A bit of light, holiday reading: Benedict XVI responds by letter, to an Atheist.

Exclusive to the Register, we publish below the first English translation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s letter to the militant Italian atheist, Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

In September, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica printed extracts of the letter whose full contents were published in Italian on Nov. 23 by the German-language agency Kath.net.

The Pope Emeritus sent the letter in response to a book Odifreddi wrote in 2011 entitled Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You. The work was a critique of certain arguments and lines of thought found in Benedict’s theological writings, beginning with his 1967 volume Introduction to Christianity, and including his book Jesus of Nazareth, which he wrote as pope.

Full text

Pope Francis and Benedict Do Lunch

The Vatican downplayed the remarkable reunion in keeping with Benedict’s desire to remain “hidden from the world” and not interfere with his successor’s papacy. There was no live coverage by Vatican television, and only a short video and still photos were released after the fact.

The Vatican spokesman said the two spoke privately for 40-45 minutes, followed by lunch with the two papal secretaries, but no details were released.


Two inspiring stories of faith come to light in Croatia

Daniel, a 25-year-old Croatian, took the stage and told the pope and some 50,000 people gathered in a post-thunderstorm, puddle-strewn Ban Josip Jelacic Square about his life of rebellion and debauchery.

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Leo XIII was the Pope who declared that Anglican ordinations, orders, priesthood, were invalid.

Leo XIII was the Pope who declared that Anglican ordinations, orders, priesthood, were invalid.

So,… the Pope of Rome goes into Westminster Abbey, a church dedicated to the Prince of the Apostles, and – while wearing Leo XIII’s stole – reminds them that he is the Successor of Peter.

And they applauded!

The title of this entry is a bit lighthearted, but the issues at hand are very serious.

Benedict XVI teaches through signs. Signs point to deeper issues. Vestments are signs.

In the person of Pope Benedict, Peter’s Successor came to Westminster. In Benedict, in a symbolic sense, Leo XIII came to Westminster as well.

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Excellent wrap-up of all the events of the pope’s UK trip

The Catholic Herald is featuring an excellent summary of all the key events of Pope Benedict’s four-day visit to the U.K.

The definitive guide

Complete list of articles

Pope’s Visit to Britain: ‘Astonishing’

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster described the events of yesterday in which the Pope gave addresses in Westminster Hall, Westminster Abbey, and Lambeth Palace as “astonishing.”

It was the first time the Successor of Peter had ever set foot in any of these historic buildings which at any one time have been pillars of Church and State in Britain for the past thousand years.

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Great Photos and News Coverage of the Pope’s Visit to Scotland

Click here for some great photos and news coverage of the Pope’s visit to Scotland.

Scotland has done us all proud; suddenly the anti-Catholic campaign has lost its power

… It was clear that all the last minute attempts to wreck the visit had failed; the sheer warmth of that Scottish welcome had swept all that away. There were some splendid touches; Cardinal O’Brien’s production of a load of scarves in the specially commissioned Papal tartan was a brilliant idea, as was the very notion of a Papal tartan; and to drape a scarf over the Pope’s shoulders, so that he rode through the streets clad in tartan (the wearing of which, remember, was made illegal after the final defeat of attempts to place a Catholic pretender on the throne) was a stroke of historical genius.

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And more …

A day that shook the foundations of Britain’s Protestant myth

How odd that it should be the Guardian that grasped the magnitude of what happened yesterday. Andrew Brown, religion editor of Comment is Free, and the possessor of an intellect as mighty and muddled as that of Rowan Williams, writes:

This was the end of the British Empire. In all the four centuries from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, England has been defined as a Protestant nation. The Catholics were the Other; sometimes violent terrorists and rebels, sometimes merely dirty immigrants. The sense that this was a nation specially blessed by God arose from a deeply anti-Catholic reading of the Bible. Yet it was central to English self-understanding when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1952 [sic], and swore to uphold the Protestant religion by law established.

For all of those 400 or so years it would have been unthinkable that a pope should stand in Westminster Hall and praise Sir Thomas More, who died to defend the pope’s sovereignty against the king’s. Rebellion against the pope was the foundational act of English power. And now the power is gone, and perhaps the rebellion has gone, too.

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Comments from Father Z’s site

Al Qaeda threat to murder Pope foiled in London

Scotland Yard arrested five Algerian men at dawn Friday, Sept. 17 following intelligence of a potential terrorist threat to Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to London. The Counter-Terror Command ordered the arrests at business premises in central London and homes in Muslim areas of East and North London where searches continue. The five suspects aged from 26 to 50 are not British nationals and were employed by a private street cleaning service. They are suspected of “the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism Act 2000. A papal spokesman said the pontiff was calm and his UK schedule would remain unchanged.


Susan Boyle’s ‘wildest dreams’ come true as she sings for the Pope

Singing sensation Susan Boyle said the chance to sing in front of the Pope at an open-air Mass is “beyond her wildest dreams”.

The 49-year-old is performing three songs, including her smash hit I Dreamed A Dream, which catapulted her to fame on TV’s Britain’s Got Talent.

Boyle, from Blackburn in West Lothian, has already sang her hit song at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, ahead of the Pope’s open-air Mass. She will perform again infront of 65,000 people.

Speaking about what the event meant to her, she told BBC Reporting Scotland: “It’s hard to describe it. It’s hard to put into words, really. But it will be a very humbling experience, a very indescribable experience. It’s beyond my imagination, beyond my wildest dreams.”


