Courtesy: BBC News Europe Online
Pope Francis has delivered a passionate plea for peace in his first Easter Sunday message since being elected.
Francis used his “Urbi et Orbi” address to call for peace in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and across the globe.
He singled out “dear Syria”, saying: “How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution is found?”
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar and pilgrims have attended church across the world.
‘Divided by greed’
Pope Francis, formerly Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected on 13 March, becoming the first non-European pope for almost 1,300 years.
He replaced Benedict XVI, who held the office for eight years and became the first pontiff in more than 700 years to resign, saying he no longer had the physical strength to continue.
In his Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world) speech, Pope Francis began with a simple “Happy Easter!”
The 76-year-old Pope, who has begun his tenure by emphasising humility, went on: “Christ has risen! What a joy it is for me to announce this message… I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons.”
Later in his speech, Pope Francis said: “We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”
The Pope then mentioned troubled regions of the world in turn
“Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long.
“Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.”
For Africa, the Pope referred to Mali, Nigeria – “where attacks sadly continue” – the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
He added: “Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.”
Pope Francis concluded by saying: “Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st Century.”
BBC Rome correspondent, Alan Johnston, says the Pope has reinforced his image as a man of simple, down-to-earth tastes, not wearing the more ostentatious of papal costumes and, for the moment, not moving into the grandiose papal apartments.
One pilgrim in Rome on Sunday, Briton Tina Hughes, said that Francis represented a “new beginning”.
“I think he brings something special. He connects with people. I feel good about him,” she told Reuters.
In the days before Easter, the Pope had reached out to women and Muslims.
During a Holy Thursday Mass at a youth detention centre he washed and kissed the feet of 12 people, including two girls and two Muslims, and in a Good Friday procession referred to the “friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters” in the Middle East.
But our correspondent says that, after Easter, the Pope will have to begin tackling the key issues facing the Catholic Church, such as reforming a Vatican bureaucracy riven by infighting and allegations of corruption, and tackling the issue of clerical sexual abuse.
Vatican watchers will also be keeping a keen eye on new appointments to key positions.
In his Easter homily, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, invited the Pope to visit.
The patriarch, the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, also urged the international community to take “concrete and effective decisions to find a balanced and just solution for the Palestinian cause, which lies at the heart of all the Middle East’s troubles”.
By Philip Pullella – Reuters
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics into Easter for the first time, on Saturday urged those who have strayed from the faith to allow God back into their lives.
Francis, who was elected on March 13, presided at a solemn Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter’ Basilica to usher the Catholic Church into the most important day of its liturgical calendar.
The immense basilica, the largest church in Christendom, was in the dark for the start of the service to signify the darkness in Jesus’ tomb before what Christians believe was his resurrection from the dead three days after his crucifixion.
Some 10,000 faithful lit candles as Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, walked up the main aisle, and then the basilica’s lights were turned on.
The 76-year-old Francis, wearing relatively plain white vestments – as opposed to the more elaborate robes preferred by his predecessor Benedict – delivered a simple homily recounting the Bible story of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb but were surprised to find it empty.
He urged his listeners not to be “afraid of God’s surprises,” never to lose confidence during the trials and tribulations of daily life, and, if they have strayed, to let God back into their lives.
“Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms,” he said, speaking in Italian.
“If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do,” he said.
Another difference between Francis and his predecessor is that Francis reads his homilies standing behind a lectern like an ordinary priest instead of while seated on a throne.
He is still living in the same Vatican guesthouse where he stayed during the conclave that elected him the first non-European pope in 1,300 years instead of moving into the spacious and regal papal apartments in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
Francis has also been inviting ordinary people to his morning Mass at the guesthouse, including Vatican street sweepers and gardeners and staff of the guest house.
During Saturday night’s service he presided at another Easter vigil tradition by baptizing four new adult members of the Church. They were from Italy, Albania, Russia and the United States.
Holy Saturday was the third of four hectic days leading up to Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar.
On Easter Sunday he will celebrate another Mass and then deliver his first “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the square below.
The balcony is the same spot where he first appeared to the world as pope on the night of March 13 after his election.
The cross that sits atop Mount Royal during the “interregnum” or in between, is turned purple. And today we would see purple on vestments for Good Friday services.
This is the day that Christians mark the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross and the church is in mourning. Tony Campolo is oft to preach the message about it being “Friday … But Sunday is coming…”
Also to mention the words ” I Thirst …” one of the last seven statements Jesus makes from the cross before his death. The words in Hebrew I have tattooed on my right bicep. This meditation which has been spoken about in the memoirs of Mother Teresa focuses on Jesus and his thirst for our love and devotion.
Tonight’s topic from the book As Bill Sees It spoke about ” Providence.”
There is a question on the first blank page of my Big Book :
ARE WE GOING EASY ON THE GOD STUFF ???
At some point in our lives, one way or another, we come face to face with coming to believe in a power greater than ourselves. Many of us grew up in some form of religion, one way or another. The odds are high that we have all been introduced to God sometime in our lives.
For the person coming in for the first time, God is a dirty word, a repellant, something to be avoided at any cost ! One way or another we process steps 1,2,and 3. We come, we come to, and we come to believe.
And even today there are folks who still struggle with the notion of God. But even if they cannot locate God – there is a passion to stay sober – to live – a power that moves them forwards, one day at a time.
The reading talks about never pushing our own agenda on those who have not come to the point of recognizing God for themselves, but we should be kind and observant, but never egotistical to believe that we have “all the answers” for anyone else in the room.
For every person in the room, there is a concept of “something.” From the simple “group of drunks, good orderly direction, get out doors even.” God is cultivated in each life to their abilities and their belief system.
Providence … To be provided for …
Coming off my slip, I prayed to God. Specific prayers of need and desire.
1. For the hangover to mark the end
2. For a member to come into my life
3. To get me to a meeting
One, Two, Three … all three prayers came to pass in succession. I took my last drink. An alcoholic came into my life and brought me to my next first meeting.
In Hindsight, I had completed One, Two and Three before I hit my first meeting. I knew where God was, and I believed. I just needed to ” come to.”
It is providence for me to say that everything I need in my life has come from the rooms, one way or another. I’ve never had to go outside the rooms for anything. I always tell people that if there is something on your mind or a need you have, take it to a meeting.
God does provide.
Lots of friends and fellows tonight, great fellowship and a ride home from the meeting. All in gratitude.
Tomorrow is the great Easter Vigil.
More to come, stay tuned …
By Harriet Alexander, and agencies [The Telegraph]
6:39PM GMT 28 Mar 2013
While popes have for centuries washed the feet of the faithful on the day before Good Friday, never before had a pontiff washed the feet of a woman. That one of the female inmates at the prison in Rome was also a Serbian Muslim was also a break with tradition.
“There is no better way to show his service for the smallest, for the least fortunate,” said Gaetano Greco, a local chaplain.
Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates aged 14 to 21, among them the two women, the second of whom was an Italian Catholic. Mr Greco said he hoped the ritual would be “a positive sign in their lives”.
Catholic traditionalists are likely to be riled by the inclusion of women in the ceremony because of the belief that all of Jesus’ disciples were male.
The pontiff, who has largely disregarded protocol since his election earlier this month, urged his fellow clerics before the ceremony to prioritise the poor.
“We need to go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,” he said at a mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
“It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.”
Francis, the first leader of the Catholic Church from Latin America, led a mass with a mixed group of young offenders at the Casal del Marmo prison outside of Rome.
The 76-year-old, who was archbishop of Buenos Aires until chosen as pope, has already made a name for himself as a champion of the disadvantaged. In his homeland of Argentina he was known for his strong social advocacy, working in slums and shunning the lavish lifestyle adopted by some senior clerics. He lived in a small flat near the cathedral, flew to the Rome conclave in economy class, and chose to travel with his fellow cardinals by minibus rather than in the papal limousine.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – as Pope Francis was previously known – had already washed and kissed the feet of women in past ceremonies in Argentinian jails, hospitals and old people’s homes, including pregnant mothers and AIDS patients.
