Thursday, July 29, 2010





Radio Vaticana report: A letter addressed to bishops and priests in China by Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples was made public today, in which the Prefect calls the bishops and priests of the nation to unity with the Pope and among each other.

Below the full text of the letter:
Dearest Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest,
peace be with you!
Inspired by celebrations during the Year for Priests, recently concluded, I send to you cordial and brotherly greetings and a word of encouragement for your arduous pastoral duties as shepherds of the flock entrusted to you by the Lord in your noble nation. I long to say these things to you personally, to hear about your joys and your woes, about the hopes you nurture and the challenges you face every day. Your testimony and your messages received here at the Missionary Congregation fill us with consolation and spur us to pray fervently that the Lord may render you ever stronger in the faith and sustain your activity to propagate the Good News of Jesus Christ in your beloved country.
With our thoughts still set on the famous figure of Saint Jean Marie Vianney, Cure d'Ars, so often recalled during the Year for Priests, we acknowledge first of all - with deep humility - that we are called by Jesus to be “not servants, but friends” (cfr Jn 15, 15) not through our own merits, but through His infinite mercy. He has conferred upon us the lofty dignity of being Alter Christus and ministers of his Word, his Body and Blood and his Forgiveness. May we always remember His words : “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last;” (Jn 15, 16).
Precisely because the priest is Alter Christus — indeed, Ipse Christus —, he must be a Man of God and a Man for others.
Firstly, a Man of God: that is, a man who leads men and women to God and carries God to men and women. Therefore he must distinguish himself as a man of prayer and an austere style of life, profoundly in love with Christ and, like John the Baptist, proud to proclaim His presence amongst us, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Secondly a priest must be a Man for others: a man entirely dedicated to the faithful, youth and adults, entrusted to his pastoral care and to all those with whom the Lord Jesus chose to identify himself or those towards whom He showed special kindness: sinners first of all, the poor, the sick and the excluded, widows, children, but also sheep who do not yet belong to His fold (cfr Jn 10, 16). An ecclesiastic will therefore resist any temptation to enrich himself with material goods or seek favours for his family or ethnic group, or nurture unwholesome ambitions of making a career for himself in society or in politics. These things are entirely foreign to the priestly vocation and would be a serious distraction from his mission to lead the faithful like the good shepherd on the path of holiness, justice and peace.
Allow me, my dearest Confreres, to dwell on the important role of a bishop or priest as an operator of unity within the Church. This task has a twofold dimension and entails communion with the Pope, the "rock" upon which Jesus chose to build his Church, and secondly union with all the members of the Church.
Firstly: communion with the Holy Father. We are all too aware of how some of you suffered in the recent past because of loyalty to the Holy See. We pay homage to each and all, certain that, as Pope Benedict XVI affirms, “ Communion with Peter and with his Successors is in fact a guarantee of freedom for the Church's Pastors and for the Communities entrusted to them… the Petrine ministry is a guarantee of freedom in the sense of full adherence to the truth, to the authentic tradition, so that the People of God may be preserved from errors concerning faith and morals” (Homily during Mass on the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June 2010). The exemplary and courageous loyalty towards the See of Peter demonstrated by Catholics in China, is a precious gift of the Lord.
The other dimension of unity among Christians is union among individual members of the ecclesial community. This important challenge you are already tackling , as you seek to strengthen unity within the Church herself. It would be helpful to enter, in spirit, the Upper Room where, after celebrating the Last Supper with his Apostles and ordaining them priests of the New and Eternal Covenant, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father with these words “ May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. ” (Jn 17, 21). Three times Jesus insists on the unity of his followers as a sign of credibility that he has been sent by the Father into the world. My dearest confreres, let us heed this eloquent call for the unity of Christians coming from the Heart of the One who loved them, called them and sent them to work in His Vineyard.
In the above mentioned homily the Holy Father affirms:« Indeed if we think of the two millenniums of the Church's history, we may note as the Lord Jesus had foretold (cf. Mt 10:16-33) that trials for Christians have never been lacking and in certain periods and places have assumed the character of true and proper persecution. Yet, despite the suffering they cause, they do not constitute the gravest danger for the Church. Indeed she is subjected to the greatest danger by what pollutes the faith and Christian life of her members and communities, corroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening her capacity for prophecy and witness, and marring the beauty of her face.». The Pope goes on to indicate the instigator of this evil situation and says: «one of the typical effects of the action of the Evil One is, precisely, the internal division of the ecclesial Community. Ruptures are in fact symptoms of the power of sin that continues to act in members of the Church even after the redemption. However, Christ's word is clear: "Non praevalebunt they shall not prevail" (Mt 16:18). The unity of the Church is rooted in her union with Christ and the cause of full Christian unity that must ever be sought and renewed, from generation to generation is also sustained by his prayer and his promise.».
Let us praise the Lord for your efforts, accomplished and ongoing, for unity within the Church, in faithful response to the indications given by the Holy Father in the Letter he addressed to you on 27 May, 2007, and for the results already obtained. May God bless your initiatives so that unity of ministers among themselves and between them and their flock may be ever stronger in Christ and in his Church “ad maiorem Dei gloriam”.
On this happy circumstance, I have the honour of assuring you of the closeness of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI; with paternal affection he blesses you and all those entrusted to your pastoral care and urges you to continue without fear on the path of holiness, unity and communion, as did the generations which have gone before you.
May Most Holy Mary, Help of Christians, venerated with tender, filial devotion by the Church in China at Sheshan, protect you and intercede that your resolutions to spread the sweet fragrance of the Gospel of her Son Jesus to every corner of your beloved homeland may bear fruit. In this important and demanding task may you be assisted by the luminous example of the unforgettable missionary to China, Fr Matteo Ricci S.J., of whom we recall with gratitude and affection the 400th anniversary of his departure for the Kingdom of the “Lord of Heaven ”.
Once again I assure you of our prayers,
with brotherly greetings In Corde Mariae.
from the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, 5 July 2010.
Cardinal Ivan Dias
+ Robert Sarah


