Friday, December 11, 2009





(VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, metropolitan archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), for the occasion of a conference entitled: "God today: to be with Him or without Him changes everything". The conference is being held in Rome from 10 to 12 December. "The issue of God", writes the Pope in his Message, "is central in our time, which often tends to reduce man to a single dimension - the 'horizontal' dimension - in the belief that his openness to the Transcendent is irrelevant to his life. However, the relationship with God is essential for the journey of humankind. ... The Church and all Christians have the task of causing God to be present in this world, of seeking to open access to God for all men and women". The Holy Father then goes on to highlight how, on the one hand, the conference "aims to show the various paths that lead to affirming the truth about the existence of God, the God Whom humanity has always in some way known and ... Who revealed Himself ... fully and definitively in Jesus Christ" and, on the other, it seeks "to throw light on the essential importance that God has for us, for our personal and social life, ... and for the salvation awaiting us after death". These themes will be examined from various points of view: through theological and philosophical reflection, through the longing for God that is apparent in the arts, and through the development of the sciences "which seek to look into the depths of natural mechanisms, fruit of the intelligent work of God the Creator". "In a cultural and spiritual situation such as the present, where there is a growing tendency to relegate God to the private sphere, to consider Him as irrelevant and superfluous or even to reject Him explicitly, it is my heartfelt hope that this event may contribute, at the least, to dispersing the shadow that makes modern man hesitant and timorous before the idea of openness to God", writes the Pope. And he concludes his Message: "The experiences of the past, even the recent past, teach us that when God disappears from man's horizon, humankind loses its sense of direction and risks taking steps towards its own destruction". Yet "faith in God opens man to the horizon of a certain hope".MESS/CEI CONFERENCE/BAGNASCO VIS 091211 (420)

POPE RECEIVES A VIETNAMESE PRESIDENT FOR FIRST TIME EVER VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today: "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Nguyen Minh Triet, president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. "This was the first meeting of a president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with His Holiness and with high-ranking officials of the Secretariat of State. "The Holy See expressed its pleasure at the visit, a significant stage in the progress of bilateral relations with Vietnam, and expressed the hope that outstanding questions may be resolved as soon as possible. "The cordial discussions provided an opportunity to touch upon certain themes concerning co-operation between Church and State, also in the light of the Message the Holy Father sent to the Church in Vietnam for the opening of the current Jubilee Year. Attention likewise turned to the current international situation, with particular reference to the commitment of Vietnam and of the Holy See in the multilateral field".OP/AUDIENCE/PRESIDENT VIETNAM VIS 091211 (210)

IRISH BISHOPS MEET WITH POPE VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following English-language communique at midday today: "Today the Holy Father held a meeting with senior Irish bishops and high-ranking members of the Roman Curia. He listened to their concerns and discussed with them the traumatic events that were presented in the Irish Commission of Investigation's Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. "After careful study of the report, the Holy Father was deeply disturbed and distressed by its contents. He wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large. "The Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church. "His Holiness asks Catholics in Ireland and throughout the world to join him in praying for the victims, their families and all those affected by these heinous crimes. "He assures all concerned that the Church will continue to follow this grave matter with the closest attention in order to understand better how these shameful events came to pass and how best to develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence. "The Holy See takes very seriously the central issues raised by the report, including questions concerning the governance of local Church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children. "The Holy Father intends to address a Pastoral Letter to the faithful of Ireland in which he will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation. "Finally, His Holiness encourages all those who have dedicated their lives in generous service to children to persevere in their good works in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd".OP/MEETING BISHOPS/IRELAND VIS 091211 (340)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This evening the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.AP/.../... VIS 091211 (40)


