Friday, February 22, 2008

NCRegister Unveils Welcome Pope 2008 Page. Bookmark it!

In Anticipation of the Pope's April Visit to the U.S,

but not to Minnesota, the National Catholic Register

Unveils their new Pope Benny 2008 Home Page.

It can be found Here!
Bookmark it!

February 22, 2008

Catholic University to Close an Additional Day

Catholic University of America's The Tower reports that the University will not only be closed Thursday, April 17 for the Pope's visit, but also Wednesday, April 16 at the request of the U.S. Secret Service. President O'Connell notified the university of the change in a letter on Tuesday.

The university also announced that it is holding an essay contest for students in order to compete for a chance of admittance to the Pope's CUA speech. The first-place winner will be one among ten people who get to personally greet the Pope prior to the speech.

O'Connell said that a viewing area will be set up with a jumbotron on the Law School lawn for students to watch the Mass at Nationals Park. 4,000 tickets will be distributed among University students, faculty, and staff for the viewing area. O'Connell said that he hopes that the University community might be able to sing "Happy Birthday" to the Pope. He celebrates his birthday on April 16.

Cardinal Egan on Pope's Visit

New York 1 has remarks from Cardinal Edward Egan regarding the Pope's April visit. Among the quotes, the article states that the pope's trip was prompted by an invitation from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The article says that the pope is expected to discuss among other things, the war in Iraq.

"And if that's the Holy Father's intention, which I suspect it is, to speak in favor of peace, then I would have to say it is worth the trip," said Cardinal Egan.

The article also states that the visit to the World Trade Center site on the morning of April 20 was made by request of the Holy Father.

The Pope and the U.S.

The Tidings has a nice story previewing the pope's trip. In it, commentators such as Fr. Joseph Fessio talk about how Pope Benedict has his finger on the pulse of Catholicism in the country. Among the interesting tidbits in the story is the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger has visited the U.S. at least five times. According to the article:

"In February 1984 he traveled to Dallas, where he gave two talks, including one to bishops of the Americas, and in January 1988 he traveled to New York City for a public lecture.

He visited Washington in January 1990 to give a talk at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. In February 1991, he spoke at a bishops' workshop in Dallas, where he delivered an address on "Conscience and Truth."

He went to San Francisco in February 1999 for a meeting of Vatican doctrinal congregation officials and doctrinal officials from bishops' conferences of North America and Oceania. He also gave an address at St. Patrick's Seminary and visited his publishers at Ignatius Press."

Young Catholics Look Forward to Pope's Visit

In the months leading up to WYD in Cologne, many media were reporting that attendance wouldn't be as high because Pope John Paul II wouldn't be there. In reality, Pope Benedict XVI drew even larger crowds than WYD in Toronto. The Washington Times gets it right in this story about the eagerness and excitement among the young for the Pope's American visit.

"These are young people who really do have great questions: How shall I live? What's the meaning of life? What's the purpose of life? ... I think they see in the pope answers to those questions because the pope reflects the voice of Christ," Archbishop Wuerl said.

The News from Nationals Park

Heather Westrom, director of ballpark enterprises with Nationals Park in Washington, DC provided me with some information on preparations for the papal Mass to be held there. Several reports have inaccurately stated that the Mass will be the first non-baseball event held in the new stadium. Westrom told me otherwise. The stadium is scheduled to be completed March 28th, but is being used for other private events prior to the papal Mass.

Westrom told me that the usual cost for renting the stadium is $50,000, but she could not elaborate on what kind of deal might have been reached with the archdiocese. The seating capacity of the stadium is 41,222, but since the altar will be located center field, that will allow for additional seating capacity on the field.

Tom Stehle told me that orchestra members already have their seat assignments.

"Something like this is 85% different than preparing for a ball game," said Westrom. Asked about extraordinary preparations, Westrom cited the placement of a stage in center field, the building of media platforms (one behind home plate), creatively coming up with additional space for the hundreds of satellite broadcast trucks that will be on-site, and because the pope is a visiting head-of-state, the Secret Service will be installing metal detectors at every park entrance. The stadium will open at 5:30 a.m. and remain open until 2 p.m. Mass is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and conclude around noon.

DC's "Music Man"

Yesterday, I spoke with Tom Stehle, the pastoral associate for liturgy and music at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Potomac, MD. Stehle is serving as the director of music for the Papal Mass in Washington, DC. Stehle's been involved in selecting the music and assembling the choirs for the Mass.

"My advice was sought back in November, and it's continued to be sought," Stehle said of his role. "Even though the visit wasn't official until January 13 or 14th, it's consumed all of my spare time since November 17. It hasn't stopped since. I don't think I've had a day when I haven't been working on this."

