Sunday, November 15, 2009





Pope Benedict XVI asked the bishops of the region of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo to forge a strong commitment to life, now threatened by ideologies and behaviours which is reducing it to reduce to a commodity. Speaking to the bishops at the end of their Ad Limina visit, the Pope noted that marriage between a man and a woman, a sign of God's love and foundation of society is a fundamental dimension of the human person and cannot be reduced to a field of medical and scientific techniques. As bishops, concluded the Pope, we must always remember the sacred and transcendent character of human life because life from conception to natural death belongs to God. (SOURCE:



CNA reports that during his remarks at the opening of the 88th Plenary Assembly of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, the country's Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christoph Pierre noted that the “right to life is an issue that pertains not only to Catholics, but to all.”
Not only is it “a secular value,” he added, “it is the foundation of secularism.”
The archbishop explained that the Church is often accused of “hegemony, that is, of wanting to insert herself into an area that is not hers: that of individual rights.”
Thus, he continued, “when opposition is expressed to legislation that protects an element of individual rights, for example, the ‘right’ to abortion, it is considered by some to be an attack on democracy.”
This mentality represents the “secular paradigm” of the day, according to which, “the well-being of a democracy is proportional to the extension of individual rights—a theory which in substance is aimed also at limiting the public presence of the Church, inviting believers to keep religion a private matter and to behave like citizens ‘with a Gospel’,” the prelate added.
And yet, the nuncio said, “the defense of the individual which has taken on preeminence in modern times, has its roots in the right to life. In our times, secular thought has forgotten this dimension, transforming life into a variable dependent on demographic development, on a woman’s choices, on the evolution of customs.”
“That the Pope and the Church confirm life as the absolute it is, for the secular fundamentalist, it is the strongest, most scandalous and incomprehensible statement.” However, “at the same time, it is that which is most listened to and appreciated by the Catholic laity and increasingly more so, by non-believers,” the nuncio concluded.(SOURCE:



CNA reports that members of the European Bishops’ Committee on the Media began their plenary assembly on Thursday at the Vatican, during which they will meet with representatives of Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and a young Swiss expert in order to learn more about the internet and how to use the new technologies. Some 20 bishops together with the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, and other experts from the bishops’ conferences of Europe, are attending the sessions. According to L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Josip Bozanic, vice president of the European Bishops’ Committee on the Media, said the theme of the gathering denotes two key aspects: “The internet is not only a recipient that brings together diverse cultures. The internet is culture. The internet produces culture. And so it seems obvious to ask questions about the relationship that exists between this ‘new culture’ and the so-called ‘traditional’ cultures.” The cardinal said the Church has had her own communication for two thousand years and that therefore the question about the implications the Church’s presence on the internet has for her mission is a legitimate one. “How has the internet become a part of the ordinary ministry of our dioceses?” he asked. The Church needs to have an online presence because she must communicate the Good News, the cardinal continued, saying that the internet provides a window into how the “anthropological model of tomorrow” is being constructed. Among those addressing the bishops will be a Swiss expert who will give them a crash-course on the secrets of the internet and of online piracy, in order to give them a better perspective on what experts call Web 2.0, the interactive dimension of the online world.(SOURCE:



All Africa reports that in the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meeting with Moroccan King Mohammed VI last week, a prominent human rights activist was detained on her arrival in Western Sahara, which Morocco controls.
Aminatou Haidar was held overnight Friday and deported to Spain's Canary Islands, after stating on Moroccan entry forms that Western Sahara was her country of residency. Saharans have been locked in a struggle with Morocco since 1975, when former colonial ruler Spain precipitously withdrew under pressure from the Polisario Front independence movement. Morocco seized the phosphate-rich territory shortly afterwards.
Polisario suspended armed conflict against Moroccan control in 1991, and peace talks under United Nations auspices have dragged on ever since. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Ross, the Secretary General's special envoy, has been working to start a possible fifth round of negotiations.
When Haidar was detained, she was returning home after receiving the Civil Courage Prize from the Train Foundation in New York on October 21. She was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award last year, The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders website lists as among her other recognitions: the 2007 Silver Rose Award (Austria), the 2006 Juan Maria Bandres Human Rights Award (Spain), and nominations for the European Parliament Sakharov Prize in 2005, for the Amnesty International USA's Ginetta Sagan Fund Award, and for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.
Morocco 's invasion of Western Sahara forced refugees to flee to camps along the border in neighboring Algeria. Now numbering some 160,000, the refugees subsist partly on United Nations rations. A generation of children has grown up in the camps, but many have attended special programs in countries such as Spain and Norway, where activist NGOs have supported Polisario's calls for an independent referendum to determine the territory's future.
The African Union has accepted the Saharan-declared state as a full member, prompting Morocco to withdraw – making it the only nation on the African continent not belonging to the pan-African organization. Over 45 countries have also recognized the Saharan state.
The visit of Secretary Clinton to Morocco has stirred renewed controversy over U.S. policy, with the Moroccan American Center for Policy - a registered lobby group for the Moroccan government - hailing Clinton's remarks during a press conference as supporting Morocco's plan for "autonomy" for Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty. In the past, while leaning towards Morocco as, first, a cold-war ally and, subsequently, an ally against terrorism, successive U.S. administrations have preserved a careful verbal neutrality.
Although Clinton said that U.S. policy has not changed, human rights groups are expressing concern at what they see as a lack of pressure to resolve the issue peacefully, particularly as Morocco has stepped up a publicity campaign in Europe and North America amid new crackdowns in the territory. The Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, which issued a statement calling for Haidar's release, says that h er arrest "follows a spate of recent arrests and confiscation of the travel documents of several Sahrawi activists by Moroccan authorities" and says seven Sahrawi activists who visited Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouff, Algeria in last month face charges before a military tribunal.




