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Colonel Elmar Mader has banned the guards from holding New Year’s parties on the barracks roof and is refusing the extend the curfew for the holiday season. Cases of wine have also been confiscated under his orders.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the problem here. Of course, that may be because I have never liked partying, especially on New Year’s Eve. That will explain why I am home and blogging tonight.

Anyway, here are the articles:
This one from the Independant:

There is mutiny afoot in the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, the world’s smallest but probably most pampered army.

The focus of discontent at the barracks is what many papal bodyguards see as the heavy-handed policies of the current commanding officer, Colonel Elmar Theodore Mader, who has banned men from holding the traditional year-end parties on the terrace atop their barracks. Even senior officers have been forbidden to give cocktail parties, say Vatican sources.

Ordinary guardsmen are angry that rules preventing them from staying out at night in Rome after midnight are being rigidly applied in the holiday season while Capt Mader himself is frequently out at parties until the early hours of the morning.

One of the halberdiers was angry after discovering that the commanding officer had ordered the confiscation of a crate of wine that admirers of the corps frequently send the soldiers from Switzerland. “We received 25 bottles of good Swiss wine but when we came back from guard duty there were only five left in my room,” said the guard. “The other 20 had been seized on orders of the commander, evidently for his own use.”

Capt Mader in private remarks has shrugged off suggestions that he might fall foul of mutinous tendencies, claiming that, far from being a martinet, he has a “meaningful dialogue” with his 130 Roman Catholic troops. Many guards would question that, however, complaining of double standards inconsistent with the traditions of sacrifice celebrated this year during ceremonies to mark the 500th anniversary of the corps.

and from the UPI:

New policies imposed on the Vatican’s Swiss Guard by its commanding officer have the small unit’s troops infuriated and threatening mutiny, a report says.

The Independent reported that due to Col. Elmar Theodore Mader’s policies and actions as the military force’s new leader, Swiss Guard soldiers have begun to complain of unfair double standards.

Mader allegedly has banned his troops from engaging in traditional holiday parties and instilled a nightly curfew, despite the fact he stays out later and enjoys a festive holiday season, the report said.

In addition, one of Mader’s troops has alleged that his commander confiscated the majority of a case of wine a supporter gave the Swiss soldiers.

“We received 25 bottles of good Swiss wine but when we came back from guard duty there were only five left in my room,” the unidentified soldier claimed. “The other 20 had been seized on orders of the commander, evidently for his own use.”

The Independent said that while Mader has denied the reports, many under his command have questioned his actions during the ongoing 500th anniversary of the pope’s Swiss Guard.

Another diocese is planning to put it’s Bishop’s Residence up for sale. The Diocese of Davenport is placing the both the Residence and the Pastoral Center (that’s Chancery to the rest of us) up for sale. The proceeds from the sale are earmarked to provide money which is needed for sexual abuse victims.

WQAD is reporting:

The Davenport Diocese is preparing to sell its headquarters and bishop’s home, among other properties, in order to raise money for victims of sexual abuse.
The historic St. Vincent’s Pastoral Center could go on the auction block in coming months. Valued at just over $4 million, it is the largest property on the list. It serves as the diocese headquarters and home for retired priests.
“We’re not trying to hurt anybody,” said Char Maaske, chief financial officer for the Diocese of Davenport. “We’re just trying to do the best we can to do what’s right for the church and victims.”
But selling the structures and land could be easier said than done.
“It’s not going to be a sale that occurs anytime soon,” said Tom Carroll, Premier Partners.
Carroll is among those to evaluate the properties for the diocese. He compares it to the situation with the former Marycrest College in Davenport or Villa in Rock Island.
“I don’t see an awful lot of real viable uses for that without an extensive renovation,” he said.
At the same time, the bishop’s home on nearby Scott Street is joining two other homes and land being put up for sale by the diocese.
“The housing market is down right now in the Quad Cities,” Maaske said. “It’s not a good time to be selling property, but we’ll sell it for the best we can.”
They’re talking about the St. Vincent’s deal at nearby St. Ambrose University. While the Catholic connection could make it a natural for the landlocked campus, the university says it’s too early to comment.
“They’re tight in an urban campus,” Carroll said. “That would allow them to be able to expand.”
While the diocese hopes that a buyer will allow them to stay and pay rent, Carroll says that the real value comes in the land rather than the buildings.
“I think it would be difficult for the existing uses to remain on the property,” he said.
Maaske says that morale is better at diocese headquarters. As bankruptcy proceedings continue, she hopes that the worst is behind them.
“We’re looking ahead to the future,” she said. “We’ll get through this and put it behind us. Hopefully, we’ll do the best we can for the victims.”

