AMERICA: USA: AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY RECEIVES $5 MILLION DONATION-
EUROPE: ENGLAND: WORKING TO PROMOTE ORATORY-
AFRICA: GHANA: SYMPOSIUM OF EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES: MESSAGE-
ASIA: BANGLADESH: MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY BROTHERS HELP POOR CHILDREN-
AUSTRALIA: NSW PREMIER VOICES HER OPINION ON THE CHURCH-
POPE: MESSAGE GAUDETE SUNDAY
Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, a prominent 19th century theologian and convert to Catholicism, founded the Birmingham Oratory in 1848.
“The Fathers of the Oratory are very grateful to the Cardinal Newman Society of America for offering them this influential platform in the USA to achieve these goals,” Fr. Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, commented in a Dec. 11 statement.
Fr. Chavasse’s new work will involve extensive periods of travel in the United States during 2010.
Fr. Felix Selden of the Vienna Oratory, the Delegate of the Holy See for the Congregation of the Oratory throughout the world, has been in England visiting the Oratories of Birmingham, London and Oxford before what could be an historic year.
“Fr. Paul has taken on a vital work to make the Birmingham Oratory ready to receive the pilgrims and scholars who will come as a result of the beatification,” Fr. Selden commented. “I am grateful to the Cardinal Newman Society of America and to Father Richard and the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory for their generous assistance.”
The Oxford Oratory has released Fr. Richard Duffield to move to Birmingham, where he will assist the community there in its work both for the Oratory and for the Cause of Cardinal Newman’s beatification.
Cardinal Newman's beatification is expected to take place in 2010, according to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. (SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=18036
CISA reports that from the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) to all our Brothers and Sisters of the Catholic Church in Africa and its Islands, to all men and women of good will, and especially to all who are infected by HIV or affected by AIDS: greetings and best wishes to you all on World AIDS Day 2009. The theme this year "Universal Access and Human Rights" challenges discriminatory laws, policies and practices that stand in the way of access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. This fits well within the theme of the II Synod of Bishops for Africa: The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace: "You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world."The Church is second to none in facing HIV in Africa and caring for people infected and affected. Earlier this year, responding to a journalist en route to the continent, Pope Benedict XVI said: "The most efficient, most truly present player in the fight against AIDS is the Catholic Church herself." And we African Bishops know he is right. Constantly present among millions of Africans who are badly affected by the pandemic, we see how AIDS continues to ravage our populations, even if it is slipping down the agenda of governments, civil society and international organizations. At a time when official concerns about the pandemic are receding, we re-affirm theologically that the Body of Christ has AIDS, and express our pastoral determination as Family of God to provide fitting responses. For our continent is still the worst afflicted.We plead for sustained support to meet the needs of many. Assistance is as sorely needed as ever. HIV and AIDS have not gone away, despite premature impressions to the contrary. The assumption that treatment is now available to everyone is false. Only a third of those who need treatment get it and, after two years, only 60% are still on treatment; for every two people on treatment, five are newly infected. Globally new HIV infections are still outnumbering those going on treatment and those dying of AIDS. The number of orphans, abused, vulnerable and infected children continues to grow exponentially. Stigma remains a powerful enemy. The Church knows very well the real impact of HIV and of AIDS upon her sons and daughters, and it will be so for decades to come. Although ART requires a lifelong commitment to staying on the drugs, in sub-Saharan Africa a goodly number of ART patients stop taking their meds within two years because they can't afford the regular transport costs to the hospital or don't have access to sufficient food to make drug adherence possible.The pandemic gravely compromises development and justice. The global recession and economic downturn have a detrimental impact on our brothers and sisters infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Climbing prices of food and other basic necessities are hampering progress of treatment, because people cannot afford the food essential to support their medication. Further, increased hunger and desperation are making people resort to sex as a means of survival. So any response that attempts to tackle HIV and AIDS in isolation is doomed to fail.For the tide to turn, the impact of all contributing factors must be recognised and tackled holistically: wars; fragile or failing states; inequality between men and women; the ravages of climate change and many more. All these make the poor even poorer, more dispossessed, more vulnerable to HIV and, if infected, more likely to develop AIDS.HIV-AIDS is not just a medical problem and investing in pharmaceutics alone will not work. Foreign governments and