesa" (Mt 16,18). Scegliendomi quale Vescovo di Roma, il Signore mi ha voluto suo Vicario, mi ha voluto "pietra" su cui tutti possano poggiare con sicurezza. Chiedo a Lui di supplire alla povertà delle mie forze, perché sia coraggioso e fedele Pastore del suo gregge, sempre docile alle ispirazioni del suo Spirito.
Mi accingo a intraprendere questo peculiare ministero, il ministero ‘petrino’ al servizio della Chiesa universale, con umile abbandono nelle mani della Provvidenza di Dio. E’ in primo luogo a Cristo che rinnovo la mia totale e fiduciosa adesione: "In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum!".
A voi, Signori Cardinali, con animo grato per la fiducia dimostratami, chiedo di sostenermi con la preghiera e con la costante, attiva e sapiente collaborazione. Chiedo anche a tutti i Fratelli nell’Episcopato di essermi accanto con la preghiera e col consiglio, perché possa essere veramente il Servus servorum Dei. Come Pietro e gli altri Apostoli costituirono per volere del Signore un unico Collegio apostolico, allo stesso modo il Successore di Pietro e i Vescovi, successori degli Apostoli, - il Concilio lo ha con forza ribadito (cfr Lumen gentium, 22) -, devono essere tra loro strettamente uniti. Questa comunione collegiale, pur nella diversità dei ruoli e delle funzioni del Romano Pontefice e dei Vescovi, è a servizio della Chiesa e dell’unità nella fede, dalla quale dipende in notevole misura l’efficacia dell’azione evangelizzatrice nel mondo contemporaneo. Su questo sentiero, pertanto, sul quale hanno avanzato i miei venerati Predecessori, intendo proseguire anch’io, unicamente preoccupato di proclamare al mondo intero la presenza viva di Cristo.

3. Mi sta dinanzi, in particolare, la testimonianza del Papa Giovanni Paolo II. Egli lascia una Chiesa più coraggiosa, più libera, più giovane. Una Chiesa che, secondo il suo insegnamento ed esempio, guarda con serenità al passato e non ha paura del futuro. Col Grande Giubileo essa si è introdotta nel nuovo millennio recando nelle mani il Vangelo, applicato al mondo attuale attraverso l’autorevole rilettura del Concilio Vaticano II. Giustamente il Papa Giovanni Paolo II ha indicato il Concilio quale "bussola" con cui orientarsi nel vasto oceano del terzo millennio (cfr Lett. ap. Novo millennio ineunte, 57-58). Anche nel suo Testamento spirituale egli annotava: "Sono convinto che ancora a lungo sarà dato alle nuove generazioni di attingere alle ricchezze che questo Concilio del XX secolo ci ha elargito" (17.III.2000).
Anch’io, pertanto, nell’accingermi al servizio che è proprio del Successore di Pietro, voglio affermare con forza la decisa volontà di proseguire nell’impegno di attuazione del Concilio Vaticano II, sulla scia dei miei Predecessori e in fedele continuità con la bimillenaria tradizione della Chiesa. Ricorrerà proprio quest’anno il 40.mo anniversario della conclusione dell’Assise conciliare (8 dicembre 1965). Col passare degli anni, i Documenti conciliari non hanno perso di attualità; i loro insegnamenti si rivelano anzi particolarmente pertinenti in rapporto alle nuove istanze della Chiesa e della presente società globalizzata.

4. In maniera quanto mai significativa, il mio Pontificato inizia mentre la Chiesa sta vivendo lo speciale Anno dedicato all’Eucaristia. Come non cogliere in questa provvidenziale coincidenza un elemento che deve caratterizzare il ministero al quale sono stato chiamato? L’Eucaristia, cuore della vita cristiana e sorgente della missione evangelizzatrice della Chiesa, non può non costituire il centro permanente e la fonte del servizio petrino che mi è stato affidato.
L’Eucaristia rende costantemente presente il Cristo risorto, che a noi continua a donarsi, chiamandoci a partecipare alla mensa del suo Corpo e del suo Sangue. Dalla piena comunione con Lui scaturisce ogni altro elemento della vita della Chiesa, in primo luogo la comunione tra tutti i fedeli, l’impegno di annuncio e di testimonianza del Vangelo, l’ardore della carità verso tutti, specialmente verso i poveri e i piccoli.
In questo anno, pertanto, dovrà essere celebrata con particolare rilievo la Solennità del Corpus Domini. L’Eucaristia sarà poi al centro, in agosto, della Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù a Colonia e, in ottobre, dell’Assemblea Ordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi, che si svolgerà sul tema: "L’Eucaristia fonte e culmine della vita e della missione della Chiesa". A tutti chiedo di intensificare nei prossimi mesi l’amore e la devozione a Gesù Eucaristia e di esprimere in modo coraggioso e chiaro la fede nella presenza reale del Signore, soprattutto mediante la solennità e la correttezza delle celebrazioni.
Lo chiedo in modo speciale ai Sacerdoti, ai quali penso in questo momento con grande affetto. Il Sacerdozio ministeriale è nato nel Cenacolo, insieme con l’Eucaristia, come tante volte ha sottolineato il mio venerato Predecessore Giovanni Paolo II. "L’esistenza sacerdotale deve avere a speciale titolo una «forma eucaristica»", ha scritto nella sua ultima Lettera per il Giovedì Santo (n. 1). A tale scopo contribuisce innanzitutto la devota celebrazione quotidiana della santa Messa, centro della vita e della missione di ogni Sacerdote.

