Gearing up for another papal bestseller

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican Publishing House is gearing up to distribute another blockbuster tome — this one the exclusive work of Pope Benedict XVI.

Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa, director of the publishing house, told the Vatican newspaper yesterday, “This morning I sent the text to various editors; the aim is to present it in March.”

Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa (CNS/Carol Glatz)

The book is “Jesus of Nazareth. Part Two. Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.” And the texts sent out are Vatican-controlled translations into a variety of languages.

The pope’s book could come out just four months after the publication of “Light of the World,” a book-length interview with Pope Benedict conducted by the German journalist Peter Seewald.

Father Costa told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that “Light of the World” probably has sold close to 1 million copies since its late November release. The German edition — the original language — already has sold about 200,000 copies, he said. About 100,000 copies have been sold in Italian and another 100,000 English copies have flown off the shelves. The French edition has sold about 80,000 copies; there also are Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and other editions.

For the new book, he said contracts had been signed with 20 different publishing houses to print and distribute the pope’s work and that five more contracts are in the negotiation stage.

The first volume of Jesus of Nazareth — looking at the period between his baptism and the Transfiguration — was published in 2007; it ran more than 400 pages and highlighted what the Bible says about Jesus, the moral implications of his teachings, and how reading the Scriptures can lead to a real relationship with Jesus.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters last summer that the pope already began writing the third volume, which would look at Jesus’ childhood.

Franciscan webcast focuses on ‘Creativity for Creation’

Anyone can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint in the environment anywhere at almost any time, says Patrick Carolan, the new executive director of the Franciscan Action Network.

Specific, practical ideas on how to do that will be discussed during a two-hour webcast called “Creativity for Creation” that the network is sponsoring beginning at 7 p.m. EST, Jan. 26.

Carolan said the ideas are being offered because the federal government has failed to adopt climate change legislation that sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

“What happens is a lot is people look at a problem and see it’s so large and say, ‘What can I do about it?’ But there are actions people can take to reduce their carbon footprint. The goal, of course, is to get people to begin to take action and bring to their own communities these actions,” Carolan said.

“We want to give people ideas to start carrying out the message that St. Francis and St. Clare gave us about caring for creation,” he added.

Register for the webcast here.

Panelists during the webcast, which will originate at the Washington Theological Seminary, include Riobart Breen, a secular Franciscan and assistant professor of political science at Siena College; Franciscan Sister Caryn Crook, Franciscan ecology coordinator at her order’s Spirituality and Nature Center, Fayetteville, N.Y.; Stacey Kennealy, certification program and sustainability director at GreenFaith, New Brunswick, N.J.; Joelle Novey, executive director of Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light; and Fran Teplitz, social investing and strategic outreach director at Green America, Washington.

The Franciscan Action Network describes itself as “a grass-roots, faith-based civic engagement organization with a growing national base of organizations and persons who are inspired by the witness and example of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.”

The network is part of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change.

Catholic Charities honors four for service, advocacy

Three national leaders and a local community organizer will be honored by Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington with awards at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event Jan. 17.

Receiving the Keep the Dream Alive Award from the Catholic Charities USA will be Joshua Dubois, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Marguerite Harmon, CEO of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona; and Maria Odom, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

The award honors individuals who work to advocate nonviolent means to achieve equality and live a life of service.

Jean Hale, a community organizer and founding volunteer coordinator for the SHARE Food Network at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Washington, will receive the Faith Does Justice Award from the archdiocese.

Activities begin at 10 a.m. at St. Aloysius Church near Capitol Hill with Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Leonard J. Olivier of Washington.

Beatification on for Pope John Paul II

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI today approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession, clearing the way for the late pope’s beatification on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday.

Pope Benedict’s action followed more than five years of investigation into the life and writings of the Polish pontiff, who died in April 2005 after more than 26 years as pope.

The Vatican took special care with verification of the miracle, the spontaneous cure of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease — the same illness that afflicted Pope John Paul in his final years. Three separate Vatican panels approved the miracle, including medical and theological experts, before Pope Benedict signed the official decree.

In 2005, Pope Benedict set Pope John Paul on the fast track to beatification by waiving the normal five-year waiting period for the introduction of his sainthood cause. That seemed to respond to the “Santo subito!” (“Sainthood now!”) banners that were held aloft at Pope John Paul’s funeral.

Six years and one month from death to beatification may not strike people as “subito,” but it will be a modern record in the church. For Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was described by many as a “living saint” and for whom the waiting period was also waived, it took six years and one and a half months to complete the process.

According to the Vatican newspaper, it’s the first time in more than a thousand years that a pope will have beatified his immediate predecessor.

A Pope John Paul miracle on Friday?

UPDATE: Our colleagues at the French Catholic news agency, I.Media, are reporting that the folks at St. Peter’s Basilica are already preparing for Pope John Paul II’s beatification.

