Wednesday, January 20, 2010


(vis) - Before his general audience, held this morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI blessed a marble state of St. Rafaela Maria Porras y Ayllon, foundress of the Sisters Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has been positioned in a niche in the external wall of the Vatican Basilica. The theme of the papal catechesis in today's audience was the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is currently being celebrated and which, the Holy Father noted, invites us to pray to the Lord for "the visible unity of all Christians", because unity is "first and foremost a gift of God". He then remarked how the theme chosen for this year's Week - "you are witnesses of these things" - raises two questions: "what are these things?" and: "how can we be witnesses of these things?". The answer to the first question is "the mystery of the Passion and the gift of the Resurrection", said the Pope. "By knowing Christ we know the face of God. ... In Christ, the distant God becomes close". As for the second question, he explained that "we can only be witnesses of Christ, ... by knowing Him personally, ... and truly meeting Him in our life of faith, and thus we can contribute to the novelty of the world, to eternal life". "The modern ecumenical movement has undergone such considerable development in the last century as to become an important element in the life of the Church. ... It not only favours fraternal relations between Churches and ecclesial communities, in response to the commandment to love, ... but also stimulates theological research. Furthermore, it involves the real life of Churches and ecclesial communities, with themes that concern pastoral care and sacramental life". "Since Vatican Council II the Catholic Church has forged fraternal relations with all the Churches of the East and ecclesial communities of the West. In particular, with most of them, she has established bilateral theological dialogue that has been able to find points of convergence, even consensus, on various matters, thus strengthening our bonds of communion. Over the last twelvemonth, the various dialogues have made important progress". Turning then to refer specifically to "the study of a crucial theme in dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox: 'the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the first millennium'", a study which will subsequently "also extend to the second millennium", the Holy Father recalled how he had asked Catholics to pray "for this delicate dialogue which is so essential for the entire ecumenical movement". The Holy Father likewise referred to such events as "the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which Catholics and Lutherans celebrated together on 31 October 2009", and "the visit to Rome of Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, ... who held discussions on the situation currently facing the Anglican Communion. The joint commitment to continue dialogue is a positive sign, an expression of how intense the desire for unity is, despite the obstacles that stand in its way", said the Pope. And he went on: "Ecumenical work is not a linear process, the old problems that arose in another age lose their importance, giving way to problems and difficulties of our own time. For this reason we must always be willing to accept a process of purificationm, through which the Lord makes us capable of unity". The Holy Father concluded by asking people "to pray for the complex question of ecumenism, for the promotion of dialogue, and that the Christians of our time may show the world a shared witness of faithfulness to Christ".AG/CHRISTIAN UNITY/... VIS 100120 (630)
CONCLUSION OF NINTH MEETING OF HOLY SEE-ISRAEL COMMISSION VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Bilateral Commission of the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel released a communique at the conclusion of their 17-20 January meeting in Rome. The text, written in English, highlights how during this meeting, the ninth since its creation, the commission participated "in the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the great synagogue in Rome. "At this event", the communique adds, "the Pope categorically reaffirmed the commitment of the Catholic Church to dialogue and fraternity with the Jewish people, as well as unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. He also highlighted the significance of the work of the bilateral commission itself, about to hold its meeting on the subject of Catholic and Jewish teaching on creation and the environment, wishing it a 'profitable dialogue on such a timely and important theme'. Similarly Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, in his words on this occasion emphasised the mutual obligation of Christians and Jews to work together