Saturday, February 27, 2010




On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI and his collaborators of the Vatican Curia concluded their week of Lenten Spiritual Exercises, on the theme: “Lessons of God and the Church on the priestly vocation”.Pope Benedict XVI emerged from a week of prayer, reflection and silence to describe the meditations offered by Salesian Priest, Don Enrico Dal Covolo as a very "passionate and personal reflection” on the ministry of the priesthood.The spiritual exercises in preparation for Easter, which had started on Sunday 21 with the exposure of the Eucharist and the celebration of Vespers, were held throughout the week in the "Redemptoris Mater" chapel of the Apostolic Palace, with morning and afternoon sessions. On Saturday thanking the Don Enrico, the Pope stressed the importance of having an inner ear and docility of heart which renders us capable of listening to God: In impromptu remarks he noted that the act of listening “sums up the Christian vision of man” because man is a relational being, “he needs to listen and be listened to, above all he needs to listen to God. Only then will he truly become himself”.This form of listening, the Pope continued, is a sign of wisdom that can only be achieved in communion with the Church. A form that Pope Benedict revealed he contemplated during these days while gazing at one of the beautiful mosaics that adorn the Redemptoris Mater chapel, a mosaic which portrays the Virgin Mary, called the "Living Throne of Wisdom". "The Church Fathers say that the moment of conception of the Eternal Word in the womb of the Virgin Mary in the Holy Spirit came through the ear. Listening conceived the Eternal Word. And thus it is to have a listening heart. " The Holy Father also recalled the so-called "emblem" priests presented by Don Enrico Dal Covolo, which gave substance to their reflection on the vocation to ordained ministry. Five portraits of exemplary priests, from St. John Vianney to John Paul II, with a preamble focusing on the idea that the priesthood has ancient Fathers, such as St. Augustine and St. Ignatius of Antioch: “With renewed courage” he concluded “we now face our mission”.


Pope Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of best wishes to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I ahead of his 70th birthday. Below we publish the text of the papal telegram:To His Holiness Bartholomaios IArchbishop of ConstantinopleEcumenical PatriarchThe happy occasion of your Seventieth Birthday offers me a welcome opportunity to give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Giver of every good gift, for the abundant blessings which he has bestowed upon Your Holiness, and at the same time to convey my warm good wishes.These fervent and fraternal good wishes are accompanied by my prayers that our One Lord will sustain you with his strength and grace as you carry out your high ministry of Pastor, Preacher of the Gospel and Teacher of the spiritual life.With pleasant memories of our meetings, particularly my visit to the Phanar for the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, Peter’s brother, I exchange with Your Holiness a holy embrace, while expressing my prayerful confidence that the Spirit of God will continue to enlighten and guide our path towards the full communion willed by Christ for all his disciples.BENEDICTUS PP. XVI


CNA report:
In his fourth and most likely final book on Mother Angelica, noted author and EWTN news anchor Raymond Arroyo highlights some of the devotions and prayers of the 86-year-old nun, many of which are borne from her personal sufferings.
In an exclusive interview with CNA, Arroyo spoke about his motivation behind writing the new book and detailed some of the lesser known facts surrounding Mother Angelica's early life, including her painful disability and being raised in an impoverished, broken home. Mother Angelica, he said, is “no stranger to pain.”
“The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica,” is set to be released on March 2 and contains not only meditations and prayers written by Mother Angelica but traditional favorites of hers as well. According to Arroyo, readers will be able to “'listen in' on her private, and very human, conversations with God.”
Explaining how he came up with idea for his latest book, Arroyo said, “When I read these prayers, both those composed by her and the time tested variety, I thought: people should really see this. Taken as a whole these prayers give readers a marvelous example of how we are to approach God. And if anyone knows how to speak to God and listen to His promptings, it is Mother Angelica. It's a real treasure of a book.”
In addition to founding EWTN, a non-profit, multi-million dollar Catholic media company, Mother Angelica heads a flourishing convent in Alabama, that attracts thousands of tourists every year.
“Mother Angelica has affected the lives of literally millions and millions of people around the world,” Arroyo continued. “And one of the hallmarks of her life has been this constant prayer that she maintains even in the midst of business and personal trials. It is truly the foundation of all she has done and of the great fruit she is responsible for.”
Discussing the nun's troubled childhood, Arroyo told CNA that “Mother Angelica's father abandoned her at five. Her birth mother had emotional problems and was probably manically depressed. They were very poor and worked hard to keep themselves clothed and fed. So this girl tasted pain early on. Angelica was also born with a spinal defect. She had repeated back surgeries and for years walked with the help of braces and crutches.”
“She was no stranger to pain, and in this new book there are prayers she composed specifically for those suffering or in pain,” explained Arroyo. “Mother was always very attentive to those who were suffering – probably because she intimately knew what they were going through, and the spiritual power of suffering.”
“These prayers are so practical that I think they'll have wide appeal. There are prayers to say when in a financial crisis, prayers for easing a transition in your life, prayers for drawing us closer to God's Will. The diversity of the prayers here and their beauty is striking.”
Arroyo also mentioned that a section of the book deals expressly with a difficult time in Mother Angelica's adult life.
“One of the unique features of this book is the Dark Night of The Soul prayer diary. Mother went through a very difficult period in the 1984. She lost her birth mother and her network was on shaky financial footing. In the depth of darkness she writes these very stark, impassioned pleas to God – searching for answers and light. I think people will be touched by this. And more, it will give them hope when they encounter their own darkness and remind them that darkness is sometimes permitted by God as a path to greater light.”
Arroyo, who has worked alongside Mother Angelica at EWTN, spoke on what he finds to be most inspiring about the nun. “Her deep faith is clearly the most inspiring thing about her life,” he reflected. “She was never distracted from God, no matter the circumstances. Mother went through hell to raise this beacon of hope for so many (EWTN). In the biography people can see the effects of her faith and the challenges she overcame – but with this book they have an opportunity to experience the foundation of her life: her spirituality and the actual prayers she uttered.”
Arroyo's previous three books on the life and work of Mother Angelica have all made the New York Times bestseller list. When asked about his upcoming book, the author said “In some ways I think this book could be the most successful of the canon.”
“It is the fourth book in my Mother Angelica cycle (as I like to call it) and likely the last. It seemed right to offer readers something that was practical and uplifting, like the woman herself.”
Commenting on his previous works on the nun, Arroyo explained that “The biography covered the details of her life, the 'Little Book of Life Lessons' contained some of her spiritual wisdom, 'The Private and Pithy Lessons From The Scriptures' was a collection of her Bible lessons, and this book is the last word on her prayer life – more than a prayer book it is an intimate spiritual portrait of Mother. The whole collection can be read independently or as a whole.”
“For those who have read the biography, I think this book will deepen the experience and prolong the spiritual effects,” he added. “ At least that's what I hope.”
“I thought people should have this deeply personal reminder of a woman who is so dear to the world,” Arroyo concluded. “When you read this book, you will hear a woman worshiping God, begging Him for light, jubilating and suffering. We all go through those seasons and Mother Angelica provides a powerful spiritual example that I think we can all benefit from.”


CNA report:
Four theologians began discussions in Geneva, Switzerland this week to define the guidelines of a new project promoted from within the Conference of European Churches. The initiative hopes to study how the different Churches understand unity.
According to a statement released by the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the project is investigating church unity as it relates to church identity at the theological, theoretical level as well as in church practices. The four theologians taking part in the discussion are British Anglican Dr. Paul M. Collins from the University of Chichester, German Catholic Dr. Myriam Wijlens from University of Erfurt, Finnish Dr. Minna Hietamaki from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Orthodox Dr. Viorel Ionita from the CEC's Churches in Dialogue Commission.
The project originated with these four theologians last October in Crete at the World Council of Churches Plenary Commission on Faith and Order, according to the statement. It is connected with the network on "Ecclesiological Investigations."
The first meeting of the four theologians was hosted by the CEC's Churches in Dialogue Commission (CiD) in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22.
In what Dr. Ionita called a "very dynamic and constructive" meeting, the participants discussed aims, working methodology, partners and timing. Each of the theologians also presented a paper on unity from his or her respective theological tradition.
"The four theological traditions represented were presented in a complementary way and we hope that in the future other theological traditions could be included such as those from a free-church background," Dr. Ionita stated at the conclusion of the first session.
Meetings for this study on unity will continue until Sept. 2012 and will be highlighted by European and international presentations in several forums including the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
A comprehensive publication offering "all of the findings" along the course of the study will be published at their conclusion "in order to promote the search for the Church unity worldwide," reads the CEC's statement.
Founded in 1959, the Conference of European Churches offers a forum for dialogue for 120 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Catholic Churches and 40 associated organizations representing every country in Europe who seek to pursue understanding, grow in fellowship and make a common contribution to the mission of the Church, to the safeguarding of life and the well-being of all humankind.


Asia News report:
The three were convicted without evidence. Forced to confess under torture. The UN has called for the universal abolition of the death penalty, but China still holds the world record of executions.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Three people sentenced to death have been on hunger strike since 23 February in Jiangxi to attract attention to the injustice of their sentence. They argue that there is no evidence of their guilt and that their confessions were extracted under torture. Their protest comes just as the UN in Geneva launches a new campaign for the abolition of the death penalty.
Fang Chunping, Huang Zhiqiang and Cheng Fagen have been in prison for 7 years in Jingdezhen (Jiangxi). Along with another convicted Cheng Lihei, they were arrested in Leping (Jiangxi), in 2002 and sentenced in July 2003 for "murder, robbery and rape" over incidents that occurred in '99 and 2000. Their conviction was rejected on appeal in 2004 by the High Court of Jiangxi, that noted inconsistencies in the confessions and inconsistencies in the evidence. But in November 2004, the Jiangxi Interim Court, without introducing any new investigations or new evidence, reaffirmed the death sentence.
According to the lawyers of the three and their relatives, all 4 prisoners have good alibis and police have not been able to find compatible DNA at the crime scene. The four claim that their confessions were obtained after police beat them for long hours, hanging them from the ceiling for several days and nights, forcing them to stay on my knees until they dropped, leaving them without food, water or sleep.
Teng Biao, a lawyer and professor in defence of human rights, said that the police were under pressure to find someone to charge. He himself recalls having attended at least five other cases in which defendants were convicted on confessions extracted through torture.
The hunger strike of three convicts, comes as the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty closed in Geneva. The final document of the meeting, wanted by the UN, calls for the universal abolition of capital punishment.
In the 1970s only 23 countries had abolished the death penalty; today there are 139. In 2008, a total of 2390 death sentences were carried out. China holds the record with 1718. Recently the People's Supreme Court said it wanted to impose the capital punishment only for heinous cases or crimes against the state. But the use of torture and violence by Chinese police - also confirmed by the UN investigation - shows huge holes in Beijing’s justice system.