UCAN reports that as people recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the news was full of euphoric memories as well as critical analysis. Berlin's Archbishop Cardinal Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky pointed out that there are still fundamental differences across that former East-West border.
People from the West are "far more individualistic in their way of thinking and how they present themselves," the cardinal observed. In contrast, "people who come from East Germany have a way of feeling and thinking that is more collective."
Many in Asia would make a similar differentiation between West and East on the global map. In the East we think in terms of family and community, whereas in the West people seem to be more individualistic. However, this is changing.
The older generation in the West is longing for family and community, while media and market influences the world over lead members of the younger e-generation to make choices that present a great pastoral challenge.
Reading the signs of the times toward the end of the 20th century -- growing individualism and materialism -- while walking the dedicated path of the triple dialogue of faith with economic reality, culture and other religions/faiths, the 5th Plenary Assembly of the FABC in 1990 articulated their vision for the Church in Asia. It envisioned a participatory and co-responsible Church living as a communion of communities.
Several member conferences of the FABC have adopted the vision of a "New Way of Being Church" as their pastoral preference. Along with this, the AsIPA (Asian Integrated pastoral Approach) desk, part of the FABC Office of Laity & Family, has been busy offering training programs and creating modules for use by animators of Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).
India has adapted AsIPA as DIIPA (Developing an Indian Integral Pastoral Approach). And Bishop Bosco Penha, auxiliary bishop of Bombay, developed another approach in the archdiocese, which he has shared with other dioceses and countries.
In the Philippines, Bukal ng Tipan (wellspring of covenants), a center that promotes lay participation in the Church, has evolved its own methodology to suit the local environment, considering that BECs in the Philippines pre-date AsIPA.
"My own experience drawn from several visits to Germany, as well as living in Europe with my daughters' families, gives me the gut feeling that an adapted SCC movement could revive the faith of people there."
While we were at the recently concluded 5th AsIPA General Assembly in Davao, southern Philippines, the presence of a large number of local BEC leaders reminded us that the seeds of BECs/SCCs were first sown in this region 40 years ago. They were a response to the political crisis that gripped the country during the Marcos reign of terror. The prophetic commitment of the pioneer BEC leaders of that time cannot be forgotten.
Today, the structures for the New Way of Being Church are falling into place. People who are involved appreciate their role in being part of this Church. The change from the old individualistic focus of saving one's soul to living as a faith community is perceptible and is being valued.
Change is a process that requires time and patience. There are several success stories of faith lived in SCCs that continue to give hope and life to this movement in Asia.
Through the association of the German Church agency Missio with the AsIPA project, the Church in Germany has gotten interested in this new way of being Church. Ten Europeans from Germany, Switzerland and Britain were present at the General Assembly to learn how they can adapt this pastoral approach to their own reality, which increasingly is interreligious and intercultural. It is interesting to note this "mission in reverse" - from East to West -- in the Church.

