Thursday, February 4, 2010



(VIS) - Benedict XVI today received prelates from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, who have just completed their five-yearly 'ad limina' visit. Addressing the group in English, the Pope commented on the "happy coincidence that the Year for Priests" also "marks the four hundredth anniversary of the priestly ordination of the great Scottish martyr St. John Ogilvie" whose "truly outstanding" dedication is an example for Scottish priests today. Going on then to praise the "Priests for Scotland" initiative, which seeks to facilitate the ongoing formation of the clergy, the Holy Father highlighted how "initiatives to promote vocations must be accompanied by sustained catechesis among the faithful about the true meaning of priesthood. Emphasise the indispensable role of the priest in the Church's life, above all in providing the Eucharist by which the Church herself receives life", he told the bishops. "Hand in hand with a proper appreciation of the priest's role is a correct understanding of the specific vocation of the laity", as it emerged from Vatican Council II, he said, noting that the vision of the Council was "that wherever the lay faithful live out their baptismal vocation - in the family, at home, at work - they are actively participating in the Church's mission to sanctify the world. A renewed focus on lay apostolate will help to ... give a strong impetus to the task of evangelising society. "That task requires a readiness to grapple firmly with the challenges presented by the increasing tide of secularism in your country", the Pope added. "Support for euthanasia strikes at the very heart of the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life. Recent developments in medical ethics and some of the practices advocated in the field of embryology give cause for great concern. If the Church's teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner. Pastors of the Church, therefore, must continually call the faithful to complete fidelity to the Church's Magisterium, while at the same time upholding and defending the Church's right to live freely in society according to her beliefs". And he went on: "The Church offers the world a positive and inspiring vision of human life, the beauty of marriage and the joy of parenthood. ... Be sure to present this teaching in such a way that it is recognised for the message of hope that it is. All too often the Church's doctrine is perceived as a series of prohibitions and retrograde positions, whereas the reality, as we know, is that it is creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realisation of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us". The Holy Father then turned to consider "the tragedy of division" suffered by the Scottish Church, "the great rupture with Scotland's Catholic past that occurred 450 years ago". In this context, however, he also gave "thanks to God for the progress that has been made in healing the wounds that were the legacy of that period, especially the sectarianism that has continued to rear its head even in recent times". The Pope also had words of praise for the prelates' "participation in 'Action of Churches Together in Scotland'" by which they aim to ensure that "the work of rebuilding unity among the followers of Christ is carried forward with constancy and commitment". "You can be proud", he told the bishops, "of the contribution made by Scotland's Catholic schools in overcoming sectarianism and building good relations between communities. ... As you encourage Catholic teachers in their work, place special emphasis on the quality and depth of religious education, so as to prepare an articulate and well-informed Catholic laity, able and willing to carry out its mission". And the Holy Father concluded: "A strong Catholic presence in the media, local and national politics, the judiciary, the professions and the universities can only serve to enrich Scotland's national life, as people of faith bear witness to the truth, especially when that truth is called into question".AL/.../SCOTLAND VIS 100205 (700)
HEALTHCARE COUNCIL CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY 9-11 FEBRUARY VATICAN CITY, 5 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a conference was held to present the initiatives being organised to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers, and the eighteenth World Day of the Sick. The events will take place from 9 to 11 February. Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, Bishop Jose L. Redrado O.H. and Msgr. Jean-Marie Musivi Mpendawatu, respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers; Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes et Lourdes, France, and Salvatore Pagliuca, vice president of UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines). Archbishop Zimowski explained how the celebrations will be linked by the common theme of "the Church at the loving service of those who suffer", the title of Benedict XVI's Message for the World Day of the Sick 2010. An international symposium will be held in the Vatican on 9 and 10 February, attended by more than 500 people from 35 countries including healthcare workers, chaplains, doctors and nurses, representatives from volunteer associations and organisations, and a number of sick people. At 10.30 a.m. on 11 February, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Benedict XVI will preside at the celebration of the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica. Archbishop Zimowski explained how the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers, the first president of which was Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, co-ordinates more that 117,000 Catholic health centres around the world. It also involves itself in the formation of pastoral healthcare workers. In this context, and in the light of the current Year of Priests, he made particular mention of chaplains "who interact with the sick and with everyone who works in this sector, professionals and volunteers". Finally, he also mentioned the annual international conference, organised by the pontifical council every November, which this year will reach its twenty-fifth edition..../ANNIVERSARY HEALTHCARE COUNCIL/... VIS 100205 (330)
AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 5 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, on their 'ad limina' visit: - Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley, accompanied by Bishop emeritus John Aloysius Mone. - Bishop Peter Antony Moran of Aberdeen. - Bishop Joseph Anthony Toal of Argyll and The Isles, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Ian Murray. - Bishop Vincent Logan of Dunkeld. - Bishop John Cunningham of Galloway.AL/.../... VIS 100205 (80)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 5 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Arunas Poniskaitis, vicar general of Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Vilnius (area 9,644, population 822,000, Catholics 543,000, priests 156, permanent deacons 1, religious 257), Lithuania. The bishop-elect was born in Sakiai, Lithuania in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1992.NEA/.../PONISKAITIS VIS 100205 (60)