CISA report:
Thousands of Kenyans could have their access to life saving HIV drugs cut because of wars between health ministries over who should control donor money.Competition between the ministries of Medical Services and Public Health has already caused shortages of essential drugs in most public hospitals in the country.The war has also led Global Fund to deny Kenya USD 270 million, funds that would have been used in the fight against AIDS.With the formation of the coalition government in 2008, the health ministry was split and the Ministry of Public Health was chosen as the sub-recipient of the funds. Apart from the two ministries, other duplicate roles are allocated to the National Aids Control Council (NACC).The global Fund does not dictate to governments who should receive the money, however, sources in the NGO sector say they would have wished to deal with a single ministry.The organization wishes that the functions could be tackled by one agency for uniformity, reduction in duplication of tasks and minimization of wastage.According to AWC the war over who controls HIV and AIDS money is not new. It dates back to 2003 when the ministry of Special Programmes in the Office of the President was assigned the HIV and AIDS docket.


Cath News report:
Australian Catholic University National Vice-Chancellor Greg Craven has warned that the apparent collapse of the push for a national charter of rights would impact Victoria and the ACT, which have charters of their own.
Professor Craven, a constitutional lawyer, believes decisions of Victoria's Supreme Court could have a diminishing influence on other states because of the state's charter of rights, The Australian reports.
These jurisdictions would not become "legal pariahs", but "it probably does mean that a fair range of the jurisprudence of Victoria and the ACT will be decided rather differently to the jurisprudence of the other states and the commonwealth", said Professor Craven, who is vice-chancellor of Australian Catholic University National.
He said the scale of this development should not be exaggerated, "but with precedent, the further you move away from absolute like, the harder it gets to reason by analogy", according to The Australian report.
"When you have a charter you have moved away significantly from what you might call the Australian legal standard and to that extent I think there would be some discounting in some contexts of Victorian decisions," he said.
Professor Craven's warning about the precedent value of Victorian judgments comes soon after the Victorian opposition said the apparent collapse of the proposed national charter meant the state's jurisprudence would develop "at a tangent to the rest of the nation".


St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
Feast: February 27
Feast Day:
February 27
March 1, 1838, Assisi, Italy
February 27, 1862, Gran Sasso, Italy
1920, Rome, Italy by Pope Benedict XV
Major Shrine:
San Gabriele, Teramo, Abruzzi
Patron of:
Students, Youth, Clerics, Seminarians, Abruzzi

On a summer day a little over a hundred years ago, a slim figure in a black cassock stood facing a gang of mercenaries in a small town in Piedmont, Italy. He had just disarmed one of the soldiers who was attacking a young girl, had faced the rest of the band fearlessly, then drove them all out of the village at the point of a gun. The young man was Francesco Possenti, whose father was lawyer for the Papal States and who had recently joined the Passionist Order, taking the name of Brother Gabriel. He became very sick during his school years and had promised that if he got better, he would dedicate his life to God. St. Gabriel Possenti got better and forgot about it. He got sick again and made the same promise, but again got well and forgot his promise. Once, during a church procession in which a great banner of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was being carried, the eyes of Our Lady looked straight at him and he heard the words: "Keep your promise." Shaken, he remembered his promise, changed his life completely, and entered the Passionists.He hoped to be sent to the missions after his ordination to the priesthood, but at the young age of twenty-four, he died. Canonized in 1920, he is, along with St. Aloysius, one of the patrons of youth. He was very fond of his family and is particularly remembered as a remarkable young man who, at the age of twenty, threw all aside for God, determined to become a saint.From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . Suddenly his face began to shine with glory, and his clothing became dazzling white, . . . a cloud covered them, blotting out the sun, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."—Mark 9:2-3, 7


Matthew 5: 43 - 48
"You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Friday, February 26, 2010








The Holy Father: - Erected the new ecclesiastical province of Toamasina, Madagascar, raising the current diocese of Toamasina to the status of metropolitan church and assigning it the suffragan dioceses of Ambatondrazaka, Moramanga and Fenoarivo-Atsinana. He appointed Bishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina as the first metropolitan archbishop of Toamasina. The archbishop-elect was born in Amboangibe, Madagascar in 1954, he was ordained a priest in 1986 and consecrated a bishop in 2001. -

Appointed Fr. Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina O.C.D. superior general of the Carmelite Fathers for Madagascar and the Indian Ocean, as bishop of Morondava (area 46,620, population 490,000, Catholics 43,640, priests 34, religious 113), Madagascar. The bishop-elect was born in Ambohijanahary, Madagascar in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1997. He succeeds Bishop Donald Pelletier M.S., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon, military ordinary for Korea, as bishop of Uijongbu (area 2,626, population 2,615,839, Catholics 196,995, priests 156, religious 166), Korea. He succeeds Bishop Lee Han-taek S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.ECE:NER:RE/.../... VIS 100226 (210)



CNA report: The Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, sent a report to the Pontifical Mission Societies this week describing the situation facing seminarians in the devastated country. He explained that the seminarians have “lost everything," adding that "putting them back to ‘normal’ life is a priority.”
According to the Fides News Agency, the archbishop said that, “The greatest needs of the seminarians are clothing, toiletries, tents to sleep in. Many of the seminarians have been sent back to their dioceses, but their dioceses are also extremely poor and in great need of assistance.
The archbishop went on to note that although some books from the library were saved, “We need to purchase Bibles and fundamental texts (Vatican II, Catechism of the Catholic Church etc.) The ones they had were all lost in the rubble.”
“The easiest, most flexible and fastest way to help these unfortunate seminarians is through financial aid that we can use according to the most urgent needs of the moment,” he added.
“Thank you also for your efforts in favor of our traumatized seminarians. We believe that putting the seminarians back to 'normal' life is a priority."
Fides reports that 15 seminarians, one professor and some staff members were killed by the January 12 earthquake.



CNA report: The German Catholic Bishops' Conference has chosen one of its own to lead investigations into the cases of abuse in the German Church in the 70s and 80s. The news was announced at the conclusion of the plenary assembly of German bishops on Thursday by conference president Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. Vatican Radio reported that the bishops' statement read, "We German bishops accept our responsibility and condemn the crimes committed by religious, priests and lay collaborators in our dioceses."
"Mortified and shocked," they asked the pardon and forgiveness of "all victims of these horrible acts."
Vatican Radio also reported that the secretary of the episcopal conference has opened an office in Bonn to coordinate activities and collaborate in legal proceedings. They are planning a "phone-a-friend" program that will soon be in place to provide further assistance to victims.
Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier is now in charge of the operation. He is also the President of the episcopal conference's Commission for Justice and Peace.
About 120 victims have come forward to date. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that, in the first legal action since news of the abuses came to light, prosecutors have now begun investigations into allegations at two German Catholic schools.
The Washington Post also reported that Abbot Barnabas Boegle, head of the Ettal Monastery which oversees one of the two schools, stepped down Wednesday after eight former students alleged abuses there by priests.
By August, Church guidelines governing cases of child sex abuse will be revised and updated. "We want everything to be clarified loyally, without false restraints," said Archbishop Zollitsch. "The victims have a right to that." The current norms have been in place since 2002.
To work towards "full prevention," the archbishop also mentioned the need for a more attentive culture within schools and pastoral ministries, as well as proper formation for future priests.



Asia News report: The sisters were attacked by plain clothes police, their guide ends up in hospital. The Bishops conference requests the correction of a news report published by the official agency according to which they had sent New Year greetings to the Patriotic Front, the Communist Party organization.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The tension in relations between Catholics and the Vietnamese authorities show no sign of abating, as evidenced by new episodes of violence in the parish of Dong Chiem, while the Catholic Bishops' Conference has formally requested the correction of a news report released by the official VNA. The state agency claimed that the bishops had sent New Year greetings to the Patriotic Front, an organization linked to the Communist Party. An episode strongly denied by the Bishops.
In Dong Chiem after the destruction of the crucifix that stood on the mountain that forced removal of the crosses brought there by the faithful, most of the hundreds of agents and activists who had poured into the area in January had, as emphasised by state media, since been distanced, in order to “return to normal”.
But this is not the case. On 24 February a group of nuns from the Sisters of Cross Lovers, who came from Ho Chi Minh City together with dozens of lay faithful to visit the parishioners for the New year, were attacked and beaten by officers in plain clothes, at the entrance to the town. The nuns were not seriously injured, but the Hanoi volunteer who was their guide had to be admitted to the Viet Duc hospital in serious condition.
The incident follows another episode dated to 19 February, when a dozen of the faithful of the parish of Nam Du, of the diocese of Hanoi, where submitted to a hail of large stones as they walked toward their homes. They report that police threw large stones at them, causing injuries and seriously damaging their car (see photo).
Plain clothes officers, says Father Joseph Nguyen of Hanoi, "are very aggressive." "The pilgrims who come to Dong Chiem have been threatened and even assaulted during the New Year."
What makes it more obvious that the target of violence are just the Catholics, is the fact that those who go to visit the famous Huong pagoda, which stands not far from Dong Chiem, are warmly welcomed and protected by agents who belong the same department.
Violence aside, another sign of the tense atmosphere is the decision of the Episcopal Conference, to request the rectification of a report published by VNA, the Communist Party news agency, according to which January 29 a delegation of bishops submitted season’s greetings to the Patriotic Front. The bishops have said that none of the people named by the agency had received any kind of promise, nor the task of broadcasting greetings to the organization. Individually and collectively, the bishops expressed their concern about the biased way in which the state media treat religious activities, stressing that dialogue between church and state can only take place in truth.