Before performing the traditional feet washing, in his first general audience on Wednesday, Francis called on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to reach out to “lost sheep” over the coming days.
“Holy Week challenges us to step outside ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others: those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help,” Francis told thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square.
On Good Friday, Francis will recite the Passion of Christ – the story of the last hours of Jesus’s life – in St Peter’s Basilica, before presiding over the Via Crucis ceremony by the Colosseum, where thousands of Christians are believed to have been martyred in Roman times.
While last year his predecessor, 85-year-old Pope Benedict, presided over celebrations from under a canopy next to the Colosseum, Francis is expected to take part in the procession and even carry the wooden cross on his shoulder for part of the way.
On Saturday, the pontiff will take part in an evening Easter vigil in St Peter’s Basilica, and on Easter Sunday the he will celebrate Easter mass in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square and then pronounce the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to Rome and the world.
Also on Thursday, the Pope made his first appointment of a bishop, naming Mario Poli, 66, to succeed him as archbishop of Buenos Aires and the top churchman in Argentina.
Francis also put his first people on the path to sainthood, unveiling a list of 63 people including victims of the Spanish Civil War, Nazism and Communism. The largest number are considered martyrs of faith killed during the 1931-45 conflict in Spain.
“He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple,” but allows him “to live in community with others,” both the permanent residents — priests and bishops who work at the Vatican — as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Lombardi said Tuesday.
The spokesman said Pope Francis has moved out of the room he drew by lot before the conclave and into Suite 201, a room that has slightly more elegant furnishings and a larger living room where he can receive guests.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae, the official name of the guesthouse, was built in 1996 specifically to house cardinals during a conclave.
Celebrating Mass on Tuesday with the residents and guests, Pope Francis told them he intended to stay, Lombardi said. The permanent residents, who had to move out during the conclave, had just returned to their old rooms.
Pope Francis has been there since his election March 13, taking his meals in the common dining room downstairs and celebrating a 7 a.m. Mass with Vatican employees in the main chapel of the residence.
He will be the first pope in 110 years not to live in the papal apartments on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace.
In 1903, St. Pius X became the first pope to live in the apartments overlooking St. Peter’s Square. The apartments were completely remodeled by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and have undergone smaller modifications by each pope since, according to “Mondo Vaticano,” a Vatican-published mini-encyclopedia about Vatican buildings, offices and tradition.
The large living room or salon of the apartment is located directly above the papal library where official audiences with visiting bishops and heads of state are held.
Pope Francis will continue to use the library for official audiences and to recite the Angelus prayer on Sundays and holy days from the apartment window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Lombardi said.
The apartments contain a chapel, an office for the pope and a separate office for his secretaries, the pope’s bedroom, a dining room, kitchen and rooms for two secretaries and for the household staff.
When Pope Francis returned to the guesthouse after his election, Lombardi had said the move was intended to be short-term while a few small work projects were completed in the papal apartments. He said Tuesday that all the work had been completed, but at least for the foreseeable future, Pope Francis would not move in.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae, named after St. Martha, is a five-story building on the edge of Vatican City.
While offering relative comfort, the residence is not a luxury hotel. The building has 105 two-room suites and 26 singles; about half of the rooms are occupied by the permanent residents. Each suite has a sitting room with a desk, three chairs, a cabinet and large closet; a bedroom with dresser, night table and clothes stand; and a private bathroom with a shower.
The rooms all have telephones and access to an international satellite television system.
The building also has a large meeting room and a variety of small sitting rooms. In addition to the dining room and the main chapel, it also has four private chapels, located at the end of hallways on the third and fifth floors of each of the building’s two wings.
1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).
Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, and he has bent down to heal body and soul.
This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with this love, and looks at us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light – the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart – of joy, of celebration.
At the beginning of Mass, we too repeated it. We waved our palms, our olive branches. We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives.
Jesus is God, but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad!
Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them!
And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.
2. The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power.
He is received by humble people, simple folk who have the sense to see something more in Jesus; they have that sense of the faith which says: here is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6).
He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross.
And it is precisely here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! It reminds me of what Benedict XVI said to the Cardinals: you are princes, but of a king crucified. That is the throne of Jesus. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God.
Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money that you can’t take with you and have to leave. When we were small, our grandmother used to say: a shroud has no pocket.
Love of power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – as each one of us knows and is aware – our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation.
Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.
3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for twenty-eight years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession as you were coming in; I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches.
I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty.
Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love.
And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God conquered evil.
You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.
Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, starting today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world.
Young people must say to the world: to follow Christ is good; to go with Christ is good; the message of Christ is good; emerging from ourselves, to the ends of the earth and of existence, to take Jesus there, is good! Three words, then: joy, Cross, young.
Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.
Courtesy: BBC News Europe Online
Pope Francis is to begin the Catholic Church’s most important liturgical season with a Palm Sunday Mass in Rome.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected in St Peter’s Square for the Mass that marks the start of Holy Week.
Sprigs of olive trees will be distributed to the faithful in remembrance of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
The run-up to Easter is considered the most important week in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.
After Sunday’s Mass, the Pope will lead six more liturgies during the week, culminating with the Easter Sunday Mass and Urbi et Orbi blessing.
What the newly-elected Pope says during these services will take on added significance coming at the start of his pontificate, says the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.
On Saturday, the Argentine Pope held a first meeting with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is now living in retirement near Rome.
Pope Francis was flown by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo for the private lunch with Pope Emeritus Benedict.
Benedict has lived at the lakeside castle south of Rome since last month, when he became the first pope in six centuries to resign, citing ill health.
Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected to succeed him on 13 March.
Pope Francis has decided to modify some traditional Vatican Holy Week observances.
On Thursday, for example, he will visit a prison for young offenders in a Roman suburb where he will symbolically wash the feet of 12 young prisoners.
In previous years the ceremony was performed by the Pope in Rome’s Cathedral of Saint John Lateran with priests symbolizing the 12 apostles.
The new Pope chose the name Francis in honour of St Francis of Assisi – the 13th Century Italian saint who spurned a life of luxury to work with the poor.
He has called for the Roman Catholic Church to be closer to ordinary people, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
And, only 10 days into his pontificate, he has made some subtle but significant changes in the lifestyle of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, says our correspondent.
He dresses very simply, preferring to wear plain black shoes under a simple white habit rather than the red leather loafers and ermine-trimmed cape worn by his predecessor.
The first Latin American Pope spurned a special car to take a bus with his cardinals after he was elected, and insisted on returning to his Rome hotel the next day to pay his own bill.
And Pope Francis places himself on the same level as his guests, rather than greeting them from a throne on an elevated platform, which is seen as a powerful gesture after centuries of Vatican pomp.
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires has also started inviting guests to his early morning Mass – including Vatican gardeners, street sweepers, kitchen staff and maids working at the hotel where he is currently staying.
All Photos Courtesy of BBC World Europe online.
The new pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old Argentinean, who will be known as Pope Francis, has in the past described same-sex marriage and gay couples adopting as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
The new pope has also said that same-sex adoption adoption is a form of discrimination and abuse against children.
In 2010, he fought against the introduction of same-sex marriage and adoption rights in his home country of Argentina saying that the population would “face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. He added: “At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
He went on to describe introducing equality as a move from “the ‘Father of Lies’ who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God”. In the Gospel of John, ‘the Father of Lies’ is a term for the Devil.
Andre Banks of AllOut said: “By electing Jorge Bergoglio to be Pope, the Catholic Church has renewed their commitment to oppose equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people. Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I, has a long history of opposing equality for gays and lesbians in Argentina.”
Dr Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Council’s Religion and Faith Programme said: “We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.”
