Saturday, December 5, 2009





The Catholic school is at the service of society, the pope said in his speech to the Brazilian bishops of Regions 3 and 4, received today at the end of their Ad Limina visit. Speaking of educating young people, Benedict XVI noted that the Catholic school is a service to society, and integrates with other educational agencies and therefore the state must address the problem of juridical and financial equality. Moreover, the integral formation to which the Catholic school aims, is particularly important at a university level. At the end of his address, Benedict XVI recalled the 25 years of the doctrinal Instruction Libertatis Nuntius that warned against the ideological derivations of liberation theology


The majestic strains of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in the magnificent setting of the Sistine Chapel, on Friday night Pope Benedict was given an early Christmas present from his fellow countrymen in a concert preformed by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the choir of the Cathedral of Augsburg. Expressing his thanks to the musicians and the people of Germany represented by President of the Federal Republic Horts Kohler, Pope Benedict recalled the two important anniversaries of modern German history being celebrated this year: 60 years since the signing into law of the nation’s Constitution, known as the Basic Law and 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.Referring to the latter the Pope described Communism in Eastern Europe as a ‘long and painful night of violence' that led to the ''nihilism and the emptiness of souls''.He recalled with joy the collapse of the Berlin Wall, “a frontier of death, whichfor many years - he said - had divided our country and had forcibly separated men, families, neighbours and friends.''“In the communist dictatorship, there was no action that would have been deemed evil in itself and always immoral. What served the objectives of the party was good, but could be as inhumane”.Pope Benedict said the history of Post-war Germany is proof that the Western social order is ''better'' and ''more 'humanitarian'' than this . The Pope pointed out that German’s owe this a large part in the Basic Law which he said has been essential in contributing to the peaceful development of Germany over the past six decades.''This is because he said it urges men to prioritize their, responsibility' before God, 'human dignity, respect for marriage and family as the foundation of every society ', as well as' to have regard and deep respect for all that is sacred to others.''Pope Benedict XVI concluded with a prayer that the citizens of Germany – who were responsible for the spiritual and political renewal in the aftermath of National Socialism and Second World War - can continue to work for construction of a free and civil society”. SOURCE:



The Vatican has joined Muslim leaders around the world in condemning Switzerland's referendum banning the building of minarets, calling it a blow to religious freedom.In the referendum on Sunday more than 57.5 per cent of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons voted in favour of the ban. The proposal was tabled by the Right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which argued that minarets were a sign of Islamisation.On Monday the Vatican backed a statement by the Swiss bishops' conference criticising the vote for heightening "the problems of cohabitation between religions and cultures".The bishops had said in a statement that the referendum campaign had used exaggeration and caricature, and demonstrated that "religious peace does not operate by itself and always needs to be defended"."The decision of the people represents an obstacle and a great challenge on the path of integration in dialogue and mutual respect," the bishops said. Banning the building of minarets "increases the problems of coexistence between religions and cultures", they said.The bishops said the vote "will not help the Christians oppressed and persecuted in Islamic countries, but will weaken the credibility of their commitment in these countries". Ali Gomaa, Egypt's Grand Mufti, described the ban as an insult to the feelings of the Muslim community in Switzerland and elsewhere. Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister, said the ban showed "intolerance" and should be reversed, while Amnesty International said the vote violated freedom of religion.The Swiss government had opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland's image, particularly in the Muslim world, while the Catholic bishops' conference in Switzerland had months ago issued a statement warning that "fear is a poor counsellor". But voters worried about immigration, especially the increasing size of the country's Muslim population, which now numbers five per cent, or 400,000 people, ignored them. Only in one German and three French-speaking cantons, which have large immigrant populations, both Catholic and Muslim, did a majority reject the controversial proposal. Switzerland has 200 mosques but just four of them have minarets, and they will not be affected, while planning permission for minarets is routinely refused. Supporters of a ban claimed the minarets represented the growth of "an ideology and a legal system - sharia law - which are incompatible with Swiss democracy", according to the SVP. But opponents said the referendum incited hatred, with Geneva's mosque being vandalised three times. Tamir Hadjipolu, the president of Zurich's Association of Muslim Organisations, told the BBC: "This will cause major problems because during this campaign mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland." The Vatican's condemnation was backed by Auxiliary Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham, also a member of the Holy Land Coordination Group, who said: "I would definitely agree with the Vatican and I seriously agree with the concept of freedom of religion, and if that is the case then Muslims should be allowed their places to worship."But he said the minaret ban would not necessarily lead to increasing anti-Muslim hostility across Europe and Britain. "I don't think it's going to have an effect here," said Bishop Kenney. "Here in Birmingham at least we have very good relations with the Muslim community." But Bishop Kenney agreed with many commentators that the vote could be an opportunity to debate the status of churches in Muslim countries, which suffer various levels of persecution. "I agree that reciprocity should exist, but two wrongs do not make a right," he said. "That doesn't give us the right to do the same. With suitable opportunity I speak to Muslim friends about this, it is an issue that I raise."Bruce Kent, vice-president of Pax Christi, said he was "dismayed" by the outcome of the vote."As a Christian, I live in an area where we have a beautiful mosque and minaret which cause no offence to anybody and contributes to the beauty of the environment," said Mr Kent, in reference to the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.In 1995 the Vatican supported the construction of Europe's largest mosque, in Rome, which included a 66ft dome and a minaret, despite opposition from Italian nationalists. Muslims had originally suggested building a mosque back in the 1930s but Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had agreed only on condition that a Catholic church could be built in Mecca. When a request was made in 1973 Pope Paul VI gave his support. The mosque was constructed with Saudi Arabian government money, and on the day it was opened Pope John Paul II sent a message of congratulations, but also insisted on "reciprocity" - the principle that Christians and other religious minorities in Islamic nations ought to have the same freedoms as Muslims now enjoy in the West. Pope John Paul II said at the time:_"In being happy that the Muslims may come together in prayer in the new mosque of Rome, I also express the lively hope that the right to express their own faith will be recognised for Christians and all believers in every corner of the world."The Swiss vote is the latest sign of growing popular discontent with the rise of Islam in western Europe, with anti-Islamic parties making gains in the European elections in June. According to the US National Intelligence Council, the Muslim population in the EU region rose from five million in 1985 to 15 million in 2005, and will reach 28 million in 2025. France is almost 10 per cent Muslim, but the proportion among those of school age is far higher. Under the rules governing Switzerland the government must now amend the constitution to alter the sentence dealing with church-state relations to add "the building of minarets in Switzerland is forbidden".But the ban may be in breach of the European convention on human rights and the UN charter proscribing discrimination on religious grounds, and the case could end up in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. (source:



USCCB reports that the Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Migration Week on January 3-9, 2010. The theme this year will again be “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice,” although the focus will be migrant and refugee children, following the lead of the Pope Benedict XVI, who has chosen the theme “Minor Migrants and Refugees” for the 2010 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
“Children are an exceptionally vulnerable population that are easily taken advantage of, exploited and abused. This is particularly true when they are undocumented and unaccompanied in a foreign country and, all too often, with nobody to turn to for help,” said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration.
In addition to traditional types of material, including bulletin inserts, prayer cards and an Advent booklet—all three available in English and Spanish—the Committee on Migration has launched other exciting initiatives in anticipation of the 2010 National Migration Week. In coordination with The Catho­lic University of America, a new educational Website will launch later in December (to be hosted at and will focus on the important role that the Catholic Church has played in the immigration debate throughout Twentieth Century America. “We hope that this will be a great resource for teachers, directors of religious education and others interested in this issue,” said Bishop Wester.
A small grants pro­gram is also being developed to provide seed money to parishes, schools, and local Catholic organizations who want to launch a project or program related to migration. Among other events to celebrate National Migration Week 2010, on January 6, at 12:30 p.m., Mercy Sister Marilyn Lacey, author of This Flowing Toward Me, will do a presentation for USCCB employees and others on her experience with refugee communities at the Catholic Bishops’ headquarters in Washington (3211 4th Street NE). Media interested in attending the presentation may contact Mar Muñoz-Visoso at or 202-541-3202.
Information and materials for National Migration Week 2010 can be found at Printed copies of the bulletin inserts and prayer cards, as well as a variety of other materials can also be ordered from the USCCB Publishing Office at 1-800-235-8722 or through their Website at (SOURCE:



All Africa reports that the rival political sides of Somalia have unanimously condemned yesterday's deadly bomb attack targeted to Shamo hotel, just as well decorated graduating ceremony held for Banadir University students continued in the hotel.
More than 25 people were killed and 50 others were injured in the explosion. Most of the people who died in the blast were high officials of the TFG, doctors, professors, student s and journalists who all attended in the graduating ceremony that was going on in the hotel.
TFG president Sharif Sheik Ahmed said that they were very sorry what had happened yesterday pointing out that the explosion was what he described foreign ideology and strongly condemned it and sent his deep condolence to the relatives of the people died in the blast.
Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen had also criticized the bomb attack which resulted in more casualties of deaths, injuries and the loss of the properties.
Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage known as (Sheik Ali Dere), the spokesman of the Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen has sent condolence to the parents of those who lost their lives in the explosion adding that they were not involved what happened.
Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, head of the Islamic organization of Hisbul Islam also joined those who sent their condolence messages to the people whose people lost in yesterdays' bomb attack adding that he was so sorry about it.
Both presidents of the break away republic of Somaliland and semi-autonomous region of Puntland accused those who masterminded the explosion pointing out that it was sorrowful event adding shocked all the Somali people.

