Friday, December 18, 2009





18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 5.30 p.m. yesterday, in keeping with a regular pre-Christmas tradition, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of Vespers with students of Roman universities. For the occasion, the Pope dedicated his homily to the subject of Wisdom. "What was born in Bethlehem was the Wisdom of God", said the Holy Father. "In the fullness of time this Wisdom assumed a human face, the face of Jesus. ... The Christian paradox consists precisely in identifying divine Wisdom - that is, the eternal 'Logos' - with Jesus of Nazareth the man, and with His history. ... Thus, the Wisdom we invoke this evening is the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. It is the Word". "Christian teachers and young Christian students carry within themselves an impassioned love for this Wisdom. They read everything in its light. ... Without such Wisdom not one thing came into being, and thus its reflection is to be seen in all created reality. ... Everything perceived by human intelligence, ... in some way or to some extent, participates in creative Wisdom. And here, in the final analysis, lies the very possibility of study, research, and academic dialogue in any field of knowledge. "At this point", the Pope added, "let us ask ourselves: who was there on that Christmas night in the grotto of Bethlehem? Who welcomed newborn Wisdom? ... Not the doctors of law, the scribes or the wise men. Mary and Joseph were there, so were the shepherds. What does this mean? ... Does it mean that study serves no purpose? Even that it is harmful, counterproductive to a knowledge of the truth?" The Holy Father proceeded: "The history of two thousand years of Christianity excludes this hypothesis, and suggests the right answer. We must study, deepen our knowledge, yet while maintaining a 'little' soul, a humble and simple spirit like that of Mary, 'Seat of Wisdom'. ... In that grotto each of us can discover the truth about God and about man. In that Child, born of the Virgin, these two truths came together. Man's longing for eternal life softened the heart of God, Who deigned to assume the human condition". Benedict XVI reminded the students that "helping others to discover the true face of God is the first form of charity which, for you, takes the form of intellectual charity". Going on then to mention the focus of diocesan pastoral care in universities for the coming year - "the Eucharist and intellectual charity" - he described it as "a demanding but appropriate choice. The truth is that in all Eucharist celebrations God enters into history in Jesus Christ, in His Word and in His Body, granting us the charity that enables us to serve man in his everyday life". The Pontiff continued his homily by suggesting that universities "become places of formation for true workers of intellectual charity. The future of society largely depends upon them", he said, "especially as regards the preparation of a new 'humanistic synthesis' and a renewed capacity to shape a vision of the future". At the end of the ceremony, a delegation of Australian youth consigned the image of "Maria Sedes Sapientiae" to an African student delegation and the Pope entrusted all the university students of the African continent to the Blessed Virgin. He also expressed his pleasure at the co-operation which, following the Synod for Africa, has been established between Roman and African universities.HML/VESPERS/UNIVERSITY STUDENTS VIS 091218 (590)

MONETARY CONVENTION: VATICAN CITY STATE - EUROPEAN UNION VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Late yesterday afternoon the Holy See Press Office announced that on the morning of 17 December a monetary convention was signed in Brussels, Belgium, between Vatican City State and the European Union. The document was signed in the name of the Holy See, as representative of Vatican City State, by Archbishop Andre Dupuy, apostolic nuncio to the European Union, while Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, signed for the European Union. The provisions of the new convention, which replaces the monetary convention of 29 December 2000 that introduced the euro as the official currency of Vatican City State, will come into effect from 1 January 2010..../MONETARY CONVENTION/HOLY SEE:EU VIS 091218 (130)

