Saturday, September 26, 2009





- At 9.40 a.m. today Benedict XVI departed by plane from Rome's Ciampino airport. Following a two-hour flight his plane landed at Stara Ruzyne airport of Prague, thus beginning his first apostolic visit to the Czech Republic, the thirteenth foreign trip of his pontificate. On his arrival the Pope was greeted by Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic; Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop of Prague, and Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc, president of the Czech Bishops' Conference. In his address the Holy Father indicated that "while the whole of European culture has been profoundly shaped by its Christian heritage, this is especially true in the Czech lands, since it was through the missionary labours of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century that the old Slavonic language first came to be written down. Apostles of the Slavic peoples and founders of their culture, they are rightly venerated as patrons of Europe". "This territory", he went on, "has been a meeting-point for different peoples, traditions and cultures. Undeniably this has sometimes led to friction, but in the longer term it has proved to be a fruitful encounter. Hence the significant part played by the Czech lands in Europe's intellectual, cultural and religious history - sometimes as a battleground, more often as a bridge". After then recalling how the coming months will see the twentieth anniversary of the revolution "which happily brought a peaceful end to a time of particular hardship for this country", the Pope said: "I join you and your neighbours in giving thanks for your liberation from those oppressive regimes. "If the collapse of the Berlin Wall marked a watershed in world history", he added, "it did so all the more for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, enabling them to take their rightful place as sovereign actors in the concert of nations. "Nevertheless, the cost of forty years of political repression is not to be underestimated. A particular tragedy for this land was the ruthless attempt by the government of that time to silence the voice of the Church. Throughout your history, from the time of St. Wenceslaus, St. Ludmila and St. Adalbert to the time of St. John Nepomuk, there have been courageous martyrs whose fidelity to Christ spoke far louder and more eloquently than the voice of their executioners". The Holy Father went on: "This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the death of Servant of God Cardinal Josef Beran, archbishop of Prague. I wish to pay tribute both to him and to his successor Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, whom I had the privilege of knowing personally, for their indomitable Christian witness in the face of persecution. They, and countless brave priests, religious and lay men and women kept the flame of faith alive in this country. Now that religious freedom has been restored, I call upon all the citizens of this Republic to rediscover the Christian traditions which have shaped their culture, and I invite the Christian community to continue to make its voice heard as the nation addresses the challenges of the new millennium". Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by quoting from his recent Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" saying: "Without God, man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is". And he added :"The truth of the Gospel is indispensable for a healthy society, since it opens us to hope and enables us to discover our inalienable dignity as God's children". The welcome ceremony over, the Pope travelled to the church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague.PV-CZECH REP./ARRIVAL/PRAGUE VIS 090926 (610)


At 12.30 p.m. today the Pope arrived at the church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague, which was built by German Lutherans between 1611 and 1613 on a site once occupied by a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Trinity. Following the victory of the Counter Reformation in Bohemia, emperor Ferdinand II gave the building to the Order of Discalced Carmelites and it was consecrated to Our Lady Victorious. The church houses the famous image of the Infant Jesus of Prague. The statuette, made of wax over a wooden frame, comes from a convent in southern Spain and was given to the Carmelites by princess Polyxena von Lobkowitz in 1628. The cult of the Infant Jesus spread during the Baroque period and is associated with the visions of St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelite Order. Benedict XVI was greeted by the rector as he arrived at the church, which was crowded with families and children. He adored the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel of the Infant Jesus then placed a golden crown on the statuette before moving on to the main altar to greet those present. "The image of the Child Jesus calls to mind the mystery of the Incarnation, of the all-powerful God Who became man and Who lived for thirty years in the lowly family of Nazareth", he said. "My thoughts turn to your own families and to all families ... as we call upon the Child Jesus for the gift of unity and harmony. ... We think especially of young families who have to work so hard to offer their children security and a decent future. We pray for families in difficulty, struggling with illness and suffering, for those in crisis, divided or torn apart by strife or infidelity. We entrust them all to the Holy Infant of Prague, knowing how important their stability and harmony is for the true progress of society and for the future of humanity". "In the Holy Infant of Prague we contemplate the beauty of childhood and the fondness that Jesus Christ has always shown for little ones. ... Yet how many children are neither loved, nor welcomed nor respected! How many of them suffer violence and every kind of exploitation by the unscrupulous! May children always be accorded the respect and attention that are due to them: they are the future and the hope of humanity!" The Holy Father concluded by thanking all the children who had come to greet him and he asked them to pray for their parents, teachers, friends, and for him. Having concluded his visit to the church of Our Lady Victorious, the Pope went to the apostolic nunciature where he had lunch.PV-CZECH REP./INFANT JESUS/PRAGUE VIS 090926 (470)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese Antigonish, Canada, presented by Bishop Raymond John Lahey, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.RE/.../LAHEY VIS 090926 (50)


