Wednesday, June 9, 2010



VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2010 (VIS) - During his general audience today, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope reminisced about his recent apostolic trip to Cyprus, "in itself a historical event" being the first time a Bishop of Rome "has visited that land blessed by the apostolic work of St. Paul and St. Barnabas, and considered part of the Holy Land".
On 4 June in the ancient city of Paphos, during the first stage of his journey, an ecumenical celebration was held "with Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II and representatives of the Armenian, Lutheran and Anglican communities. We fraternally renewed our reciprocal and irreversible commitment to ecumenism", said the Holy Father.
On 5 June in Nicosia, capital of Cyprus, having visited the president of the Republic, the Holy Father met with civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, to whom "I reiterated the importance of founding positive law on the ethical principles of natural law in order to promote moral truth in public life. This was an appeal to reason based on ethical principles, full of important implications for today's society which often no longer recognises the cultural tradition upon which it is founded".
Benedict XVI then went on to recall how during the liturgy of the word, celebrated in St. Maron primary school, "I was able to witness personally the apostolic fervour of Cypriot Catholics. This is expressed through activities of education and assistance, with dozens of structures at the service of the community which are much appreciated by both the governmental authorities and by the population".
"During that same celebration", he went on, "I was able to admire the apostolic commitment of the Latin community, guided by the solicitude of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the pastoral zeal of the Friars Minor who serve the people with constant generosity".
The Holy Father then referred to the Mass he had celebrated in the church of the Holy Cross, during which "I made a heartfelt appeal to all the Catholics of the Middle East, despite their great trials and the difficulties they notoriously face, not to give in to discouragement and the temptation to emigrate, because their presence in the region represents an irreplaceable sign of hope. I gave them guarantees, especially to priests and religious, of the entire Church's affectionate and intense solidarity, and her incessant prayers that the Lord may help to ensure their presence always brings life and peace.
"Surely the culminating moment of my apostolic trip was the consignment of the 'Instrumentum laboris' of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops", the Pope added. On that occasion "we prayed together for the soul of the late Bishop Luigi Padovese, president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, whose sudden and tragic death left us pained and distressed".
The Special Assembly for the Middle East, due to be held in the Vatican in October, will "be accompanied by the prayerful affection of the entire Church", said the Holy Father, noting how the Middle East "occupies a special place" in the Church's heart "being the place where God made Himself known to our fathers in the faith. There will also", he continued, "be no lack of attention from the other components of global society, especially important figures in public life who are called to work constantly so the region can overcome the situations of suffering and conflict that still afflict it, and finally rediscover peace in justice".
Benedict XVI continued his remarks: "Before leaving Cyprus I was happy to visit the Maronite cathedral of Cyprus, where Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, was also present". The Maronites came to Cyprus in various periods, he said, "and often suffered difficult trials in order to remain faithful to their specific Christian tradition, the history and art of which represent a cultural heritage for all humankind".
The Pope concluded his remarks by highlighting how "the Cypriot Catholic community in its various ramifications - Maronite, Armenian and Latin - incessantly seeks to be of a single heart and a single soul, both in itself and in its cordial and constrictive relations with our Orthodox brothers and with other Christian groups. May the Cypriot people and the other nations of the Middle East, with their political leaders and the representatives of the various religions, together build a future of peace, friendship and fraternal collaboration".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2010 (VIS) - In his greetings at the end of today's general audience, Benedict XVI said: "The Feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we celebrate the day after tomorrow, marks the end of the Year for Priests. Thousands of priests from all over the world will come together in Rome to praise the Lord and renew their vows. I invite everyone to participate in this event with their prayers".
Turning then to greet Polish pilgrims, he mentioned the new blessed, Jerzy Popieluszko who, he said, "taught love and solidarity with those in need of spiritual or material support. To his protection I entrust the people suffering because of recent flooding, and everyone who is seeking to help them".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany.
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VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Mario Antonio da Silva, chancellor and pastor in the diocese of Jacarezinho, Brazil, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Manaus (area 64,079, population 1,501,000, Catholics 1,288,000, priests 139, permanent deacons 5, religious 275), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Itarare, Brazil in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1991.