The Archbishop of Cincinnati, Daniel Pilarczyk, says that his diocese will run out of money within three years is measures are not taken to prevent it. These measures include increasing the “tax” which is levied on parishes and reducing the number of diocesan staff members.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:

Money is so tight at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that the central office is now taking a bigger share of donations from its parishes’ Sunday collection plates.

Church officials also are considering cutting staff – through attrition and, possibly, layoffs – and are pushing parishes to repay tens of millions of dollars in outstanding loans from the archdiocese.

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk said he knows the measures are painful, especially for struggling parishes with their own money problems.

He said he has no choice: Without more revenue, the 19-county archdiocese could be out of money within three years.

“If we do nothing, we’re in trouble,” Pilarczyk said. “The financial policies of the archdiocese will have to be a lot tighter than they have been. The time comes when you run out of money.”

The archdiocese’s financial woes have been building for years because of an economic slowdown, rising insurance premiums, declining donations and the costs associated with the clergy-abuse scandal.

The result is six consecutive years of budget deficits that drained the archdiocese of almost 60 percent of its assets and reserves, which have fallen from $88 million to $36 million since 2000.

Unless something is done to stop the bleeding, a range of jobs and services could be at risk.

The archdiocese has about 140 full-time employees, 192 active priests and another 86 retired priests, according to the archdiocese’s Web site.

Services include youth ministries, educational programs, food pantries, charities for the poor and sick, marriage counseling, aid to inner-city Catholic schools and dozens of other programs.

Some vacant archdiocese jobs have been left open for months, and the archbishop said staff layoffs are “not off the table.”

Pilarczyk said he does not expect the archdiocese’s problems to close parishes or schools, because they are responsible for their budgets and fundraising.

The archdiocese essentially acts as a home office for its 222 parishes and cannot simply raid their bank accounts.

But many parishes are hurting, too. If the archdiocese pushes for debt collection and takes a bigger share of weekly donations, financially-strapped parishes will be squeezed even more.

The hardest hit could be urban parishes with shrinking populations, rising costs and schools to support.

“It really adds to the financial pressure,” said the Rev. David Lemkuhl, pastor at St. Margaret of Cortona in Madisonville, which also has a school. “If they push us too much, it’s going to collapse.”

Read the rest of the article here.

After a very relaxing several days, I am back. I spent a lot of time sleeping, reading, in the hotel pool, and exploring New England.

I will write more about what I did on the short break, but right now I want to tell you what I found in my mailbox when I arrived home.

The papal calendars are here and they are beautiful! They are also a bit larger than most calendars I have seen for sale here. The pictures of Pope Benedict are beautiful. This calendar will hang proudly in my office.

Photo by Domini Sumus

I will be away getting some much needed rest and relaxation for the next few days.

Posting will resume on Saturday.

While I am gone, enjoy some of my old posts. 🙂

H/T to Amy:

But for the Pope’s home-style Christmas at the Vatican, everything is ready. Munich banker Thaddaeus Kuehnel has seen to it, as he has done for 25 years for his friend, then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

For 25 years, he has faithfully delivered to Rome every Christmastime everything that brings joy to a Bavarian in the holiday season: sausage,. Advent wreaths, ham, baked goodies, Kloster beer.

Thanks to Kuehnel’s last trip over the Brenner Pass,the Christmas room in the Papal apartments now looks like that of the Schulzes or the Hubers anywhere in Germany.

