Wednesday, March 24, 2010


(VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned his attention to St. Albert the Great, whom he described as "one of the greatest masters of scholastic theology". The saint, who was born in Germany at the beginning of the thirteenth century, "studied what were known as the 'liberal arts': grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music; in other words, general culture, and he diplayed that typical interest for the natural sciences which would soon become his chosen field of specialisation". He entered the Order of Preachers and, following his ordination as a priest, had the opportunity to complete his theological studies at the most famous university of his age, Paris. From there he went to Cologne, taking Thomas Aquinas with him, his own "outstanding student". Pope Alexander IV made use of Albert's theological counsel, and subsequently appointed him as bishop of Regensburg. Albert, recalled the Holy Father, "contributed to the 1274 Council of Lyon, called by Pope Gregory X to favour the unification of the Latin and Greek Churches following their separation in the great Eastern Schism of 1054. He clarified the ideas of Thomas Aquinas, who had been the subject of entirely unjustified objections and even condemnations". The German saint died in Cologne in the year 1280, and was canonised and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931, "undoubtedly an appropriate recognition for this great man of God" who was also "an outstanding scholar, not only of the truth of faith but in many other fields of knowledge". For this reason too, "Pope Pius XII named him as patron of the natural sciences, also giving him the title of 'Doctor universalis' because of the vastness of his interests and knowledge". "Above all, St. Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science. ... He reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity", said the Holy Father. "St. Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance of the thought of Aristotle into the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, an acceptance that was later definitively elaborated by St. Thomas Aquinas. This acceptance of what we may call pagan or pre-Christian philosophy was an authentic cultural revolution for the time. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle's philosophy", especially as it had been interpreted in such a was as to appear "entire irreconcilable with Christian faith. Thus a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in contrast with one another or not? "Here lies one of the great merits of St. Albert: he rigorously studied the works of Aristotle, convinced that anything that is truly reasonable is compatible with faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture", the Pope added. "St. Albert was able to communicate these concepts in a simple and understandable way. A true son of St. Dominic, he readily preached to the people of God who were won over by his words and the example of his life". The Pope concluded his catechesis by asking God "that the holy Church may never lack learned, pious and wise theologians like St. Albert the Great, and that He may help each of us to accept the 'formula for sanctity' which Albert followed in his own life: 'Wanting everything I want for the glory of God just as, for His glory, God wants everything He wants'. In other words, we must always conform ourselves to the will of God in order to want and do everything always and only for His glory".AG/ALBERT THE GREAT/... VIS 100324 (620)
PROTECTING LIFE FROM CONCEPTION UNTIL NATURAL DEATH VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, and to Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua, president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, who are currently visiting Rome with a delegation to receive an image of Our Lady of Carmel. The Holy Father spoke of his "affection towards the citizens of that country, which is celebrating its bi-centenary", and gave assurances that he "will continue to accompany them during these difficult moments following the recent earthquake". Turning then to address Polish pilgrims, the Holy Father recalled the fact that tomorrow marks the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. "In Poland", he remarked, "it is also celebrated as the Day of the Sacredness of Life. The mystery of the Incarnation reveals the specific value of the dignity of human life. God gave us this gift and sanctified it when the Son became man and was born of Mary. It is a gift that must be protected, from conception until natural death. With all my heart I join people involved in various initiatives aimed at respecting life and promoting a new social awareness".AG/CHILE LIFE/... VIS 100324 (220)
LEARNING TO LOVE IS CENTRAL TO CHRISTIAN LIFE VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has written a Message to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery responsible for organising the International Youth Forum currently being attended by around three hundred young people in the Italian town of Rocca di Papa. In his Message the Pope highlights how the theme chosen for the forum - "Learning to Love" - is "central to faith and Christian life" because, he writes, "the starting point for any kind of reflection about love is the mystery of God Himself. ... The heart of Christian revelation is this: 'Deus caritas est'. In His Passion, in His total gift of Self, He revealed the face of God which is Love". "From the very fact that God is love, and that man is His image, we understand the profound identity of the person and his vocation to love. Man is made to love, and his life is completely fulfilled only if it is lived in love", the Pope writes. He then goes on to observe that love takes on different forms in different states of life. In this context, with reference to the priesthood, he quotes words of St. John Mary Vianney to the effect that "the priesthood is love of the heart of Jesus". And he continues: "People consecrated in celibacy are also an eloquent sign of God's love for the world and of the vocation to love God above all things". Benedict XVI exhorts the young people to "discover the greatness and beauty of marriage. ... Through the Sacrament of Marriage spouses are united to God, and with their relationship they express the love of Christ Who gave His life for the salvation of the world. In a cultural context in which many people consider matrimony as a temporary contract that can be broken, it is vitally important to understand that true love is faithful, a definitive gift of self. Because Christ consecrates the love of Christian spouses and commits Himself with them, such faithfulness is not only possible but is the way to enter into ever greater charity". In closing his Message, Pope Benedict expresses the hope that the forum may stimulate young people "to become witnesses to their peers of what they have seen and heard. This", he concludes, "is a vital responsibility for which the Church is relying on them. They have an important role to play in evangelising the young in their own countries, that they may joyfully and faithfully respond to Christ's commandment to 'love one another as I have loved you'".MESS/INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FORUM/RYLKO VIS 100324 (450)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Cloyne, Ireland presented by Bishop John Magee, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. - Appointed Fr. Francisco Lerma Martinez I.M.C., provincial superior of the Mozambican Region of the Consolata Missionary Institute, as bishop of Gurue (area 42,451, population 1,150,000, Catholics 259,500, priests 46, religious 13), Mozambique. The bishop-elect was born in El Palmar, Spain in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1969.RE:NER/.../MAGEE:LERMA VIS 100324 (100)