to protect the environment in keeping with the biblical charge. "However, the meeting also took place in the shadow of the catastrophic tragedy in Haiti. Indeed, the aforementioned gathering in the synagogue, opened with a minute of silence in solidarity with the victims. The members of the commission expressed their prayers for the victims and for the recovery of the survivors and applauded the international rescue and aid for the reconstruction of Haiti. "During the course of the meeting the members attended the moving presentation of Fr. Patrick Desbois at the Pontifical Gregorian University that highlighted the work of 'Yachad in Unum' to locate and memorialise the unidentified sites in Eastern Europe of mass murder during the Shoah. The commission urged the respective religious communities to support and publicise this very important work, in order to learn from the tragedies of the past to protect and respect the sanctity of human life everywhere so that atrocities will never reoccur"..../JEWISH CATHOLIC DIALOGUE/... VIS 100120 (340)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Bishop Edney Gouvea Mattoso, auxiliary of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as bishop of Nova Friburgo (area 9,866, population 652,000, Catholics 599,659, priests 70, permanent deacons 16, religious 62), Brazil. He succeeds Rafael Llano Cifuentes, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. - Erected the new apostolic vicariate of Hosanna (area 12,000, population 2,400,000, Catholics 135,000, priests 35, religious 51) Ethiopia, with territory taken from the current apostolic vicariate of Soddo-Hosanna. He appointed Fr. Woldeghiorghis Mathewos, spiritual father of the major seminary of Soddo-Hosanna in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Wassera, Ethiopia in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1969. - Gave his assent to the declaration of impediment of the eparchial see of Stryj of the Ukrainians, Ukraine, canonically issued by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, because of the state of health of Julian Gbur S.V.D., in accordance with canon 233 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. - Accepting the proposal of the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, appointed Bishop Taras Senkiv O.M., auxiliary of Stryj of the Ukrainians, Ukraine, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the same circumscription.NER:RE:ECE:NA/.../... VIS 100120 (240)
CNA report:
The Consolata Missionaries marked the first anniversary since the untimely death of Italian Fr. Giuseppe Bertaina at a colourful celebration that also marked the dedication of the Consolata Language Centre to his memory.Fr. Matthew Ouma, the General Councillor in charge of Africa, reminded the congregation that, although it may seem strange to many, one of the most productive avenues for growth, transcendence, is found through the experience of death. Taking the example of the late Fr. Bertaina, who dedicated his life to the formation of missionaries through the Consolata Institute of Philosophy, Fr. Ouma brought out that a seed does not produce anything unless it dies (John 12:24).Fr. Ouma brought out the legacy of Fr. Bertaina as someone to be emulated. The Mass, which was attended also by all the Rectors of the religious Institutes whose students study at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy, became a period of soul searching for many. He noted that death is perhaps the best reminder that our time in this world is limited and that we would better accomplish our purpose here on earth before our time runs out.The commemoration was also coupled with the dedication of the Consolata Language Centre to Fr Bertaina�s memory. A plague was unveiled with an apt message�. �May his love for education and learning inspire all who pass thro this centre.�Fr. Bertaina was found dead in his office on January 17, 2009 and two people are being prosecuted for his murder in the Kenyan courts.(SOURCE:
CNA report:
The body of Vicar General Charles Benoit was found beneath the ruins of the Port-au-Prince Cathedral today, a week after the catastrophic earthquake that wreaked havoc on the Haitian community. Vicar General Charles Benoit was discovered with his hands around a reliquary which contained a host inside. Despite the bad news, rescuers were encouraged by a dramatic two hour rescue that took place Wednesday. Enu Zizi, 60, had been trapped beneath the rubble in the Port-au-Prince Cathedral since the devastating quake hit last Tuesday evening local time. Zizi's first words upon being pulled from the wreckage were to tell her rescuers, “I love you.” Caritas worker Ruth Schoffl translated Zizi's message for her fellow rescuers and said, “It was like witnessing a small miracle.” “After a week of searching we heard this voice. I was able to speak to her, translating for the rescue team,” said Schoffl. The Cancun Mexico Rescue Brigade and the South African Relief Team are credited with rescuing Enu,who, aside from injured lips and a possible broken leg, was not critically hurt. “The rescue of Zizi has been the best thing in the team we have experienced,” said Ahmed Bham, leader of the South African Relief Team. “It is the first time we have saved somebody's life after such a long time after the quake.” “The team has got an energy boost,” he continued, “and we are heading out to do more work as there is still hope.”(SOURCE:
AsiaNews report:
They are suspected of having caused the fire and throwing stones against the church Metro Tabernacle, of the Assembly of God. Police are investigating their links with the other 10 attacks on places of worship, after the controversy on even Christians being allowed to use of the word Allah. The political exploitation of the Umno. Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Malaysian police have arrested eight youths on suspicion of burning of a church in the capital, the first in a series of attacks on Christian places of worship. Bakri Zinin, chief of federal police investigator said that young people, 21 to 26 years, "are suspected of being involved in the criminal fire of the Metro Tabernacle Church”. The building, which belongs to the Assembly of God community, is located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. On January 8, some people threw stones and incendiary objects at the building resulting in serious damage. Bakri Zinin also stated that the investigation will determine whether the young people themselves are linked to other attacks. In recent weeks, there were 10 other attacks against churches and places of worship in Malaysia after the one at Metro Tabernacle. The series of violence seems to have been unleashed after the High Court decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word "Allah" to define "God", on 31 December. This has caused the anger of local Islamic groups that defend the exclusive use of the word for Islam, accusing other religions (including Christians) of aiming to subtly proselytize. In fact the word "Allah" is commonly used by Christians throughout the Middle East and Indonesia. In Malaysia there is evidence of the Christian use of the term since the 17th century. The government supports the Islamic groups and has declared its intention to appeal against the decision of the court. According to analysts, government support to fundamentalist groups has electoral purposes. By aligning itself with them the majority party, the Umno, hopes to have more electoral support. The Islamic opposition party, Pas, advocates the use of speech for Christians and Jews. A multiethnic country, Malaysia has about 25 million inhabitants. The majority is Malay and Muslim (60%). Then there are Chinese (25%) and Indians (8%). The Christians are 10%, Catholics 3.17%. (SOURCE:


Cath News report:
Some details of the case under investigation regarding a possible miracle attributed to Venerable Pope Pius XII have been made public, and the story involves Pope John Paul II, the Catholic News Agency reports. Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli published an article in Il Giornale, saying a case involving Pope John Paul II was brought to the attention of Benedict XVI shortly before he declared Pius XII as venerable. In 2005, a 31-year-old teacher was expecting her third child in the city of Castellammare di Stabia. She began to have strong pains, which after many tests and a biopsy, signalled the presence of Burkitt's lymphoma. The condition is typified by swollen lymph nodes, often starting in the abdominal region, and the cancer can spread to bone marrow and spinal fluid. Her health and the health of her child was in danger. The woman's husband first prayed for the intercession Pope John Paul II, who reportedly appeared to him in a dream. The spouse described to Tornielli what he saw that night, "He had a serious face. He said to me, 'I can't do anything, you must pray to this other priest...' He showed me the image of a thin, tall, lean priest. I didn't recognize him; I didn't know who he might be." Several days passed before he, "by chance," came across a picture of Pope Pius XII in a magazine and recognised him as the man John Paul II had shown him in the dream. The man prayed for Pius XII's intercession. Following her very first treatments, the woman's tumour disappeared. She was cured so quickly that her doctors pondered the notion that they may have originally misdiagnosed the pathology. The tests and charts were reconsulted and the initial diagnosis was confirmed. A local news source, the Sorrento & Dintorni, said a Tribunal has been organised by Archbishop Felice Cece of Sorrento-Castellammare to determine the nature of the occurrence and whether it will move on to the Vatican. (source:
Cath News report:
Brisbane priest Father Tim Harris said there is growing support for former parishioner, Scott Rush, who is on death row in Bali, since a statement by fellow "Bali Nine" Renae Lawrence that he was just a first time courier. Fr Harris, Corinda-Graceville parish priest, told The Catholic Leader that results of a recent online survey showed about 38,000 people believed that the 24-year-old Brisbane man should not receive the death penalty for his involvement in heroin smuggling. "This was more than twice the number that said that Scott should face the death penalty," Fr Harris said. "In the past, responses to such questions had been about 50-50 or worse. "It seems likely the change has been brought about by Renae's recent admission that she had made a number of drug runs into Bali but that this was Scott's first attempt. She received 20 years jail, the priest said, but Rush got the death penalty after an appeal. "When you look at these facts, Scott's death sentence would seem to be particularly out of proportion." Rush's Indonesian legal team has already lost two appeals seeking to reverse the death sentence. A third and final appeal is permitted. If this was to fail, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could appeal to the Indonesian Government for clemency as a last resort. (source:
St. Sebastian MARTYR Feast: January 20 Information: Feast Day: January 20 Died: 288 Patron of: Soldiers, plagues, arrows, athletes St Sebastian was born at Narbonne, in Gaul, but his parents were of Milan, in Italy, and he was brought up in that city. He was a fervent servant of Christ, and though his natural inclinations gave him an aversion to a military life, yet to be better able, without suspicion, to assist the confessors and martyrs in their sufferings, he went to Rome and entered the army under the emperor Carinus about the year 283. It happened that the martyrs, Marcus and Marcellianus, under sentence of death, appeared in danger of being shaken in their faith by the tears of their friends: Sebastian—seeing this, steps in and made them a long exhortation to constancy, which he delivered with the holy fire that strongly affected all his hearers. Zoe, the wife of Nicostratus, having for six years lost the use of speech by a palsy in her tongue, fell at his feet, and spoke distinctly; by the saint making the sign of the cross on her mouth. She, with her husband Nicostratus, who was master of the rolls, the parents of Marcus and Marcellianus, the jailer Claudius, and sixteen other prisoners, were converted; and Nicostratus, who had charge of the prisoners, took them to his own house, where Polycarp, a holy priest, instructed and baptized them. Chromatius, governor of Rome, being informed of this, and that Tranquillinus, the father of SS. Marcus and Marcellianus, had been cured of the gout by receiving baptism, desired to be instructed in the faith, being himself grievously afflicted with the same distemper. Accordingly, having sent for Sebastian, he was cured by him, and baptized with his son Tiburtius. He then enlarged the converted prisoners, made his slaves free, and resigned his prefectship. Chromatius, with the emperor's consent, retired into the country in Campania, taking many new converts along with him. It was a contest of zeal, out of a mutual desire of martyrdom, between St. Sebastian and the priest Polycarp, which of them should accompany this troop, to complete their instruction, and which should remain in the city to encourage and assist the martyrs, which latter was the more dangerous province. St. Austin wished to see such contests of charity amongst the ministers of the church. Pope Caius, who was appealed to, judged it most proper that Sebastian should stay in Rome as a defender of the church. In the year 286, the persecution growing hot, the pope and others concealed themselves in the imperial palace, as a place of the greatest safety, in the apartments of one Castulus, a Christian officer of the court. St. Zoe was first apprehended, praying at St. Peter's tomb on the feast of the apostles. She was stifled with smoke, being hung by the heels over a fire. Tranquillinus, ashamed to be less courageous than a woman, went to pray at the tomb of St. Paul, and was seized by the populace and stoned to death. Nicostratus, Claudius, Castorius, and Victorinus were taken, and, after having been thrice tortured, were thrown into the sea. Tiburtius, betrayed by a false brother, was beheaded. Castulus, accused by the same wretch, was thrice put on the rack, and afterwards buried alive. Marcus and Marcellianus were nailed by the feet to a post, and having remained in that torment twenty-four hours, were shot to death by arrows. St. Sebastian, having sent so many martyrs to heaven before him, was himself impeached