ANCONA, Italy - A religious life centered on and nourished by the Eucharist should lead to a life marked by gratitude for Christ's sacrifice, a commitment to self-giving and real unity within the church and the community, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Traveling to Ancona, on Italy's Adriatic coast, Sept. 11, the pope presided over the closing Mass of the Italian National Eucharistic Congress and held meetings with priests and married couples in Ancona's cathedral and with engaged couples in a town square.

With the Adriatic glistening behind the altar platform, Pope Benedict's homily at the Mass focused on the marks of a "eucharistic spirituality."

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Catholic schools and institutions need to be "genuinely Catholic" and pass on the values that support communities and the truth that saves souls, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"This saving truth, at the heart of the deposit of faith, must remain the foundation of all the church's endeavors, proposed to others always with respect but also without compromise," the pope told a group of bishops from India.

In a country with large Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Christian populations, the church must continue to teach and promote the "intellectual and moral truth" to the Catholic faithful, the pope said Sept. 8 at the end of the bishops' "ad limina" visits.

Catholics must then bear witness to God's love for everyone and reach out to their neighbors, showing them by their words and actions that Christ is the way, the truth and the life, he said.

VATICAN CITY - Crying out to God when one is in the grips of pain or fear is a sign of faith in God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

A central tenet of faith is believing that the loving God is always close to his creatures and ready to reach out and save them, the pope said Sept. 7 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

The pope, who is still staying at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, returned to the Vatican by helicopter for the general audience with about 11,000 pilgrims and visitors. Afterward, he went back to the papal villa, about 20 miles south of Rome.

Continuing a series of audience talks about prayer, Pope Benedict told those gathered for the audience that when they are really hurting or afraid, they can use Psalm 3 to express both their suffering and their trust in God.

In church, love includes calling each to responsibility, pope says


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - The community life of the church must be motivated by love, which includes humbly calling each other to responsibility, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The notion of "fraternal correction," he said, "is not a reaction to an offense suffered, but is motivated by love."

Addressing pilgrims gathered in Castel Gandolfo Sept. 4 for the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict discussed the day's Gospel reading about how to handle a member of the community who does wrong.

Jesus said a church member should first point out the problem in private and, if that does not bring a change, approach the person again with two witnesses. If that does not work, take the matter before the community. If the person still does not acknowledge the error, "one must help him perceive the detachment from the community that he himself provoked, separating himself from the communion of the church," the pope said.

COLF’s latest message focuses on family’s role in shaping vocations


OTTAWA - Only a few days after Pope Benedict XVI asked forgiveness for the failure of “cradle Catholics who have failed to pass the faith onto others," the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) released a message designed to help families do a better job.

In its latest message entitled "Love is Calling Your Children," COLF calls on Catholic families to recognize the role they play in helping their children find their vocations and suggests resources to aid them in this task.

“It is within the family — very gradually and in the course of daily life — that children and adolescents learn to know God and to trust Him,” COLF says. “That is where they meet Jesus and welcome Him as a friend.

“As they spend time with Him, they will come to understand that the big challenge for a child of God and a disciple of the King of the Universe is not only to avoid evil, but to do, with Him at their side, all the good they are called to do. Rest assured: Christ will call every single one of our children to a very personal vocation. “Their answer will depend to a great extent on the openness of heart acquired in the family,” it said.

Cradle Catholics haven't done enough to evangelize, pope says


VATICAN CITY - Cradle Catholics haven't done enough to show people that God exists and can bring true fulfillment to everyone, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of his former students.

"We, who have been able to know (Christ) since our youth, may we ask forgiveness because we bring so little of the light of his face to people; so little certainty comes from us that he exists, he's present and he is the greatness that everyone is waiting for," the pope said.

The pope presided at a Mass Aug. 28 in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, during his annual meeting with students who did their doctorates with him when he was a professor in Germany.

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, a regular participant in the Ratzinger Schulerkreis (Ratzinger student circle), gave the homily at the Mass, but the pope made remarks at the beginning of the liturgy.

