VATICAN CITY - Christians should look toward the New Year with hope and a commitment to working for justice and peace, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"God is love, he is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honor him must first of all act like a child following his father's example," the pope said Jan. 1 during a Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God and World Peace Day.

The pope ended 2011 by celebrating an evening prayer service Dec. 31 in the basilica and offering God thanks for the past year. The next morning, he celebrated Mass in St. Peter's and recited the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Published in Vatican

WASHINGTON - Pope Benedict XVI has established a U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to become Catholics and named a married former Episcopal bishop to head it.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter -- functionally equivalent to a diocese, but national in scope -- will be based at a parish in Houston. It will be led by Father Jeffrey N. Steenson, the former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande who was ordained a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., in February 2009.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - The Prefecture of the Papal Household, the office responsible for handing out free tickets to papal events, estimated more than 2.5 million people saw Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2011.

The prefecture -- headed by U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey -- estimated 500,000 people attended a liturgy celebrated by Pope Benedict in the month of May.

Pope Benedict beatified Pope John Paul II May 1. While there may have been only 500,000 people with tickets in St. Peter's Square and on Vatican territory, Italian police had said more than 1 million people were gathered in and around the Vatican and in front of large video screens in several parts of Rome for the Mass.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - A trip to Latin America, a Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, the start of the Year of Faith, creation of new cardinals and proclamations of new saints are all on Pope Benedict XVI's calendar for 2012.

Of particular interest to the United States, the pope will also continue his meetings with groups of U.S. bishops making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican during the first half of the year. His talks to the bishops are expected to focus on themes of education, religious freedom and the relationship between culture and religion.

The 2012 highlights are only a small part of the pope's day-to-day schedule, which includes hundreds of meetings, speeches, messages and liturgies. The German pope, who turns 85 in April, also pursues a "private" agenda of writing whenever he gets the chance, as he works to complete the latest in his "Jesus of Nazareth" series of books -- this one on Jesus' infancy and childhood.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - If children do not learn to pray from their parents, it will be difficult for them to ever learn to communicate with God naturally, simply and deeply, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"In the family, children from the tenderest age can learn to perceive the sense of God thanks to the teaching and example their parents give of living in the presence of God," the Pope said at his weekly general audience Dec. 28.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI appealed for an end to violence in Nigeria, condemning the Christmas church bombings that led to the deaths of at least 39 people.

The celebration of Christmas leads people to pray in an even stronger way that God would "stop the hands of the violent who sow death and that justice and peace would reign in the world," the Pope said Dec. 26 as he recited the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.

A group called Boko Haram, which has been promoting the adoption of Islamic law across Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the bombings. News reports said at least 35 people died at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, just outside Abuja. Other deadly bombs were set off at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos and at police stations in three other cities.

Published in International

MEXICO CITY - A spokesman for the Mexican bishops' conference confirmed details of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Mexico originally published by the newspaper Reforma, which reported the papal visit would occur March 23-26.

The spokesman, Father Manuel Corral, stressed that details of the visit "are not official," although he said the Pope would only visit the state of Guanajuato and its environs in west-central Mexico. Father Corral said specific details of the visit would likely be made public before the end of the year.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY — Tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square this morning for Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas Day talk and blessing “urbi et orbi” (“to the city and the world”).

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said Jesus “is the hand that God extends” to humanity, which is afraid, uncertain and troubled. All people have to do, he said, is stretch out their hands and ask for help.

He offered special prayers for people who are suffering from natural disasters, war or political instability and tensions, including in the Holy Land, where Christ “chose to come into the world.”

Under a deep blue, sunny sky, the crowd that flocked to the square enjoyed the music of military bands while waiting for the pope and pressed around the Nativity scene in the center of the square.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - When young people recognize the dignity and beauty of every human life, including their own, and are supported in their natural desire to make the world a better place, they become agents of justice and peace in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Peace and justice are built on “a profound respect for every human being and helping others to live a life consonant with this supreme dignity,” the Pope said in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012.

The Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day Jan. 1. The Pope’s message for the occasion was released Dec. 16 at the Vatican and sent, through Vatican ambassadors, to the leaders of nations around the world.

Published in Youth Speak News

VATICAN CITY - Knowing one is loved by God gives life meaning and gives one the energy needed to carry on with joy, even in difficult personal or societal situations, Pope Benedict XVI told top Vatican officials.

Meeting members of the Roman Curia Dec. 22 for his annual exchange of Christmas greetings, the pope said the "faith fatigue" seen in various areas of church life contrasts sharply with the faith and joy he witnessed during World Youth Day in Madrid and during his November trip to Benin.

The two trips, he said, hold lessons for church leaders and for the faithful.

Published in International

The Catholic News Service, which provides The Register with Vatican reports and international news, has named Pope Benedict XVI the top newsmaker of 2011.  There is no disputing that  Benedict dominated Catholic headlines as he passed his fifth anniversary as pontiff with another year of tireless service and faithful ministry. But in terms of a Catholic person of the year we respectfully nominate the Pakistan martyr Shahbaz Bhatti.

Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister of minorities, was ambushed on his doorstep on March 2 because he lived openly as a Catholic in a hostile anti-Christian environment. He died because following in Christ’s footsteps compelled him to denounce his country’s detestable blasphemy laws and defend a Christian woman condemned to death on trumped-up blasphemy charges.

Published in Editorial

VATICAN CITY - New evangelization is not an abstract idea to pitch, but rather a call to authentically live the Gospel message, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Christian faith provides a surer basis for life than the secular vision; for 'it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear,'" he said quoting from "Gaudium et Spes," the Second Vatican Council document on the church and society.

The pope was speaking Dec. 17 to bishops from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands who were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican.

Published in Vatican

ROME - Pope Benedict XVI told inmates at a Rome prison that people say nasty things about him, too, but it's important to remember that there are other people ready to offer their love and support.

During a visit Dec. 18 to Rome's Rebibbia prison, the pope gave a short speech and then responded to questions from six of the inmates gathered in the prison's Church of Our Father.

Federico, an inmate from the prison infirmary, which includes men who are HIV positive, told the pope that people say "ferocious things" about the inmates. "We have fallen and hurt people," he told the pope. "We have lost our freedom, but we ask you to help ensure we don't lose our dignity."

Published in Vatican

WASHINGTON - Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Cuba in the spring will have multiple layers of meaning for the church and for Cuban society, said a U.S. archbishop who pays close attention to Cuba.

The pope will go there as a symbol of peace and hope, as a pilgrim participating in "a springtime of faith," and as part of the church's efforts at creating the climate for a "soft landing" for the country to come out from under 50 years of communist rule, said Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski in a Dec. 14 interview with Catholic News Service.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - When young people recognize the dignity and beauty of every human life, including their own, and are supported in their natural desire to make the world a better place, they become agents of justice and peace in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Peace and justice are built on "a profound respect for every human being and helping others to live a life consonant with this supreme dignity," the pope said in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012.

The Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day Jan. 1. The pope's message for the occasion was released Dec. 16 at the Vatican and sent, through Vatican ambassadors, to the leaders of nations around the world.

Published in Vatican