before the Emperor Diocletian, who, having grievously reproached him with ingratitude, delivered him over to certain archers of Mauritania, to be shot to death. His body was covered with arrows, and he left for dead. Irene, the widow of St. Castulus, going to bury him, found him still alive, and took him to her lodgings, where, by care, he recovered of his wounds, but refused to flee, and even placed himself one day by a staircase where the emperor was to pass, whom he first accosted, reproaching him for his unjust cruelties against the Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person, too, whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the emperor; but, recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for his being seized and beat to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer. A pious lady, called Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, got it privately removed, and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus. A church was afterwards built over his relics by Pope Damasus, which is one of the seven ancient stationary churches at Rome, but not one of the seven principal churches of that city, as some moderns mistake; it neither being one of the five patriarchal churches, nor one of the seventy-two old churches which give titles to cardinals. Vandelbert, St. Ado, Eginard, Sigebert, and other contemporary authors relate that, in the reign of Louis Debonnair, Pope Eugenius II gave the body of St. Sebastian to Hilduin, Abbot of St. Denys, who brought it into France, and it was deposited at St. Medard's, at Soissons, on the 8th of December, in 826 With it is said to have been brought a considerable portion of the relics of St. Gregory the Great. The rich shrines of SS. Sebastian, Gregory, and Medard were plundered by the Calvinists in 1564, and the sacred bones thrown into a ditch, in which there was water. Upon the declaration of two eye-witnesses, they were afterwards found by the Catholics, and in 1578 enclosed in three new shrines, though the bones of the three saints could not be distinguished from each other. The head of this martyr, which was given to St. Willibrord by Pope Sergius, is kept at Esternach, in the duchy of Luxemburg. Portions of his relics are shown in the cathedral at St. Victor's; the Theatins and Minims at Paris; in four churches at Mantua; at Malacca, Seville, Toulouse; Munich in the ducal palace; Tournay in the cathedral; Antwerp in the Church of the Jesuits; and at Brussels in the chapel of the court, not at St. Gudule's, as some have mistaken. St. Sebastian has been always honoured by the church as one of her most illustrious martyrs. We read in Paul the deacon in what manner, in the year 680, Rome was freed from a raging pestilence by the patronage of this saint. Milan in 1575, Lisbon in 1599, and other places, have experienced in like calamities the effects of his intercession with God in their behalf.(SOURCE:
St. Fabian POPE, MARTYR Feast: January 20 Information: Feast Day: January 20 Died: January 20, 250 Rome, Italy He succeeded St. Anterus in the pontificate in the year 236. Eusebius relates that in an assembly of the people and clergy, held for the election of a pastor in his room, a dove, unexpectedly appearing, settled, to the great surprise of all present, on the head of St. Fabian, and that this miraculous sign united the votes of the clergy and people in promoting him, though not thought of before, as being a layman and a stranger. He governed the church sixteen years, sent St. Dionysius and other preachers into Gaul, and condemned Privatus, a broacher of a new heresy in Africa, as appears from St. Cyprian. St. Fabian died a glorious martyr in the persecution of Decius, in 250, as St. Cyprian and St. Jerome witness. The former, writing to his successor, St. Cornelius, calls him an incomparable man, and says that the glory of his death had answered the purity and holiness of his life. The saints made God, and the accomplishment of his holy will, the great object of all their petitions in their prayers, and their only aim in all their actions. "God," says St. Austin,[3] "in his promises to hear our prayers, is desirous to bestow himself upon us; if you find any thing better than him, ask it, but if you ask any thing beneath him, you put an affront upon him, and hurt yourself by preferring to him a creature which he framed: pray in the spirit and sentiment of love, in which the royal prophet said to him, 'Thou, O Lord, art my portion.'[4] Let others choose to themselves portions among creatures; for my part, Thou are my portion, Thee alone I have chosen for my whole inheritance."(SOURCE:

Bl. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi PRIEST Feast: January 20 Information: Feast Day: January 20 Born: September, 1903, Aguleri, Anambra, Nigeria Died: January 20, 1964, Leicester, England Beatified: March 22, 1998 by Pope John Paul II Bl. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was born in 1903 in Igboezunu, at the edge of: the forest near the ancient city of Aguleri in southern Nigeria. His parents, Tabansi and Ejikwevi, were Igbo farmers who practised the "traditional religion" and gave him the name Iwene at birth. In 1909 he was sent to the Christian village of Nduka, where he was baptized three years later by Irish missionaries and given the name Michael. His peers described him as studious and very demanding with himself, with a precocious personality and deep piety. At the age of 16 he received his first school leaving certificate, which qualified him for teaching. He taught at Holy Trinity Primary School in Onitsha for three years and served for a year as headmaster at St Joseph School in Aguleri. In 1925, against the wishes of his family, he entered St Paul's Seminary in Igbariam. After finishing his philosophical and theological studies, he was ordained a priest in the cathedral of Onitsha on 19 December 1937 by the missionary Bishop Charles Heerey. The second indigenous priest of Onitsha and the first in the Aguleri region, he began his pastoral ministry in the parish of Nnewi. In 1939 he was appointed parish priest of Dunukofia (Umudioka region), where he courageously tackled immoral customs and destroyed the harmful myth of the "cursed forest", which weighed heavily on the peace of consciences and families. To combat premarital cohabitation, he set up marriage preparation centres where girls and young women could be sheltered and receive Christian formation. For the moral education of young people he also established the League of Mary, with remarkable success. On foot or bicycle, Fr Tansi went from village to village preaching, catechizing and setting up prayer centres that eventually became parishes. He spent hours and hours hearing confessions, even until late at night. His zeal, shining example and life of prayer and penance transformed the people into a true Christian community resulting in so many vocations to the priesthood and religious life that his parish held the diocesan record. The same energy characterized his years as parish priest of Akpu, where he served from 1945 until his transfer to Aguleri in 1949. On an unspecified date between 1949 and 1950, during a priests' day of recollection, Bishop Heerey expressed the desire that one of his priests would embrace the monastic life so that he could later establish a contemplative monastery in his Diocese. Fr Tansi immediately said he was willing. Bishop Heerey contacted the Trappist Abbey of Mount St Bernard in Leicestershire, England, which was willing to receive him for a trial period as an oblate. In the summer of 1950 he led his parishioners on a pilgrimage to Rome for the Holy Year and left from there for Mount St Bernard. After two and a half years as an oblate, he was admitted to the novitiate on the vigil of the Immaculate Conception, taking the name Cyprian. One year later he took his simple vows and was solemnly professed on 8 December 1956. For the next seven years he lived a hidden life of prayer and work, humility and obedience, in faithful and generous observance of the Cistercian rule. In 1963, after 13 years of valuable experience as a Trappist, the time now seemed ripe for establishing a monastery in Nigeria. However, political tensions led his superiors to choose neighbouring Cameroon for the foundation instead. This was a hard blow for Fr Cyprian, who had been appointed novice master for the African monastery. It was the only time in 13 years of monastic life that he ever lost his temper, but he quickly regained control and accepted God's will with supernatural heroism. In January 1964 he began experiencing intense pain in one of his legs. Diagnosed as having thrombosis, the following morning he was found unconscious and was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Leicester, where examination revealed an aortic aneurysm. He died the following morning, 20 January 1964. He was buried at Mount St Bernard on 22 January. Present for the funeral liturgy were several Nigerian priests living in London, including his spiritual son, Fr Francis Arinze, the future Archbishop of Onitsha, Cardinal and President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. His body was exhumed in 1988 and reburied in the priests' cemetery near the cathedral of Onitsha, where he had been ordained a priest 51 years earlier. After the beatification ceremonies, his remains will be buried in the parish church of his native village, Aguieri. (SOURCE:
Mark 3: 1 - 6 1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here." 4 And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Hero'di-ans against him, how to destroy him.

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