Wednesday, March 10, 2010





NOTE BY PRESS OFFICE DIRECTOR ON CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSE VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of note issued today by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning cases of the sexual abuse of minors in ecclesiastical institutions: "For some months now the very serious question of the sexual abuse of minors in institutions run by ecclesiastical bodies and by people with positions of responsibility within the Church, priests in particular, has been investing the Church and society in Ireland. The Holy Father recently demonstrated his own concern, particularly through two meetings: firstly with high-ranking members of the episcopate, then with all the ordinaries. He is also preparing the publication of a letter on the subject for the Irish Church. "But over recent weeks the debate on the sexual abuse of minors has also involved the Church in certain central European countries (Germany, Austria and Holland). And it is on this development that we wish to make some simple remarks. "The main ecclesiastical institutions concerned - the German Jesuit Province (the first to be involved, through the case of the Canisius-Kolleg in Berlin), the German Episcopal Conference, the Austrian Episcopal Conference and the Netherlands Episcopal Conference - have faced the emergence of problem with timely and decisive action. They have demonstrated their desire for transparency and, in a certain sense, accelerated the emergence of the problem by inviting victims to speak out, even when the cases involved date from many years ago. By doing so they have approached the matter 'on the right foot', because the correct starting point is recognition of what happened and concern for the victims and the consequences of the acts committed against them. Moreover, they have re-examined the extant 'Directives' and have planned new operative guidelines which also aim to identify a prevention strategy, so that everything possible may be done to ensure that similar cases are not repeated in the future. "These events mobilise the Church to find appropriate responses and should be placed in a more wide-ranging context that concerns the protection of children and young people from sexual abuse in society as a whole. Certainly, the errors committed in ecclesiastical institutions and by Church figures are particularly reprehensible because of the Church's educational and moral responsibility, but all objective and well-informed people know that the question is much broader, and concentrating accusations against the Church alone gives a false perspective. By way of example, recent data supplied by the competent authorities in Austria shows that, over the same period of time, the number of proven cases in Church institutions was 17, while there were 510 other cases in other areas. It would be as well to concern ourselves also with them. "In Germany initiatives are now rightly being suggested, promoted by the Ministry for the Family, to call a 'round table' of the various educational and social organisations in order to consider the question from an appropriate and comprehensive viewpoint. The Church is naturally ready to participate and become involved and, perhaps, her own painful experience may also be a useful contribution for others. Chancellor Angela Merkel had justly recognised the seriousness and constructive approach shown by the German Church. "In order to complete these remarks, it is as well to recall once again that the Church exists as part of civil society and shoulders her own responsibilities in society, but she also has her own specific code, the 'canonical code', which reflects her spiritual and sacramental nature and in which, therefore, judicial and penal procedures are different (for example, they contain no provision for pecuniary sanctions or for the deprivation of freedom, but for impediment in the exercise of the ministry and privation of rights in the ecclesiastical field, etc.). In the ambit of canon law, the crime of the sexual abuse of minors has always been considered as one of the most serious of all, and canonical norms have constantly reaffirmed this, in particular the 2001 Letter 'De delictis gravioribus', sometimes improperly cited as the cause of a 'culture of silence'. Those who know and understand its contents, are aware that it was a decisive signal to remind the episcopate of the seriousness of the problem, as well as a real incentive to draw up operational guidelines to face it. "In conclusion, although the seriousness of the difficulties the Church is going through cannot be denied, we must not fail to do everything possible in order to ensure that, in the end, they bring positive results, of better protection for infancy and youth in the Church and in society, and the purification of the Church herself".OP/SEXUAL ABUSE/LOMBARDI VIS 100309 (780)