UN agencies are now pushing for investment in national healthcare systems in countries of Africa as their strategy for addressing HIV along with malaria and tuberculosis. With the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, we seriously warn that the problem cannot be overcome by relying exclusively or primarily on the distribution of prophylactics. Only a strategy based on education to individual responsibility in the framework of a moral view of human sexuality, especially through conjugal fidelity, can have a real impact on the prevention of this disease. The Church's understanding of marriage as the total, reciprocal and exclusive communion of love between a man and a woman prompts the most effective behaviours for preventing the sexual transmission of disease: namely, abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage. We address ourselves particularly to our youth, in whom we firmly believe. Let no one deceive you into thinking that you cannot control yourself. Abstinence is the best protection. For those who are not married, it is also the only moral course of action. Accordingly, formation of the human person is the true recipe, the key to it all, and we are intent on preparing you to be tomorrow's salt of the earth and light of the world, active, generous and responsible members of society and Church.SECAM thanks all those who are so generously involved in this difficult apostolate of formation, love and care. May international Catholic solidarity continue supporti ng the long-term commitment of the Church in Africa to raise awareness, to accompany the infected and the affected, to form the youth, and to face this great challenge - along with many others - in a spirit of inclusivity, reconciliation, and greater harmony in families, communities, parishes and all dimensions of Church life.May or Holy Mother Mary, Queen of Africa and Health of the Sick, intercede for us at the throne of grace. Amen.+ Polycarp Cardinal Pengo Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania President of SECAM
Missionaries of Charity Brother JosephMurmu (hand in pocket) seen here withShanti Bhaban residents in Khulna diocese
Both men received an education and are able to support themselves thanks to the Missionaries of Charity (MC) Brothers.
Every person living in Shanti Bhaban (home of peace) "has a grieving past," notes Brother Joseph Murmu, who is in charge of the center for boys with physical and intellectual disabilities in Khulna diocese.
Some of their families "refused to take care of them," he said when interviewed recently. Other families could not afford the cost of treatment and other expenses for the children and brought them to the home.
"We nurture them with love and care because we believe that they are children of God and have the right to live a full life. We live with them like a family," Brother Murmu said.
Children born with disabilities are often seen as a curse in local society, especially among poor and less-educated families, and are sometimes thrown out onto the streets to face an uncertain future
The MC home in southern Khulna diocese has been a beacon of hope since 1976 for these helpless and destitute boys. The center, located near the Catholic cathedral in Khulna, southwestern Bangladesh, remains to this day the only free-of-cost Catholic Church center for boys with disabilities.
Biswas and Gomes told UCA News their stories.
Biswas, now a Catholic, was born in 1985 with normal use of only one leg. His Hindu mother left him at the children's home the MC nuns run in Dhaka.
"The nuns looked after me until 1990, when I was handed over to the brothers," he recalled. "They helped me complete primary education, and when I lost interest in studies, they offered me vocational training."
He learned tailoring and can now support himself.
Gomes was born partially blind into a Muslim family. He would have ended up living on the street except for Shanti Bhaban.
"The brothers offered me everything necessary for my life including education. I passed my Secondary School Certificate examinations and later became the cook in the center," said the young man.
Now 26 and married, with two children, Gomes lives in a separate house the brothers provided.
Both stories are an inspiration to 12-year-old Russell, an autistic boy whose parents were waiting to send him off alone on a bus when the brothers intervened. He has been receiving help and support since they brought him to the center a few years ago.
In all, Shanti Bhaban cares for 35 male residents. Several, like Biswas, have been baptized at their request after living there.
In an interview for Radio National's Sunday Profile program, US-born Keneally defended her views on faith, BigPondNews reports.
"When it comes to the core teachings of the church, who Jesus was, what he taught, what his message was, I'm in complete and utter agreement with the church" Ms Keneally told the ABC program.
She also thinks women should be ordained as priests but said she won't be consulting Cardinal George Pell anytime soon on the idea, the report states.
"Look, my views are my views," Ms Keneally said.
"I don't think that it's my role to use my position in public life to try and have that debate."
She would not speculate on whether clerical celibacy had impacted on the level of sexual abuse by priests worldwide.
"Well, let me say this: I suspect that there are a lot of Catholics who would make excellent priests who currently don't have the opportunity to do that because of either their gender or their marital status," she is cited saying.