There are two Christmas trees in the Pope’s living room. Until a few days ago, they were growing in the Bavarian woods on the property of a farming family in Waldingen. Then Kuehnel came, the treees were chosen and chopped, and he strapped both trees securely to his car roof. They would not be unbound again until Kuehnel reached the courtyard of the Apostolic palace.

From that time, the trees became the responsibility of Carmela, Emanuela, Loredana and Christina, the Pope’s lay nun housekeepers. They not only decorated the trees, but also have to prepare the main dish for Christmas dinner from a deer shot by a Swabian hunter, Gisbert Sattler, earlier this week.

Kuehnel also brought the Pope a variety of cookies made by Bavarian cloistered nuns – vanilla Kipferl, anise cookies, cinnamon stars, jam-filled cookies, and Stollen (a Christmas cake).

“The Holy Father has a weakness for sweet things,” says Sister Irma.

The Pope’s brother, Georg, flies to Rome on December 28, but even on Christmas Eve, the Pope will be wallowing in memories of Christmas past, as he loves to do, according to those who have known him in Rome for long.

In the Christmas room of the Apostolic Palace, he has put up the creche that has been with him since was a professor in Regensburg.

URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI
CHRISTMAS 2006

“Salvator noster natus est in mundo” (Roman Missal)

“Our Saviour is born to the world!” During the night, in our Churches, we again heard this message that, notwithstanding the passage of the centuries, remains ever new. It is the heavenly message that tells us to fear not, for “a great joy” has come “to all the people” (Lk 1:10). It is a message of hope, for it tells us that, on that night over two thousand years ago, there “was born in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Angel of Christmas announced it then to the shepherds out on the hills of Bethlehem; today the Angel repeats it to us, to all who dwell in our world: “The Saviour is born; he is born for you! Come, come, let us adore him!”.

But does a “Saviour” still have any value and meaning for the men and women of the third millennium ? Is a “Saviour” still needed by a humanity which has reached the moon and Mars and is prepared to conquer the universe; for a humanity which knows no limits in its pursuit of nature’s secrets and which has succeeded even in deciphering the marvellous codes of the human genome? Is a Saviour needed by a humanity which has invented interactive communication, which navigates in the virtual ocean of the internet and, thanks to the most advanced modern communications technologies, has now made the Earth, our great common home, a global village? This humanity of the twenty-first century appears as a sure and self-sufficient master of its own destiny, the avid proponent of uncontested triumphs.

So it would seem, yet this is not the case. People continue to die of hunger and thirst, disease and poverty, in this age of plenty and of unbridled consumerism. Some people remain enslaved, exploited and stripped of their dignity; others are victims of racial and religious hatred, hampered by intolerance and discrimination, and by political interference and physical or moral coercion with regard to the free profession of their faith. Others see their own bodies and those of their dear ones, particularly their children, maimed by weaponry, by terrorism and by all sorts of violence, at a time when everyone invokes and acclaims progress, solidarity and peace for all. And what of those who, bereft of hope, are forced to leave their homes and countries in order to find humane living conditions elsewhere? How can we help those who are misled by facile prophets of happiness, those who struggle with relationships and are incapable of accepting responsibility for their present and future, those who are trapped in the tunnel of loneliness and who often end up enslaved to alcohol or drugs? What are we to think of those who choose death in the belief that they are celebrating life?

How can we not hear, from the very depths of this humanity, at once joyful and anguished, a heart-rending cry for help? It is Christmas: today “the true light that enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9) came into the world. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14), proclaims the Evangelist John. Today, this very day, Christ comes once more “unto his own”, and to those who receive him he gives “the power to become children of God”; in a word, he offers them the opportunity to see God’s glory and to share the joy of that Love which became incarnate for us in Bethlehem. Today “our Saviour is born to the world”, for he knows that even today we need him. Despite humanity’s many advances, man has always been the same: a freedom poised between good and evil, between life and death. It is there, in the very depths of his being, in what the Bible calls his “heart”, that man always needs to be “saved”. And, in this post-modern age, perhaps he needs a Saviour all the more, since the society in which he lives has become more complex and the threats to his personal and moral integrity have become more insidious. Who can defend him, if not the One who loves him to the point of sacrificing on the Cross his only-begotten Son as the Saviour of the world?