UCAN report: The only Catholic church in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, was destroyed overnight Monday and the priest and lay leader detained by police.

The demolition is believed to have been carried out pursuant to a court order.
Parishioners today set up camp near the ruins to try to prevent any new construction on the site.
They had arrived for morning Mass on June 8 to a pile of rubble littered with pieces of the altar and five-meter cross.
Church sources told that about 100 people arrived around midnight on June 7 to demolish the Dongsheng Church belonging to the open Catholic community.
Local pastor Father Gao En and lay leader Yang Yizhi were woken by the noise and tried to stop the destruction but were taken away in handcuffs.
They were returned to the parish after being detained for more than 20 hours at the police station, Church sources later told
The sources said the church had previously received a demolition notice. One or two police cars were still stationed near the site today, the sources said.
Newly ordained Hohhot Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu sent two priests to Ordos to investigate the incident. They are negotiating with local officials for compensation, the sources said.
The 150-square-meter church, which served a community of about 1,000 Catholics, was legally registered in May 2009. However, the local government recently demanded the demolition of the church to make way for a new road.
Church leaders had talked with the government several times without success, sources said.
“How could the government demolish the church secretly in the middle of the night and cause the ‘disappearance’ of our Church leaders while talking about social harmony?” one source asked.


CNA report: More than 60 pro-life associations will gather outside the Spanish Supreme Court on July 3 in Madrid to express their rejection of the country’s new law on abortion.

The groups will also demand that the legislation be placed under an injunction until a ruling is made on a case challenging its constitutionality filed by the People’s Party.
The theme of the protest will be “25 Years Are Enough! Yes to Life for All,” and will take place two days before the new law is scheduled to take effect on July 5. Though abortion is already legal in the country, the new legislation allows abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy and in some cases, up to the twenty-second week.
Alicia Latorre, president of the Spanish Federation of Pro-Life Associations, said that the protest's “theme conveys that it is time to overcome the cruel and archaic practice of abortion, which has been legal for 25 years, since July 25, 1985.”
"Enough of legitimizing the deaths of the innocent, of making handicaps equal to the loss of the right to life, of making pregnant women feel abandoned and of profiting with impunity off of the sufferings of others,” she underscored.
The pro-life associations also sent a message to the People’s Party saying if it regains power it should not only “overturn the law, but also establish protection for all human life and institute assistance programs through the regional governments.”
“We urge politicians that Human Rights never be at the whim of the party that happens to be in power at the moment,” they said.

All Africa report: Busloads of women and men with their mouths gagged with packaging tape, marched from Katutura to the head office of the Ministry of Health and Social Services to hand over a petition to end forced sterilizations of HIV-positive women.

This was one of many mass actions in solidarity with three plaintiffs that are suing the ministry for alleged violation of their right to dignity, non-discrimination and the right to start a family.
Similar solidarity events took place at the Namibian embassies in Pretoria, Lusaka, and Washington DC. Sit-ins were also planned at the Ondangwa and Windhoek State hospitals.
"HIV-positive women are holding the healthcare system accountable for the wrongs done to them," said Veronica Kalambi of the Women's Health Network.
"People should have peace of mind that if they are HIV-positive, they can still go to the hospital and be treated with dignity and equality," said one woman, who claims that she was sterilized in 2001 and organized the Ondangwa sit-in.
The petition handed to the ministry said forced sterilization of those with HIV is an emerging human rights issue.
In 2007, reports surfaced that women seeking medical care were allegedly subjected to sterilization without their informed consent at two state hospitals.
In 2008, 15 cases were documented. The petition said numerous human rights have been violated, including those guaranteed and protected by the Namibian Constitution and international treaties.These are the right to liberty and security, to health, to found a family, reproductive health, family planning, privacy, equality, and the right to a life and freedom from discrimination.
he petition also reads: "We call on government to send a clear message that it will not tolerate the violation of any woman's fundamental right to make free and informed decisions about her own body and health, particularly with regard to reproductive choices, and further that it is actively pursuing initiatives to end discrimination against people living with HIV."
The demonstrators called on the government to issue a circular to both public and private health facilities to prohibit sterilization without consent and to clearly lay out procedures that lead to informed consent.
The petition also said health workers should receive adequate training on the need for patients to receive quality and non-discriminatory medical care, regardless of their HIV status.


