Wednesday, October 21, 2009





(VIS) - This morning, the Synod Fathers who are currently participating in the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops met in language groups to prepare and examine the collective amendments to the propositions. The next General Congregation will be held on Friday 23 October, during which the presentation and vote on the final message of the Synod is scheduled to take place.SE/LANGUAGE GROUPS/... VIS 091021 (80)


VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the catechesis he delivered during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father turned his attention to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), known as the last of the Church Fathers "because in the twelfth century he renewed and updated the great theology of the Fathers". Born in Fontaines, France, Bernard entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of twenty. In 1115 he was sent by St. Stephen Harding, third abbot of Citeaux, to found a new monastery at Clairvaux where Bernard himself became abbot. At Clairvaux the saint "insisted on the importance of a sober and restrained lifestyle, in food, in clothing and in the structures of the monastery, at the same time encouraging support and assistance for the poor", the Holy Father explained. From Clairvaux, where the community grew steadily, Bernard corresponded regularly and often with people of all kinds, and wrote a large number of sermons and treatises. As of 1130 he also concerned himself with serious questions affecting the Holy See and the Church. With his writings he combated the heresy of the Cathars who, by spurning matter and the human body, also spurned the Creator. Likewise, he "defended the Jews, condemning the ever more widespread outbreaks of anti-Semitism". The two central aspects of the saint's doctrine concern Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. He "did not introduce novelties to the academic discipline of theology but, with great decisiveness, likened the theologian to the contemplative and the mystic", in the belief that "true knowledge of God consists in a personal and profound experience of Jesus Christ and His love. "This", the Pope added, "applies to all Christians. Faith is first and foremost an individual and intimate encounter with Jesus, it means experiencing His closeness, His friendship, His love". Thus Bernard was in no doubt that "through Mary we are led to Jesus", and he clearly demonstrated "the privileged place of the Virgin in the economy of salvation, thanks to her entirely unique participation in the sacrifice of her Son". Even today St. Bernard's ideas "stimulate not only theologians but all believers. At times we think we can resolve the fundamental questions about God, mankind and the world using only the power of reason. St. Bernard however, solidly rooted in the Bible and the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, ... our reflections upon the divine mysteries risk becoming a vain intellectual exercise and lose their credibility". Benedict XVI concluded: "Theology defers to the 'science of the saints' - to their intuition concerning the mysteries of the living God, to their wisdom (a gift of the Holy Spirit) - who become a point of reference for theological thought. ... In the end, the most authentic figure of theologian and of evangeliser remains that of St. John, who placed his head against the Master's heart".AG/BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX/... VIS 091021 (510)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Following this morning's general audience, the Holy Father received Nasser Judeh, foreign minister of Jordan.AP/.../... VIS 091021 (30)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, also as secretary of the College of Cardinals. - Appointed Fr. Otacilio Luziano da Silva of the clergy of the diocese of Assis, Brazil, rector of the "Sagrado Coracao de Jesus" provincial seminary of Marilia, as bishop of Catanduva (area 4,601, population 282,000, Catholics 218,000, priests 41, religious 31), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Maracai, Brazil in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1987. He succeeds Bishop Antonio Celso Queiroz, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.NA/.../MONTEIRO:DA SILVA:QUEIROZ VIS 091021 (120)



USCCB reports that Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement, October 20, following a Vatican announcement of a new provision concerning Anglican groups coming into the Catholic Church. His statement follows:"Today the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has received word of the new Provision in the form of an apostolic constitution issued by the Holy See for the reception into full communion with the Catholic Church of groups from the Anglican tradition. The USCCB stands ready to collaborate in the implementation of that Provision in our country."This step by the Holy See is in response to a number of requests received in Rome from groups of Anglicans seeking corporate reunion. The application of the new Provision recognizes the desire of some Anglicans (Episcopalians) to live the Catholic faith in full, visible communion with the See of Peter, while at the same time retaining some elements of their traditions of liturgy, spirituality and ecclesial life which are consistent with the Catholic faith. "This Provision, at the service of the unity of the Church, calls us as well to join our voices to the Priestly Prayer of Jesus that ‘all may be one’ (Jn 17:21) as we seek a greater communion with all our brothers and sisters with whom we share Baptism. For forty-five years, our Episcopal Conference has engaged in ecumenical dialogue with The Episcopal Church, which is the historic Province of the Anglican communion in North America. The Catholic Bishops of the United States remain committed to seeking deeper unity with the members of The Episcopal Church by means of theological dialogue and collaboration in activities that advance the mission of Christ and the welfare of society.”



