Tuesday, September 29, 2009




(VIS) - At 5 p.m. today the Pope travelled by car from the apostolic nunciature in Prague, Czech Republic, to the city's Stara Ruzyne airport. There he bid farewell to the president of the Republic, and to the civil, military and religious authorities, before boarding his return flight to Rome. The Holy Father thanked the Czech people for their hospitality and for the success of his visit: "I shall treasure the memory of the moments of prayer that I was able to spend together with the bishops, priests and faithful of this country", he said. "The Church", he went on, "has been truly blessed with a remarkable array of missionaries and martyrs, as well as contemplative saints, among whom I would single out St. Agnes of Bohemia, whose canonisation just twenty years ago providentially heralded the liberation of this country from atheist oppression". Benedict XVI highlighted then how his meeting with representatives from other Christian communities "brought home to me the importance of ecumenical dialogue in this land which suffered so much from the consequences of religious division at the time of the Thirty Years' War. Much has already been achieved in healing the wounds of the past, and decisive steps have been taken along the path towards reconciliation and true unity in Christ. In building further on these solid foundations, there is an important role for the academic community to play, through its uncompromising search for truth". "I was especially delighted to meet the young people, and to encourage them to build on the best traditions of this nation's past, particularly its Christian heritage. According to a saying attributed to Franz Kafka, 'anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old'. If our eyes remain open to the beauty of God's creation and our minds to the beauty of His truth, then we may indeed hope to remain young and to build a world that reflects something of that divine beauty, so as to inspire future generations to do likewise". The departure ceremony over, Benedict XVI boarded his plane bound for Rome where he arrived at 7.40 p.m. From Ciampino airport he then travelled by car to the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo.PV-CZECH REP./DEPARTURE/PRAGUE VIS 090929 (380)

PRIESTS ARE WITNESSES OF THE POWER OF GOD VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2009 (VIS) - Made public today were the contents of a video Message from the Pope to participants in an international spiritual retreat for priests at the French shrine of Ars for the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney. The preacher of the retreat, which is taking place from 27 September to 3 October, is Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and the theme of the spiritual exercises is: "The joy of being a priest, consecrated for the salvation of the world". "The priest", says the Holy Father in his Message, "is called to serve human beings and to give them life in God. ... He is a man of the divine Word and of all things holy and, today more than ever, he must be a man of joy and hope. To those who cannot conceive that God is pure Love, he will affirm that life is worthy to be lived and that Christ gives it its full meaning because He loves all humankind". Benedict XVI then turns to address priests who have to serve a number of parishes and who "commit themselves unreservedly to preserving sacramental life in their various communities. The Church's recognition for you all is immense", he says. "Do not lose heart but continue to pray and to make others pray that many young people may accept the call of Christ, Who always wishes to see the number of His apostles increase". The Holy Father also invites priests to consider "the extreme diversity of the ministries" they perform "in the service of the Church", and "the large number of Masses you celebrate or will celebrate, each time making Christ truly present at the altar. Think of the numerous absolutions you have given and will give, freeing sinners from their burdens. Thus you may perceive the infinite fruitfulness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Your hands and lips become, for a single instant, the hands and lips of God". "This thought", the Pope added, "should bring you to ensure harmonious relations among the clergy so as to form the priestly community as St. Peter wanted, and so build the body of Christ and consolidate you in love". "The priest is the man of the future. ... What he does in this world is part of the order of things directed towards the final Goal. Mass is the only point of union between the means and the Goal because it enables us to contemplate, under the humble appearance of the bread and the wine, the Body and Blood of Him Whom we adore in eternity". "Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests in the heart of the Church", the Pope concluded. "You are the living witnesses of God's power at work in the weakness of human beings, consecrated for the salvation of the world, chosen by Christ Himself to be, thanks to Him, salt of the earth and light of the world".MESS/SPIRITUAL RETREAT/... VIS 090929 (510)

OPENING OF SECOND SPECIAL SYNODAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2009 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has announced in a communique that at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 4 October the Holy Father will concelebrate the Eucharist with Synod Fathers in the Vatican Basilica for the opening of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The theme of the Synod is: "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. 'You are the salt of the earth, ... you are the light of the world'".OCL/OPENING SYNOD/... VIS 090929 (100)

