Vatican Media Watch

Pope Benedict to Open New Session at University

AGENZIA GIORNALISTICA ITALIA, Oct. 15 — Pope Benedict XVI will chair the ceremony for the opening of the 2006 session at the medicine facility of the Catholic University in Rome on Nov. 25, the Italian news service reported.

Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II also visited the facility at Gemelli university hospital.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the university's foundation, Benedict XVI went to Gemelli hospital to visit his brother who was hospitalized, and when he was a cardinal he had visited John Paul II there.

Exorcism Course Continues at the Vatican

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 14 — Regina Apostolorum University is offering a course in exorcism and demonic possession for a second consecutive year, concerned about the devil's lure — particularly among young Italians, the Associated Press reported.

Standing in solemn prayer, around 120 priests, lay people and theology students began the course that is intended to clear up misconceptions and understand what makes people turn to the occult.

The opening class of the “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation” Oct. 13 at Regina Apostolorum featured lectures about liturgical and spiritual aspects of Satanism and problems related to exorcism.

In recent years, police have discovered sites in the Castelli hill towns outside Rome where they say Satanic cult followers hold black Masses.

“The aim of this course is to express a clear vision of the phenomenon,” said Italian Bishop Andrea Gemma, a leading exorcist who delivered the opening lecture. “Exorcism … is an important prayer of the Church to help those who believe to be, or who really are suffering from a diabolic infestation.”

Church Seeks to Regain Site of the Last Supper

TIMESONLINE.CO.UK, Oct. 13 — The Vatican will offer the historic synagogue at Toledo in Spain to Israel in exchange for the room of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, the website of The Times of London reported.

The proposals, contained in a draft agreement between the Israeli government and the Vatican, come on the eve of a state visit to the Vatican in November by President Moshe Katzav.

Il Messaggero, the Rome daily, said possible reciprocal gestures include the return to Jewish control of the 12th-century synagogue in Toledo, which is now the Church of Santa María La Blanca.

The Upper Room, where the Last Supper is said to have taken place, is also where the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost. It was transformed into a mosque, and since the foundation of Israel, the area has served as the site of Jewish yeshivas, or religious schools.

God, not the State, Creates Rights

AGENZIA GIORNALISTICA ITALIA, Oct 15 — In his first personally signed letter to the leader of a state-run conference, Pope Benedict said “a healthy lay state logically has to recognize in its legislation the moral instances that are part of man's very existence,” the Italian news agency reported.

In his letter sent to the Liberty and Laicism conference in Norsia, where St. Benedict was from, the Holy Father told Marcello Pera, the head of the Italian Senate, it was hoped “that the reflections that will be made on this subject will take into account man's dignity and also his fundamental rights, which are values that are subject to any state jurisdiction. These fundamental rights are not created by law, but are inscribed in the very nature of the human person, and are ultimately due to the Creator.”

The conference, which was held Oct. 15, was sponsored by the Magna Carta Foundation and the Foundation for Relief.

The Pope said, “For a cultural and spiritual renewal inside Italy and the European continent, we need to work so that laicism is not interpreted as hostility to religion, but is seen as quite the contrary. This would mean it is seen as a commitment to guarantee everyone, individually and in groups, the possibility of living and demonstrating their own religious convictions, while fully respecting the needs of the common good.”