Tuesday, January 12, 2010





(VIS) - Benedict XVI has expressed his condolences for the death of Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, who passed away on Saturday 9 January at the age of 84. In a telegram made public yesterday afternoon, addressed to Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, the Holy Father notes how the late cardinal "dedicated his entire life to helping Madagascans, as a diocesan priest and later as archbishop of Antananarivo, giving the best of himself that Christ might be announced". The Pope likewise prays that, "by the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, the Lord may welcome His faithful servant into His Kingdom of peace and light". With the death of Cardinal Razafindratandra, the college of cardinals now has 182 members, of whom 112 are electors.TGR/DEATH RAZAFINDRATANDRA/RAZANAKOLONA VIS 100112 (150)



USCCB report:

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, expressed support for a January 7 New Jersey State Senate vote to preserve the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
“On behalf of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee, I am grateful for the courage of those New Jersey senators who stood for the truth of marriage as a bulwark of the common good,” he said.
The New Jersey Senate voted 20-14 to reject a same-sex “marriage” bill, just as the New York State Senate did when it rejected a similar measure December 2 by a 38-24 margin.
“Preserving marriage between one man and one woman is a matter of justice; indeed it is one of the premier social justice issues of our time. It does not deny but rather supports basic human rights—especially the rights of children,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “The recent New York Senate vote and the vote in New Jersey witness to this fact.”
The votes in New York and New Jersey follow closely the November victory for marriage in Maine, where the “people’s veto” overturned the legislature’s spring 2009 decision to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.
Archbishop Kurtz noticed the timing of the votes.
“The recent decisions in Maine, New York and New Jersey are signs of hope and sources of encouragement. We are in a pivotal moment in this country on the issue of marriage, as more and more people recognize that protecting the basic rights of persons need not and should not come at the expense of the unique truth and value of marriage. The good of the love between husband and wife, the vital responsibilities of mothers and fathers, and the rights of children all deserve unique protection under law—all of these are indispensable to a just society that serves the dignity of all people and the common good.”(SOURCE:



UN report:

The United Nations refugee agency warned today that many parts of central Somalia are witnessing a surge in fighting, sparking growing displacement and worsening the plight of an already beleaguered population.
Clashes last week between two rival militia groups – Al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jaama – have reportedly killed or injured over 150 people and displaced some 7,000, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which adds that the figure of internally displaced persons could be higher.
Ongoing conflict has disrupted services and livelihoods, leaving the civilian population extremely vulnerable, the agency says.
“As the security situation does not allow UNHCR’s immediate intervention, we are in discussions with our local NGO [non-governmental organization] partners to find ways of delivering assistance to the people displaced by the latest fighting in the quickest time possible,” agency spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.
Some 1.5 million people in the Horn of Africa nation that has been torn apart by factional fighting and without a functioning central government since 1991 are displaced owing to escalating violence and a worsening humanitarian situation.
UNHCR reports that the number of Somalis arriving in neighbouring countries is on the rise, with some 3,000 Somalis registered as refugees in Ethiopia in December alone.
Over 110,000 Somalis have sought asylum in Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti last year, bringing the total number of Somali refugees in the region to over 560,000.
Mr. Mahecic said aid agencies are worried that growing insecurity, drought and the suspension of food aid in south central regions could worsen Somalia’s humanitarian crisis and trigger large-scale influx into other countries.
Over the past year the number of people in need of assistance in Somalia has risen from 3.2 million to 3.8 million, well over half the total population. (SOURCE:



