Wednesday, December 2, 2009





(VIS) - William of St. Thierry was the subject of the Holy Father's catechesis during his general audience, celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square. William, a friend and admirer of Bernard of Clairvaux, was born in Liege between the years 1075 and 1080. A member of a noble family, he was educated in the most famous schools of the time and later entered the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Nicaise in Reims. He subsequently became abbot of the monastery of Saint-Thierry where, however, he was unable to reform the community as he wished and abandoned the Benedictines to enter the Cistercian abbey of Signy. There he wrote a number of important works of monastic theology. "De natura et dignitate amoris" (The nature and the dignity of love) contains, the Pope explained, one of William's fundamental ideas, which also holds true for us today: "The principal force that moves the human soul is love. ... The truth is that only one task is entrusted to each human being: learning to love sincerely, authentically and freely. But only at the school of God can this task be achieved and can man attain the end for which he was created". "Learning to love is a long and arduous path", said the Holy Father. "In this journey people must impose an effective asceticism upon themselves ... in order to eliminate any disordered affections ... and unify their lives with God - source, goal and power of love - until reaching the summit of spiritual life, which William defined as 'wisdom'. At the end of this ascetic itinerary, we experience great serenity and sweetness". William likewise attributes considerable importance "to the emotional dimension" because "our heart is made of flesh and when we love God, Who is Love, how can we not express our human feelings in this relationship with the Lord? ... The Lord Himself, becoming man, chose to love us with a heart of flesh". For this Cistercian monk, love "illuminates the mind and enables a better and more profound understanding of God and, in God, of people and events". Love "produces attraction and communion to the point of effecting a transformation, an assimilation, between the lover and the loved. ... And this holds true, above all, for knowledge of God and of His mysteries, which surpass our mind's capacity to understand. God is known if he is loved", Benedict XVI affirmed. He concluded by quoting from the "Epistola aurea" addressed to the Cistercians of Mont-Dieu, a summary of William of St. Thierry's ideas on the subject of love: "The image of God present in man impels him towards resemblance; that is, towards an ever fuller identification between his will and the divine will. This perfection, which William calls 'unity of spirit', cannot be achieved through individual effort, ... but by the action of the Holy Spirit which ... purifies and ... transforms into charity all the desire for love present in the human being. ...In this way ... man becomes by grace what God is by nature".AG/WILLIAM OF ST. THIERRY/... VIS 091202 (520)

TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY "RECONCILIATIO ET PAENITENTIA" VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope recalled the fact that today marks twenty-five years since the promulgation of John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation "Reconciliatio et paenitentia" which, said Pope Benedict, "drew attention to the importance of the Sacrament of Penance in the life of the Church. "On this important anniversary", he added, "I wish to mention some outstanding figures of 'apostles of the confessional', tireless dispensers of divine mercy such as St. John Mary Vianney, St. Joseph Cafasso, St. Leopold Mandic and St. Pio of Pietrelcina. "May their witness of faith and charity encourage you, dear young people, to shun sin and to plan your future as a generous service to God and mankind. May it help you, dear sick people, to experience the mercy of the crucified Christ in your suffering. May it stimulate you, dear newlyweds, to create a family in an abiding climate of faith and mutual understanding. Finally, may the example of these saints, assiduous and faithful ministers of divine forgiveness be for clergy - and especially in the current Year for Priests - and for all Christians an invitation always to trust in the goodness of God, faithfully practicing and celebrating the Sacrament of Penance".AG/CONFESSION/... VIS 091202 (220)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed: - Bishop Camilo Fernando Castrellon Pizano S.D.B. of Tibu, Colombia, as bishop of Barrancabermeja (area 15,000, population 556,000, Catholics 400,000, priests 69, permanent deacons 1, religious 59), Colombia. - Msgr. Petar Rajic, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, and as apostolic delegate to the Arabian Peninsula, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Toronto, Canada in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1987.NER/.../CASTRELLON VIS 091202 (90)

IN MEMORIAM VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks: - Bishop Martino Gomiero, emeritus of Adria - Rovigo, Italy, on 20 November at the age of 84. - Bishop Ambrose Mathalaimuthu, emeritus of Coimbatore, India, on 15 November at the age of 84..../DEATHS/... VIS 091202 (50)