LifeSiteNews report: Following a journey from Reform Judaism through the Episcopal Church, pro-life hero Deacon Paul Schenck, who was involved in founding Operation Rescue, is soon to be ordained a Catholic priest.

"I consider the most important pro-life battlefield to be religious indifference," he told LifeSiteNews. "I hope that as a Catholic priest, I'll help to awaken Catholics and all people of conscience from the slumber of indifference to authentic concern and effort to defend innocent lives."
Together with his brother Robert, Schenck was raised as a Reform Jew on Grand Island, New York. Both brothers converted to Christianity in 1974, when Paul was 16.
In addition to his involvement in founding Operation Rescue, Schenck has been arrested multiple times for his pro-life activities. He was also the lead plaintiff in the landmark case Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York in 1997.
This case found that the 15-foot "floating buffer zones" indiscriminately applied to all clients and vehicles entering abortion facility property were an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech. The court ruled that such "zones would restrict the speech of those who simply line the sidewalk or curb in an effort to chant, shout, or hold signs peacefully." The same case found, however, that fixed buffer zones were constitutional.
Schenck is founder and chairman of the National Pro-Life Action Center in Washington, DC.
He became a minister of the Reformed Episcopal Church before converting to Catholicism in 2004 with his family.
"The pro-life movement drew me toward reunion with the Catholic Church," he told. "I saw that coherent moral theology, Christian unity and spiritual authority were essential to success."
He continued: "Most people believe in God, most of them believe God gave them their lives, and most believe taking an innocent life is morally wrong. But most are indifferent towards the victims of abortion."
"If most Catholics, most Christians and most believers of any type overcame their indifference and personally opposed killing innocents by abortion, the struggle for the right to life would be won."
As a transitional deacon in the diocese of Harrisburg, he has acted as director of the Respect Life Office, and conducts pro-life ministry in Annapolis and throughout the country.
"I'm blessed beyond expression by this generous and gratuitous privilege of being ordained a priest, an 'alter Christi' [another Christ]" he told LSN.
He will be ordained on June 12 at 10:00am in St. Joseph's Church at 2935 Kingston Road, York, Pennsylvania 17402.


Cath News report: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (pic. left) and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (pic. right)address Christians and answer questions from Christian leaders, as part of a "Make it Count 2010" campaign in the lead up to the Federal election this year.

Guests will include the Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Phillip Wilson, according to the Catholic Weekly.
The address will be made by live webcast to churches around the nation from Canberra's Old Parliament House from 7-9.30 pm on Monday, June 21.
The event hosted by the Australian Christian Lobby follows on from a similar one held before the 2007 Federal election when John Howard and Kevin Rudd addressed 100,000 Christians meeting at 846 churches across Australia.
The webcast is an opportunity for the two leaders to address issues important to Christians that get little coverage in mainstream media, the report said, that "are affecting the character of our nation". The report cites euthanasia and the importance of marriage among examples.


St. Ephrem of Syria


Feast: June 9
Information: Feast Day: June 9

Born: 306 at Nisibis, Mesopotamia (in modern Syria)

Died: 9 June 373 at Edessa (in modern Iraq)

