Friday, January 22, 2010




Vatican Radio report:
Below is Pope Benedict's full message for the 44th World Day of Communications:Dear Brothers and Sisters,The theme of this year's World Communications Day - The Priestand Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service ofthe Word - is meant to coincide with the Church's celebration of theYear for Priests. It focuses attention on the important and sensitivepastoral area of digital communications, in which priests candiscover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and forthe Word of God. Church communities have always used themodern media for fostering communication, engagement withsociety, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level.Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of thesemedia make them all the more important for a fruitful priestlyministry.All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of JesusChrist, the incarnate Word of God, and the communication of hissaving grace in the sacraments. Gathered and called by the Word,the Church is the sign and instrument of the communion that Godcreates with all people, and every priest is called to build up thiscommunion, in Christ and with Christ. Such is the lofty dignity andbeauty of the mission of the priest, which responds in a special wayto the challenge raised by the Apostle Paul: "The Scripture says, 'Noone who believes in him will be put to shame ... everyone who callson the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how can they call on himin whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in himof whom they have not heard? And how can they hear withoutsomeone to preach? And how can people preach unless they aresent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts,to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involvesusing new communications technologies. The world of digitalcommunication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makesus appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: "Woe to me if Ido not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16) The increased availability ofthe new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part ofthose called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them tobecome more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts.Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologiescreate deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, theyare called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever moreeffectively at the service of the Word.The spread of multimedia communications and its rich "menu ofoptions" might make us think it sufficient simply to be present onthe Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests canrightly be expected to be present in the world of digitalcommunications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising theirproper role as leaders of communities which increasingly expressthemselves with the different "voices" provided by the digitalmarketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel byemploying the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images,videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongsidetraditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue,evangelization and catechesis.Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce peopleto the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover theface of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from thetime of their formation, how to use these technologies in acompetent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theologicalinsights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded inconstant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world ofdigital communications should be less notable for their media savvythan for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will notonly enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a "soul" to thefabric of communications that makes up the "Web".God's loving care for all people in Christ must be expressed in thedigital world not simply as an artifact from the past, or a learnedtheory, but as something concrete, present and engaging. Ourpastoral presence in that world must thus serve to show ourcontemporaries, especially the many people in our day whoexperience uncertainty and confusion, "that God is near; that inChrist we all belong to one another" (Benedict XVI, Address to theRoman Curia, 21 December 2009).Who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put intopractice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoraloutreach capable of making God concretely present in today's worldand presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure whichcan inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity whilebuilding a better future? Consecrated men and women working inthe media have a special responsibility for opening the door to newforms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction,and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritualneeds. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age tosense the Lord's presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and todraw near to the Word of God which offers salvation and fosters anintegral human development. In this way the Word can traverse themany crossroads created by the intersection of all the different"highways" that form "cyberspace", and show that God has hisrightful place in every age, including our own. Thanks to the newcommunications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our citiesand, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, sayonce more: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hearsmy voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine withhim, and he with me" (Rev 3:20).In my Message last year, I encouraged leaders in the world ofcommunications to promote a culture of respect for the dignity andvalue of the human person. This is one of the ways in which theChurch is called to exercise a "diaconia of culture" on today's "digitalcontinent". With the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts, wemust reaffirm the need to continue preparing ways that lead to theWord of God, while being at the same time constantly attentive tothose who continue to seek; indeed, we should encourage theirseeking as a first step of evangelization. A pastoral presence in theworld of digital communications, precisely because it brings us intocontact with the followers of other religions, non-believers andpeople of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do notbelieve, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulateddesire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the prophetIsaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), canwe not see the web as also offering a space - like the "Court of theGentiles" of the Temple of Jerusalem - for those who have not yetcome to know God?The development of the new technologies and the larger digitalworld represents a great resource for humanity as a whole and forevery individual, and it can act as a stimulus to encounter anddialogue. But this development likewise represents a greatopportunity for believers. No door can or should be closed to thosewho, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing nearto others. To priests in particular the new media offer ever new andfar-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody theuniversality of the Church's mission, to build a vast and realfellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life whichcomes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son who cameamong us for our salvation. At the same time, priests must alwaysbear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comesfrom Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer;proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved andcelebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist andReconciliation.To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to makeastute use of the unique possibilities offered by moderncommunications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heraldsof the Gospel in the new "agorà" which the current media areopening up.With this confidence, I invoke upon you the protection of the Motherof God and of the Holy Curè of Ars and, with affection, I impart toeach of you my Apostolic Blessing.From the Vatican, 24 January 2010, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.(SOURCE:


Lifesitenews report:
Arriving over an hour early for the 6:30pm Vigil Mass for the March for Life yesterday, not only was every seat in the massive Basilica of the National Shrine occupied, but so was every good standing area. Brian McFee, his wife Molly and their children Lucas and Dominic were in the front row of seats open to the public – but to gain this distinction they had to arrive at 1pm to stake out their spot.
The Mass, which precedes the annual March for Life, is a joyous celebration of faith and commitment to life, and a stunning spectacle. Five Cardinals accompanying 40 other bishops and archbishops concelebrated the Mass with 350 priests. Also in the sanctuary were 65 deacons and a whopping 550 seminarians and 60 servers.
Hundreds of men and women religious also took part, with the steps leading up the to the sanctuary taken up by a large contingent of the Sisters of Life. Well over 8,000 faithful jammed every nook and cranny of the spacious Basilica both in the main church and the crypt below.
The Mass was open to millions more as well, as the event was broadcast via EWTN into countless homes.
During the 35-minute long opening procession the faithful looked on with awe as over 1000 men of the Church professed by their presence their commitment to the cause of life. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
As they processed out of the church a little baby was held aloft to the cheers of hundreds, and was blessed by Cardinal DiNardo.


Press release: Irish Catholic Conference of Bishops
Father Tony Cummins, Ireland’s oldest priest, died yesterday at the age of 103 years. Father Cummins, a priest of Diocese of Clonfert was born in Aille, in the parish of Kilnadeema, near Loughrea, County Galway on 6 September 1906.He attended Aille National School where his mother was a teacher. He received his secondary education at the Diocesan College, Saint Joseph’s College Ballinasloe, which was located in both the Pines and later in Garbally Park.After studying for the priesthood in Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth, Father Cummins was ordained in St Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea on 10 April 1932, in time for the Eucharistic Congress.As a priest he served in the parishes of Clostoken and Kilconieron, Loughrea as well as Killimor and Tiranascragh, before being appointed parish priest of Kilnadeema and later to Cappataggle and Kilrickle in 1964 where he served as Parish Priest until his retirement in 1987. He was resident at the Diocesan Retirement Home, Arus Vianney, Ballinasloe until 2003 when he moved to Kilconnell Nursing Home where he died peacefully on Wednesday last, 20 January.Father Cummins was blessed with an active interest in life right to the end. During his long and dedicated service to his priestly ministry he was well respected and held in affection by his parishioners who saw him as a faithful priest, devoted to his people and God.Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert, who served as a curate to Father Cummins, today paid tribute to Father Cummins who held the senior positions of Vicar Forane and Chancellor of the Diocese of Clonfert for many years. Bishop Kirby said “Father Cummins had a commitment to his ministry that was firmly rooted in his holiness and his dedication to God. He was an example to us all having served through changing times while continuing to possess a zeal for his priestly ministry. May he rest in peace.”Father Tony Cummins was the last surviving member of his immediate family and is now survived by his nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. Father Cummins will be laid to rest in the grounds of Cappataggle Church after 12 noon Mass tomorrow, Friday 22 January.(source:


Sunday Nation report:
Catholic Bishops have threatened to disown the draft constitution being discussed by MPs unless it includes a clause that clearly stipulates when life begins.
The church wants the draft that will come from the Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution review to clearly state that life begins at conception and ends with natural death. This, they say, is necessary to prevent legalised abortion.
A statement from the Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC), which groups Catholic bishops, said the church will not recognise a constitution that does not protect life in all its phases.
“A constitution that does not protect life in all its phases is irremediably faulty and ceases to demand any recognition,” they stated.
“We strongly feel that we cannot be party to any legislation that supports a culture of death. Life begins at conception and ends with natural death and any attempt to deny this truth is wrong and misleading,” the clerics said.
Thursday’s statement, issued by 23 bishops, was signed by Rt Rev Philip Sulumeti, the Bishop of Kakamega and KEC vice-chairman, with the mandate of John Cardinal Njue, the Archbishop of Nairobi and the KEC chairman.
The Catholic Church strongly opposes abortion. Through its bishops, it presented to the Committee of Experts a memorandum with regard to Article 35 — Right to Life — stating its stand.
The statement to the CoE also said every person has a right to life, and there shall be no abortion. The PSC team meeting in Naivasha has, however, declined to insert the proposed clause.

Asia News report:
At least 1,000 people set fire to the Pentecostal community places of worship. According to local Muslims, the two buildings did not have the legal permits as "churches." The Nahdlatul Ulama admits the violence of radical Islamists against Christians. In 2009 in Indonesia, 35 cases of violation of religious freedom, 28 against Christians.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A crowd of at least 1000 people burned down two Protestant churches last night in Sibuhuan (district of Padang Lawas, North Sumatra). The blaze was the culmination of tension between the faithful and the local Islamic community, tired of seeing " too many faithful and too many prayers " in a place not registered as a church.
The district chief of Padang Lawas, Basrah Lubis, said that "the attackers arrived in a flash. Their number was enormous, more or less a thousand. They were angry because the administration of the church had not responded to their demands: to change the use of buildings from 'places of prayer' to 'neutral buildings'. "
Both burned churches - two adjoining buildings - belong to the Synod of the Protestant Batak Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, Hkbp), and are Pentecostal churches, whose faithful belong predominantly to the ethnic Batak group. Even their liturgies, with dances and songs are in Batak language.
According to police, neither of the two buildings had a building permit and had to be considered "places of prayer" and not "churches". In Indonesia, to build a church a special legal permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan, IMB) is necessary. The process to get the permit is almost always hard and the Islamic community has boycotted the emergence of new churches. This lack of legal permits has become the main source of Muslims violence against Christians.
According to local witnesses, the first skirmishes took place last Christmas, when a large group of Sibuhuan residents held a sit-in protest against the existence of two churches, which has "too many members and disturbs the neighbours."
In fact, the services of the Pentecostal community are full of songs and musical instruments and it is possible that the religious holiday services were a nuisance to local members of another religion.
Conflicting with previous statements, the locals also argue against the community’s attempts to turn these "places of prayer" in "real churches". "The legal basis for declaring a church is that the number of believers is at least 60 members. But this community has only 23 members", claims Basrah Lubis.
The Hkbp community of Sibuhuan is in existence since 1982 and still can not get permission to convert buildings into real recognized churches. Lubis Basrah admits that non Christian local hinder recognition.
Now that the two buildings have been reduced to ashes, Hkbp communities have to travel to Sosa, 28 kilometres from Sibuhuan, where there are three permanent churches.
The Rev. Gomar Gultom, executive secretary of the Synod of Christian Churches in Indonesia (PGI), points out that all this anti-Christian violence occurs because some radical Islamic groups are deeply opposed to the construction of Christian places of worship and seek to restrain the public practise of other faiths. "In Indonesia, Christianity is legal - he says - but often, Christians are threatened."
Only yesterday in Jakarta, Prof. Said Agil Siradj of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest (moderate) Muslim organization in the country, submitted a report by the Wahid Institute to promote pluralism in Indonesia. The report shows that in 2009, out of about 35 cases of violation of religious freedom, 28 are against Christians. Prof. Sirad says that the violence against Christians is caused by small groups of Islamic extremists, whose knowledge of "true Islam is very poor."
He also encouraged Christians to keep good relations with Muslims, showing sensitivity towards them. Trying to build a church, all right - he said - but "it is better and wiser to discuss the plan with the local population to minimize misunderstandings."
Meanwhile tension remains high in Sibuhuan. The Pastor of the Pentecostal church has fled for fear of violence.
The Pastor of Sosa, the Rev. Rickson Nainggolan is defending his community. The fire, he says, serves to scare the Christians and stop their activities. He also points his finger at police who knew of the tensions since last Christmas and have done nothing to secure the situation.
The pastor also disputes the charge that the church did not have regular permits: "The Sibuhuan Hkbp has existed since 1982 and has its IMB. What the community has done is to" extend the existing building to accommodate the growing number of faithful. But the locals accuse us of not having the permission and have forced us to shut down our activities".
Subandriya, the local police chief, says however that the building burned yesterday "is not a church, but only a 'place of prayer'".(source:,-two-Protestant-churches-burnt:-too-many-faithful-and-too-many-prayers-17427.html


