Monday, September 28, 2009



VIS) - This afternoon at the archbishop's palace in Prague the Holy Father met with members of the Ecumenical Council of Churches of the Czech Republic. The Holy Father arrived at 5.15 p.m. to be greeted by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop of Prague. Having then been welcomed by the president of the ecumenical council, Benedict XVI pronounced his address. "It is hard to believe that only two decades have passed since the collapse of former regimes gave way to a difficult but productive transition towards more participatory political structures", said the Pope. "During this period, Christians joined together with others of good will in helping to rebuild a just political order, and they continue to engage in dialogue today in order to pave new ways towards mutual understanding, co-operation for peace and the advancement of the common good. "Nevertheless", he added, "attempts to marginalize the influence of Christianity upon public life - sometimes under the pretext that its teachings are detrimental to the wellbeing of society - are emerging in new forms. ... The artificial separation of the Gospel from intellectual and public life should prompt us to engage in a mutual 'self-critique of modernity' and 'self-critique of modern Christianity', specifically with regard to the hope each of them can offer mankind ... in a period marked by proliferating world views". He went on: "Christianity has much to offer on the practical and ethical level". Yet "God offers a deeper reality which is nonetheless inseparable from the 'economy' of charity at work in this world: He offers salvation". The term salvation "is replete with connotations", the Pope explained, "yet it expresses something fundamental and universal about the human yearning for wellbeing and wholeness. ... It is the central truth of the Gospel and the goal to which every effort of evangelisation and pastoral care is directed. And it is the criterion to which Christians constantly redirect their focus as they endeavour to heal the wounds of past divisions". "The Church's proclamation of salvation in Christ Jesus is ever ancient and ever new. ... As Europe listens to the story of Christianity, she hears her own. Her notions of justice, freedom and social responsibility, together with the cultural and legal institutions established to preserve these ideas and hand them on to future generations, are shaped by her Christian inheritance. Indeed, her memory of the past animates her aspirations for the future". Pope Benedict went on to mention Sts. Adalbert and Agnes who spread the Gospel in "the conviction that Christians should not cower in fear of the world but rather confidently share the treasury of truths entrusted to them. Likewise Christians today, opening themselves to present realities and affirming all that is good in society, must have the courage to invite men and women to the radical conversion that ensues upon an encounter with Christ and ushers in a new life of grace. "From this perspective", he added, "we understand more clearly why Christians are obliged to join others in reminding Europe of her roots. It is not because these roots have long since withered. On the contrary! It is because they continue - in subtle but nonetheless fruitful ways - to supply the continent with the spiritual and moral sustenance that allows her to enter into meaningful dialogue with people from other cultures and religions. Precisely because the Gospel is not an ideology, it does not presume to lock evolving socio-political realities into rigid schemas. Rather, it transcends the vicissitudes of this world and casts new light on the dignity of the human person in every age". "Let us ask the Lord", the Pope concluded, "to implant within us a spirit of courage to share the timeless saving truths which have shaped, and will continue to shape, the social and cultural progress of this continent". At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father travelled to Prague Castle to meet with members of the academic community.PV-CZECH REP./ECUMENISM/PRAGUE VIS 090928 (680)