My own experience drawn from several visits to Germany, as well as living in Europe with my daughters' families, gives me the gut feeling that an adapted SCC movement could revive the faith of people there. Coming from India, I note the strong Christian values that underpin European society.
Individualism and materialism seem to be eroding these values, but I sense that people want to forge friendships. They need each other, but are afraid of crossing the "sacred line of privacy."
The big question that needs answering in the West is: Where does privacy end and community start? When children are young, when people are old or in crisis, when we need to celebrate and mourn, we need community.
The Church provides community. But this community has to extend beyond the "walls" of Church. Times have changed. The Church has to recognize that it cannot expect the present generation of young people to return to the old model of the Church. The old ways of thinking and operating a parish form a conceptual Berlin Wall that needs to be broken down so people can live their faith in a way that is more relevant to the times we live in.
There is growing disenchantment among the laity with the quality of priests. These pastors could be the ones who push young people out of the Church in Asia. The SCCs or Faith Communities could help keep people in the Church.
Notable among the qualities of young people everywhere are honesty and eagerness to reach out to help. These are qualities that are needed in building and sustaining a community. If creatively tapped, the Church in both the East and West can give be a vibrant center of a living faith.
"The old ways of thinking and operating a parish form a conceptual Berlin Wall that needs to be broken down so people can live their faith in a way that is more relevant to the times we live in."
The Church needs to take a greater interest in educating the laity by setting aside resources and personnel. Once guidelines are set in place, the adults who are properly formed in living their faith need to be trusted to carry on. They can live their faith in their community without being monitored around the clock to check if they are doing the right or wrong thing. This will increasingly be necessary both in the East and West, where vocations to the priesthood are dwindling.
The SCC/BEC movement in Asia is being carried forward largely by the laity, particularly women at the grassroots level. In dioceses where there are insufficient priests, these lay animators keep the faith of the community alive and minister to pastoral needs, with a priest visiting to celebrate the Eucharist periodically.
It is said that the fall of the Berlin Wall was not a planned action, that it was spontaneous. But the deep longing of the human spirit on both sides to see that wall come down cannot be disputed. That longing then grew into a surge of strength at a perceived cue for action.
It can similarly be hoped that the great longing in people's hearts the world over for building a new world order, for building peace and community, will develop into a movement that will bring about the desired change to make the New Way of Being Church a reality!




Cath News featured the website of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of Australia and New Zealand is a site that clearly displays and provides ready access to the ministries and the programs of the Province. The Sisters are well known for their Centre for Justice and Fair Trade and the Trading Circle initiatives both of which are prominent on the site.
The Trading Circle has recently launched its Fair Trade Christmas Gifts available from its stores in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Full details are available online. (SOURCE:


St. Albert the Great
Feast: November 15
Feast Day:
November 15
1206, Lauingen, Bavaria
November 15, 1280, Cologne, Holy Roman Empire
1931 by Pius XI
Major Shrine:
St. Andreas in Cologne
Patron of:
medical technicians; natural sciences; philosophers; scientists; students

He was known as the "teacher of everything there is to know," was a scientist long before the age of science, was considered a wizard and magician in his own lifetime, and became the teacher and mentor of that other remarkable mind of his time, St. Thomas Aquinas.
St. Albert the Great was born in Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany; his father was a military lord in the army of Emperor Frederick II. As a young man Albert studied at the University of Padua and there fell under the spell of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe drawing the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.
After several teaching assignments in his order, he came in 1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology. While teaching in Paris, he was assigned by his order in 1248 to set up a house of studies for the order in Cologne. In Paris, he had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians, the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil.
In 1260, he was appointed bishop of Regensberg; when he resigned after three years, he was called to be an adviser to the pope and was sent on several diplomatic missions. In his latter years, he resided in Cologne, took part in the Council of Lyons in 1274, and in his old age traveled to Paris to defend the teaching of his student Thomas Aquinas.
It was in Cologne that his reputation as a scientist grew. He carried on experiments in chemistry and physics in his makeshift laboratory and built up a collection of plants, insects, and chemical compounds that gave substance to his reputation. When Cologne decided to build a new cathedral, he was consulted about the design. He was friend and adviser to popes, bishops, kings, and statesmen and made his own unique contribution to the learning of his age.
He died a very old man in Cologne on November 15,1280, and is buried in St. Andrea's Church in that city. He was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. His writings are remarkable for their exact scientific knowledge, and for that reason he has been made the patron saint of scientists.
Thought for the Day: St. Albert the Great was convinced that all creation spoke of God and that the tiniest piece of scientific knowledge told us something about Him. Besides the Bible, God has given us the book of creation revealing something of His wisdom and power. In creation, Albert saw the hand of God.
From "The Catholic One Year Bible": Since we have a kingdom nothing can destroy, let us please God by serving him with thankful hearts, and with holy fear and awe. For our God is a consuming fire.—Hebrews 12:28-29 (SOURCE:


Daniel 12: 1 - 3
"At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book.
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.
But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, And those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.

Psalms 16: 5, 8 - 11
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot.
I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit.
Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Hebrews 10: 11 - 14, 18
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.


Mark 13: 24 - 32
"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

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