2 November 2006

NLM Letter Writing Campaign...

With all the talk of various discussions and debates surrounding the rumoured motu proprio on the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum, a NLM reader Jeff Ostrowski had a thought...

"I want to let others know about a comment, which comes from a good source (a smart bishop and friend of Cardinal Ratzinger):

"Why don't you just write to him [Benedict XVI]. The Holy See keeps tabs on the number of letters they receive."

We need to realize this.

Send to:
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano

In English, the Pope's E-mail address is benedictxvi@vatican.va

Additional Points to take note of...
Before describing how an address should be written, or how a letter to an ecclesiastical personage should be begun and ended, it may be well to say that the paper must always be white, no other colour being allowed. The size and form of stationery considered appropriate is that known in Italy as palomba; it is used by the Roman Congregations, and is so called because it has the watermark of a dove (It., palomba). In other countries the paper used for protocols or ministerial correspondence may be employed, but it should be handmade, as both stronger and more suitable.

The ink must always be black; coloured inks are forbidden; first, because they are contrary to traditional usage, and next because they are liable to changes, having, for the most part, a basis of aniline or of animal oil; moreover, these inks on being exposed to the light lose colour rapidly and soon make the letter impossible to read.

The letter must be written as our fathers wrote, and not, as business letters are now sometimes written, first on the right hand sheet and then on the left, in inverse order to that of the leaves of a book. This is expressly laid down in an instruction issued by Propaganda when Monsignor Ciasca was secretary, and rests on the necessity of providing for the due order of the archives and for facility of classification.

Lastly, it is better not to write on the back of the sheet, as the ink may soak through the paper and make the document less easy to read; in any case, it is a rule of politeness to facilitate the reading of a letter in every possible way.

Ten years ago the use of a typewriter was not permissible; at the present day it is. Many decrees of the Congregation of Rites are written in this way; the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars allow it in the case of documents addressed to them, and other ecclesiastical courts have followed their example, but letters addressed to the Sovereign Pontiff personally must still be written by hand. If the letter be sealed, red wax must be used, any other colour, or even black, being forbidden; but the use of wafers, made to look like seals of red wax, which are gummed on to the envelope, is now tolerated. Moreover, according to the practice of the ecclesiastical chanceries, the seal used should be smaller in proportion to the dignity of the person addressed. In practice, however, it is not easy to follow this rule, since it is not everyone who possesses seals of different sizes.

Forms of Address
The Sovereign Pontiff is addressed at the commencement of a letter as "Most Holy Father" (Beatissimo Padre); in the body of the letter as "His Holiness" (Sua or Vostra Santità). It is customary to speak to him always in the third person, and the letter ends with: "Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, I have the honour to profess myself, with the most profound respect, Your Holiness's most humble servant."

If, instead of a letter, a petition is sent to the Sovereign Pontiff, to be examined by him or by one of the Roman Congregations, it should begin: "Most Holy Father, Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, the undersigned N., of the diocese of N., has the honour to set forth as follows:" -- and the statement of the request ends with the words: "And may God . . ." (meaning, "May God enrich Your Holiness with His gifts"). If written in Italian the petition ends with the formula, Che della grazia . . ., the beginning of a phrase implying that the favour asked is looked for from the great kindness of the Sovereign Pontiff. After folding the petition lengthways to the paper, the petitioner should write at the top, "To His Holiness, Pope N. . . . ."; in the middle, "for the petitioner" (per l'infrascritto oratore), and at the bottom, to the right, the name of the agent, or the person charged with the transaction of that particular business at the Roman court.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913 ed.)

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