CISA report:
Week 1: A reflection on Food Security and Poverty Feeding the Nation Baraka villagers in Mchungani District always had enough food and livestock for their sustenance and for sale. They had enough money for their childrens school fees, medical and household expenses, and surplus for savings and investment. The district also earned the country foreign exchange from tourists and international investors. However, with the erratic rains and prolonged drought blamed on climate change, crops are drying up and there is nothing to sell or store for future use. Animals are dying and there are hardly any to sell to the national meat commission. The result has been increased poverty levels in Baraka village and in the larger Mchungani District. Mr Matawi, a well known farmer from Mchungani, organised a one-day food security workshop for residents. One villager complained that they could not irrigate their shambas using water from a nearby dam, which he lamented was benefiting just a few people and their animals. Mr Matawi advised them to resort to organic farming and drip irrigation, and also grow and keep drought resistant crops and animals. He also advised them to request the government to facilitate the introduction of water harvesting methods and animal restocking. Mrs Mgogo, a Constituency Development Fund (CDF) member, advised residents to request funds for farming and water harvesting projects from the CDF. Baraka villagers formed a committee, which was mandated to be meeting monthly. Situational analysis Over 10 million Kenyans are facing starvation. The lack of food is attributed to poor farming methods, lack of proper planning, violence and displacement. Kenya has gone through difficult times and it is now time to heal and transform our land and people. Traditional African communities encouraged a communal spirit of working together and helping each other on the farms, in building, during harvest seasons and in other activities. Harambee enabled communities to have sufficient food for all and guaranteed social security. All Kenyans should endeavour to restore the countrys lost glory. This Lenten season should be a time of reflection. All our activities and efforts should also be geared towards healing and transforming our nation Deuteronomy 26:4-10 Romans 10:8-13 Luke 4: 1-13 All of us are tempted to divert from our call. Jesus remained faithful to his Father. We too should know that we are a chosen people and must claim our identity by obeying God rather than following leaders of darkness. God loves us and he wants to lead us along the way of life. We must profess our trust in God with our life and proclaim it by word of mouth. Hunger and poverty are the result of greed. If we follow the example of Jesus, we can change for the better.
Have you, or your Small Christian Community, ever had similar experiences as the people of Baraka village? If so, what did you do?
Beside the rainfall, what other sources of water can you and your Small Christian Community use? What is drip irrigation and what are its advantages?
What are the other sources of devolved funds? How are you involved as an individual and as a Small Christian Community?
The 2007-2008 post-election violence adversely affected farming and food production. Coupled with the drought, Kenya is yet to recover. What can you and your Small Christian Community do to promote healing and transformation as you boost food production?
Discuss the spirit of harambee in your Small Christian Community and suggest how you can revitalise it. What are the advantages? The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops view Food, land and water security Large stretches of fertile land and water resources are unscrupulously exploited by foreign and local investors in many African countries. This is causing the displacement and dispossession of poor persons and their communities, who are often powerless to oppose this assault. The Synod urgently calls upon all governments to ensure that its citizens are protected from the unjust alienation of their land and resources, and given access to water, the basic needs of all people. The Synod Fathers urge that: Our Church leaders be informed on basic land and water issues to enable them to pass this information to the local people who will be in a good position to challenge unjust decisions in these matters; All negotiations on land deals be conducted transparently and with the participation of the local communities who may be affected; Land alienation deals should not be contracted out nor signed without the free, prior and informed consent of the local communities concerned, nor should people forfeit their land without proper compensation; Agricultural workers be guaranteed a fair wage in light of the fact that investments promote the creation of employment; The professional formation of youth in farming and the raising of animals be promoted as a way to stem the uncontrolled flight from the village to the cities; The models of agricultural production respect the environment and not contribute to climate change, soil depletion and the exhaustion of drinkable water reserves; Food production for export should not endanger food security, sovereignty and the needs of future generations; Traditional land rights be respected and recognised by the law; Water not be exploited as a private economic commodity without due attention to peoples interests; and African governments be more prudent in accessing grants and loans so that they do not push their people into further debt. The poor and marginalised be empowered through initiatives such as micro-finance, agrarian and similar programmes as the Churchs concrete sign of solidarity with the poor and marginalised. We have to continue tackling poverty, which is a major obstacle to peace and reconciliation. Here suggestions for micro-finance schemes deserve careful attention. Finally, as head of his local church, the bishop has the duty to mobilise all his faithful, to become involved through appropriate roles in the planning, formulating, implementing and evaluating of diocesan policies and programmes for reconciliation, justice and peace. A commitment to development comes from a change of heart, and a change of heart comes from conversion to the Gospel. In this regard, all members of the Church, clergy, religious and lay faithful, must be mobilised to work together in a unity that brings strength. We are challenged and encouraged by the African proverb: An army of well organised ants can bring down an elephant. We should not be afraid of, less still be discouraged, by the enormity of the problems of our continent.



Cath News report: A Year 12 student from Marist College at Ashgrove, Queensland has been suspended for creating a Facebook group saying missing Queensland boy Daniel Morcombe will be handed over if the group attracts a million members.
Daniel's mother, Denise Morcombe, tracked him down as the creator of the Facebook group and contacted the school's principal, AAP reports.
"I've been in contact with the principal of the school where the boy is who started it and he's been dealt with by the principal and the police," she told ABC Radio.
She said the police can't shut it down, so a a report has been made asking Facebook to shut down the page. Daniel was abducted at the age of 13 from the Sunshine Coast in December 2003 and is still missing.
Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson described the site as "disgraceful", saying he couldn't dispute Mrs Morcombe's description of the perpetrators as "scumbags".

St. Porphyrius
Feast: February 26
Feast Day:
February 26
347, Thessalonica, Greece
February 26, 420, Gaza, Palestine

Bishop of Gaza in Palestine, b. at Thessalonica about 347; d. at Gaza, 26 February, 420. After five years in the Egyptian desert of Scete he lived five years in a cave near the Jordan. In spite of his impaired health, he frequently visited the scene of the Resurrection. Here he met the Asiatic Mark, at a later date a deacon of his church and his biographer. To effect the sale of the property still owned by Porphyrius in his native city, Mark set out for Thessalonica and, upon his return, the proceeds were distributed among the monasteries of Egypt and among the necessitous in and around Jerusalem. In 392 Porphyrius was ordained to the priesthood, and the relic of the Holy Cross was intrusted to his care. In 395 he became Bishop of Gaza, a stronghold of paganism, with an insignificant Christian community. The attitude of the pagan population was hostile so that the bishop appealed to the emperor for protection and pleaded repeatedly for the destruction of pagan temples. He finally obtained an imperial rescript ordering the destruction of pagan sanctuaries at Gaza. A Christian church was erected on the site of the temple of Marnas. In 415 Porphyrius attended the Council of Diospolis. The "Vita S. Porphyrii" of Mark the Deacon, formerly known only in a Latin translation, was published in 1874 by M. Haupt in its original Greek text; a new edition was issued in 1895 by the Bonn Philological Society.


Matthew 5: 20 - 26
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
"You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.'
But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison;
truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.





25 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The "Osservatore Romano" today published a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. to Nouri Kamil al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, in which he expresses the Holy Father's concern at attacks against Christians in that country. The letter bears the date of 2 January. The "Osservatore Romano" explains that the text has been published today after the Pope, currently involved in his annual spiritual exercises, learned "with profound sorrow" of the murder of three members of a Syro-Catholic family in the area of Mosul. Benedict XVI, "with his prayers and affection, remains close to those suffering the consequences of violence", the newspaper writes. In his letter, Cardinal Bertone mentions al-Maliki's "important visit" to the Vatican in 2008, where he was received in audience by Benedict XVI. After that meeting, "the hope was expressed that Iraq may manage to rebuild itself morally and civilly through dialogue and co-operation among all ethnic and religious groups, including minorities, while respecting their respective identities and in a spirit of reconciliation and of searching for the common good. "You will remember", Cardinal Bertone adds in his letter to the prime minister, "how His Holiness called for freedom of worship in Iraq to be respected, and asked that Christians and their churches be protected. On that occasion, I too raised this question with you, and you assured me that your government gives very serious consideration to the situation of the Christian minority, which has lived alongside the Muslim majority for so many centuries, making a great contribution to the economic, cultural and social wellbeing of the nation". Cardinal Bertone gives assurances of the Pope's solidarity with the prime minister "and with those who have been killed or injured in the recent series of attacks on government buildings and places of worship, both Muslim and Christian, in Iraq. He fervently prays for an end to violence and asks the government to do everything possible to increase security around places of worships throughout the country". The cardinal secretary of State concludes his letter by expressing his "appreciation for the numerous initiatives undertaken for the benefit of the entire Iraqi community".SS/ATTACKS CHRISTIANS/IRAQ VIS 100225 (380)



CNA report: During his recent trip to Colombia, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II's personal secretary for 40 years, was presented with the Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit from President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe.
Cardinal Dziwisz, who is also Archbishop of Krakow, Poland visited Colombia to participate in a conference on the legacy of the late-Pope.
The Colombian government said the award is “a sign of the admiration Colombians have for (Cardinal Dziwisz) and his pastoral work, oriented towards helping people overcome any form of oppression through faith.” It is also a sign of “the profound ties and close relations between Colombia and Poland, especially with the Church,” they explained.
During the ceremony, Cardinal Dziwisz recalled his experience as Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary and their visit to Colombia on July 1, 1986. On that occasion, he said, the then-Pope called for the building of a “civilization of love,” in which “the fundamental rights of the person, civil liberties and social rights ... would be guarded and preserved.”



Asia news report: Families accuse police of negligence. The time of death contradicts eyewitness accounts, and families believe someone is lying. Police says death is accidental. Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The investigation in the death of five children ended in a verdict of accidental drowning. Their bodies were found four days after they disappeared in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The families have rejected the ruling, arguing instead that the children died in a botched child-snatching attempt. In China child abduction has become a major problem; minors are often taken for adoption or organ trafficking.
China’s official news agency Xinhua reported that the bodies of the five children were recovered from a pond located about 500 metres from their family home, where they and their parents had returned to for Lunar New Year. The two boys and three girls were the children of two brothers from the village, who had moved to Gansu province for work.
Jin Xianshun , a spokesman for the county's Public Security Bureau, said there were no signs of outside interference with the children's bodies. The evidence suggests that the children slipped whilst struggling to help one another out of the pond, such as some footprints and handprints on one edge of the pond. The autopsy found water in their lungs and stomachs, the telltale sign of drowning.
“The investigation results can only prove the kids died of drowning. But we still can't believe it's a simple accidental drowning," said Cai Xiuding, a cousin of the bereaved fathers.
“The police said they died at 2.30 pm.” That “means our children all died only half an hour after they left home.” However, they “had told their grandmother they were going to visit a girlfriend who lives in another village that is farther than a 30-minute walk from our village.” Yet, the villagers there told us they did see the kids” who “left soon afterwards since the girl they wanted to visit was out of town. I don't know who is lying, the villagers or the police,” he said.
Child trafficking is a major problem in modern China. Some are abducted for their organs; others are kidnapped for adoption by rich, childless couples. Whatever the case, children are disappearing at an alarming rate. Even the central government has become aware of the problem and has increased the punishment, which now includes the death penalty.,-families-fear-child-trafficking-17742.html



CNA report: Responding to remarks by the Secretary of State of Scotland that encouraged openness to religion in public life, Cardinal Keith O’Brien welcomed the sentiment. However, he said the British Government has shown no evidence of openness but has instead has “taken no note whatsoever of the concerns of people of faith.”
The cardinal also accused the Government of conducting a “systematic and unrelenting attack on family values.”
Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary, delivered a speech at the House of Commons which advocated outreach to religious voters ahead of the general election. He told a think tank meeting that the Labour Party must accommodate the concerns of religious voters if the party is to win another term in power, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The BBC says he discussed the role of faith in U.S. politics and claimed that faith values have always been “at the very foundations of the Labour Party.”
Murphy, who is Catholic, said people of all faiths listen when Cardinal O’Brien speaks.
To this, Cardinal O’Brien on Tuesday responded that any recognition of the social role of faith and religion is “to be welcomed.”
“However, a tangible example by the Government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed. Instead we have witnessed this Government undertake a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values.”
The cardinal also said that he had personally voiced this charge to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a 2008 meeting.
“I have seen no evidence since then to suggest anything has changed," the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh continued.
He said the objections of the Church and other faiths were ignored in legislation to permit experimentation on and destruction of human embryos and also when civil partnerships and adoption by same-sex couples were permitted. The refusal to tackle the “soaring toll” of abortions also ignored religious concerns, he stated.
In a reference to the controversy over proposed restrictive provisions of the Equality Bill, his remarks concluded:
“Most recently in advancing legislation which would completely and permanently undermine religious freedom this Government has taken no note whatsoever of the concerns of people of faith.”


