Wednesday, March 10, 2010




LENT: GOD INVITES US TO INDIVIDUAL CONVERSION VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2010 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI visited the parish of St. John of the Cross in the northern sector of the diocese of Rome, where he celebrated Mass. In his homily, the Pope said that "during Lent each one of us is invited by God to change our lives, to think and live in accordance with the Gospel, correcting some aspect of our way of praying, acting, working and of our relations with others. Jesus makes this appeal to us not with a severity that serves as an end unto itself, but precisely because He is concerned with our good, our happiness, our salvation. For our part, we must respond to Him by making a sincere interior effort, asking Him to show us in what particular points we must seek to convert". He then went on to comment on the parish itself, which was founded twenty-one years ago, noting how "it has opened itself to the new movements and ecclesial communities, thus maturing a broader understanding of Church and experiencing new forms of evangelisation. "I encourage you to continue courageously in this direction, while undertaking to involve all sides in a united pastoral project", the Holy Father added. In this context he expressed his joy at the fact that the parish community "aims to promote - while respecting the vocations and roles of consecrated and lay people - the co-responsibility of all members of the People of God. ... This requires a change of mentality, especially as regards lay persons, 'considering them not merely as collaborators of the clergy but recognising them as co-responsible in the life and activity of the Church, thus favouring the promotion of a mature and committed laity'". Turning then to address the families and young people of the local area who frequent the parish, Benedict XVI encouraged them "to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. Do not wait for others to come bringing you other messages, messages which do not lead to life, but make yourselves missionaries of Christ for your brothers and sisters in the places where they live, study or spend their free time. Here too, implement a capillary and organic activity of pastoral care of vocations, consisting in the education of families and young people to prayer and to living life as a gift that comes from God". Lent, he said, "invites each of us to recognise the mystery of God present in our lives. ... On the hill of Golgotha God, Who on the flight from Egypt revealed Himself as the One Who frees us from slavery, revealed Himself as the One Who embraces all men and women with the salvific power of the Cross and the Resurrection, freeing them from sin and death and accepting them in the embrace of His love". The Pope concluded by encouraging the faithful to continue "contemplating this mystery of the name of God in order better to understand the mystery of Lent and to live as individuals and communities in a permanent state of conversion, so as to be a constant epiphany in the world, witnesses of the living God Who frees and saves us out of love".HML/CONVERSION/ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS PARISH VIS 100308 (550)

CONVERSION MEANS READING EVENTS IN THE LIGHT OF FAITH VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, following his morning visit to the Roman parish of St. John of the Cross, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in order to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square. Commenting on the first reading from today's liturgy - the narrative of Moses and the burning bush which was not consumed by the flames but continued to burn, and whence God called to Moses - the Pope explained how "God shows Himself in various ways, also in our own lives. However, in order to recognise His presence it is necessary for us to approach Him with an awareness of our own lowliness and with profound respect. Otherwise we would be incapable of meeting and entering into communion with Him". He then went on to comment on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus is asked about certain tragic events: the murder in the Temple of certain Galileans by order of Pilate, and the collapse of a tower that killed several passers-by. "Against the facile conclusion of considering evil as the effect of a divine punishment", said Benedict XVI, "Jesus proclaims the innocence of God, Who is good and cannot wish evil, and He warns against thinking that calamities are the immediate consequence of the personal guilt of those who suffer them". Jesus replies to His questioners saying: "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did". Christ, the Pope explained, "is inviting us to read those events differently, to see them in the perspective of conversion: calamities and tragic events must not arouse our curiosity or our desire to find the supposedly guilty, but should be occasions to reflect, to reject the illusion that we can live without God and to strengthen, with God's help, our commitment to change our lives". "The possibility of conversion demands that we learn to read the events of life in the light of faith. ... In the presence of suffering and tragedy, true wisdom is to ask ourselves about the precarious nature of existence and to read human history with the eye of God Who, always wanting only the good of His children for an inscrutable design of His love, sometimes allows them to be tried by pain in order to lead them to a greater good". After praying the Angelus the Pope greeted, among others, a group of French pilgrims making particular mention of the people affected by the storm that struck western France last week.ANG/CONVERSION/... VIS 100308 (460)