She added: “We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. Demonising LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalised, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”
Los Angeles Times Vincenzo-Pinto-afp-Getty-images-March-13-2013
Photos Courtesy of : BBC WORLD NEWS ONLINE
Courtesy: BBC WORLD ONLINE
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, elected as the Catholic Church’s new Pope, Francis, has greeted crowds in St Peter’s Square in Rome.
Appearing on a balcony over the square, he asked the faithful to pray for him. Cheers erupted as he gave a blessing.
The 76-year-old from Buenos Aires is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be pontiff.
An hour earlier, white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney announced the new Pope’s election.
He will be installed officially in an inauguration Mass on Tuesday 19 March, the Vatican said.
Pope Francis replaces Benedict XVI, who resigned last month at the age of 85, saying he was not strong enough to lead the Church.
He has telephoned Benedict and is planning to meet him, a Vatican spokesman said.
Pope Francis takes the helm at a difficult time for the Catholic Church, facing an array of challenges which include the role of women, interfaith tensions and dwindling congregations in some parts of the world.
The BBC’s James Robbins, in St Peter’s Square, says that at first the crowd was unsure who this man was, but they seemed to warm to his humour.
He began his address to the crowds by offering a prayer for his predecessor.
In a light-hearted moment, he said his fellow cardinals had gone to the “ends of the Earth” to find a bishop of Rome.
He went on to ask the crowd to “pray to God so that he can bless me”, before calling on the world to set off on a path of love and fraternity.
“Habemus Papam Franciscum,” was the first tweet by the papal account @pontifex since Benedict stood down last month.
The election was met with thunderous applause at the cathedral in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis’ home city.
Throughout Latin America – home to 40% of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics – people reacted with delight and surprise.
“It’s a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries. It was worth the wait,” said Jose Antonio Cruz, a Franciscan friar in the Puerto Rican capital San Juan, quoted by the Associated Press.
“Everyone from Canada down to Patagonia is going to feel blessed. This is an event.”
US President Barack Obama sent “warm wishes” on behalf of the American people to the newly elected pontiff, hailing the Argentine as “the first pope from the Americas.”
Argentina’s President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner wished him a “fruitful pastoral mission”.
She is expected to attend the Pope’s inauguration Mass on Tuesday, as is US Vice President Joe Biden, himself a Catholic.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a “momentous day” for Catholics, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the world’s Anglicans, offered him “every blessing”.
“I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors,” he said in a statement.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he looked forward to cooperation under Pope Francis’s “wise leadership”.
Correspondents say Cardinal Bergoglio was a surprise choice and not among a small group of frontrunners before the election.
Many observers were also expecting a younger pope to be elected.
He is regarded as a doctrinal conservative but seen as a potential force for reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, which may have won the support of reforming cardinals.
However, he is known more than anything for his humility. He has spent almost his entire career in Argentina and often travels to work by bus.
The BBC’s Marcia Carmo in Buenos Aires says Cardinal Bergoglio’s sermons always had an impact in Argentina: he often stressed social inclusion and indirectly criticised governments that did not pay attention to those on the margins of society.
The name he has taken is reminiscent of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century Italian reformer and patron saint of animals, who lived in poverty.
The saint was said to have been summoned by God to repair a Church in ruins.
Cardinal Bergoglio, whose family roots are Italian, is generally thought to have come second in the last conclave in 2005, which elected Benedict XVI as Pope.
The 115 cardinals involved in the 2013 election were in isolation since Tuesday afternoon, and held four inconclusive votes.
At least 77 of them, or two-thirds, would have had to vote for a single candidate for him to be elected Pope.
Before the conclave began, there appeared to be no clear choice to replace Benedict.
The church leader that believing Roman Catholics call the “successor” of the apostle Peter and “the vicar of Christ” will go by the name of Pope Francis and is the first non-European pope in modern times, and the first from a developing country.
The much-awaited choice is something of a surprise, as the new pope was not foreshadowed prominently on the short lists of various experts, though the 76-year old was said to be the runner-up to retiring Pope Benedict in the 2005 conclave.
Cardinal Bergoglio, a Jesuit intellectual who reportedly eschews the ornate trappings of church power – he travels by bus – was elected in a swift five votes of a conclave of 115 cardinals, and immediately appeared to say the Lord’s Prayer to crowds on the Vatican plaza.
Like his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI who resigned last month, the first head of the Catholic church to do so in 600 years, Pope Francis is said to be theologically orthodox and socially conservative. He has opposed Argentina’s gay marriage laws, has been fiercely pro-family, and is also known as an advocate for the poor. In church terms, he is seen as a master conciliator who will be adroit at healing many of the rifts and scandals over finances and pedophile priests that have dogged the Vatican in recent years.
He was elected by a conclave that overwhelmingly shares the conservative views of Benedict who has held sway as an enforcer of orthodoxy in the Vatican since 1982.
As John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter writes, “Either John Paul II or Benedict XVI appointed each of the 117 cardinals who will cast a ballot, including 11 Americans, so there will be little ideological clash. No matter what happens, the church almost certainly won’t reverse its bans on abortion, gay marriage or women priests.”
B.B.C. Europe Report
Cardinals gathered in Rome to elect a new pope will begin voting later on Tuesday, with no clear frontrunner in sight.
The 115 cardinal-electors will attend a special Mass in the morning before processing into the Sistine Chapel to begin their deliberations in the afternoon.
They will vote four times daily until two-thirds can agree on a candidate.
The election was prompted by the surprise resignation of Benedict XVI.
The challenges of leading a Church beset by problems ranging from the sexual abuse scandal to accusations of corruption at the Vatican bank proved too much for the 85-year-old now known as Pope emeritus, say correspondents.
They now lie ahead for his successor, once he is elected.
Tuesday morning will be dominated by the saying of the Mass “for the Election of the Supreme Pontiff”, beginning at 1000 (0900 GMT) in St Peter’s Basilica.
- 115 cardinal-electors
- Two-thirds – or 77 – need to agree on papal candidate
- Four votes per day, two in the morning and two in the evening
- Chosen candidate will be 266th Pope
- He will lead world’s 1.2 billion Catholics
In the afternoon, 115 cardinal-electors – all under 80, as those over 80 are excluded – will proceed into the Sistine Chapel for the secret conclave to select Benedict’s successor.
Once they have taken an oath of secrecy, Msgr Guido Marini, papal master of ceremonies, will call out the words “Extra omnes” – “Everybody out” – and the chapel doors will be locked to outsiders.
The 85-year-old Pope emeritus resigned on 28 February after eight years in office, citing ill health. He was the first Pope in six centuries to do so.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the marked favourite ahead of the 2005 conclave that elected him pope after just four rounds of voting, says the BBC’s Michael Hirst in Rome.
His status was compounded by a strong sermon given during the pre-election mass, a scathing attack on what he saw as the “dictatorship of relativism”.
The vote for his successor is expected to be much longer.
After 10 general congregations open to all cardinals, regardless of age – at which 160 cardinals spoke of the issues facing the faith and its 1.2 billion adherents, and the qualities needed by their next leader – no clear frontrunner has emerged, our correspondent says.
“Last time around there was a man of stature, three or four times that of any other cardinal,” French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin told reporters, according to Reuters news agency.
“That is not the case this time around. Therefore, the choice has to be made among one, two, three, four… a dozen candidates.
“We still don’t really know anything. We will have to wait for the results of the first ballot.”
Cardinal Angelo Sodano – the dean of the college of cardinals who will lead Tuesday’s Mass and issue a sermon likely to touch on the themes and priorities raised during the congregations – is too old to vote at 85 and not seen as a contender for the papacy.
Candidates named as contenders include Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, Brazil’s Odilo Scherer, and the US Cardinal Timothy Dolan – though he told one interviewer anyone who thought he was in with a chance might be “smoking marijuana”.
Emphasis on secrecy
Once inside the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, cardinals will listen to a meditation by elderly Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech before holding a first vote, after which their ballot papers will be burned.