THEME FOR 2010 WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2009 (VIS) - "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word" is the theme of the Pope's Message for the next World Day of Social Communications which is celebrated every year on 24 January, Feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of journalists. A communique made public today explains that the aim of the Message is "to invite priests in particular, during this Year for Priests and in the wake of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to consider the new communications media as a possible resource for their ministry at the service of the Word. Likewise, it aims to encourage them to face the challenges arising from the new digital culture". The text continues: "The new communications media, if adequately understood and exploited, can offer priests and all pastoral care workers a wealth of data which was difficult to access before, and facilitate forms of collaboration and increased communion that were previously unthinkable". The communique concludes by noting that "if wisely used, with the help of experts in technology and the communications culture, the new media can become - for priests and for all pastoral care workers - a valid and effective instrument for authentic and profound evangelisation and communion".CON-CS/THEME COMMUNICATIONS DAY/... VIS 090929 (230)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Constancio Miranda Weckmann of Atlacomulco, Mexico, as metropolitan archbishop of Chihuahua (area 73,956, population 1,351,777, Catholics 1,205,174, priests 136, permanent deacons 10, religious 226), Mexico. The archbishop-elect was born in Las Cruces, Mexico in 1952, he was ordained a priest in 1977 and consecrated a bishop in 1998. He succeeds Archbishop Jose Fernandez Arteaga, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.NER:RE/.../MIRANDA:FERNANDEZ VIS 090929 (90)