Irish pro-life groups campaigning against the Lisbon Treaty have accused a senior bishop of interfering in the upcoming referendum.Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor said last week that he could "state unequivocally that a Catholic can, without reserve and in good conscience, vote 'Yes' for the Lisbon Treaty."There are no grounds to justify a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty on the basis of specifically religious or ethical concerns," he said.Irish citizens will vote next month on the Treaty for the second time. In June last year they rejected the treaty, which required an amendment to the Irish constitution, by 53 per cent to 46 per cent.Bishop Treanor is one of the Church's most respected and senior experts on European Union ethical affairs and Irish Catholic bishops representative at the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (Comece).He made his remarks before the Oireachtas joint committee on European affairs, the equivalent of a British parliamentary committee. His comments were a boost to the Yes campaign led by Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Bishop Treanor said he was speaking with the blessing of Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All Ireland. A number of organisations involved in the No vote, which is expected to lose, argue that the Treaty would allow Brussels to challenge Ireland's opposition to abortion. But Bishop Treanor told the committee that no organisation lobbying in the campaign speaks on behalf of the Church."Unfortunately, there is evidence that there are a number of publications and organisations who are intent once again on influencing the outcome of the forthcoming referendum by introducing misleading or inaccurate information," he said. He said Lisbon "does not alter the legal position of abortion in Ireland".He said: "This is further assured by the legal guarantees secured by the government in the period since the first referendum. These legal guarantees represent a welcome and significant clarification of already existing safeguards in the relationship between the competence of the EU institutions and national sovereignty on important ethical issues."Responding to queries from joint committee members on the implications of decisions by the European Court of Justice for national jurisdictions, he said such decisions did "not compel national legislatures" or "force any member state" to follow suit. But he was criticised by Niamh Uí Bhriain, spokeswoman for the Catholic anti-Lisbon group, Cóir ("Justice"), who said he had "clearly been misinformed in regard to the stance taken by pro-life organisations on the treaty, since what Cóir and others argue is that the Lisbon Treaty will give the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the right to decide on Ireland's abortion laws in the future".She said: "If the ECJ decided that a right to abortion exists under any clause in the Charter, then EU law will simply be held superior to Irish law. What Cóir has argued is that the treaty will give the EU Courts the right to decide on abortion and a great many other social issues in the future."A reading of the treaty makes that very clear. A new and legally different EU is created in Articles 1 and 49, we all become citizens of that superstate in Article 9, and Article 6 then gives us, as citizens, a legally binding Charter of Rights."That's what gives the EU Court the right to decide our human rights law - including our laws on issues like abortion and euthanasia - in the future. That means it will be the EU Court, not the Irish people, who will make future decisions if Lisbon is passed. That much is abundantly clear."She told The Catholic Herald "Bishop Treanor needs to realise that the days of bishops crozier-belting are gone, and I as a Catholic think that's a good thing. He has done something quite extraordinary. "This is not a spiritual matter, the sort of thing bishops usually speak out about, and he has made an extraordinary statement." She added: "He is part of an EU-funded bishops' group [Comece] and has come out to personally campaign for the Treaty. He has made some fairly strident criticism of the No campaign. I think that criticism is fairly unacceptable."She added: "Our right to vote on abortion is too precious to leave to trust and hope. To give up our commitment to protect the right of the unborn is too big for that."But Fr John McManus, Bishop Treanor's spokesman, said the bishop was not telling people how to vote.He said: "What Bishop Treanor said was that a Catholic can in good conscience vote for the Lisbon Treaty. He said there is no basis to make a No vote on religious grounds. But he has said people are free to decide. He is simply saying that people can in good conscience vote either way."In a statement a spokesman for the Bishops Conference of Ireland said: "While we do not seek to align ourselves with either side of the referendum debate, we wish to make it clear that a Catholic can, in good conscience, vote Yes or No. "We urge all Christians to consider carefully the contents of the Treaty; we also wish to stress the responsibility on all of us to vote and to do so with regard not just for our own personal or group interest, but for the good of every citizen and the whole community."