5. Alimentati e sostenuti dall’Eucaristia, i cattolici non possono non sentirsi stimolati a tendere a quella piena unità che Cristo ha ardentemente auspicato nel Cenacolo. Di questo supremo anelito del Maestro divino il Successore di Pietro sa di doversi fare carico in modo del tutto particolare. A lui infatti è stato affidato il compito di confermare i fratelli (cfr Lc 22,32).
Con piena consapevolezza, pertanto, all’inizio del suo ministero nella Chiesa di Roma che Pietro ha irrorato col suo sangue, l’attuale suo Successore si assume come impegno primario quello di lavorare senza risparmio di energie alla ricostituzione della piena e visibile unità di tutti i seguaci di Cristo. Questa è la sua ambizione, questo il suo impellente dovere. Egli è cosciente che per questo non bastano le manifestazioni di buoni sentimenti. Occorrono gesti concreti che entrino negli animi e smuovano le coscienze, sollecitando ciascuno a quella conversione interiore che è il presupposto di ogni progresso sulla via dell’ecumenismo.
Il dialogo teologico è necessario, l’approfondimento delle motivazioni storiche di scelte avvenute nel passato è pure indispensabile. Ma ciò che urge maggiormente è quella "purificazione della memoria", tante volte evocata da Giovanni Paolo II, che sola può disporre gli animi ad accogliere la piena verità di Cristo. E’ davanti a Lui, supremo Giudice di ogni essere vivente, che ciascuno di noi deve porsi, nella consapevolezza di dovere un giorno a Lui rendere conto di quanto ha fatto o non ha fatto nei confronti del grande bene della piena e visibile unità di tutti i suoi discepoli.
L’attuale Successore di Pietro si lascia interpellare in prima persona da questa domanda ed è disposto a fare quanto è in suo potere per promuovere la fondamentale causa dell’ecumenismo. Sulla scia dei suoi Predecessori, egli è pienamente determinato a coltivare ogni iniziativa che possa apparire opportuna per promuovere i contatti e l’intesa con i rappresentanti delle diverse Chiese e Comunità ecclesiali. Ad essi, anzi, invia anche in questa occasione il più cordiale saluto in Cristo, unico Signore di tutti.

6. Torno con la memoria, in questo momento, all’indimenticabile esperienza vissuta da noi tutti in occasione della morte e dei funerali del compianto Giovanni Paolo II. Attorno alle sue spoglie mortali, adagiate sulla nuda terra, si sono raccolti i Capi delle Nazioni, persone d’ogni ceto sociale, e specialmente giovani, in un indimenticabile abbraccio di affetto e di ammirazione. A lui ha guardato con fiducia il mondo intero. E’ sembrato a molti che quella intensa partecipazione, amplificata sino ai confini del pianeta dai mezzi di comunicazione sociale, fosse come una corale richiesta di aiuto rivolta al Papa da parte dell’odierna umanità che, turbata da incertezze e timori, si interroga sul suo futuro.
La Chiesa di oggi deve ravvivare in se stessa la consapevolezza del compito di riproporre al mondo la voce di Colui che ha detto: "Io sono la luce del mondo; chi segue me non camminerà nelle tenebre, ma avrà la luce della vita" (Gv 8,12). Nell’intraprendere il suo ministero il nuovo Papa sa che suo compito è di far risplendere davanti agli uomini e alle donne di oggi la luce di Cristo: non la propria luce, ma quella di Cristo.
Con questa consapevolezza mi rivolgo a tutti, anche a coloro che seguono altre religioni o che semplicemente cercano una risposta alle domande fondamentali dell’esistenza e ancora non l’hanno trovata. A tutti mi rivolgo con semplicità ed affetto, per assicurare che la Chiesa vuole continuare a tessere con loro un dialogo aperto e sincero, alla ricerca del vero bene dell’uomo e della società.
Invoco da Dio l’unità e la pace per la famiglia umana e dichiaro la disponibilità di tutti i cattolici a cooperare per un autentico sviluppo sociale, rispettoso della dignità d’ogni essere umano.
Non risparmierò sforzi e dedizione per proseguire il promettente dialogo avviato dai miei venerati Predecessori con le diverse civiltà, perché dalla reciproca comprensione scaturiscano le condizioni di un futuro migliore per tutti.
Penso in particolare ai giovani. A loro, interlocutori privilegiati del Papa Giovanni Paolo II, va il mio affettuoso abbraccio nell’attesa, se piacerà a Dio, di incontrarli a Colonia in occasione della prossima Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù. Con voi, cari giovani, futuro e speranza della Chiesa e dell’umanità, continuerò a dialogare, ascoltando le vostre attese nell’intento di aiutarvi a incontrare sempre più in profondità il Cristo vivente, l’eternamente giovane.

7. Mane nobiscum, Domine! Resta con noi Signore! Quest’invocazione, che forma il tema dominante della Lettera apostolica di Giovanni Paolo II per l’Anno dell’Eucaristia, è la preghiera che sgorga spontanea dal mio cuore, mentre mi accingo ad iniziare il ministero a cui Cristo mi ha chiamato. Come Pietro, anch’io rinnovo a Lui la mia incondizionata promessa di fedeltà. Lui solo intendo servire dedicandomi totalmente al servizio della sua Chiesa.
A sostegno di questa promessa invoco la materna intercessione di Maria Santissima, nelle cui mani pongo il presente e il futuro della mia persona e della Chiesa. Intervengano con la loro intercessione anche i Santi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo e tutti i Santi.
Con questi sentimenti imparto a voi, venerati Fratelli Cardinali, a coloro che partecipano a questo rito e a quanti sono in ascolto mediante la televisione e la radio una speciale, affettuosa Benedizione.

