Wednesday, December 16, 2009





(VIS) - Benedict XVI focused his catechesis during this morning's general audience on the figure of John of Salisbury, a philosopher and theologian born in England towards the beginning of the twelfth century. Educated in Paris and Chartres, John of Salisbury acted as counsellor to various archbishops of Canterbury at whose service he placed his vast knowledge and diplomatic skills. One of these was Thomas Becket whom John followed into exile in France when that archbishop fell into dispute with King Henry II who wished to affirmed his authority over the Church and thus limit her freedom. As an elderly man, John was appointed bishop of Chartres, where he remained until his death in 1180. The Pope mentioned John of Salisbury's two principal works: the "Metaloghicon" (In defence of logic) and the "Policraticus" (The man of government). In the first of these John expresses the view that "believers and theologians who study the treasure of the faith deeply also open themselves to the practical knowledge which guides everyday actions; in other words, to moral laws and the exercise of virtue". The central thesis of the "Policraticus" is that there exists "an objective and immutable truth, the origin of which is in God, a truth accessible to human reason and which concerns practical and social activities. This is a natural law from which human legislation, and political and religious authorities, must draw inspiration in order to promote the common good". This natural law is characterised by a property "which John calls 'equity', by which he means giving each person his rights. From here arise precepts which are legitimate to all peoples and which cannot under any circumstances be abrogated". "The question of the relationship between natural law and positive law, as mediated by equity, is still of great importance", said Benedict XVI. "Indeed, in our own time, and especially in certain countries, we are witnessing a disquieting fracture between reason, which has the task of discovering the ethical values associated with human dignity, and freedom, which has the responsibility of accepting and promoting those values. "Perhaps", he added, "John of Salisbury would remind us today that the only 'equitable' laws are those that defend the sacredness of human life and reject the legitimacy of abortion, euthanasia and unrestrained genetic experimentation; the laws that respect the dignity of marriage between a man and a woman, that are inspired by a correct understanding of the secularism of the State - a secularism that must always include the safeguarding of religious freedom - and that seek subsidiarity and solidarity at the national and international level. "Otherwise", the Holy Father concluded: "we would end up with what John of Salisbury defined as the 'tyranny of the prince' or, as we would say, 'the dictatorship of relativism', a relativism which, as I said some years ago, 'recognises nothing as definite and has as its ultimate measure only the self and its own desires'".AG/JOHN OF SALISBURY/... VIS 091216 (510)

POPE BECOMES AN HONORARY CITIZEN OF INTROD VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, celebrated in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI received the honorary citizenship of Introd, the village in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta where he often spends a period of summer vacation. The Pope expressed his thanks to Augusto Rollandin, president of the Autonomous Region of Valle d'Aosta, and to Osvaldo Naudin, mayor of Introd, for having granted him this honour, and recalled how he had spent "unforgettable periods of rest" in the village, "surrounded by the splendour of the alpine panorama which favours the encounter with the Creator and restores the spirit". "I am happy to learn from the mayor's address", the Holy Father went on, "that my presence in Valle d'Aosta, and earlier that of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, has favoured a growth in the faith among the people there, who are dear to me and so rich in Christian tradition and in many signs of religious vitality". Benedict XVI also praised the pastoral labours of Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta during a time in which "society nourishes illusions and false hopes, especially in the young generations, but which the Lord even today calls to become a 'family' of children of God who live with 'one heart and one soul'".AC/HONORARY CITIZENSHIP/INTROD VIS 091216 (230)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jose Luiz Majella Delgado C.Ss.R., adjunct under secretary general of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, as bishop of Jatai (area 62,978, population 557,000, Catholics 454,000, priests 47, permanent deacons 17, religious 59), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Juiz de For a, Brazil in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1981. He succeeds Bishop Aloisio Hilario de Pinho F.D.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.NER:RE/.../MAJELLA:DE PINHO VIS 091216 (100)



CNA reports that the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil has condemned the murder of Father Alvino Broering, who was stabbed to death on Monday morning in the town of Itajai in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. He was chaplain at the Universitiy of Vale do Itajai.
According to police reports, Father Broering, 46, appeared to be the victim of a break-in and was attacked several times with a knife by an unknown man.
The priest was alive when rescued, but did not survive the injuries. Police are currently looking for clues to lead them to the murderer.
After Fr. Broering's wake at the Cathedral in Itajai, Archbishop Murilo Sebastiao Krieger of Florianoplis celebrated his funeral Mass.
Statement from the Brazilian bishops
In a statement released three days prior to the murder of Fr. Broering, the Brazilian bishops condemned the killing of five other priests in Brazil in 2009. They noted that the bishops’ conference “will continue to be committed to the struggle for justice and peace because Christ came that all may have life and have it in abundance.”
The bishop extended their “love and gratitude to the priests of Brazil. We pray to God that, in fidelity to Christ, they may remain persevering, faithful shepherds dedicated to the people who have been entrusted to them.”