Agenzia Fides reports that a group of Brazilian Bishops has rejected several points of the National Program on Human Rights decreed by President Luiz Lula da Silva. The program on human rights, implemented by the Minister in that area, Paulo Vanucci, provides for the establishment of the National Commission for the truth about the crimes of the dictatorship, some aspects regarding conflicts over land, the decriminalization of abortion, and civil unions between homosexuals. The program had already been questioned by some military leaders who oppose the investigation of crimes committed by the dictatorship between 1964 and 1985. Moreover, the economic groups linked to agricultural production, have opposed the initiative that includes 27 bills that would be turned into law within the next 11 months. "We see these initiatives as an arbitrary and undemocratic attitude of Lula's government. The Church is against it. All the bishops are against it," said the Bishop Jose Simao of Assis, President of the Committee for Defense of Life in the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB). (CE) (Agenzia Fides 11/01/2010)(SOURCE:



AsiaNews reports:

Attacked by uniformed and plainclothes police, who took his camera, the reporter was abandoned unconscious and bleeding in the street. Solidarity of the bishops of North Vietnam for Father Van Lien, accused by authorities of inducing"the faithful to commit crimes."
- Catholics beaten, a journalist attacked and injured, a priest threatened and under attack. This is the provisional toll from tensions in Dong Hoi, 70 kilometers south of Hanoi, in the aftermath of the destruction of the crucifix in the parish cemetery by the local authorities and their intervention to quell violent protests against the sacrilegious act. An act condemned by the bishops of the northern part of Vietnam.
"If he had not had a helmet, he would be dead" said the nurse who is treating JB Nguyen Huu Vinh, a Catholic journalist who was attacked and beaten by dozens of agents and pro-government thugs. The attack occurred yesterday. At 5.30 pm Father Nguyen Van Lien, of the parish of Dong Chiem, together with the journalist was making a motorcycle ride around the village. "I trying to get around a big pile of dirt placed on the bridge of the Nang - says the priest – placed there to prevent access to the area, when a group of uniformed and plainclothes police attacked us." "Seeing that the journalist had a camera around his neck, a dozen policemen jumped on him, trying to snatch it. I left the bike and rushed to his defence, but the agents used sticks to threaten me and make me turn back. Then, once they had the camera, they ran away, leaving the victim in the street, unconscious and with his face bloodied”.
A nun of the order of the Lovers of the Holy Cross in Dong Chiem came to their rescue. Along the way they met a bicycle with two disabled Catholic war veterans. They wanted to go to Dong Chiem. They had encountered the same group of policemen and were also attacked.
The attack on the priest and other Catholics led to a protest march of thousands of Catholics on the streets of Dong Hoi. The protesters also demanded the release of five people, among the poorest parishioners Dong Chiem, held since January 7. That day, the five had been summoned to the service canter of the government to "fill forms for food aid”. At end of day, loudspeakers announced that the five "had bowed their heads, pleading guilty" to having built the bamboo cross, situated in the place where the great crucifix was destroyed with explosives, the day before by the authorities.
The cross signifies the right to property of a site that has "belonged to the parish for more than one hundred years and which we do not want to give up".
The situation Dong Chiem seems to be moving in the same direction as that of Thai Ha, Tam Toa and Vinh Long. Gangs of thugs (in photo) and state media attack Catholics beat and defame them, threaten their jobs, encourage contempt for religion and hatred between believers and nonbelievers. On 9 January, the president of the district, Le Cong Sang, signed a statement accusing Father Joseph Nguyen Van Huu of "not to meeting his duties as pastor and instead of encouraging his followers to commit crimes," of " supporting anti-government activities "," undermining the large bloc of national unity "and" conducting propaganda against the government of the people. "
Sang has also ordered the priest to remove the bamboo cross and to report in person to the People's Committee of My Duc district. Father Van Huu has posted an announcement on the walls of the parish to make known the latest developments to the faithful to make sure that they are not alone: masses and prayer vigils in support of them are being celebrated throughout the country and even abroad, the United States, England , Ireland, Japan.
Support for the priest and his faithful has been expressed by several bishops of Vietnam. Bishop Joseph Nguyen Van Yen, of Phat Diem, went in person, despite the risk of being attacked by the usual thugs.
From Australia, the Federation of Catholic media has reported police violence against the journalist, as well as towards others, and asked the Vietnamese government to carry out an inquiry into the case so as to avoid further violations of justice and ensure that victims are compensated for material and moral damage. In a statement they have expressed "growing concern" about what is happening in Dong Chiem and ask the government to restore respect for the law and prevent violence against those who take part in activities of prayer.