New Papacy Stirs Some Concern in the Arab Middle East

April 21, 2005


AMMAN, Jordan, April 20 - The elevation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy as Pope Benedict XVI is stirring some uneasiness in the Arab Middle East, where many remember Pope John Paul II as a champion of some of their causes and fear that his successor will not be as sympathetic.
Pope Benedict's conservative religious teachings are not likely to have a striking impact on Arab daily life. In a region with 300 million Muslims, only about 15 million Arabs are Christians, and of those only a small fraction are Catholics or have ties to the Vatican. Rather, it is the pope's political leanings and his approach to Islam that are of greatest concern here.
"The church decided to close inward, and to focus on its European roots" in choosing Cardinal Ratzinger, said Hussein al-Shobokshi, a Saudi columnist for the pan-Arab daily Al Sharq al Awsat. "The neocons should be happy with this election. He is someone they can do business with."
Many Arabs felt they could do business with Pope John Paul II. During his 26-year reign, John Paul expressed sympathy for Palestinian suffering and opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq. He spoke against the West's materialism while speaking well of the poor, talk that still resonates in many Arab casbahs.
He engaged Muslims and called for interfaith dialogue, working to dispel talk of a clash of civilizations. Many here came to see him as a counterbalance to America, even though he had warm relations with the United States and Israel.
"The Arabs must appreciate what the pope did for them," said the Rev. Riad Hijazin, parish priest of the Latin Convent here in Madaba. "He fought for Arab rights more vigorously than many of the Arabs did."
"The Vatican's point of view is important," said Abdel Monem Said, director of Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "It has moral standing. The pope's opinion on Palestinian issues and Jerusalem is very important, so Arabs will be looking closely at the views the new pope expresses."
Some of the views he expressed as a cardinal have raised doubts, which he seemed to address in his first message, at Mass on Wednesday with a promise to "make every effort and dedicate myself to pursuing the promising dialogue that my predecessors began with various civilizations."
Last August he told Le Figaro that Turkey should not be admitted to the European Union, because "Europe is a cultural continent, not a geographical one."
"The roots that have formed it," he said, are those of Christianity.
Vatican officials said at the time that the church was neutral on the issue, and the cardinal said he had been expressing a personal view. As a cardinal, Pope Benedict also pointed to growing competition between Islam and Christianity for new adherents, especially in the developing world.
"The rebirth of Islam is due in part to the new material richness acquired by Muslim countries," he wrote in an essay, "but mainly to the knowledge that it is able to offer a valid spiritual foundation for the life of its people, a foundation that seems to have escaped from the hands of old Europe."
Mustafa Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at Jordan University, said, "This competition will continue, though it will be civil." But Mr. Shobokshi, the columnist, said he worried that focusing on the competition "may serve those trying to sell the idea of a clash of civilizations."

Some Arab political analysts expect the selection of Cardinal Ratzinger as pope to mean a return to previous patterns of relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Arab world.

"The late pope was an exception," said Muhammad al-Momany, a professor of political science at Yarmouk University in Jordan. "Compare Benedict to the late pope, and you can expect him to be further to the right. He may not be as outgoing or be pushing reconciliation as aggressively as the former pope, but I don't expect a radical turn in the church."
Ultimately, Cardinal Ratzinger's ascension will have the biggest impact on towns like Madaba, a onetime Christian stronghold south of Amman that has grown predominantly Muslim in recent decades. Today it is a microcosm of the complex dynamics facing the Arab world and its relations with Christianity.
"There are two cultures here: an increasingly conservative Muslim one and a more open Christian one," said Sami al-Nahas, a historian who has chronicled the changes in the city. "Increasingly those two aren't mixing."
Five years ago Pope John Paul II visited this biblical town, known for its mosaics and as the spot from which Moses is said to have sighted the Promised Land. In his wake, many residents say, the pope stretched bridges between this city's shrinking Christian community and its rapidly growing Muslim one. A Muslim-Christian dialogue continues, and local figures have worked to dispel the tensions between Christians and some extremist groups.
But much of the work has slowed in recent months, and Christian residents here now worry that they will be forgotten by the church at a critical moment.
"The pope put us under the spotlight, but the changes we needed have not happened," Mr. Nahas said. "He must pay much more attention to the East, because we are the ones most affected by the current political conditions."
Professor Momany sees that as an opportunity as much as a problem. "The Middle East is the best place to reach out to other faiths," he said. "It has the three main religions and is home to their civilizations, and it has tension. So the best place to build his bridges is here."
Katherine Zoepf contributed reporting from Damascus for this article, and Mona El Naggar from Cairo.

Fogarty: Pope Benedict XVI Likely to Stress Orthodoxy

Gerald Fogarty, a Jesuit priest and the William R. Kenan Jr. professor of religious studies and history at the University of Virginia, says Pope Benedict XVI is a member of the "old school" that "looks at Europe as a Christian continent." For example, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the new pontiff spoke out against the admission of Turkey to the European Union because it is predominantly Muslim. Still, Fogarty says, he expects the Pope to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and continue to reach out to other faiths.

Fogarty was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman, consulting editor of cfr.org, on April 20, 2005.
Other Interviews

Do you expect Benedict XVI to follow the path of his predecessor, John Paul II, and travel the world, trying to win hearts with his charisma?

I would expect him to do some traveling. He certainly does not have the same charismatic presence as John Paul II, but I would expect him to continue his diplomatic endeavors. He may do it more by sending people out, rather than going himself. For one thing, he's 78 years old.

Which diplomatic endeavors?

Under John Paul II, diplomatic work increased two-fold. The Vatican has relations with some 170 nations now, and there were only 80-some nations that had diplomatic relations with the Vatican when John Paul II was elected in 1978.

From the viewpoint of the United States, there are advantages and disadvantages. [During the hostage crisis in] Iran, the bodies [of U.S. servicemen killed in a failed April 1980 rescue attempt] were gotten out, if you recall, through the Swiss and the Vatican representative to Iran. Even today, there is a Vatican nuncio [ambassador] to Iran--and Iraq, too, by the way. So the means of communication the United States can use could be though the Vatican, because the Vatican maintains diplomatic contacts even with nations with which the United States doesn't have diplomatic relations.

What about the Vatican's relations with other religions?

People will point to Ratzinger's [2000] letter on Dominus Jesus [a 2000 doctrinal statement approved by John Paul II on Jesus' role in salvation]. It did not really cut down respect for other religions [as has been claimed by some], but what it does do is remind theologians, especially those dealing with non-Christian religions in ecumenical dialogues, that Jesus is the one road to salvation. That doesn't mean everybody has to be a Christian, but, nevertheless, there was a trend starting to develop which he called the "despotism of relativism." I know what he's driving at, to deal with a view that "one religion is as good as another." He believes that a Christian or Catholic theologian, when in dialogue, still has to see Christ as the unique way to salvation. But that does not mean people have to be Christian in order to be saved, and that was a distinction that was missed by critics. In fact, I've seen that letter interpreted [to mean] you have to be a Catholic in order to be saved. Some of his stances have been misunderstood.

His job as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made him a guardian of doctrine. But in his new job, he has a much broader mandate.