Catholic Herald reports: Canonised in 2004, St Gianna Beretta Molla is one of the Church’s very rare lay saints. In 1962 she rejected the possibility of having an abortion and gave her life instead to save that of her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela. Her heroic example led her to become a patron saint of the unborn, and she has a growing, devoted following worldwide, and reports of miracles and graces granted through her intercession continue to this day. I spoke to St Gianna’s first child, Pierluigi, a business consultant based in Milan, about following his mother’s example, what it’s like to be the son of a saint, and what St Gianna would make of the struggle against abortion in the world today.Although you were only five when your mother died, could you tell us more about her character and faith, perhaps which you came to know through your father?I do remember some episodes: she taught me how to ski and also I remember going with her when she went on visits as a doctor. My mother was close to the family and to her profession. At that time in the 1950s it was not common for women to have a family and also be involved in a profession, and to be active helping people in associations such as Azione Cattolica [Catholic Action] and San Vincenzo [the St. Vincent de Paul Society]. But at the same time, she was someone modern who liked to go skiing in the mountains, and liked music. She lived a full life.Also I learned from her the faith that she transmitted to us, a trust in Providence, that you have to be committed to the values you hold. These things my father also passed on to us. Also I was able to learn about her life through the documents she left us. She left a lot of documents about her work with Azione Cattolica, and through these documents you can really understand her.Quotes from your mother have been remembered for posterity, such as “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day” and “God’s providence is in all things, it's always present”. What’s the most important thing we can learn from her?As Catholics, we need to learn how to be coherent with our values and beliefs. My mother grew up in a family where she received the faith and values from her father and mother, and how to live life in a correct way. She was consistent in these values which she learned in the first years of her life, and she was consistent to the end. The second thing is to be coherent with your vocation. She once thought of leaving Italy to work in Brazil with my aunt. But she understood that her vocation was to be a mother. And, as well as being coherent with her values in her role as a mother, she also strived to be coherent in work as a doctor and as a volunteer.In many ways she addresses how important upbringing is, and how vital it is to be brought up properly in the faith.Yes, definitely, but not only as a mother. During her time working for Azione Cattolica, a colleague of hers said she rarely did not practise what she preached. My mother would not just say you have to do this or that, she really did it. It was the same in the family and in her choice to be a mother. She was an example for us; consistent in what she believed and what she passed on to the family. She said she wanted to have a holy family and she did everything she could to lead this holy family towards being coherent in its faith.What is it like to be the son of a saint?It is an extraordinary experience. Hard to imagine. What happened to the family during all the beatification and canonisation processes wasn’t easy because one has to constantly recall each time the pain of her death. The beatification process meant coming back to a painful moment in my life. As you can imagine, I was only five years old and when you lose your mother at that age it’s about the worst kind of pain that any child can experience. But at the end of the beatification process in 1994 I was compensated by seeing my mother elevated to the altars. The same thing happened in 2004 at the canonisation. Now I am 53 years old. But it really was an extraordinary experience and now I feel very happy that, through the Church, I can celebrate my mother on All Saint’s Day instead of being sad for her the day after, on All Souls Day. So the transformation to being a saint means that now, if you remember her life, you have a feeling of happiness instead of sadness. For me and for my sister it’s been extraordinary because what happened to us is not common. I don’t know if we are the first, but it’s really an uncommon experience to see this happen when alive, also for my father. My father is still alive and aged 97. He was with us in St Peter’s in 2004 for the canonisation of his wife. So it’s been an extraordinary experience but probably we’re not the first and only ones. We hope not, because this is a contemporary message, a really great message for the Church: how contemporary people living everyday lives can become saints. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said my mother is the saint of everyday life. She shows that saints can be people living ordinary lives, not extraordinary ones. For this reason, we are all ordinary people. Admittedly, my mother was an extraordinary and heroic woman, but even in ordinary things of her life she showed herself just to be living an ordinary life. My father had an extraordinary relationship with my mother. They were together for just five years but are still together. It must be very consoling for you to have your mother as a saint because you know for sure that she is alive, that she lives on, showing it through interceding in miracles after she died. Definitely, yes, this is a great consolation. It’s also really wonderful to see how the knowledge of my mother is spreading around the world, and how many messages we’ve received from all over the