GUARANTEE A FUTURE FOR CHRISTIANS IN THE HOLY LAND VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world encouraging them to participate in the collection for the Holy Land, which traditionally takes place on Good Friday. The letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the congregation, "is inspired by the pilgrimage 'in the historical footsteps of Jesus' which the Holy Father Benedict XVI made last May". Cardinal Sandri recalls "the pastoral, ecumenical and inter-religious concern that enlivened" the Pope's words and actions on that trip and notes how, "together with the ecclesial community of Israel and Palestine" we heard "'a voice' of brotherhood and peace. Strongly emphasising the ceaseless problem of emigration, His Holiness recalled that 'in the Holy Land there is room for everyone', and he urged the authorities to support the Christian presence" while assuring "the Christians of this land of the Church's solidarity". "The Year for Priests involves the beloved priests and seminarians of the whole Church, together with their respective bishops, in a commitment to the Holy Places", writes the cardinal, inviting everyone to "work tirelessly to guarantee a future for Christians in the place where 'the kindness and humanity' of Our God and Father first appeared. "The Pope has entrusted the Congregation for the Oriental Churches with the task of keeping alive interest in that blessed Land", Cardinal Sandri adds. "In his name I urge everyone to reinforce the solidarity that has been shown so far. In fact, the Christians of the East have a responsibility that belongs to the Universal Church, in other words the responsibility to preserve the 'Christian origins', the places and people who are the sign of them, so that those origins may always be the reference of the Christian mission, the measure of the ecclesial future and its security. They therefore deserve the support of the entire Church". A document drawn up by the Custody of the Holy Land and a note from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, details the projects undertaken using the 2008-2009 collection. Apart from providing study grants for priests and seminarians from the Holy Land to study in pontifical universities, various restoration projects were carried out in, among other places: Ain Karem (shrine of the Visitation), Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Haifa, Magdala, Nazareth, Mount Nebo, Mount Tabor and Nain. Funds were also distributed to support parishes, families, schools and universities, and - through the Custody of the Holy Land - to various cultural projects, such as the faculty of biblical sciences and archaeology of the "Studium Biblicum Franciscanum" in Jerusalem, and the Francisca Media Centre, a new form of apostolate which uses television networks to divulge the message of the Holy Places and the life of the local Christian communities..../COLLECTION HOLY LAND/SANDRI VIS 100308 (490)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. - Three prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit: - Bishop Henry Apaloryamam Ssentongo of Moroto. - Bishop Emmanuel Obbo of Soroti. - Archbishop James Odongo, emeritus of Tororo and military ordinary. On Saturday 6 March he received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. - Two prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit: - Bishop Joseph B. Willigers M.H.M. of Jinja. - Bishop Giuseppe Filippi M.C.C.J. of Kotido.AP:AL/.../... VIS 100308 (120)


Cath News report:
A group called the Christian Save the Sheik Coalition says it has collected thousands of signatures on a petition to prevent the deportation from Australia of Iranian cleric Dr Mansour Leghaei.
Dr Leghaei, a moderate Iranian Shia who has lived in in Australia for 16 years, has been declared a security threat by ASIO, The Australian reports. The reasons for the ASIO assessment have not been publicly revealed.
Anglican priest Dave Smith said he could guarantee that Dr Leghaei was not a threat to national security and called on the minister to order a new security assessment.
Dr Leghaei has been given until March 19 to leave the country, after an immigration appeals tribunal rejected his final application to remain here.
His lawyer, Stephen Hopper, said the sheik would make representations to Immigration Minister Chris Evans to intervene in the case and use his ministerial discretion to halt the planned deportation.
Dr Leghaei, who preaches at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Earlwood in Sydney's inner-southwest, is the head of a local interfaith committee and has been instrumental in building bridges between the ethnically and religiously diverse communities in Sydney's inner-west and inner-southwest.
The Christian coalition includes Anglican, Catholic, indigenous and Muslim community leaders, including the professor who formerly headed up the Cancer Council, Alan Coates, boxer Nader Hamden and Marrickville Mayor Sam Iskander.