The smoke that will drift out of the chapel’s chimney early in the evening is likely to be black – meaning no Pope has been elected.
From Wednesday, two votes will be held each morning and afternoon – with ballots burned after each session – until one candidate attains a two-thirds majority (77 votes).
Then the smoke will be white, meaning the 266th bishop of Rome will have been chosen.
Extensive measures are taken to prevent details about the cardinals’ discussions over the next pope becoming public.
On Monday, some 90 staff who will support the cardinals during their time of seclusion – including waiters, cleaners, drivers and medical staff – took an oath of secrecy.
The Sistine Chapel will be swept daily for bugs.
There is a reason I posted the prior article from the Daily Beast, because it resonated with me so vividly.
Let me tell you a story…
I graduated High School in 1985. I spent a year at the local junior college, but all the while, I was actively working at my home parish, I was an altar server, and a member of the youth group and later a Eucharistic minister.
In 1986, I applied to the Diocese of Miami – Minor Seminary in Miami. I took all the tests and passed, I guess. My parents were neither here nor there. It was because of my grandmother(s) that my passion for God was so strong.
All I wanted was to serve the church, And I did that without question during that year. I loved God with all my heart and all my soul. And I wanted to do right by my upbringing. But men at the seminary did not think that I was suited for ministry, that is why I only lasted a year.
You could say that when I was dismissed, God fell out of favor. I did not come out until I turned 21 and was well away from my family. What I didn’t know at 19 I should have in hindsight.
I was all of 19 years old. I had eyes for the church, and I was accepted into the minor seminary in the Fall of 1986 – thru – Spring 1987. I was a boy trying to find his way in a community of men who, in most cases, were older than me, also, (and this is purely hindsight observation) most of my peers knew who they were, as in sexual orientation.
There was a dichotomy of states I observed. I kept my nose clean, I did not make waves, I did my studies, went to chapel, participated in community, but still, I was an odd ball.
In hindsight, there were many things that I felt passionate about. A certain priest, had a problem with the drink. He would drink and find himself in the lodging hall and some of us took it upon ourselves to get him back to the rectory and into bed without incident. This happened more than once, and more than twice.
He eventually got sent away to dry out. And it was upon this campaign that I seized upon. I lobbied for him to be returned to us. Because he was a priest in a certain position of authority when he was sent away.
The priest who was installed as his replacement, was a Big Frock Priest. He loved his vestments, and you would have thought he had aspirations to the Vatican, by the way he held himself, marched through the chapel and wielded his limp fist. I did not like him. Because he had an ego of authority.
There were gay priests in residence at the seminary. It so happened that certain priests were taken out of their own churches because of personal issues that seemed as punishments for their transgressions. And were sent to live with us.
Among my fellows, there were surely young men who were gay. I did see them OUT in community, when I was asked to leave the community. Some of my fellows did end up being ordained. I have since seen them on televised masses on tv, and over the past years I have posted reports about the exploits of some of the priests that were in residence during my year.
I can tell you that YES there are gay priests in churches. And It would not phase me one bit to know that there are gay priests ensconced in the Vatican. It does not shock me to read items such that I have posted here.
One of the priests, whom I know was gay at the time, when I was in seminary, studied at the Vatican during his formation years. So it is not a stretch that there are homosexuals in the highest echelons of Holy Mother Church.
I will defend some men. Because although they may be gay, many of the priests I have come to know in all my years, are good upstanding priests who serve their communities without fail. They don’t run around in the shadows and act out as we have read below.
Some I will not defend.I do draw a line in certain situations.
As a young man, at that time, I had not come to any realization about my sexual orientation. And I must ponder how I would have turned out, had I remained in seminary and eventually ordained like some of my fellows. I don’t know how that would have turned out.
There were gay men in my formation class. Some were upperclassmen, some from other countries. We had a good population of seminarians from other parts of the Latin world. And it was apparent that some of them were terribly gay.
It was a bit off putting. We had orientation weekends when new prospects would come to visit the school, and for some, would be followed by coming online with us. One particular boy who came after me, brought along his trunk with his assorted speedos and colorful underwear. Which he wasn’t shy about showing off to us as he unpacked.
He did not last very long. He came and went in less than a season.
The rector of the seminary … Big Frock Priest … was a character. I would name him, but I won’t because that would bring me too much grief. I imagine that in hindsight, as an older man myself, today, that he was a priest with a flair for the dramatic.
You know when you stand in church and a priest raises his right hand to offer a blessing to the people, there is the regular way a priest would hold out his hand to offer that blessing. Then there was Big Frock Priest, who, like I said, had aspirations of higher office, his pointed blessings with hand held high in mock of a bishop or the pope. I can see it in my minds eye.
We’ve talked about Gay priests … and If they are the problem?
We cannot discount the countless men of faith who have abused their positions in the church to abuse children. Actions that are morally and ethically deplorable. I cannot condone these men.
You come to serve the church, and you come to serve God first and foremost. With that in mind, if you desire to abuse children, then renounce your ministry and be on your way.
I have known a handful of men in ministry. Many of them straight. But since my coming to Canada, and being educated here, my affiliation with the Catholic and Anglican Churches has introduced me to a group of saintly Gay Clergy in both the Catholic and Anglican faiths.
One of them is one of my best friends, is to be ordained later on this year.
There are gays in Catholic ministry. That I can confirm. It is not a stretch to think that there are gay priests in the Vatican. This whole gay black male situation in Rome is perplexing. But it would not surprise me if these allegations are true. There are priests, then there are those men who over step their roles and bring shame upon themselves and to us by their actions.
It’s kind of repugnant.
But what do you do with all that pent up frustration of ministry work day in and day out. having to perform for the masses and the bishops, cardinals and the many who pass through the gates of Holy Mother Church?
The gay priests I knew, who were schooled in Rome, were certainly members of a particular community, and surely there were others there are well. This is not just a North American Phenomena. Gays come from most civilized countries.
Pope Benedict XVI was always known as the bulldog, for his strict stance on Church doctrine. The late Pope John II appointed him to his position for the Doctrine of the faith, because he was so learned and highly educated and well known for his smarts and clerical knowledge.
With this kind of cleric in the highest office of Holy Mother Church, I don’t think for one moment that he did not know what was going on in his church? A watchdog of this caliber had to have eyes in the community.
But what was an 85 year old frail pontiff going to do about these men? What recourse was he to take, and what punishment could he enact? Who ever wins the next conclave is going to have quite the mess to clean up, in addition to all the scandals that are rocking the church from the inside.
Some gay men have good character and are good men.
Some gay men are characters and give us all a bad name.
Some gay clergy are priests first and human second.
Some gay clergy have blurred the lines between the sacred and the profane.
But what is the answer to these situations? Do we punish all the clergy for the transgressions of some? Do you defrock those priests who have been implicated in these tawdry accusations? Do you close every sauna in Rome and take into custody all those gay men who (the reports say) have damning evidence on those so called (transgression priests)?
What will unfold, and what is truth and what is false?
I guess we shall see.
I’ve stood in St. Peter’s Basilica, I have climbed to the top of the cupola and looked down into the papal gardens, and I have visited the tomb of St. Peter.
I don’t understand how men of faith could spit upon the church and their vocations by doing such stupid and repugnant things…
Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.
God is perfect; yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I can’t imagine what God is thinking about these things.
I would offer that he isn’t terribly pleased.
By Barbie Latza Nadeau | The Daily Beast – Fri, 22 Feb, 2013
Of all the rumors floating around about just why Pope Benedict XVI is hanging up his camauro, one has taken on a life of its own. According to several well-placed vaticanisti—or Vatican experts—in Rome, Benedict is resigning after being handed a secret red-covered dossier that included details about a network of gay priests who work inside the Vatican, but who play in secular Rome. The priests, it seems, are allegedly being blackmailed by a network of male prostitutes who worked at a sauna in Rome’s Quarto Miglio district, a health spa in the city center, and a private residence once entrusted to a prominent archbishop. The evidence reportedly includes compromising photos and videos of the prelates—sometimes caught on film in drag, and, in some cases, caught “in the act.”