“Salvator noster”: Christ is also the Saviour of men and women today. Who will make this message of hope resound, in a credible way, in every corner of the earth? Who will work to ensure the recognition, protection and promotion of the integral good of the human person as the condition for peace, respecting each man and every woman and their proper dignity? Who will help us to realize that with good will, reasonableness and moderation it is possible to avoid aggravating conflicts and instead to find fair solutions? With deep apprehension I think, on this festive day, of the Middle East, marked by so many grave crises and conflicts, and I express my hope that the way will be opened to a just and lasting peace, with respect for the inalienable rights of the peoples living there. I place in the hands of the divine Child of Bethlehem the indications of a resumption of dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians, which we have witnessed in recent days, and the hope of further encouraging developments. I am confident that, after so many victims, destruction and uncertainty, a democratic Lebanon, open to others and in dialogue with different cultures and religions, will survive and progress. I appeal to all those who hold in their hands the fate of Iraq, that there will be an end to the brutal violence that has brought so much bloodshed to the country, and that every one of its inhabitants will be safe to lead a normal life. I pray to God that in Sri Lanka the parties in conflict will heed the desire of the people for a future of brotherhood and solidarity; that in Darfur and throughout Africa there will be an end to fratricidal conflicts, that the open wounds in that continent will quickly heal and that the steps being made towards reconciliation, democracy and development will be consolidated. May the Divine Child, the Prince of Peace, grant an end to the outbreaks of tension that make uncertain the future of other parts of the world, in Europe and in Latin America.

“Salvator noster”: this is our hope; this is the message that the Church proclaims once again this Christmas day. With the Incarnation, as the Second Vatican Council stated, the Son of God has in some way united himself with each man and women (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22). The birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, as Pope Saint Leo the Great noted. In Bethlehem the Christian people was born, Christ’s mystical body, in which each member is closely joined to the others in total solidarity. Our Saviour is born for all. We must proclaim this not only in words, but by our entire life, giving the world a witness of united, open communities where fraternity and forgiveness reign, along with acceptance and mutual service, truth, justice and love.

A community saved by Christ. This is the true nature of the Church, which draws her nourishment from his Word and his Eucharistic Body. Only by rediscovering the gift she has received can the Church bear witness to Christ the Saviour before all people. She does this with passionate enthusiasm, with full respect for all cultural and religious traditions; she does so joyfully, knowing that the One she proclaims takes away nothing that is authentically human, but instead brings it to fulfilment. In truth, Christ comes to destroy only evil, only sin; everything else, all the rest, he elevates and perfects. Christ does not save us from our humanity, but through it; he does not save us from the world, but came into the world, so that through him the world might be saved (cf. Jn 3:17).

Dear brothers and sisters, wherever you may be, may this message of joy and hope reach your ears: God became man in Jesus Christ, he was born of the Virgin Mary and today he is reborn in the Church. He brings to all the love of the Father in heaven. He is the Saviour of the world! Do not be afraid, open your hearts to him and receive him, so that his Kingdom of love and peace may become the common legacy of each man and woman. Happy Christmas!

MIDNIGHT MASS
SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saint Peter’s Basilica
Sunday, 24 December 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have just heard in the Gospel the message given by the angels to the shepherds during that Holy Night, a message which the Church now proclaims to us: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:11-12). Nothing miraculous, nothing extraordinary, nothing magnificent is given to the shepherds as a sign. All they will see is a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, one who, like all children, needs a mother’s care; a child born in a stable, who therefore lies not in a cradle but in a manger. God ’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty. Only in their hearts will the shepherds be able to see that this baby fulfils the promise of the prophet Isaiah, which we heard in the first reading: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder” (Is 9:5). Exactly the same sign has been given to us. We too are invited by the angel of God, through the message of the Gospel, to set out in our hearts to see the child lying in the manger.

