Thursday, November 26, 2009




(VIS) - Vietnam is celebrating a Jubilee Year to commemorate 350 years since the foundation of the apostolic vicariates of Tonkin and Cochinchina, and fifty years since the creation of the Catholic hierarchy in the country. The Holy Father has joined the commemoration, sending a Message to Bishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Dalat, president of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam. In the text, dated 17 November, Benedict XVI notes how the opening of the Jubilee coincided with the feast of the 117 Vietnamese martyrs and expresses the hope that "the recollection of their noble witness may help the People of God in Vietnam to intensify their charity, increase their hope and consolidate their faith, which daily life sometimes tests very harshly". The Pope likewise recalls how the opening celebrations took place at So-Kien in the archdiocese of Hanoi, location of the first apostolic vicariate in Vietnam, and expresses the hope that this site may become "the centre for a profound evangelisation which brings Vietnamese society the Gospel values of charity, truth, justice and rectitude. Such values, if lived following Christ, take on a new dimension which surpasses their traditional moral sense, because they are anchored in God Who desires the good and happiness of all creatures". "The Jubilee Year", he writes, "is a time of grace in which to reconcile ourselves with God and our fellow man. To this end, we should recognise past and present errors committed against brothers in the faith and against fellow countrymen, and ask for forgiveness. At the same time, it would be appropriate to commit to increasing and enriching ecclesial communion, and to building a more just, united, equal society through authentic dialogue, mutual respect and healthy collaboration. The Jubilee is also a special time given to us to renew the announcement of the Gospel to everyone, and to become, to an ever greater degree, a Church of communion and mission". Benedict XVI concludes his Message by greeting religious and laity in Vietnam who, he writes, "are ever present in my thoughts and daily prayers", and by encouraging bishops "to bear witness with courage and perseverance to the greatness of God and the beauty of life in Christ".MESS/JUBILEE/VIETNAM:NGUYEN VIS 091126 (380)

COMMISSION FOR CULTURAL PATRIMONY CELEBRATES 20 YEARS VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi and Francesco Buranelli, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, today held a press conference marking the twentieth anniversary of their dicastery. Archbishop Ravasi recalled how, until the year 2007, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church had had separate presidents, each with his own autonomy. Yet, said the archbishop, when he himself was chosen to lead the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pope decided to unify that dicastery with the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church and with the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, because all three deal with strictly cultural matters: the first with culture in general, the second with the Church's cultural and artistic heritage, and the third with the catacombs and their history. For his part, Francesco Buranelli explained how "the administration of ecclesiastical cultural heritage is organised in accordance with the hierarchical structure of the Church. The universal Church", he said, "is the competency of this pontifical commission, while each episcopal conference is invited to establish a national office for the cultural patrimony of the Church". On the subject of Holy See involvement with international organisations (UNESCO, Council of Europe, etc.), "the main objective ... consists in spreading an ever greater awareness of the role and specific value of religious cultural heritage, especially that of Christianity, in the cultural heritage of each nation and, consequently, in the global heritage of humankind", explained Professor Buranelli. He likewise highlighted how the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, following the teachings of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, undertakes "not to fear the friendship between the Church and art, accepting once more the specific character of art in the West: ... that of seeking God on the basis of its own vision of man, while respecting the sensibility and culture of each artist". Holy See participation in the 54th Venice Biennale of modern art, with a pavilion promoted by the pontifical commission will, Professor Buranelli concluded, "through interaction between artists and theologians, enable the development of a connective fabric of images and symbols which will allow our society to regain an awareness of its cultural roots and reacquire its capacity to see the invisible".OP/ANNIVERSARY CULTURE COMMISSION/RAVASI VIS 091126 (400)

PLENARY SESSION OF INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The International Theological Commission, which is presided by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to celebrate the first annual plenary session of its new five-year term. The session, due to take place from 30 November to 4 December in the Vatican's "Domus Sanctae Marthae", will be chaired by Frt. Charles Morerod O.P., secretary general of the commission. According to a communique published today the commission, which this year celebrates the fortieth anniversary of its creation by Paul VI, will decide what questions must be examined over this new five-year term and how to organise the work. Among the subjects Cardinal Levada has put before the commission is "the important question of theological methodology", which was also examined during the last five-year term. The members of the International Theological Commission will also be invited to participate in a Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in the Apostolic Palace.OP/THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION PLENARY/LEVADA VIS 091126 (180)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, on their "ad limina" visit: - Fr. Jamil de Souza, diocesan administrator of Franca. - Bishop Benedito Goncalves dos Santos of Presidente Prudente. - Fr. Joaquim Waldimir L. Dias, diocesan administrator of Jundiai. - Bishop Jose Benedito Simao of Assis. - Bishop Benedito Beni dos Santos of Lorena.AL/.../... VIS 091126 (80)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father erected the new diocese of Tenancingo (area 2,896, population 350,406, Catholics 332,829, priests 65, religious 86) Mexico, with territory taken from the diocese of Toluca, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Mexico. He appointed Fr. Raul Gomez Gonzalez, vicar general of the diocese of San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Capilla de Guadalupe, Mexico in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1983.ECE:NER/.../GOMEZ VIS 091126 (90)



CNA reports that new FBI statistics on hate crimes show a nine percent increase in crimes against religious groups in 2008 and an almost 25 percent increase in reported hate crimes against Catholics.
Last year there were 1,519 incidents classified as hate crimes based on a victim’s religion, USA Today reports. Anti-Jewish attacks made up nearly two of every six incidents, but there were 75 such crimes against Catholics. This is an increase from 61 in 2007.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights told USA Today that he had never seen the country so culturally divided and polarized.
Speaking in more detail with CNA, he remarked that increased outspokenness among Catholic bishops and laity may have caused some retaliation.
“Lay Catholics are following the energy from the bishops who are becoming more vocal than they have been,” he commented.
In Donohue’s view, same-sex “marriage,” abortion, and protections conscientious objections are particular issues of public controversy.
“Proposition 8 in California last November led to violence against Catholics – many who were Latinos,” Donohue commented, referring to the successful California ballot measure which restored the definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman.
“You have to accept that there are some nasty things done, but you can't let that scare you. They want to intimidate people of faith.”
Donohue said he thinks the culture is “at a turning point.”
“I see no way around it than to continue speaking out.”(SOURCE:



CNA reports that the European Union has compelled the British government to remove religious freedom exemptions from an anti-discrimination bill. The move will forbid church bodies from declining to employ homosexual staff. The National Secular Society had argued that the exemptions went further than was permitted under an EU directive and created “illegal discrimination against homosexuals,” the Observer reports.
The EU commission agreed, ruling that the exemptions are “broader than that permitted by the directive.”
The British government must now redraft anti-discrimination laws. The new proposals would allow religious organizations to decline to employ homosexuals only if their job involves actively promoting or practicing a religion.
The prior law allowed religious groups to refuse to employ homosexuals “so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers.”
Homosexual activist Peter Tatchell claimed that the ruling was “a significant victory for gay equality” and a “serious setback” for religious employers who had been granted exemption. According to the Guardian, he said the move was a “big embarrassment” for the British government, which he claimed has “consistently sought to appease religious homophobes.”
The Christian charity, Care was critical of the decision, the Guardian says.
“If evangelical churches cannot be sure that they can employ practicing evangelicals with respect to sexual ethics, how will they be able to continue?” the organization asked.(SOURCE:



CISA reporst that over 11 million people are displaced by conflict and climate change-related natural disasters in Africa every year according to Afrian Union convention on internally displaced persons. Julia Dolly Joiner, AU commissioner for political affairs called for international support during the AU covention held in Kampala from October 19 to 23."Africa cannot do it alone; that is why we are calling for partnerships," she told IRIN. "We are optimistic that countries will be faithful to their commitments under the convention." "The most important step now is implementation," Julia Dolly Joiner, AU commissioner for political affairs, said. "We need to move from intentions to actions." Seventeen countries signed the AU convention on internally displaced persons (IDPs) after years of preparation culminated in a week of meetings in the Ugandan capital but a lot more hard work remains before it becomes effective, according to observers.Fifteen countries must ratify the convention before it enters into effect. Organizers of the 19-23 October meetings insisted that the fact that only 17 signed did not represent a lack of political will and commitment on the part of the African states."We debated together, and we agreed; but, when it comes to signing, the person has to have been given the authority by his government to sign," one AU official told IRIN. "Only 17 had such authorization."The AU will now try to get more signatures, and lobby 15 countries to ratify the convention so it can become a binding document. Observers, however, say much more work needs to be done to generate political will, given that most presidents stayed away from the summit. The convention addressed the root causes of displacement in Africa, where at least 11 million people are displaced by conflict and climate change-related natural disasters, among other reasons. The convention also promotes regional and national measures to prevent, mitigate, prohibit, and eliminate the root causes of internal displacement and provide durable solutions.According to the Brookings-Bern Project, three of the world's top five countries with the largest populations of conflict-induced IDPs are in Africa. These include Sudan, with an estimated 4.9 million IDPs, the Democratic Republic of Congo, with at least one million, and Somalia, where the UN estimates 1.5 million are displaced.Hundreds of thousands more are displaced in Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Overall, citizens in at least 20 African states are experiencing internal displacement. (SOURCE:



UCAN) -- President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has paid a visit to the national Istiqlal mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, during his first official trip to the country.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (in whiteand red cassock) with Muslim leader at the Istiqlal mosque
Cardinal Tauran, walking barefoot, was accompanied by Jesuit Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta, Coadjutor Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta and Bandung Bishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta, a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Several officials of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference also took part in the Nov. 25 visit.
The mosque's imam Kiai Hajj Syarifuddin Muhammad warmly welcomed the Catholics. "This mosque does not belong only to Muslims but all religious followers. They all are welcome here," he said.
The national mosque of Indonesia, which can hold more than 100,000 people, stands across the road from the Assumption Cathedral Church in Central Jakarta. The mosque's main rectangular prayer hall building is topped by a 45-meter-diameter spherical dome supported by 12 columns.
"This is the first time I feel a sincere atmosphere of neighborhood. It seems there is no gap between Muslims and Catholics," Cardinal Tauran said.
In an earlier visit to the cathedral, the cardinal said Muslims had lessons for Christians. "Muslims have a very strong spirituality. They wake up early in the morning to pray," he said. "Our young priests should follow this example ... waking up early in the morning to pray to start their daily activities."
He said it was vital for Catholics to take part in the lives of other communities.
"We, Catholics, must be witnesses to the surrounding communities. This is one of the meanings of interreligious dialogue. And to be witnesses, we need to have a deep spirituality," he said.
Nasaruddin Umar, director of the Religious Affairs Ministry's Directorate General for Muslim Community Guidance, told UCA News that he was impressed with Cardinal Tauran's visit to this mosque. "It means Christians can be at peace with Muslims," he said.
The mosque was designed by Protestant architect Frederich Silaban to celebrate independence. Istiqlal means "independence" in Arabic. The country's first president Soekarno broke ground on the site on Aug. 24, 1961. It took 17 years to build and was opened by the country's second president Soeharto on Feb. 22, 1978.
Cardinal Tauran arrived in Indonesia on Nov. 24 and is expected to depart on Dec. 1.
According to organizers, the trip aims to give the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue a better understanding of the religious situation in the country as well as help the Church forge better ties with other religious communities here.
On Nov. 26, the cardinal met with leaders of the Wahid Institute. The institute, founded by former president Abdurrahman Wahid, works to bring about a just and peaceful world by espousing a moderate and tolerant view of Islam.
On the same day, the cardinal met with leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia. He is also expected to meet with Hindu leaders in Bali and Muslim leaders in Makassar and Yogyakarta.(SOURCE:



Cath News reports that Premier Nathan Rees has announced the NSW Government will now allow a trial of an ethics course in 10 primary schools over two terms next year as a secular alternative to scripture classes. The Anglican church is asking him to drop the idea.
Catholic Church spokesman Father Brian Lucas said while it was important not to devalue the special religious education system it was important to offer a "constructive alternative" for those who don't take part in that program, according to an AAP report on
ABC quotes Mr Rees saying: "This will provide students with an opportunity to examine ethics that underline their own values and reflect the choices that they make in everyday life and that is a good thing."
He says the course will deal with issues like fairness, bullying, as well as lying and telling the truth.
Dr Simon Longstaff from the St James Ethics Centre says it is a big win for parents who have been pushing for the classes for years.
"It's a wonderful achievement for parents they started the ball rolling almost seven years ago when they raised the concern about those children whose parents made a conscientious decision not being able to do something meaningful," he said.
Schools that are interested in being involved in the trial are being asked to nominate themselves, ABC said.
The curriculum is being developed with the St James Ethics Centre and will have to be signed off by the NSW Board of Studies, said the AAP report.
Chairman of the NSW Anglican Education Commission, Bishop Glen Davis, said the trial was flawed and the premier should reconsider it. He said it set a "dangerous precedent" if other groups wanted access to students.
"Is there such an ethical hole in the current system?" Bishop Davis is quoted saying by AAP."If so, then teach it as a part of the curriculum rather than allowing a non-religious group to enter the realm of the special religious education system." (source:


St. Siricius
Feast: November 26
Feast Day:
November 26
26 November, 399

Born about 334; died 26 November, 399, Siricius was a native of Rome; his father's name was Tiburtius. Siricius entered the service of the Church at an early age and, according to the testimony of the inscription on his grave, was lector and then deacon of the Roman Church during the pontificate of Liberius (352-66). After the death of Damasus, Siricius was unanimously elected his successor (December, 384) and consecrated bishop probably on 17 December. Ursinus, who had been a rival to Damasus (366), was alive and still maintained his claims. However, the Emperor Valentinian III, in a letter to Pinian (23 Feb., 385), gave his consent to the election that had been held and praised the piety of the newly-elected bishop; consequently no difficulties arose. Immediately upon his elevation Siricius had occasion to assert his primacy over the universal Church. A letter, in which questions were asked on fifteen different points concerning baptism, penance, church discipline, and the celibacy of the clergy, came to Rome addressed to Pope Damasus by Bishop Himerius of Tarragona, Spain. Siricius answered this letter on 10 February, 385, and gave the decisions as to the matters in question, exercising with full consciousness his supreme power of authority in the Church (Coustant, "Epist. Rom. Pont.", 625 sq.). This letter of Siricius is of special importance because it is the oldest completely preserved papal decretal (edict for the authoritative decision of questions of discipline and canon law). It is, however, certain that before this earlier popes had also issued such decretals, for Siricius himself in his letter mentions "general decrees" of Liberius that the latter had sent to the provinces; but these earlier ones have not been preserved. At the same time the pope directed Himerius to make known his decrees to the neighbouring provinces, so that they should also be observed there. This pope had very much at heart the maintenance of Church discipline and the observance of canons by the clergy and laity. A Roman synod of 6 January, 386, at which eighty bishops were present, reaffirmed in nine canons the laws of the Church on various points of discipline (consecration of bishops, celibacy, etc.). The decisions of the council were communicated by the pope to the bishops of North Africa and probably in the same manner to others who had not attended the synod, with the command to act in accordance with them. Another letter which was sent to various churches dealt with the election of worthy bishops and priests. A synodal letter to the Gallican bishops, ascribed by Coustant and others to Siricius, is assigned to Pope Innocent I by other historians (P.L., XIII, 1179 sq.). In all his decrees the pope speaks with the consciousness of his supreme ecclesiastical authority and of his pastoral care over all the churches.
Siricius was also obliged to take a stand against heretical movements. A Roman monk Jovinian came forward as an opponent of fasts, good works, and the higher merit of celibate life. He found some adherents among the monks and nuns of Rome. About 390-392 the pope held a synod at Rome, at which Jovinian and eight of his followers were condemned and excluded from communion with the Church. The decision was sent to St. Ambrose, the great Bishop of Milan and a friend of Siricius. Ambrose now held a synod of the bishops of upper Italy which, as the letter says, in agreement with his decision also condemned the heretics. Other heretics including Bishop Bonosus of Sardica (390), who was also accused of errors in the dogma of the Trinity, maintained the false doctrine that Mary was not always a virgin. Siricius and Ambrose opposed Bonosus and his adherents and refuted their false views. The pope then left further proceedings against Bonosus to the Bishop of Thessalonica and the other Illyrian bishops. Like his predecessor Damasus, Siricius also took part in the Priscillian controversy; he sharply condemned the episcopal accusers of Priscillian, who had brought the matter before the secular court and had prevailed upon the usurper Maximus to condemn to death and execute Priscillian and some of his followers. Maximus sought to justify his action by sending to the pope the proceedings in the case. Siricius, however, excommunicated Bishop Felix of Trier who supported Ithacius, the accuser of Priscillian, and in whose city the execution had taken place. The pope addressed a letter to the Spanish bishops in which he stated the conditions under which the converted Priscillians were to be restored to communion with the Church.
According to the life in the "Liber Pontificalis" (ed. Duchesne, I, 216), Siricius also took severe measures against the Manichæans at Rome. However, as Duchesne remarks (loc. cit., notes) it cannot be assumed from the writings of the converted Augustine, who was a Manichæan when he went to Rome (383), that Siricius took any particular steps against them, yet Augustine would certainly have commented on this if such had been the case. The mention in the "Liber Pontificalis" belongs properly to the life of Pope Leo I. Neither is it probable, as Langen thinks (Gesch. der röm. Kirche, I, 633), that Priscillians are to be understood by this mention of Manichæans, although probably Priscillians were at times called Manichæans in the writings of that age. The western emperors, including Honorius and Valentinian III, issued laws against the Manichæans, whom they declared to be political offenders, and took severe action against the members of this sect (Codex Theodosian, XVI, V, various laws). In the East Siricius interposed to settle the Meletian schism at Antioch; this schism had continued notwithstanding the death in 381 of Meletius at the Council of Constantinople. The followers of Meletius elected Flavian as his successor, while the adherents of Bishop Paulinus, after the death of this bishop (388), elected Evagrius. Evagrius died in 392 and through Flavian's management no successor was elected. By the mediation of St. John Chrysostom and Theophilus of Alexandria an embassy, led by Bishop Acacius of Beroea, was sent to Rome to persuade Siricius to recognize Flavian and to readmit him to communion with the Church.
At Rome the name of Siricius is particularly connected with the basilica over the grave of St. Paul on the Via Ostiensis which was rebuilt by the emperor as a basilica of five aisles during the pontificate of Siricius and was dedicated by the pope in 390. The name of Siricius is still to be found on one of the pillars that was not destroyed in the fire of 1823, and which now stands in the vestibule of the side entrance to the transept. Two of his contemporaries describe the character of Siricius disparagingly. Paulinus of Nola, who on his visit to Rome in 395 was treated in a guarded manner by the pope, speaks of the urbici papæ superba discretio, the haughty policy of the Roman bishop (Epist., V, 14). This action of the pope is, however, explained by the fact that there had been irregularities in the election and consecration of Paulinus (Buse, "Paulin von Nola", I, 193). Jerome, for his part, speaks of the "lack of judgment" of Siricius (Epist., cxxvii, 9) on account of the latter's treatment of Rufinus of Aquileia, to whom the pope had given a letter when Rufinus left Rome in 398, which showed that he was in communion with the Church. The reason, however, does not justify the judgment which Jerome expressed against the pope; moreover, Jerome in his polemical writings often exceeds the limits of propriety. All that is known of the labours of Siricius refutes the criticism of the caustic hermit of Bethlehem. The "Liber Pontificalis" gives an incorrect date for his death; he was buried in the cæmeterium of Priscilla on the Via Salaria. The text of the inscription on his grave is known (De Rossi, "Inscriptiones christ. urbis Romæ", II, 102, 138). His feast is celebrated on 26 November. His name was inserted in the Roman Martyrology by Benedict XIV.


Luke 21: 20 - 28
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it;
for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written.
Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people;
they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,
men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

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