globe testifying to what she’s doing today. Because she’s mediating a lot of graces. Miracles are something recognised by the Church, but these are graces and they’re really extraordinary. Two years ago I received an email from the United States. A woman had problems conceiving a child, and at the end she had two wonderful children. One of them is called Gianna because she said a prayer to my mother. So this is extraordinary: it’s like she is with us and working for the whole world.It may be the same person, but I also know a couple in America who were trying to have children but couldn’t and then, together with their priest at the time, they prayed to your mother and now they have two young children.Fantastic. It’s not only a rare occurrence: it happens frequently. There is a church close to Genoa with an old and famous shrine, Madonna della Guardia. A priest there put up a picture of my mother in the shrine 15 years ago, and it’s incredible how it’s now completely full of pink and blue ribbons. This is an Italian tradition – to hang up these ribbons on the outside of a house when a new child is born. This shrine is full of these kinds of messages, of graces received through my mother. Could you tell us a little about your sister, Gianna Emanuela? Gianna is a doctor and studied medicine like my mother, but as a geriatric specialist not a pediatric doctor. Now she is taking care of my father. Up until six years ago he was completely active; but six years ago he started having problems. So Gianna decided to leave her job in a public hospital to take care of him. She also helps to run my mother’s foundation. My father founded the foundation which is a family charity in honour of my mother, and various people write to them from all around the world, giving materials or asking for help. So Gianna is working for that. This is a good way, I think. to honour my mother and father. Up until six years ago all this was done by my father. He had been completely absorbed in this work over the past 15 years. Once he retired from his job he took care of all the necessities relating to the beatification and canonisation Causes. As you can imagine, and as I said before, to be a family, to be a witness to a beatification is not only important but it also involves an immense amount of work. Traditionally, saints come from priestly orders or convents and so they have a lot of people working on these causes for free. But in a family we have to work hard, and also for free.How does Gianna Emanuela look upon what your mother did for her? It is amazing. She was only with my mother six days but she received through us and my father a sense of what really happened. And, yes, she’s completely grateful to my mother because through giving her life she is here. But what my mother did for Gianna she would have done for me or my other sisters, because for my mother Gianna has every right to live as we have. When Sarah Palin was chosen to run as vice-president of the United States, some referred to your mother as an example of someone who could bring up her relatively large family in the faith and yet live a very professional and busy life. Are you happy with that comparison?I didn’t know about this. I think my mother showed at that time in the 1950s that it was possible for a woman to be consistent with her values and to do well in her life in terms of her profession and family. This is the example of my mother, but I don’t know if it’s really consistent with the life of Sarah Palin. It’s not only Sarah Palin, I think there are a lot of women and many other great saints of the Church who have shown how life can be sanctified through a profession. There’s St JosemarĂ­a Escrivá, for instance, who said you can be a good father, and also be sanctified through your profession. So my mother isn’t the only example in the Church of this kind of coherence and commitment to family and professional life. There are many examples.It also depends on the person?Yes, and on their experience and history. In my mother’s case, she was completely happy in her family and professional life. She was coherent with this principle and applied it to everything she wanted to do. One of my mother’s favourite expressions was to do everything in depth, not superficially, and not to stop and only do 50 per cent. She wasn’t an extraordinary intellectual and at school she got average results. She was not a champion, but she tried her best. Relaxed abortion laws mostly came into force in the western world after your mother died. Do you think she’d be campaigning against these laws if she were alive today?She probably would be, as someone who was committed to Azione Cattolica. As someone who had to give a good example, who tried to be coherent in her commitment to her faith, she would have done everything she could to prevent an abortion from taking place. I think she would have also been committed to this in her job, to be coherent with this aspect of her faith. I saw in yesterday’s Corriere della Sera two pages devoted to a meeting between the Pope and Obama. The main aspect discussed was abortion, so it shows the real value these issues have at the highest level. Because if you agree with this kind of value, you must also be coherent in the policies you make. I was really surprised that Obama wanted to reduce abortion. In the last 10 years of presidential campaigns in the US, abortion has figured highly, so it is of real value. Certainly my mother represented this value. My mother was a person who lived in the 1950s, died in 1962 and yet the message she left is still very current and topical. Not only in bioethics and abortion, but also in matters relating to the economy and moral values. If we agree on these values and every leader applies these principles to daily life, we can change the general situation.