CONCERN AND HORROR AT VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. yesterday expressed "concern and horror" at the violent conflicts which have taken place in Nigeria in recent days, and which have led to the deaths of five hundred Christians of the Berom ethnic group in villages in the centre-north of the country, at the hands of Muslims of the Fulani ethnic group. Fr. Lombardi also explained that the events are to be seen "not as a religious, but a social confrontation". For his part, Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, speaking to Vatican Radio, affirmed that "this is a classic conflict between herdsmen and farmers, only the Fulani are all Muslims and the Berom all Christians. The international media are quickly led to report that it is Christians and Muslims who are killing one another; but this is not true, because the killings are not caused by religion but by social, economic, tribal and cultural issues. The victims are poor people who know nothing about, and have nothing to do with, any of this and are completely innocent. For our part in the Church, we continue to work to promote good relations between Christians and Muslims, seeking to reach agreement in an attempt to overcome violence and to work together to face the real political and ethnic problems". "We pray for peace, for good government and for truth. And we pray also that people may realise that the only way to survive in this country is to recognise one another as brothers and citizens of the same nation", the archbishop concluded..../NIGERIA/LOMBARDI:OLORUNFEMI VIS 100309 (280)

SOLUTIONS THAT RESPECT THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, yesterday addressed the fifty-fourth session of the Economic and Social Council's Commission on the Status of Women, which was meeting to discuss "Item 3: Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled 'Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century'". Addressing the commission in English, Archbishop Migliore said: "From the successive interventions in these days, ... it seems that the assessment is not entirely positive: It includes some light, but also many and disturbing shadows. "The advancements achieved regarding the status of women in the world in the last fifteen years include, among others, improvements in the education of girls, the promotion of women as key to eradicating poverty and fostering development, growth of participation in social life, political reforms aimed at removing forms of discrimination against women and specific laws against domestic violence", he added. "In particular, among the many parallel events, some have stressed the indispensable role played by civil society in all its components, in highlighting the dignity of women, their rights and responsibilities. This having been said, women continue to suffer in many parts of the world". The permanent observer highlighted the importance of not overlooking "violence in the form of female feticide, infanticide, and abandonment", as well as "discrimination in health and nutrition". He noted, moreover, how "girls and women 15 years of age and over account for two-thirds of the world's illiterate population". The archbishop went on: "It is a sad fact that three quarters of those infected by HIV/AIDS are girls and women between the ages of 15 and 24", and that, among the victims of human trafficking, "minors account for up to fifty percent and approximately seventy percent are women and girls". The reasons for this situation are to be found "in cultural and social dynamics as well as delays and slowness of policy", he explained. "Achieving equality between women and men in education, employment, legal protection and social and political rights is considered in the context of gender equality. Yet the evidence shows that the handling of this concept ... is proving increasingly ideologically driven, and actually delays the true advancement of women. Moreover, in recent official documents there are interpretations of gender that dissolve every specificity and complementarity between men and women. These theories will not change the nature of things but certainly are already blurring and hindering any serious and timely advancement on the recognition of the inherent dignity and rights of women". Archbishop Migliore stressed the fact that the final documents of international conferences and committees often "link the achievement of personal, social, economic and political rights to a notion of sexual and reproductive health and rights which is violent to unborn human life and is detrimental to the integral needs of women and men within society". "A solution respectful of the dignity of women does not allow us to bypass the right to motherhood, but commits us to promoting motherhood by investing in and improving local health systems and providing essential obstetrical services", he said. "Fifteen years ago the Beijing Platform for Action proclaimed that women's human rights are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. This is key not only to understanding the inherent dignity of women and girls but also to making this a concrete reality around the world", he concluded.DELSS/CONFERENCE WOMEN/UN:MIGLIORE VIS 100309 (600)



CISA report:

The Catholic Archbishop of Khartoum, Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako is urging Christians who are eligible, to “vote wisely” during the forthcoming general elections slated for April this year, in order to bring about a “robust change” in the Sudan. Cardinal Wako said this while addressing Christians from various denominations gathered at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Khartoum on Monday March 1, for an ecumenical prayer for elections.The Cardinal urged eligible voters to exercise their right during the up-coming elections so that they can elect people who will represent them in the government.He suggested that those vying for positions should embark on sensitizing one another on the voting process in order to avoid “rigging” during the elections. “I would like to encourage all of you to know very well by now those for whom you are going to vote so that you don’t participate in corruption that will come later, and when something good comes from the people you vote for in the future, you will certainly be proud and say ‘I participated’ in this good thing because I voted for the people in this government,” Cardinal Wako stated.The prelate also called on the faithful to be alert and cautious of things that can spoil not only elections, but might threaten people’s lives. He urged voters to be wise enough when they vote so that they don’t become part of any confusion that might arise. The prelate also called on both politicians and their supporters not to give any chance for violence in one way or another during the time of elections in order to avoid post elections violence.He cited that what happened in Zimbabwe and Kenya as prototypes of post elections violence caused by what he dubbed “distortions” from politicians! “We want a brighter future for our children and this future is in our hands today, and if we spoil this future, these children will continue to live in war. There are children of various ages who have not tasted peace in their lives. They hear about peace as a story. So, we as a Church say such a reality must stop”! The cleric declared.Cardinal Wako urged the Southern Sudanese in particular to wake up and take effective part in the forthcoming elections in order to be part of the government that will be established at all levels of the country. Meanwhile, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wau and the president of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Rudolph Deng Majak exhorted Christians all over the Sudan to take active part in the elections.He announced that during elections, he will vote in his capacity as a citizen of Wau in Southern Sudan because the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the Interim National Constitution grant every citizen of Sudan the right to vote in an election.He also encouraged those who have registered to vote during the elections in April. The Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Mawlana Abel Alier has also cautioned that if electorates do not vote wisely during the forthcoming general elections, the process might revert the country back to square one, probably to war! According to Nichola Mandil who attended the occasion, the Mr. Alier was very clear that all voters have to make wise decisions.



Asia News report:

US charity sounds the alarm, claiming Bangladesh is blocking aid and medical treatment for refugees, who are locked up in open-air prisons. Rohingya are a Muslim minority from Myanmar and are persecuted by that country’s military dictatorship. Bangladeshi authorities dismiss accusations, saying, “We are the victims.” Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A US medical charity has warned that thousands of Burmese refugees in Bangladesh are facing starvation. Physicians for Human Rights said that government authorities in Bangladesh are preventing the Rohingya from receiving adequate care. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority who fled Myanmar to escape persecution. The government has dismissed these allegations as it did for similar reports by Doctors without Borders (MSF) last month.
The Rohingya are one of the many ethnic minorities that make up the Union of Myanmar. They live in Rakhine State, in the country’s north-west, and are among the poorest and most persecuted ethnic groups in the world. Myanmar’s military regime has denied them citizenship and refused to let them own land. It does not even allow them to travel or marry without first getting permission from the authorities.
Tens of thousands have fled, especially to predominantly Muslim Bangladesh and Malaysia. Bangladeshi authorities have granted refugee status to 28,000 Rohingya, who live in United Nations refugee camps in Kutupalong. However, government sources put the actual number at 200,000 or even 300,000.
The government in Dhaka is now cracking down to stop further mass exodus as neighbouring Myanmar prepares for elections later this year.
The report by the Physicians for Human Rights says that children will starve if aid is not delivered. It blamed local authorities for "arbitrary arrests, illegal expulsion and forced internment" of refugees.
“The government of Bangladesh is absolutely ignoring it [the refugee problem]. They are sweeping it under the rug," said Richard Sollom, director of research and investigation for the group.
Dhaka has rejected the charges. Abdul Momen, Bangladesh's representative in the United Nations said they were "totally false". Instead, he said, "Government officials just have to make sure that any aid isn't coming from terrorist groups".
"We are the victims,” he explained “an impoverished country, and in spite of that, we tried to help them as best we can.”
Last year, press reports focused on the persecution of the Rohingya by Thailand’s military. Despite Bangkok’s denials, many refugees who entered Thai territorial waters were stopped by the Thai Navy and sent back into the open sea without food and water.



