Wednesday, November 25, 2009





(VIS) - During today's general audience, which was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke about Hugh and Richard of St. Victor, two monks who lived and exercised their magisterium in the abbey of St. Victor in Paris which, from the twelfth century, was home to an important school of monastic and scholastic theology. Little is known, said the Pope, of the origins of Hugh of St. Victor. He was born "perhaps in Saxony or in Flanders" and died in the year 1141. "He acquired considerable fame and respect, to the point of being called a 'second St. Augustine'" for his dedication to "the profane and theological sciences". "Hugh of St. Victor is a typical representative of monastic theology, which is founded entirely on biblical exegesis". He maintained that, "before discovering the symbolic value and moral teaching of Bible stories, it is necessary to know and study the meaning of the history narrated in Scripture. Otherwise - he said using an effective metaphor - we run the risk of being like students of grammar who do not know the alphabet. For those who know the meaning of the history recounted in the Bible, human events appear marked by Divine Providence, in accordance with a well-ordered plan, ... though always preserving man's freedom and responsibility". Benedict XVI then recalled how in the treatise "De Scaramentis christianae fidei" Hugh identified three elements that define a Sacrament: "institution by Christ, communication of grace, and analogy between the visible element (the matter) and the invisible element (the divine gifts)". "Today too", he went on, "it is important that liturgical animators, especially priests, use pastoral wisdom in employing the signs specific to sacramental rites, paying especial attention to catechesis, so that each celebration of the Sacraments may be experienced by all the faithful with spiritual devotion, intensity and joy". Turning his attention to Richard of St. Victor, the Pope explained that he was a native of Scotland and "prior of the abbey of St. Victor from 1162 to 1172, the year in which he died". In his study of the Bible, "unlike his master [Hugh], he favoured the allegorical significance, the symbolic meaning of Scripture". In his teachings he invited the faithful "to exercise the virtues, and to learn how to use reason in order to discipline and control their inner sentiments and feelings. ... Only when man has achieved balance and human maturity in this field is he ready to move on to contemplation". "Hugh and Richard of St. Victor raise our souls to the contemplation of heavenly reality, ... to admiration and praise of the Blessed Trinity" as a model "of perfect communion", the Holy Father concluded. "How our world would change if in families, parishes and all other communities, relationships were always lived following the example of the three divine Persons, in which each lives not only with the other, but for the other and in the other!" Having concluded his catechesis, the Pope greeted directors and staff of the Lebanese television station "Tele Lumiere - Noursat", encouraging them "to continue generously their mission of service to the Gospel, and to peace and reconciliation in Lebanon and throughout the region".AG/HUGH AND RICHARD OF ST. VICTOR/... VIS 091125 (550)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzman, auxiliary of Potosi, Bolivia, as bishop of the same diocese (area 118,218, population 761,000, Catholics 685,000, priests 65, permanent deacons 8, religious 109). He succeeds Bishop Walter Perez Villamonte, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. - Appointed Bishop Aloisio Jorge Pena Vitral, auxiliary of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as bishop of Teofilo Otoni (area 25,376, population 466,000, Catholics 332,000, priests 38, religious 65), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Diogo Reesink O.F.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.NER:RE/.../... VIS 091125 (130)



CNA reports that an Orthodox priest who was murdered in church by a masked gunman was laid to rest in Moscow on Monday. He was known for his missionary work in converting Muslims and members of religious sects and had received many death threats.
Investigators are examining religious hatred as the main motive for the killing of Fr. Daniil Sysoyev, who was murdered in his church on Thursday evening.
The gunman had entered St. Thomas Church in southern Moscow and asked for Fr. Sysoyev. When the priest identified himself, the gunman shot and killed him.
About 30 police and other security officers were at the burial service at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in southwest Moscow and at the burial at Kunsevo cemetery, RIA Novosti reports.
The 34-year-old priest is survived by his wife and three children.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill attended the service and urged others to carry on Fr. Sysoyev’s work.
"Being unable to offer any wise arguments against a priest's words in their mind and heart, and going against God's word, they cover him with libel and even raise their hand at him," he said.
While the murdered priest had been powerful in speech, the Patriarch commented, his death could be his “strongest word.”
The Patriarch on Friday warned against a rush to accuse individuals or groups of the murder.
“Any murder is a grave sin. But the murder of a priest in a church is also a challenge to the law of God,” the Patriarch had said. “This sin will not be left unrevenged by God."
Alexander Veretennikov, the head of the Zaporozhye Cossacks' mission in Moscow, was at the service for Fr. Sysoyev.
He has proposed organizing with Ukrainian Cossacks a guard for churches in Russia and the Ukraine to prevent other attacks.
All religious groups in Russia condemned the murder and have demanded better security for the clergy, RIA Novosti says.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Monday said the murder of the priest was an “extremely severe crime.” On Friday, Russian State Duma lawmakers asked for more information on the groups involved in order to consider measures to restrict foreign religious organizations’ activities in Russia. (SOURCE:



CISA reports that a group of 22 children, aged about 10 and 11 were freed by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels Sunday night. According to MISNA, Fr Romano Segalini, a Comboni missionary in Watsa, near the Ugandan border, said: “They are traumatized and some are in bad health. They went through a terrible ordeal but they are with us now and we will try to help them find hope again”. Fr Segalini said that 12 rebels surrendered the children to the military in Lukuku, near the Durba mining area. They have been taken into the children's centre that he manages for the diocese of Dondi. Most of the children come from the nearby area, except one Sudanese girl, whose parents are refugees left homeless after an LRA raid. While everyone was overjoyed to have the children back, Fr Segalini said they were shocked to learn how they have been treated. Most of the children have been forced to live in the forest for a year or more.“Some have wounds and they showed us the scars resulting from the violence, while all the girls have been raped. But now we will try to treat their wounds and help them overcome the trauma. It will be a long process, but we are hoping to make it,” he added.The missionaries have already started to search for the children's families in the hopes of reuniting them, where possible.Missionaries report say that in spite of two years of peace talks in the South Sudan, the LRA is continuing to harass and terrorise rural areas, kidnapping and killing. An unsuccessful military campaign by the armies of the DR Congo, Uganda and South Sudan has failed to defeat them, and the war has now spread to various parts of these countries and the Central African Republic.(SOURCE:



UCAN reports that the government must act quickly and decisively in pursing justice for massacre victims here before an ingrained culture of revenge produces anarchy, a priest has warned.

Police cover bodies with banana leaves whileothers work to recover more of those killed
Father Eliseo Mercado said the massacre of a convoy of people traveling to file a certificate of candidacy for a candidate in gubnatorial elections next year places the national government, the Commission on Elections and the police "in the eye of the storm."
These bodies need to conduct an impartial investigation, arrest suspects and bring them to trial, stressed the priest, who heads the Cotabato City-based Peace Ministry and Advocacy of his Oblate congregation.
At least 57 bodies had been retrieved in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province, after the massacre of Mangudadatu political clan members, supporters, lawyers and journalists traveling with them, Police Superintendent Felicisimo Khu told UCA News on Nov. 25.
Khu expects the death toll could reach 70, "judging from the number of vehicles" lying around in an open field and in two mass graves. At least 100 spent cartridge cases have been recovered from the site.
Justice will not be easy to deliver, peace advocates say. Amina Rasul, lead convener of Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, an NGO working for democracy, notes a "culture of impunity" has ruled in Maguindanao and other places in the southern Philippines where political clans have been allowed to rule.
National political leaders have supported these clans, because they help gain votes and other political benefits, Rasul said in a statement sent to UCA News.
Illegal firearms remain unchecked, she noted, citing a report of 114,189 listed firearms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Cotabato City, geographically within Maguindanao, is the region's capital.
The national government has perpetuated this "culture of impunity" since the time of Ferdinand Marcos, noted Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato.
As a result, he told UCA News, it can be demolished only through efforts of NGOs and other grassroots movements, not the government.
Meanwhile, local people feel threatened.
"This [massacre] is not just about elections," Aboud Mamalundang of Shariff Aguak told UCA News. He believes the killings are part of a "cycle of murders in the continuing rido, or clan feud, between Ampatuans and Mangudadatus.
Father Eduardo Vasquez said in a radio interview on Nov. 25: "We are very concerned about the volatile situation in places in Maguindanao now."

Workers recover bodies from the massacre site
The priest added that he had taken two seminarians to Sharrif Aguak the previous day to check on parishioners in the area.
"I am considering pulling them out now because of the dangerous situation. It's hard here because of the revenge culture," he said.
Father Vasquez serves in St. Theresa's Parish, based in the Maguindanao town of Datu Piang, where Catholics live among a Muslim majority.
Some residents told UCA News they do not plan to vote in the May 2010 elections.
Engineer Norie Unas, provincial administrator of Maguindanao and spokesperson for former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., told UCA News Ampatuans will "respect and honor the results of the [government] investigation."
Mangudadatu family members have also said they will respect the law.
Philippine National Police Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said in a televised interview on Nov. 25 that Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Unsay is their prime suspect. "According to the initial reports, those who were abducted and murdered at Saniag (village, in Ampatuan) were initially stopped by a group led by the mayor of Datu Unsay," Espina said.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has placed Maguindanao, the neighboring province of Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City under emergency rule.

CNA reports that a non-Catholic political expert says Bishop Thomas Tobin’s request that U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy refrain from receiving Holy Communion is “eminently reasonable” and an “appropriate” encouragement of the Congressman to examine his commitment to his faith.
Rep. Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat and son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, was criticized by Bishop Tobin of Providence for his attacks on the Catholic bishops’ opposition to abortion funding in health care legislation. Recently, Kennedy revealed that Bishop Tobin had asked him to refrain from receiving communion because of his public contradiction of Catholic teaching.
Peter Roff, a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty and a former senior political writer for United Press International, wrote at that Americans look to “our institutions of faith” to define moral issues like abortion. Though not a Catholic, he said he understands the hierarchical nature of the Church and the role doctrine plays within it.
Speaking with “the greatest respect,” he said that the Catholic Church is not a place where “free thinking” about doctrinal issues is encouraged.
“There is such thing as absolute truth and not all things are relative or left to the discretion of the believer,” Roff continued. If Rep. Kennedy wishes to consider himself Catholic, he should “show appropriate deference to church teachings” about life beginning at conception and about abortion being a sin.
“By asking Kennedy to act of his own volition, rather than threaten to deny him the sacraments or ordering those subservient to him in the church to refuse to offer them, Bishop Tobin is encouraging the Congressman to consider his commitment to his faith -- something one should argue is the appropriate role for a member of the clergy,” Roff commented.
He said the issue is being “spun” as a case of a church trying to impose its will on politicians who represent a “cross-section of the world’s religions.”
While some critics of Bishop Tobin invoke Thomas Jefferson’s phrase about the “wall of separation between Church and State,” Roff said this line appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. Jefferson was out of the country when the Constitution was written and the phrase is his own opinion as president in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut.
Nowhere does Jefferson suggest that the church should be “prohibited from enforcing its own disciplines within its own walls among its own members, even where matters of public policy are concerned.”
The purpose of the First Amendment, in Roff’s view, was to “protect the faithful from coercion by the state,” not to protect the state from “interference from the church.”
However, he said, it is hard to see how Bishop Tobin’s request is interference.
“If Congressman Kennedy wishes his church to consider him a Catholic in good standing, then he best pay attention to its concerns and act accordingly,” Roff’s essay at concluded.


Cath News reports that in a major revamp, Families Minister Jenny Macklin would be able to declare any locality as an area of extreme disadvantage under new laws that will open up welfare recipients to compulsory income management, Catholic welfare bodies caution.
Under the changes, to apply from July next year, welfare recipients in designated areas face having half their payments quarantined for food, rent and other essential items. Lump sum payments such as the baby bonus can be 100 percent quarantined, The Australian reports.
Initially the government will roll out the scheme across the Northern Territory. Ms Macklin said she would decide after the scheme had been properly evaluated in 2011-12 whether to extend it to other areas. She was quoted saying the changes aimed to ensure welfare payments were spent responsibly.
Welfare organisations were wary.
"The people we assist are struggling on inadequate levels of Centrelink benefits. We are deeply disappointed to see that instead of addressing this problem the Government has chosen to subject welfare recipients to further measures of control," said Syd Tutton, the National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, in a press statement.
"This does nothing for people's dignity. Neither does it address any of the problems some might be having in their lives."
According to Dr John Falzon, the organisation's National Council Chief Executive Officer: "We fail to be convinced by the highly questionable evidence that is being presented as a justification for this poorly targeted policy. It is sad to see a government that claims to be committed to a path of social inclusion indulging in such a coercive and controlling approach rather than honestly looking at the supports that people need, starting with a review of inadequate payments."
Catholic Social Services Australia said that while it welcomed the re-instatement of the Racial Discrimination Act, it was against applying untried policies across the population, particularly in the absence of programs and services that are known to be effective.
"At the heart of many disadvantaged locations is a complex range of issues including alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, child neglect and abuse, mental health issues, and other chronic health conditions," said CSSA Executive Director, Frank Quinlan.
"Helping people move beyond disadvantage requires a balance between incentives and support," he said in a statement.


St. Catherine of Alexandria
Feast: November 25
Feast Day:
November 25
287, Alexandria, Egypt
305, Alexandria, Egypt
Major Shrine:
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Patron of:
Aalsum, apologists, craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners, etc.), archivists, dying people, educators, girls, jurists, knife sharpeners, lawyers, librarians, libraries, maidens, mechanics, millers, nurses, philosophers, preachers, scholars, schoolchildren, scribes, secretaries, spinsters, stenographers, students, tanners, teachers, theologians, University of Paris, unmarried girls, haberdashers, wheelwrights

From the tenth century onwards veneration for St. Catherine of Alexandria has been widespread in the Church of the East, and from the time of the Crusades this saint has been popular in the West, where many churches have been dedicated to her and her feast day kept with great solemnity, sometimes as a holy-day of obligation. She is listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of mankind among the saints in Heaven; she is the patroness of young women, philosophers, preachers, theologians, wheelwrights, millers, and other workingmen. She was said to have appeared with Our Lady to St. Dominic and to Blessed Reginald of Orleans; the Dominicans adopted her as their special protectress. Hers was one of the heavenly voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.
Artists have painted her with her chief emblem, the wheel, on which by tradition she was tortured; other emblems are a lamb and a sword. Her name continues to be cherished today by the young unmarried women of Paris.
Yet in spite of this veneration, we have few facts that can be relied on concerning Catherine's life. Eusebius, "father of Church history," writing around the year 320, had heard of a noble young Christian woman of Alexandria whom the Emperor ordered to come to his palace, presumably to become his mistress, and who, on refusing, was punished by banishment and the confiscation of her estates. The story of St. Catherine may have sprung from some brief record such as this, which Christians writing at a later date expanded. The last persecutions of Christians, though short, were severe, and those living in the peace which followed seem to have had a tendency to embellish the traditions of their martyrs that they might not be forgotten.
According to the popular tradition, Catherine was born of a patrician family of Alexandria and from childhood had devoted herself to study. Through her reading she had learned much of Christianity and had been converted by a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child. When Maxentius began his persecution, Catherine, then a beautiful young girl, went to him and rebuked him boldly for his cruelty. He could not answer her arguments against his pagan gods, and summoned fifty philosophers to confute her. They all confessed themselves won over by her reasoning, and were thereupon burned to death by the enraged Emperor. He then tried to seduce Catherine with an offer of a consort's crown, and when she indignantly refused him, he had her beaten and imprisoned. The Emperor went off to inspect his military forces, and when he got back he discovered that his wife Faustina and a high official, one Porphyrius, had been visiting Catherine and had been converted, along with the soldiers of the guard. They too were put to death, and Catherine was sentenced to be killed on a spiked wheel.
When she was fastened to the wheel, her bonds were miraculously loosed and the wheel itself broke, its spikes flying off and killing some of the onlookers. She was then beheaded. The modern Catherine-wheel, from which sparks fly off in all directions, took its name from the saint's wheel of martyrdom. The text of the of this illustrious saint states that her body was carried by angels to Mount Sinai, where a church and monastery were afterwards built in her honor. This legend was, however, unknown to the earliest pilgrims to the mountain. In 527 the Emperor Justinian built a fortified monastery for hermits in that region, and two or three centuries later the story of St. Catherine and the angels began to be circulated.
1 Alexandria, the great Egyptian city at the mouth of the Nile, was at this time a center of both pagan and Christian learning. Its Christian activities centered around the great church founded, according to tradition, by the Apostle Mark, with its catechetical school, the first of its kind in Christendom.
2 Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, who lived through all the vicissitudes of the years before and succeeding the Edict of Toleration and died about 340, wrote the first history of the Church.
3 Maxentius was one of several rival emperors who struggled for mastery during the first dozen years of the fourth century. Like the others, he tried to crush what he considered the dangerous institution of the Catholic Church. Some historians are of the opinion that Catherine suffered under his father, Maximian.


Luke 21: 12 - 19
But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake.
This will be a time for you to bear testimony.
Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer;
for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.
You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death;
you will be hated by all for my name's sake.
But not a hair of your head will perish.
By your endurance you will gain your lives.

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