Cath News report:
The Henry tax review recommendation to end Fringe Benefits Tax concessions, which allows charity-run hospitals and nursing homes to top up payment to staff, could strip salary perks of some of the lowest-paid workers.
The Henry review said current arrangements are too complex and open to abuse, and suggests a better system would be for government agencies to pay charities through direct grants, the Herald Sun reports.
The welfare sector said that as a result, it may have to close or cut back essential services such as soup kitchens, the report said.
Catholic Health Australia has been advised by KPMG that the change would cost its 75 hospitals $72 million, making it harder to recruit nurses and other qualified staff, said the report.
"Some Catholic not-for-profit private hospitals would be forced to cut or close services," CHA chief executive Martin Laverty said.
"This may in time increase public hospital workloads. It may increase the cost of private health insurance. It would cause some not-for-profit hospitals to shut their doors."
Under the current system, not-for-profit organisations are eligible for tax concessions worth up to $30,000 a year. The benefits are available to church-run hospitals and nursing homes, charities and even some state-run hospitals.
Hundreds of thousands of workers, often earning modest wages of $40,000-$60,000, can receive top-up payments, but the Productivity Commission estimates the FBT concessions cost the tax base $1 billion every year.


St. John the Almsgiver
Feast: January 23
Feast Day:
January 23
550 at Arnathus, Cyprus
616 at Arnathus, Cyprus
Patron of:
Knights Hospitaller

Patriarch of Alexandria (606-16), b. at Amathus in Cyprus about 550; d. there, 616. He was the son of one Epiphanius, governor of Cyprus, and was of noble descent; in early life he was married and had children, but they and his wife soon died, whereupon he entered the religious life.
On the death of the Patriarch Theodorus, the Alexandrians besought Emperor Phocas to appoint John his successor, which was accordingly done. In his youth John had had a vision of a beautiful maiden with a garland of olives on her head, who said that she was Compassion, the eldest daughter of the Great King. This had evidently made a deep impression on John's mind, and, now that he had the opportunity of exercising benevolence on a large scale, he soon became widely known all over the East for his munificent liberality towards the poor. One of the first steps he took was to make a list of several thousand needy persons, whom he took under his especial care. He always referred to the poor as his "lords and masters", because of their mighty influence at the Court of the Most High. He assisted people of every class who were in need. A shipwrecked merchant was thus helped three times, on the first two occasions apparently without doing him much good; the third time however, John fitted him out with a ship and a cargo of wheat, and by favourable winds he was taken as far as Britain, where, as there was a shortage of wheat, he obtained his own price. Another person, who was not really in need, applied for alms and was detected by the officers of the palace; but John merely said "Give unto him; he may be Our Lord in disguise." He visited the hospitals three times every week, and he freed a great many slaves. He was a reformer who attacked simony, and fought heresy by means of improvements in religious education. He also reorganized the system of weights and measures for the sake of the poor, and put a stop to corruption among the officials. He increased the number of churches in Alexandria from seven to seventy.
John is said to have devoted the entire revenues of his see to the alleviation of those in need. A rich man presented him with a magnificent bed covering; he accepted it for one night, but then sold it, and disposed of the money in alms. The rich man "bought in" the article, and again presented it to John, with the same result. This was repeated several times; but John drily remarked: "We will see who tires first." It was not John. Another instance of his piety was that he caused his own grave to be dug, but only partly so, and appointed a servant to come before him on all state occasions and say "My Lord, your tomb is unfinished; pray give orders for its completion, for you know not the hour when death may seize you." When the Persians sacked Jerusalem in 614, John sent large supplies of food, wine, and money to the fleeing Christians. But eventually the Persians occupied Alexandria, and John himself in his old age was forced to flee to his native country, where he died.
His body was brought to Constantinople, thence to Ofen by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary; thence in 1530 to Toll near Presburg, and finally in 1632 to Presburg cathedral. He was the original patron saint of the Hospitallers, and was commemorated by the Greeks on 12 Nov. His life, written by Leontius of Neapolis, in Cyprus, was translated into Latin by Anastasius the Librarian in the ninth century and was referred to at the Seventh General Council.

