CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: FEB. 16, 2010: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: POPE: WITNESS AWAKENS VOCATIONS/OTHER NEWS
EUROPE: ENGLAND: FORMER OLYMPIC SPEED SKATER TURNED NUN-
AMERICA: USA: 24-HOUR CONFESSION IN NEWYORK-
ASIA: IRAQ: CHRISTIANS ARE IN DANGER IN MOSUL-
AUSTRALIA: 13 YEAR-OLD CHARGED WITH MURDER OF 12 YEAR-OLD-
AFRICA: SOUTH AFRICA: CONCERNS OVER PLIGHT OF REFUGEES/MIGRANTS-
POPE: WITNESS AWAKENS VOCATIONS
(VIS) - "Witness Awakens Vocations" is the title of the Pope's message for the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations that will be celebrated on 25 April - Good Shepherd Sunday - the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Here follow excerpts from the document: "The fruitfulness of our efforts to promote vocations depends primarily on God's free action, yet, as pastoral experience confirms, it is also helped by the quality and depth of the personal and communal witness of those who have already answered the Lord's call to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life, for their witness is then able to awaken in others a desire to respond generously to Christ's call." "In the Old Testament the prophets knew that they were called to witness by their own lives to the message they proclaimed, and were prepared to face misunderstanding, rejection and persecution. (...) In the fullness of time, Jesus, sent by the Father, would bear witness to the love of God for all human beings, without distinction, with particular attention to the least ones, sinners, the outcast and the poor. Jesus is the supreme Witness to God and to his concern for the salvation of all." "Similarly the calling of Peter, (...) occurred through the witness of his brother Andrew (...). This was also the case for Nathanael, Bartholomew, thanks to the witness of yet another disciple, Philip (...). God's free and gracious initiative encounters and challenges the human responsibility of all those who accept his invitation to become, through their own witness, the instruments of his divine call. This occurs in the Church even today: the Lord makes use of the witness of priests who are faithful to their mission in order to awaken new priestly and religious vocations for the service of the People of God." "A fundamental element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life, is friendship with Christ. (...) If the priest is a "man of God", one who belongs to God and helps others to know and love him, he cannot fail to cultivate a deep intimacy with God, abiding in his love and making space to hear his Word." "In following Jesus, everyone called to a life of special consecration must do his utmost to testify that he has given himself completely to God. This is the source of his ability to give himself in turn to those whom Providence entrusts to him in his pastoral ministry with complete, constant and faithful devotion, (...) enabling them too to become open to meeting Christ, so that his Word may become a light to their footsteps. The story of every vocation is almost always intertwined with the testimony of a priest who joyfully lives the gift of himself to his brothers and sisters for the sake of the Kingdom of God." "A third aspect which necessarily characterizes the priest and the consecrated person is a life of communion. (...) In a particular way the priest must be a man of communion, open to all, capable of gathering into one the pilgrim flock which the goodness of the Lord has entrusted to him, helping to overcome divisions, to heal rifts, to settle conflicts and misunderstandings, and to forgive offences." "[I]f young people see priests who appear distant and sad, they will hardly feel encouraged to follow their example. They will remain hesitant if they are led to think that this is the life of a priest. Instead, they need to see the example of a communion of life which can reveal to them the beauty of being a priest." "It can be said that priestly vocations are born of contact with priests, as a sort of precious legacy handed down by word, example and a whole way of life." "The same can be said with regard to the consecrated life. The very life of men and women religious proclaims the love of Christ whenever they follow him in complete fidelity to the Gospel and joyfully make their own its criteria for judgement and conduct. They become "signs of contradiction" for the world, whose thinking is often inspired by materialism, self-centredness and individualism." "By letting themselves be won over by God through self-renunciation, their fidelity and the power of their witness constantly awaken in the hearts of many young people the desire to follow Christ in their turn, in a way that is generous and complete. To imitate Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, and to identify with him: this is the ideal of the consecrated life, a witness to the absolute primacy of God in human life and history." "Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness. Consequently, in order to foster vocations to the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life, and to be more effective in promoting the discernment of vocations, we cannot do without the example of those who have already said "yes" to God and to his plan for the life of each individual. Personal witness, in the form of concrete existential choices, will encourage young people for their part to make demanding decisions affecting their future." "May this World Day once again offer many young people a precious opportunity to reflect on their own vocation and to be faithful to it in simplicity, trust and complete openness."MESS/WORLD DAY OF PRAYER VOCATIONS/... VIS 100216 (910)
