Saturday, October 3, 2009





Benedict XVI to the Ambassador to the Holy See
from the Philippines
Mrs. Mercedes Arrastia Tuason
Madam Ambassador,

Grateful for the kind words which you have addressed to me, I gladly accept the Letters of Credence accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Holy See. I would like to reciprocate the warm greetings which you have extended to me on behalf of Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and I would ask you to convey to her and to all the beloved Filipino people the assurance of my spiritual closeness and prayers, especially for the victims of Typhoon Ketsana.

For over half a century, the Holy See and the Philippines have maintained excellent diplomatic relations, strengthening their long-standing cooperation for the promotion of peace, human dignity and freedom. The spirit of good will which has brought us to this day will surely enkindle a fresh desire to work together so that justice and freedom go hand-in-hand, and that democratic principles be grounded in truth. For her part, in the midst of the many changing social, economic and political conditions around the globe, the Church continues to hold out the Gospel as the path to authentic human progress (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). I am confident that the faith of the Filipino people – a faith, as Your Excellency has indicated, which gives them the “resilience” to face any hardship or difficulty – will arouse in them a desire to participate ever more fervently in the worldwide task of building up a civilization of love, the seed of which God has implanted in every people and every culture.

Your Excellency, I am pleased to note the various development initiatives under way in your country, including the modernization of irrigation systems, the improvement of public transportation and the reform of social assistance programs. As the Philippines continues to implement these and other plans for a just and sustainable development, I am confident that she will draw upon all her resources – spiritual as well as material – so that her citizens may flourish in body and soul, knowing the goodness of God and living in solidarity with their neighbors. Such programs, of course, are primarily aimed at improving the actual living conditions of the poorest, thus enabling them to fulfill their responsibilities towards their families and to carry out the duties which fall to them as members of the wider community. Above all, the struggle against poverty calls for honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those directly entrusted with the offices of governance and public administration.

In an age when the name of God is abused by certain groups, the “work of charity” (Caritas in Veritate, 57) is particularly urgent. This is especially true in regions that have been sadly scarred by conflicts. I encourage all to persevere so that peace may prevail. As you have mentioned, Madam Ambassador, initiatives that aim at facilitating dialogue and cultural exchange are particularly effective, for peace can never come about merely as the product of a technical process engineered through legislative, judicial or economic means. In the conviction that evil is only conquered with good (cf. Rom 12:21), many in your country are taking courageous steps to bring people together in order to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding. I am thinking in particular of the commendable work of the Bishops Ulama Conference (BUC), the Mindanao People's Conference, as well as that of many grassroots organizations. The Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development, which your country will host in December, also holds out the promise of advancing peace in Mindanao and throughout the world.

In closing, Madam Ambassador, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure the Filipino people of my affection and continued prayers for them. I encourage them to allow their deep faith, their cultural heritage and the democratic values that have been a part of their patrimony from the time of their independence to shine as an example to all.

Extending a cordial welcome to you and to your distinguished family, I offer you my best wishes that your stay in Rome may be pleasant, and that the important mission entrusted to you may consolidate relations between the Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines, to the benefit of all. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Truth, Justice and Holiness, may God bless the efforts of the authorities and citizens, so that your nation may walk the way of authentic human progress in an atmosphere of harmony and peace.
From the Vatican, 2 October 2009