CISA reports that the second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops announces a theme that touches the core of Africa’s contemporary socio-political, cultural, religious, and economic predicament: reconciliation, justice, and peace. The Synod’s focus represents a kairos for the church and for the continent (cf. Instrumentum Laboris, no. 146). Wherever we look, Africa yearns for reconciliation, justice, and peace – from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Somalia, from the war-ravaged Sudan’s Darfur region to the combustible Niger-Delta region in Nigeria. The cry for reconciliation echoes from divided communities; the demand for justice rises from millions of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and the longing for peace flows in the tears of millions of victims of war and conflict in Africa. These collective cries and echoes from the continent set the framework within which to consider the theme of the synod.The question can be asked: in what ways does the Synod’s theme concern communities and institutes of consecrated persons in Africa? In responding to this question we need to be aware of a longstanding prejudice that religious live on the margins of real life in Africa. Not only does religious life insulate its members, it also shelters them from the scorching heat of injustice and the harsh realities of division and strife. This is only a prejudice. In truth, religious life places consecrated persons at the heart of God’s actions in the world. Just like the church, the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of millions of African peoples are also those of institutes of consecrated persons (see Gaudium et spes, no. 1). Viewed from this perspective, the second African Synod represents yet another invitation for religious and their communities to engage more intensely in God’s project of re-creating the earth and building a reconciled, just, and peaceful African continent.This brief reflection for religious institutes in Africa presupposes three basic principles. First, the mission of reconciliation, justice, and peace are constitutive of the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus Christ (see Luke 4:14-21). Thus the responsibility of religious in Africa – and, indeed, all Christians – to participate in themission announced by the African Synod stems from the invitation to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ (cf. IL, no. 40). Secondly, it is important to consider religious life within the context of the community called church. Religious communities inAfrica as in elsewhere do not form a separate church. As Lumen Gentium demonstrates clearly, religious form an integral part of the People of God. Consequently, we can reasonably expect that whatever poses challenges to the church in Africa will also finddeep resonances within religious communities. A third and final principle is the principle of sacramentality: the mission of reconciliation, justice, and peace embodies first and foremost a way of life rather than ideologies to be foisted on other people.The church and religious communities in Africa bear responsibility for practicing these virtues as a prerequisite for preaching them.This brief article addresses a simple question: considering the theme of the second African Synod, what are some challenges posed to members of religious institutes for their life and mission in Africa?As indicated above, reconciliation is a lived virtue. Examples abound of how Africa has been torn asunder by tribalism and ethnicity. Not only does this negative process destroy the lives of millions of Africans; it also retards the socio-economic and political development of the continent. In this context, the witness demanded of religious is to model a reconciled community for the rest of the continent. Like the church, religious institutes “must become more and more a reconciled community, a place where reconciliation is proclaimed to all people of good will” (Ibid, Preface). To take but one example, during the post-election violence in Kenya in early 2008, the veil of tranquility covering religious life was torn to shreds by tribal and ethnic sentiments as sisters turned against sisters and brothers against brothers. Professing the same vows and promoting the same charism did not shield some religious communities from theatrocious strife and divisive sentiments that assailed the rest of the Kenyan society. What happened in Kenya gives an indication of the larger continental profile. On the eve of the second African Synod, religious institutes in Africa face the pertinent challenge of how to overcome the scourge of tribalism and ethnicity and thus become a symbol or a sacrament of a reconciled community, a beacon for the rest of Africa. This challenge embodies a call to religious institutes and their members to assume more concretely the “ministry of reconciliation,” in deeds, rather than by words (Ibid, no. 42). It implies setting an example for the rest of the church and Africa “through the witness of their lives”(Ibid). As the synod’s Instrumentum Laboris rightly asserts, peace, like reconciliation, “is primarily born from within, in the interior of individuals and communities” (Ibid, no. 47).The principle that those who preach justice and peace must first be seen to be just and peaceful holds true for religious as it does for the rest of the church. There is no dearth of situations in Africa crying out for justice and peace. Whether in the oil-rich and impoverished Niger-Delta region in Nigeria or the war zones of Darfur in Sudan, the longing for justice and peace remains ineluctable. Yet in turning our attention to these cases of flagrant violation of justice and abuses of human rights, we risk overlooking the challenges of justice and peace for religious communities as well.When it comes to justice, one issue that the church in Africa and, therefore, religious communities continue to struggle with concerns the dignity of women. Across the continent of Africa thousands of religious women proclaim the reign of God in concrete acts of charity and compassion. Yet the question remains: to what extent is the dignity of these consecrated women honored, recognized, and celebrated in church and in society? Instrumentum Laboris candidly admits that “women and the laity in general are not fully integrated in the Church’s structures of responsibility and the planning of her pastoral programmes” (no. 20, cf. no. 30); “women continue to be subjected to many forms of injustice. . . . women are oftentimes given an inferior role” (nos. 59-61; cf. no. 117). Beyond admissions, the church faces the challenge of translating expressions of concern into deeds of justice, fairness, and equality. This assertion invites religious institutes to be at the forefront of the mission of promoting justice, dignity, and peace for African women in church and in society. Since it is impossible to give what one does not have, consecrated women and men face the challenge of practicing justice, equality, and fairness within their institutes and communities as living witnesses to the church and the African society.A frequently repeated nomenclature for the church in the documents of the African Synod is “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. Surprisingly little or no mention is made of the question of the integrity of creation in Instrumentum Laboris. This is a disturbing omission. In the present context of debates about global climate change, the church and religious communities cannot enjoy the luxury of silence, apathy, and indifference. Globalization has placed Africa on the receiving end of the depletion of the ozone layer, disastrous change of weather patterns, and unregulated carbon emissions. If the church and religious communities remain silent or indifferent, as it seems the case in Instrumentum Laboris, even the stones of the earth would cry out! The mission of reconciliation, justice, and peace “extends itself to all creation” (Ibid, Preface). In today’s globalised world, religious communities in Africa face the challenge of how to preach and internalized principles of eco-justice, harmony with the created world, and honoring the integrity of creation. In keeping with the principles articulated above, honoring the integrity of creation requires adopting concrete steps and means with regard to how religious consume and replenish the goods of the earth. To date, little reflection exists on the theme of the integrity of creation and the challenges it poses for the life and mission of religious institutes in Africa. The occasion of the second African Synod offers an opportune time to initiate this reflection.On the whole, the challenges facing religious communities and institutes in Africa on the eve of the Synod contain important implications for the formation of consecrated women and men. How do religious communities form their members to live thesevalues of reconciliation, justice, and peace? (cf. IL, no. 54). For consecrated women and men in Africa, an authentic participation in the Synod’s theme requires a radical reevaluation of their formation programmes (cf. Ibid, nos. 126-127). If taken seriously, this process of reevaluation could signal a significant shift away from the perception of religious life as insulation from serious issues facing the world to religious life as a mission to immerse and engage fully in the challenges of today’s globalised world. Of these challenges, the quest for reconciliation, justice, and peace generates myriad priorities for action.Some questions for reflection: 1) Several indigenous African communities practice different forms of reconciliation: how can religious institutes in Africa adopt and adapt some of these practices in order to live as reconciled communities?2) What are some indicators of a lack of justice and respect for human dignity within religious institutes in Africa and what concrete steps can be taken to practice greater justice and promote dignity, equality, and peace within religious communities?What concrete steps do religious communities take to use more renewable forms of energy and practice more energy-efficient ways of living?[Published with permission of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, USG/UISG Secretariat, Rome. Web:]



