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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dialogue Year 2008

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Cathcon translation of
Radio Vatikan: Dialogjahr 2008

2008 - also the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Background: Europe is the test laboratory of the extent to which a religion (or culture), such as Islam with their own way of life can integrate into an enlightened Western society. The Vatican is presently, behind the scenes, giving much energy to the encounter with Islam, as Stefan Kempis knows and reports.

Initially, after the Regensburg speech by the Pope, the period of quiet in 2005. Then last autumn, the letter of Islamic scholars to Christian church leaders was published, and since then the dialogue between Christianity and Islam has acquired an unexpected momentum. The Saudi King, guardian of the Holy Places of Islam, visited the Pope, and sometime in 2008, a delegation of Islamic scholars will speak with the Pope in the Vatican - with the backing of the Saudi king, as various media are reporting. Such significant movement has rarely been found in inter- religious dialogue.

"The Pope has invited all to have the courage, to be open to reason," said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican official responsible for Inter-Religious Dialogue. "He recalled in his Regensburg lecture that it is contrary to the nature of God, to act against reason. That is the basis on which we who are involved in inter-religious dialogue follow in the steps of the spirit of the Divine."

Regensburg - the Pope's speech evolved from stumbling block to a new impetus in inter-faith and, beyond that, intercultural dialogue. In the Vatican, there is an understanding that the politicians in the proclamation of the European Year of Inter-cultural Dialogue treat the theme broadly ... and not only narrowing it to the religious aspect. On this, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the new head of the Pontifical Council culture:

"When you talk about religion, you have to think about things through the cultural issue. Strictly speaking, we must even come to a new cultural understanding which is closely connected with the religious one. Culture, in this sense, is understood as a reflection on people. Thus, religion is an all-encompassing presence, acting closely with all inter-woven cultural issues, especially with the question of people by way of their personal life and, more generally, through time ... "

The church has had, according to Ravasi, a long experience in terms of intercultural dialogue a long experience.

"Much can result from this year, which the European Council of Ministers in Strasbourg has decided on. The Faith speaks about the dimensions of humanity - of a humanism, which does not destroy culture, but rather enriches it."

Cardinal Bertone Says Instruction on Summorum Pontificum to Come

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Radio Vatican audio report

"Emer McCarthy reports on Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone's statements to a prominent Italian periodical regarding an Instruction that will clarify certain questions that have arisen regarding the Holy Father's Motu Proprio, Summorum pontificum..."

Today it's Trinidad and Tobago

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"Members of this country’s Roman Catholic community will be able to experience the Tridentine Mass throughout this week at the St Mary’s College Chapel in Port-of-Spain.

Mass is being said daily at 5 pm during the week and will be held at 8 am on Saturday. On the Feast of the Euphony, a sung high mass, will be celebrated at the chapel at 9 am. Members from the traditional choir of the Sacred Heart Parish in Port-of-Spain will be singing at that special Latin Mass.

The Tridentine Mass was used in the Roman Catholic Church for almost 1500 years, until the introduction of the Mass of Pope Paul VI following the Second Vatican Council."

Benedict and his great love for cats

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Cathcon translation of Benedikt und sein großes Herz für Katzen

The Pope wanted to write books about those with velvet paws.

In the New Year, Pope Benedict XVI has to cope with a number of appointments, traveling also is ahead of him and he has to write a book and two Encyclicals.

He only very rarely has time for himself. But now he has told his neighbour in the papal apartments, what he would really do, if he just dreams for a couple of moments. Then he thinks of his secret wish:

To write a book about cats.

Secret vocation:
The Pope would like to be the author of cat stories

A cat at the Coliseum in Rome:



The Pope loves the stray animals

As Joseph Ratzinger said in April 2005, following the funeral of his friend, Pope John Paul II, he finally after 24 years in Rome would go back to Germany, because he had a plan: tp write stories, stories about cats.

Joseph Ratzinger has had cats around him for decades, not least when he was leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation lies on what was once one of the busiest streets of Rome, the Via Aurelia. On this street every day, cats are injured. Not a few of the animals are carried into the garden of the nearby Congregation. There resided Ratzinger, then Cardinal, who took care of moving the cats. He fed them with milk when they were hungry, dressed their wounds, watched as they lay in the sun and slowly recovered. And he gave them all a name.

About these cats, he wanted to write. But his election of Pope stopped these plans. As Pope Benedict XVI, from then on, he had to take care of the great Universal Church instead of the small cats on the Via Aurelia.

The responsibility weighs particularly heavily at present on the 81-year-olds. Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret in Kenya reported today to the Pope on the phone from the battlefield: "They have burnt down a church in which there were 200 people. Children and the elderly were trampled down and burned. "

The Pope does not even take the normal short Christmas holiday in Castel Gandolfo. He worked on without Christmas holidays. In the coming year, he must travel in the United States, Australia, and to Lourdes in France and has to prepare a speech on Monday to the diplomatic corps.

But little has changed in his friendship with the cats of the Vatican.

I park my motorcycle on the way to my office at the Vatican always at the border crossing- the Paul VI Audience Hall. Swiss Guards keep watch there. If previously scattered animals tried to get into the garden of the Vatican, they shooed the animals away.

But when the guardsmen now see a cat, then they let it simply into the beautiful gardens of the Pope. Because they know that Benedict XVI, if he praying in the afternoon at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican, is always pleased when he sees a cat. Because then he returns to his old dream: that he did not want to be Pope, but planned instead to write cat stories.

Holy War over scientific research

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Cathcon translation of Glaubenskrieg um Forschung

Stance on stem cells divides churches

Berlin. In the discussion on research using embryonic stem cells, the EKD Council President, Bishop Wolfgang Huber (Cathcon: Germany’s top Protestant leader) has called openly for a postponement of the previous cut-off date. If the currently available stem cell lines were insufficient, one could agree to a one-off postponement of the deadline for high-level research purposes, Huber said at the weekend. The German Parliament is expected to make a new decision before Easter.

Huber claimed that research with adult stem cells will be pushed forward so that research using embryonic stem cells will be no longer necessary. "The research using embryonic stem cells is ethically a dangerous balancing act. Embryos, we may not understand as things " the Bishop made clear. At the same time, he acknowledged, however, that currently this type of research was necessary if one wants to achieve therapeutic advances.

CDU line is disputed
Bishop Huber’s position therefore represents a similar line to the one which the CDU voted for by a narrow margin at their federal party conference in Hanover in early December. Thereby, a change in the deadline in the stem-cell legislation is not ruled out. The CDU wanted their elected representatives in the Bundestag to vote on the stem cell issue without coercion, said Union group chief Volker Kauder at the weekend. Even Federal Research Minister, Annette Schavan (CDU) emphasized the freedom of the MP’s vote on the issue.

Representatives of the Catholic Church have sharply criticised the CDU decision. The Bishop of Eichstatt, Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke, criticized in this context "legal gymnastics". The Bishop of Fulda, Heinz Josef Algermissen accused scientists and political parties of "hypocritical dealings" with regard to stem cell research. AP / KNA

Cathcon comment:

And then Bishop Huber wonders why the Vatican describes the EKD as a church not in the proper sense of the word. Here, the Pope keeps his distance.