St. Ildephonsus
Feast: January 23
Feast Day:
January 23
607 at Toledo, Spain
January 23, 667

Archbishop of Toledo; died 23 January, 667. He was born of a distinguished family and was a nephew of St. Eugenius, his predecessor in the See of Toledo. At an early age, despite the determined opposition of his father, he embraced the monastic life in the monastery of Agli, near Toledo. While he was still a simple monk, he founded and endowed a monastery of nuns in Deibiensi villula. We learn from his writings that he was ordained a deacon (about 630) by Helladius, who had been his abbot and was afterwards elected Archbishop of Toledo. Ildephonsus himself became Abbot of Agli, and in this capacity was one of the signatories, in 653 and 655, at the Eighth and Ninth Councils of Toledo. Called by King Reccesvinth, towards the end of 657, to fill the archiepiscopal throne, he governed the Church of Toledo for a little more than nine years and was buried in the Basilica of Saint Leocadia. To these scanty but authentic details of his life (they are attested by Ildephonsus himself, or by his immediate successor, Archbishop Julianus, in a short biographical notice which he added to the "De viris illustribus" of Ildephonsus) some doubtful or even legendary anecdotes were added later. At the end of the eighth century Cixila, Archbishop of Toledo, embellished the biography of his predecessor. He relates that Ildephonsus was the disciple of Isidore of Seville, and recalls in particular two marvellous stories, of which the second, a favourite theme of hagiographers, poets, and artists, has been for ages entwined with the memory of the saint. Ildephonsus, it is said, was one day praying before the relics of Saint Leocadia, when the martyr arose from her tomb and thanked the saint for the devotion he showed towards the Mother of God. It was related, further, that on another occasion the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in person and presented him with a priestly vestment, to reward him for his zeal in honouring her.
The literary work of Ildephonsus is better known than the details of his life, and merits for him a distinguished place in the roll of Spanish writers. His successor, Julianus of Toledo, in the notice already referred to, informs us that the saint himself divided his works into four parts. The first and principal division contained six treatises, of which two only have been preserved: "De virginitate perpetuâ sanctae Mariae adversus tres infideles" (these three unbelievers are Jovinianus, Helvidius, and "a Jew"), a bombastic work which displays however a spirit of ardent piety, and assures Ildephonsus a place of honour among the devoted servants of the Blessed Virgin; also a treatise in two books: (1) "Annotationes de cognitione baptismi", and (2) "Liber de itinere deserti, quo itur post baptismum". Recent researches have proved that the first book is only a new edition of a very important treatise compiled, at the latest, in the sixth century, Ildephonsus having contributed to it only a few additions (Helfferich, "Der westgothische Arianismus", 1860, 41-49). The second part of his works contained the saint's correspondence; of this portion, there are still preserved two letters of Quiricus, Bishop of Barcelona, with the replies of Ildephonsus. The third part comprised masses, hymns, and sermons; and the fourth, opuscula in prose and verse, especially epitaphs. The editions of the complete works of Ildephonsus contain a certain number of writings, several of which may be placed in either of the last two divisions; but some of them are of doubtful authenticity, while the remainder are certainly the work of another author. Moreover, Julianus states that Ildephonsus began a good number of other works, but his many cares would not permit of his finishing them. On the other hand, he makes no mention of a little work which is certainly authentic, the "De viris illustribus". It may be considered as a supplement to the "De viris illustribus" of Isidore of Seville, and is not so much a literary historical work as a writing intended to glorify the Church of Toledo and defend the rights of the metropolitan see. (SOURCE:


Mark 3: 20 - 21
Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.
And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, "He is beside himself."


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