FIR TREE FROM THE ARDENNES DECORATES ST. PETER'S SQUARE VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI this morning received a delegation from Wallonia, the Belgian region which has this year donated the Christmas tree that traditionally decorates St. Peter's Square during this period. The tree, the lights of which will be switched on this evening, is a fir from the Ardennes, one of the most wooded areas in Europe. It is thirty metres high, its trunk has a diameter of seven metres, it weighs fourteen tons and its lower branches reach a length of ten metres. The main tree is accompanied by forty-five smaller trees which will be positioned in various sites around the Vatican. "The role of this tree", said the Pope in his address thanking the delegation from Wallonia, "is similar to that of the shepherds who, watching through the shades of night, saw how the darkness was illuminated with the message of the angels. ... Standing next to the nativity scene the tree indicates, in its own particular way, the great mystery present in the poor and simple grotto. It proclaims the arrival of the Son of God to the inhabitants of Rome, to pilgrims and to everyone who sees St. Peter's Square on television. Though this tree your land, and the faith of the Christian communities in your region, greet the Christ Child".AC/CHRISTMAS TREE/WALLONIA VIS 091218 (230)

HOLY SEE EFFORTS TO TAKE A LEAD IN PROTECTING ENVIRONMENT VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of the speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently being held in Copenhagen, Denmark, made by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio and head of the Holy See delegation to that meeting. In his English-language talk the nuncio pointed out that the Holy See, "in the albeit small state of Vatican City, is making significant efforts to take a lead in environmental protection by promoting and implementing energy diversification projects targeted at the development of renewable energy, with the objective of reducing emissions of CO2 and its consumption of fossil fuels. "In addition, the Holy See is giving substance to the necessity to disseminate an education in environmental responsibility, which also seeks to safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology", he added. "Many Catholic educational institutions are engaged in promoting such a model of education, both in schools and in universities. Moreover, episcopal conferences, dioceses, parishes and faith-based NGOs have been devoted to advocacy and management of ecological programs for a number of years". The archbishop concluded: "These efforts are about working on lifestyles, as the current dominant models of consumption and production are often unsustainable from the point of view of social, environmental, economic and even moral analysis. We must safeguard creation - soil, water and air - as a gift entrusted to everyone, but we must also and above all prevent mankind from destroying itself. The degradation of nature is directly connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology will benefit. The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself".DELSS/ENVIRONMENT/COPENHAGEN VIS 091218 (290)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, China.AP/.../... VIS 091218 (40)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Bishop Stephen Brislin of Kroonstad, as archbishop of Cape Town (area 30,372, population 2,740,000, Catholics 217,000, priests 115, permanent deacons 57, religious 271), South Africa. The archbishop-elect was born in Welkom, South Africa in 1956, he was ordained a priest in 1983 and consecrated a bishop in 2007. He succeeds Archbishop Lawrence Patrick Henry, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. - Appointed Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino Gardin O.F.M. Conv., secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as archbishop-bishop of the diocese of Treviso (area 2,194, population 36,900, Catholics 35,556, priests 36, religious 58), Italy, with the title of archbishop "ad personam". - Appointed Msgr. Arnaud Berard as bureau chief at the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.NER:RE/... VIS 091218 (160)



CNA reports that with the close of the Copenhagen summit on climate change, demographics expert Steven W. Mosher has warned that blaming overpopulation for global warming is “unscientific” and “dangerous.” “The people of China have paid dearly for their leader's obsession with driving down the birthrate, and now we hear anti-population extremists at Copenhagen advocating a China-like one-child policy for the entire world,” Mosher said in a Thursday press release.
Mosher, president of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute (PRI), is an expert on China’s one-child policy. He has witnessed forced abortions and forced sterilizations performed on pregnant women in China.
“Population extremists speak of a world in danger from exploding population. But one wonders what ‘world they are talking about.”
He said that at present “tremendous strides” have been made to produce more food from less land and to set aside land for nature preserves. Mosher also cited population statistics which show birth rates plummeting and population growth plateauing.
“The demographic collapse of the developed world is the real inconvenient truth,” Mosher commented, predicting that much of the developing world will follow the same path.
“We would be better served holding summits on these matters if we want to stave off economic and societal collapse. Climate change can wait. Providing for the future by providing the next generation cannot. Weather fluctuations or not, we should have more children, not fewer.”