CNA report: Just under two weeks ago Russian officials accepted the credentials of Archbishop Antonio Mennini as the first papal nuncio to their country. The event ushers in a new era of full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation.

The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) newspaper reported that Foreign Affairs minister Sergei Lavrov met with Archbishop Mennini on July 15 in Moscow to seal full diplomatic relations, which Pope Benedict XVI and president Dmitry Medvedev had agreed to last December. Just a month ago, on June 26, the Holy See accepted the credentials of Mr. Nikolai Sadlichov as ambassador from Russia.
The Russian vice minister for foreign affairs, Alexandr Krusko, welcomed the nuncio on behalf of President Dmitry Medvedev and highlighted the increasing "spirit of harmony and cooperation" between the Holy See and Russia in recent years, according to LOR.
The Vatican paper added that "the vice minister hoped for an even more fruitful collaboration on the great moral and ethical challenges that are posed to man today."
During the ceremony, Archbishop Mennini assured his dedication to the strengthening of relations between the two sides and his commitment to the "spiritual and moral growth of the people of Russia."
The Holy See and Russia have maintained limited diplomatic relations since 1990, after the fall of the USSR, but had not formally exchanged ambassadors until now. The decision was made on Dec. 3, 2009, when, after meeting with the Pope at the Vatican, President Medvedev asked his Foreign Affairs department to pursue full diplomatic ties for the first time.


Cath News report: The Vatican has been accused of hypocrisy after the Swiss Guards launched a crackdown on tourists wearing skimpy clothing.

The UK Telegraph reports tourists entering St Peter's Basilica have long been required to dress modestly, but from early this week the Swiss Guards appeared to have extended the rules to the entire Vatican City State.
Visitors said that at a time when the Catholic Church is battling scandals over paedophile priests and decades of cover-ups, it should have more important things to worry about, said the report.
The guards, who wear striped blue and gold uniforms, carry halberds and trace their service to the papacy back to 1506, drew aside men in shorts and women with uncovered shoulders and short skirts to tell them that they were not dressed properly.
"Given all the scandals the Church has been involved in, what possible right can it have to be preaching about the morality of sleeveless dresses?" said one woman in her seventies.


Asia News report: Two days of discussions and interventions, coordinated by the Committee for Life and the Committee for Bioethics of the Korean Bishops' Conference, to transform the "culture of death" to a "culture of life".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - A concrete commitment to promote a culture of life, defence of human life right from infancy, a greater sensitivity toward organ donation. These are the themes focused on by Korean Catholics in the first National Congress for Life, organized by the Commission for Life and the Korean Bishops' Conference on Bioethics.
The meeting was held in the Archdiocese of Seoul: 150 priests, lay people and experts came together to discuss the issues in Kkottongnae, a Christian community that assists the homeless and abandoned. The founders of the community hope that these people " they will realize the love of God and find peace as the children of God " The theme of the conference, which ended July 11 was " Towards the Culture of Life: Protect Embryos and Donate Organs”. Many young people were present and pledged to organize a " Pro-life Youth Camp" by the end of summer. On 10 July, the participants unveiled a plaque commemorating the first national congress. They then spent the night in prayer after a torchlight procession and celebration of the Liturgy of the Word.
Bioethical issues are considered extremely important in South Korea, a country with a low birth rate and a government culture that tends to give the green light to practices such as abortion and euthanasia. The local Church has always been at the forefront of transforming this "Culture of Death" into a "Culture of Life.",-the-Church-celebrates-the-first-National-Congress-for-Life-19069.html


Agenzia Fides report - Fighting continues in the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, where Shabab insurgents are in conflict with army soldiers loyal to the Transitional Federal Government backed by troops of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia). This at the expense of civilians caught in cross-fire and shelling from all sides, including Amisom troops.