CNA reports that several experts said this week that the statements by Jose Saramago about the Bible, which he called “a manual of bad customs, a catalogue of cruelties,” should lead the Church to value biblical culture and combat ignorance of Scripture. While promoting his new novel “Cain,” the award-winning Portuguese author said that without the Bible, “a book that had great influence on our culture and even on the way we are,” human beings would “probably be better.” In statements to the Portuguese news agency Ecclesia, Bishop Manuel Clemente of Porto, who is also the president of the Bishops’ Committee on Culture, said “a personality like Jose Saramago, who has undeniable literary merit, should be more rigorous when speaking about the Bible, because you cannot say what Saramago says about biblical facts and authors.” “All you need to do is read the introduction of any book of the Bible, such as Genesis, to see that they are religious readings that have to do with the history of Israel” and that were later collected as “biblical history for all Christians and for all believers.” Father Manuel Moruj√£o, secretary of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference, also lamented the “superficiality” with which Saramago treats the Bible, saying a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature ought to know better. “There’s no need for criticism to be offensive. It should expressed with respect and humility. What we have here is clearly exaggeration, which we didn’t like to see in him [Jose Saramago],” Father Morujao said, adding that the statements by the Nobel laureate have “hurt the feelings” of more than two million believers. The Portuguese biblical scholar, Capuchin Father Fernando Venturo, said Jose Saramago has the intellectual capacity to become informed on matters before writing. “The Bible can be read by somebody who has no faith, but it requires some intellectual honesty on the part of the reader,” he said, accusing Saramago of “a huge lack” of it. Graver still, Father Ventura said, is his ignorance “of literary genres” or of the role of “myth” in literature, which is especially troubling for a writer who expressed opinions “about a field in which he not an expert.” “Not knowing how to situate a text in its context is unforgiveable for a writer,” the priest said, adding that he hopes the controversy will help Catholics find the best manner to respond to the publicity coup in a media characterized by “atrocious biblical ignorance.” Despite the fact that many Catholics are ignorant of the Bible, Father Morujao said a writer of Jose Saramago’s caliber has more responsibilities than the average citizen. The Nobel statue does not give him the right to delve into fields “of which he does not have sufficient knowledge,” the priest said. “The Bible has 76 books and they must be interpreted in the diversity of literary genres,” he pointed out. Father Morujao finished by saying he expected more from a Nobel laureate, “regardless of his ideology,” and he recommended Saramago express more “humility” when making statements. He called for a greater promotion of “the biblical culture” and for more knowledge of the passage in which Jesus says “to love even one’s enemies.” (SOURCE:



UCAN reports that the whereabouts of three "underground" priests in northern China, detained by police months ago, are still unknown while another has apparently been persuaded to join the "open" Church, say sources.

Fathers Liu Jianzhong, Zhang Cunhui and Zhong Mingchang of Xuanhua diocese were taken away by plainclothes police on June 8, June 14 and Sept. 16 respectively.
Local Church sources said that when the priests' family members went to government departments to enquire about them, the authorities denied detaining them and refused family requests to help locate them.
Meanwhile, Father Simon Zhang Jianlin, who was taken by police in July, is under house arrest in a county government building. Sources say he has been "brainwashed" and has been persuaded to join the Catholic Patriotic Association, but he is allowed to receive visitors in the premises.
Sources said that other underground priests of the same diocese are also under pressure to join the government approved Church and are under strict surveillance by local authorities.