CISA reports that ActionAid on Tuesday December 14 backed the African group’s call for the Kyoto Protocol to be strengthened.“If a fair deal is to be reached here in Copenhagen, it must reflect Africa’s right to survive,” said Dominic Walubengo Wandera, from one of MS ActionAid’s partners in Kenya.“African countries are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change so their voices must be heard.” At a press conference a spokesperson from the Africa Group said, “When the Kyoto Protocol came into force, it set a speed limit for getting results. It’s as though somebody woke up one day and said we don’t need those rules any more.” The Africa Group wants to see new commitments on emission reductions from rich countries. They are concerned that rich countries are attempting to move away from the Kyoto Protocol, the only existing legally-binding climate treaty.The Copenhagen round of negotiations launched a twin track approach back in 2007.One track was designed to secure a second period of emission reductions from rich countries under the Kyoto Protocol.The second track was designed to include the US in an international framework and provide developing countries with finance and technology to combat climate change.“To date, rich countries have failed to come up with targets so progress under the Kyoto talks has been slow to non-existent. They need to act now to prevent Copenhagen from turning into a farce,” said Tom Sharman, ActionAid’s climate justice coordinator.The Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark ends December 18.(source:


UCAN reports that Catholic priests have celebrated the first few Masses for former Tamil rebels held in camps in the country's north.

Former Tamil rebels in a jungle in Sri Lanka (File photo)
Military officials gave priests their approval for the services last week.
“We are allowed in only for religious purposes,” said Father Emilianuspillai Santhiappillai, head of Vavuniya deanery in Mannar diocese, where most of the 17 rehabilitation camps for Tamil rebels are located.
The army has given permission for 10 priests to visit for three hours on Saturdays from 6:30-9:30 a.m.
Father Santhiappillai sent priests to 15 rehabilitation camps to celebrate Mass on Saturday, Dec. 12.
More than seven months after Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war ended, about 12,000 former rebels, many little more than children, are being held. Around 3,000 of the detainees are Catholics while the rest are Hindus.
The authorities say some are being rehabilitated, others face war crimes trials and some will be given amnesty. The authorities are currently interrogating the detainees to expose senior officers and associates, rebel hideouts and ammunition dumps.
Priests hold Masses in small prayer centers or in the shade of trees.
They are screened on arrival in the camps, and cameras and mobile phones are strictly prohibited. The priests are also not allowed to carry letters or messages between the detainees and their families.
"If we do not stick to the rules, there is a risk of cancellation of access to camps," Father Santhiappillai told UCA News.
Father James Pathinathar, the parish priest of St Peter's Church in the coastal city of Mullaitivu, said some Catholic detainees had not attended Mass for a decade.
He conducted services in five camps.
Thousands of his parishioners were killed, injured or disabled in the final battle on the Mullaitivu coast. Some 300,000 had fled the war zone. The priest was himself injured in the fighting.
Father Pathinathar said being able to celebrate Masses gives him a "great opportunity to build up the faith among my boys and girls." Most come from deeply religious families, he noted.
Sri Lankan authorities still will not allow access to the camps by the International Committee of the Red Cross. No civilians are allowed in but parents and relatives can meet for a limited time at the entrance to the camp.




Cath News reports that Owen Rogers, the newly ordained deacon of St Patrick's Parish in Sydney's Blacktown said he always wanted to be a priest but circumstances never allowed it. Now, at 68 years and a grandad, he feels he's at last fulfilled his calling. "I'm elated and looking forward to the challenge of a new life's journey for me and my wife, Jeanette," Mr Rogers is quoted saying by the Blacktown Sun.
As a deacon, he could preach the Gospel, perform baptisms and assist with other sacraments.
"Jeanette and I also hope to be able to bring a Christian message of love to other couples," Mr Rogers said. "We hope to build relationships with them and we want to share our experiences of life."
He said that he had always wanted to do pastoral work.
"The vocation was there, but the situation didn't allow for it," Mr Rogers said.
"I retired three years ago and focused on becoming a deacon," he said. "I took a theology degree and the other necessary steps."


St. Haggai the Prophet
Feast: December 16
Feast Day:
December 16

Commemoration of the Prophet Haggai, one of the twelve minor prophets, who prophesied during the time of King Darius of Persia and Zerubbabel, Governor of Judah (c. 520 BC). The Book of Haggai preserves his oracles to the returnees from the Babylonian Exile, in which he exhorts them to finish the rebuilding of the Temple, whose glory foretells the glory of the messianic temple to come.
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.


Luke 7: 18 - 23
The disciples of John told him of all these things.
And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?"
And when the men had come to him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, `Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?'"
In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight.
And he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
And blessed is he who takes no offense at me."

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