CNA report:
In comments to the newspaper, “Le Point,” Jewish historian Saul Friedländer defended Pius XII against accusations that he was “Hitler's Pope.” Friedländer recalled that Pope Pacelli's aversion to Nazism was made known by his collaboration in the writing of Pius XI's encyclical, “Mit brennender Sorge.”
Friedländer previously taught contemporary history at the University Institute of Higher International Studies in Geneva and also worked at universities in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. He is the author of such books as, “Hitler and the United States,” “Pius XII and the Third Reich,” and “Reflections on the Future of Israel.”
In the interview with Le Point, which was covered by L’Osservatore Romano (LOR), the Jewish historian referred to the silent work of Pius XII.
While some say he did little to protest the deportation of Jews and the Holocaust, written records and witnesses tell another story. They testify to his actions in defense of the Jews. Accounts of his intervention to save 4,000 Jews from a ghetto in Rome and place them in convents and Catholic schools refute claims of his passiveness.
In response to accusations against Pius XII's character, LOR pointed out, “Friedländer says he does not want to transform Pius XII into ‘Hitler’s Pope,’ as others have done. Instead, he recounts Pope Pacelli’s aversion to Nazism and his collaboration in the drafting of Mit brennender Sorge,” Pius XI’s encyclical condemning Nazi ideology.


CNA report:
The bishops of Costa Rica released a statement expressing concern over a recent ruling by the country's Constitutional Court which stripped the Church its right to choose which religion teachers will be hired in Costa Rican schools.
Last month, Costa Rica's Constitutional Court took away the Church's right to choose which religion teachers it will hire, after reversing a 1972 law stating that all religious teachers must be approved by the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica.
“We respect the decision of the Constitutional Court, but at the same time we are concerned about the insecurity and confusion that the ruling has caused among teachers and students of religious education, as well as parents,” the bishops said.
The foundation of religious education, they explained, “lies in the inalienable right of Catholic parents to educate their children according to their faith and convictions. It is a human right that must be respected, and it is the duty of the Costa Rican State to make the greatest effort possible to ensure parents are offered this education in public schools.”
After noting that religious education is also good for the state, the bishops expressed their concern over “the tendency to want to replace Catholic religious education with … education in ethics, aesthetics or values, denying the rights of parents and to choose Catholic religious education for their sons and daughters.”
For these reasons, the bishops called on parents to provide the necessary religious education to their children; on authorities to respect this right; on teachers to assume this task with responsibility and to respect “current law that protects Catholic religious education.”
They also encouraged a strengthening of the collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the area of education.


AsiaNews report:

On the anniversary of protests in March 2008 (the army fired on the crowd, hundreds of deaths, Tibet closed to visitors and the media), the Chinese authorities have introduced new security measures and enhanced controls. Tibetan Prime Minister in exile: we will not lose hope, we will continue our non-violent protest.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - A new crackdown by Chinese authorities in Tibet with hundreds of arrests and tightening of already stringent security measures in view the anniversary of protests that erupted in Lhasa on 10 March 2008. In an exclusive interview with AsiaNews Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile after the Chinese authorities have made clear that they will choose the new Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reports that since 2 March, the beginning of this new "safety campaign", around 500 Tibetans were arrested in Lhasa City and there is strict monitoring of the capital’s 3 main monasteries (Drepung, Gaden and Sera) prohibiting monks to leave without a special permit from the authorities.
From 1 March a new "security corps" was also set up that will work with the police "to maintain social order through inspection and detention of suspects and arrests of whoever is devoid of the 3 documents required: ID card, residence registration (hukou in Chinese) and temporary permission to stay "suspected cases will be reported to the police.
This will create a capillary system of control for any individual who is in Lhasa.
The TCHRD reports that basic rights are being violated, such as freedom of movement, and the aim is to actually intimidate the population, so as to prevent any form of dissent and commemoration in view of the 2nd anniversary of street protests in March 2008, bloodily quashed by the army, which were followed by hundreds, perhaps thousands of arrests and convictions to years in prison.
Professor Rinpoche tells AsiaNews that "we have been in exile for 51 years [after the Dalai Lama and closest followers had to flee abroad in fear of Chinese retaliation for an attempt to regain Tibet's independence] but the Tibetan people despite much suffering, does not use violence to support their cause. Despite the repressive measures and provocations, our people continue to protest in a non-violent way in Tibet and the world".
The Prime Minister believes the support of the international community is essential in this situation, especially regarding the success of the ongoing negotiations with China. They "know the sufferings of the Tibetan people, most of the world leaders sympathise with the Tibetan cause. Thanks to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spirituality and culture are known around the world. This is aso why I do not lose hope".
The culture of non-violence is so strong among the Tibetans that although many young Tibetans are critical of the negotiations with Beijing preached by the government in exile, however, "there were no violent actions. At most, the young Tibetans staged demonstrations in protest, but there were no incidents. For example, the group Tibetan Youth Congress uses non-violent means of protest, even if they disagree with the Dalai Lama's policy towards Beijing. "
The new problem is Beijing’s claim to choosing a new Dalai Lama. For the Tibetan religion, the Dalai Lama, as a reincarnation of Buddha, is recognised only through the observance of intricate religious rituals. But in recent days, the governor of the Autonomous Region of Tibet, Padma Choling, said that "there is no need to discuss the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama" thus showing that the new god-king of Tibet will be chosen by the political authorities.
Rinpoche has a cautious approach to the subject and says only that "we must not take a position on the simple Chinese propaganda. Let the Chinese Communist Party talk, we have Tibetan hearts".
Regarding relations with the Chinese people, Rinpoche stresses that "we express gratitude to the people of China, who have given great support to the Tibetan cause. Chinese intellectuals and writers are sympathetic to our cause".,-hundreds-of-monks-arrested-and-imprisoned-in-monasteries-17828.html



CISA report:

Burials are being held in Uganda for people killed in a mudslide which swept away three villages near the eastern town of Bududa. A massive landslide that swept the slopes of Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda on Monday night killed at least 90 people, with 350 missing and feared dead.The landslide wiped out three villages of Kubehwo, Namakansa and Nametsi located in Bukalasi sub-county in Bududa District.According to Fr. Gerald Magada, three parishes; Bududa, Buchunya, Bugitimwa and Nyondo parishes in Tororo diocese have been completely destroyed. In addition, a health centre in Bududa parishe went down with more fifty people, staff and a number of school children who had taken shelter after it started raining heavily.Recovery efforts have been hampered by the ragged and muddy terrain, and with use of machinery being ruled out. The army says the search operation will take months and that some of the bodies may never be found. "We're getting bodies six feet to eight feet underground, nearly 2.5m, making it very hard as the area is muddy and rocky," Lt Col Wilson Kabera, in charge of the recovery operation, told CISA on phone from the site"We cannot get heavy earth-moving equipment to this point so we're basically using hand-held tools," he said. Fr. Magada says continuing heavy rain is hampering the operation. Whenever a shower starts, people flee the excavation scene fearing further landslides, he says. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni visited the area on Wednesday and said the mudslide was partly due to the loss of tree cover. The region, about 275km (170 miles) north-east of the capital Kampala, often suffers from landslides but this is an unusually high death toll. Caritas Uganda is working with other aid agencies to support the survivors. The Red Cross has sent out appeals for more support for the survivors and to give decent burials to the bodies that have been recovered. The UN is supplying tents and plastic sheeting for up to 5,000 people left homeless by the mudslide. Mount Elgon is shared between Uganda and Kenya. Wider cooperation would facilitate the development of a shared data base of disaster related information between the two countries and even throughout the region. Within the East African Community, cooperation would promote a consistent approach to disaster management policies and techniques, leading to better disaster management practices.