CISA report: A vehicle belonging to Wamba Mission Hospital in Maralal Diocese, North Eastern Kenya was destroyed after a gang of armed men sprayed it with 24 bullets on Monday February 15, at around 5pm.Olympia Kawira one of the passengers in the vehicle said they were coming from Meru when the gang appeared suddenly from a ditch and started shooting at them, about 5 kilometers from Archers Post.They were on their way to Wamba when a hail of bullets hit their car before the two escort police could realize what was happening, Kawira told CISA.“It took around 10 to 15 minutes before the crossfire between the police and the gang ended and the men disappeared into the bush,” she said.She told CISA that the men had what looked like AK47 and G3 rifles.She was travelling with her baby aged less than one year, Wamba Hospital administrator, one girl, two drivers and two policemen. Fortunately, none of them was hurt. Meanwhile, on Friday 19, Fr Joshua Majordei of Archers Post Catholic Parish was also attacked on his way from Wamba. Along with his fellow travellers, they were stripped, beaten and everything on them stolen at gun point.


Cath News report: A judge has condemned the vow of chastity required of the Catholic priesthood as "cruel" and "archaic" in sentencing a Sydney priest to jail for internet grooming.
Father Robert MacGregor Fuller received a maximum of 18 months in jail yesterday for grooming and procuring a child under the age of 16, but was given a six-month parole period and six months off his sentence for an early guilty plea, The Australian reported.
He had told the court he masturbated "for my own personal sexual needs". In response, the judge said it must be agonising to be a Catholic priest.
"I'm not a Catholic," Sydney District Court judge Allan Hughes was quoted as saying. "I do not regard (that) celibacy (should be) imposed on people. That is because it is a suppression of human instinct. It must be agonising. I don't know why they (the church) don't change their rules. It is archaic. It's cruel, cruel."
But the judge said children were vulnerable and sexually innocent and "for an adult to exploit them is repugnant", the ABC added.
Fr Fuller, who had served for six years at All Saints church in Liverpool, in south-west Sydney, was reported last year as having used a webcam to broadcast himself masturbating to 'Katie', who was in fact an undercover detective.
He was suspended by the Archdiocese of Sydney when he was arrested. Sydney's Cardinal George Pell is quoted by The Australian as saying about yesterday's sentence: "Justice has run its course."


St. Tarasius
Feast: February 25
Feast Day:
February 25
750 at Constantinople
25 February 806

Tarasius was born about the middle of the eighth century. His parents were both of patrician families. His father, George, was a judge, in great esteem for his well-known justice, and his mother, Eucratia, no less celebrated for her piety. She brought him up in the practice of the most eminent virtues. Above all things, she recommended to him to keep no company but that of the most virtuous. The young man, by his talents and virtue, gained the esteem of all, and was raised to the greatest honours of the empire, being made consul, and afterwards secretary of state to Emperor Constantine and the Empress Irene, his mother. In the midst of the court, and in its highest honours, surrounded by all that could flatter pride or gratify sensuality, he led a life like that of a religious man.
Leo, the Isaurian, his son, Constantine Copronymus, and his grandson, Leo, surnamed Chazarus, three successive emperors, had established, with all their power, the heresy of the Iconoclasts, or image-breakers, in the East. The Empress Irene, wife to the last, was always privately a Catholic, though an artful, ambitious woman. Her husband dying miserably, in 780, after a five years' reign, and having left his son Constantine, but ten years old, under her guardianship, she so managed the nobility in her favour as to get the regency and whole government of the state into her hands, and put a stop to the persecution of the Catholics. Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople, the third of that name, had been raised to that dignity by the late emperor. Though, contrary to the dictates of his own conscience, he had conformed in some respects to the then reigning heresy; he had, however, several good qualities, and was not only singularly beloved by the people for his charity to the poor, but highly esteemed by the empress and the whole court for his great prudence. Finding himself indisposed, and being touched with remorse for his condescension to the Iconoclasts in the former reign, without communicating his design to any one, he quitted the patriarchal see and put on a religious habit in the Monastery of Florus, in Constantinople. The empress was no sooner informed of it, but taking with her the young emperor, went to the monastery to dissuade a person so useful to her from persisting in such a resolution, but all in vain, for the patriarch assured them, with tears and bitter lamentations, that, in order to repair the scandal he had given, he had taken an unalterable resolution to end his days in that monastery, so desired them to provide the church of Constantinople with a worthy pastor in his room. Being asked whom he thought equal to the charge, he immediately named Tarasius, and dying soon after this declaration, Tarasius was accordingly chosen patriarch by the unanimous consent of the court, clergy, and people. Tarasius finding it in vain to oppose his election] declared, however, that he thought he could not in conscience accept of the government of a see which had been cut off from the catholic communion but upon condition that a general council should be called to compose the disputes which divided the church at that time in relation to holy images. This being agreed to, he was solemnly declared patriarch, and consecrated soon after, on Christmas-day. He was no sooner installed but he sent his synodal letters to Pope Adrian, to whom the empress also wrote in her own and her son's name on the subject of a general council, begging that he would either come in person, or at least send some venerable and learned men as his legates to Constantinople. Tarasius wrote likewise a letter to the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, wherein he desires them to send their respective legates to the intended council. His letter to the pope was to the same effect. The pope sent his legates, as desired, and wrote by them to the emperor, the empress, and the patriarch; applauded their zeal, showing at large the impiety of the Iconoclast heresy, insisting that the false council of the Iconoclasts, held under Copronymus for the establishment of Iconoclasm, should be first condemned in presence of his legates, and conjuring them before God to re-establish holy images at Constantinople, and in all Greece, on the footing they were before. He recommends to the emperor and empress his two legates to the council, who were Peter, archpriest of the Roman church, and Peter, priest and abbot of St. Sabas, in Rome. The eastern patriarchs being under the Saracen yoke, could not come for fear of giving offence to their jealous masters, who prohibited, under the strictest penalties, all commerce with the empire. However, with much difficulty and through many dangers, they sent their deputies.
The legates of the pope and the oriental patriarchs being arrived, as also the bishops under their jurisdiction, the council was opened on the 1st of August in the Church of the Apostles, at Constantinople, in 786. But the assembly being disturbed by the violences of the Iconoclasts, and desired by the empress to break up and withdraw for the present, the council met again the year following in the Church of St. Sophia, at Nice. The two legates from the pope are named first in the Acts, St. Tarasius next, and after him the legates of the oriental patriarchs-namely, John, priest and monk, for the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, and Thomas, priest and monk, for the Patriarch of Alexandria. The council consisted of three hundred and fifty bishops, besides many abbots and other holy priests and confessors, who having declared the sense of the present church in relation to the matter in debate, which was found to be the allowing to holy pictures and images a relative honour, the council was closed with the usual acclamations and prayers for the prosperity of the emperor and empress; after which synodal letters were sent to all the churches, and in particular to the pope, who approved the council.
The good patriarch, pursuant to the decrees of the synod, restored holy images throughout the extent of his jurisdiction. He also laboured zealously to abolish simony, and wrote a letter upon that subject to Pope Adrian, in which, by saying it was the glory of the Roman church to preserve the purity of the priesthood, he intimated that that church was free from this reproach. The life of this holy patriarch was a model of perfection to his clergy and people. His table had nothing of superfluity. He allowed himself very little time for sleep, being always up the first and last in his family. Reading and prayer filled all his leisure hours. It was his pleasure, in imitation of our blessed Redeemer, to serve others instead of being served by them; on which account he would scarce permit his own servants to do any thing for him. Loving humility in himself, he sought sweetly to induce all others to the love of that virtue. He banished the use of gold and scarlet from among the clergy, and labored to extirpate all the irregularities among the people. His charity and love for the poor seemed to surpass his other virtues. He often took the dishes of meat from his table to distribute among them with his own hands: and he assigned them a large fixed revenue. And that none might be overlooked, he visited all the houses and hospitals in Constantinople. In Lent, especially, his bounty to them was incredible. His discourses were powerful exhortations to the universal mortification of the senses, and he was particularly severe against all theatrical entertainments. Some time after, the emperor became enamored of Theodota, a maid of honor to his wife, the empress Mary, whom he had always hated; and forgetting what he owed to God, he was resolved to divorce her in 795, after seven years' cohabitation. He used all his efforts to gain the patriarch, and sent a principal officer to him for that purpose, accusing his wife of a plot to poison him. St. Tarasius answered the messenger, saying, "I know not how the emperor can bear the infamy of so scandalous an action in the sight of the universe, nor how he will be able to hinder or punish adulteries and debaucheries if he himself set such an example. Tell him that I will rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design." The emperor, hoping to prevail with him by flattery, sent for him to the palace, and said to him, I can conceal nothing from you, whom I regard as my father. No one can deny but I may divorce one who has attempted my life. She deserves death or perpetual penance." He then produced a vessel, as he pretended, full of the poison prepared for him. The patriarch, with good reason, judging the whole to be only an artful contrivance to impose upon him, answered that he was too well convinced that his passion for Theodota was at the bottom of all his complaints against the empress. He added that though she were guilty of the crime he laid to her charge, his second marriage during her life with any other would still be contrary to the law of God, and that he would draw upon himself the censures of the church by attempting it. The monk John, who had been legate of the eastern patriarchs in the seventh council, being present, spoke also very resolutely to the emperor on the subject, so that the pretors and patricians threatened to stab him on the spot: and the emperor, boiling with rage, drove them both from his presence. As soon as they were gone, he turned the Empress Mary out of his palace, and obliged her to put on a religious veil. Tarasius persisting in his refusal to marry him to Theodota, the ceremony was performed by Joseph, treasurer of the church of Constantinople. This scandalous example was the occasion of several governors and other powerful men divorcing their wives or taking more than one at the same time, and gave great encouragement to public lewdness. SS. Plato and Theodorus separated themselves from the emperor's communion, to show their abhorrence of his crime. But Tarasius did not think it prudent to proceed to excommunication, as he had threatened, apprehensive that the violence of his temper, when further provoked, might carry him still greater lengths, and prompt him to re-establish the heresy which he had taken such effectual measures to suppress. Thus the patriarch, by his moderation, prevented the ruin of religion, but drew upon himself the emperor's resentment, who persecuted him many ways during the remainder of his reign. Not content to set spies and guards over him under the name of Syncelli, who watched all his actions and suffered no one to speak to him without their leave, he banished many of his domestics and relations. This confinement gave the saint the more leisure for contemplation, and he never ceased in it to recommend his flock to God. The ambitious Irene, finding that all her contrivances to render her son odious to his subjects had proved ineffectual to her design, which was to engross the whole power to herself, having gained over to her party the principal officers of the court and army, she made him prisoner, and caused his eyes to be plucked out: this was executed with so much violence that the unhappy prince died of it, in 797. After this she reigned alone five years, during which she recalled all the banished, but at length met with the deserved reward of her ambition and cruelty from Nicephorus, a patrician, and the treasurer-general, who, in 802, usurped the empire, and having deposed her, banished her into the Isle of Lesbos, where she soon after died with grief.
St. Tarasius, on the death of the late emperor, having interdicted and deposed the treasurer Joseph, who had married and crowned Theodota, St. Plato and others who had censured his lenity became thoroughly reconciled to him. The saint, under his successor, Nicephorus, a patrician, persevered peaceably in his practices of penance, and in the functions of his pastoral charge. In his last sickness he still continued to offer daily the holy sacrifice so long as he was able to move. A little before his death he fell into a kind of trance, as the author of his life, who was an eyewitness, relates, wherein he was heard to dispute and argue with a number of accusers, very busy in sifting his whole life, and objecting all they could to it. He seemed in a great fright and agitation on this account, and, defending himself, answered everything laid to his charge. This filled all present with fear, seeing the endeavors of the enemy of man to find something to condemn even in the life of so holy and so irreprehensible a bishop. But a great serenity succeeded, and the holy man gave up his soul to God in peace, on the 25th of February, in 806, having sat twenty-one years and two months. God honoured his memory with miracles, some of which are related by the author of his life. His festival began to be celebrated under his successor. The Latin and Greek churches both honour his memory on this day. Fourteen years after his decease, Leo the Armenian, the Iconoclast emperor, dreamt a little before his own death that he saw St. Tarasius highly incensed against him, and heard him command one Michael to stab him. Leo, judging this Michael to be a monk in the saint's monastery, ordered him the next morning to be sought for, and even tortured some of the religious to oblige them to a discovery of the person; but it happened there was none of that name among them, and Leo was killed six days after by Michael Balbus.
The virtue of St. Tarasius was truly great, because constant and crowned with perseverance, though exposed to continual dangers of illusion or seduction amidst the artifices of hypocrites and a wicked court. St. Chrysostom observes1 that the path of virtue is narrow, and lies between precipices, in which it is easier for the traveller to be seized with giddiness even near the end of his course, and fall. Hence this father most grievously laments the misfortune of king Ozias, who, after long practising the most heroic virtures, fell, and perished through pride; and he strenuously exhorts all who walk in the service of God, constantly to live in fear, watchfulness, humility, and compunction. "A soul," says he, "often wants not so much spurring in the beginning of her conversion; her own fervor and cheerfulness make her run vigorously. But this fervor, unless it be continually nourished, cools by degrees: then the devil assails her with all his might. Pirates wait for and principally attack ships when they are upon the return home laden with riches rather than empty vessels going out of the port. Just so the devil, when he sees that a soul has gathered great spiritual riches, by fasts, prayer, alms, chastity, and all other virtues, when he sees our vessel fraught with rich commodities, then he falls upon her, and seeks on all sides to break in. What exceedingly aggravates the evil is the extreme difficulty of ever rising again after such a fall. To err in the beginning may be in part a want of experience, but to fall after a long course is mere negligence, and can deserve no excuse or pardon."
Matthew 7: 7 - 12
"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.




