Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates Christmas Eve Mass


Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Christmas Eve Mass on Saturday night, kicking off a two weeks of public appearances that will test his stamina.

Benedict XVI; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927 was elected on April 19, 2005, and is the 265th and current Pope, took possession of his cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on May 7, 2005 — by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See.

The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes, “holy chair”) is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church, in which its Bishop is the Pope.

Often referred to as “the Vatican”, the Holy See is not the same entity as the Vatican City State, which came into existence only in 1929. The Holy See dates back to early Christian times.

The diplomatic activities of the Holy See are directed by the Secretariat of State, which is the headed by the Cardinal Secretary of State. The Cardinal Secretary is regarded as being in charge of the political and diplomatic activities of the Holy See and is thus referred to as being the Holy See’s “Prime Minister”. The current Cardinal Secretary of State is Tarcisio Bertone of Italy. Tarcisio Bertone has served since September 15, 2006. There are 17 internationally recognized states which do not have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Nine of the countries are Muslim: Afghanistan, Brunei, Comoros, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Somalia. Four countries are communist regimes: China, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. The remaining four countries are Bhutan, Botswana, Myanmar, and Tuvalu.

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