Revelations about the alleged network are the basis of a 300-page report supposedly delivered to Benedict on December 17 by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Joseph Tomko, and Salvatore De Giorgi. According to the press reports, it was on that day that Benedict XVI decided once and for all to retire, after toying with the idea for months. He reportedly closed the dossier and locked it away in the pontifical apartment safe to be handed to his successor to deal with. According to reports originally printed by La Repubblica newspaper and the newsweekly Panorama (and followed up across the gamut of the Italian media), the crimes the cardinals uncovered involved breaking the commandments “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the latter of which has been used in Vatican-speak to also refer to homosexual relations instead of the traditional reference to infidelity.
The trio of cardinals who authored the report, known in the Italian press as the “007 Priests,” were commissioned by Benedict to dig into the Vatileaks scandal that rocked the Holy See last fall when the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted of stealing secret papal documents and leaking them to the press. The sleuthing cardinals ran a parallel investigation to the Vatican tribunal’s criminal case against the butler, but theirs was far more covert and focused not on the mechanics of the leaks, but on who within the Roman Curia might be the brains behind them. And, according to the leaked reports, what the “007 Priests” found went far beyond the pope’s private desk. “What’s coming out is very detailed X-ray of the Roman Curia that does not spare even the closest collaborators of the Pope,” wrote respected Vatican expert Ignazio Ingrao in Panorama. “The Pope was no stranger to the intrigues, but he probably did not know that under his pontificate there was such a complex network and such intricate chains of personal interests and unmentionable relationships.”
The existence of a gay-priest network outside the fortified walls of Vatican City is hardly news, and many are wondering if it is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of sex scandals. In 2010, investigative journalist Carmello Abbate went undercover with a hidden camera to write a shocking exposé called “Good Nights Out for Gay Priests”.
Abbate caught the priests on hidden camera dirty dancing at private parties and engaging in sex acts with male escorts on church property. He also caught them emerging from dark bedrooms just in time to celebrate mass. In one postcoital scene, a priest parades around seminaked, wearing only his clerical vestments. “This is not about homosexuality,” Abbate told The Daily Beast when he published the exposé. “This is about private vices and public virtues. This is about serious hypocrisy in the Catholic Church.”
Because so much of the secret lives of gay priests is actually not so secret thanks to Abbate’s exposé and subsequent book, Sex and the Vatican, many are wondering what else could be hidden in the alleged red-covered dossier. Vatican elite have also been loosely tied to a number of other secular scandals during Benedict’s tenure, including the ultra-tawdry affair between former Lazio governor Piero Marrazzo and several transvestite prostitutes, including one named “Brenda” who was found burned to death in 2009. At the time that Marrazzo’s relationships with the transvestites were discovered, his driver reportedly told investigators that several high-ranking priests and even cardinals were customers of Rome’s elite transsexual circuit, though no proof was ever provided and no one has ever been arrested tied to the transsexual prostitution circuit. Nor has anyone mentioned whether reference to these crimes might also be in the dossier. But Marrazzo was whisked off to the Vatican-owned Monte Cassino abbey south of Rome to do his penance, and he even wrote a letter to Vatican Secretary of State Tarciso Bertone asking for Pope Benedict XVI’s forgiveness.
Whatever secrets the red binders supposedly hold will have to remain just that until the next pope is elected. But Ingrao believes its contents are so important that the dossier will be like the 118th cardinal in the conclave. “Many new skeletons from the closets of the cardinals could come out until the beginning of the conclave,” says Ingrao. “Many voters know or claim to know the secrets of their brothers, but it is already clear that the new pope who leaves the Sistine Chapel will have to be scandal-free in order to proceed with cleaning up [what] Ratzinger has left for his successor.”
Back on April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI did something rather striking, but which went largely unnoticed.
He stopped off in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb!
Fifteen months later, on July 4, 2010, Benedict went out of his way again, this time to visit and pray in the cathedral of Sulmona, near Rome, before the relics of this same saint, Celestine V.
Few people, however, noticed at the time.
Only now, we may be gaining a better understanding of what it meant. These actions were probably more than pious acts. More likely, they were profound and symbolic gestures of a very personal nature, which conveyed a message that a Pope can hardly deliver any other way.
In the year 1294, this man (Fr. Pietro Angelerio), known by all as a devout and holy priest, was elected Pope, somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected Pope in 2005). Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right.
And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this venerable model.
I saw this on Tumblr and had to post it for you.
After the Pope made his announcement, Lightening hit the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica…
Courtesy: Vatican Holy See Direct Link
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
Courtesy: BBC News
Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years as the head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85.
The unexpected development – the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years – surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides.
The Vatican says it expects a new Pope to be elected before Easter.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope in 2005 after John Paul II’s death.
The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says the move has come as a shock – but adds that in theory there has never been anything stopping Pope Benedict or any of his predecessors from stepping aside.
Under the Catholic Church’s governing code, Canon Law, the only conditions for the validity of such a resignation are that it be made freely and be properly published.
But resignation is extremely rare: the last Pope to step aside was Pope Gregory XII, who resigned in 1415 amid a schism within the Church.
A Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said that even Pope Benedict’s closest aides did not know what he was planning to do and were left “incredulous”. He added that the decision showed “great courage” and “determination”.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is quoted as saying he was “greatly shaken by this unexpected news”.
The brother of the German-born Pope said the pontiff had been advised by his doctor not to take any more transatlantic trips and had been considering stepping down for months.
Speaking to the BBC from his home in Regensburg in Germany, Georg Ratzinger said his brother’s resignation was part of a “natural process”.
“When he got to the second half of his 80s, he felt that his age was showing and that he was gradually losing the abilities he may have had and that it takes to fulfil this office properly,” he said.
There would be no interference in choosing a successor, Georg Ratzinger said: “Where he’s needed he will make himself available, but he will not want to want to intervene in the affairs of his successor.”
The next Pope will be chosen by members of a 117-strong nominating conclave held in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.
Analysts say Europeans – and Italian-speakers specifically – are still among the favourites, but strong candidates could emerge from Africa and Latin America, which both have very large Catholic populations.
The Pope was to retire to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo when he leaves office, the Vatican said, before moving into a renovated monastery used by cloistered nuns for “a period of prayer and reflection”.
At 78, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of the oldest new popes in history when elected.
He took the helm as one of the fiercest storms the Catholic Church has faced in decades – the scandal of child sex abuse by priests – was breaking.
In a statement, the pontiff said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
“However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to steer the ship of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”
A theological conservative before and during his time as Pope, he has taken traditional positions on homosexuality and women priests, while urging abstinence instead of blessing the use of contraceptives.
His attempts at inter-faith relations were mixed, with Muslims, Jews and Protestants all taking offence at various times, despite ongoing efforts to reach out and visits to key holy sites, including those in Jerusalem.
A German government spokesman said he was “moved and touched” by the surprise resignation of the pontiff.
“The German government has the highest respect for the Holy Father, for what he has done, for his contributions over the course of his life to the Catholic Church.
“He has left a very personal signature as a thinker at the head of the Church, and also as a shepherd.”
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Janet McBride)
ROME (Reuters) – Pope Benedict said on Monday he will resign on Feb 28 because he no longer has the strength to fulfill the duties of his office, becoming the first pontiff since the Middle Ages to take such a step.
The 85-year-old pope said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months “to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me”.
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter,” he said according to a statement from the Vatican.
A Vatican spokesman said the pontiff would step down from 1900 GMT on February 28, leaving the office vacant until a successor is chosen.
*** *** *** ***
By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press
VATICAN CITY – Benedict XVI always cast himself as the reluctant pope, a shy bookworm who preferred solitary walks in the Alps to the public glare and the majesty of Vatican pageantry. But once in office, he never shied from charting the Catholic Church on the course he thought it needed — a determination reflected in his stunning announcement Monday that he would be the first pope to resign since 1415.