CNA reports that the Pastoral Council of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil, issued a statement Friday expressing its rejection of various measures moving through the Brazilian Congress that would legalize electronic bingo and another that would eliminate the one year separation period required before spouses could get a divorce.
The bishops said the approval of such measures would bring “serious consequences for Brazilian society.”
The legalization of electronic bingo and gambling, they argued, “would make it possible for an evil that was already overcome to return, endangering the risk and well-being of families, subjecting so many people to exploitation and turning them into dependents. Even graver still, as was said in the debates in Congress, is the possibility that a new field would be opened for the practice of a wide range of crimes, which include money laundering.”
The bishops said the argument that casinos would create 300,000 new jobs “does not legitimize the harmful practice of these games. In recent years the number of jobs has increased in the country without the need for policies that promote moral degradation, such as electronic bingo or gambling.”
Instantaneous divorce
Referring to the proposal to eliminate the one year waiting period required for spouses seeking a divorce, the bishops said this time period required “by the current Constitution at least allows for the possibility that spouses in difficulties have more time to reflect on the consequences of separation for themselves, their children and society.”
The proposal to hurry along separation “without allowing time for reflection, the help of friends, family members and counselors in defense of the bond that unites them, constitutes a banalization of the institution of marriage, with grave and painful consequences for all of society,” they added.
“The bishops exhorted the representatives of the people to a profound reflection about the proposals, and they expressed their support of lawmakers who oppose them,” the statement indicated.
The Brazilian prelates brought their statement to a close by calling on all people of good will, especially Christian leaders, to voice their disagreement to the representatives and to explicitly ask them to express their opposition. (SOURCE:



CNA reports that the Archdiocese of Madrid issued a statement Friday explaining that laicized or married priests cannot exercise their ministry. The clarification was made in response to some media reports that said married priests would be celebrating Mass.
“The Church expressly prohibits laicized priests or priests who have left and married, thus abandoning their priestly commitments, from exercising the priestly ministry, and therefore, from celebrating Mass as well as the other sacraments,” the statement indicated.
When the Archdiocese of Madrid verifies that such a situation has occurred, the clarification said, “ecclesial authorities immediately communicate this prohibition to person in question.”
The archdiocese also underscored that it has no knowledge of any priest in such a state who is celebrating the sacraments at any parish or place of worship within the archdiocese.
Lastly, the Archdiocese of Madrid expressed its desire that “this Year for Priests would stir up in every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideals of total donation to Christ and the Church, an essential condition for responsible exercise of the priestly ministry.” (SOURCE:



Cath News reports that Jenny Bill, a counsellor, says she was asked to remove two crosses from around her neck while working at Centacare Fraser Coast in Queensland and her refusal to comply led to her being ignored at work and feeling ridiculed.
"This is a shameful thing, especially for a Christian organisation," Ms Bill was cited as saying by the Fraser Coast Chronicle.
Centacare executive director Peter Selwood said the organisation had to strike the right balance between being a church organisation and government funded and had to be careful about being overly church focused.
But he acknowledged that it was "certainly inappropriate that Jenny was told to remove her crosses."
"I refused to take my crosses off because this was blatant religious discrimination, let alone that wearing a cross in 2009 is also considered fashionable," Ms Bill said.
Ms Bill said she was told within the first few days of employment by one of her superiors, that she was ordered by the organisation's service director, Jo Chorny, to remove her crosses. In a later meeting with Ms Chorny, she was made to understand that if the crossed weren't removed "I would be risking losing out on future employment there."
When she made a formal complaint, she says she was "subject to being ignored at work, given seething looks and the silent treatment and overheard conversations among staff loyal to senior management that left me feeling ridiculed, very uncomfortable and intimidated."
She has since left the organisation.
Ms Chorny has sent Ms Bill a written apology for any "unintended consequences" and the order coming off as "intimidatory in nature" or as "reflective of Centacare Community Support Services' policy."
But Ms Bill said the letter did not contain an apology for asking her to take off the crosses. (SOURCE:


UCAN reports that Hue archdiocesan leaders have expressed concern over the way authorities have reacted to Catholics who were trying to prevent the construction of a wall around a former Church-run school building.