YEARNING FOR FREEDOM AND TRUTH CAN NEVER BE ELIMINATED VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2009 (VIS) - In Prague Castle at 6 p.m. today, the Pope met with rectors of Czech universities, staff and student representatives, and members of State and Church cultural institutions. "While some argue that the questions raised by religion, faith and ethics have no place within the purview of collective reason", said the Pope in his address, "that view is by no means axiomatic. The freedom that underlies the exercise of reason - be it in a university or in the Church - has a purpose: it is directed to the pursuit of truth, and as such gives expression to a tenet of Christianity which in fact gave rise to the university". "The great formative tradition, open to the transcendent, which stands at the base of universities across Europe, was in this land, and others, systematically subverted by the reductive ideology of materialism, the repression of religion and the suppression of the human spirit. In 1989, however, the world witnessed in dramatic ways the overthrow of a failed totalitarian ideology and the triumph of the human spirit", said Benedict XVI. He highlighted how "the yearning for freedom and truth is inalienably part of our common humanity. It can never be eliminated; and, as history has shown, it is denied at humanity's own peril. It is to this yearning that religious faith, the various arts, philosophy, theology and other scientific disciplines, each with its own method, seek to respond, both on the level of disciplined reflection and on the level of a sound praxis". Universities are responsible "for enlightening the minds and hearts of the young men and women of today" said the Pope, indicating that this task is "not merely the accumulation of knowledge or skills, but 'paideia', human formation in the treasures of an intellectual tradition directed to a virtuous life". "The idea of an integrated education, based on the unity of knowledge grounded in truth, must be regained", he insisted. "With the massive growth in information and technology there comes the temptation to detach reason from the pursuit of truth. ... The relativism that ensues provides a dense camouflage behind which new threats to the autonomy of academic institutions can lurk. "While the period of interference from political totalitarianism has passed", he added, "is it not the case that frequently, across the globe, the exercise of reason and academic research are - subtly and not so subtly - constrained to bow to the pressures of ideological interest groups and the lure of short-term utilitarian or pragmatic goals?" "The skills of analysis and those required to generate a hypothesis, combined with the prudent art of discernment, offer an effective antidote to the attitudes of self-absorption, disengagement and even alienation which are sometimes found in our prosperous societies, and which can particularly affect the young". "Not only do the proponents of this positivistic exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason negate what is one of the most profound convictions of religious believers, they also thwart the very dialogue of cultures which they themselves propose. An understanding of reason that is deaf to the divine and which relegates religions into the realm of subcultures, is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures that our world so urgently needs". "This confidence in the human ability to seek truth, to find truth and to live by the truth led to the foundation of the great European universities. Surely we must reaffirm this today in order to bring courage to the intellectual forces necessary for the development of a future of authentic human flourishing, a future truly worthy of man", the Holy Father concluded. At the end of his meeting with scholars, the Pope travelled to the apostolic nunciature where he spent the night.PV-CZECH REP./ACADEMIC WORLD/PRAGUE VIS 090928 (640)

ST. WENCESLAS PREFERRED SANCTITY TO WORLDLY POWER VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2009 (VIS) - At 8.15 a.m. today the Pope left the apostolic nunciature in Prague and travelled 35 kilometres by car to the church of St. Wenceslas at Stara Boleslav. The church, which stands on the site of the saint's martyrdom, is considered to be the symbolic site of the birth of the Czech nation and is the focus of a national pilgrimage which takes place every year on 28 September. Wenceslas was born around the year 907 and ascended the throne in 925. According to tradition he was a highly cultured and religious king, a man of justice and a benefactor to the poor. He was killed for political reasons by his brother Boleslav in 935 and in 938 his remains were translated to Prague cathedral. Ever since the tenth century he has been venerated as a saint. Arriving at the church the Holy Father was greeted by the religious and civil authorities. Having paused in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, he descended to the crypt of the Mausoleum of the Czech Nation where the relics of the saint are exposed. Before leaving the building the Pope greeted a group of twenty elderly priests who reside in a house belonging to the episcopal conference. He then travelled by popemobile to the nearby esplanade of Melnik where he celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of St. Wenceslas, feast day of the Czech Republic. In his homily Benedict XVI pointed out that St. Wenceslas "is a model of holiness for all people, especially the leaders of communities and peoples. Yet we ask ourselves: in our day, is holiness still relevant? ... Do we not place more value today on worldly success and glory? Yet how long does earthly success last, and what value does it have? "The last century - as this land of yours can bear witness - saw the fall of a number of powerful figures who had apparently risen to almost unattainable heights", he added. "Suddenly they found themselves stripped of their power. Those who denied and continue to deny God, and in consequence have no respect for man, appear to have a comfortable life and to be materially successful. Yet one need only scratch the surface to realize how sad and unfulfilled these people are. "Only those who maintain in their hearts a holy 'fear of God' can also put their trust in man and spend their lives building a more just and fraternal world. Today there is a need for believers with credibility, who are ready to spread in every area of society the Christian principles and ideals by which their action is inspired. This is holiness, the universal vocation of all the baptised, which motivates people to carry out their duty with fidelity and courage, looking not to their own selfish interests but to the common good, seeking God's will at every moment". Quoting then from today's Gospel in which Christ pronounces the words: "What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?" the Pope reiterated the fact that "the true value of human life is measured not merely in terms of material goods and transient interests, because it is not material goods that quench the profound thirst for meaning and happiness in the heart of every person. This is why Jesus does not hesitate to propose to His disciples the 'narrow' path of holiness". "The testimony of the saints assures us that it is possible" to follow this path, the Holy Father went on. "Their example encourages those who call themselves Christian to be credible, that is, consistent with the principles and the faith that they profess. It is not enough to appear good and honest: one must truly be so". "This is the lesson we can learn from St. Wenceslas, who had the courage to prefer the kingdom of heaven to the enticement of worldly power", the Holy Father concluded.PV-CZECH REP./MASS/MELNIK VIS 090928 (670)