While taking the Vatican and world by surprise, Benedict had laid the groundwork for the decision years ago, saying popes have the obligation to resign if they can’t carry on. And to many, his decision was perfectly in keeping with a man who had dedicated his life to the church, showing his love for the institution and an acknowledgment that it needed new blood to confront the future.
The German theologian, whose mission was to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe, grew increasingly frail as he shouldered the monumental task of purging the Catholic world of a sex abuse scandal that festered under John Paul II and exploded during his reign into the church’s biggest crisis in decades, if not centuries.
More recently, he bore the painful burden of betrayal by one of his closest aides: Benedict’s own butler was convicted by a Vatican court of stealing the pontiff’s personal papers and giving them to a journalist, one of the gravest breaches of papal security in modern times.
All the while, Benedict pursued his single-minded vision to rekindle faith in a world which, he frequently lamented, seemed to think it could do without God.
“In vast areas of the world today, there is a strange forgetfulness of God,” he told 1 million young people gathered on a vast field for his first foreign trip as pope, World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005. “It seems as if everything would be just the same even without Him.”
With some decisive, often controversial moves, Benedict tried to remind Europe of its Christian heritage and set the Catholic Church on a conservative, tradition-minded path that often alienated progressives and thrilled conservatives.
The Vatican’s crackdown on American nuns — accused of straying from church doctrine in pursuing social justice issues rather than stressing core church teaching on abortion and homosexuality — left a bitter taste for many American Catholics.
But conservatives cheered his championing of the pre-Vatican II church and his insistence on tradition, even if it cost the church popularity among liberals.
As he said in his 1996 book “Salt of the Earth,” a smaller but purer church may be necessary. “Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world — that let God in,” he said then.
Yet his papacy will be forever intertwined with the sex abuse scandal.
Over the course of just a few months in 2010, thousands of people in Europe, Australia, South America and beyond came forward with reports of priests who raped and molested them as children, and bishops who covered up the crimes.
Documents revealed that the Vatican knew well of the problem yet turned a blind eye for decades, at times rebuffing bishops who tried to do the right thing.
Benedict had firsthand knowledge of the scope of the problem since his old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which he had headed since 1982, was responsible for dealing with abuse cases.
He met with victims across the globe, wept with them and prayed with them. He promised that the church must “do everything possible” to ensure such crimes never happen again. The Vatican updated its legal code to extend the statute of limitations for cases and told bishops’ conferences around the world to come up with guidelines to prevent abuse.
But Benedict never admitted any personal or Vatican failure. Much to the dismay of victims, he never took action against bishops who ignored or covered up the abuse of their priests or moved known pedophiles to new posts where they abused again.
And hard as he tried to heal the church’s wounds, Benedict’s message was always clouded by his wooden personal style. No globe-trotting showman or media darling like John Paul, Benedict was a teacher and academic to the core: quiet and pensive with a fierce mind. He spoke in paragraphs, not sound bites. In recent years, his declining health made him seem increasingly fragile and somewhat disengaged in public. And he was notoriously prone to gaffes, though that was perhaps more a fault of his advisers than the pope himself.
Some of Benedict’s most lasting initiatives as pope — the actions he will be remembered for — focused on restoring traditional Catholic practice and worship to 21st century Catholicism. It was all in a bid to correct what he considered the erroneous interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world.
His conservative vision is a direction his successor will likely continue given that the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect the next pope — was hand-picked by Benedict to guarantee his legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church.
Benedict relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old, pre-Vatican II Latin Mass. He reached out to a group of traditionalist, schismatic Catholics in a bid to bring them back into Rome’s fold. And he issued an unprecedented invitation to traditionalist Anglicans upset over women priests and gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church.
In doing so, he alienated many progressive Catholics who feared he was rolling back the clock on Vatican II. He also angered some Jews who equated the pre-Vatican II church with the time when Jews were still considered ripe for conversion and were held responsible collectively for the death of Christ.
Yet like John Paul, Benedict had made reaching out to Jews a hallmark of his papacy. His first official act as pope was a letter to Rome’s Jewish community and he became the second pope in history, after John Paul, to enter a synagogue.
And in his 2011 book “Jesus of Nazareth” Benedict made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Christ, explaining biblically and theologically why there was no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death.
“It’s very clear Benedict is a true friend of the Jewish people,” said Rabbi David Rosen, who heads the interreligious relations office for the American Jewish Committee.
During his trip to Poland, Benedict prayed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp — a visit heavy with significance for a German pope on Polish soil.
“In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can be only a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent?” he asked.
His 2009 visit to Israel, however, drew a lukewarm response from officials at Jerusalem’s national Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial who found Benedict’s speech lacking. His call for a Palestinian state also put a damper on the visit.
Jews were also incensed at Benedict’s constant promotion toward sainthood of Pope Pius XII, the World War II-era pope accused by some of having failed to sufficiently denounce the Holocaust. And they harshly criticized Benedict when he removed the excommunication of a traditionalist British bishop who had denied the Holocaust.
Benedict’s relations with the Muslim world were also a mixed bag.
He riled the Muslim world with a speech in Regensburg, Germany in September 2006, five years after the terror attacks in the United States, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith.”
Much of the outrage that ensued from Benedict’s interfaith missteps was due to the Holy See’s communications problems: The Vatican under Benedict suffered notorious PR hiccups, constantly finding itself slow to react to news and then reacting with muddled messages that required two or three clarifications before getting it straight.
Sometimes Benedict himself was to blame.
In 2009, he enraged the United Nations and several European governments, when en route to Africa, he told reporters that the AIDS problem couldn’t be resolved by distributing condoms. “On the contrary, it increases the problem,” he said then.
A year later, he issued a revision that seemed to placate liberals while maintaining church teaching opposing contraception: In a book-length interview, he said that if a male prostitute were to use a condom to avoid passing on HIV to his partner, he might be taking a first step toward a more responsible sexuality.
It was a significant shift given the Vatican’s repeated position that abstinence and marital fidelity were the only sure ways to stop the virus. Benedict repeated that line and stressed that sex outside marriage was immoral, but his comments nevertheless marked the first time a pope had even acknowledged that condoms had a role to play in stopping HIV.
When he was elected the 265th leader of the Church on April 19, 2005, Benedict, aged 78, was the oldest pope elected in 275 years and the first German one in nearly 1,000 years.
As John Paul’s right-hand man, he had been a favourite going into the vote and was selected in the fastest conclave in a century: Just about 24 hours after the voting began, white smoke curled from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 5:50 p.m. to announce “Habemus Papam!”
Though clearly intending to carry on John Paul’s legacy, Benedict didn’t try to emulate his predecessor’s popular acclaim. His foreign trips were short and focused. His Masses were solemn, his homilies dense and professorial.
And he wasn’t afraid to challenge John Paul’s legacy when he believed his predecessor had erred.
In one remarkable instance, he essentially took over the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative religious order held up as a model of orthodoxy by John Paul after it was revealed that its founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children.
Under John Paul, who had been a fierce supporter of Maciel, the Vatican’s investigation into the Mexican priest had languished. But a year after Benedict became pope, Maciel was sentenced to a lifetime of penance and prayer, and in 2010 the order was essentially put under receivership by the Vatican because of a host of spiritual, financial and other problems.
He wrote three encyclicals, “God is Love” in 2006, “Saved by Hope” in 2007 and “Charity in Truth” in 2009. The latter was perhaps his best known as it called for a new world financial order guided by ethics that was published in the throes of the global financial meltdown.
Benedict’s call, however, would strike some as hypocritical when a year later the Holy See’s top two banking officials were placed under investigation in a money laundering probe that resulted in the seizure of millions of euros from a Vatican Bank account. The money was later released after Benedict, the Vatican’s top legislator, amended the city state’s legal code to comply with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing.