Pope Benedict arrives in England

Speaking to reporters traveling with him from Rome, Benedict said the church’s top priority now was to help abuse victims heal — yet the comments failed to satisfy victims’ groups.

Benedict’s historic four-day visit has been overshadowed by disgust over the abuse scandal and indifference in Britain, where Catholics are a minority at 10 percent and endured centuries of bloody persecution and discrimination until the early 1800s.

The trip is the first state visit by a pope to the U.K., and his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II was symbolically significant because of the historic divide between the officially Protestant nation and the Catholic Church.


Itinerary released for Pope’s upcoming visit to the U.K.

On Occasion of Cardinal Newman’s Beatification

ROME, AUG. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the program released today by the Vatican press office for Benedict XVI’s apostolic journey to the United Kingdom, which will take place Sept. 16-19. During the trip the Pope will preside at the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.


Pope ought to “shake the dust off his feet” and skip visit to England

Matthew 10:11-15
And into whatsoever city or town you shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till you go thence.  And when you come into the house, salute it, saying: Peace be to this house.  And if that house be worthy, your peace shall come upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you.  And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet.  Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Read more about the mess in Britain

It’s high time the “God of love” showed us Catholics a bit of his wrath!

“Ticked off” Jesus – from the Book of Revelation

First of all, let me state for the record, that the 2nd Vatican Council was legitimately called, that it met all the usual standards for church councils, and for those reasons, I find no fault with it.

That said, the liberal, modernist cardinals, bishops and priests who led the POST-Vatican II revolution, and who were themselves led by some unknown, probably demonic, obtuse spirit, (most certainly NOT God, the Holy Spirit) couldn’t have done much more damage to the Catholic Church, if they had used molotov cocktails and guillotines.

In retrospect, a guillotine would have been more merciful, while the molotov cocktails would have been more efficient, and more in keeping with the times.

Instead, we Catholics have been forced to endure over forty years of what is more akin to “water boarding” … being slowly suffocated … one drop at a time … as those in charge patiently, stealthily, often gleefully, defiled and deconstructed that which took twenty centuries of God’s grace to build up.

Traditional religious art and statuary, which for many hundreds of years, served to teach and inspire both peasants and kings, is produced no longer.

Church buildings that had once reflected the glory of Heaven, are today, mostly banal structures, vaguely reminiscent of convention centers.

Religious orders, once the repository of all that was good in Western civilization, have either vanished, or turned into affinity groups for community organizers, gays and lesbians.

No one (except perhaps for Father Corapi) authoritatively teaches the Catholic faith, anymore. Local ordinaries act as celebrity toastmasters. Teaching, baptizing (and evangelizing) have all suffered in the process, but for a good cause!

The unofficial new tradition of the post-counciliar church is: “We don’t teach that anymore” (in English and Spanish, of course!)

“Social Justice” no longer refers to merely feeding the hungry, clothing the naked,  or housing the homeless. Today, we write big checks to groups that aren’t even Catholic, or if  we’re kind of preoccupied with local scandals … or attempting to curry favor with one politician or another … we write big checks to groups that are outright anti-Catholic

Theologians like St. Thomas Aquinas –  “the Angelic Doctor” – are out. Congar, Rahner, and Von Balthsar are in.

The radical types who took over all the universities, as well as the Democratic Party, may also be observed running the Catholic dioceses and seminaries!

Between all of them, it’s as though the Catholic Church was founded in Rome, on December 8, 1965 … by communists, socialists, homosexuals and feminists … and as of late … radical, eco-pagans.

Bishops are CEO’s of dioceses that are often worth a hundred million dollars, or more. With responsibility for that amount of assets, it’s no wonder they often don’t have the time or energy to properly monitor or support their priests. If only those assets were all in cash!

The Vatican bureaucracy, hobbled by communists, masons, and homosexuals … runs as always … ponderously … and strictly at it’s own pace … as if Heaven really can wait!

The Pope heroically carries on as best he can, under the circumstances. God love him.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter:

Like the lucky but habitual speeder, who usually got away scott-free, but was finally pulled over, even though he wasn’t speeding at the time … Pope Benedict and all his liberal, modernist pals (including Pope John Paul II) were the main cheerleaders at the 2nd Vatican Council, where they never met an innovation they didn’t like, and where they presided over ALL that followed.

They just couldn’t wait to “shake things up” … to bring the church out of the “dark ages” … to “open up the windows and let in some air” … and to “counter” all that was done and taught by the church, in the “bad old days”.

The huge dose of radical innovation set things a bit on fire, and failing to keep a close eye on it, that little fire eventually turned into a real blaze, a blaze that first heated things up in America, and now, is making the Vatican pretty hot, for our dear Pope!

So, whether or not the pope is actually guilty of any of the priestly abuse cover-ups that people are accusing him of, it’s good for him to suffer a bit. He deserves it. And if he’s smart, he’ll spread the pain around to his fellow bishops too, since suffering is integral to the authentic Catholic faith, and they can all use the practice.

Heaven knows, what remains of the faithful Catholic laity has been suffering … mostly in reverent silence … for over forty years!

I know I’m ticked off about all this … and I’m sure I don’t know the half of it. Imagine how ticked off someone would be if he could “read” people’s hearts and minds!

God bless Pope Benedict XVI … and all the bishops. I have a hunch they’re going to need it!

Read: “The death of a Catholic seminary”