UCAN report:

Attacks by Muslim extremists on tribal Catholic villagers in a northwestern parish have left about 50 people injured, with 10 in a serious condition.
The attacks in Boldipukur, in Rangpur district, have raised tensions and created panic in the area, according to a local parish priest. Some of the victims were women and children, he added.
“They [Muslims] said they will kill some of our people. We’re in a panic and are afraid to go out,” said Father Leo Desai, pastor of Christ the Savior Church which is in Dinajpur diocese, about 440 kilometers northwest of Dhaka.
Father Desai, who is also secretary of the diocesan Catechetical-Liturgical Commission, spoke to UCA News on March 22 following the attacks on his parishioners on March 20.
According to Father Desai, Muslims armed with sticks, bricks and knives attacked villagers who had gathered around noon to watch construction work on a piece of land the parish owns.
“We were watching construction work on Church land when they attacked us. I ran for safety but 10-12 men beat me up,” said Nirod Bakla, 40, who is in charge of the parish hostel.
“I have cuts all over my body. All the parishioners are afraid to leave their homes, even though they have to go to work,” he told UCA News.
It is believed the attack is a result of a seven-year land dispute in which a local court recently sided with the parish. Part of the Church land had previously been occupied by a Muslim-run high school.
But some disgruntled Muslims allegedly led by the school management committee instigated the attack in response to the court verdict.
Father Desai said he has already filed complaints against 17 of the attackers with help from a lawyer sent by Holy Cross Bishop Moses M. Costa of Dinajpur.
“Local authorities and the police asked me not to file any complaints. They said the dispute can be settled, but we doubt that because the Muslims became so violent,” the priest said.
Another tribal Catholic, Sushil Ekka, 35 recounted his terrifying ordeal. “I went to the market to buy betel-leaves when five to six Muslims attacked me and beat me with sticks,” he told UCA News.
“I saved myself by running away,” the farmer said.
“About five out of a total of 14 parishes in the diocese have land-related problems,” Father Anthony Sen, secretary of the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission that deals with Church land issues, told UCA News.
“Most tribal people are illiterate and have no land documents for their ancestral lands. Local Muslims occupy their lands and land disputes arise,” he said.


Irish Catholic Conference of Bishops:
Statement from Bishop John Magee on his resignationOn March 9th 2010 I tendered my resignation as Bishop of Cloyne to the Holy Father. I have been informed today that it has been accepted, and as I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the Diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time. To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon. As I said on Christmas Eve 2008 after the publication report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, I take full responsibility for the criticism of our management of issues contained in that report. On March 7th 2009 the Holy See appointed Most Rev. Dermot Clifford as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne. This was in response to a request I had made to be relieved of the burden of administering the Diocese so that I could concentrate on co-operating with the Government Commission of Investigation into child protection procedures in the Diocese in my capacity as Bishop of Cloyne. I will of course continue to be available to the Commission of Investigation at any time. I also sincerely hope that the work and the findings of the Commission of Investigation will be of some help towards healing for those who have been abused.
I welcome the fact that my offer of resignation has been accepted, and I thank the priests, religious and faithful of the Diocese for their support during my time as Bishop of Cloyne, and assure them of a place in my prayers always.


