Thursday, November 12, 2009





(VIS) - The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today: "This morning Stjepan Mesic, president of the Republic of Croatia, was received in audience by the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The president subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. "During the cordial discussions, attention focused on the situation in the region, the principal challenges it is facing, and the factors that favour its stability and promote peace. "The ancient and living Catholic tradition of Croatia was also mentioned, as was the importance of respecting this identity and of promoting the common good through constructive dialogue between the government authorities and the episcopate, and with all components of society".OP/AUDIENCE/PRESIDENT CROATIA VIS 091112 (150)

ANNIVERSARY OF LUMSA: INTEGRATING KNOWLEDGE AND VALUES VATICAN CITY, 12 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Rome's LUMSA University (Libera Universita Maria Santissma Assunta) this year celebrates the seventieth anniversary of its foundation by Servant of God Luigia Tincani. For the occasion, the Holy Father this morning received 7000 members of the institution led by the rector Giuseppe Dalla Torre and accompanied by Renato Schifani, president of the Italian Senate. In his address to them the Holy Father recalled how LUMSA "began its activities in the climate of commitment to education aroused by Pius XI's Encyclical 'Divini illius Magistri'. Your university came into being, then, with a well-defined Catholic identity, also with the encouragement of the Holy See with which it maintains very close ties", he told his audience. "As the cultural and legislative situation in Italy and Europe was undergoing a profound evolution", the Pope went on, "LUMSA continued to grow while maintaining a dual focus: remaining faithful to the original idea of Mother Tincani and, at the same time, responding to the new challenges of society. "The modern context is, in fact, characterised by a worrying educational emergency in which the task of those called to teach assumes particular importance" the Holy Father added. This is because "any profession can become an occasion to bear witness to values that were absorbed during the academic period, and to translate them into practice". Benedict XVI recalled that "the profound economic crisis which has spread throughout the world, and the causes that lie at is origins, have highlighted the need for more decisive and courageous investment in the field of knowledge and education, as a way to respond to the many ongoing challenges and to prepare the young generations to construct a better future". "In a complex social and cultural panorama, Catholic universities are called to act with the Christian inspiration of individuals and of the university community as a whole, with incessant academic reflection, illuminated by faith and scientific research; with faithfulness to the Christian message as it is presented by the Church; with an institutional commitment to the service of the People of God". LUMSA, the Holy Father proceeded, "is a Catholic university which has this Christian inspiration as a specific element of its identity. As its 'Magna Charta' reads, it aims to undertake academic activity oriented towards the search for truth, in a dialogue between faith and reason, in an ideal attempt to integrate knowledge and values". "Today, as yesterday, the university needs true masters capable of transmitting, alongside academic information and knowledge, rigorous research methods and profound motivations", said the Holy Father. And he concluded by calling on the students to keep their "hearts and minds open to the truth" in order to become "builders of a more just and united society".AC/LUMSA/... VIS 091112 (470)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 12 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, on their "ad limina" visit: - Archbishop Eduardo Benes de Sales Rodrigues of Sorocaba. - Bishop Luiz Demetrio Valentini of Jales. Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".AL:AP/.../... VIS 091112 (70)



CNA reports that Britain’s Academy of Medical Sciences has launched a new study to examine the ethical and regulatory framework needed for scientific research which uses animals and animal embryos containing “human material.”
The study brings together experts in developmental genetics, clinical neuroscience, veterinary medicine, bioethics and law. They will examine the scientific, social, ethical, safety and regulatory aspects of the creation and use of animals and embryos which incorporate human material, a press release from the Academy says.
Prof. Martin Bobrow, who chairs the working group, said the call for the study originated within the scientific community itself and has the support of parliamentarians.
“It is important to ensure that this exciting research can progress within limits that scientists, the government and the public support. We will not only be focusing on the ethical dimensions of this research but also on how it is perceived by the public,” explained Bobrow, an emeritus professor of medical genetics at the University of Cambridge.
“Do these constructs challenge our idea of what it is to be human? It is important that we consider these questions now so that appropriate boundaries are recognized and research is able to fulfill its potential.”
The Academy claims the creation and use of animals who incorporate human material has “a long-standing and successful research history” with significant scientific contributions.
“There are already thousands of animals containing human cells or DNA, mostly mice with a single gene sequence of human origin, in widespread use throughout laboratories world-wide,” the Academy says, adding that new stem cell technologies could present both new opportunities and ethical challenges.
“The hope for the future is that animals containing human material, particularly human stem cells, will provide unprecedented opportunities to develop treatments for conditions such as retinal blindness, diabetes and stroke.”
CNA spoke with Fr. Thomas Berg, director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person who explained that “the mixing of the animal and the human...entails an enormous array of possibilities.”
He noted that while some of these “are ethically unproblematic,” such as “the use of porcine heart valves in humans,” others possibilities are “gravely immoral” such as “attempts at human cloning with non-human eggs.”
“The Church has well defined positions on some of these questions,” Fr. Berg explained remarking that in “the implantation of human genes into animals, the Church recommends prudence and caution although in principle there is no immediate moral problem with such experiments in most cases.”
The priest went on to state that the Church outrightly rejects, “among other things, human animal hybrid formation, grafting of non-human animal stem cells into a human embryo or fetus, and tetraploid complementation in a non-human animal host, which could eventuate in an intact human fetus developing within a non-human animal womb.”
Fr. Berg then touched on the source of the “human material,” saying that their origin could be of moral concern.
“The procurement of such material from electively aborted fetuses (which a perusal of the literature suggests is often the source of choice for researchers) is to be absolutely condemned,” he stated.
The Academy project seeks agreement on definitions for animals and animal embryos containing human genetic or cellular materials and also seeks to discuss their current and future uses.
The use of “human admixed embryos” in research will also be considered.
The Academy’s study of such issues is related to the parliamentary surrounding the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act of 2008. The study is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. (SOURCE:



CNA reports that Caritas International is sending staff to support relief work in flood-affected regions in El Salvador. Days of heavy rains have left 120 people dead and thousands homeless.
The country has been on a state of alert since Thursday. The heavy rains coincided with the passing of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall again as a tropical storm on the coast of Alabama on Tuesday morning.
“We’re gearing up to respond to the aftermath of the hurricane by sending staff out to the worst-affected sites to look at the damage and limit further risks,” said Wilfredo Ramírez Escobar from Caritas El Salvador. “The Government has declared a national emergency and schools and sports buildings have been made available as temporary shelters.”
The capital San Salvador and central San Vicente province were hardest hit by the rains. Large areas are without electricity or clean water and are cut off from assistance. Collapsed bridges and damaged roads have worsened the isolation of some regions.
Neighboring Nicaragua has also been hit by heavy rains, leaving 13,000 people homeless, Caritas International reports. Hurricane Ida may threaten oil and gas fields as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to weaken as it heads towards the U.S. coast between Louisiana and Florida.(SOURCE:


UCAN reports that Irish Columban Father Michael Sinnott hopes to resume his ministry after being released by kidnappers who had held him for a month.

Father Michael Sinnott speakingto reporters after his release
The priest said he was kept in "very primitive" conditions in two areas, one a swampy area "with mud all around us." He said he could not move about and was forced to sit in a hammock all day with his guard.
He had also been kept in the jungle and at one point was forced to march for around eight hours through the mountains.
Father Sinnott said he did not think anyone would want to kidnap him again, as he had slowed his captors down.
"I'm an old man, and I had a hard time walking," the priest said, laughing.
He said he would like to continue working in Pagadian diocese where he has served most of his 42 years in the Philippines.
Father Sinnott was released before dawn on Nov. 12 in Zamboanga City, 850 kilometers southeast of Manila. He was later flown to Pasay City, south of Manila, where he met reporters.
Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), handed over the 79-year-old missioner to Rafael Seguis, his counterpart in the government peace panel.
The priest rejects the idea of seeking retribution.
"I have no plan to file any charges," he said.
Father Sinnott was abducted from the Columban Father's residence in Pagadian City on Oct. 11 by a group of men who bundled him in a van and then onto a boat, before handing him over to a second group.
The priest said the first group was a bit rough with him, but his captors treated him well and food was "adequate" considering the spartan conditions.
Father Sinnott said he has no idea who his kidnappers were but is "very sure" they were not MILF.
The second group of captors "knew nothing about me," he recounted, adding that they oppose the MILF for condemning kidnapping for ransom.
"They said it is alright for the MILF to say kidnapping is forbidden in the Qur'an," because the MILF gets international support. His captors said they had no other way to raise funds for weapons, the priest continued.
The missioner described his captors in the mountains as "very well organized." Supplies arrived regularly, and he was given food "specially for me" twice a day.
Earlier, while he was held in the forest, his captors said attempts to free him had been foiled by bad weather.
Father Sinnott explained that his kidnappers had scripted the message he read on a video made on Oct. 24 and sent to the crisis management committee five days later.
"It was written in Bisaya (or Cebuano, a dialect used in central and southern Philippines), and I had to translate it into English," the priest said. The group had also lectured him about their ideology.
They told him they were freeing him so he could tell the international community they are lumad, indigenous Filipinos of Mindanao, the southern Philippine region, and would fight until Mindanao was "independent" with the Qur'an as its constitution.
Father Sinnott, speaking in both English and Bisaya, thanked "every one of my friends that I know prayed for me while I was in captivity."
The MILF has not disclosed where they found Father Sinnott, nor any details about his abductors. However, Iqbal said MILF task force members had spoken with relatives of the kidnappers and "applied moral pressure" to release the priest without ransom.
"Kidnapping is illegal in Islam," he said, "and Father Sinott's recovery did not involve any money."



CISA reports that the Kenyan government has failed to implement a fair and credible judicial process to try those accused of carrying out human rights violations, including possible crimes against humanity, during post-election violence in 2007 and early 2008, Amnesty International (AI) says.The AI voiced its dismay at the process following a statement issued by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Mr. Louis Moreno Ocampo that he will seek to open an investigation into post-election violence in Kenya. “The Kenyan government has left the ICC no option but to open an investigation by its failure to do so itself,” said Mr. Godfrey Odongo, Amnesty International’s East Africa researcher.“Kenya has failed to define the crimes against humanity committed by members of all parties during the elections last year as crimes under national law. By doing so, it has opened the door to an ICC investigation and prosecution.” Kenya enacted the International Criminal Court Act, 2008, defining crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law as crimes under Kenyan law, but only if committed after January 2009. That law also provides for cooperation with the ICC, but permits the Attorney General, a political official, broad discretion to refuse to co-operate with the Court.“Kenya seems unwilling and unable to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence, particularly those at the highest level in political parties and in the government,” said Odongo.The country has failed to amend the Constitution to permit the establishment of a special court that could try some of those suspected of responsibility for possible crimes against humanity during the elections last year.The ICC has only a limited capacity to investigate and try persons suspected of crimes against humanity, and Kenya has a duty to ensure effective prosecution at the national level to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes, the rights body said.Following the enactment of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Act, 2008, there is now a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) in place and there are indications it will start hearings by mid next year. However, to date there is no clear government policy on how any local judicial processes to try persons suspected of crimes committed during the violence would be complementary to the ICC process and the ongoing truth, justice and reconciliation process.“A Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission can begin to establish the truth about what happened during the terrible weeks following the election – but it cannot determine guilt or innocence of those accused, which remains an obligation of the Kenyan judiciary,” said Odongo.In July, the Kenyan government formally announced that it would carry out accelerated police, prosecution and judicial reforms to ensure investigation and prosecution of perpetrators. However no time lines were provided for these reforms which have not been affected. A private members Bill seeking to re-introduce a constitutional amendment and the enactment of a Special Tribunal remains pending in Parliament. (SOURCE:


Cath News reports that the Victorian County Court judge Howard Mason sentenced confidence trickster Olivia Raymond to four years and eight months in jail for defrauding elderly priest Father Paul Kane of parish funds and his life savings.
Ms Raymond, a reported gambling addict, used fake documents and sad stories to trick the 83 year old priest into handing over $400,000 from accounts belonging to St Matthew's Parish in the northern Melbourne suburb of Fawkner, and some $50,000 of his savings for his retirement, said an AAP report in The Age.
Raymond gambled away all the money on poker machines.
"You exhausted the life savings of a vulnerable and compassionate elderly man," Judge Mason said. "These are serious crimes. Your actions were calculated, cruel and predatory."

Raymond, 31, of Epping, pleaded guilty to five counts of obtaining property by deception and one count of making a false document.
Raymond must serve two and a half years in prison before being eligible for parole. (SOURCE:


Feast: November 12
Feast Day:
November 12
1580 at Volodymyr, Lithuania (modern Ukraine)
12 November 1623 at Vitebsk, Belarus
Patron of:

Josaphat is one of those figures in history caught in a web of controversy where even good people find it hard to keep their heads. He was caught in a battle between Catholic and Orthodox, Latin and Byzantine, and found himself criticized and opposed on every side: by the Orthodox for being Catholic and by the Latins for being Byzantine. He held firmly to Catholic unity against the Orthodox and just as firmly to Byzantine rights against the Latins. At that period of history, it was a no-win situation, and he is the great martyr to the cause of unity.
St. Josaphat was born in Lithuania about 1580 into a Catholic family and early promoted Catholic unity in a country divided between Orthodox and Catholic. He entered the Byzantine monastery of Holy Trinity in Vilna in 1604 and was elected Catholic archbishop of Polotsk in 1614. While clinging firmly to unity with Rome, he firmly opposed those Latins who saw unity only in Latin terms and would suppress Byzantine traditions in the name of Catholic unity. He firmly opposed the Latinization of his people and made enemies and severe critics among the Latin clergy of Poland.
Politically, the Catholic and Orthodox clergy were rivals in Lithuania, and the archbishopric of Polotsk was one of the contested sees. An Orthodox archbishop of Polotsk was appointed, and Josaphat was accused of taking office invalidly. Many of his Byzantine Catholics were won over to allegiance to Orthodoxy. Even the king of Poland wavered in his support of Josaphat, especially when Polish bishops accused him of betraying his faith by not Latinizing his diocese.
One of the hotbeds of trouble in Josaphat's diocese was Witebsk, and in November of 1623 he went there to bring about peace in his flock, preaching in the churches and trying to reconcile differences. On November 12, a mob broke into the house where he was staying, shouting hatred and violence. When he confronted them, he was struck in the head with a halberd and shot. His mangled body was dragged out and thrown into the river. He was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867.
Thought for the Day: It is important to say that there was a martyr for unity on the Orthodox side as well, and even good men were uncertain where truth and justice lay. St. Josaphat died working for reconciliation, and peacemakers often find themselves hated by both sides. It is part of the risk of being a true follower of Christ.
From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith.—Hebrews 11:1-2


Luke 17: 20 - 25
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed;
nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!' or `There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."
And he said to the disciples, "The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it.
And they will say to you, `Lo, there!' or `Lo, here!' Do not go, do not follow them.
For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day.
But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

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