DETAILS OF SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF POPE AND ROMAN CURIA VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father and the Roman Curia are currently continuing their annual Lenten spiritual exercises, the theme of which this year is: "The 'Lessons' of God and of the Church on the priestly vocation". On Monday 22 February they focused their reflections on the figure of St. Augustine and prayed for priestly vocations, while yesterday they meditated on St. John Mary Vianney, the "Cure of Ars", and prayed for missionaries. Today, the day of Penance, attention will turn to certain biblical references to vocation, with meditations on the themes of "Temptation, doubt and resistance form part of our history" and "Always sinners and always forgiven". The meditation will focus on Georges Bernanos' book "Diary of a Country Priest". Tomorrow, the Christological day, will be dedicated to the vocation of the first disciples, followed by a meditation on Venerable Servant of God Giuseppe Quadrio S.D.B. (1921-1963). Friday 26 February is the Marian Day. Attention will focus on the Magnificat of Mary, and on another biblical reference to vocation: "God's approval; the story of the Annunciation". In the evening, participants will meditate on Venerable Servant of God John Paul II. At 9 a.m. on Saturday 27 February, the last day of the spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia, Lauds will be celebrated in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel with a concluding meditation on the call of the first deacons..../SPIRITUAL EXERCISES/... VIS 100224 (250)

CARDINAL KASPER GREETS PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has sent a message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who will celebrate his seventieth birthday on Monday. The cardinal writes of his "grateful recollection of the many fraternal meetings we have had over the last ten years. The friendship, mutual trust and sincerity which has always characterised our conversations are ... a great gift and a sign of progress in relations between our Churches", he says. The cardinal concludes his message: "My hope is that Your Holiness may continue to show tireless commitment in contributing to ever deeper knowledge and more fruitful collaboration between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, so as to offer the world a common witness of our faith in our One Lord Jesus Christ"..../ECUMENISM/KASPER:BARTHOLOMEW VIS 100224 (150)



CNA report: The Spanish Senate voted Wednesday to pass the Socialist government’s new law on abortion. The decision will allow women over the age of 16 to obtain the procedure up until the 14th week of pregnancy.
The new law, which will go into effect in four months, was passed by a vote of 132-126. Members of the Socialist government, including Bibiana Aido, Minister of Equality, Trinidad Jimenez, Minister of Health, and Francisco Caamano, Minister of Justice, celebrated the outcome as “a great victory.”
For girls under the age of 16, the law states they must inform at least one parent or guardian of their desire to have an abortion, unless they can prove this would put them in physical danger.
Ironically, during his remarks at the World Congress against the death penalty being held this week in Geneva, Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who supports abortion, said, “Nobody has the right to take the life of another human being - absolutely nobody.”
Inhumane law
Following the passage of the law, the spokesperson for the Popular Party, Carmen Duenas, accused the Socialist government of both “imposing abortion on demand” on Spanish society and for having “scorn” for “the voice of the people,” who reject the law “by a clear majority.”
Duenas also slammed President Zapatero’s cabinet for wanting to “do away with the family, one of the pillars of Spanish society” and for “leaving life unprotected.”
“They are already destroying our country’s present; let them not destroy the future as well.
She also criticized the decision for “letting men off the hook from their responsibilities” and for placing abortion over motherhood. She added, “and you call that historic achievement, social advancement, progress and feminism. If anything it’s backwards and outdated feminism.”
On various occasions, the Bishops’ Conference of Spain and many individual bishops expressed their firm rejection of the new law, calling it a “serious step backward” in the protection of the unborn.”
“The state is calling something a right which, is actually an attack on the fundamental right to life,” the bishops said. “The protection of the fundamental good of human life and of the right to life are essential obligations of those in authority.”
“The inclusion of abortion among the instruments necessary for health care is in and of itself a grave falsity. Medicine is supposed to prevent illness or cure it. Pregnancy will never be an illness, even though it might entail complications to one’s health, be unplanned or even the result of violence.
“For this reason, abortion is never healing, it is always killing,” the bishops concluded.



CNA report: St. Joseph’s Seminary in La Plata, Argentina has become the formation center with the highest number of students in the country. Twenty-one seminarians entered during a Mass on Monday, bringing the grand total of students to 92.
During a Mass welcoming the students, Auxiliary Bishop Antonio Marino of La Plata remarked that in the world today, “we must swim against the tide.” He asked the seminarians to look to St. John Vianney, patron of priests, as a model “of self-denial, sacrifice and commitment.”
“The Church needs holy priests, and St. John Marie Vianney is a true model for this path.”
After the Mass, the bishop pointed out that the new students entered the seminary on the feast of the Chair of Peter, and called them to strive to “love and be faithful and obedient to the Holy Father.”
St. Joseph’s Seminary was founded in 1992 and provides formation for seminarians from various dioceses in Argentina.