The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has named Most Rev Anthony Fisher op as the third bishop of Parramatta. He succeeds Most Rev Kevin Manning who has been Bishop of Parramatta since 1997 and is retiring.
Bishop Anthony is a Dominican friar and ethicist. He was Coordinator of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. For the past seven years he has been Parish Priest of Watson’s Bay and an auxiliary bishop of Sydney.
At 49, Bishop Anthony Fisher is the youngest Catholic bishop in Australia. “It is a very great privilege to be entrusted with this role of leadership and service in the vibrant young diocese of Parramatta,” Bishop Anthony said.
“Western Sydney is one of Australia’s fastest growing areas, with a median age of only 32, many young families and numerous ethnic communities. Parramatta may be one of our youngest dioceses but it is already the fifth most populous in Australia and has many exciting possibilities.” The Diocese of Parramatta was separated from the Archdiocese of Sydney in 1986 and includes the shires of Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Parramatta and Penrith, and parts of Wollondilly and Liverpool.
With a third of the locals identifying as Catholic in the last census (319,215), it is Australia’s most Catholic area. It already has 49 parishes, 76 systemic schools (54 primary and 22 secondary) and 6 congregational schools.
“I don’t come with any agenda apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church,” Bishop Anthony explained. “I want to hear from the priests and people of the diocese, their hopes, gifts and challenges, and learn from them.” (SOURCE;


St. Marguerite Bourgeoys
Feast: January 12 (Canada)
Feast Day:
January 12
17 April 1620, Troyes, France
12 January 1700, Montreal,Canada
31 October 1982, by Pope John Paul II
Major Shrine:
Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, Montreal
Against poverty, loss of parents, people rejected by religious orders

MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS was born in Troyes, in the province of Champagne (France), on Good Friday, April 17, 1620. She was baptized on the same day in the church of Saint-Jean, a church that was located near her home. Marguerite was the sixth child in a family of twelve. Her parents were Abraham Bourgeoys and Guillemette Gamier, and she was privileged to grow up in a milieu that was middle class and thoroughly Christian.Marguerite was nineteen years of age when she lost her mother. In the following year, 1640, in the course of a procession held on October 7 in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, she had an unforgettable experience. Her eyes rested on a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and at that moment she felt inspired to withdraw from the world and to consecrate herself to the service of God. She registered, at once, as a member of the extern Congregation of Troyes, an association of young girls devoted to the charitable work of teaching children in the poor districts of the town. While engaged in this apostolate she learned about the foundation of Ville Marie (Montreal) in Canada. The year was 1642, and at that time she sensed a first call to missionary life. This call was rendered concrete in 1652 when she met Monsieur de Maisonneuve, founder and governor of the settlement begun in New France, who was in search of someone who would volunteer her services for the gratuitous instruction of the French and Indian children. Our Lady confirmed the call addressed to her: "Go, I will not forsake you", she said. Thus assured, Marguerite left Troyes in February, 1653, in a spirit of complete detachment. She arrived in Montreal on the following 16th of November, and without delay she set to work to promote the best interests of the colony. She is rightly considered co-foundress of Montreal, with the nurse, Jeanne Mance, and the master designer, Monsieur de Maisonneuve.In order to encourage the colonists in their faith, she arranged for the restoration of the Cross on Mount Royal after it has been destroyed by hostile Indians, and she undertook the construction of a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Convinced of the importance of the family in the building of this new country, and perceiving the significance of the role to be exercised by women, she devoted herself to the task of preparing those whose vocation it would be to preside in a home. In 1658, in a stable which had been given to her by the governor for her use, she opened the first school in Montreal. She also organized an extern Congregation, patterned after the one which she had known in Troyes but adapted to the actual needs. In this way, she could respond to the needs of the women and young girls on whom much depended as far as the instruction of children was concerned. In 1659, she began receiving girls who were recommended by "les cures" in France, or endowed by the King, to come to establish homes in Montreal, and she became a real mother to them. Thus were initiated a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended through the whole country, and which led people to refer to Marguerite as "Mother of the Colony".On three occasions, Marguerite Bourgeoys made a trip to France to obtain help. As of1658, the group of teachers who associated themselves with her in her life of prayer, of heroic poverty, and of untiring devotedness to the service of others, presented the image of a religious institute. The Congregation de Notre-Dame received its civil charter from Louis XIV in 1671, and canonical approbation by decree of the Bishop of Quebec in 1676. The Constitutions of the Community were approved in 1698.
The foundation having been assured, Sister Bourgeoys could leave the work to others. She died in Montreal on January 12, 1700, acknowledged for her holiness of life. Her last generous act was to offer herself as a sacrifice of prayer for the return to health of a young Sister. Forty members of the Congregation de Notre-Dame were there to continue her work.On November 12, 1950 Pope Pius XII beatified Marguerite Bourgeoys. Canonizing her on October 31, 1982, Pope John Paul II gave the Canadian Church its first woman saint.