USCCB report: Bishops Encourage Vigilance that Health Care Legislation Protects Conscience, does not Fund Abortion
Applaud efforts to expand health care to allEmphasize need to guarantee federal money does not go to abortionNeed to address flaws in health reform plan just passed
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops called on Congress and people in the Catholic community to make sure promises are kept that new health care legislation will not expand abortions in the United States.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the call March 23, moments after president Barack Obama signed the Senate version of health care reform legislation approved by the House of Representatives by a slim margin, March 21. The statement was approved unanimously by the 32-member Administrative Committee of the USCCB.
“We applaud the effort to expand health care to all,” Cardinal George said.
He noted concerns about the legislation, including that “the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other people’s abortions with their own funds.”
Cardinal George pointed to President Obama’s executive order that said “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.”
The need for such an order underscores deficiencies in the bill, Cardinal George said.
“We do not understand how an Executive order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions,” he said also.
President Obama and others claimed the bill does not expand abortion, Cardinal George noted.
“We and many others will accompany the government’s implementation of the health care reform and will work to ensure that Congress and the Administration live up to the claims that have contributed to its passage. We believe, finally, that new legislation to address its deficiencies will almost certainly be required,” he said.
The statement follows.
For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity. Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity” (United States Catechism for Adults, page 454). Included among those elements is the provision of necessary and appropriate health care.
For too long, this question has gone unaddressed in our country. Often, while many had access to excellent medical treatment, millions of others including expectant mothers, struggling families or those with serious medical or physical problems were left unable to afford the care they needed. As Catholic bishops, we have expressed our support for efforts to address this national and societal shortcoming. We have spoken for the poorest and most defenseless among us. Many elements of the health care reform measure signed into law by the President address these concerns and so help to fulfill the duty that we have to each other for the common good. We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.
Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.
We share fully the admirable intention of President Obama expressed in his pending Executive Order, where he states, “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.” However, the fact that an Executive Order is necessary to clarify the legislation points to deficiencies in the statute itself. We do not understand how an Executive Order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions.
The statute is also profoundly flawed because it has failed to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context). As well, many immigrant workers and their families could be left worse off since they will not be allowed to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges to be created, even if they use their own money.
Many in Congress and the Administration, as well as individuals and groups in the Catholic community, have repeatedly insisted that there is no federal funding for abortion in this statute and that strong conscience protection has been assured. Analyses that are being published separately show this not to be the case, which is why we oppose it in its current form. We and many others will follow the government’s implementation of health care reform and will work to ensure that Congress and the Administration live up to the claims that have contributed to its passage. We believe, finally, that new legislation to address its deficiencies will almost certainly be required.
As bishops, we wish to recognize the principled actions of the pro-life Members of Congress from both parties, in the House and the Senate, who have worked courageously to create legislation that respects the principles outlined above. They have often been vilified and have worked against great odds.
As bishops of the Catholic Church, we speak in the name of the Church and for the Catholic faith itself. The Catholic faith is not a partisan agenda, and we take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to working for health care which truly and fully safeguards the life, dignity, conscience and health of all, from the child in the womb to those in their last days on earth.


All Africa report: The bishops of Angola Sao Tome, and Principe (CEAST) have issued a pastoral message for the Year of Priests stating that priests must pursue holiness which is the goal of every baptized person.
Their message, issued after their first plenary assembly said, "It is an easily verifiable fact that most of the men of our time form an idea of Christ and His Church, first and foremost through His consecrated ministers. Therefore, this makes the need for genuine evangelical witness that is a living and transparent image of Christ the Priest, all the more urgent."
"This is a specific vocation to holiness, which is marked by dedication and the mission to be a sign and instrument of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church, through priestly ministry," the bishops said.
The message further said, "The ministry is a dynamic of personal identification of the priest, a minister of Christ, in configuration with Him, the One who came to serve and not to be served."
The ministry, far from being an obstacle, is the path of sanctification for the priest," as shown in the example of the Curé of Ars.
The statement also said, "The priest, even when engaged in other activities, such as education, cannot forget that he is always a priest, and therefore that such activities must also be at the service of his pastoral mission."
"The Angolan people, thirsting for God, fervently hope that their priests be men of God." And yet, "the priest will not become a man of God unless he is a man of prayer. As the Holy Father said: "Being a priest means being a man of prayer." "Prayer, study, and apostolic zeal, this is the path of sanctification for the priest," the bishops said.
On the occasion of this Year for Priests, the bishops recommend adoration "for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity," as indicated by the Congregation for the Clergy and the mobilization of the Apostolic Union of the Clergy, in order to strengthen the brotherhood of priests."
A prayer for priests is the best gift you can offer them and the logical consequence of true love," the bishops concluded.