Asia News report: Local Christians are in shock after an attack by about a hundred soldiers on 19 February. About 1,800 people are hiding in the forest, fearing more violence. Police chief pledges security, but for Christian man, they are “meaningless words”. Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Christians living in Baghaichhari Upazila (district) in southeastern Bangladesh are shaken by an attack against them carried out by about a hundred soldiers. Around 10 pm on 19 February, soldiers beat up people and set fire to three churches, a Buddhist pagoda and 41 homes. They had moved into the area, ostensibly to stop clashes between indigenous tribal groups and Bangladeshi settlers. At present, more than 500 families for a total of some 1,800 people have fled into the forest fearing more attacks.
Clinton Chakama, a member of the Gongarama Baptist Church, told AsiaNews that he was “still scared” just to think about “the sudden attack by the army”. At the beginning, “they started beating us, then poured liquid fuel on the church. We tried to stop them but they started shooting at us,” he said.
After the attack, Christians fled into the nearby forest. “Many people were hurt,” Chakama said. “Some tribal leaders (pictured) organised demonstrations”.
As a result of the attack, the army torched the Baptist Church in Gongarama, that of Joralchori and the Christ Church in Desimon Chara, in Baghaichhari Upazila, about 400 kilometres from the capital Dhaka.
Soldiers are believed to have attacked a fourth church and a Buddhist pagoda as well. A Protestant clergyman in Mangamati, on condition of anonymity, said that “the situation is very tense; 41 homes have been set on fire [. . .], more than 500 families for about 1,800 people are now living in the deep jungle.”
The military moved in to stop clashes between local tribal minorities and Bangladeshi settlers. However, by its actions, it has exacerbated tensions. The conflict between the two groups began as a dispute over land in the early 1980s. At that time, the Bangladeshi government tried to settle thousands of Bangladeshi, mostly flood victims, in the hill region of Chittagong, igniting the conflict.
On Tuesday, the military on government orders harassed a group of journalists in order to prevent them from reporting the episode.
In addition, Clinton Chakama reported that suffering by locals includes “more than 100 children who are ill from water-borne diseases caused by pollution”. All of them are in need of urgent medical care.
Fr Robert Gonsalves, from St Joseph’s Church in Rangamati, said he and his congregation are praying for the “persecuted”. He stressed that the Church is close to the Christians and Buddhists victimised in the attack. He also insisted that Lent is also a time to keep in mind “forgiveness and the desire for justice and peace.”
Yesterday, the police chief in Rangamati visited the scene of the attack along with government officials and a minister. He said, “We shall do our best to guarantee security”. He did not however answer questions addressed by AsiaNews about the church burning and the harassment Christians had to endure.
“They promised food and security,” Clinton Chakama said, “but we know that those are meaningless words. They are not going to take any steps against the army”, which has a past of forcibly seizing land, torturing people and raping women.,-three-churches-on-fire,-thousands-flee-17729.html


CISA report:
Italian Consolata Missionary, Fr. Joseph Ettorri has passed on after a short illness.Fr. Ettorri who was in Rome for the last eight months after along stint of teaching at both the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) and Tangaza College was diagnosed with Leukemia a few days ago. According to Fr. Anthony Magnante, the Superior of the Allamano house, the late priest succumbed to complications early on Tuesday morning in Rome, Italy.He was born in October 31, 1949 in Marta - Viterbo, Italy. The late priest took his final vows in 1975 and was ordained in January 5, 1977. Thereafter, he served in Maralal diocese and later took up teaching in Nairobi. He spent more than 25 years as a missionary in Kenya.



Cath News report: Brisbane Catholic Education's director for School Services Centre South, Neil Bloxsidge died of a suspected heart attack on Monday night.
Mr Bloxsidge, a former Brothers rugby league star, mentor and trainer at the Ipswich Jets and local teacher for many years, died during a touch football game on the Gold Coast, the The Queensland Times and The Catholic Leader reported.
Principal of St Augustine's College, Ipswich, Leon Capra, said Mr Bloxsidge had left an amazing legacy, The Queensland Times said.
"He was an educator, a sportsman and a mentor to many," Mr Capra said. "He was highly influential in the Ipswich education scene."
Mr Bloxsidge is survived by his wife Janet, who is a teacher at St Mary's College, Ipswich; his son Danny, a teacher at St Vincent's Primary School, Clear Island Waters; and his daughter Leah, who was returning from a teaching post in England, The Catholic Leader said.
Details of his funeral are yet to be announced, but it will be held early next week in either Ipswich or the Gold Coast.


St. Ethelbert
Feast: February 24
Feast Day:
February 24
24 February 616

King of Kent; b. 552; d. 24 February, 616; son of Eormenric, through whom he was descended from Hengest. He succeeded his father, in 560, as King of Kent and made an unsuccessful attempt to win from Ceawlin of Wessex the overlordship of Britain. His political importance was doubtless advanced by his marriage with Bertha, daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks (see BERTHA I). A noble disposition to fair dealing is argued by his giving her the old Roman church of St. Martin in his capital of Cantwaraburh (Canterbury) and affording her every opportunity for the exercise of her religion, although he himself had been reared, and remained, a worshipper of Odin. The same natural virtue, combined with a quaint spiritual caution and, on the other hand, a large instinct of hospitality, appears in his message to St. Augustine when, in 597, the Apostle of England landed on the Kentish coast
In the interval between Ethelbert's defeat by Ceawlin and the arrival of the Roman missionaries, the death of the Wessex king had left Ethelbert, at least virtually, supreme in southern Britain, and his baptism, which took place on Whitsunday next following the landing of Augustine (2 June, 597) had such an effect in deciding the minds of his wavering countrymen that as many as 10,000 are said to have followed his example within a few months. Thenceforward Ethelbert became the watchful father of the infant Anglo-Saxon Church. He founded the church which in after-ages was to be the primatial cathedral of all England, besides other churches at Rochester and Canterbury. But, although he permitted, and even helped, Augustine to convert a heathen temple into the church of St. Pancras (Canterbury), he never compelled his heathen subjects to accept baptism. Moreover, as the lawgiver who issued their first written laws to the English people (the ninety "Dooms of Ethelbert", A.D. 604) he holds in English history a place thoroughly consistent with his character as the temporal founder of that see which did more than any other for the upbuilding of free and orderly political institutions in Christendom. When St. Mellitus had converted Sæbert, King of the East Saxons, whose capital was London, and it was proposed to make that see the metropolitan, Ethelbert, supported by Augustine, successfully resisted the attempt, and thus fixed for more than nine centuries the individual character of the English church. He left three children, of whom the only son, Eadbald, lived and died a pagan. SOURCE


Luke 11: 29 - 32
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.
The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.




PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF FLOODING IN FUNCHAL VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., to Bishop Antonio Jose Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, for the storms and flooding that affected the island on Saturday, causing the deaths of forty-two people and vast material damage. In the telegram the Holy Father gives assurances of his closeness to the people, and entrusts the victims to the mercy of God. At the same time, he calls for consolation and assistance to be offered to victims' families, the injured and the homeless, and praises the efforts of rescuers and aid workers.TGR/FLOODS/CAVACO:FUNCHAL VIS 100223 ()

BENEDICT XVI SUPPORTS BRAZIL'S ANNUAL FRATERNITY CAMPAIGN VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Before beginning his annual Lenten spiritual exercises on Sunday evening, the Holy Father sent a Message to Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, for the Fraternity Campaign traditionally promoted by the Brazilian Church during Lent. The theme of the 2010 campaign is "economy and life" and its motto is "You cannot serve God and Mammon". This is the third occasion on which the campaign has an ecumenical flavour as five other Christian Churches, members of the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil, are also participating. In his Message the Pope praises the initiative undertaken by the Churches and Christian communities, "who this year have decided to unite their forces to reconcile people with God and to help them free themselves from slavery to money". "Slavery to money and injustice have their origins in the heart of man, which contains the seeds of a mysterious coexistence with evil", writes Benedict XVI. He goes on to encourage participants in the campaign "to persevere in your witness to the love of God, to the Son of God Who became man, ... and to the only good that can satisfy the human heart". The World Council of Churches, a group which brings together 349 Churches around the world and more than 500,000 Christians, has also expressed its support for the Fraternity Campaign.MESS/ FRATERNITY CAMPAIGN/ROCHA VIS 100223 (250)

STATISTICS FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN MALTA VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - For the occasion of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Malta, due to take place on 17 and 18 April to commemorate the 1950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck on the island, statistics have been published concerning the Catholic Church in that country. The information, updated to 31 December 2008, comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church. Malta, the capital city of which is Valletta, has a population of 443,000 of whom 418,000 (94.4 percent) are Catholic. There are 2 ecclesiastical circumscriptions and 85 parishes. Currently there are 9 bishops, 853 priests, 1,143 religious, 43 lay members of secular institutes and 1,231 catechists. Minor seminarians number 269 and major seminarians 91. A total of 17,786 students attend 80 centres of Catholic education, from kindergartens to universities. Other institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Malta include 24 homes for the elderly or disabled, 26 orphanages and nurseries, 9 family counselling centres and other pro-life centres, 24 centres for education and social rehabilitation, and 4 institutions of other kinds.OP/STATISTICS MALTA/... VIS 100223 (190)

INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE IN CAIRO VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions, began today in Cairo, Egypt. The theme of this year's gathering is confessional violence. The meeting, which is due to conclude tomorrow, is being presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, secretary general of the Academy for Islamic Research of al-Azhar.CON-DIR/CONFESSIONAL VIOLENCE/TAURAN VIS 100223 (100)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Fr. Alberto Sanguinetti Montero of the clergy of the archdiocese of Montevideo, Uruguay, pastor of the parish of "Nuestra Senora del Carmen" in Cordon, as bishop of Canelones (area 4,532, population 453,000, Catholics 339,000, priests 40, permanent deacons 11, religious 153), Uruguay. The bishop-elect was born in Montevideo in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1973. He succeeds Bishop Orlando Romero Cabrera, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. - Appointed Fr. Terry R. LaValley of the clergy of the diocese of Ogdensburg, U.S.A., diocesan administrator and rector of St. Mary's Cathedral, as bishop of Ogdensburg (area 31,161, population 499,700, Catholics 116,000, priests 119, permanent deacons 62, religious 127). The bishop-elect was born in Plattsburgh, U.S.A. in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1988. - Appointed Msgr. Joseph C. Bambera of the clergy of the diocese of Scranton, U.S.A., delegate of the apostolic administrator of Scranton and pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas parish at Archbald and of St. Mary of Czestochowa parish at Eynon, as bishop of Scranton (area 22.913, population 1,095,092, Catholics 316,825, priests 352, permanent deacons 63, religious 627). The bishop-elect was born in Carbondale, U.S.A. in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983.NER:RE/.../... VIS 100223 (230)



CNA report: The Vatican's newspaper reported on Tuesday that just six weeks after the catastrophic earthquake, the plight of Haitians has already become old news, even though the situation remains "dramatic."
L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) observed that the decrease in interest can be seen in the declining presence of international media on the island and in the fact that relief and reconstruction activities are suffering from a lack of supervision.
Illustrating the desperation that prevails in the country, LOR recounted an attack on a food supply convoy in the city of Limbe earlier this week. Residents threw rocks at U.N. vehicles on their way to deliver milk and food rations to another city and made off with at least one truckload.
The president of Haiti, Rene Preval, expressed his concerns to members of the Unity Summit of Latin American and Caribbean nations in Mexico this week, saying that despite the enormous amount of support offered to the nation, the recovery will be slow, expensive and difficult.
President Preval drew attention to the fact that "every day a million Haitians sleep in the street, with problems made even graver by the rains of these days."
The president has ordered 50,000 tents from China which will arrive this week in anticipation of the rainy season, according to the Herald Sun. The rainy season in Haiti usually starts at the end of March or beginning of April. He said that 900,000 people are still in need of shelter and asked the international community for at least 200,000 more tents.
Adding to the difficult situation are aftershocks that continue to rock the island, the last of which hit Monday and measured 4.7 on the Richter scale.