Yes, that's true. Before, his job was to ensure orthodoxy. But there is a dispute over the particular theological methods that one uses. For example, a fellow German, Cardinal [Walter] Casper, disagreed violently with Ratzinger's position that the church evolved from the universal church down to the local church. Casper was arguing the universal church emerges from the local churches.

A story in the New York Times quotes a number of leaders of major Jewish organizations who are very enthusiastic about Ratzinger.

When the question is raised, "Is Pope Benedict XVI going to be open toward non-Christians, as well as [relations] between Christians," I would fully expect him to continue that.

Pope John Paul II made a big effort to get aid and support to people in the third world. Do you expect the new pope to continue this?

I think he has to. While the Church in Europe is declining, the Church in Latin America is being siphoned off by evangelical [denominations]; [worshippers are] leaving the Catholic Church. In Europe, they're leaving Christianity altogether.

What about relations with the Muslim world?

I don't know exactly where [Pope Benedict] would go with that, because we have the controversy over his opposition to Turkey's membership in the European Union, because Turkey is predominately Muslim. That did not go over well in Turkey. [The Pope] is better traveled than most of us, but nevertheless, he's not well traveled in terms of understanding the Muslim world, and I would say that that is paramount today to understanding the Palestinian question and to understanding Israel. This is a crucial issue, and it gets into diplomacy as well, in trying to mediate [diplomatic disputes].

Exactly where [Benedict XVI] stands on Islam, I don't know. I don't think anybody [has a clear sense of his views], except for the statement he made about Turkey. I can understand, in a way, where he's coming from; he is still old school, and looks at Europe as a Christian continent.

That's the view of many in Europe.

Yes, and there is an increasing Muslim population in Europe. Europeans, in general, still think of Europe as being culturally Christian, not that anybody necessarily believes it. There was a report that the weekly mass attendance in France was 12 percent. I don't think it's anywhere near that; it's much lower.

How important are relations between the Vatican and the United States?

Diplomatic relations were established under John Paul II, only 21 years ago in January 1984. [President] Reagan thought it would be one way of muzzling the [U.S. Catholic] bishops after their

pastoral letter in 1983 on the challenge of peace. Nevertheless, John Paul II had problems with what he thought was the materialism of the United States, and he never really warmed up to the United States. A lot of his views were shaped from his visits to the United States as a Polish cardinal; he visited Polish parishes and got complaints from Polish pastors about their treatment by the Irish hierarchy [of the U.S. church].

But the Pope was very popular in the United States during his visits here. He drew huge crowds.

Yes, but that was true in a lot of places [he visited]. When [commentators] talk about his appeal to youth, I say we have to wait and see what his appeal really was, because a lot of youth are going to go out to see anybody who's famous. But are they listening to the message? There's a difference between the singer and the song. They like the singer, but do they like the song?

What do you think Benedict's priorities will be?

I think his priorities are going to be orthodoxy, according to his own theological view. I do not expect there to be a change; there's still going to be a centralized papacy. He is talking about collegiality, but I don't think he quite goes along with it. I think there's not going to be any discussion of things like women's ordination, but that would have been the case no matter who was elected Pope.

Or married priests?

Those are two separate things. Unmarried clergy--that's simply a discipline in the Latin rite alone; the other rites of the Catholic Church have a married clergy. But whether he changes that or not--it could be changed by fiat--there's no doctrine involved. On women's ordination, a number of theologians maintain that there is doctrine involved. There's the fact of the long-standing tradition against it, and also, by the way, the fact that the Eastern Orthodox Church simply would not tolerate it. And it's rather important that we [the Catholic Church] keep up contact and relations with the Orthodox Church. The big one, the holdout, is the Russian Orthodox [Church]. It remains to be seen whether Ratzinger can pull that off. John Paul II could not; he never managed to get a meeting with [Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch] Alexis II.

Some Catholics were disappointed when he was elected. Why is that?

Because he symbolized very much the one side of the ideological split within the Church internationally, and certainly in the United States. He symbolizes the conservative reaction, and I stress the difference between doctrine and theology. He seemed to represent a particular school of theology that was quite closed to development, dialogue, and so forth. That's why I think there was a massive groan among some people when his name was announced.

Did you groan?

Yep. I am a teacher, but also a priest. When I preach on Sundays, when I get attacked, it's from the left and the right, simultaneously. I'm in the extreme center.

New Pope's Views on Turkey/EU Stir Unease in Ankara

Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:49 AM BST

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish newspapers said on Wednesday that the new pope's opposition to Ankara joining the European Union could raise fresh obstacles to its membership.
Joseph Ratzinger, elected pope on Tuesday, has said Muslim but secular Turkey should seek its future in an association of Islamic nations rather than the EU, which has Christian roots.
In an interview last year for France's Le Figaro Magazine, Ratzinger, then doctrinal head of the Roman Catholic Church, said Turkey had always been "in permanent contrast to Europe" and that linking it to Europe would be a mistake.
"The new pope is against Turkey," said the liberal daily Radikal in a headline.
The centrist Milliyet described Ratzinger as "one of the fathers of the concept for offering Turkey a privileged partnership" instead of EU membership.
German and French conservatives also favor "a privileged partnership" for Turkey falling well short of full membership. Ankara, which is due to start entry talks with the EU on Oct. 3, says it is interested only in membership.
"It would be bad news if Cardinal Ratzinger continues to hold his views as Pope Benedict XVI," said commentator Selcuk Gultasli in the pro-government Zaman daily.
"At a time of rising opposition against Turkey's EU membership in countries like France, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands, the Vatican joining this opposition would send a wrong message not only to Turks but also to Muslims."
"Undoubtedly, the EU is a secular union ... but despite this secularity the Vatican's influence should not be underestimated," he added.