The USCCB reports that a nationwide survey commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has found widespread public opposition to including abortion in health care reform and majority support for conscience rights protection – views shared by those who favor efforts to pass health care reform. Conducted by International Communications Research (ICR) from September 16-20, 2009, the phone survey of 1,043 U.S. adults found that 60 percent favor – and only thirty percent oppose – “efforts to pass health care reform to provide affordable health insurance for all.” Focusing on that sixty percent, the survey found that:
Sixty percent of those favoring reform oppose – and only 25 percent support – “measures that would require people to pay for abortion coverage with their federal taxes.”
By a 49-39 percent plurality, those who favor reform oppose “measures that would require people to pay for abortion coverage with their health insurance premiums”; and
Among those favoring reform, those who favor maintaining “current federal laws that protect doctors and nurses from being forced to perform or refer for abortions against their will” outnumber those who oppose keeping such laws in place by a margin of two to one (60-30).
Opposition to abortion coverage was somewhat stronger in the total sample of U.S. adults – for example, 67 percent of the total sample opposed requiring people to pay for abortion coverage through their taxes and 56 percent opposed making them do so through their insurance premiums. The survey also asked: “If the choice were up to you, would you want your own insurance policy to include abortion?” Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults said ‘No’ and only 24 percent said ‘Yes.’ “The USCCB survey confirms other recent polls conducted by Public Opinion Strategies (August 30-September 1) and Rasmussen Reports (September 14-15) on health care policy and abortion,” said Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy & Communications at the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. “With each passing week it gets clearer: The American public generally does not want to pay for abortion coverage and does not want health care reform used to promote abortion,” she said. “Abortion is not health care. The bishops of the United States are working hard to ensure that health care reform serves the most vulnerable among us – especially the poor, immigrants, and the unborn,” McQuade said. For more information on the U.S. bishops’ position on health care reform, visit
Survey MethodologyICR / International Communications Research, based in the Philadelphia suburb of Media, PA, is a top-ranked and nationally recognized market research organization. ICR fielded this study in their national, weekly EXCEL Omnibus telephone survey on behalf of the USCCB from September 16-20, 2009, interviewing a nationwide sample of 1,043 adults aged 18 and older. EXCEL is weighted to provide nationally representative and projectable estimates of the population ages 18+. At a 95 percent level of confidence, the margin of error for this sample of 1,043 is +/-3.0 percent. A full methodology and profile of the pollster are available upon request.



CISA reports that an international human rights organization has launched a campaign to reduce maternal deaths in Sierra Leone.Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan launched Amnesty International Caravan to End Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.The caravan will tour the country raising awareness of maternal deaths as a human rights issue within Sierra Leone and demanding improved healthcare services from the government.Amnesty is tackling maternal mortality as part of its recently launched Demand Dignity campaign focusing on poverty and human rights, according to a press release.The mission to Sierra Leone also comes ahead of the launch of Khan's book, the Unheard Truth, on October 15. This is Amnesty International's first book addressing poverty and human rights.According to the organization, one in eight women risk dying during pregnancy or childbirth.“Thousands of women bleed to death after giving birth. Most die in their homes. Some die on the way to hospital; in taxis, on motorbikes or on foot,” said the organization.In Sierra Leone, less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities.“These grim statistics reveal that maternal deaths are a human rights emergency in Sierra Leone,” said Khan while launching the report.“Women and girls are dying in their thousands because they are routinely denied their right to life and health, in spite of promises from the government to provide free healthcare to all pregnant women,” said Khan.She added that additional money is desperately needed in Sierra Leone but will not reach women and children in remote areas who are at greatest risk and said that the lives of women and girls will only be saved when the health system is properly managed. (SOURCE:


UCAN reports that Church workers have been distributing cash, cooking utensils, food and building materials to Christians in this city who were affected by flooding.
On Sept. 19 and 20, Father Richard D'Souza, head of St Jude's Parish in Karachi, accompanied Caritas Karachi workers to slum areas, where he handed over 10,000 rupees (US$125) to 50 Catholic families.
"The locals came to the church asking for help and Archbishop Evarist Pinto of Karachi donated the amount for their rehabilitation," Father D'Souza told UCA News.
Caritas workers visited 10 Christian slums to distribute essential items and housing supplies. Riaz Nawab, disaster management coordinator for the archdiocese, said 150 Christian families received cooking sets and 220 received cement, gravel and concrete blocks to rebuild their houses.
The people have yet to recover from flooding on July 18 and 19 that claimed 50 lives and injured another 100. According to the meteorological department, torrential rains had produced 245 millimeters of rainfall in just four hours.
That rainfall broke a 32-year record, but the flooding problem for poor people who crowd into slum areas is perennial. And in Pakistan, most Christians are poor, often relegated to menial jobs or cleaning work others disdain.
Mubarak Masih, a Catholic sanitation worker, was among those the Church team assisted. His mud house, with a galvanized iron roof, is among a cluster of other similar dwellings near a monsoon drain.
"I have been living here for 10 years and three times our locality has been flooded," he said, adding that the water damaged all his furniture.
Father Victor John heads St. Philip's Parish, where the July flooding killed 10 parishioners and demolished the small St. Francis of Assisi Church.
"More than 80 percent of Catholics in my parish live in slums crisscrossed by drains," he told UCA News.
"Every year, water levels rise by up to almost five feet (1.5 meters), inundating the surrounding houses. Many Christians are poor and cannot afford to build houses on higher ground," he said.
Father D'Souza detailed the problem further: "There are 41 open monsoon drains that crisscross different towns. People treat these as garbage dumps, leading to blockages."
He said, "The local government needs to focus on these problems in the city's infrastructure."
According to the provincial slum authority, there are 539 slum settlements in Karachi, comprising about 60 percent of the total area of the city. The United Nations Development Program says Karachi, home to more than 18 million people, is also home to the largest slum in Asia.(SOURCE;


Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Feast: September 26
Feast Day:
September 26
3rd century AD, Arabia
287 AD, Aegea, Roman province of Syria
Major Shrine:
Convent of the Poor Clares in Madrid, Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Bitonto, Bari, Italy
Patron of:
surgeons, physicians, dentists, protectors of children, barbers, pharmacists, veterinarians, orphanages, day-care centers, confectioners, children in house, against hernia, against the plague.

Early Christian physicians and martyrs whose feast is celebrated on 27 September. They were twins, born in Arabia, and practised the art of healing in the seaport Ægea, now Ayash (Ajass), on the Gulf of Iskanderun in Cilicia, Asia Minor, and attained a great reputation. They accepted no pay for their services and were, therefore, called anargyroi, "the silverless". In this way they brought many to the Catholic Faith. When the Diocletian persecution began, the Prefect Lysias had Cosmas and Damian arrested, and ordered them to recant. They remained constant under torture, in a miraculous manner suffered no injury from water, fire, air, nor on the cross, and were finally beheaded with the sword. Their three brothers, Anthimus, Leontius, and Euprepius died as martyrs with them. The execution took place 27 September, probably in the year 287. At a later date a number of fables grew up about them, connected in part with their relics. The remains of the martyrs were buried in the city of Cyrus in Syria; the Emperor Justinian I (527-565) sumptuously restored the city in their honour. Having been cured of a dangerous illness by the intercession of Cosmas and Damian, Justinian, in gratitude for their aid, rebuilt and adorned their church at Constantinople, and it became a celebrated place of pilgrimage. At Rome Pope Felix IV (526-530) erected a church in their honour, the mosaics of which are still among the most valuable art remains of the city. The Greek Church celebrates the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian on 1 July, 17 October, and 1 November, and venerates three pairs of saints of the same name and profession. Cosmas and Damian are regarded as the patrons of physicians and surgeons and are sometimes represented with medical emblems. They are invoked in the Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints.


Luke 9: 43 - 45
And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he did, he said to his disciples,
"Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men."
But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

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