Auxiliary Bishop Hong speaking withlocal Catholics in Loan Ly church on Sept. 2.
On Sept. 22, Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Hue and four priests met four officials from Thua Thien-Hue province's bureau for religious affairs at their headquarters in Hue, according to a report on the archdiocesan website.
One of the priests was Father Paul Ngo Thanh Son, pastor of Loan Ly church located near the Lang Co elementary school, the building at the heart of the conflict.
Archbishop The, 73, reportedly "expressed the great concern of local Catholics" for actions taken by provincial authorities to resolve a government-Church dispute over the building.
On Sept. 14, workers, under orders from government authorities, started building a brick wall around the school. When some 400 parishioners tried to stop the construction, police and security officers hit them severely and dragged them out of the school compound.
On that day and the next, police also blocked the road outside the church and other paths leading to the school.
The communist government had confiscated the building in 1975 and used it as an elementary school on weekdays. However, it allowed the parish to continue teaching catechism there to children on Sundays.
On Sept. 9 and 12, local officials asked the parish to stop catechism classes. They prevented children from attending classes on Sept. 13, when the parish started a new catechism course.
In the report on the archdiocesan website,, Archbishop The noted that the Church had for years tried to "engage in dialogue with local authorities to resolve religious issues."
He condemned government authorities for "not having any dialogue with the local Church and using brute force on parishioners." Such violence "seriously damages religious sentiments and local Catholics' belief in the government," he charged.
During his one-hour meeting with officials, Archbishop The said such action by local authorities "shows that the government is changing its policy on religions, especially Catholicism." Duong Viet Hong, head of the bureau, promised to report what Archbishop The said to his superiors, according to the archdiocesan website.

Father Son stands in front of the wallthat now surrounds the school building
On Sept. 24 Auxiliary Bishop Francis Xavier Le Van Hong of Hue and three priests visited and consoled Catholics at Loan Ly church.
Bishop Hong praised parishioners for bravely witnessing to the truth in the face of force and for reacting peacefully. He urged them to trust in God's providence. "As citizens, we have the right to fight for social justice and truth. As God's children we must also forgive people, even our enemies," Bishop Hong said. They then sang Saint Francis of Assisi's prayer for peace.
In his Sept. 23 message to Catholics in his archdiocese, Archbishop The said the Church shares in the sufferings of Loan Ly parishioners. He urged local Catholics to pray for the parish, and for justice and truth to be respected in the country. His message was read during weekend Masses in the archdiocese's 78 parishes.
Father Son told UCA News that his parishioners are still traumatized by the incident. Fifty people, mostly women and children, were severely hurt, he said.
The parish has around 1,000 Catholics, most of whom are fisher folk. Their forebears, who came from Quang Tri province in 1954, constructed the school building for catechism and basic education in 1956, according to the priest.
He said that on Sept. 25, provincial authorities met local Church leaders at the Archbishop's House, but details of the meeting have not been released.
He added that the parish has petitioned the government for ownership of a 10,000 square-meter plot of land near the church, on which Catholics have used to plant trees although without proper title deeds. He fears that the government wants to confiscate the plot of land and use it for a holiday resort. (SOURCE:


St. Michael, St. Gabriel, & St. Raphael
Feast: September 29
Feast Day:
September 29

The Sacred Scriptures have revealed the proper names of only three Angels, all of whom belong to the Choir of the Archangels. The names are well known to all, namely: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael. Ancient apocryphal literature of the Old Testament contains several other names of Archangels in addition to the three just mentioned. Like the sources themselves, these other names are spurious. Names like Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jeremiel are not found in the canonical books of Sacred Scripture, but in the apocryphal book of Enoch, fourth book of Esdras, and in rabbinical literature. The Church does not permit proper names of Angels that are not found in the canonical books of the Bible. All such names that were taken from apocryphal writings were rejected under Pope Zachary, in 745. There must have been danger of serious abuses in this regard during that century, because a similar step was taken in a synod held at Aix-la-Chapelle in 789.

Michael from the Hebrew Mikael, meaning: ? His name is a battle cry; both shield and weapon in the struggle, and an eternal trophy of victory. The popularity of this name in the Old Testament appears from the fact that no less than ten persons bearing the name of Michael are mentioned in the sacred books, like: "Sthur the son of Michael." A similar name is found also in the Accadian language with a meaning identical to that of Michael; the Accadian equivalent is
As the proper name of one of the great Archangels, the word Michael appears for the first time in the book of the prophet Daniel, where he is called: "Michael, one of the chief princes," and again: "At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people."

The name Gabriel seems to be composed of the Hebrew words, : man, and <'el>: God. It means, therefore, , or,
Practically all the missions and manifestations of this Archangel are closely connected with the coming of the Messias. The most accurate prophecy regarding the time of the coming of Christ was made by Saint Gabriel through the prophet Daniel.
Immediately before the coming of Christ we meet the Archangel Gabriel in the temple of Jerusalem, announcing to Zachary the birth of a son, John the Baptist, the precursor of Christ: "I am Gabriel, who stand before God, and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings."


John 1: 47 - 51
Jesus saw Nathan'a-el coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"
Nathan'a-el said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
Nathan'a-el answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these."
And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

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