The two presidents of Puntland and Somaliland Dahir Rayle Kahin and Abdirahman Mohamud Farole had sent their condolence to the relatives and parents of the people who were killed in the suicide blast which killed more people including ministers, doctors, journalists and students in Shamo hotel as they were attending the graduation ceremony held for Banadir University in Shamo hotel in Mogadishu.
Banadir University was established in 2002 by group of Somali doctors and most of the people who died in the explosion were the student who graduated from it and preparing to take their diplomas after completing the medical faculty of Banadir University in Mogadishu.


An arsenal of weapons discovered near the villa of those responsible for the massacre of 57 people. Martial law has not be applied for 28 years. A commission to eliminate private armies launched. The appreciation of the Church for an end to "the culture of impunity."
Manila (AsiaNews) – As of this morning the province of Maguindanao is under martial law after the murder of 57 people, including 30 journalists, which occurred on 23 November. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo clarified that the procedure is necessary for the arrest of the Ampatuan clan, deemed responsible for the massacre. The 57 people were massacred in a power struggle between rival clans in run up to the provincial elections (See, 23/11/2009 Mindanao: dozens killed in election-related fighting between rival families).
The province of Maguindanao has been under a state of emergency since November 24 to stop the violence and lawlessness. The authorities arrested the powerful local chief, Andalo Ampatuan and another important member of the group. Andalo Ampatuan Jr., the son of the chief, gave himself up voluntarily to the police and is now in jail, accused of the murder of 25 people.
Yesterday, the army raided the Ampatuan villa, after the discovery of a huge arsenal of weapons, buried in the grounds.
It is the first time in 28 years that martial law has been applied in Mindanao. Teodoro Lorenzo A. Fernandez, a lawyer and professor at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, defends the decision: "Martial law in Maguindanao will help prevent rebellion, revenge and the cycle of violence by rogue elements. In this way the government troops will ensure order and peace, along with the safety of civilians. "
Arroyo has also launched a commission to dismantle private armies which every Filipino politician in the area surrounds themselves with.
The Commission on Human Rights will monitor the implementation of martial law to ensure there are no violations of human rights.
The Philippine Church has requested that justice is done in an "honest and quick," way so that peace and order are immediately secured and that "the culture of impunity" is brought to an end.(SOURCE:



All 22 child sex charges levelled against Father Peter Julian Brock were dropped by Director of Public Prosecutions solicitor John Stanhope at the Newcastle Local Court yesterday.
Mr Stanhope did not give a reason for withdrawing the charges, The Newcastle Herald reports.
The charges had alleged an ongoing abuse of two boys during the 1970s.
"First of all, I am innocent of the charges laid by the police and which the Crown has now withdrawn," Father Brock said outside court.
"Finally, it's been a long ordeal and I'm looking forward to a long holiday," he said.
Father Brock will still be investigated by Zimmerman House, the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese's child protection unit, before a report is handed to the NSW Ombudsman, the report adds.
"I acknowledge that the police investigation and court process has been demanding for all those involved," Bishop Michael Malone said in a statement, quoted by The Herald report.
"As withdrawal of charges does not equate to a finding of guilt or innocence this journey is not yet over."
He said the diocese was "legally required" to conduct the ombudsman's investigation and he had directed Zimmerman House to "undertake this investigation with application and diligence, to ensure due process for all parties." (SOURCE:


St. Sabbas
Feast: December 5
Feast Day:
December 5
439 at Motalala, Cappadocia

Hermit, born at Mutalaska near Caesarea in Cappadocia, 439; died in his laura 5 December, 532. He entered a Basilian monastery aat the age of eight, came to Jerusalem in 456, lived five years in a cavern as a disciple of St. Euthymius, and, after spending some time in various monasteries, founded (483) the Laura Mar Sabe (restored in 1840) in the gorges of the Cedron, southeast of Jerusalem. Because some of his monks opposed his rule and demanded a priest as their abbot, Patriarch Salustius of Jerusalem ordained him in 491 and appointed archimandrite of all the monasteries in Palestine in 494. The opposition continued and he withdrew to the new laura which he had built near Thekoa. A strenuous opponent of the Monophysites and the Origenists he tried to influence the emperors against them by calling personally on Emperor Anastasius at Constantinople in 511 and on Justinian in 531. His authorship of "Typicon S. Sabæ" (Venice, 1545), a regulation for Divine worship throughout the year as well as his authorship of a monastic rule bearing the same title (Kurtz in "Byzant, Zeitschrift", III, Leipzig, 1894, 167-70), is doubtful. After him was named the Basilica of St. Sabas with its former monastery on the Aventine at Rome. His feast is on 5 December.


Matthew 9: 35 - 38
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.
These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,
but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.

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