Jewish Groups Mostly Praise Pope as a Partner

The New York Times, April 20, 2005


Despite his wartime membership in the Hitler Youth movement, the German now known as Pope Benedict XVI won strong praise from Jewish leaders yesterday for his role in helping Pope John Paul II mend fences between Catholics and Jews.
"I view him as our most serious partner in the Catholic Church, and he has been for the last 26 years," said Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, which has led the fight for reparations for Holocaust survivors as well as the Jewish community's dialogue with the Vatican.
As head of the Vatican office that enforced church doctrine under John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a leading force behind the Vatican's recognition of Israel in 1993 and John Paul II's atonement at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2000, Rabbi Singer said.
"I believe that he is the man who created the theological underpinnings for the good relations between Catholics and Jews during the last papacy," Rabbi Singer said. "He writes what's kosher and what's not kosher for Catholics. He said, 'Not only is it kosher to like Jews, but it's kosher to like the state of Israel.' "
In his memoirs, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote of being forced into the Nazi youth movement when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory, and of being drafted into the German Army in 1943.
"He's never denied the past, never hid it," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "His whole life has been atonement for those few years. His whole life is an open book of sensitivity against bigotry and anti-Semitism."
Mr. Foxman cited a column that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote for L'Osservatore Romano in 2000 attacking Christian complicity in the Holocaust. "It cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians," the cardinal wrote.
Mr. Foxman said that as a European of the World War II generation, Cardinal Ratzinger would probably be more sensitive to Jewish concerns than many other cardinals who were on the short list for the papacy. Many others expressed similar thoughts.
"This pope, considering his historical experience, will be especially committed to an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism," Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, said in a statement.
Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, praised Cardinal Ratzinger's elevation as "an obvious confirmation of the ideological orientation of the previous papacy."
"I don't think there's one single issue on which the new pope will depart from the previous pope," Rabbi Rosen said, "and that includes a strong commitment to Catholic-Jewish relations."
Not surprisingly, more liberal Jews were less impressed with Cardinal Ratzinger, who was the force behind a 2000 church document, "Dominus Jesus," that called for new Catholic evangelization and argued that beliefs other than Christianity were lesser searches for truth.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of the progressive Jewish magazine Tikkun, wrote yesterday on the magazine's Web site that the cardinal's criticism of other religions "is a slippery slope toward anti-Semitism and a return to the chauvinistic and triumphalist views that led the church, when it had the power to do so, to develop its infamous crusades and inquisitions."

Greg Myre contributed reporting from Jerusalem for this article.

Un pape romain…

Il aura fallut moins de vingt-six heures au conclave pour désigner le successeur de Jean-Paul II. Le nouveau Pontife n’est autre que le doyen du collège des cardinaux, un ami des plus proches du Saint Père défunt. Les vaticanistes qui prévoyaient un conclave court, élisant un pape italiene et de transition ne se sont pas vraiment trompés. La durée de la réunion des cardinaux dépasse tous les records, le premier tour ayant eu lieu lundi peu après leur « réclusion », un consensus s’étant dégagé après trois tours supplémentaire. L’âge de l’ancien cardinal Josef Ratzinger, 78 ans, ne permet pas d’envisager un règne à l’image de celui de Jean-Paul II, le troisième plus long de l’histoire de la papauté. Enfin, si Benoît XVI n’est pas à proprement parlé italien, il n’en est pas moins un romain, prélat de curie plutôt que pasteur. Toutefois, à l’image du pape dont il prend le nom, il est un brillant théologien, ancien préfet de la sacrée congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi, dont le conservatisme apparent laisse augurer un vent de réforme insoupçonnée après une décennie de conservatisme du Pontife polonais mourrant. Pape de transition, Benoît XVI sera donc plus à l’image de ce « Jean XXIV » que d’aucun souhaitait que d’un « Jean-Paul III ». S’il ne nourrit encore pas de vélléités d’un nouveau concile, il ne manquera pas de surprendre, tant l’attente de mouvement est importante…

Monseigneur Minnerath : « Il va surprendre »

Le Bien Public 20 avril 2005


Hier, à 17 h 50, à l'anonce de l'élection du cardinal allemand Joseph Ratzinger, Mgr Minnerath, archevêque de Dijon, qui le connaît depuis 20 ans, ne pouvait cacher sa joie.

L E Bien public-les Dépêches. - Monseigneur Minnerath, quel est votre sentiment suite à l'élection de Benoît XVI, un homme que vous connaissez bien ?

Monseigneur Roland Minnerath - Je n'osais pas y croire, je suis très ému. Nous étions tous en réunion à l'archevêché, et nous avons suivi cet événement à la télévision. Quand j'ai vu que c'était Joseph Ratzinger qui a été choisi par les cardinaux, j'ai jubilé : j'ai travaillé avec lui pendant 20 ans. Il a été élu parce que c'est lui, et non pas de par sa nationalité ou son statut de doyen du Sacré Collège.

BP-LD. - Vous connaissez bien Benoît XVI. Quel genre d'homme est-il ?

Mgr R.M. - C'est quelqu'un d'une grande simplicité, très humble, un homme de devoir. Ses premiers mots ne m'ont pas surpris : « l'humble ouvrier dans la vigne du Seigneur ». Cette phrase, ce n'est pas de la littérature, il la pense vraiment ! Autrement, il a été professeur, et ça se ressent : il aime rechercher, aller au fond des choses. C'est un théologien hors pair. Il était déjà expert du cardinal Frinks lors du concile Vatican II. Ensuite, il a été pendant 25 ans le préfet de la congrégation pour la doctrine de la Foi. Mais il n'a rien d'un doctrinaire. C'est un homme libre, capable de parler avec tous. Il sera très fort dans les discussions pour les idées. Inutile de crier au loup, avec lui, les idées « progressistes » ne seront pas freinées.

BP-LD. - Il est Allemand, est-ce important ?

Mgr R.M. - C'est sûr, ça n'aura pas le même impact que lors de l'élection de Jean-Paul II, mais il ne faut pas comparer. Adolescent, Benoît XVI a connu le nazisme, et il a surtout vécu l'après-guerre, la reconstruction, la mise à l'écart des autres nations. Il a assumé cette histoire très lourde. C'est un homme très respecté en Allemagne. Il n'a jamais été dénigré dans son pays par les médias.

BP-LD. - Quel sera le thème directeur de son pontificat ?