The church managed by Father SimonZhang Jianlin who is under house arrest

They explained that about half of the 40 or so underground priests of Xuanhua diocese have registered with the government to obtain special "priest cards" which allow them to work openly under government regulations. However, they continue to follow the leadership of underground Bishop Thomas Zhao Kexun of Xuanhua. The bishop, in his 80s, has been hiding from the government.
Some sources say that registered clergy "enjoy more freedom in movement and religious activities," but have to attend political study sessions and seek permission from the local authority before organizing religious activities.
The late Bishop Philippus Petrus Zhao Zhendong of Xuanhua, who died in 2007, is understood to have allowed his underground priests to obtain priest cards for the sake of pastoral work since 2005.

The cards, a special measure put in place in Hebei province, are jointly issued by the provincial Catholic Patriotic Association and Church Affairs Committee.
The open Church merged Xuanhua diocese and neighboring Xiwanzi diocese to form Zhangjiakou diocese in 1980. It ordained bishops without Vatican approval, leading many underground Catholics to attend Masses at private venues.
In a bid to forge unity between the two Church communities, Bishop Zhao Zhendong in 2000 allowed three priests from the open community, who underwent priestly formation in government-sanctioned seminaries, to work under him. He ordered the cancellation of all private worship venues in his diocese and encouraged his laypeople to attend churches registered with the government.
However, opinion in the diocese is still divided on the matter with some priests and laypeople believing that the time is still not ripe for reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Father Joseph Cai Guixi of the same diocese appeared in court Oct. 20. This was after police arrested him in September on a charge of dangerous driving which allegedly caused the death of a priest and a Catholic couple in September 2008.
Catholics hope the case would be settled out of court in consideration of Father Cai's health, as he was severely injured in the accident. They believe that government officials might press him to join the open Church.


Cath News reports that a student from St Patrick's Catholic College in Mackay, Queensland was expelled after he was caught trafficking ecstasy outside school hours.
Only his "extreme youth" has kept him out of jail, Justice Kerry Cullinane said in the Supreme Court in Mackay, the Daily Mercury reported. He was 17 at the time of the offence.
"More and more, we're getting 17 year olds committing this type of offence," Crown prosecutor David Morters said.
The boy pleaded guilty to trafficking in ecstasy between May 27 and July 26 this year. He made full admissions to police and admitted trafficking for about two months.
He had about eight customers that he sold to, who were people he knew, the news report said.



CISA reports that Bishop George Biguzzi of Makeni, President of the Episcopal Conference in Sierra Leone is appealing to the Synod to make an unequivocal call for the total, universal abolition of the death penalty.Bishop George Biguzzi said “The brutal treatment of war prisoners, the victimization of civilians during conflicts and the recruitment of child soldiers are crimes against humanity, clearly listed even in the Geneva Convention and in the attached Protocols.”He said that the road to peace and reconciliation goes through the acknowledgment, rejection and reparation for such crimes.‘War is no justification for crimes against humanity. The prophetic voice of the Church is needed in spite of the fact that there are not many listeners,” the bishop stated.The bishop further appealed to bishops from the Western countries to clear directives to the personnel running their development offices to work in consultation with African dioceses and from within the pastoral plans and priorities of the African Bishops.” (SOURCE:


St. Hilarion
Feast: October 21
Feast Day:
October 21
291 at Gaza, Palestine
371 at Cyprus