Patron of: Spiritual directors and spiritual leaders
Born at Nisibis, then under Roman rule, early in the fourth century; died June, 373. The name of his father is unknown, but he was a pagan and a priest of the goddess Abnil or Abizal. His mother was a native of Amid. Ephraem was instructed in the Christian mysteries by St. James, the famous Bishop of Nisibis, and was baptized at the age of eighteen (or twenty-eight). Thenceforth he became more intimate with the holy bishop, who availed himself of the services of Ephraem to renew the moral life of the citizens of Nisibis, especially during the sieges of 338, 346, and 350. One of his biographers relates that on a certain occasion he cursed from the city walls the Persian hosts, whereupon a cloud of flies and mosquitoes settled on the army of Sapor II and compelled it to withdraw. The adventurous campaign of Julian the Apostate, which for a time menaced Persia, ended, as is well known, in disaster, and his successor, Jovianus, was only too happy to rescue from annihilation some remnant of the great army which his predecessor had led across the Euphrates. To accomplish even so much the emperor had to sign a disadvantageous treaty, by the terms of which Rome lost the Eastern provinces conquered at the end of the third century; among the cities retroceded to Persia was Nisibis (363). To escape the cruel persecution that was then raging in Persia, most of the Christian population abandoned Nisibis en masse. Ephraem went with his people, and settled first at Beit-Garbaya, then at Amid, finally at Edessa, the capital of Osrhoene, where he spent the remaining ten years of his life, a hermit remarkable for his severe asceticism. Nevertheless he took an interest in all matters that closely concerned the population of Edessa. Several ancient writers say that he was a deacon; as such he could well have been authorized to preach in public. At this time some ten heretical sects were active in Edessa; Ephraem contended vigorously with all of them, notably with the disciples of the illustrious philosopher Bardesanes. To this period belongs nearly all his literary work; apart from some poems composed at Nisibis, the rest of his writings-sermons, hymns, exegetical treatises-date from his sojourn at Edessa. It is not improbable that he is one of the chief founders of the theological "School of the Persians", so called because its first students and original masters were Persian Christian refugees of 363. At his death St. Ephraem was borne without pomp to the cemetery "of the foreigners". The Armenian monks of the monastery of St. Sergius at Edessa claim to possess his body.
The aforesaid facts represent all that is historically certain concerning the career of Ephraem. All details added later by Syrian biographers are at best of doubtful value. To this class belong not only the legendary and occasionally puerile traits so dear to Oriental writers, but also others seemingly reliable, e.g. an alleged journey to Egypt with a sojourn of eight years, during which he is said to have confuted publicly certain spokesmen of the Arian heretics. The relations of St. Ephraem and St. Basil are narrated by very reliable authors, e.g. St. Gregory of Nyssa (the Pseudo?) and Sozomen, according to whom the hermit of Edessa, attracted by the great reputation of St. Basil, resolved to visit him at Caesarea. He was warmly received and was ordained deacon by St. Basil; four years later he refused both the priesthood and the episcopate that St. Basil offered him through delegates sent for that purpose to Edessa. Though Ephraem seems to have been quite ignorant of Greek, this meeting with St. Basil is not improbable; some good critics, however, hold the evidence insufficient, and therefore reject it, or at least withhold their adhesion. The life of St. Ephraem, therefore, offers not a few obscure problems; only the general outline of his career is known to us. It is certain, however, that while he lived he was very influential among the Syrian Christians of Edessa, and that his memory was revered by all, Orthodox, Monophysites, and Nestorians. They call him the "sun of the Syrians," the "column of the Church", the "harp of the Holy Spirit". More extraordinary still is the homage paid by the Greeks who rarely mention Syrian writers. Among the works of St. Gregory of Nyssa (P.G., XLVI, 819) is a sermon (though not acknowledged by some) which is a real panegyric of St. Ephraem. Twenty years after the latter's death St. Jerome mentions him as follows in his catalogue of illustrious Christians: "Ephraem, deacon of the Church of Edessa, wrote many works [opuscula] in Syriac, and became so famous that his writings are publicly read in some churches after the Sacred Scriptures. I have read in Greek a volume of his on the Holy Spirit; though it was only a translation, I recognized therein the sublime genius of the man" (De viris illustr., c. cxv). Theodoret of Cyrus also praised his poetic genius and theological knowledge (Hist. Eccl., IV, xxvi). Sozomen pretends that Ephraem wrote 3,000,000 verses, and gives the names of some of his disciples, some of whom remained orthodox, while others fell into heresy (Hist. Eccl., III, xvi). From the Syrian and Byzantine Churches the fame of Ephraem spread among all Christians. The Roman Martyrology mentions him on 1 February. In their menologies and synaxaria Greeks and Russians, Jacobites, Chaldeans, Copts, and Armenians honour the holy deacon of Edessa.


Matthew 5: 17 - 19

17 "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.

18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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