Mgr R.M. - La vérité, sans aucun doute. C'est son grand sujet actuel. La vérité est objective, il faut la rechercher. C'est ce qu'il fait déjà, et qu'il fera sûrement, d'autant que nous vivons dans un monde où le relativisme est roi, où tout se vaut. Alors qu'il faut bien un jour être confronté à quelque chose qui nous dépasse. Son pontificat s'inscrira dans la lignée de celui de son prédécesseur, il ne faut pas s'attendre à une rupture.
BP-LD. - L'Allemagne, c'est aussi la terre du protestantisme, un atout dans le dialogue interreligieux cher à Jean-Paul II ?

Mgr R.M. - Oui, et un véritable rapprochement est possible avec les églises Luthériennes, qui sont déjà très proches de l'Eglise Catholique. C'est d'ailleurs lui qui fut la cheville ouvrière du texte d'union sur la justification par la Foi. La justification par la Foi, qui est à l'origine du schisme avec Luther. Pour les autres églises protestantes, c'est un plus : elles savent à qui elles ont affaire, elles savent que le pape connaît bien leur dossier.

BP-LD. - Benoît XVI a-t-il le charisme de son prédécesseur ?

Mgr R.M. - Là encore, il ne faut pas entrer dans le jeu des comparaisons. Benoît XVI est un doux, quelqu'un qui touche. Ce qui ne veut pas dire qu'il est passif. Il parle au cœur des hommes, avec simplicité. Mais l'accueil extraordinaire qui lui a été réservé témoigne qu'il peut toucher les foules. A mon avis, son pontificat va nous surprendre, à l'image de celui de Jean XXIII, qui ne payait pas de mine aux yeux des observateurs, mais qui a tout de même lancé le concile Vatican II.

BP-LD. - Les prochaines JMJ auront lieu à Cologne, ça va être de la folie ?

Mgr R.M. - Oui, c'est certain. Ca va être un moment jubilatoire. J'y serai, puisqu'il était déjà prévu que je prêche deux catéchèses, une en français, une en allemand. Ca va être tout simplement extraordinaire : un pape allemand en Allemagne, imaginez !

BP-LD. - Pourquoi avoir choisi le prénom de Benoît ?

Mgr R.M. - Je n'en sais rien. J'avais l'intuition que s'il était élu, il choisirait celui-là. Ensuite, il peut y avoir plusieurs raisons, mais ce sont des hypothèses. Saint Benoît, c'est le saint patron de l'Europe, c'est aussi la règle bénédictine. Et les deux Benoît précédents étaient des réformateurs, alors. Nous verrons. Ce qui est sûr, c'est qu'il va très vite trouver ses marques.

BP-LD. - Quel regard portez-vous sur le conclave et l'esprit dans lequel il s'est déroulé ?

Mgr R.M. - Le conclave a été propre. Pas de politique, pas de rivalités entre les cardinaux, quoi qu'en disent les médias. Au vu de sa rapidité, j'ai la certitude que c'est le choix du cœur et de l'unité qui a été retenu par les cardinaux. Il n'y a pas eu de trafic d'influence. Il faut comprendre que l'élection d'un pape se fait selon des critères propres à l'Eglise, avec des enjeux et un fonctionnement qui n'ont rien à voir avec des élections au suffrage universel.

BP-LD. - Allez vous faire pression pour canoniser la bienheureuse Thérèse de la Trinité ?

Mgr R.M. - Non, ce n'est pas possible : je ne suis pas en charge du dossier. Si les Carmélites me saisissent, pourquoi pas ? je m'en occuperai, mais il n'est pas question de faire pression ! Une canonisation n'est pas quelque chose de futile.

BP-LD. - Qu'allez-vous faire pour célébrer ce nouveau pape dans votre diocèse ?

Mgr R.M. - Il est trop tôt pour annoncer quoi que ce soit. Nous célébrerons l'évènement, c'est certain, mais quand et comment, je ne peux pas encore le dire. La nuit porte conseil. De même, je ne peux pas dire si je me rendrai à Rome pour la messe d'intronisation. La nuit porte conseil, nous verrons demain !

Propos recueillis par Eric CHAZERANS


Le cardinal allemand Josef Ratzinger a été élu pape

LEMONDE.FR | 19.04.05 | 18h21 • Mis à jour le 19.04.05 | 21h00

Le cardinal allemand Josef Ratzinger, 78 ans, a été élu pape, mardi 19 avril. Il règnera sous le nom de Benoît XVI. Préfet de la congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi depuis 1981, il était devenu la figure emblématique du conservatisme doctrinal pendant le pontificat de Jean Paul II.
Apparu souriant sur le balcon de la basilique Saint-Pierre, le pape a été applaudi et acclamé par une foule de quelque 100 000 fidèles en liesse, qu'il a remerciés en les saluant avec les mains jointes levées au-dessus de la tête, avant de donner la bénédiction Urbi et Orbi (à la ville et au monde). La messe d'inauguration de son pontificat aura lieu le dimanche 24 avril.
Josef Ratzinger a été élu mardi au soir du deuxième jour du conclave, par les 115 cardinaux réunis dans la chapelle Sixtine au Vatican depuis lundi soir. Son élection a été d'abord annoncée par une fumée blanche sortie de la cheminée de la Sixtine, puis confirmée par les cloches du Vatican.
La forte personnalité du doyen des cardinaux avait dominé la période préparatoire précédant le conclave, marquée par 12 congrégations générales. Dernier prélat à prendre la parole en public avant l'ouverture du conclave, lundi matin lors de la messe pour "l'élection du pontife romain", Mgr Ratzinger avait prononcé un vigoureux plaidoyer en faveur d'un pape défenseur des valeurs traditionnelles de l'Eglise. Dénonçant la "dictature du relativisme", celui qui fut le gardien de l'orthodoxie pendant vingt-quatre années n'a pas évoqué les thèmes présentés par d'autres "princes de l'Eglise" comme les grands défis que devra relever le successeur de Jean Paul II : la morale sexuelle, les relations avec l'islam, les rapports à la science ou la réforme de l'Eglise.
Il était présenté comme le mieux placé pour succéder à Jean Paul II, dont il était proche. Pour succéder au Polonais Karol Wojtyla, il a dû recueillir au moins les deux tiers des voix des 115 cardinaux électeurs venus de 52 pays.
Il aura la lourde tâche de succéder à Jean Paul II, le premier pape dont les obsèques, le 8 avril, ont fait accourir au Vatican la plupart des dirigeants de la planète, des représentants de toutes les grandes religions, ainsi que des centaines de milliers de fidèles.