POPE TELLS YOUNG PEOPLE: YOU ARE THE HOPE OF THE CHURCH VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's Eucharistic celebration the Holy Father addressed a Message to the 10,000 young pilgrims gathered on the esplanade of Melnik near the site of St. Wenceslas' martyrdom. Many of them had spent the night in tents to attend the Mass presided by Benedict XVI. "Being with you makes the Pope feel young!" the Holy Father told the pilgrims, thanking them for their "enthusiasm" and "generosity". He went on: "In every young person there is an aspiration towards happiness, sometimes tinged with anxiety: an aspiration that is often exploited, however, by present-day consumerist society in false and alienating ways. Instead, that longing for happiness must be taken seriously, it demands a true and comprehensive response. At your age, the first major choices are made, choices that can set your lives on a particular course, for better or worse". Benedict XVI reminded his audience of "the experience of St. Augustine, who said that the heart of every person is restless until it finds what it truly seeks. He discovered that Jesus Christ alone is the answer that can satisfy his and every person's desire for a life of happiness, filled with meaning and value. "As he did with Augustine", the Pope added, "so the Lord comes to meet each one of you. He knocks at the door of your freedom and asks to be welcomed as a friend. He wants to make you happy, to fill you with humanity and dignity. The Christian faith is this: encounter with Christ, the living Person Who gives life a new horizon and thereby a definitive direction". "The Lord calls each of us by name, and entrusts to us a specific mission in the Church and in society". He "constantly renews His invitation to you to be His disciples and His witnesses. Many of you He calls to marriage, and the preparation for this Sacrament constitutes a real vocational journey. Consider seriously the divine call to raise a Christian family, and let your youth be the time in which to build your future with a sense of responsibility. Society needs Christian families, saintly families!" Pope Benedict continued his Message: "And if the Lord is calling you to follow Him in the ministerial priesthood or in the consecrated life, do not hesitate to respond to His invitation. In particular, in this Year for Priests, I appeal to you, young men. ... The Church in every country, including this one, needs many holy priests and also persons fully consecrated to the service of Christ, Hope of the world. "Hope! This word, to which I often return, sits well with youth. You, my dear young people, are the hope of the Church! She expects you to become messengers of hope". The Holy Father then called on his youthful listeners to participate in the next World Youth Day, due to take place in the Spanish capital city of Madrid in August 2011, and he asked them "to live your faith with joy and enthusiasm; to grow in unity among yourselves and with Christ; to pray and to be diligent in frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession". Having then greeted the young people in various languages, Benedict XVI returned to Prague by car, where he dined at the archbishop's palace with bishops of the Czech Republic.PV-REP./MESSAGE YOUTH/MELNIK VIS 090928 (570)



