Pope’s Lenten retreat to focus on Pope John Paul and saints

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s weeklong Lenten retreat this year will be led by Discalced Carmelite Father Francois-Marie Lethel, an author and expert on “the theology of the saints.”

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported this evening that the pope and top Vatican officials will be on retreat March 13-19 and that Father Lethel, secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, would offer the meditations.

With Pope Benedict watching from a small room at the left, Italian Cardinal Giacomo Biffi leads the 2007 retreat. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

L’Osservatore said the Carmelite’s topic would be: “The light of Christ in the heart of the church: John Paul II and the theology of saints.”

The topic is Father Lethel’s specialty; he has written a book in French on the theology of saints and another on the Christology of St. Therese of Lisieux.

The Carmelite nuns of Parma, Italy, have the text of several of Father Lethel’s articles and speeches on their website — in Italian.

Game on: pierogies and kielbasa vs. brats and cheese

(Photo by Gary A. Vasquez/NFL)

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh and Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wis., have placed a friendly wager on the outcome of Super Bowl XLV on Sunday. If the Steelers win, Bishop Ricken will make a personal donation to Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh; if the Packers win Bishop Zubik will do likewise, donating to Catholic Charities of Green Bay.

But wait, there’s more — and it involves foods special  to each bishop’s home region.

The bishop of the losing team’s diocese will send a package of food associated with the team’s region to the winning team’s diocesan bishop. For Pittsburgh, that’s pierogies and kielbasa;  for Green Bay, that’s brats and cheese. Once the bishop with the winning team receives the food package, he’ll deliver it to a local food pantry.

Besides cause for an episcopal wager, the big game has been the subject of two informative and entertaining pieces by veteran journalist James Breig, who retired a couple years ago as editor of The Evangelist in Albany, N.Y. Both articles are posted on the Fathers for Good website.

In “Faith on the field,”  Brieg writes about the Packers’ chaplain, Norbertine Father Jim Baraniak. The priest is also featured in the latest issue of The Compass, Green Bay’s diocesan newspaper.

His second piece, “Super Bowl Catholics,” is about the deep Catholic roots of both the Steelers and the Packers.

When the two football powerhouses face each other Feb. 6, “you may want to pray for your team to win,” writes Breig. “But you should know that both teams have equal favor in heaven with their deep Catholic roots.”