The Catholic Communications Network reports that the 1st December marks the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. In addition to institutional reform, the Treaty introduces into EU primary law an Article of notable importance for the Churches. By means of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the EU recognises the identity and specific contribution of Churches and engages on this basis an "open, transparent and regular" Dialogue with them.
Thanks to this Article, Churches and religious communities will be able to strengthen their Dialogue with the European Commission, Council and Parliament and so contribute more efficiently to reflecting on European policy.
Inspired by Catholic social teaching and strengthened by their background experience, Churches will be enabled to pursue a critical and constructive Dialogue with EU decision makers on the policies put forward by the EU.
Today, on the eve of a new decade, the same urgent challenges preoccupy both the EU and the Churches, namely: The promotion of the dignity of every Human being, Solidarity with the weakest in our societies, an economy which puts the human being at its heart, solidarity among generations and towards developing countries, climate change and preservation of Creation, the welcoming of migrants and intercultural dialogue.
The Churches in Europe therefore welcome the dialogue between the European Union and the Churches and religious communities as an instrument allowing them to partner the EU more effectively so that it becomes a Community of peoples and values, aware of its responsibility, united and welcoming.
In the recent years, a practical dialogue had already been established between the European Institutions and COMECE and its ecumenical partners. Thanks to this “practical dialogue”, the trust between European institutions and Churches has increased over the years. COMECE now wishes this dialogue to intensify and deepen, on the basis of Article 17. COMECE calls on Churches and Christians all over Europe to seize this dialogue opportunity, based on their expertise and their humanity, to make a contribution to the European project.
COMECE, together with its ecumenical partners from CEC (Conference of European Churches), will make soon specific proposals to the European Commission, Parliament and Council on how to develop this dialogue into regular institutional practice.
Article 17 (the former Article I-52 of the Constitutional Treaty) is part of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and reads as follows:
1. The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.
2. The Union equally respects the status under national law of philosophical and non-confessional organisations.
3. Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.
Visit (SOURCE:



CNA repors that some 50,000 people participated in the “Costa Rica March for Life and the Family” on November 28, which concluded with an address calling on officials to reject any law that would attack these fundamental values.
The address commits participants “to defend all human life” from conception to natural death. It also urges that marriage and the family be protected, “and for this reason we oppose, and we call on our representatives in the executive branch, legislative assembly and municipalities to reject any bill, policy or institutional activity” to the contrary.
“We are committed to exercising our sacred right to vote in a responsible way, voting for those who propose and are committed to defending and promoting human life, marriage and family in public office,” the statement indicated.



UCAN reports that the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM) is getting ready to maximize its impact on local body elections due in the southern Indian state next September.
The Church has "great influence" on Kerala's electoral politics, says Joseph Thomas, the movement's president. The leading players in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) often seek its support during elections, he noted.
Thomas told UCA News that Christians have supported one or the other group in the past, but neither has ever bothered about the Christian community after an election.
"We have decided to get involved in politics, because only through active participation can we change the present corrupt politics and influence the programs of political parties," he added.
KCYM plans to educate its 900,000 members, spread throughout 4,250 parishes, about their role in politics through leadership programs and seminars on developmental issues.
These preparations come after the LDF government's announcement it will hold elections to the state's 992 village councils, 52 municipal councils and five corporations in September 2010.
Christians form 19 percent of Kerala's 32 million people, but Thomas says only 37 percent of Kerala Christian voters have fixed political affiliations. "The rest are neutral and our strength lies in them," he added.
"We are going to reorient youth for a clean politics and better delivery (on promises) to people. Now elections are contested on promises that are not kept."
The Catholic youth leader clarified that his movement has no plan to field candidates. "We will support our members who can contest the elections as independents, or on the party lines who accept our ideology," he explained.
KCYM has also published a document, stating its political vision for the period 2010-2020. "Our major thrust is to empower youth politically," Thomas said.
The LDF came to power in 2006 with support from Catholic strongholds but later ran a campaign against Church leaders for opposing policies that included controls on Church educational institutions.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 29, Archbishop Maria Calist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum issued a pastoral letter stressing the need for Latin-rite Catholics to run in elections to local bodies, which get 30 percent of government development funds.
"Now, most people are passive in village council meetings. This has led to the neglect of areas dominated by Latin Catholics," the archbishop told UCA News.
The pastoral letter, read in all parishes of the 11 Latin-rite dioceses in Kerala during Sunday Masses, appealed to youths to develop leadership skills and serve society.
Two Oriental Catholic Churches -- the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches -- are also based in Kerala. They and the Latin-rite Church form the Indian Catholic Church.