CNA report: On Tuesday, the German Conference of Catholic Bishops began their plenary session. On the first day of meetings, president of the conference Archbishop Robert Zoellisch asked for public forgiveness regarding cases of child sexual abuse in the German Church.
Archbishop Zoellisch said he was "deeply upset" by the cases of the "repugnant crime" of pedophilia which took place in some Jesuit schools in Germany from the 70s to the 90s, L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) reported.
"I ask forgiveness in the name of the German Catholic Church of all the victims of this crime," he said in a press conference, pointing out that it is particularly grave as a violation of the special trust young people give to priests.
LOR added that the archbishop gave his assurance that cases of abuse would be reported for public prosecution, but also noted that many of the cases will have already passed the 10-year statute of limitations.
In addition, Archbishop Zoellisch spoke of the Church's need to reestablish its reputation for Catholic education and its credibility in areas such as marriage and family teaching and sexual morality.
The German archbishop echoed the recent words of Cardinal Sean Brady of the Irish Bishops' Conference, pointing out that the greatest danger of the scandals is the possibility that they might affect the resolve of church-goers, "shaking their faith and threatening their capacity to trust in God."
During the press conference, the archbishop mentioned that he will be speaking to Pope Benedict XVI about all of these issues when he meets with him next month.
The Plenary Assembly will continue through Thursday, taking on a number of themes currently affecting the German Catholic Church, including the aging population, the participation of the German army in the War in Afghanistan, vocations ministry and aid to Haiti.



Asia News report: In the Islamic country there is no freedom of religion. In order to keep her faith alive the woman took refuge in her room to pray. Filipino bishops call on the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad.
Manila (AsiaNews) - "During my three years working in Saudi Arabia I was never allowed to leave the house or have a day off to go to mass”. This is the story of Rebeka Perlas, a 35 year old from the Philippines, who until last week was employed as a maid in a Muslim family in Riyadh to maintain her two sons. "The only thing I could do – she adds – was get up every morning at 3 and recite the rosary on my knees in my room, before beginning my days work."
The woman is one of more than 10 million Filipino workers forced to emigrate abroad to support their families. Of these, over 200 thousand are residents in Saudi Arabia, where there is no freedom of religion and all religions other than Islam are banned by the Wahhabi kingdom.
In Saudi Arabia it is forbidden to build churches and other places of worship, carry religious symbols, or hang images in homes. The religious police (Muttawa) has tight controls to ensure these rules. The government rarely allows the celebrations of Mass in private and in some embassies. However the ease of finding employment continues to attract migrants who support the terrible working conditions, the risk of forced conversions and sexual abuse. There are a total of 8 million foreigners living and working in the kingdom. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from 2007 to 2008, emigration to the Middle East has seen an increase of 29.5%.
Perlas Rebeka says: "My employer was hard on me, but I was never allowed to go to church, despite my repeated requests." The woman says that in these three years it was difficult to not to receive the sacraments, but she had no choice. "I love Jesus and the Virgin Mary and prayed every day during this difficult period. Only daily prayer and faith in God allowed me to survive in the Muslim world. "
The Philippine Church yesterday celebrated the 24th National Day of migrants entitled "Economy and Sustainable Development: the keys to effective reunification of immigrant families."
On this occasion the bishops of the dioceses have invited the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad and their families. "On this day we remember the sacrifice and the difficulties of the millions of migrants abroad - said Fr Gil A. Alingasan of the Archdiocese of Manila - and urge them to stay away from the temptations of material gain that underlie this phenomenon, pointing out their potential in spreading the Gospel. " Through this celebration, the Church has asked the government for more economic measures to increase jobs in the country and stop the Diaspora of the Filipino people.



CNS report:

With the approach of Sudan's first multiparty elections in 24 years, Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro of Juba, Sudan, appealed to voters to learn as much as possible about the candidates before casting their votes.In a Feb. 21 pastoral letter, Archbishop Loro said the April 11 elections for the nation's president and local officials can mark the beginning of Sudan's political transformation."The church has the moral obligation to guide this important process," the archbishop wrote in the letter, titled "The Genuine Voice of the People Is the Voice of God."The campaign ends April 9, five days after Easter, and Archbishop Loro said Sudanese can take the opportunity during Lent to restore their relationship with God while hearing from candidates about their goals for the future of the country."God wants us to repent from the many sins we have committed against him and ourselves, especially in southern Sudan: tribes against tribes, killings, abductions, robbery, corruption and so forth," he said. "We must atone for these sins by prayers and good deeds."Archbishop Loro acknowledged that for 60 percent of the population in southern Sudan, where his archdiocese is located, the prospect of a voting will be a new experience, and he called for widespread participation in balloting. He expressed hope that the peace that was maintained during voter registration will carry through the election."I strongly urge those who have registered and are eligible voters to make sure they vote, because your vote is your voice and your choice," he said. "The genuine voice of the people is the voice of God. It is as well your contribution to the common good of the people of this country."He cautioned voters to refuse bribes from candidates and urged candidates to bypass opportunities to "manipulate, deceive, misguide and confuse voters." He also encouraged candidates to avoid "violent and unacceptable" language in their campaigns."I want to emphasize the importance of the virtues of honesty and integrity in the political process," he wrote. "Nobody should accept money in order to create insecurity during the campaign and the elections."The archbishop said the country will benefit if voters elect candidates who are committed to implementing "to the letter" the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government and rebel forces in the South."It took the Sudanese people more than two decades to achieve peace. Voting for wrong people, especially at this crucial time in the history of our country, is to undermine the price paid for the peace," he said.



CNA report: Pro-life doctors have gone to court to challenge new medical guidelines that require doctors to advise patients who have doubts about continuing a pregnancy that abortion is one of their options.One of the doctors challenging the guidelines is believed to be Mary English, who is a General Practitioner from Wellington and the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. According to The New Zealand Herald, Dr. English is a Catholic whose opposition to abortion is widely known. She and her husband have six children.The doctors filed an application in the country’s High Court concerning the New Zealand Medical Council guidelines, which are titled “Beliefs and Medical Practice.”The current guidelines note that the law allows doctors to conscientiously refuse to provide a service or give advice on contraception, sterilization or “other reproductive health services.”The proposed guideline reads:"While the council recognizes that you are entitled to hold your own beliefs, it remains your responsibility to ensure that a pregnant woman who comes to you for medical care and expresses doubt about continuing with the pregnancy is provided with or is offered access to objective information or assistance to enable her to make informed decisions on all available options for her pregnancy, including termination." According to The New Zealand Herald, the final version of the document is not available. A spokesman for the Medical Council said changes have been made since the release of the draft but the final text cannot be provided because of the ongoing court action.The case marks the first time the issue of personal beliefs and abortion has been addressed in Medical Council guidelines. The action follows a similar move in Britain.Guidelines also cover areas where spiritual, cultural or religious beliefs could conflict with what the Council considers to be patients’ rights. The rules say doctors should set aside their own beliefs where necessary and must make the care of the patient their first concern.Under New Zealand law, abortions can be performed only if two certifying consultants agree certain factors are present. According to the Herald, these factors include cases of incest or if the mental or physical well-being of the mother or unborn child is at risk.The country’s Abortion Supervisory Committee appoints the consultants who authorize abortions to take place. Pro-life groups and a High Court judge have questioned the legality of many of these authorized abortions.


St. Polycarp
Feast: February 23
Feast Day:
February 23
155 at Smyrna
Patron of:
against dysentery, against earache