CNA reports that Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno in Bosnia and Herzegovina has sent letters to the pastor and a parochial vicar in Medjugorje, emphasizing that the town's parish is not a “shrine” and specifically directing them that they and the parish are not to promote the alleged Marian apparitions.
The separate June 12 letters from Bishop Peric to Friar Petar Vlasic, the parish priest of Medjugorje, and Friar Danko Perutina, its parochial vicar, said that alleged messages of apparitions and commentaries on them are not to be published. Italian translations of the letters were posted by the diocese on its website on September 26.
According to Bishop Peric's letter, the prayers from the apparitions are not to be used publicly. Alleged seers must not be invited and must not present themselves in the parish church to promote their messages.
Foreign priests may not give conferences or retreats in Medjugorje without permission of the bishop, he explained, adding that foreign priests wishing to offer Mass must present a “celebret” document from their diocese or religious order and that such information must be recorded.
He repeated that a privately built church should not be used by the faithful and has been closed by the diocese.
In his letter to Friar Perutina, Bishop Peric noted that the priest had published some commentaries about alleged messages from apparitions. He emphasized that the friar is not authorized to comment upon and publish the alleged messages, either in his own name or under a pseudonym.
Writing to Friar Vlasic, Bishop Peric explained that the parish of Medjugorje cannot be called a shrine publicly or privately because it is not recognized by the relevant ecclesial authority. He instructed that such a description must not appear on the website of Medjugorje, where it was still being used in June 2009.
“As the local Ordinary, in this present letter, I declare that the so-called ‘shrine’ has no mission to declare itself a ‘Shrine’, nor to present (the parish) with that title, because it has no ecclesiastical mission to present itself in the name of Medjugorje, nor to spread or interpret the ‘apparitions’ and ‘messages’ of Medjugorje,” wrote Bishop Peric.
Friar Perutina, the bishop told Friar Vlasic, is presenting messages from the alleged seer Marija, commenting on them, and publishing them.
“This is contrary to the decision and request of this Curia,” Bishop Peric said, emphasizing that, "These are private messages to private people for private use."
The prelate said it is not permitted for intentions received in an alleged Medjugorje apparition or message to be introduced during the Rosary. He explained that there are sufficient official intentions from the Pope, the bishop and the missions, and therefore there is no need to mix such messages with the Church’s public prayers. (SOURCE:


CNA reports that a prominent dissident who has been involved with the Christian Liberation Movement's (CLM) Varela Project, was condemned to two years in prison after a summary trial by the Communist government on Thursday. The Christian Life Movement denounced the trial of Agustin Cervantes, who was not allowed to testify in his own defense, as a “farce in which the Cuban police, the State security and the courts participated in order to destroy the CLM and avoid at all cost the spread of the Varela Project and the collection of signatures.” Cervantes was detained several days ago and accused of assaulting a man who approached him and attempted to stab him with a knife. During his detention government officials warned Cervantes he “would not see the next set of Varela Project signatures turned in.” The coordinator of the CLM, Oswaldo Paya, lamented the repression of those “who are only exercising their constitutional rights to present legal initiatives.” Paya insisted that the Varela Project would continue until all Cubans obtain their rights. The trial came just weeks after a visit by Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who said he had no intention of meeting with the Cuban dissidents.


UCAN reports that Thomas Aquinas Hoi Ka-tak's parents originally opposed his entering the seminary to become a priest. They were worried it could be a bad decision after reading international media reports of priests who sexually abused children.

Domingos Cheong Iau-chong (left)and Thomas Aquinas Hoi Ka-tak,two seminarians for Macau diocese
However, they changed their minds after seeing how being a Catholic has changed him for the better, and after realizing that the seminary training would help him become a better person.
Hoi, 18, is the only Catholic in his family. He said he was impressed by the priests he knew during his years of study in a Salesian school in Macau, and longed to be one even before his baptism three years ago.
In late August, he and his 20-year-old friend Domingos Cheong Iau-chong, became the first two seminarians for Macau diocese in 17 years. The two have been studying at Holy Spirit Seminary in neighboring Hong Kong diocese since late August.
Macau diocese's St. Joseph's Seminary closed in 1994 due to a dearth of local seminarians. The last diocesan priest who studied at the seminary, Father Domingos Un Wai-meng who now chairs the Macau Diocesan Vocations Commission, was ordained in 1992.
Hoi and Cheong told UCA News they hope that their entering the seminary would encourage more young local Catholic men to take up the priestly vocation.
Cheong, whose family has been Catholic for the past three generations, said he was inspired to become a priest during a trip to South Korea in 2007. Macau diocese and Serra Club, a worldwide lay organization that promotes priestly and Religious vocations, organized the trip to expose Catholics to these vocations.
During the trip, Cheong learned that Macau diocesan priests are aging and that there had been no local seminarians since 1992. He said this inspired him to become a priest.
Hoi also went on this trip in which participants visited various churches, seminaries and Religious orders.In early 2009, both wrote letters to Bishop Jose Lai Hung-seng of Macau asking to enter the seminary.