CISA reports that new data in the 2009 AIDS epidemic update shows HIV infections in the world have reduced by 17 percent over the past eight years. Since 2001, when the United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS was signed, the number of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa is approximately 15 percent lower, which is about 400,000 fewer infections in 2008. The report, released today by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), highlights that beyond the peak and natural course of the epidemic HIV prevention programmes are making a difference. “The good news is that we have evidence that the declines we are seeing are due, at least in part, to HIV prevention,” said Michel SidibĂ©, Executive Director of UNAIDS.“However, the findings also show that prevention programming is often off the mark and that if we do a better job of getting resources and programmes to where they will make most impact, quicker progress can be made and more lives saved, said UNAIDS.”In this first double issue, the UNAIDS Outlook report further explores how “modes of transmission” studies are changing the approach of HIV prevention efforts. The new magazine-style report looks at new ideas and ways to use the data collected in the companion epidemiological report.Data from the AIDS Epidemic Update also show that at 33.4 million, there are more people living with HIV than ever before as people are living longer due to the beneficial effects of antiretroviral therapy and population growth. However the number of AIDS-related deaths has declined by over 10% over the past five years as more people gained to access to the life saving treatment. UNAIDS and WHO estimate that since the availability of effective treatment in 1996, some 2.9 million lives have been saved.Dr Margaret Chan, Director- General of WHO said: "International and national investment in HIV treatment scale-up has yielded concrete and measurable results. We cannot let this momentum wane. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, and save many more lives."Antiretroviral therapy has also made a significant impact in preventing new infections in children as more HIV- positive mothers gain access to treatment preventing them from transmitting the virus to their children. Around 200 000 new infections among children have been prevented since 2001.In Botswana, where treatment coverage is 80%, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by over 50% over the past five years and the number of children newly orphaned is also coming down as parents are living longer.One of the significant findings of the report is that the impact of the AIDS response is high where HIV prevention and treatment programmes have been integrated with other health and social welfare services. Early evidence shows that HIV may have a significant impact on maternal mortality. Research models using South African data estimate that about 50,000 maternal deaths were associated with HIV in 2008.“AIDS isolation must end,” said Mr SidibĂ©. “Already research models are showing that HIV may have a significant impact on maternal mortality. Half of all maternal deaths in Botswana and South Africa are due to HIV. This tells us that we must work for a unified health approach bringing maternal and child health and HIV programmes as well as tuberculosis programmes together to work to achieve their common goal.”Data show that few HIV prevention programmes exist for people over 25, married couples or people in stable relationships, widowers and divorcees. These are the same groups in which HIV prevalence has been found to be high in many sub-Saharan countries. For example in Swaziland people over the age of 25 accounted for more than two thirds of adult infections yet very few HIV prevention programmes are designed for older people.Building on the need to maximize results and to better connect the 33.4 million people living with HIV and the millions of people who are part of the AIDS response, UNAIDS has launched This social networking site is open to the community and is free. aims to expand informal and established networks to include more people interested in HIV to maximize resources for a stronger AIDS response. (source:



Cath News reports that Right to Life Australia says it is excited that Tony Abbott, who has said on record that abortion should be reduced and is a stain on Australia's national character, is leading the federal opposition.
"He hasn't promised us anything for sure but we're excited by the idea of Abbott," the group's president Veronica Andrews told AAP, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
She hoped Mr Abbott would use his position to speak out against abortion and voluntary euthanasia in parliament.
Ms Andrews said former prime minister John Howard was not receptive to her group's concerns about allowing the morning-after drug RU486 into Australia, adding that former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull did not share its anxieties.
In October 2006, as health minister, Mr Abbott refused to allow the abortion drug to be made available in Australia. It led to a conscience vote in the Parliament that deprived the health minister of regulatory control of the drug, the report added.


St. Bibiana
Feast: December 2
Feast Day:
December 2
4th century in Rome
Patron of:
against epilepsy, against hangovers, against headaches, against insanity, against mental illness, epileptics, mentally ill people, single laywomen, torture victims

The earliest mention in an authentic historical authority of St. Bibiana (Vibiana), a Roman female martyr, occurs in the "Liber Pontificalis" where in the biography of Pope Simplicius (468-483) it is stated that this pope "consecrated a basilica of the holy martyr Bibiana, which contained her body, near the 'palatium Licinianum'" (ed. Duchesne, I, 249). This basilica still exists. In the fifth century, therefore, the bodily remains of St. Bibiana rested within the city walls. We have no further historical particulars concerning the martyr or the circumstances of her death; neither do we know why she was buried in the city itself. In later times a legend sprang up concerning her, connected with the Acts of the martyrdom of Sts. John and Paul and has no historical claim to belief. According to this legend, Bibiana was the daughter of a former prefect, Flavianus, who was banished by Julian the Apostate. Dafrosa, the wife of Flavianus, and his two daughters, Demetria and Bibiana, were also persecuted by Julian. Dafrosa and Demetria died a natural death and were buried by Bibiana in their own house; but Bibiana was tortured and died as a result of her sufferings. Two days after her death a priest named John buried Bibiana near her mother and sister in her home, the house being later turned into a church. It is evident that the legend seeks to explain in this way the origin of the church and the presence in it of the bodies of the above mentioned confessors. The account contained in the martyrologies of the ninth century is drawn from the legend.



Matthew 15: 29 - 37
And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them,
so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."
And the disciples said to him, "Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?"
And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish."
And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground,
he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

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