CNA reports that the Abortion Fund for Social Justice, “Women, Abortion, Reproduction and Accompaniment,” announced this week the launching of the “Maria Network,” a program which finances abortions for poor women in Mexico City using U.S. dollars.
The network operates by sidestepping legal roadblocks to abortion implemented by numerous Mexican states by bringing low-income pregnant women to Mexico City where they can obtain legal abortions.
The Abortion Fund for Social Justice is part of the National Network of Abortion Funds, based in the United States.
Eugenia Lopez Uribe, the network coordinator, told reporters that the “Maria Network” has been operating for six months and is supported by donations and volunteers.
The organization also provides technical assistance to pro-choice groups such as the Population Council, Gire, Ipas and the self-proclaimed Catholics for a Free Choice.(SOURCE:


Asia News reports that gunmen killed a 30-year-old man on his way home. One attacker gets out of the car to make sure he is dead. The last liquor store is closed in the province of Babylon, and its owner is arrested. Iraq is drifting towards fundamentalism and the Islamisation of the country. Mosul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mosul’s Christian community has suffered more violence. Zeid Majid Youssef, a 30-year-old worker, was killed in the western part of the city. One of his attacker got out of the car to make sure he was dead. In another sign that Iraq is drifting towards fundamentalism, authorities in the province of Babylon closed down the last liquor store in the area, this despite the fact that the separation of state and religion is enshrined in the constitution.
A few days after a double attack against churches in Mosul left an eight-day baby girl dead, anti-Christian attacks continue. Sources had told AsiaNews that community “was destined to die”.
The attackers drove up and shot dead Zeid Majid Youssef as he as entering his home after parking his car.
Mohammad Abdel al-Jabbar, who saw what happened, said that one of the criminals “got out of the car to make sure that he was dead” before the car took off “quickly”, execution style.
Local sources said that the young man was buried in the cemetery near the Immaculate Church, in Tahira. In the past, the building has suffered a lot of damage as a result of two car bombs.
The murder is part of a plan to “ethnically cleanse” Iraqi Christians through targeted killings.
Speaking with AsiaNews Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, had slammed what was happening as the national government and the local governatorate proved unable to stop events, and the city’s various ethnic groups, Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen, with possible foreign involvement, blamed each other.
In the province of Babylon, 90 kilometres south of Baghdad, the authorities closed down the last liquor store. It belonged to a Yazidi family, and the storeowner was arrested by police on Monday.
Firas Sardar, 25, said that his uncle “Mourad, 45, was stopped by some agents . . . Since then we have not seen him.”
The man’s son explained that plainclothes police officers intervened because “neighbours had complained about shouting and noise caused by clients.”
Firas Sardar said that Hilla, the capital of the province of Babylon, has only two Yazidi families, related to one another. Both have involved in the sale of alcohol for more than 40 years.
Until the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein, they were properly authorised to do so. At present, Islamic fundamentalists have grown in power and are exerting pressure to implement fully Sharia, Islamic law, which bans the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.(source:


CISA reports that the funeral of the 70 year old priest who was murdered in north of Johannesburg South Africa on Sunday night will be held on Saturday December 12 Fr Louis Blondel’s memorial Mass will be held in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Diepsloot, and will be presided over by Archbishop Paul Mandla Khumalo of Pretoria.Fr Blondel, a White Father missionary was shot and five teenagers arrested in connection with the murder in Diepsloot according to a statement by the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa; Fr. Gerard Chabanon.The statement said three young men entered through a window into the missionaries' home. After waking up a Canadian religious brother and another person sleeping in the house and stealing their mobile phones, they demanded that the main door of the house be opened. “Then another young man entered, and asked whether there were other people in the house. They headed towards the room of Fr Louis, who opened the door and was immediately shot dead,” the statement said. Fr Blondel was a native of northern France. He taught philosophy in Tanzania for 15 years. In 1987, he moved to South Africa and in June 2009, he finished his second term as Superior of the Province of Southern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa) of the White Fathers. He also taught philosophy at St. Peter's Seminary, Hammanskraal. After founding 'Cordis', an Emmaus Centre, and having worked in the development of Orange Farm, a huge township in Johannesburg, in 2008 the late priest moved to Diepsloot.In Diepsloot, Fr. Blondet opened a new parish.Fr Blondel is the fourth Catholic priest to be killed in South Africa in 2009. The three other priests are: Fr. Daniel Matsela Mahula, in the Diocese of Klerksdorp, killed on February 27, Fr. Lionel Sham, parish priest of Mohlakeng (Archdiocese of Johannesburg), killed on March 7, and Fr Ernst Plöchl, a 78 year old Austrian missionary of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, killed on May 31 in the Cape Province of South Africa.(SOURCE:


Cath News reports that Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, founded by Blessed Mary MacKillop, said they believe their 24 hour prayer vigil during the surgery on conjoined twins Krishna and Trishna aided their miraculous success.
Sister Bernadine Guinane said the sisters took turns in one hour slots to pray to Blessed Mary at their East Melbourne chapel to save the twins, the Herald Sun reports.
More than 100 people from all faiths, including Muslims and non-Christians, came to the chapel to pray for the Bangladeshi twins during their surgery. Sr Bernadine said she believed Blessed Mary answered their prayers to save the twins.
"I think the whole thing was a miracle yes, that operation hasn't been performed successfully before," she said.
Mary McKillop Heritage Centre chief executive Garry McLean said, however, that despite their belief Blessed Mary intervened to help, it might not be claimed as a miracle because their survival was not beyond medical and scientific explanation.
Blessed Mary's first miracle was the curing of a woman with leukemia.
It was reported in 1961 and approved by the Vatican in 1971.
It is believed the Vatican will rule on Saturday a second miracle occurred 14 years ago, when she "cured" a woman suffering from inoperable cancer.


St. Winebald
Feast: December 18
Feast Day:
December 18
Wessex, England
18 December 761 at Heidenheim, Germany

Winebald is one of those amazing English missionaries who evangelized Europe, leaving behind a flourishing Catholicism and a number of monasteries and laying the beginnings of Christianity in what is now Germany, France, Holland, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
St. Winebald was the son of a West Saxon nobleman, St. Richard, and the brother of St. Willibald. With his father and brother he made a pilgrimage to Rome in 721. His father died in Italy, and Winebald remained in Rome for further study, like his countrymen before him, St. Wilfrid and St. Benedict Biscop. He returned to England and brought back to Rome some of his relatives to begin a monastic life in the holy city.
When St. Boniface came to Rome in 739, he recruited Winebald for the German missions, ordained him a priest, and put him in charge of churches in Germany and Bavaria. His brother, Willibald, who was now bishop of Eichstatt, asked Winebald to found a monastery for the training of priests and as a center of learning. Their sister, St. Walburga, came from England to found a convent, and both the monastery and the convent were founded at Heidenheim.
He established the rule of St. Benedict in his monastery, and Heidenheim became an important center of learning in the missionary territory. Because of illness, Winebald was not able to carry on the missionary work that he desired and yearned to end his days at Monte Cassino.
In 761, Winebald visited St. Boniface's shrine at Fulda and on the way home to Heidenheim became very sick. When he reached Heidenheim, he became weaker and weaker and after giving his monks a few last words he died on December 18, 761. His tomb became a local shrine and the site of pilgrimages.

St. Malachi the Prophet
Feast: December 18
Feast Day:
December 18

The last of the prophets of the Old Law, the minor prophet Malachi reproached the priests and people of Jerusalem for their unworthy sacrifices and foretold a new and perfect sacrifice that would be offered “from the rising, even to the setting, of the sun” (Mal. 1:11). His oracles were given just before the arrival in Jerusalem of Nehemiah, around 445 BC.
N.B. The Martyrologium Romanum (Vatican Press, 2004), the Church’s official list of holy men and women, lists the saints of the Old Law alongside those of the New.


Matthew 1: 18 - 25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;
and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;
she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife,
but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

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