Restoration work currently is underway on the altar and mosaic in the Chapel of St. Sebastian, which is between the chapel housing Michelangelo’s Pieta and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

The mosaic over the altar in the Chapel of St. Sebastian is hidden by scaffolding. (CNS/Cindy Wooden)

The French news agency reported today that the work is being done to ready the chapel to welcome the body of “Blessed” John Paul II. (Already in 2008 there were reports that once he was beatified, his body would be moved from the grotto under the basilica to the Chapel of St. Sebastian. The move would ensure his final resting place would be more accessible to pilgrims.)

VATICAN CITY — As early as Friday, Pope Benedict XVI could formally recognize the miracle needed for the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

(CNS/Paul Haring)

Just over a week ago, we cited a well-informed Italian reporter who said the only steps remaining in the acceptance of the miracle were the assent of the members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and the signature of the pope.

The same reporter, Andrea Tornielli, reported today that the cardinal- and archbishop-members of the congregation met yesterday and agreed.

Now a different informed source says that Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints Causes, is scheduled to meet the pope Friday and present him with a number of decrees for his consideration. It seems the decree recognizing a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul will be among them.

Activists in orange jumpsuits return to White House

Anti-torture activists, some motivated by faith and some wearing orange jumpsuits, returned to the White House this morning to call upon President Barack Obama to close the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Organized by Witness Against Torture, a group established in 2005 with the goal of closing the prison housing suspected terrorists, the gathering at the White House opened 12 days of events that were to include fasting, lobbying and demonstrations.

The prison opened Jan. 11, 2002, when the first men believed to be terrorists were flown to Cuba from Afghanistan.

Speaking with Catholic News Service prior to the demonstration, Matt Daloisio, a member of the New York Catholic Worker and an organizer of the group, said the activists want Obama to adhere to his 2009 pledge to close the prison.

“Our concern is that Guantanamo remains open and the prospect of it closing with each passing day becomes dimmer and dimmer,” Daloisio said. “Not only has the promise to close Guantanamo been broken, we see the president attempting to institutionalize indefinite detention.”

After speeches in front of the White House, the group walked silently to the Department of Justice. Some participants in the demonstration, including representatives of human rights organizations, religious groups and torture survivors, planned nonviolent civil disobedience at the Justice Department, which has delayed prosecuting detainees in U.S. courts.

The procession involved 173 people wearing hoods and dressed in orange jumpsuits, representing the 173 men detained at Guantanamo.

Interviewed prior to the demonstration, Daloisio said the activists also want the president to free all prisoners cleared for release, ensure safe resettlement or provide asylum in the U.S. for those unable to go elsewhere and bring charges against the remaining detainees and prosecute them in U.S. court.

The activists also want American officials to open all detention centers around the world to outside inspection and to have the International Committee of the Red Cross oversee the centers and to have the Justice Department to prosecute all U.S. officials who designed and carried out torture policies during the Bush administration.

Although Obama stepped back from a promise to close the prison within one year of his inauguration, his plan to move all detainees out of Guantanamo was dealt a blow by a lame duck Congress in December when it passed a defense appropriations bill that included restrictions on the relocation of prisoners.

While signing the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 Jan. 7, Obama said he was opposed to specific measures in the bill that prevented funding to transfer detainees to U.S. soil for prosecution and for transferring detainees to the custody of other countries. The president said the restrictions represent undue challenges to executive branch authority.

Obama also said he would work to have the provisions repealed by the new Congress.

Happy anniversary U.S.-Vatican!

VATICAN CITY — The same day Miguel Diaz, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, attended Pope Benedict’s annual meeting with diplomats, the Vatican and the U.S. government marked a special anniversary.

William A. Wilson, the first U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, is greeted by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1985. President Ronald Reagan named Wilson as the first ambassador to the Vatican in 1984. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano.)

On Jan. 10 twenty-seven years ago, the United States established full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

President Ronald Reagan named William Wilson (see photo) to be the first U.S. ambassador to the Vatican in 1984.

To commemorate the anniversary, Ambassador Diaz issued the following statement this morning:


Celebrating 27 Years of U.S.-Vatican Relations

Statement from Ambassador Díaz, January 10, 2011

“Today, we celebrate the 27th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the Holy See. On January 10th, 1984, President Ronald Reagan nominated William Wilson as the first U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. During the 1980s, the United States and the Holy See worked together to tear down the Berlin Wall. Today, we work together to tear down new walls – walls that threaten to separate us as a human family – such as religious intolerance, terrorism, modern-day slavery, human rights violations, and other evils.

On this 27th anniversary, we raise our voices in solidarity with those who continue to suffer oppression, such as victims of religious persecution and extremism worldwide. As we begin the twenty-eighth year of our relations, the United States looks forward to continuing engagement with the Holy See to promote human dignity and human rights worldwide.”