The Best Of 2011 in the Church, Part 3/4

July: The Pope Leaves for Summer Vacation.
It was a very busy summer for Benedict XVI. During the month of July the Vatican had to deal with the illicit ordination of several Chinese bishops. The government backed Church said it would choose and ordain its own bishops as it saw fit. This of course, created tension between the Catholic Church and China, although some legitimate bishops argued they were forced, by the government, to take part in the illicit ceremonies. 

The pope then traveled to Castel Gandolfo to start off his summer vacation. Every year, the pope heads out to the small Italian town in the Roman countryside to escape Rome's intense summer heat. He continued to receive believers for the Sunday angelus prayer and thousands of believers joined him each Sunday at the papal summer residency.

August: The World Youth Day in Madrid.
In mid August the pope traveled to Madrid for World Youth Day 2011. There roughly 1.5 million young adults welcomed the pope. For three days, he urged the youth to not be ashamed of their religion and asked them to build their lives on Christ. The image of Benedict XVI opening his arms and talking to young people was one of the strongest moments of the year. He said : “Through your presence and your participation in these celebrations, the name of Christ will echo throughout this great City. Let us pray that his message of hope and love will also resound in the hearts of those who are not believers or who have grown distant from the Church”.

Another memorable moment was the ceremony of the Holy Mass on August 20 that was interrupted by heavy rainfall, the pope refusing to leave the altar talked to the faithful and said: “Thank you for your joy and resistance. Your strength is stronger than the rain. Thank you. The Lord is sending us his blessings with the rain. With this, you're leading by example.” The pope then announced that the next World Youth Day, will be held in Brazil in the year 2013. The theme will be “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

September: The Pope Travels to His Homeland Germany.
On September the Vatican issued a letter to Ireland's government, responding to a series of sex abuse allegations involving the Catholic Church. It all started in July when the Cloyne report showed that the bishops had not applied its own rules and had not reported some 40 different cases between 1996 and 2009. The prime minister delivered a hard speech on the topic to the Irish parliament. He quoted a 1997 letter sent to the bishops of Ireland by the then nuncio, expressing his doubts of the Congregation for the Clergy on the proposal to force bishops to report cases sexual abuse. In a lengthy response, the Vatican said the nuncio was cautiously seeking to avoid that good intentions lead to the challenge of canon processes. They also noted that at the time, the Irish Parliament had decided that it was not mandatory to report cases of abuse.The Irish government did not withdraw its suspicions, but said it hoped to reopen dialogue with the Vatican.

Later that month the pope made a historic visit to his home country of Germany. He gave 17 speeches, including one to the nation's parliament, where he called on lawmakers to do what's right and not what's popular: “For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can be sufficient criterion. Yet it's evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough.” He also visited the former Augustinian Monastery where Martin Luther studied before leading the Protestant Reformation. As a sign of Christian unity, he also met with Lutherans, urging them to fight against secularization.

During the trip, and after Berlin,  the Pope also visited the German city of Freiburg where he celebrated the Holy Mass and addressed the believers in his homily:"We have to be aware that God exercises his power differently from the way we normally do. He has placed a limit on his power, by recognizing the freedom of his creatures. We are glad and thankful for the gift of freedom. However, when we see the terrible things that happen as a result of it, we are frightened."

On that month, the Vatican also made an offer to welcome Lefebvrians back into the Catholic Church. The invitation stated that if the traditionalist group accepts fundamental points of doctrine, it will be welcomed back. In December, their superior Bishop Bernard Felay, publicly rejected the Vatican offer.

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