L'extraordinaire charisme de Jean Paul II a masqué la fragilité de l'Eglise catholique dans un monde en mutation. Son successeur sera confronté à des enjeux redoutables liés à la chute des vocations, à la concurrence des autres religions et à l'évolution des mœurs.
Malgré les apparences, l'Eglise catholique est aujourd'hui plus faible qu'au début du pontificat de Jean Paul II il y a vingt-six ans : 17% de la population mondiale se réclame du catholicisme (17,75% en 1978) et le nombre de baptisés croît désormais moins vite que celui des naissances.
Aujourd'hui, les trois quarts des catholiques se trouvent hors d'Europe, le continent de son expansion initiale, où son influence est en perte de vitesse. La vitalité du catholicisme en Asie et en Afrique ne permet plus de compenser la chute des vocations dans le Vieux Continent autrefois missionnaire : on comptait 416 329 prêtres en 1978, ils n'étaient plus que 405 450 en 2003.
Dans le domaine du dialogue avec les autres confessions chrétiennes (œcuménisme), le nouveau pape hérite aussi d'un dossier embourbé : depuis le retour à la liberté religieuse dans l'ancien empire soviétique, les catholiques ont souvent été accusés de prosélytisme par les Eglises orthodoxes d'Europe centrale. Avec les protestants, l'opposition demeure sur la question de la primauté du pape.
Par ailleurs, l'Eglise n'échappe pas aux durcissements identitaires que connaissent toutes les religions. Une bonne partie du clergé et de nombreux fidèles, notamment dans les continents confrontés à la concurrence religieuse, restent attachés à ce qui fait sa spécificité : rigueur sur le plan des mœurs, prêtrise réservée aux hommes célibataires, importance donnée aux rituels.
Le nouveau pape pourrait décider d'engager rapidement la procédure de béatification de son prédécesseur, répondant à une demande qui s'est manifestée dès le jour des obsèques parmi certains courants de l'Eglise.
Avec AFP et Reuter

Première allocution du Pape au balcon du Vatican

Voici la première allocution du nouveau pape Benoît XVI, à peine élu à la tête de l'Église catholique. Celui qui était jusqu'alors le cardinal Joseph Ratzinger s'est exprimé en italien.

«Chers frères et soeurs, après le grand pape Jean-Paul II, les cardinaux m'ont élu, un ouvrier simple, humble dans le vignoble du Seigneur. Je suis réconforté par le fait que le Seigneur sait comment travailler et agir même avec des outils insuffisants. Et par-dessus tout, je m'en remets à vos prières. Avec la joie du Seigneur ressuscité, la confiance en son aide constante, nous irons de l'avant. Le Seigneur nous aidera et Marie la très Sainte Mère de Dieu sera à nos côtés. Merci.»

Habemus Papam

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
habemus Papam:
Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Josephum
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger
qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI
Martedì, 19.04.2005 N. 0228
Pubblicazione: Immediata
Questa sera, avvenuta l’elezione del nuovo Pontefice, il Card. Joseph Ratzinger, che ha assunto il nome di Benedetto XVI, il Direttore della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, Dr. Joaquín Navarro-Valls, ha rilasciato ai giornalisti la seguente dichiarazione:
Terminato il conclave, il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI ha deciso di cenare questa sera con tutti i cardinali nella Domus Sanctae Marthae, dove riposerà questa notte.
Domani mattina, alle ore 9, il Papa presiederà la Concelebrazione Eucaristica con i Cardinali nella Cappella Sistina e terrà l’omelia, in lingua latina.
La Messa per la solenne inaugurazione del Pontificato si celebrerà a San Pietro domenica
24 aprile, alle ore 10.


Les cardinaux en conclave pour élire le nouveau pape

LE VATICAN Cent quinze cardinaux électeurs entameront cet après-midi dans la chapelle Sixtine la série de votes destinés à choisir le 265e souverain pontife de l'histoire

[Le Figaro, 18 avril 2005]

# Tout est prêt au Vatican,
des urnes à la cheminée, de la liturgie au logement des cardinaux, pour le premier conclave du troisième millénaire. Le temps du deuil achevé, tous les yeux sont désormais tournés vers la chapelle Sixtine, où il débutera cet après-midi. Samedi, l'anneau du Pêcheur, la bague portée par Jean-Paul II, a été détruit, marquant symboliquement la fin de son pontificat. Dans la soirée a eu lieu la dernière messe des novendiales, la période de deuil de neuf jours qui a commencé avec les obsèques de Jean-Paul II, le 8 avril. Elle a été présidée par le cardinal chilien Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, qui sera chargé d'annoncer au monde l'élection du nouveau chef de l'Église catholique en prononçant la formule latine «habemus papam».
Avant de s'enfermer dans la chapelle Sixtine, les 115 cardinaux électeurs prononceront le serment prévu par le rituel des conclaves. L'engagement à conserver le secret «sur tout ce qui de quelque manière se rapporterait à l'élection du pontife romain» en constitue l'aspect le plus connu.

# L'obligation de silence
imposée par le doyen des cardinaux, l'Allemand Joseph Ratzinger, donné comme un des favoris dans la course à la succession, a contraint le porte-parole du Vatican, Joaquin Navarro Valls, à venir samedi affirmer au cours d'une conférence de presse que «les cardinaux n'ont à aucun moment avancé de nom» au cours de leurs réunions.