Maryborough, Queensland's Father Paul Kelly wants the district's pubfest banned and has asked for an "honest and independent survey" on the pub crawl-turned-fest.
Fr Kelly's ban call comes on the back of Liquor Licensing giving the festival the go-ahead for full strength beer, the Fraser Coast Chronicle reports.
"I am not a wowser. I go to pubs here with friends and enjoy a drink," he said.
"I am not getting at the pubs but after observing part of the pub crawl last year I truly fear for the safety of people. "The change of name and various additions over the years, such as more water, suggestions of lower strength alcohol, a charitable 'cause, etc, really are just trying to minimise the basic nature of the thing as a pub crawl, with all its negative connotations.
"This community does not need what is really still a pub crawl in spite of the council dressing it up as a festival and adding charities and church water stations."
Some churches in the city will hand out water and food and offer toilets for the event, the report said.
Chair of the World's Greatest Pub Fest councillor Anne Nioa is cited saying: "Father Paul has never liked the pub crawl and I respect his opinion. Fifteen thousand people do like it so it will continue."
The event is scheduled for June 13 this year, according to the pubfest website, which also says past years' events have won the Guinness world record for the "Most people on a pub crawl".



CNA report:

Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla of Alcala de Henares remarked this week that by signing a bill into law that dramatically liberalizes abortion in Spain, King Juan Carlos has actively cooperated with the evil of abortion.
Despite numerous requests that the Spanish monarch refuse to sign the bill, King Juan Carlos put his signature to the new measure during a private ceremony last weekend. The law will take effect in July.
During an interview with Intereconomia TV on Saturday, Bishop Reig Pla openly commented, “What (the King) has done constitutes remote cooperation with evil.”
“The King should have thought about whether or not he was cooperating with the implementation of a law that will cause the death of innocent people,” the bishop said, noting that the King could have chosen a different option. “He could have refused to sign it, saying that his conscience came before signing a law that will not bring about good.”
Bishop Reig Pla rejected claims by some bishops that the King had no choice because of the constitutional requirement that he must sign duly passed laws. The new law “will not only make the abortion situation worse, but it will also lead to the imposition of sexual education in the classroom, as well as gender ideology, which is this government’s calling card.”
More than 60,000 people singed a petition urging the King not sign the bill into law, but last Wednesday his order to move forward with the measure was published in the Official State Bulletin, naming July 5 as the date it would go into effect.


CNA report:
A federal judge in Buenos Aires has nullified the “marriage” of two gay men that took place last week in the Argentinian capital, saying “no elements existed” for the union to constitute a marriage.
On Monday, Judge Felix Gustavo de Igarzabal of Buenos Aires reversed a decision which allowed two gay men to marry at the city's civil registry office on March 3. In his ruling the judge said no marriage took place “because of the absence of the institution’s structural elements,” in this case a man and a woman, and thus declared the act to be invalid.
He also said any “legal effects derived from the act shall be suspended.”
The judge ordered the two men to turn in any marriage licenses or documentation received from the civil registry office within 72 hours or face monetary penalties.


St. Frances of Rome
Feast: March 9
Feast Day:
March 9
1384, Rome
March 9, 1440, Rome
1608, Rome by Pope Paul V
Major Shrine:
Santa Francesca Romana Church, Romea
Patron of:
Benedictine oblates; automobile drivers