Hilarion was born in a little town called Tabatha, five miles to the south of Gaza; he sprang like a rose out of thorns, his parents being idolaters. He was sent by them very young to Alexandria to study grammar, when, by his progress in learning, he gave great proofs of his wit, for which, and his good temper and dispositions, he was exceedingly beloved by all that knew him. Being brought to the knowledge of the Christian faith, he was baptized and became immediately a new man, renouncing all the mad sports of the circus and the entertainments of the theatre, and taking no delight but in the churches and assemblies of the faithful. Having heard of St. Antony, whose name was famous in Egypt, he went into the desert to see him. Moved by the example of his virtue he changed his habit and stayed with him two months, observing his manner of life, his fervour in prayer, his humility in receiving the brethren, his severity in reproving them, his earnestness in exhorting them, and his perseverance in austerities. But not being able to bear the frequent concourse of those who resorted to St. Antony to be healed of diseases or delivered from devils, and being desirous to begin to serve God like St. Antony in perfect solitude, he returned with certain monks into his own country. Upon his arrival there, finding his father and mother both dead, he gave part of his goods to his brethren and the rest to the poor, reserving nothing for himself.
He was then but fifteen years of age, this happening about the year 307. He retired into a desert seven miles from Majuma, toward Egypt, between the seashore on one side and certain fens on the other. His friends forewarned him that the place was notorious for murders and robberies, but his answer was that he feared nothing but eternal death. Everybody admired his fervour and extraordinary manner of life. In the beginning of his retirement certain robbers who lurked in those deserts asked him what he would do if thieves and assassins came to him? He answered, "The poor and naked fear no thieves." "But they may kill you," said they. "It is true," said the holy man, "and for this very reason I am not afraid of them, because it is my endeavour to be always prepared for death." So great fervour and resolution in one so young and so tender as our saint was both surprising and edifying to all who knew him. His constitution was so weak and delicate that the least excess of heat or cold affected him very sensibly; yet his whole clothing consisted only of a piece of sackcloth, a leather coat, which St. Antony gave him, and an ordinary short cloak. Living in solitude, he thought himself at liberty to practice certain mortifications which the respect we owe to our neighbour makes unseasonable in the world. He cut his hair only once a year, against Easter; never changed any coat till it was worn out, and never washed the sackcloth which he had once put on, saying, "It is idle to look for neatness in a hair shirt."
At his first entering on this penitential life he renounced the use of bread; and for six years together his whole diet was fifteen figs a day, which he never took till sunset. When he felt the attacks of any temptation of the flesh, being angry with himself and beating his breast, he would say to his body, "I will take order, thou little ass, that thou shalt not kick; I will feed thee with straw instead of corn; and will load and weary thee, that so thou mayest think rather how to get a little bit to eat than of pleasure." He then retrenched part of his scanty meal, and sometimes fasted three or four days without eating; and when after this he was fainting, he sustained his body only with a few dried figs and the juice of herbs. At the same time, praying and singing, he would be breaking the ground with a rake, that his labour might add to the trouble of his fasting. His employment was digging or tilling the earth, or, in imitation of the Egyptian monks, weaving small twigs together with great rushes in making baskets whereby he provided himself with the frugal necessaries of life. During the first four years of his penance he had no other shelter from the inclemencies of the weather than a little hovel or arbour which he made himself of reeds and rushes which he found in a neighbouring marsh, and which he had woven together. Afterwards he built himself a little cell, which was still to be seen in St. Jerome's time; it was but four feet broad and five feet in height, and was a little longer than the extent of his body, so that a person would have rather taken it for a grave than a house. During the course of his penance he made some alteration in his diet, but never in favour of his appetites. From the age of twenty-one he for three years lived on a measure which was little more than half a pint of pulse steeped in cold water a-day; and for the next three years his whole food was dry bread with salt and water. From his twenty-seventh year to his thirty-first he ate only wild herbs and raw roots; and from thirty-one to thirty-five he took for his daily food six ounces of barley bread a day, to which he added a few kitchen herbs, but half boiled and without oil. But perceiving his sight to grow dim and his body to be subject to an itching with an unnatural kind of scurf and roughness, he added a little oil to this diet. Thus he went on till his sixty-fourth year when, conceiving by the decay of his strength that his death was drawing near, he retrenched even his bread, and from that time to his eightieth year his whole meal never exceeded five ounces. When he was fourscore years of age there were made for him little weak broths or gruels of flour and herbs, the whole quantity of his meat and drink scarce amounting to the weight of four ounces. Thus he passed his whole life; and he never broke his fast till sunset, not even upon the highest feasts or in his greatest sickness. (SOURCE:


Luke 12: 39 - 48
But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.
You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour."
Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?"
And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing.
Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,
the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful.
And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating.
But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.

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