Thursday, May 11, 2006

Of Presidents and Pacs

So, it happened.

This morning, Benedict XVI received President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela on an official visit.

Meanwhile, in America, some bishops prefer to lob grenades at much-less frightening politicians, as opposed to, you know, actually sitting down with 'em.... So much for following the leader.

The Pope also sent a message to Italy's President-elect, Giorgio Napolitano, who'll be sworn in on Monday after being selected yesterday afternoon. Benedict expressed his wish that, as the country's ceremonial head of state, the former Interior Minister -- an ex-Communist -- would work toward promoting "the authentic human and Christian values which constitute the wonderful patrimony of the Italian people."

In an address to a meeting of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family, the Holy Father returned to the theme of marriage as the "think tank" celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Institute was founded by the late Pope on 13 May 1981, the same day as the attempt against his life.

(To mark the 25th anniversary of the assassination attempt, there will be fireworks in St Peter's Square on Saturday night. No lie.)

Praising Humanae vitae, the controversial 1968 encyclical of Pope Paul VI on birth control, as "prophetic and always current," Benedict XVI went on to praise the institute for its mission, noting its emphasis that "The first element of marriage and the family is that they're rooted in the most intimate nucleus of the truth on man and on his destiny."

AP/Plinio Lepri