The Alleluia is from the ninth century chant, "O Filii et Filiae," with a vibrant brass accompaniment. The Gloria will be from the old Mass of the Angels, without accompaniment except for handbells.

He told me that there will be four choirs: a 250-voice auditioned choir, a 75-voice intercultural choir, a 85-voice Gospel choir, and a 175-voice children's choir, plus an orchestra, organ, piano, and hand bells. He said that the choirs will sing some songs together, and alternate for different numbers. He said that many of the hymns will be familiar. The opening hymn is to the tune of "All Creatures of Our God and King," but the text speaks of the Holy Spirit, since the Mass is a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. The closing song will be the tune of "Alleluia, Sing to Jesus," but again the text will be about the Holy Spirit and being Christ's presence in the world.

Photo of Monsignor Marini at WDTPRS?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has a photo on his blog of Monsignor Marini and some New York priests and seminarians.

February 21, 2008

Pope Desires a Reform of Outdoor Masses

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has a fascinating look at comments made by Pope Benedict to clergy in Rome. The essence of his comments appear to be that the pope desires some reform of the way outdoor Masses, such as those that will be held in the U.S. and Australia this year, are handled. At issue is the idea of hundreds of priests concelebrating and distributing the Eucharist. The pope doesn't want to do away with outdoor Masses entirely, but desires to "preserve the dignity that is always necessary for the Eucharist." To that end, Monsignor Guido Marini, the papal Master of Ceremonies, is in the U.S. visiting the sites to study how they might be used in keeping with Pope Benedict's liturgical desires.

Expectations for the Pope's Catholic University Visit

The majority of the pope's events while he's here in the U.S. are private. Among those is his April 17 meeting with Catholic college and university presidents, and diocesan education officials at Catholic University of America. Catholic Online carried a Catholic News Service story on this talk. Thomas Peters of the AmericanPapist blog told me that they'll be clearing the campus of students, aside from outside the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, where the pope will be speaking.

I recently spoke with Catholic University president Fr. David O'Connell about the event at Catholic University. He told me that the Pryzbyla Center can accommodate about 800 people. They are expecting about 550. In December, Fr. O'Connell sent out invites to all Catholic university and college presidents, as well as invitations for one representative from each diocese that has some responsibility for Catholic education at the primary and secondary level. Depending upon the diocese that could be secretariats, vicars, or superintendents. Fr. O'Connell said that they heard back from all dioceses but about 20. In addition, as a host, Catholic University has invited its board of trustees, deans, and some students to attend. They also expect approximately 50 media.

Some have wondered what the pope might talk about at Catholic University. Fr. O'Connell had some thoughts about this.

"When the pope travels, the place that hosts him is frequently asked to suggest bullet points for the Holy Father so that they can be incorporated into his speech," explained Fr. O'Connell. With the help of Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Fr. O'Connell created several pages of ideas which were sent through the Papal Nuncio to brief the Holy Father on the situation locally. Among the ideas on that list, were: "the concern about moral relativism and its adverse impact on our society and culture, and the importance of Catholic colleges and universities providing for students the tools necessary to confront moral relativism," said Fr. O'Connell. He also stressed the, "need for Catholic campuses to be strong not only in Catholic teaching and doctrine, but also the development of faith through vibrant Catholic ministry, and coherent residence and student life."

Among those in attendance will be Thomas Dillon, president of Thomas Aquinas College.

"I expect that the Pope will be conciliatory yet instructive, lauding Catholic higher education in this country for its historical achievement but reminding its leaders of the importance of the Catholic university's ordination, finally to the truth of Christ," Dillon told me. "I would not be surprised if he took up again some of the themes in his Regensburg address and in his undelivered but published address to La Sapienza Universita di Roma: for example, the birth of the university from within the Church; the nature and mission of the Catholic university; the futility of relativism and skepticism; the complementarity of faith and reason (and the importance of each) in our search for wisdom."

Papal Visit's Poignant Moment?

According to The Journal News, Mark Ackermann, executive director of the New York Archdiocese's Office of the Papal Visit, believes that Pope Benedict's morning stop at Ground Zero, on the morning of April 20, promises to be the most poignant part of the papal visit.

"The Holy Father will actually go down and touch bedrock, spend a period of private prayer, bless the area and then visit with 24 individuals, some of whom lost loved ones in the attacks on our country," Ackermann said. Ackermann was hand-picked by Cardinal Edward Egan to lead the 50-person Papal Visit Task Force.


  • Pope Benedict XVI is coming to America and Australia. The National Catholic Register wants to make sure you don’t miss out.
    Tim Drake, our Senior Writer, will provide you with up-to-the-minute reports on news and preparations, and will blog directly from papal events, right here. To reach the author email: tdrake(at) Stay tuned for announcements of new special features. The site is still under construction.

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