/The Pontifical Council for Culture began its “intentional engagement” of North America with a conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Speakers discussed the Church’s relations with science and the future meetings, part of a series called “From Sea to Shining Sea: Faith and Culture in North America.”
The conference, which took place December 2-4, included major public addresses on faith and culture, and homilies at student Masses. Long work sessions mapped out future meetings on the arts, political life, science, music, secularization, atheism, economics and other topics.
Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, presented one public talk titled “The Church’s Engagement With Science After Darwin and Galileo: Overcoming Cultural Icons.”
According to a press release from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Msgr. Sanchez said that while secular media and some scientists have portrayed Galileo and Darwin as “victims of the Church’s relentless persecution of science,” the historical evidence leads to a different conclusion.
Regarding Darwin and his theory on the origin of the species, Msgr. Sanchez said the “indisputable facts” show that Vatican authorities never condemned the theory of evolution.
Concerning the Church’s reaction to Galileo’s theory that the earth revolved around the sun, he noted that the theory was initially labeled as heretical and caused Galileo to be placed under house arrest. However, he added, “as soon as the scientific arguments grew stronger, theological resistance decreased.”
In his view both cases were “unique’ and not representative of the Church’s ongoing relationship with science.
While the secular scientific community often points to Galileo and Darwin to block the Church from commenting on bioethical issues like embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia, Msgr. Sanchez said that both issues concern “the totality of man as a person” and have “immediate” ethical consequences.
“They can’t be compared to the Galileo affair,” he commented.
For the second public talk, Pontifical Council for Culture official Richard Rouse discussed the From Sea to Shining Sea conferences.
“The council now aims to strengthen the dialogue between faith and reason in North America…whose cultural mentality has a huge effect on the rest of the world,” Rouse explained. “I don’t think Europe is aware of the great work being done in America on the life issues.”
Participants at the conference included Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop of Detroit Allan Vigneron, Bishop Emeritus of Shreveport, Louisiana William Friend and Bishop of Lake Charles, Louisiana Glen Provost.
Cardinal DiNardo preached on the evangelistic mission of St. Francis Xavier at the Dec. 3 Mass for the University Committee. Archbishop Vigneron and Bishop Friend also celebrated Masses and delivered homilies to the student body.
Dr. Max Bonilla, conference coordinator and vice president for Academic Affairs at Franciscan University, said the meeting was a “launching pad” for what he said will be an important reference point among influential people disposed to engage in “an open, respectful and intense conversation” about the world and mankind’s place in it.
“What unites us is a sincere desire for truth and to support the common good,” he added, noting that the conferences will invite learned individuals of all faiths or of no faith to speak with council members and other leading Catholic intellectuals.
He said Franciscan University of Steubenville was “honored” to host the first conference. With God’s blessing, he said, the conferences will be “a strong network of communication for a fruitful dialogue in this area of the world for years to come.”(SOURCE:



CNA reports that a prayer vigil with young disabled people, the sick and volunteers will be held in Madrid on Dec. 20 as part of the preparations for World Youth Day 2011. The vigil will take place in the parish church of the Patronage of St. Joseph.
The organizers said they will “reassert faith in Christ’s love” at the meeting, SIR News reports.
“We would also like to draw the attention of the Church and society so as to remove barriers, as much architectural as mental, to the full social inclusion of young people with different needs and conditions. Also, we would like to celebrate the values of youth, which are not limited to agility, physical strength, beauty, fame or social skills. Such values include devotion, solidarity, the ability to love, commitment and above all the deeply-rooted dignity of all people as God’s Sons, made in His resemblance.”
To promote the meeting, diocesan delegations of the Ministry of Health, Childhood and Youth are cooperating with organizations and movements of disabled people and Christian volunteers in health care(SOURCE;



UCAN reports that a conviction that physical and mental disabilities are no obstacle to experiencing God's love has led a Catholic woman to minister to people with such conditions for three decades.

Manorat Termnak interactswith a resident at the homefor people with disabilities
Every Sunday afternoon, Manorat Termnak, 61, visits the government-run Phrapradaeng Home for Disabled People. Ten years ago, her husband and younger son started accompanying her on her visits.
They visit as many of the 500 or so residents at the home as they can each time. The trio prays with them and tells them about God's love. They also conduct group catechism classes for those who wish to attend.
Most of the residents, who are Buddhist, have no one else to visit them. They suffer from disabilities including blindness, loss of hearing, loss of limbs, paralysis or brain damage.
One resident, Somphong Butrthong, first got to know Manorat more than 10 years ago. "I felt inner peace and many times cried when Manorat sang hymns and prayed with me, as well as with the other residents," said the 67-year-old man, who is paralyzed from the waist down.
"Before I met Manorat, I was always angry and refused to have anything to do with others. Now I like to share whatever I have. I have learned to forgive," he added.
In 2005, Somphong asked to be baptized. Today he leads some other residents in praying the rosary every morning and evening.
Manorat explained to UCA News: "God loves us and we have to bring God's love to others, especially disabled people who have no one to visit them. The word of God heals."
She said that initially she simply made bedside visits. But many wanted to know more about God, so with the home's support, she started group prayers and eventually the catechism classes. So far around 30 residents have asked for baptism, she said.
Manorat and her husband Asawin, 59, both retired civil servants, are catechists in Bangkok archdiocese, and members of the Legion of Mary as well as their parish's mission group. Their son Narin, now 32, has been making the visits with them for almost a third of his life.