The Vatican’s finances though also came under scrutiny when Benedict’s own butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested in May 2012 and charged with stealing the pope’s personal correspondence and leaking the documents to a journalist. Gabriele told Vatican investigators he did so because he thought the pope wasn’t being informed of the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican and thought that exposing it publicly would put the church back on the right track. Gabriele was eventually sentenced to 18 months in prison, though Benedict later pardoned him.
As soon as he was elected, Benedict moved decisively on a few selected fronts: He made clear early on that he wanted to re-establish diplomatic relations with China that were severed in 1951. He wrote a landmark letter to the 12 million Chinese faithful in 2007, urging them to unite under Rome’s wing. But tensions with the state-backed church remained with several illicit ordinations of Chinese bishops without papal consent.
Within his first year, Benedict also signed off on a long-awaited document barring most gays from the priesthood in a move that riled many in the American church. But in a document welcomed by liberal Catholics, he also essentially abolished “limbo,” saying there was hope to think that babies who died without being baptized would go to heaven.
And in one of his most popular acts, he beatified his predecessor in record time, drawing 1.5 million people to Rome in 2011 to witness John Paul move a step closer to sainthood.
Benedict favoured Masses heavy in Latin and the brocaded silk vestments of his predecessors. His fondness for Gregorian chant and Mozart — he was an accomplished classical pianist — found its way into papal Masses and concerts performed in his honour, some of the only times the workaholic Benedict was seen relaxing and enjoying himself.
He had a weakness for orange Fanta, small animals and his beloved library; when he was elected pope, he had his entire study moved — as is — from his apartment just outside the Vatican walls into the Apostolic Palace.
“In them are all my advisers,” he said of his books in the 2010 book-length interview “Light of the World.” ”I know every nook and cranny, and everything has its history.”
He fed the goldfish in the pond at the papal summer retreat each day during his vacations, and once, when some lion cubs were brought to an audience at the Vatican, he bent down to pet one — no easy feat for a man of his age.
Years after he had left, colleagues from his days at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spoke wistfully, even nostalgically of his tenure setting the course of Catholic doctrine and discipline and presiding over the creation of the monumental “Catechism of the Catholic Church” — a synthesis of key Catholic teaching.
His presentations at monthly department meetings were “magisterial,” they said, worthy of the church’s permanent teachings. They said he fostered a “family” inside the hallowed yellow halls of the Holy Office, once known as the Inquisition.
His real family consisted of his brother Georg, also a priest and a frequent summer visitor to Castel Gandolfo. His sister died years previous.
His “papal family” consisted of Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, his longtime private secretary who was always by his side, another secretary and four consecrated women who tended to the papal apartment.
They shared meals, celebrated daily Mass together and at the end of the day watched DVDs, especially of Benedict’s favourite show “Don Camillo and Peppone,” a black and white comedy from the 1950s about the pastor of a small Italian town and its Communist mayor.
Benedict was born April 16, 1927 in Marktl Am Inn, in Bavaria, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.
In his memoirs, Benedict dealt what could have been a source of controversy had it been kept secret — that he was enlisted in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood. Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper. He deserted the German army in April 1945, the waning days of the war.
He called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II.
Benedict was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.
John Paul named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he took up his post a year later. Following John Paul’s death in 2005, he was elected pope by a conclave of cardinals.
If there were any doubts about Benedict’s priority to reinvigorate Christianity in Europe, his choice of a papal name was as good as any indication.
Benedict told cardinals soon after he was elected that he hoped to be a pope of peace, like Pope Benedict XV, who reigned during World War I. But the first Benedict — St. Benedict of Norcia — was also an inspiration.
The 5th and 6th century monk is a patron saint of Europe and inspired the creation of the Benedictine order, the main guardian of learning and literature in Western Europe during the dark centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.
Msgr. James Fetscher
Chaplain to His Holiness
Born Aug. 9, 1941 in Jamaica, N.Y., Father Fetscher grew up in Holy Family Parish in North Miami and was ordained May 25, 1968 for the Archdiocese of Miami. He served in the religious education department, as coordinator for the North Dade Deanery, from 1969 to 1971, and became founding director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship from 1978 to 1984. Concurrently, he served as parochial vicar at St. Mark in Boynton Beach, Visitation Church in North Miami, teacher at Msgr. Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, member of the faculty at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, parochial vicar at St. Lawrence Church in North Miami Beach and associate rector at St. Mary Cathedral in Miami.
From 1976 to 1980 he served as parochial vicar at St. Louis Church in Pinecrest, where he would return as pastor in 1982. He remained at St. Louis until September 2010, when he was named to his current post as pastor of St. Sebastian in Fort Lauderdale.
In addition, Father Fetscher has served as president of the Priests’ Senate, member of the first archdiocesan Synod, dean of the South Dade Deanery and member of the Presbyteral Council.
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I guess I should explain why I posted this notice of elevation. Fr. James Fetscher was Pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church during my years in high school and into college and seminary. He signed off on my paperwork to enter the seminary in 1986. Sadly, I was rebuffed after completing my first year.
Over the years he was a guiding force in every life of every human being who graced the parish over his tenure as Pastor. We buried countless good men and women, priests and fellows over those years. Fr. James is a good, kind and wise man and I congratulate him on his elevation.
Courtesy: Stefano Rellandini Reuters photo
VATICAN CITY – Kateri Tekakwitha ( Kat’-er-ee Teka-KWEE’-ta), a woman credited with life-saving miracles, has become North America’s first aboriginal saint after a canonization mass at the Vatican.
Tekakwitha was among the seven saints Pope Benedict XVI added to the roster of Catholic role models Sunday morning as he tries to rekindle the faith in places where it’s lagging.
Aboriginal Canadians and Americans in traditional dress sang songs to Kateri as the sun rose over St. Peter’s Square.
They joined pilgrims from around the world at the Mass and cheered when Benedict, in Latin, declared each of the seven new saints worthy of veneration by the church.
Tekakwitha, who is also known as “Lily of the Mohawks,” was born in New York state in 1656 before fleeing to a settlement north of the border to escape opposition to her Christianity.
She died in 1680 at the age of 24. Her body is entombed in a marble shrine at the St. Francis-Xavier Church in Kahnawake, a Montreal-area Mowhawk community that was expected be well represented among the 1,500 Canadian pilgrims set to attend the celebrations.
The process for her canonization began in the 1880s and Tekakwitha was eventually beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980.
According to a longtime deacon at the Kahnawake reserve, an event six years ago is widely viewed as a miracle which sealed Tekakwitha’s canonization.
The case involved six-year-old Jake Finkbonner, who belongs to the Lummi tribe in Washington, said Ron Boyer, who was appointed by the Vatican in 2007 to help make the case for the canonization.
Finkbonner was knocked over while playing basketball, striking his lip on a post. The incident led to the boy developing a high fever which landed him in intensive care where doctors determined he had a flesh-eating disease.
The deacon said Sister Kateri Mitchell, a Mohawk from the Akwesasne reserve, happened to be visiting the area and was summoned by the family. She had a bone relic of Tekakwitha which was held to Finkbonner’s chest as his family prayed.
According to Boyer, at that point the infection stopped spreading and began to heal.
Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, is among 17 bishops who were to make the trip to the Vatican, while House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer was also expected to attend Sunday’s mass.
It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. We usually cook on Sunday rather than on the holiday Monday. So it went today. I was up early this morning to prep my bird and get it ready for baking. Hubby bought me a new roasting pan which is a serious upgrade from those aluminum throw away pans you buy at the grocery store.
The bird went in around 11:30. And the oven was cranked for the first hour or so, then I turned it down to 325 and let it roast until it was finished. We have one of those computer thermometers, which you stick in when you put the bird in the oven and it monitors the baking until the bird reaches that correct temperature of 180 degrees.
