Sunday, January 22, 2006

Angelus: Fa Niente

OK, Loggiaheads, you can all go back to bed now.

Today's Angelus catechesis, concluded seconds ago, was quite beautiful, the crowd quite large -- a whole section of the Square was set aside for the Swissies, standing at attention before their Sovereign on this, their Jubilee Day (tres picturesque, it was) -- but there was no announcement of a 21 February consistory.

Benedict XVI's talk focused on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Deus Caritas Est, which will be released in precisely 72 hours.

SVILUPPO (6.55am) -- Below is the Whispers translation of the Pope's catechesis:
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This Sunday finds itself in the middle of the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity," which is celebrated each year from January 18 to 25. It continues an initiative, born at the start of the last century, which has become known as a positive development becoming ever more an ecumenical reference point, in which Christians of different confessions throughout the world pray and reflect, all springing from one same bibilical text. This year's selected theme is taken from the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, in which are told the teachings of Jesus in regards to the community of disciples. Among others, he affirms: "Where two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:19-20).

What trust and hope infuse these words of the Lord Jesus! In particular, these spur Christians to ask together of God full unity among them, as Christ himself did, with precise insistence, when he prayed to the Father at the Last Supper (cf. Jn 17:11,21-23). It's understood well, then, how important it must be that we Christians seek the gift of unity with constant perseverance. If we do it with faith, we can be sure that our request will be heard. We know not how, nor when, as we can't force our way into knowing it, but we don't doubt that one day we will be "but one," like Jesus and the Father united in the Holy Spirit.

The prayer for unity forms the soul of the ecumenical movement which, thank God, progresses through the entire world. Of course, this isn't to say that the difficulties, the tests, aren't lacking, but they're also not deprived of a spiritual utility, as they work to exercise our patience and perseverance and our growth in fraternal charity. God is love, and only converted to him and accepting his Word are we brought to full unity in the one mystical Body of Christ. The expression, "God is love," in Latin "Deus caritas est" is -- as you know - - the title of my first Encyclical, which will be published next Wednesday, January 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. I'm happy that this coincides with the conclusion of the Week of prayer for Christian Unity: on that day, I will travel to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to preside at Evening Prayer, at which Representatives of other Churches and ecclesial Communities will take part. Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede for us.

From the post-Angelus greetings and messages, two elements stick out; the papal greeting to the Swiss Guards and some words from Benedict on the international situation. Here are translations:
Five hundred years ago, 22 January 1506, Pope Julius II received and blessed the first contingent of the Swiss Guards, who came to Rome to ensure the defense of his person and of the Apostolic Palace. And so, the Pontifical Swiss Guard was born. Remembering this historic event, I'm happy to greet also those who form this well-honored Corps, to which, in a sign of my appreciation and recognition, I impart from my heart a special Apostolic Blessing....

Among all the preoccupations of the international situation, my thoughts return today to Africa and in particular to the Ivory Coast, where grave tensions persist among the diverse social and political groups of the country. To all, I extend an invitation to pursue a constructive dialogue with a view toward reconciliation and toward peace. I entrust these intentions to the intercession of the Holy Virgin, who is much beloved by the Ivorian people.

Buona domenica a tutti!

PHOTO: AP/Andrew Medichini