CNA reports that in a speech delivered today by his representative at the Becket Fund conference, “Voices: The Lay State and Religious Liberty” in Mexico City, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver addressed the necessity of lay people living their faith conscientiously and truthfully in the public square. “Politics is the arena where the struggle between truth and lies, justice and injustice, takes place,” he stated.
Due to obligations in Denver, the archbishop was unable to attend the conference, but Luis Soto of the Office of Hispanic Ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver presented the archbishop’s remarks and acted as his representative.
The archbishop's remarks began by noting three important observations regarding the interplay of religious liberty and politics, garnered from the two terms he served as a Commissioner with the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“First, most countries claim to respect religious freedom. Second, many countries lie. They actually restrict religious freedom, and many other nations don’t see it as an important issue. And third, unless ordinary lay citizens work vigorously and without apologies in public life to protect their religious liberty, they lose it.”
Thus, Soto continued reading, “Catholics have a duty to bring their Catholic beliefs to bear on every social, economic and political problem facing their country. That’s not just a privilege. It’s not just a right. It’s a demand of the Gospel.”
And conveying the gospel message quickly loses status as a privilege and a right if it is not vigorously defended by the very people who are charged with that duty, he added.
“Cardinal Rivera, the Knights of Columbus and the Becket Fund all know this simple fact: Politics is the arena where the struggle between truth and lies, justice and injustice, takes place. No country’s political life can be honest -- and no government can serve the needs of its people -- unless it welcomes the deepest convictions of its citizens into public debate,” Archbishop Chaput stated.
The archbishop's speech then noted that the evangelizing nature of the faith does not void Christians' obligation to treat others with charity, justice, and prudence. “In a democracy, the best gift any of us can give to our country is the public witness of our convictions… If we withhold our religious and moral beliefs from our nation’s political debates because of a misguided sense of good manners, we are not being ‘polite.’ On the contrary: We’re stealing from the public conversation.”
Thus, the laity cannot simply sit back and expect the clergy and Church to defend their rights and privileges, or to craft a society in which religious freedom is permitted or encouraged. They must form themselves and their leaders in the faith so that they can faithfully embody the teachings of the Church.
Having recognized this important aspect of public life and private convictions, Soto turned to three “simple points” the archbishop addressed: the nature of the state; the nature of our Christian faith; and the nature of the lay vocation.
Christians, the archbishop wrote, “owe civil rulers their respect and obedience in all things that do not gravely violate the moral law.” But, he also pointed out, “the state is not god. It’s not immortal. It’s not infallible.”
The state, he explained, is necessary for the regulation of earthly life, but it must always be cautious of not infringing upon the rights inherent to each individual human being.
In talking about the nature of our Christian faith, the archbishop emphasized that a genuine Catholic faith is “always personal but never private.” Catholics believe that each human life has a unique but interrelated meaning, and that “we were made by God to receive love ourselves, and to show love to others.”
“This means our faith has social as well as personal implications. And those social implications include the civil dimension of our shared life; in other words, the content of our politics,” the archbishop said in his talk.
Returning to the topic of the role of the laity, the archbishop’s remarks focused on a comment made by Pope Benedict XVI, who told a convention in Rome that the Church needs a change in mindset, particularly concerning laypeople.
Summarizing the Pope's comments, Archbishop Chaput explained in his talk that the laity “must no longer be viewed as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy, but truly recognized as ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and action.” The laity, he said, “have exactly the same dignity as clergy and religious…They’re not second-class members of the Body of Christ.” They are charged with changing the world in the name of Jesus Christ, a change that can only be affected through a mature, intelligent, and faithful witness to Christ in every aspect of lay life.
Finally, the archbishop urged lay people to “never be embarrassed by your baptism. Never be afraid of the consequences of your faith. Take pride in your Catholic identity for the blessing and mandate it is. Act on it. Share it with others. We need to find in it once again the confidence to live and preach our faith – in everything we do -- without apologies or excuses. And if we do that, then we won’t need to ask what the ‘new evangelization’ looks like. We’ll know – because we’ll be incarnating it in our lives.” (SOURCE:



CNA reports that the Spanish daily La Razon reported this week that a relic of the Holy Cross was stolen from the Benedictine Monastery of the Valley of the Fallen, which had been in possession of the precious relic since 1960.
The paper reported the incident occurred on September 15.
The day before, which was the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Benedictine monks exposed the reliquary that contains the relic for veneration, as has been the custom for decades. The relic of the true Cross was given as a gift to the monks by Pope John XXIII in 1960.
As the monks were returning the liturgical vestments to the sacristy after Mass on September 15, they noticed that the reliquary had been opened and that the relic was no longer inside. The thief had apparently donned one of the monk’s habits in order to sneak the relic out of the monastery.
La Razon said the monks were upset at the discovery and are hoping the police will be able to recover the relic.
The Spanish daily recalled that “architect and archeologist Charles Rohault de Fleury wrote a book in 1870 in which he inventoried every known relic of the true Cross and that all together they would form less than one-third of the whole Cross.
“When she was almost 80 years old, in 326, St. Helena ordered an excavation on Calvary. She found three crosses in a quarry underneath a pagan temple. According to tradition, a woman who was ill was cured immediately when she touched one of the crosses, thus pointing out which one was the true Cross,” the newspaper recounted.



UCAN reports that least one person was killed and four injured on Sept. 27 when a bomb exploded near a camp that houses Christian victims of last year's riots in Orissa state.

A jeep set ablaze during anti-Christian violence in Orissa last year
Church people in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, said they suspected Hindu extremists were behind the blast and that it was designed to destabilize the Christian community that had begun to recover from their trauma.
The explosion happened just outside the Nandamaha refugee camp in Kandhamal district. The camp, situated in a forest, is home to 21 families, comprising about 100 Christians from violence-affected Betticola parish in Kandhamal district.
There were few details available about the deceased who did not live in the camp. The four injured are Christians, however.
Police detained for questioning the four Christians who reported the blast, Church sources said.
Those living in the camp are unable to return to their homes as Hindu extremists have threatened to kill them if they return without converting to Hinduism.
The state administration had offered them alternative land inside the forest to re-settle.
The Christians in the camp, including Catholics and Protestants, were busy clearing up the forest and building homes for each family, Church people said.
Sources in Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese, which covers Kandhamal district, said they suspect the extremists do not want to see Christians "live in peace" even inside the forest.
A Church source said the Christians were just beginning to settle down a year after the violence.
Police in G. Udayagiri town, which covers the area, have reportedly begun an investigation. Church sources said police have recovered guns near the camp.
Tribal-dominated Kandhamal district was the focus of the violence that began after Maoists gunned down Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 23, 2008. Hindu radicals had blamed Christians for the murder.
The four-month long riots that began a day after Saraswati's murder left 90 people dead and displaced some 50,000. As many as 5,000 Christian homes were burned and 294 churches, chapels and prayer halls, eight convents, eight presbyteries and 12 hostels were destroyed.
As the Hindu extremists continue to force the displaced to convert to Hinduism, hundreds of them have either left the state or moved to other districts in Orissa.
Betticola parish had witnessed tension for several years before last year's violence and was severely affected in last year's flare-up.