# Les dernières grandes manoeuvres
pour trouver un candidat susceptible de rassembler les deux tiers des cardinaux électeurs ont commencé. Jour après jour, les médias sur les cinq continents ont multiplié les avis d'experts qui encensent ou démolissent sans pitié les «papabili». Le cardinal Ratzinger est ainsi présenté comme un prestigieux théologien ou comme un implacable doctrinaire, doublé d'un autocrate. Le cardinal Tettamanzi est, lui, portraituré comme un archevêque replet et bonhomme ou comme un prélat dépourvu d'expérience et nul en langues étrangères. Angelo Scola est brillant, mais dépressif. Maradiaga est populaire, mais trop jeune et faible sur le plan de la théologie. Ruini est considéré comme un grand organisateur, mais triste et malade du coeur.

# Les stratégies des cardinaux
sont l'objet des spéculations des vaticanistes du monde entier. Voter contre Ratzinger pour le mettre hors course afin de laisser le champ libre aux vrais «papabili», choisir un pape très âgé pour un pontificat de transition après le long règne de Jean-Paul II ou élire à nouveau un «étranger» pour donner une image d'ouverture.

# La durée du conclave
est également matière à hypothèse. «Il sera plus long que les précédents pour ne pas donner une image de superficialité ou donner le sentiment que tout a été joué d'avance», assurent certains commentateurs. «Trois jours. Le pape sera élu mercredi», a prédit de son côté Luigi Accatoli, le vaticaniste du Corriere della Sera, considéré comme l'un des mieux informés.

Rome à l'heure du choix

Le Vatican : de notre envoyée spéciale Sophie de Ravinel
[Le Figaro, 18 avril 2005]

Cent quinze cardinaux se retrouvent aujourd'hui sous les fresques de la chapelle Sixtine pour désigner celui d'entre eux qu'ils estiment choisi par Dieu pour guider son Église. «C'est une liturgie», a insisté hier matin le cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archevêque émérite de Paris, «il n'y a rien de par - le mentaire dans l'assemblée». L'heure est à la gravité. Tous savent que prendre la suite de Jean-Paul II n'est pas une mince affaire et qu'il est absolument inutile de chercher un clone pour le remplacer.
Dimanche matin d'orages violents sur Rome. Le ciel est bas et les cardinaux prêchent dans leurs églises respectives. Dans la paroisse dédiée à saint Antoine, le patriarche de Lisbonne, José da Cruz Policarpo, explique qu'il faut retenir celui «qui sera capable de toucher les coeurs». «Il ne faut surtout pas une proclamation froide de la doctrine, explique-t-il, mais une annonce de la foi qui convertisse !» Pour lui, «l'élection d'un pape ne doit pas être un fait médiatique, il faut cesser cette curiosité vaine, se recueillir et prier». Tout le monde s'est donc mis fidèlement en prière avec lui, au fil de la liturgie dominicale. A la fin, dans la sacristie, les journalistes sont là, et lui aussi. Sans hésiter une minute, il se prête volontiers à l'exercice et reprend avec pédagogie son thème de prêche sous l'oeil des caméras.
Non loin de là, dans la paroisse Saint-Louis-des-Français, le cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger parle du sens profond de ce conclave, de son caractère spécifique et de la gravité qui étreint les électeurs. «Il ne s'agit pas d'une élection au sens où l'on peut la vivre dans une nation ou dans un groupement économique qui serait en charge d'élire son président», explique-t-il avec sa voix cassée. «Dans ces cas-là, le choix se fait fatalement sur un programme entre plusieurs candidats. Le jeu consiste à ce que quelqu'un l'emporte sur l'autre.» Conscient du fait que «dans nos civilisations démocratiques, il est très difficile, de percevoir le sens de ce qui va se passer lors du conclave», il précise cependant que les cardinaux n'attendent pas «une illumination ou une vision qui brusquement nous ferait dire : c'est celui-ci ou celui-là». «A vue humaine, précise-t-il, ce qu'il nous faut, c'est purifier notre intelligence et notre jugement de tout intérêt, de tout ce qui peut nous obscurcir l'esprit afin d'être vraiment libre en Dieu.» L'ancien archevêque de Paris est en «diète média tique» depuis déjà une semaine et refuserait d'écouter la radio ou de lire les journaux afin de mieux entrer «dans l'esprit du texte».
La veille, le cardinal Walter Kasper s'est rendu dans la paroisse tenue par la communauté laïque de Sant'Egidio, Sainte-Marie-du-Trastevere. «N'ayez pas peur !», a lancé en substance l'ancien responsable du Conseil pour l'oecuménisme à ses interlocuteurs qui lui brossaient un portrait dramatique de la situation du monde. Il a affirmé que «le nouveau pape doit être un roc vers qui les fidèles peuvent s'orienter, un pasteur qui les connaisse et dans lequel ils se reconnaissent».
La semaine passée à Rome n'avait pas brillé par son atmosphère d'entente cordiale entre les «princes de l'Église», mais plutôt par la volonté de mettre à plat les problèmes, particulièrement ceux liés au gouvernement de l'Église. Depuis au moins cinq ans qu'ils étaient en suspens du fait de la maladie de Jean-Paul II, l'occasion était bonne pour faire le point, en famille.
Depuis quarante-huit heures, une atmosphère plus sereine s'est installée. Une revue américaine rapporte que les cardinaux Karl Lehman, Jean-Marie Lustiger et Angelo Scola, entre autres, se sont rencontrés dans la maison religieuse Mater Dei pour évaluer la situation. Qui sait ce que se seront dit ces cardinaux de courants très différents... Seule l'idée d'une recherche d'unité émerge de ce colloque.
A partir d'aujourd'hui, le sujet qui taraude les observateurs extérieurs est celui de la durée. Samedi, ils ont été avertis que les cardinaux pourraient attendre demain avant de déposer pour la première fois leur bulletin de vote dans les urnes. Le conclave sera-t-il bref ? A cette question, les cardinaux lèvent généralement la tête vers le ciel comme pour signifier qu'ils n'en savent rien eux-mêmes.
Pour les aider spirituellement dans leur tâche, quelques cardinaux de plus de 80 ans, dont le cardinal suisse Georges Cottier, ont été invités à célébrer la messe deux fois par jour dans la basilique pontificale de Saint-Jean-de-Latran. Les fidèles romains ou ceux venus pour accueillir le prochain pape seront sans doute nombreux à s'y rendre. Une manière pour eux de participer à distance aux travaux des cardinaux.