At Angelus, pope greets new US seminarians


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Just four days after arriving in Rome, the new seminarians at the Pontifical North American College had their first glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI.

The 76 new men from 52 different dioceses -- four Australian dioceses, one Canadian and 47 U.S. dioceses -- joined 2,000 other pilgrims in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo for the recitation of the Angelus Aug. 28.

The North American College is sponsored by the U.S. bishops. Students live at the college and receive spiritual and pastoral training there while attending one of the pontifical universities in Rome.

After reciting the Marian prayer, the pope singled out the students for a special greeting.

'Spiritual Communion': Youths learn a traditional concept the hard way


VATICAN CITY - More than a million young Catholics learned the hard way about a venerable Catholic tradition: "spiritual Communion" or the "Communion of desire."

At audience, pope announces themes for coming WYD celebrations


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - After reviewing his trip to Madrid for World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI announced the themes he has chosen to guide the reflections of young Catholics next year on a diocesan level and in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

The 2012 theme, he said at his weekly general audience Aug. 24, will be, "Rejoice in the Lord Always."

The theme for the international gathering with the pope in Rio, he said, will be: "Go and Make Disciples of All Nations."

The pope's audience with about 2,000 people gathered in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo lasted just over 15 minutes.

As is customary at the first general audience after a trip abroad, Pope Benedict dedicated his talk to a review of the meetings and experiences of his trip Aug. 18-21 -- "extraordinary days" -- in Madrid.

"It was a very moving church event," he said. "Almost 2 million young people from every continent joyfully lived the formidable experience of brotherhood, encounters with the Lord, sharing and growing in the faith.

Faiths must work together


VATICAN CITY - As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate the end of their month-long Ramadan fast, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran encouraged Catholics and Muslims to work together to promote spirituality.

Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said Christians and Muslims are concerned about the challenges of materialism and secularization and the loss of the importance of spiritual and moral values in society.

The message, released Aug. 19 at the Vatican, was issued in 30 different languages. It was addressed to Muslims around the world to mark the end of Ramadan on or around Aug. 30.

Pope tells young to build on their faith, share it with the world


Below is the homily of Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day 2011's closing mass in Madrid's Cuatro Vientos Air Base.

Dear Young People,

In this celebration of the Eucharist we have reached the high point of this World Youth Day. Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy. I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you. Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15). He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open

the door to a life of fulfilment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father. For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received. Certainly, there are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better. They realize that he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns. But who is he really? How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?

The Gospel we have just heard (cf. Mt 16:13-20) suggests two different ways of knowing Christ. The first is an impersonal knowledge, one based on current opinion. When Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, the disciples answer: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. In other words, Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him. Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds with what is the first confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth.

Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”. Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life. Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation. So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard. Faith in Christ and discipleship are strictly interconnected.

Stop, listen, reflect on what God is trying to tell you, pope says


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Most people don't leave any time in their day to stop, listen and reflect on what God is doing and saying in their lives, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Our time is taken up by so many activities, commitments, worries and problems that often one tends to fill up one's whole day without having a second left for stopping to reflect and nourish one's spiritual life" by having contact with God, he said Aug. 17 as he held his weekly general audience in the courtyard of the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo.

The pope continued his series of talks on prayer by focusing on meditation and the role it plays in a Christian life.

He said it is essential to consistently find a moment every day to be able to "collect our thoughts in silence and meditate on what the Lord wants to teach us, since he is present and acts in the world and our lives."

Earthly affairs can wait; things of God demand action now, pope says


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Temporal things can wait; only the things of God merit acting upon without hesitation, Pope Benedict XVI said.

God's words and his will are the only things "that are truly urgent for our lives," he said.

Celebrating an early morning Mass Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the pope reflected on the reading from the Gospel of Luke in which Mary visits Elizabeth "in haste" after the angel Gabriel announced to Mary God's plan that she conceive the son of God.

Mary's sense of haste is important, the pope said, because it shows "the only things in the world that merit haste are exactly the things of God."

Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass in the parish Church of St. Thomas, just across the main square from the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo. Those attending the Mass in the small church included retired Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and the pope's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.