From his acts, written by the church of Smyrna in an excellent circular letter to the churches of Pontus, immediately after his martyrdom, a niece abridged by Eusebius, b. 4, c. 14 highly esteemed by the ancients. Joseph Scaliger, a supercilious critic, says that nothing in the whole course of church history so strongly affected him as the perusal of these acts, and those relating to the martyrs of Lyons; that he never read them but they gave him extraordinary emotions. Animad. in Chron. Eusebii, n. 2183 &c. They are certainly most valuable pieces of Christian antiquity. See Eusebius, St. Jerome, and St. Irenaeus also Tillemont, t. 2, p. 327; Dom Ceillier, t. 1; Dom Marechal, Concordance des Peres; Grecs et Latins, t. 1. St Polycarp was one of the most illustrious of the apostolic fathers, who, being the immediate disciples of the apostles, received instructions from their mouths, and inherited of them the spirit of Christ in a degree so much the more eminent as they lived nearer the fountain head. He embraced Christianity very young, about the year 80, was a disciple of the apostles, in particular of St. John the Evangelist, and was constituted by him Bishop of Symrna, probably before his banishment to Patmos in 96, so that he governed that important see seventy years. He seems to have been the angel or bishop of Smyrna who was commended above all the bishops of Asia by Christ himself in the Apocalypse, and the only one without a reproach. Our Saviour encouraged him under his poverty, tribulation, and persecutions, especially the calumnies of the Jews, called him rich in grace, and promised him the crown of life by martyrdom. This saint was respected by the faithful to a degree of veneration. He formed many holy disciples, among whom were St. Irenaeus and Papias. When Florinus, who had often visited St. Polycarp, had broached certain heresies, St. Irenaeus wrote to him as follows: "These things were not taught you by the bishops who preceded us. I could tell you the place where the blessed Polycarp sat to preach the word of God. It is yet present to my mind with what gravity he everywhere came in and went out; what was the sanctity of his deportment, the majesty of his countenance and of his whole exterior, and what were his holy exhortations to the people. I seem to hear him now relate how he conversed with John and many others who had seen Jesus Christ; the words he had heard from their mouths. I can protest before God that if this holy bishop had heard of any error like yours, he would have immediately stopped his ears, and cried out, according to his custom, Good God! that I should be reserved to these times to hear such things! That very instant he would have fled out of the place in which he had heard such doctrine." St. Jerome mentions that St. Polycarp met at Rome the heretic Marcion in the streets, who resenting that the holy bishop did not take that notice of him which he expected, said to him, "Do you not know me, Polycarp?" "Yes," answered the saint, "I know you to be the firstborn of Satan." He had learned this abhorrence of the authors of heresy, who knowingly and willingly adulterate the divine truths, from his master, St. John, who fled out of the bath in which he saw Cerinthus. St. Polycarp kissed with respect the chains of St. Ignatius, who passed by Smyrna on the road to his martyrdom, and who recommended to our saint the care and comfort of his distant church of Antioch, which he repeated to him in a letter from Troas, desiring him to write in his name to those churches of Asia to which he had not leisure to write himself. St. Polycarp wrote a letter to the Philippians shortly after, which is highly commended by St. Irenaeus, St. Jerome, Eusebius, Photius, and others, and is still extant. It is justly admired both for the excellent instructions it contains and for the simplicity and perspicuity of the style, and was publicly read in the church in Asia in St. Jerome's time. In it he calls a heretic, as above, the eldest son of Satan. About the year 158 he undertook a journey of charity to Rome, to confer with Pope Anicetus about certain points of discipline, especially about the time of keeping Easter, for the Asiatic churches kept it on the fourteenth day of the vernal equinoctial moon, as the Jews did, on whatever day of the week it fell; whereas Rome, Egypt, and all the West observed it on the Sunday following. It was agreed that both might follow their custom without breaking the bands of charity. St. Anicetus, to testify his respect, yielded to him the honour of celebrating the Eucharist in his own church. We find no further particulars concerning our saint recorded before the acts of his martyrdom.
In the sixth year of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, Statius Quadratus being proconsul of Asia, a violent persecution broke out in that country, in which the faithful gave heroic proofs of their courage and love of God, to the astonishment of the infidels. When they were torn to pieces with scourges till their very bowels were laid bare, amidst the moans and tears of the spectators, who were moved with pity at the sight of their torments, not one of them gave so much as a single groan, so little regard had they for their own flesh in the cause of God. No kinds of torture, no inventions of cruelty, were forborne to force them to a conformity to the pagan worship of the times. Germanicus, who had been brought to Smyrna with eleven or twelve other Christians, signalised himself above the rest, and animated the most timorous to suffer. The proconsul in the amphitheatre called upon him with tenderness, entreated him to have some regard for his youth, and to value at least his life, but he, with a holy impatience, provoked the beasts to devour him, to leave this wicked world. One Quintus, a Phrygian, who had presented himself to the judge, yielded at the sight of the beast let out upon him, and sacrificed. The authors of these acts justly condemn the presumption of those who offered themselves to suffer, and say that the martyrdom of St. Polycarp was conformable to the gospel, because he exposed not himself to the temptation, but waited till the persecutors laid hands on him, as Christ our Lord taught us by his own example. The spectators, seeing the courage of Germanicus and his companions, and being fond of their impious bloody diversions, cried out, "Away with the impious! let Polycarp be sought for!" The holy man, though fearless, had been prevailed upon by his friends to withdraw and conceal himself in a neighbouring village during the storm, spending most of his time in prayer. Three days before his martyrdom, he in a vision saw his pillow on fire, from which he understood by revelation, and foretold his companions, that he should be burnt alive.
When the persecutors were in quest of him he changed his retreat, but was betrayed by a boy, who was threatened with the rack unless he discovered him. Herod, the Irenarch, or keeper of the peace, whose office it was to prevent misdemeanours and apprehend malefactors, sent horsemen by night to beset his lodgings. The saint was above stairs in bed, but refused to make his escape, saying, "God's will be done." He went down, met them at the door, ordered them a handsome supper, and sired only some time for prayer before he went with them. This granted, he began his prayer standing, which he continued in that posture for two hours, recommending to God his own flock and the whole church with so much earnestness and devotion that several of those that were come to seize him repented they had undertaken the commission. They set him on an ass, and were conducting him towards the city when he was met on the road by Herod and his father Nicetes, who took him into their chariot, and endeavoured to persuade him to a little compliance, saying, "What harm is there in saying Lord Caesar, or even in sacrificing, to escape death?" By the word Lord was meant nothing less than a kind of deity or godhead. The bishop at first was silent, in imitation of our Saviour, but being pressed, he gave them this resolute answer, "I shall never do what you desire of me." At these words, taking off the mask of friendship and compassion, they treated him with scorn and reproaches, and thrust him out of the chariot with such violence that his leg was bruised by the fall. The holy man went forward cheerfully to the place where the people were assembled. Upon his entering it a voice from heaven was heard by many, "Polycarp, be courageous, and act manfully." He was led directly to the tribunal of the proconsul, who exhorted him to respect his own age, to swear by the genius of Caesar, and to say, "Take away the impious," meaning the Christians. The saint, turning towards the people in the pit, said, with a stern countenance, "Exterminate the wicked," meaning by this expression either a wish that they might cease to be wicked by their conversion to the faith of Christ, or this was a prediction of the calamity which befel their city in 177, when Smyrna was overturned by an earthquake, as we read in Dionand Aristides. The proconsul repeated, "Swear by the genius of Caesar, and I discharge you; blaspheme Christ." Polycarp replied, "I have served him these fourscore and six years, and he never did me any harm, but much good, and how can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? If you require of me to swear by the genius of Caesar, as you call it, hear my free confession- I am a Christian; but if you desire to learn the Christian religion, appoint a time, and hear me." The proconsul said, "Persuade the people." The martyr replied, "I addressed my discourse to you, for we are taught to give due honour to princes as far as is consistent with religion. But the populace is an incompetent judge to justify myself before." Indeed rage rendered them incapable of hearing him.
The proconsul then assuming a tone of severity, said: "I have wild beasts." "Call for them," replied the saint: "for we are unalterably resolved not to change from good to evil. It is only good to pass from evil to good." The proconsul said: "If you contemn the beasts, I will cause you to be burnt to ashes." Polycarp answered: "You threaten me with a fire which burns for a short time and then goes out, but are yourself ignorant of the judgment to come, and of the fire of everlasting torments which is prepared for the wicked. Why do you delay? Bring against me what you please." Whilst he said this and many other things, he appeared in a transport of joy and confidence, and his countenance shone with a certain heavenly grace and pleasant cheerfulness, insomuch that the proconsul himself was struck with admiration. However, he ordered a crier to make public proclamation three times in the middle of the Stadium (as was the Roman custom in capital cases): "Polycarp hath confessed himself a Christian." At this proclamation the whole multitude of Jews and Gentiles gave a great shout, the latter crying out, "This is the great teacher of Asia; the father of the Christians; the destroyer of our gods, who preaches to men not to sacrifice to or adore them." They applied to Philip the Asiarch to let loose a lion upon Polycarp. He told them that it was not in his power, because those shows had been closed. Then they unanimously demanded that he should be burnt alive. Their request was no sooner granted but every one ran with all speed to fetch wood from the baths and shops. The pile being prepared, Polycarp put off his garments, untied his girdle, and began to take off his shoes, an office he had not been accustomed to, the Christians having always striven who should do these things for him, regarding it as a happiness to be admitted to touch him. The wood and other combustibles were heaped all round him. The executioners would have nailed him to the stake; but he said to them: "Suffer me to be as I am. He who gives me grace to undergo this fire will enable me to stand still without that precaution." They therefore contented themselves with tying his hands behind his back, and in this posture looking up towards heaven, he prayed as follows: "O Almighty Lord God, Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee, God of angels, powers, and every creature, and of all the race of the just that live in thy presence! I bless thee for having been pleased in thy goodness to bring me to this hour, that I may receive a portion in the number of thy martyrs, and partake of the chalice of thy Christ, for the resurrection to eternal life, in the incorruptibleness of the holy Spirit. Amongst whom grant me to be received this day as a pleasing sacrifice, such an one as thou thyself hast prepared, that so thou mayest accomplish what thou, O true and faithful God! hast foreshown. Wherefore, for all things I praise, bless, and glorify thee, through the eternal high priest Jesus Christ, thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee and the Holy Ghost be glory now and for ever. Amen." He had scarce said Amen when fire was set to the pile, which increased to a mighty flame. But behold a wonder, say the authors of these acts, seen by us reserved to attest it to others; the flames forming themselves into an arch, like the sails of a ship swelled with the wind, gently encircled the body of the martyr, which stood in the middle, resembling not roasted flesh, but purified gold or silver, appearing bright through the flames; and his body sending forth such a fragrancy that we seemed to smell precious spices. The blind infidels were only exasperated to see his body could not be consumed, and ordered a spearman to pierce him through, which he did, and such a quantity of blood issued out of his left side as to quench the fire. The malice of the devil ended not here: he endeavoured to obstruct the relics of the martyr being carried off by the Christians; for many desired to do it, to show their respect to his body. Therefore, by the suggestion of Satan, Nicetes advised the proconsul not to bestow it on the Christians, lest, said he, abandoning the crucified man, they should adore Polycarp: the Jews suggested this, "Not knowing," say the authors of the acts, "that we can never forsake Christ, nor adore any other, though we love the martyrs, as his disciples and imitators, for the great love they bore their king and master." The centurion, seeing a contest raised by the Jews, placed the body in the middle, and burnt it to ashes. "We afterwards took up the bones," say they, "more precious than the richest jewels or gold, and deposited them decently in a place at which may God grant us to assemble with joy, to celebrate the birthday of the martyr." Thus these disciples and eye-witnesses. It was at two o'clock in the afternoon, which the authors of the acts call the eighth hour, in the year 166, that St. Polycarp received his crown, according to Tillemont; but in 169, according to Basnage.1 His tomb is still shown with great veneration at Smyrna, in a small chapel. St. Irenaeus speaks of St. Polycarp as being of an uncommon age.
The epistle of St. Polycarp to the Philippians, which is the only one among those which he wrote that has been preserved, is, even in the dead letter, a standing proof of the apostolic spirit with which he was animated, and of that profound humility, perfect meekness, burning charity, and holy zeal, of which his life was so admirable an example. The beginning is an effusion of spiritual joy and charity with which he was transported at the happiness of their conversion to God, and their fervor in divine love. His extreme abhorrence of heresy makes him immediately fall upon that of the Docaetae against which he arms the faithful, by clearly demonstrating that Christ was truly made man, died, and rose again: in which his terms admirably express his most humble and affectionate devotion to our divine Redeemer, under these great mysteries of love. Besides walking in truth, he takes notice, that to be raised with Christ in glory, we must also do his will, keep all his commandments, and love whatever he loved; refraining from all fraud, avarice, detraction, and rash judgment; repaying evil with good forgiving and showing mercy to others that we ourselves may find mercy. "These things," says he, "I write to you on justice, because you incited me; for neither I, nor any other like me, can attain to the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, into whose epistles if you look, you may raise your spiritual fabric by strengthening faith, which is our mother, hope following, and charity towards God, Christ, and our neighbor preceding us. He who has charity is far from all sin." The saint gives short instructions to every particular state, then adds, "Every one who hath not confessed that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist; and who hath not confessed the suffering of the cross, is of the devil; and who hath drawn the oracles of the Lord to his passions, and hath said that there is no resurrection nor judgment, he is the oldest son of Satan." He exhorts to watching always in prayer, lest we be led into temptation; to be constant in fasting, persevering, joyful in hope, and in the pledge of our justice, which is Christ Jesus, imitating his patience; for, by suffering for his name, we glorify him. To encourage them to suffer, he reminds them of those who had suffered before their eyes: Ignatius, Zozimus, and Rufus, and some of their own congregation, "who are now," says our saint, "in the place which is due to them with the Lord, with whom they also suffered."SOURCE


Matthew 6: 7 - 15
"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.