COMMUNIQUE ON PAPAL MEETING WITH IRISH BISHOPS VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the communique released this morning after the Holy Father's meeting of yesterday and today with the Bishops of the Irish Bishops' Conference. "On 15 and 16 February 2010, the Holy Father met the Irish Bishops and senior members of the Roman Curia to discuss the serious situation which has emerged in the Church in Ireland. Together they examined the failure of Irish Church authorities for many years to act effectively in dealing with cases involving the sexual abuse of young people by some Irish clergy and religious. All those present recognized that this grave crisis has led to a breakdown in trust in the Church's leadership and has damaged her witness to the Gospel and its moral teaching." "The meeting took place in a spirit of prayer and collegial fraternity, and its frank and open atmosphere provided guidance and support to the Bishops in their efforts to address the situation in their respective Dioceses." "On the morning of 15 February, following a brief introduction by the Holy Father, each of the Irish Bishops offered his own observations and suggestions. The Bishops spoke frankly of the sense of pain and anger, betrayal, scandal, and shame expressed to them on numerous occasions by those who had been abused. There was a similar sense of outrage reflected by laity, priests and religious in this regard." "The Bishops likewise described the support at present being provided by thousands of trained and dedicated lay volunteers at parish level to ensure the safety of children in all Church activities, and stressed that, while there is no doubt that errors of judgment and omissions stand at the heart of the crisis, significant measures have now been taken to ensure the safety of children and young people. They also emphasized their commitment to cooperation with the statutory authorities in Ireland - North and South - and with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland to guarantee that the Church's standards, policies, and procedures represent best practice in this area." "For his part, the Holy Father observed that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image. While realizing that the current painful situation will not be resolved quickly, he challenged the Bishops to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve, and to face the present crisis with honesty and courage. He also expressed the hope that the present meeting would help to unify the Bishops and enable them to speak with one voice in identifying concrete steps aimed at bringing healing to those who had been abused, encouraging a renewal of faith in Christ and restoring the Church's spiritual and moral credibility." "The Holy Father also pointed to the more general crisis of faith affecting the Church and he linked that to the lack of respect for the human person and how the weakening of faith has been a significant contributing factor in the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors. He stressed the need for a deeper theological reflection on the whole issue, and called for an improved human, spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation both of candidates for the priesthood and religious life and of those already ordained and professed." "The Bishops had an opportunity to examine and discuss a draft of the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father to the Catholics of Ireland. Taking into account the comments of the Irish Bishops, His Holiness will now complete his Letter, which will be issued during the coming season of Lent." "The discussions concluded late Tuesday morning, 16 February 2010. As the Bishops return to their Dioceses, the Holy Father has asked that this Lent be set aside as a time for imploring an outpouring of God's mercy and the Holy Spirit's gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in Ireland."OP/MEETING/IRISH BISHOPS VIS 100216 (670)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Bishop Ricardo Antonio Tobon Restrepo of Sonson-Rionegro, Colombia, as Metropolitan Archbishop of Medellin, area 687, population 3,336,000, Catholics 2,899,000, priests 977, religious 4,046) in Colombia. He succeeds Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo, P.S.S., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. - Accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo de Jesus Rivera Gomez as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Medellin, Colombia, upon having reached the age limit.NER:RE/.../TOBON: JARAMILLO:RIVERA VIS 100216 (90)
ENGLAND: FORMER OLYMPIC SPEED SKATER TURNED NUN
A former U.S. Olympic speed skater is now a Franciscan sister and says she has “no regrets” about her decision to commit to a life of service to God and the poor.
Kirstin Holum at the age of 17 placed sixth in the 3,000 meters speed skating event at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Observers predicted a great future for Holum, whose mother was a 1972 gold medalist in speed skating.
But despite loving the sport, she told Yahoo Sports, “I had this incredibly strong calling that it was time to move on and take a different path in life.”
Sr. Catherine Holum (far left) poses with Sr. Jacinta Pollard, Sr. Felicity Bouchard and Sr. Mary Pieta Geier. Credit: Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal.
She decided on her calling while on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
Holum is now known as Sister Catherine and is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, whose mission is to work with the poor and the homeless and to evangelize.
“It is funny now to think of how different my life is now,” she told Yahoo Sports. “I had the wonderful privilege of being able to compete as an Olympian, and now I am blessed to able to serve God and help those less fortunate.”