St. John of God
Feast: March 8
Feast Day:
March 8
March 8, 1495, Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal
March 8, 1550, Granada, Spain
October 16, 1690, Rome by Pope Alexander VIII
Patron of:
alcoholics; bookbinders; dying people; firefighters; heart patients; hospital workers; publishers; sick people

Born at Montemor o Novo, Portugal, 8 March, 1495, of devout Christian parents; died at Granada, 8 March, 1550. The wonders attending the saints birth heralded a life many-sided in its interests, but dominated throughout by implicit fidelity to the grace of God. A Spanish priest whom he followed to Oropeza, Spain, in his ninth year left him in charge of the chief shepherd of the place, to whom he gradually endeared himself through his punctuality and fidelity to duty, as well as his earnest piety. When he had reached manhood, to escape his mastery well-meant, but persistent, offer of his daughter's hand in marriage, John took service for a time in the army of Charles V, and on the renewal of the proposal he enlisted in a regiment on its way to Austria to do battle with the Turks. Succeeding years found him first at his birthplace, saddened by the news of his mother's premature death, which had followed close upon his mysterious disappearance; then a shepherd at Seville and still later at Gibraltar, on the way to Africa, to ransom with his liberty Christians held captive by the Moors. He accompanied to Africa a Portuguese family just expelled from the country, to whom charity impelled him to offer his services. On the advice of his confessor he soon returned to Gilbratar, where, brief as had been the time since the invention of the printing-press, he inaugurated the Apostolate of the printed page, by making the circuit of the towns and villages about Gilbratar, selling religious books and pictures, with practically no margin of profit, in order to place them within the reach of all.
It was during this period of his life that he is said to have been granted the vision of the Infant Jesus, Who bestowed on him the name by which he was later known, John of God, also bidding him to go to Granada. There he was so deeply impressed by the preaching of Blessed John of Avila that he distributed his worldly goods and went through the streets of the city, beating his breast and calling on God for mercy. For some time his sanity was doubted by the people and he was dealt with as a madman, until the zealous preacher obliged him to desist from his lamentations and take some other method of atoning for his past life. He then made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where the nature of his vocation was revealed to him by the Blessed Virgin. Returning to Granada, he gave himself up to the service of the sick and poor, renting a house in which to care for them and after furnishing it with what was necessary, he searched the city for those afflicted with all manner of disease, bearing on his shoulders any who were unable to walk.
For some time he was alone in his charitable work soliciting by night the needful supplies, and by day attending scrupulously to the needs of his patients and the rare of the hospital; but he soon received the co-operation of charitable priests and physicians. Many beautiful stories are related of the heavenly guests who visited him during the early days of herculean tasks, which were lightened at times by St.Raphael in person. To put a stop to the saint's habit of exchanging his cloak with any beggar he chanced to meet, Don Sebastian Ramirez, Bishop of Tuy, had made for him a habit, which was later adopted in all its essentials as the religious garb of his followers, and he imposed on him for all time the name given him by the Infant Jesus, John of God. The saint's first two companions, Antonio Martin and Pedro Velasco, once bitter enemies who had scandalised all Granada with their quarrels and dissipations, were converted through his prayers and formed the nucleus of a fourishing congregation. The former advanced so far on the way of perfection that the saint on his death-bed commended him to his followers as his successor in the government of the order. The latter, Peter the Sinner, as he called himself, became a model of humility and charity.
Among the many miracles which are related of the saint the most famous is the one commemorated in the Office of his feast, his rescue of all the inmates during a fire in the Grand Hospital at Granada, he himself passing through the flames unscathed. His boundless charity extended to widows and orphans, those out of employment, poor students, and fallen women. After thirteen years of severe mortification, unceasing prayer, and devotion to his patients, he died amid the lamentations of all the inhabitants of Granada. His last illness had resulted from an heroic but futile effort to save a young man from drowning. The magistrates and nobility of the city crowded about his death-bed to express their gratitude for his services to the poor, and he was buried with the pomp usually reserved for princes. He was beatified by Urban VIII, 21 September, 1638, and canonized by Alexander VIII, 16 October, 1690. Pope Leo XIII made St. John of God patron of hospitals and the dying.


Luke 4: 24 - 30
And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.
But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Eli'jah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land;
and Eli'jah was sent to none of them but only to Zar'ephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Eli'sha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Na'aman the Syrian."
When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.
And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.
But passing through the midst of them he went away.
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