Ms Keneally opposes embryonic stem cell research but says her views on abortion are similar to those of former US president Bill Clinton.
"... That abortion should be safe, it should be available ... and it should be rare."
In her 1995 masters thesis at Dayton University, Keneally devoted her 64-page paper to the role of women in Christianity, proposing that theology should cast God as a woman as well as the male Jesus, the Daily Telegraph reports.
"The hypothesis ... offers Christian women, many of whom are long starved for language which explicitly recognises the female sex, too, is capable of being in imageo Christi and acting in persona Christi, with affirmation of what they have long known," she wrote. (SOURCE: http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=18302
VIRGIN AND MARTYR
Feast: December 13
San Geremia, Venice
blind; martyrs; epidemics; salesmen, throat infections
The glorious virgin and martyr St. Lucy, one of the brightest ornaments of the church of Sicily, was born of honourable and wealthy parents in the city of Syracusa, and educated from her cradle in the faith of Christ. She lost her father in her infancy, but Eutychia, her mother, took singular care to furnish her with tender and sublime sentiments of piety and religion. By the early impressions which Lucy received and the strong influence of divine grace, Lucy discovered no disposition but toward virtue, and she was yet very young when she offered to God the flower of her virginity. This vow, however, she kept a secret, and her mother, who was a stranger to it, pressed her to marry a young gentleman who was a pagan. The saint sought occasions to hinder this design from taking effect, and her mother was visited with a long and troublesome flux of blood, under which she laboured four years without finding any remedy by recourse to physicians. At length she was persuaded by her daughter to go to Catana and offer up her prayers to God for relief at the tomb of St. Agatha. St. Lucy accompanied her thither, and their prayers were successful.
Hereupon our saint disclosed to her mother her desire of devoting herself to God in a state of perpetual virginity, and of bestowing her fortune on the poor: and Eutychia, in gratitude, left her at full liberty to pursue her pious inclinations. The young nobleman, with whom the mother had treated about marrying her, came to understand this by the sale of her jewels and goods, and the distribution of the price among the poor, and in his rage accused her before the governor Paschasius as a Christian, the persecution of Diocletian then raging with the utmost fury. The judge commanded the holy virgin to be exposed to prostitution in a brothel" house; but God rendered her immovable, so that the guards were not able to carry her thither. He also made her an over-match for the cruelty of the persecutors, in overcoming fire and other torments. After a long and glorious combat she died in prison of the wounds she had received,—about the year 304. She was honoured at Rome in the sixth century among the most illustrious virgins and martyrs, whose triumphs the church celebrates, as appears from the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, Bede, and others. Her festival was kept in England till the change of religion, as a holy day of the second rank, in which no work but tillage or the like was allowed. Her body remained at Syracusa for many years; but was at length translated into Italy, and thence by the authority of the Emperor Otho I to Metz, as Sigebert of Gemblours relates. It is there exposed to public veneration in a rich chapel of St. Vincent's Church. A portion of her relics was carried to Constantinople and brought thence to Venice, where it is kept with singular veneration. St. Lucy is often painted with the balls of her eyes laid in a dish: perhaps her eyes were defaced or plucked out, though her present acts make no mention of any such circumstance. In many places her intercession is particularly implored for distempers of the eyes.
It is a matter of the greatest consequence what ideas are stamped upon the ductile minds of children, what sentiments are impressed on their hearts, and to what habits they are first formed. Let them be inured to little denials both in their will and senses, and learn that pleasures which gratify the senses must be guarded against, and used with great fear and moderation: for by them the taste is debauched, and the constitution of the soul broken and spoiled much more fatally than that of the body can be by means contrary to its health.
There are few Lucys nowadays among Christian ladies, because sensuality, pride, and vanity are instilled into their minds by the false maxims and pernicious example of those with whom they first converse. Alas I unless a constant watchfulness and restraint both produce and strengthen good habits, the inclinations of our souls lean of their own accord toward corruption.
TODAY'S MASS READINGS
3RD SUN. OF ADVENT
Zephaniah 3: 14 - 18
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival. "I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name; make known his deeds among the nations, proclaim that his name is exalted.
"Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."
Philippians 4: 4 - 7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Luke 3: 10 - 18
And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?"
And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
And he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you."
Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ,
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people.