One of the greatest mystics of the fifteenth century; born at Rome, of a noble family, in 1384; died there, 9 March, 1440.
Her youthful desire was to enter religion, but at her father's wish she married, at the age of twelve, Lorenzo de' Ponziani. Among her children we know of Battista, who carried on the family name, Evangelista, a child of great gifts (d. 1411), and Agnes (d. 1413). Frances was remarkable for her charity to the poor, and her zeal for souls. She won away many Roman ladies from a life of frivolity, and united them in an association of oblates attached to the White Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria Nuova; later they became the Benedictine Oblate Congregation of Tor di Specchi (25 March, 1433) which was approved by Eugene IV (4 July, 1433). Its members led the life of religious, but without the strict cloister or formal vows, and gave themselves up to prayer and good works. With her husband's consent Frances practiced continency, and advanced in a life of contemplation. Her visions often assumed the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages. She had the gift of miracles and ecstasy, we well as the bodily vision of her guardian angel, had revelations concerning purgatory and hell, and foretold the ending of the Western Schism. She could read the secrets of consciences and detect plots of diabolical origin. She was remarkable for her humility and detachment, her obedience and patience, exemplified on the occasion ofher husband's banishment, the captivity of Battista, her sons' death, and the loss of all herproperty.
On the death of her husband (1436) she retired among her oblates at Tor di Specchi, seeking admission for charity's sake, and was made superior. On the occasion of a visit to her son, she fell ill and died on the day she had foretold. Her canonization was preceded by three processes (1440, 1443, 1451) and Paul V declared her a saint on 9 May, 1608, assigning 9 March as her feast day. Long before that, however, the faithful were wont to venerate her body in the church of Santa Maria Nuova in the Roman Forum, now known as the church of Santa Francesca Romana.

St. Dominic Savio
Feast: March 9
Feast Day:
March 9
April 2, 1842(1842-04-02), San Giovanni, a frazione of Riva presso Chieri, Piedmont, Italy
March 9, 1857, Mondonio, a frazione of Castelnuovo d’Asti (today Castelnuovo Don Bosco), Piedmont, Italy
12 June 1954 by Pope Pius XII
Major Shrine:
The Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians in Turin (his tomb)
Patron of:
choirboys, falsely accused people, juvenile delinquents, Pueri Cantores

Here is a boy-saint who died at the age of fifteen, was one of the great hopes of St. John Bosco for the future of his congregation, and was canonized in 1954.
He was one of ten children of Carlo and Birgitta Savio. Carlo was a blacksmith and Birgitta was a seamstress. When Don Bosco was looking for young men to train as priests for his Salesian Order, his parish priest suggested Dominic Savio. Dominic became more than a credit to Don Bosco's school—he single-handedly organized those who were to be the nucleus of Don Bosco's order.
St. Dominic Savio was twelve when he met Don Bosco and organized a group of boys into the Company of the Immaculate Conception. Besides its religious purpose, the boys swept and took care of the school and looked after the boys that no one seemed to pay any attention to. When, in 1859, Don Bosco chose the young men to be the first members of his congregation, all of them had been members of Dominic's Company.
For all that, Dominic was a normal, high-spirited boy who sometimes got into trouble with his teachers because he would often break out laughing. However, he was generally well disciplined and gradually gained the respect of the tougher boys in Don Bosco's school.
In other circumstances, Dominic might have become a little self-righteous snob, but Don Bosco showed him the heroism of the ordinary and the sanctity of common sense. "Religion must be about us as the air we breathe," Don Bosco would say, and Dominic Savio wore holiness like the clothes on his back.
He called his long hours of prayer "his distractions." In 1857, at the age of fifteen, he caught tuberculosis and was sent home to recover. On the evening of March 9, he asked his father to say the prayers for the dying. His face lit up with an intense joy and he said to his father: "I am seeing most wonderful things!" These were his last words.
Thought for the Day: "I can't do big things," St. Dominic Savio once said, "but I want everything to be for the glory of God." His was the way of the ordinary: cheerfulness, fidelity in little things, helping others, playing games, obeying his superiors. This heroism in little things is the stuff of holiness.


Matthew 18: 21 - 35
Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;
and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'
And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.'
So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'
He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me;
and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'
And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.
So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
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