CISA reports that the last Burundian refugees in Tanzania are preparing to return home, ending a humanitarian crisis that began more than 30 years ago.The Tanzanian government plans to close the last remaining camp before the end of September.Bishop Protase Rugambwa of Kigoma Diocese in the west of Tanzania told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) of his hopes for the future after UN reports stated that Burundian refugees who numbered half a million just a decade ago have fallen to 36,000.Bishop Rugambwa spoke of how for years his diocese considered support for the refugees to be an essential part of its pastoral work.“We have tried to accompany them and help them spiritually, to seek peace and change their mentality away from hatred towards reconciliation,” he said.Bishop Rugambwa described how last month he visited Mtabilia, the last remaining camp, where he conducted confirmations for candidates prepared by the Holy Ghost Fathers, a religious order of priests.There was a steady flow of Burundian refugees into Tanzania between the mid-1960s and early 1990s. About 300,000 are reported to have fled during the mass slaughter that occurred as part of ethnic struggles in 1972.Since 2002, when it was first considered safe for the refugees to return home, more than 400,000 have returned. Not everyone has wanted to return, however, and last month 3,500 Burundians were granted Tanzanian citizenship.The Holy Ghost Fathers are one of the religious orders, along with the Missionaries of Africa, doing pastoral work in the diocese.Bishop Rugambwa said, “You can be doing pastoral work, but it obliges you to enter into the social area, and found schools and so on.” The bishop described the establishment of schools and hospitals as “traditional areas of activity” in the diocese. (SOURCE:



Cath news reports that Western Australia's government is "appalled" at the level of binge drinking among teenagers, with the worst being 17 year old girls, found by the Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug survey, the state's biggest survey of student drug and alcohol use.
Some 40.2 percent of the 2,802 WA students aged between 12-17 surveyed had consumed alcohol in the past month and 26.9 percent had in the past week, The Sunday Times reported.
Among 14-17 year olds who drank in the past week, more than a quarter of the boys and nearly a third of the girls had dangerous amounts.
The study covered government, Catholic and independent schools students.
The worst group of students for binge drinking in WA were 17 year old girls, with 61.2 percent consuming alcohol at a dangerously high level in the past week, which is defined as five or more standard alcoholic drinks a day.
In comparison, the number among boys the same age was 11 percent fewer. For boys, the dangerous level is defined as seven or more standard alcoholic drinks a day.
The state government will target teenage girls in a new Rethink Drink advertisement as a result of the survey, the news report said.
"These young ladies have gone off the rails," Mental Health Minister Graham Jacobs said.
He said it was disappointing that survey findings showed that 45 percent of students who consumed alcohol in the past week had got it from a parent.
"We want to highlight to parents the long term risks of young people drinking to excess.


St. Wenceslaus
Feast: September 28
Feast Day:
September 28
903, Prague, Bohemia
September 28, 935, StarĂ¡ Boleslav, Bohemia
Major Shrine:
St Vitus Cathedral, Prague
Patron of:
Bohemia, Czech Republic, Prague

Duke, martyr, and patron of Bohemia, born probably 903; died at Alt-Bunzlau, 28 September, 935.
His parents were Duke Wratislaw, a Christian, and Dragomir, a heathen. He received a good Christian education from his grandmother (St. Ludmilla) and at Budweis. After the death of Wratislaw, Dragomir, acting as regent, opposed Christianity, and Wenceslaus, being urged by the people, took the reins of government. He placed his duchy under the protection of Germany, introduced German priests, and favoured the Latin rite instead of the old Slavic, which had gone into disuse in many places for want of priests. Wenceslaus had taken the vow of virginity and was known for his virtues. The Emperor Otto I conferred on him the regal dignity and title. For religious and national motives, and at the instigation of Dragomir, Wenceslaus was murdered by his brother Boleslaw. The body, hacked to pieces, was buried at the place of murder, but three years later Boleslaw, having repented of his deed, ordered its translation to the Church of St. Vitus in Prague. The gathering of his relics is noted in the calendars on 27 June, their translation on 4 March; his feast is celebrated on 28 September.


Luke 9: 46 - 50
And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.
But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side,
and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great."
John answered, "Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us."
But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you."

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