Manorat Termnak (right), her husband Asawin (center)and their son Narin visiting a resident at the home
Manorat first started visiting the home as part of her Legion of Mary activities. But she continued the visits after seeing that most residents had no one to visit them and that many were interested to know about God.
"Disabled people are thirsty for God," Asawin affirmed.
Many residents say they regard Manorat and her family as their own family now, since they have no other visitors. Like Somphong, a number of them said they have learned to forgive others through their visitors' teaching and example.
Manorat said converting residents is not their goal. Rather, every person has the right to experience God's love and forgiveness, and to learn to pray, she said.
Chawalee Karnsanit, who works at the home, said people with disabilities commonly suffer from a sense of being spiritually forsaken, and that they seem to have found a spiritual refuge in Manorat. People who attend the Catholic woman's group prayers and catechism classes quarrel less and are more willing to forgive each other, she confirmed.

CISA reports that Malteser International has started relief measures in the districts of Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo, the most severely affected north of the country with a population of 365,000 people.
In co-operation with the local Catholic dioceses Malteser International will provide six health centres, two hospitals and one hospital dispensary with drugs and medical consumables for the treatment of malaria, diarrhoea and bacterial infections. Additionally, 7,500 mosquito nets will be distributed.Malteser International will provide further relief for 19,000 people through supplementary food consisting of oil, beans and maize – especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five and the elderly. About 1,500 pregnant women and 2,680 children will receive milk powder and food supplements.The emergency aid for drought victims is mainly funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and private donations.Malteser International has been working in Kenya since 2001. The organisation runs a comprehensive health project in eight slums of Nairobi with a focus on the fight against tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. (SOURCE:


Cath News reports that the Benenson Society was launched in Melbourne by Father Tony Kerin, Episcopal Vicar for Justice in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, the archdiocese said in a statement.
Named after Peter Benenson, the Catholic lawyer who founded Amnesty International, the society's aim is to provide its members, especially students, with the opportunity to be involved in the promotion of human rights by lobbying governments on behalf of prisoners of conscience, for the end of torture and the death penalty; and asserting the rights of all to basic freedoms.
It was founded by Fr Chris Middleton late in 2007 after Amnesty International widened its focus and adopted a pro abortion policy.
Those attending the launch were addressed by the Hon Clovis Alidor Mwamba, a member of parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo (in exile).
Mr Mwamba gave an inspirational speech, describing his fight for human rights and the Rule of Law in the DRC, his imprisonment, death threats, his torture at the hands of government soldiers, offers of inducements and bribes to stop his fight for democratic rule, his escape and recent resettlement in Australia.
Fr Tony Kerin said, "The opportunity for students to advocate for human rights is a vital learning experience. They will quickly become aware of the influence and value of letter writing campaigns both for the encouragement it gives to political prisoners knowing that someone cares about them; and for the positive influence a number of letters can have on even the most ruthless of governments."


St. Damasus I
Feast: December 11
Feast Day:
December 11
304 in Rome, Italy
11 December, 384 in Rome, Italy
Major Shrine:

Born about 304; died 11 December, 384. His father, Antonius, was probably a Spaniards; the name of his mother, Laurentia, was not known until quite recently. Damasus seems to have been born at Rome; it is certain that he grew up there in the service of the church of the martyr St. Laurence. He was elected pope in October, 366, by a large majority, but a number of over-zealous adherents of the deceased Liberius rejected him, chose the deacon Ursinus (or Ursicinus), had the latter irregularly consecrated, and resorted to much violence and bloodshed in order to seat him in the Chair of Peter. Many details of this scandalous conflict are related in the highly prejudiced "Libellus Precum" (P.L., XIII, 83-107), a petition to the civil authority on the part of Faustinus and Marcellinus, two anti-Damasan presbyters (cf. also Ammianus Marcellinus, Rer. Gest., XXVII, c. iii). Valentinian recognized Damasus and banished (367) Ursinus to Cologne, whence he was later allowed to return to Milan, but was forbidden to come to Rome or its vicinity. The party of the antipope (later at Milan an adherent of the Arians and to the end a contentious pretender) did not cease to persecute Damasus. An accusation of adultery was laid against him (378) in the imperial court, but he was exonerated by Emperor Gratian himself (Mansi, Coll. Conc., III, 628) and soon after by a Roman synod of forty-four bishops (Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, s.v.; Mansi, op. cit., III, 419) which also excommunicated his accusers.
Damasus defended with vigour the Catholic Faith in a time of dire and varied perils. In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism; he also sent his legates to the Council of Constantinople (381), convoked against the aforesaid heresies. In the Roman synod of 369 (or 370) Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, was excommunicated; he held the see, however, until his death, in 374, made way for St. Ambrose. The heretic Priscillian, condemned by the Council of Saragossa (380) appealed to Damasus, but in vain. It was Damasus who induced Saint Jerome to undertake his famous revision of the earlier Latin versions of the Bible. St. Jerome was also his confidential secretary for some time (Ep. cxxiii, n. 10). An important canon of the New Testament was proclaimed by him in the Roman synod of 374. The Eastern Church, in the person of St. Basil of Cæsarea, besought earnestly the aid and encouragement of Damasus against triumphant Arianism; the pope, however, cherished some degree of suspicion against the great Cappadocian Doctor. In the matter of the Meletian Schism at Antioch, Damasus, with Athanasius and Peter of Alexandria, sympathized with the party of Paulinus as more sincerely representative of Nicene orthodoxy; on the death of Meletius he sought to secure the succession for Paulinus and to exclude Flavian (Socrates, Church History V.15). He sustained the appeal of the Christian senators to Emperor Gratian for the removal of the altar of Victory from the Senate House (Ambrose, Ep. xvii, n. 10), and lived to welcome the famous edict of Theodosius I, "De fide Catholica" (27 Feb., 380), which proclaimed as the religion of the Roman State that doctrine which St. Peter had preached to the Romans and of which Damasus was supreme head (Cod. Theod., XVI, 1, 2).
When, in 379, Illyricum was detached from the Western Empire, Damasus hastened to safeguard the authority of the Roman Church by the appointment of a vicar Apostolic in the person of Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica; this was the origin of the important papal vicariate long attached to that see. The primacy of the Apostolic See, variously favoured in the time of Damasus by imperial acts and edicts, was strenuously maintained by this pope; among his notable utterances on this subject is the assertion (Mansi, Coll. Conc., VIII, 158) that the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Roman Church was based, not on the decrees of councils, but on the very words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18). The increased prestige of the early papal decretals, habitually attributed to the reign of Siricius (384-99), not improbably belongs to the reign of Damasus ("Canones Romanorum ad Gallos"; Babut, "La plus ancienne décrétale", Paris, 1904). This development of the papal office, especially in the West, brought with it a great increase of external grandeur. This secular splendour, however, affected disadvantageously many members of the Roman clergy, whose worldly aims and life, bitterly reproved by St. Jerome, provoked (29 July, 370) and edict of Emperor Valentinian addressed to the pope, forbidding ecclesiastics and monks (later also bishops and nuns) to pursue widows and orphans in the hope of obtaining from them gifts and legacies. The pope caused the law to be observed strictly.
Damasus restored his own church (now San Lorenzo in Damaso) and provided for the proper housing of the archives of the Roman Church. He built in the basilica of St. Sebastian on the Appian Way the (yet visible) marble monument known as the "Platonia" (Platona, marble pavement) in honour of the temporary transfer to that place (258) of the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, and decorated it with an important historical inscription (see Northcote and Brownlow, Roma Sotterranea). He also built on the Via Ardeatina, between the cemeteries of Callistus and Domitilla, a basilicula, or small church, the ruins of which were discovered in 1902 and 1903, and in which, according to the "Liber Pontificalis", the pope was buried with his mother and sister. On this occasion the discoverer, Monsignor Wilpert, found also the epitaph of the pope's mother, from which it was learned not only that her name was Laurentia, but also that she had lived the sixty years of her widowhood in the special service of God, and died in her eighty-ninth year, having seen the fourth generation of her descendants. Damasus built at the Vatican a baptistery in honour of St. Peter and set up therein one of his artistic inscriptions (Carmen xxxvi), still preserved in the Vatican crypts. This subterranean region he drained in order that the bodies buried there (juxta sepulcrum beati Petri) might not be affected by stagnant or overflowing water. His extraordinary devotion to the Roman martyrs is now well known, owing particularly to the labours of Giovanni Battista De Rossi. For a good account of his architectural restoration of the catacombs and the unique artistic characters (Damasan Letters) in which his friend Furius Dionysius Filocalus executed the epitaphs composed by Damasus, see Northcote and Brownlow, "Roma Sotterranea" (2nd ed., London, 1878-79). The dogmatic content of the Damasan epitaphs (tituli) is important (Northcote, Epitaphs of the Catacombs, London, 1878). He composed also a number of brief epigrammata on various martyrs and saints and some hymns, or Carmina, likewise brief. St. Jerome says (Ep. xxii, 22) that Damasus wrote on virginity, both in prose and in verse, but no such work has been preserved. For the few letters of Damasus (some of them spurious) that have survived, see P.L., XIII, 347-76, and Jaffé, "Reg. Rom. Pontif." (Leipzig, 1885), nn. 232-254.


Matthew 11: 16 - 19
"But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates,
`We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.'
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon';
the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."

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