We sat for dinner around 2:30 and it was a nice spread. What is even better is that now we can eat hot turkey sandwiches for the next couple of days, from the leftovers. TASTY !!!
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We cleaned up the dishes and had a couple hours until I had to depart for the meeting at 4:45. Skies were blue, and it was cool outside. It is running 7c/45f at this hour.
I arrived around 5 at the church and helped finish set up with my friends. We sat 16 folks around the circle. And we finally finished the text: Experience, Strength and Hope, after months and months of methodical weekly reading.
The book ends with the story: “He who looses his life.” It is quite a long story, coming from the 3rd edition of the Big Book. But so many agreed when sharing began that it was the right story to end that particular book.
The portion of the reading that struck many as well as myself was:
“For me, A.A. is a synthesis of all philosophy I’ve ever read, all of the positive, good philosophy, all of it based on love. I have seen that there is only one law, the law of love, and there are only two sins: the first is to interfere with the growth of another human being, and the second is to interfere with one’s own growth.”
The reading was split up over three weeks time, we read the first half of this story three weeks ago, then we had a tradition meeting, and this week was the final few pages of text where the above quote comes from.
The reading this week elicited a lot of honest introspection and reflection. It stirred up a lot of emotions in me at the moment, so I had to be choosy to what I would share for the night.
When I was younger and much more stupid, I was living with a very good friend in her mansion of a house. We both worked together for a long time, until I got a job with R.C.I. in the early 1990′s. I spoke to the effect that after reading several editions of the Big Book Stories from the back of the book, a particular episode rises to mind for me.
While actively drinking and acting out while living with this woman, I was actively drinking away my rent money, week in and week out. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my friend quit drinking and was going to A.A. While I was the alcoholic tornado twisting up her life. Hence, I committed the first of the two sins listed above. (interfering with the growth of another human being).
She changed the locks, and forced me to live in the clothes off my back while I worked another week to pay off the rent that was already late, then she asked me to move out. Many years would pass before I got sober the first time.
And one night I walked into a meeting in South Miami and there was my friend, now four years sober. I had been sober less than two. Needless to say I had to make some amends to her for my behavior. I ruined that relationship with my drinking. My friend was a beautiful and kind woman, and I treated her like shit while I was drinking.
As an active alcoholic, having had two kicks at the can, I interfered with my own growth. The first time around was so important that I get it and keep it. Because of the depth of need I had to desire the will to live. And the desire to live went hand in hand with staying sober.
But like I have shared in the recent past, I got in my own way. I thought I knew what was good for me at the time, I prepped for my SLIP. Keeping secrets and telling half truths. Hurting my best friends all because of an urge of the groin.
Once I committed to that geographic, and once I got there, there was no turning back. I was stuck. Thankfully I had one angel who knew where I was and what shape I was in when they came to take me away. There were periods of dry time before I came back the second time. Once I started drinking again, I could not stop. It was a compulsion.
I think about my entire story of my drinking career. There was rampant alcoholism in my family, but nobody did anything about it. We accepted it as our lot in life and there was no solution. And when I started drinking as a teen-ager nobody told me to stop. Or asked me to stop, or offered a solution to stop.
When I came out, my shrink, told me this piece of advice. He said “you know if you want to get into the gay community, go to the bar, sit down and have a drink, ‘hell have two’ and see what happens.” I had permission to drink because it was going to get me somewhere in life. Hence, it was the drink I needed to fit in, to be part of, and to not be alone.
I did not know how to stop. Nor did anyone suggest a way out. Not that I went looking for a way out. I was a young boy lost in the big world, I tossed away more than a decade of time to the drink.
We all have our journey that we must walk. And everything happens for a reason. And when it was my time to stop, I was finally finished with the drink.
In this story we read tonight, our man exhausted his families good graces, he took their money and bilked them of more and more until they said “enough.”
He ended up in jail several times and into an alcoholic hospital several times as well. Like a cat with nine lives, our man used up all of his lives drinking. Until he came to the end of his drinking. At the time he wrote this story he was 8 years sober. But he admits to being human and having issues with self and ego, even in sobriety. And when you read the story in its entirety, he mentions that clearly.
For some, when they finally dry up and get sober, they begin to regain the things they lost, like family, money, and happiness. Wealth of spirit and love grows up around you it isn’t about regaining riches or wealth. But now we are sober we get to do it over again, start anew, to rebuild the shattered lives we once lived.
I did not get all those things back when I got sober.
I made two decisions in sobriety.
The first decision came a few years into my first sobriety.
Being Gay and HIV+ was a terrible downer for me. My ultra orthodox catholic family could not stomach a fag in the family. And surely not if that fag had AIDS. My father beat into me that I was a mistake for the whole of my life. And during the first few years of sobriety, I was living alone by the grace of God and some good friends who were taking care of me.
Once in a while my father would come into town across the state for business. And he would come visit me. And every time he came to visit he would demean and belittle me and make me feel bad about myself. And he did this over and over again. The last time he did that to me, we were driving home from a restaurant and he was fucking with me, so I told him to pull over and I got out of the car and walked all the way home from where the car stopped. He never came to visit me again.
I was sick. And I was sure that I was going to die. My health was just up and down. And I knew that if I died my family would come and take me to some god forsaken burial plot somewhere where I would not be remembered nor given proper funeral rites. And Forgotten… So I did the only thing I knew possible to keep them from ever touching me ever again.
I made a life choice that pissed my parents both off to high heaven. I alienated them from me forever. Legally, they could not touch me.
Upon getting sober the second time, time and health was on my side. The problem with that life was that I was living well below the poverty level, and I was actively drinking. I was stuck because I didn’t think I could stop again.
The Grace of God came a second time. And I knew that this was my one chance to get it right. I capitalized on a family truth. That gave me a way out of poverty and sickness.
I made the second life choice that changed my life forever, when I got sober in 2001. I made the most of what life was about to grant me. This second life choice only alienated my family from me further. However difficult it was, I spent two years trying to keep lines of communications open with my mother. Writing every other week, sending gifts and such.
My father said that I had spit on my American citizenship and the country of my birth. However, both my brother and I were availed Birth Rights into Canada because my mother was STILL a Canadian Citizen when we were both born. I used that Birth Right. I am still an American Citizen.
Like I had said, my mother swore a blood oath to my father, who preached the family gospel. You were born in the USA and your father fought for the USA and lost love in the war and raised his children in the USA, how dare you even ponder thinking about leaving the USA.
I did think it, and I did leave it.
I came to Montreal.The place of my maternal heritage. The heritage my father vehemently swore to strip away from my mother, her children and the family that came with it. My father had a serious vendetta against the Quebecers of the family.
I was sober. I attained Canadian Citizenship, and I am sober to this day. I never looked back. I lament the fact that I will never get the family back. I lament the last day I saw my mother in the flesh. New Years Day 2001. For all of 20 minutes.
My old life has passed away. I believe that what happened, had to happen, and that everything happens for a reason. The holidays are upon us again, and I have my family of choice. I have my hubby, my sponsor and my friends whom I would never change for all the alcohol or money in the world.
I was told once, that if either my mother or father fell ill and or died, nobody would contact me. And they would go to their graves resentful and angry at me. Because they are active alcoholics. And my father forcibly alienated every family member that was part of our lives as children; aunts, uncles, cousins, all of them.
My parents live in the past. No matter how hard I tried to bring them into the future, it was to no avail. I grew up and became a man and my life is nothing like I would have imagined it when this last sober journey began.
And you know, all I want is to speak my truth. I lived. I am alive. I am sober. I have found love. I built a life. I built a relationship, and I built a home. All of my old friends are dead. And had I stayed where I was, surely I would have died.
But for the Grace of God go I…
You gotta do what you gotta do. If you don’t take chances, you will never live.
I once met a saintly man who told me that I should not wait until I was dead to ask God my questions. Ask them now while you are still alive, while you can listen to and use the answers.
Live, Live, Live … Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving …