Tuesday, November 10, 2009





(VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father addressed to participants in the sixtieth general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), which is being held this week in the Italian town of Assisi. Reiterating the theme of the "urgent task of education", about which he had spoken to the Italian prelates last May, the Pope explains that this "concerns all sectors of the Church and means that the great questions of the modern age must be faced with decision: the question concerning the nature of man and his dignity (a decisive element in the complete formation of the person), and the 'question of God' which seems ever more pressing in our own times". Benedict XVI also repeats words he pronounced this summer in the cathedral of Aosta, Italy: "If our fundamental relationship with God is not living, if it is not lived, then none of our other relationships can take their correct form. ... If we do without God, if God is absent, we lack the compass ... to show us the path, the direction we must follow. God! We must bring the truth of God back into the world, make Him known, make Him present". The Holy Father goes on: "In order for this to happen we, first and foremost and with all our being, must become living adoration, a gift that changes the world and restores it to God. This is the profound message of the Year for Priests". Turning then to consider the question of southern Italy, one of the themes due to be examined during the course of the assembly, the Pope notes how the prelates "felt the need to give voice and support to the needs of the country, which cannot hope to develop unless it is united. The Church's presence in the south is a seed for personal and social renewal, and for integral development", he says. The Pope also dwells on another of the items on the agenda of the general assembly, that of the new Italian edition of the funeral rites. In this context, he concludes his Message by noting how "the funeral is an important moment in which to announce the Gospel of hope and to reveal the maternity of the Church. ... In a culture that tends to remove the idea of death - when, indeed, it does not seek to exorcise it by reducing it to a spectacle or transforming it into a right - it is the task of believers to shine the light of Christian revelation on that mystery".MESS/.../CEI PLENARY ASSEMBLY VIS 091110 (440)

PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES: SEMINAR ON ASTROBIOLOGY VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The conclusions of a study week on astrobiology, organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory, were presented this morning in the Holy See Press Office. Participating in the press conference were Fr. Jose Funes S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory; Jonathan Lunine, professor at the department of physics in Rome's Tor Vergata University; Chris Impey, professor at the department of astronomy in the University of Arizona and the Steward Observatory, Tucson, U.S.A., and Athena Coustenis, professor at the "Observatoire de Paris-Meudon", LESIA/CNRS, France. "Why is the Vatican involved in astrobiology?" asked Fr. Funes in his remarks, going on to explain that "although astrobiology is an emerging field and still a developing subject, the questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very interesting and deserve serious consideration. These questions offer many philosophical and theological implications". "Astrobiology is the study of life's relationship to the rest of the cosmos: its major themes include the origin of life and its precursor materials, the evolution of life on earth, and its future prospects on and off the earth. ... The study week provided a special opportunity for scientists from different basic disciplines to spend an intensive week understanding how the work in their particular specialty might have an impact on, or be impacted by, that in other areas. Nowhere is this more evident than in the work being done on how life formed on the earth and evolved with the changing environment", explained Professor Lunine. For his part, Professor Impey observed that "if biology is not unique to the earth, or if life elsewhere differs bio-chemically from our version, or if we ever make contact with an intelligent species in the vastness of space, the implications for our self-image will be profound. It is appropriate that a meeting on this frontier topic be hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The motivations and methodologies might differ, but both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe. There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe". The press conference on the study work - held in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV from 6 to 10 November - concluded with the remarks of Athena Coustenis on the subject of the exploration of outer planets and their systems.OP/ASTROBIOLOGY/FUNES VIS 091110 (430)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed: - Msgr. Celso Morga Iruzubieta, bureau chief at the Congregation for the Clergy, as under secretary of the same congregation. - Fr. Felice Ruffini M.I. as consultor of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. - Archbishop-bishop Felix Anthony Machado of Nashik, India, as bishop of Vasai (area 7,596, population 3,523,000, Catholics 122,000, priests 139, religious 499), India.NA/.../MORGA:RUFFINI:MACHADO VIS 091110 (80)

Pope Benedict XVI today published the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, which introduces the canonical structure that provides for to corporate reunion of Anglican communities with the bishop of Rome and the universal church.



Catholic Herald reports that two pupils aged just 12 from St Bede's College were planning to spend their half-term October holiday cycling across England doing the "Coast to Coast" challenge for charity.William Horne and Ethan Hillis have been training since July for the marathon challenge of completing the five-day, 140-mile challenge. The teenagers will be accompanied by Ethan's parents. His mother, Joanne, will be cycling alongside the boys while his father Thomas will be driving the motor home to provide back-up and accommodation along the route. When asked why they decided to take on the challenge, the boys replied: "We are passionate about cycling and wanted to do something which would really challenge us and raise money for charity. "The College raises money every year for different charities and the whole of our year has agreed to sponsor us, along with some of the teachers at the College." Headmaster Michael Barber said: "I am very impressed by William's and Ethan's efforts. "This venture shows initiative and although it will be very hard work, I am sure that they will enjoy the experience. I trust that they will wear the correct safety equipment. I am a very keen cyclist myself and I am in some ways envious of them spending a week in the saddle. I hope that the weather holds out for the boys - and Mrs Hillis. "I am sure that they will be very successful in their venture and I hope that they will bring back some photographs of their exploits."Anyone who would like to sponsor the boys on their bike ride can contact the headmaster's secretary on 0161 226 3323 or email (SOURCE:


Catholic Online reports that Sea Organization or Sea Org is a sort of “religious order” within Scientology where only the most committed members of the late L. Ron Hubbard’s cult live out their lives. For the unborn child of a mother in Sea Org, that isn’t very long. They are aborted. Members of this “inner circle” of devotees are required to sign a contract agreeing to serve Sea Org “for the next billion years.” They are given room and board plus a small wage for performing the various roles, such as gardeners, cooks, laborers, secretaries, graphics designers, writers, and assembly line workers. According to those interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times, they were required to work extended hours, deprived of sleep, experienced prolonged separation from spouses, and received punishment for misbehavior. In addition, children were seen as a distraction from their higher calling. Those who were pregnant were counseled to seek abortions, even though Scientology publicly affirmed a pro-life position. In a December 9, 1950 article in “Look” Magazine the author, Albert Q. Maisel, writes, “Unlike many religious groups, the proponents of dianetics have nothing against birth control. But the greatest of all crimes and the root of most evils, as they see it, is the attempt - or even just the verbal wish - to cause the abortion of a child already conceived. “They object here, not so much on moral grounds, as because such attempts - or such wishes and thoughts - load down the time track with the basic-basic demon engram. “But all is not lost. Dianetics can transform you into a ‘clear’ - a person whose every engram has been resolved.” Explanations of Scientology’s belief regarding abortion vary. Some sources indicate that L. Ron Hubbard toward that a baby doesn’t have a spirit until it is born. Others say that he taught that a fetus may already be inhabited by a spiritual being. It would seem, however, that principle gave way to pragmatics as Scientology grew. Affidavits and other reports of forced abortions go back as early as 1994 while the abortions themselves began taking place in the mid 80’s. Mary Tabayoyon spent 25 years in Scientology, 21 of which were as a member of Sea Org. In an affidavit dated 26 August 1994 for the case CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL VS. STEVEN-FISHMAN AND UWE GEERTZ, Defendants, she described a September 26, 1986 Sea Org Flag Order (an order binding upon all members) that forbade members from having any more children. Disobedience would result in exile to a lower expression of service. When the child reached age 6, the parents could return. According to Tabyoyon, there were several instances where pregnant women were coerced into having an abortion as an alternative to exile. When she reported her own pregnancy, the Medical Officer arranged for the life of her child to be terminated. Tabyoyon is only one of many affidavits, testimonies and statements from past Sea Org members who had abortions at the insistence of the organization. An affidavit from Tera Hathaway in 2001 reads: “[The Executive Director] had gone on to say that at this point in my life it is better to do the greatest good for all. That spending my life ‘clearing the planet’ which means basically to get the planet saved from insanity, would be the greatest good, in other words, a far more noble endeavor than leaving staff to raise a child. “She went on to tell me that the spirit doesn't enter the baby's body until the baby is born. She made the point that all I would be ‘killing’ is a piece of meat essentially. We discussed this for a couple of days and she showed me definitions in the L. Ron Hubbard Technical Dictionary to persuade me to have an abortion.” In June of this year the Joe Childs and Tom C. Tobin, of the St. Petersburg Times, offered a three-day special report on Scientology that addressed a full litany of issues and concerns with the group who participates in the entire spectrum of abuses – physical, mental, social, and spiritual. An editorial published online at on November 6 by the St. Petersburg Times called for a long-overdue investigation of Scientology. “As former staffers lift the veil of secrecy that for years has obscured the inner workings of the Church of Scientology, a new mystery emerges: Why are government authorities looking the other way? “The Internal Revenue Service has ample reason to reconsider its decision to grant Scientology tax-exempt status as a religion. Labor officials should determine whether wage and working condition violations have occurred, and law enforcement ought to investigate whether the church's restraint on members' free movement crossed a legal line. “The Church of Scientology trumpets its global reach and expansions in communities large and small across America. Its presence can be disruptive, as Clearwater has learned since the church secretly moved in and established its spiritual headquarters in the city more than 25 years ago. “Government cannot afford to be complacent, and those politicians and community leaders who have normalized relations with Scientology can no longer claim ignorance about the nature of the church and the treatment of its workers.” The Times is not alone in wondering why the group has not already been investigated. An increasing number of people, including this writer and many other Catholics are asking the very same question.(SOURCE:


UCAN reports that one young man whose life was transformed by a Church-run drug rehabilitation center is now working with the organization to help others in the same predicament.

Residents of the rehabilitationcenter undergoing group therapy
"I took heroin and amphetamines," said Teeradech, 37, a helper at the Rebirth Therapeutic Community Center (Soon Kert Mai) for Men run by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. The center is in Chombung, Ratchaburi province, west of Bangkok.
Teeradech's story is all too typical of drug addiction. He not only took drugs, he also stole money to buy them as well as engaged in trafficking for a year.
His brother brought him to the center about 10 years ago when he was given bail after being arrested on drug offenses. It changed his life.
He now lectures at Thailand's Narcotics Control Board and is in charge of the detoxification program at Soon Kert Mai.
"Now I am using the lessons I learned in life to help others," he said.
Father Sathit Sriwanchai, the center's director, says rehabilitation involves two stages. "The first stage is a detoxification period of 10 days."
After that, the men receive psychological and spiritual support through group therapy and lessons, as well as undergo a physical exercise program for about 18 months.
The entire program is designed to help the men develop a positive attitude to life, healthy relationships, sound values and mature judgment, Father Sathit says.
"Most drug addicts start to walk on the wrong path when young. We try to help them rediscover their own way of life free from drugs," he added.
Sister Sumalee Arunyakanont, 68, an assistant to Father Sathit, said the young drug addicts at the center mostly come from rich or middle class families who, despite their wealth, "live lives that are empty and very lonely."
The center was founded in 1979 and has more than 250 male residents aged 13-26. Most are Buddhist but there are six Catholics and three Muslims.
In the early 1990s the congregation opened a similar center for women in Bangkla, Chachoengsao province, eastern Thailand. It has more than 50 residents.
Drug addiction is a growing problem in the country. According to Thailand's Narcotics Control Board, the number of drug users rose from 460,000 in 2003 to 605,000 people in 2008.
The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity was founded in 1958 by Father James Flanagan in the United States. It has missions in 16 countries, including China and the Philippines.


CISA reports that a new report by Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) indicates that Kenya among other countries are likely to feel the impact of the withdrawal of HIV/AIDS funds by the Global Fund that supports most of this pandemic’s programmes. The MSF warned that the withdrawal of funds threatens to undermine the dramatic gains made in reducing Aids related illness and death in recent years in the country and elsewhere.“After almost a decade of progress in rolling out AIDS treatment we have seen substantial improvements both for patients and public health. But recent funding cuts mean doctors and nurses are being forced to turn HIV patients away from clinics as if we were back in the 1990s before treatment was available,” said Dr Tido Von Schoen-Angerer of MSF.He said that the Global Fund must not cover up the deficit caused by its funders and that the proposed cancellation of the 2010 funding and other measures to slow the pace of treatment are punishing the successes of the past years and preventing countries from saving more lives.The MSF report said that reducing funding at this time will leave people in urgent need of treatment to die prematurely and will also lead to dangerous interruption of treatment.According to the report, in 2005 world leaders promised to support universal AIDS coverage by 2010, a promise that encouraged many African governments to launch ambitious treatment programmes.The board of directors of the Global Fund, a key financier of AIDS programmes in poor countries is unable to respond to the needs.Currently there are over 4 million HIV positive people in the developing countries who are undergoing antiretroviral therapy.(Source:


Cath News reports that the Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young wants Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to allow Labor MPs a free parliamentary vote on gay marriage, to get a better picture of national sentiment on the matter.

"I'm calling for the prime minister to ... grant his members a conscience vote so we can get a true reflection of how the Australian community is feeling," she told ABC Television on Monday, according to a Nine News report.
Senator Hanson-Young is hoping her bill to allow same sex marriage will be debated by parliament next year.
A Senate committee has received nearly 10,000 submissions on the bill, the report added. (SOURCE:


St. Leo the Great
Feast: November 10
Feast Day:
November 10
400 at Tuscany, Italy
11 April 461 at Rome, Italy

Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity. At a time when the Church was experiencing the greatest obstacles to her progress in consequence of the hastening disintegration of the Western Empire, while the Orient was profoundly agitated over dogmatic controversies, this great pope, with far-seeing sagacity and powerful hand, guided the destiny of the Roman and Universal Church. According to the "Liber Pontificalis" (ed. Mommsen, I, 101 sqq., ed. Duchesne, I, 238 sqq.), Leo was a native of Tuscany and his father's name was Quintianus. Our earliest certain historical information about Leo reveals him a deacon of the Roman Church under Pope Celestine I (422-32). Even during this period he was known outside of Rome, and had some relations with Gaul, since Cassianus in 430 or 431 wrote at Leo's suggestion his work "De Incarnatione Domini contra Nestorium" (Migne, P.L., L, 9 sqq.), prefacing it with a letter of dedication to Leo. About this time Cyril of Alexandria appealed to Rome against the pretensions of Bishop Juvenal of Jerusalem. From an assertion of Leo's in a letter of later date (ep. cxvi, ed. Ballerini, I, 1212; II, 1528), it is not very clear whether Cyril wrote to him in the capacity of Roman deacon, or to Pope Celestine. During the pontificate of Sixtus III (422-40), Leo was sent to Gaul by Emperor Valentinian III to settle a dispute and bring about a reconciliation between AĆ«tius, the chief military commander of the province, and the chief magistrate, Albinus. This commission is a proof of the great confidence placed in the clever and able deacon by the Imperial Court. Sixtus III died on 19 August, 440, while Leo was in Gaul, and the latter was chosen his successor. Returning to Rome, Leo was consecrated on 29 September of the same year, and governed the Roman Church for the next twenty-one years.(SOURCE:


Luke 17: 7 - 10
"Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down at table'?
Will he not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink'?
Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?
So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"

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