She was first based in New York where she and her fellow sisters worked in the Bronx with poor children in gang areas. In the fall of 2009, Sr. Catherine was sent with three other sisters to Leeds, England, where she now serves as a missionary to the people in the surrounding area.
Sister Lucille, who heads the Bronx chapter of the Sisters of the Renewal, said that Sr. Catherine has the “compassion of an angel.”
“It is wonderful to see people’s faces light up when Sister Catherine shares her experiences of her time in speed skating,” Sister Lucille said. “She never boasts about it but she has come to realize that we are incredibly proud of her and are lucky to have her as part of our religious family. The sisters and the people we try to reach love hearing about what she accomplished.”
Sr. Catherine told Yahoo Sports she wishes “the very best” to this Olympics’ competitors in speed skating, many of whom she once skated with.
“It is strange for me to think that things could have been different for me and I could have been at the Olympics again, but it wasn’t the Lord’s path for me and I have no regrets.”
To learn more about the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, visit: http://www.franciscansisterscfr.com/.
USA: 24-HOUR CONFESSION IN NEWYORK
A young adults group in the Archdiocese of New York has recently announced a 24-hour confession event which will take place in March during the 2010 Lenten season.
The Cathedral of Saint Patrick Young Adults (CSPYA) group is holding their second annual “24 Hours of Confession” project March 5 -6 at 51 parishes throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, Duchess, Staten Island, as well as Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties.
“Catholics need to know that confession is all about God's forgiveness and love and that the priest is there for them,” said the young adult group's director Mario Bruschi. “That is why our goal for this project will be focused on reminding people about the importance of the priesthood and that confession can restore us when we sin.”
In response to this event, Bishop Dominick Lagonegro of Orange County also announced recently that 25 parishes in his diocese will be holding additional confession times from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on March 5.
“In this Year of the Priest, the priests of the Archdiocese of New York is making a tremendous sacrifice to hear people's confessions, to counsel them, and to give them comfort,”added Bruschi. “They are living the great example of St. John Vianney and St. Padre Pio, by bringing people back to Jesus Christ through the sacrament.”
More information can be found at http://www.cspya.org/.
IRAQ: CHRISTIANS ARE IN DANGER IN MOSULAsia News report;
The Christian community is once again under attack from armed gangs, while the government does nothing to stop the attacks. In two raids two traders killed, a third man injured. “A large sum of money” demanded for the kidnapped Christians. Christian leader in Erbil: political ties between the expulsion of Christians from Iraq and the recent carnage in Baghdad.
Mosul (AsiaNews) - In just over 24 hours two Christian businessmen have been killed, one wounded and a fourth kidnapped, for whose release the kidnappers have asked for a "large sum of money." The streak of blood and violence against the Christian community in Mosul in northern Iraq shows no sign of abating as it comes under attack from armed gangs and abandoned by local authorities once again, as a local source told AsiaNews, "they do nothing to defend us."
Yesterday a Christian fruit vendor was killed in the district 17 Tammouz. The man, Najim Abdullah Fatoukhi of 42 years, was shot to death in front of his shop. The attackers fired from a car, and got away undisturbed.
The previous day, Sunday, February 14, Rayan Bashir Salem was killed. An armed commando entered the man's house in the neighbourhood of Al Mishraq, and shot him at point blank range. In the ambush his brother, Thair was wounded. The victim, also a merchant, owned a frozen goods store.
Finally, on 13 February, a gang kidnapped Sabah al Dahhan. Local sources said the kidnappers have demanded "a high amount of money" for his release.
Sources for AsiaNews in Mosul, asking for anonymity for security reasons, said the "persecution continues in complete indifference" and added that "Christians are living in a state of panic and are trying to leave the city.
Christians are convinced that "these are not normal criminals" behind the attacks and that there are "specific political plans": the creation of a Christian enclave in the plain of Nineveh and the government "does nothing to counter it."
A high-profile Christian political figure in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, explains that "even the attacks in Baghdad" in the recent past - which caused hundreds of dead or injured - are related to "project for an area to pen up the Christian community" . http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Mosul,-anti-Christian-violence:-two-murders-and-a-kidnapping-in-24-hours-17637.html
13 YEAR-OLD CHARGED WITH MURDER OF 12 YEAR-OLD
Cath News report:
Police have charged a 13 year-old Brisbane boy with murder after the fatal stabbing of his 12 year-old schoolmate in a fight at St Patrick's College.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said security at schools would be reviewed following the tragedy, the second stabbing in a Brisbane school in a fortnight, The Australian reports.
Year 8 student Elliot Fletcher sustained a fatal wound to the chest, inflicted by a 20cm fishing knife, during the altercation with a Year 9 boy at the college in a Brisbane suburb.
The violence erupted in the school toilets at about 8.15am, before classes commenced, the report said. Fletcher died shortly after arriving at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, said a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The alleged assailant was picked up by police soon afterwards near the school, bleeding from a minor stab wound to the neck, the reports said.
School headmaster Dr Michael Carroll described the boy's death as a "tragic loss of young life," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"My immediate concern is the welfare of the families affected and all students and staff at the college," Dr Carroll said.
He said counselling services would be available to all students and staff.
Ms Bligh said "schools in Queensland are not like some of the schools we might see in some of the big cities in the US" and there wasn't a "serious problem with children bringing implements and weapons to school". She said the outcome of the police investigation would be reviewed to for improvement of safety at schools.
The attack came only two weeks after a boy from Brisbane's St Joseph's College, in Gregory Terrace, was stabbed in the thigh. That incident, however, was out of the school grounds and involved a student from another school. http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=19367
SOUTH AFRICA: CONCERNS OVER PLIGHT OF REFUGEES/MIGRANTS
Amnesty International deplores the failure of the police at local and provincial levels to protect the safety and property of refugees living in the Siyathemba/Balfour area of Mpumalanga province. On the night of 8th February 2010, for the second time in less than eight months, refugees and migrants were forced to flee the area after receiving threats. An armed crowd of several hundred looted and damaged their shops and other property, destroying their means of livelihood. At least 134 adults and children, mainly Ethiopian refugees, appear to have been affected by the violence and have sought shelter in safer areas locally or in other provinces. Despite efforts by humanitarian and human rights monitors including Amnesty International and senior police being alerted to the threatening situation, there appears to have been a significant failure by the provincial police to prevent the violence from escalating.
Among those affected were refugees who were experiencing violence and displacement in South Africa for the third time since 2008. As one of them told Amnesty International, “They told us to go out of Siyathemba. They have wrecked our shop. I have lost everything again. I am very scared.”
In September 2009, Amnesty International wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, expressing concern about threats of violence and verbal abuse against refugees and migrants who had been attacked and displaced in Siyathemba/Balfour during community protests in July that year over local government failure to provide services.
Amnesty International was also concerned that the refugees and migrants were being coerced into withdrawing their criminal complaints and to not seek compensation, apparently as a condition for re-integration back into the same community from which they had been expelled.
In a memorandum to the government in August 2009, Amnesty International welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s public statement condemning violence against non-nationals and his decision to meet the refugees and migrants who had been displaced during the July protests.
The human rights organization acknowledges, as well, that by late 2009 senior police officials at the national level were responding positively to a civil society and UNHCR-led initiative to improve the prevention of and police emergency responses to violence against refugees and other non-nationals. However, as indicated by the repetition of violence on 7 February, 2010 in Siyathemba/Balfour and other large-scale incidents which occurred during 2009, there remains a culture of impunity for crimes against refugees and migrants. There persists also low public awareness of the country’s human rights obligations towards refugees and others in need of international protection.
Amnesty International calls on the government to ensure that there is a swift and effective investigation into last night’s attacks and the police response to them. Those found responsible for human rights abuses should be brought to justice and the victims fully compensated. http://www.cisanewsafrica.org/story.asp?ID=4403
MARTYR AND FORMER SLAVE
Feast: February 16
HE was a Phrygian by birth, slave to Philemon, a person of note of the city of Colossæ, converted to the faith by St. Paul. Having robbed his master and being obliged to fly, he providentially met with St. Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome, who there converted and baptized him, and sent him with his canonical letter of recommendation to Philemon, by whom he was pardoned, set at liberty, and sent back to his spiritual father, whom he afterwards faithfully served. That apostle made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his Epistle to the Colossians, and afterwards, as St. Jerome and other Fathers witness, a preacher of the Gospel and a bishop. He was crowned with martyrdom under Domitian in the year 95.
Mark 8: 14 - 21
Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
And he cautioned them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread."
And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?
When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve."
"And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven."
And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"