Seminarians playing football at theHoly Spirit Seminary in Hong Kong
Hoi says he would like to serve in a parish as he feels that local Catholics are "devout and simple" in their faith, but do not fully put into practice Christ's command to "love one another." He said he strongly feels called to "nurture them to live according to the Gospel spirit."
Father Un says he is heartened to see new vocations, especially during the Year for Priests. He noted that Cheong has served as an altar boy since childhood, while Hoi joined Church-run voluntary services for the poor in Macau and mainland China.
Cheong and Hoi attribute the shortage of local priestly vocations to young Catholics preferring a materialistic life than the simple life of a priest. They added that for many people, the married life also seems more attractive than celibacy.
Hoi said he hopes his decision would encourage other hesitant young men, who feel called to the priesthood, to respond to the call.
Cheong said he knows of other young men who are considering the priesthood and believes they will enter the seminary in the coming years.
The two also say they hope laypeople would pray harder for priestly vocations and share in the task of promoting such vocations.
Macau currently has 22 diocesan and 40 Religious priests serving about 20,000 Catholics.


CISA special report: You have heard it said that some Kenyans are suffering in this country; indeed many Kenyans are suffering in silence! But, you haven’t seen anything as yet till you interrogate and interact with the world of the deaf to appreciate the real meaning and importance of the word exclusion and marginalization. While many countries around the world including a number of African states have made huge progress in making life easier for the deaf population, Kenya’s story is troublesome if not a scandal! In recognition of the unfinished business with regards to our deaf brethren not only in Kenya but globally, September 21st to the 25th is billed as the International Deaf Awareness Week (IDAW).The week will be dedicated to showcasing not only the talents and potential among the deaf people, but also highlight struggles and challenges they encounter around the world and Kenya in particular. Accordingly to the Kenya National Association of the deaf (KNAD) the country’s estimated 700,000 deaf people feel strongly that they are not part of the Kenyan society. Majority receive inferior education, can’t own or drive a car; cant worship with their hearing counterparts, their language is neither well developed nor recognized in law and finding a job even for those qualified is nightmarish.Although it’s a fact that deafness and speech difficult is attributable to malaria, spinal meningitis and mumps, interestingly some folks still think that it’s caused by witchcraft. And there begins the stigma and related dilemma for those with speech and hearing difficult. That stigma may lead the deaf child’s family and community not to prioritize his or her education and training; leading to cyclical poverty later in life. A study conducted in 2007 and corroborated by the Kenya society for Deaf Children (KSDC) revealed that less than 7000 deaf children were enrolled in the only 35 boarding primary and 3 secondary schools for the deaf in the country; St Angela in Mumias, Rev. Muhoro and Kuja.The same study says that virtually all students training to teach deaf children and teachers currently working in the said schools are hearing and uninformed about the deaf culture! They therefore cannot communicate clearly with their deaf students in the Kenya Sign Language (KSL).As a result KCPE exam results among the deaf are the poorest in the country with the best scoring below 200 marks, “yet nobody raises alarm bells about it, not even the ministry of education officials. What kind of future portends for the deaf with such results? Poses Aska Josephine, a Nyeri based deaf woman activist. “The deaf are neither “dumb” nor stupid as they are commonly referred to and thought of and so with enabling and supporting environment deaf students can excel like anybody else”, adds Christine Malobi, the principal of St Angela Secondary for the deaf.Educational challenges are just a tip of the iceberg of the multitude of issues the deaf have with government and society in general. Take the case of Stephen Wathigo a UK University trained computer engineer who can’t find a fitting job in Kenya is a case in point. He says, “My parents did everything to educate me to highest level possible, yet everywhere I go I can’t find a job that can appropriately utilize my expertise. I have seen my hearing counterparts with inferior qualifications getting plum jobs, so how do you explain my predicament, is it because am deaf? His challenge alongside others lies majorly in the fact that most employers including places of worship do not hire sign language interpreters as part and parcel of their staffing menu. Josephine Aska shares that she was hired as an enumerator in Nyeri district in the just concluded national census, but her bosses could not hear her plea for an interpreter. She ended up hiring her own interpreter to facilitate her do the job!By the way what happened in other parts of the country, were mechanics and budget for interpretation and signing for the deaf planned for? The enumerator that came to my house did not seem to be comfortable with the question on disability and was not accompanied by an interpreter for the deaf and am just wondering what would have happened if I was deaf! Given the stigma that surround disability even at the household level, shall we really and accurately capture the number of disabled Kenyans and the deaf in particular through the just ended census, I doubt it!The deaf are also constantly harassed by the police who think they are obstinate and defiant when they move on after being ordered to stop. And although nothing legally stops the deaf from driving the police think otherwise! Would including disability module /sign language in their training course content help? And not just police but all legal and other professionals? Kenya can and should take a cue from countries like Uganda which have recognized sign language in their constitutions, enabling enhanced research and development of the language. Courtesy of good educational policies and planning for the deaf, resource allocation and quality control, Uganda and South Africa has produced some of the most eloquent deaf legislators on the continent. The trouble with Kenya is that we are not just sensitive to each and everybody’s needs, period! (SOURCE:


Campion College in Sydney's west is Australia's first Catholic Liberal Arts College of Higher Education having opened in 2006. It has made quite an impression in both Catholic and tertiary education circles since it commenced.
An interesting feature of the College's website, apart from the usual menu options one would expect on a higher education site, is the personal testimonies which appear to be both heartfelt and inspiring.



A thousand years of glory in palaces of men cannot be worth the sweetness of one hour spent before the tabernacle. - Padre Pio


St. Gerard of Brogne
Feast: October 1
Feast Day:
October 1
895 at Staves, Namur, Belgium
3 October 959 at Brogne, Belgium
Major Shrine:
Saint-Gérard, Namur
Patron of:
Saint-Gérard, Namur

Born at Staves in the county of Namur, towards the end of the ninth century; died at Brogne or St-Gérard, 3 Oct. 959. The son of Stance, of the family of dukes of Lower Austrasia, and of Plectrude, sister of Stephen, Bishop of Liège, the young Gérard, like most omen of his rank, followed at first the career of arms. His piety, however, was admirable amid the distractions of camp. He transformed into a large church a modest chapel situated on the estate of Brogne which belonged to his family. About 917, the Count of Namur charged him with a mission to Robert, younger brother of Eudes, King of France. He permitted his followers to reside at Paris, but himself went to live at the Abbey of St-Denis, where he was so struck by the deifying lives of the monks that, at the conclusion of his embassy, with the consent of the Count of Namur and Bishop Stephen, his maternal uncle, he returned to St-Denis, took the religious habit, and after eleven years was ordained priest. He then requested to be allowed to return to Brogne, where he replaced the lax clerics with monks animated by a true religious spirit. Thereupon he himself retired to a cell near the monastery for more austere mortification. From this retreat he was summoned by the Archbishop of Cambrai who confided to him the direction of the community of St-Ghislain in Hainault. Here also he established monks instead of the canons, whose conduct had ceased to be exemplary, and he enforced the strictest monastic discipline. Gradually he became superior of eighteen other abbeys situated in the region between the Meuse, the Somme, and the sea, and through his efforts the Order of St. Benedict was soon completely restored throughout this region. Weighed down by age and infirmities, he placed vicars or abbots in his stead, in the various abbeys with which he was charged, and retired to that of Brogne. He still had courage to take a journey to Rome in order to obtain a Bull confirming the privileges of that abbey. On his return he paid a final visit to all the communities which he had reorganized, and then awaited death at Brogne. His body is still preserved at Brogne, now commonly calledSt-Gérard.


Luke 10: 17 - 24
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"
And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.
All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
Then turning to the disciples he said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!
For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."

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