Cath News report:
A national initiativas been launched by the Church to "reclaim St Valentine's Day", focus on the true meaning of the feast day and the importance of romance in marriage.
Archbishop Philip Wilson, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, says the campaign is an opportunity to advocate the sacred bond of marriage.
St Valentine was executed on February 14, 269AD for going against a decree by Roman ruler Claudius that weddings be suspended because he needed unattached men to serve in his armies, said a press statement by CathCommSA.
The initiative, featured in an article in the February issue of The Southern Cross, provides parishes and Catholic school families with practical suggestions for celebrating St Valentine's Day and encouraging married couples to spend more time together.
Brochures and other resources such as prepared homilies, items for newsletters and discussion points for community groups have been sent out to parishes and schools.



UCAN report: — Northern Sri Lankan bishops, whose dioceses were hard hit by the civil war, are appealing for detained Tamil youths to be either tried in a court of law or released.
About 11,000 youths have been in detention for the past seven months in different rehabilitation camps in the north of the country. Another 10,000 are in prisons in Colombo and other parts, charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
The government maintains that these youths took to arms or did political work for the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the civil war.
“They are children of ordinary families longing for a reunion with their loved ones,” Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam of Jaffna told UCA News. The Church as well as parents of the detained Tamil youths are “seeking justice for them,” Bishop Savundaranayagam added.
He pointed out that he is still “not aware if they are being rehabilitated or not,” but “surely they should either be prosecuted or released.”
Parents ‘unable to obtain information’
“Most of them surrendered with their parents,” but many parents are now “unable to get information about them,” the bishop said.
The youths are restless and in search of answers about their incarceration, he said. This very sort of injustice was one of the causes of the long civil war in the first place, he said.
Bishop Savundaranayagam had pointed out his concerns to President Mahinda Rajapaksa when they met in Jaffna on Jan. 10. The prelate requested the president to release all Tamil rebel suspects. Rajapaksa had assured the bishop that all rebel suspects detained for minor offences would be released following a judicial review.
Even before the civil war ended last year, many Tamil youths were already detained just because of their ethnicity, Church people say.
Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar told UCA News on Feb. 3, “It is painful to see them in jail for 10 or 15 years without inquiry.” He said many were held only because of suspected links with the now defeated Tamil Tiger rebels. He appealed “for expeditious legal action” or their “release from prison.”
Issue raised with minister
Bishop Rayappu also raised the issue last month with Justice and Law Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda. The minister, he said, “promised to speed up the investigation and release those who are charged with minor offenses.”
Human Rights Watch in its Feb. 1 report, “Legal Limbo: The Uncertain Fate of Detained LTTE Suspects in Sri Lanka,” pointed out that the Sri Lankan government has routinely violated the fundamental rights of detained Tamil people.
The 30-page report is based on interviews with detainees, their relatives, humanitarian workers, and human rights advocates.(SOURCE:


CNA report:
During his address to the bishops of England and Wales this week, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that he will be making a visit to the United Kingdom this coming Fall. In preparation for his arrival, a panel of Catholic experts will provide the media and others with briefings on what the Church teaches.
The Catholic Union of Great Britain reports that it is organizing a panel of Catholic experts to "articulate the conviction of the Church on major contentious issues" in preparation for the Holy Father's visit, which will take place next Fall.
The "well-informed Catholic speakers," who are currently being sought, will be available as of March 2010 for media queries and provide a presence in the public square and give "expert briefings" on the teachings of the Catholic Church. According to the Catholic Union, 20-25 representatives "drawn from a broad spectrum of the Church" will form the team.
The Catholic Union of Great Britain, by its mission, advocates and upholds the moral and spiritual interests of the Church and works to further Christian views in the public sphere, without regard to politics or affiliation.
The Catholic Union has declared that the "Catholic Voices" project has been approved by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, although they are not spokespeople for the conference.(SOURCE;


CISA report:
Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday February 2, appointed His Excellency Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, as Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria.Kasujja was born in Mitala-Maria in Uganda on April 26, 1946. He was ordained Priest on January 3, 1973.He entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See in 1979 and has served in the Apostolic Nunciature in Argentina, Haiti, Bangladesh, Portugal, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and in Algeria.The cleric was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Algeria and to Tunisia on May 23, 1988 and to Madagascar, to the Seychelles and Apostolic Delegate to the Comoros and La Reunion on April 22, 2004.He was appointed the same and Apostolic Nuncio to Mauritius on June 9, 2004.Archbishop Augustine Kasujja speaks English, Italian, French and German.The date of his arrival in Nigeria is yet to be communicated.(SOURCE:


Archbishop O’Brien Speaks At Summit Aimed At Eliminating Nuclear Weapons
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore said humanity must “build a future free of the nuclear threat” in remarks on February 3 at the Global Zero Summit in Paris. The February 2-4 event brings together 200 international political, military, business and faith leaders for strategy talks on the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons. Archbishop O’Brien cited the Second Vatican Council’s condemnation of “total war” and the Council Father’s skepticism of “deterrence” as a way to lasting peace. He anchored his reflections in just war principles and the teachings of modern popes. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 World Day of Peace message, in which the pope said, “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.” The Archbishop acknowledged, “It will not be easy. ... A world with zero nuclear weapons will need robust measures to monitor, enforce and verify compliance. The path to zero will be long and treacherous. But humanity must walk this path with both care and courage in order to build a future free of the nuclear threat.” Other speakers at the Global Zero Summit included former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, Queen Noor of Jordan, and a message from UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon. The summit was timed to lead up to the Global Nuclear Security Summit in April, convened at the call of President Obama, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May. The full text of Archbishop O’Brien’s remarks can be found online at:


St. Agatha
Feast: February 5
Feast Day:
February 5
Catania or Palermo
251, Catania
Patron of:
bellfounders; breast cancer; bakers; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses

We have her panegyrics, by St. Aldhelm, in the seventh, and St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth centuries; also a hymn in her honour among the poems of Pope Damasus, and another by St. Isidore of Seville, in Bollandus, p. 596. The Greeks have interpolated her acts; but those in Latin are very ancient. They are abridged by Tillemont, t. 3, p. 409. See also Rocci Pyrrho, in Sicilia Sacra, on Palermo, Catana, and Malta. The cities of Palermo and Catana, in Sicily, dispute the honour of her birth; but they do much better who, by copying her virtues, and claiming her patronage, strive to become her fellow-citizens in heaven. It is agreed that she received the crown of martyrdom at Catana, in the persecution of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of our Lord 251. She was of a rich and illustrious family, and having been consecrated to God from her tender years, triumphed over many assaults upon her chastity. Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and avarice, imagined he should easily compass his wicked designs on Agatha's person and estate by means of the emperor's edict against the Christians. He therefore caused her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catana. Seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, she made this prayer: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil." She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went. On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew. The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole month she was there. Quintianus, being informed of her constancy after thirty days, ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty. The judge, offended at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made him this reproach: "Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself? "He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her. But God would be himself her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light. Quintianus, four days after, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made this prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul." After which words she sweetly gave up the ghost. Her name is inserted in the canon of the mass in the calendar of Carthage, as ancient as the year 530, and in all martyrologies of the Latins and Greeks. Pope Symmachus built a church in Rome on the Aurelian Way under her name, about the year 500, which is fallen to decay. St. Gregory the Great enriched a church which he purged from the Arian impiety with her relics, which it still possesses. This church had been rebuilt in her honour by Ricimer, general of the Western Empire, in 460. Gregory II built another famous church at Rome, under her invocation, in 726, which Clement VIII gave to the congregation of the Christian doctrine. St. Gregory the Great ordered some of her relics to be placed in the church of the monastery of St. Stephen, in the Isle of Capreae, now Capri. The chief part, which remained at Catana, was carried to Constantinople by the Greek general, who drove the Saracens out of Sicily about the year 1040; these were brought back to Catana in 1127, a relation of which translation, written by Mauritius, who was then bishop, is recorded by Rocci Pyrrho and Bollandus. The same authors relate in what manner the torrent of burning sulphur and stones which issue from mount Aetna, in great eruptions, was several times averted from the walls of Catana by the veil of St. Agatha, (taken out of her tomb,) which was carried in procession. Also that through her inter. cession, Malta (where she is honored as patroness of the island) was pre served from the Turks who invaded it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to be distributed in many places.
The perfect purity of intention by which St. Agatha was entirely dead to the world and herself, and sought only to please God, is the circumstance which sanctified her sufferings, and rendered her sacrifice complete. The least cross which we bear, the least action which we perform in this disposition, will be a great holocaust, and a most acceptable offering. We have frequently something to offer—sometimes an aching pain in the body, at other times some trouble of mind, often some disappointment, some humbling rebuke, or reproach, or the like. If we only bear these trials with patience when others are witnesses, or if we often speak of them, or are fretful under them, or if we bear patiently public affronts or great trials, yet sink under those which are trifling, and are sensible to small or secret injuries, it is evident that we have not attained to true purity of intention in our patience; that we are not dead to ourselves. We profess ourselves ready to die for Christ, yet cannot bear the least cross or humiliation. How agreeable to our divine spouse is the sacrifice of a soul which suffers in silence, desiring to have no other witness of her patience than God alone, who sends her trials; which shuns superiority and honours, but takes all care possible that no one knows the humility or modesty of such a refusal; which suffers humiliations and seeks no comfort or reward but from God. This simplicity and purity of heart; this love of being hid in God, through Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all our sacrifices, and the complete victory over self-love, which it attacks and forces out of its strongest entrenchments: this says to Christ, with St. Agatha, "Possess alone all that I am."(source:


Mark 6: 14 - 29
King Herod heard of it; for Jesus' name had become known. Some said, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him."
But others said, "It is Eli'jah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old."
But when Herod heard of it he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."
For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero'di-as, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her.
For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
And Hero'di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not,
for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.
But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.
For when Hero'di-as' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it."
And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom."
And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer."
And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.
And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison,
and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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