God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him. The Fathers of the Church, in their Greek translation of the Old Testament, found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that Paul also quotes in order to show how God’s new ways had already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: “God made his Word short, he abbreviated it” (Is 10:23; Rom 9:28). The Fathers interpreted this in two ways. The Son himself is the Word, the Logos; the eternal Word became small – small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the Word could be grasped by us. In this way God teaches us to love the little ones. In this way he teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us respect for children. The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn. Towards children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; towards children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; towards children who are unloved. In all of these it is the Child of Bethlehem who is crying out to us; it is the God who has become small who appeals to us. Let us pray this night that the brightness of God’s love may enfold all these children. Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected. May they all experience the light of love, which mankind needs so much more than the material necessities of life.

And so we come to the second meaning that the Fathers saw in the phrase: “God made his Word short”. The Word which God speaks to us in Sacred Scripture had become long in the course of the centuries. It became long and complex, not just for the simple and unlettered, but even more so for those versed in Sacred Scripture, for the experts who evidently became entangled in details and in particular problems, almost to the extent of losing an overall perspective. Jesus “abbreviated” the Word – he showed us once more its deeper simplicity and unity. Everything taught by the Law and the Prophets is summed up – he says – in the command: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:37-40). This is everything – the whole faith is contained in this one act of love which embraces God and humanity. Yet now further questions arise: how are we to love God with all our mind, when our intellect can barely reach him? How are we to love him with all our heart and soul, when our heart can only catch a glimpse of him from afar, when there are so many contradictions in the world that would hide his face from us? This is where the two ways in which God has “abbreviated” his Word come together. He is no longer distant. He is no longer unknown. He is no longer beyond the reach of our heart. He has become a child for us, and in so doing he has dispelled all doubt. He has become our neighbour, restoring in this way the image of man, whom we often find so hard to love. For us, God has become a gift. He has given himself. He has entered time for us. He who is the Eternal One, above time, he has assumed our time and raised it to himself on high. Christmas has become the Feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul and our mind to be touched by this fact! Among the many gifts that we buy and receive, let us not forget the true gift: to give each other something of ourselves, to give each other something of our time, to open our time to God. In this way anxiety disappears, joy is born, and the feast is created. During the festive meals of these days let us remember the Lord’s words: “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite those who will invite you in return, but invite those whom no one invites and who are not able to invite you” (cf. Lk 14:12-14). This also means: when you give gifts for Christmas, do not give only to those who will give to you in return, but give to those who receive from no one and who cannot give you anything back. This is what God has done: he invites us to his wedding feast, something which we cannot reciprocate, but can only receive with joy. Let us imitate him! Let us love God and, starting from him, let us also love man, so that, starting from man, we can then rediscover God in a new way!

And so, finally, we find yet a third meaning in the saying that the Word became “brief” and “small”. The shepherds were told that they would find the child in a manger for animals, who were the rightful occupants of the stable. Reading Isaiah (1:3), the Fathers concluded that beside the manger of Bethlehem there stood an ox and an ass. At the same time they interpreted the text as symbolizing the Jews and the pagans – and thus all humanity – who each in their own way have need of a Saviour: the God who became a child. Man, in order to live, needs bread, the fruit of the earth and of his labour. But he does not live by bread alone. He needs nourishment for his soul: he needs meaning that can fill his life. Thus, for the Fathers, the manger of the animals became the symbol of the altar, on which lies the Bread which is Christ himself: the true food for our hearts. Once again we see how he became small: in the humble appearance of the host, in a small piece of bread, he gives us himself.

All this is conveyed by the sign that was given to the shepherds and is given also to us: the child born for us, the child in whom God became small for us. Let us ask the Lord to grant us the grace of looking upon the crib this night with the simplicity of the shepherds, so as to receive the joy with which they returned home (cf. Lk 2:20). Let us ask him to give us the humility and the faith with which Saint Joseph looked upon the child that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit. Let us ask the Lord to let us look upon him with that same love with which Mary saw him. And let us pray that in this way the light that the shepherds saw will shine upon us too, and that what the angels sang that night will be accomplished throughout the world: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” Amen!

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas.

Lord, fulfill your promise!
Where there is conflict, give birth to peace!
Where there is hatred, make love spring up!
Where darkness prevails, let light shine!
Make us heralds of your peace!
Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI – Christmas Homily 2005

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