St. Bernard of Corleone
Feast: January 12
Feast Day:
January 12
1605, Sicily
12 January 1667, Palermo
10 June 2001, by Pope John Paul II

Saint Bernard was born on the island of Sicily in the year 1605. His father was a shoemaker and taught his son the ways of the trade. But it was difficult for the lively youth to interest himself in this work. Upon the death of his father, he immediately left the shop and, led by the love of adventure, he took up fencing. It was not long before he became quite adept at wielding the sword. His unusual vigor qualified him to challenge any comer to a contest.
As a youth and young adult he spent the greater part of his time in training and eagerly seized every opportunity to match swords with his countrymen.
Although this manner of life led him far away from God, nevertheless many noble characteristics were perceptible in St. Bernard. In taking up any quarrel he liked to defend old people and other helpless and defenseless persons against violence. He frequently made devout visits to a crucifix that was highly honored by the people, and provided that a lamp be kept burning before it. Moreover, he cherished great devotion towards Saint Francis of Assisi.
At one point, St. Bernard had been challenged to a duel, in the course of which he wounded his opponent mortally. In order to escape from his avengers, he sought refuge amongst the Capuchin Franciscans.
In order to atone for his sins, he begged for admission among the Capuchins as a lay brother, and on December 13, 1632 he entered the Franciscan novitiate. If in the past St. Bernard had yielded his bodily members to wayward purposes, he now used them as an atoning sacrifice unto salvation. It is reported that seven times a day he scourged himself to the blood. His sleep was limited to three hours on a narrow board, with a block of wood under his head. He fasted for the most part on bread and water. If anything delicious was placed before him, he would carry the food to his mouth so as to whet his appetite, and then lay it down without having tasted it. In spite of his austere life, he still undertook the most unpleasant and annoying tasks as being his due.
St. Bernard had an especially ardent devotion at prayer. St. Bernard cherished a special love for the Blessed Mary, and encouraged others to do the same. The Blessed Mother appeared to him and placed the Divine Child in his arms. Moreover, she gave him knowledge of the day of his death four months in advance. He died at Palermo on January 12, 1667.
His biographers stated that, attracted by the fame of his sanctity, there gathered for his burial so many people who raised their voices in praise of the deceased, that it was less a funeral cort├Ęge than a triumphal procession. Numerous miracles occurring at his grave promoted the cause of his beatification by pope Clement XIII in 1767 and subsequent canonization by pope John Paul II in 2001.(SOURCE:


Mark 1: 21 - 28
And they went into Caper'na-um; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit;
and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God."
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!"
And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him."
And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

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