Cath News report: The federal Labor MP for Macquarie, Bob Debus, says he supports a proposal to develop a new private hospital in Bathurst to replace St Vincent's which is set to close.
A group of doctors, from an organisation called Day Procedures Australia, wants to rent facilities at St Vincent's to maintain the facility's surgery department ahead of the planned closure in September, the ABC reports.
Mr Debus said the plan to continue surgery at St Vincent's and then develop an alternative centre will help to maintain local staff, and that he will back an application by Catholic Healthcare for Commonwealth funding to upgrade its surgical equipment so the hospital can be used by doctors while a new facility is established.
"Certainly, the main support that I can give at the present time is to press the Minister for Health to take proper account of an application for capital funding that has just been submitted by Catholic Healthcare," he said.
"It's appropriate that there should be a functioning and effective private service available in a city of this size and if we didn't have that then we'd have altogether too much pressure on the public system," he said.


St. Catherine of Sweden
Feast: March 24
Feast Day:
March 24
1331 at Sweden
24 March 1381
1484 (cultus confirmed) by Pope Innocent VIII
Patron of:
against abortion, against miscarriages

The fourth child of St. Bridget and her husband, Ulf Gudmarsson, born 1331 or 1332; died 24 March, 1381. At the time of her death St. Catherine was head of the convent of Wadstena, founded by her mother; hence the name, Catherine Vastanensis, by which she is occasionally called. At the age of seven she was sent to the abbess of the convent of Riseberg to be educated and soon showed, like her mother, a desire for a life of self-mortification and devotion to spiritual things. At the command of her father, when about thirteen or fourteen years, she married a noble of German descent, Eggart von Kürnen. She at once persuaded her husband, who was a very religious man, to join her in a vow of chastity. Both lived in a state of virginity and devoted themselves to the exercise of Christian perfection and active charity. In spite of her deep love for her husband, Catherine accompanied her mother to Rome, where St. Bridget went in 1349. Soon after her arrival in that city Catherine received news of the death of her husband in Sweden. She now lived constantly with her mother, took an active part in St. Bridget's fruitful labours, and zealously imitated her mother's ascetic life. Although the distinguished and beautiful young widow was surrounded by suitors, she steadily refused all offers of marriage. In 1372 St. Catherine and her brother, Birger, accompanied their mother on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; after their return to Rome St. Catherine was with her mother in the latter's last illness and death.
In 1374, in obedience to St. Bridget's wish, Catherine brought back her mother's body to Sweden for burial at Wadstena, of which foundation she now became the head. It was the motherhouse of the Brigittine Order, also called the Order of St. Saviour. Catherine managed the convent with great skill and made the life there one in harmony with the principles laid down by its founder. The following hear she went again to Rome in order to promote the canonization of St. Bridget, and to obtain a new papal confirmation of the order. She secured another confirmation both from Gregory XI (1377) and from Urban VI (1379) but was unable to gain at the time the canonization of her mother, as the confusion caused by the Schism delayed the process. When this sorrowful division appeared she showed herself, like St. Catherine of Siena, a steadfast adherent of the part of the Roman Pope, Urban VI, in whose favour she testified before a judicial commission. Catherine stayed five years in Italy and then returned home, bearing a special letter of commendation from the pope. Not long after her arrival in Sweden she was taken ill and died. In 1484 Innocent VIII gave permission for her veneration as a saint and her feast was assigned to 22 March in the Roman martyrology. Catherine wrote a devotional work entitled "Consolation of the Soul" (Sielinna Troëst), largely composed of citations from the Scriptures and from early religious books; no copy is known to exist. Generally she is represented with a hind at her side, which is said to have come to her aid when unchaste youths sought to ensnare her.


John 8: 31 - 42
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.
The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever.
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you.
I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did,
but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did.
You do what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
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