In the first three weeks of July, the capital's largest hospital, Madina Hospital admitted 160 civilians injured by shellfire, and according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, in the same period as many as 11,500 people fled the capital.

The decision taken by the AU to send another 4,000 men to reinforce Amisom, could intensify the fighting in the capital and aggravate the situation of civilians.

Amisom has been criticised by official UN sources and other international bodies for indiscriminate shelling on civilians. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in his most recent report to the UN Security Council on the situation in Somalia, said “civilians are hit by crossfire, shelling and artillery gunfire between insurgents and government forces ”, expressing deep concern for “shelling of civilian areas and indiscriminate counter shooting on the part of regular army and Amisom troops".

Somalia is in danger of becoming once again a land of conflict not only between local factions, but also between foreign actors. Western sources say Shabab insurgents are backed by extremist Islamic militants from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Shabab with its local allies has intensified attacks in areas which escape its control, such as the semiautonomous region of Puntland (strategic for controlling piracy and legal and illegal trafficking transiting through the port of Bosaso) and set up a radio to broadcast its propaganda throughout Somalia.

USA: ANOTHER STUDENT DISCRIMINATED FOR BELIEFS FROM MICHIGAN U. REPORT — Attorneys will appeal a federal court decision issued Monday in a lawsuit filed on behalf of student Julea Ward against Eastern Michigan University (EMU) after it kicked out the Christian student for holding to her beliefs on homosexual conduct.

EMU dismissed Ward from its graduate counseling program in March 2009 for not affirming homosexual behavior as morally acceptable. Ward would not agree to change her religious beliefs about homosexual behavior or express a message contrary to them during counseling sessions as a condition to receiving a degree.
“Christian students shouldn’t be expelled for holding to and abiding by their beliefs,” said Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel David French, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan last month. “To reach its decision, the court had to do something that’s never been done in federal court: uphold an extremely broad and vague university speech code.”
EMU initiated its disciplinary process against Ward shortly after she enrolled in a counseling practicum course in January 2009, when she was assigned a potential client seeking assistance regarding a homosexual relationship. Recognizing the potential conscience issue with the client, and knowing she could not affirm the client’s homosexual relationship without violating her religious beliefs, Ward asked her supervisor how to handle the matter.
Ward was advised to reassign the potential client to a different counselor. EMU then informed Ward that she could only stay in the counseling program if she agreed to undergo a “remediation” program. Its purpose was to help her “see the error of her ways” and change her “belief system” as it relates to counseling about homosexual relationships.
At a subsequent formal review meeting, lawyers say EMU faculty denigrated Ward’s Christian views and asked several inappropriate and intrusive questions about her religious beliefs. A faculty committee then dismissed her from the counseling program. Ward appealed, but the dean of EMU College of Education upheld the dismissal.
“Julea merely followed her supervising professor’s advice by referring a potential client to a counselor who had no conscience issue with the particular matter to be discussed,” said French. “She would have gladly counseled the client herself had the topic focused on any other matter. We trust the 6th Circuit will understand the constitutional issues involved in this case.”
The EMU speech codes enabling the university’s actions were challenged as part of the ADF lawsuit, Ward v. Wilbanks. One policy prohibiting “discrimination based on … sexual orientation” adds that counselors cannot “condone” what the university defines as discrimination. Another problematic policy states that EMU’s counseling department may discipline a student who shows a “failure to tolerate different points of view.”
ADF is currently litigating a similar case involving a counseling student at Augusta State University in Georgia. Student Jennifer Keeton sued the university after she says she was forced to undergo comprehensive "diversity sensitivity training" and forbidden from expressing her religious beliefs, or else be kicked out of the counseling program.


Cath News report: The fifth International Conference on Catholic Educational Leadership will be held in Sydney next week, from August 2-4, the Australian Catholic University has announced.

The conference is held every two or three years and deals with educational leadership in the fourth largest education system in Australia, representing 1693 schools and 677,659 students, the university said in a statement.
Presenters will include Indigenous leader Patrick Dodson and Phil Glendenning, director of the Edmund Rice Centre.
"All over the world, new external accountabilities, growing secularisation and an increasing gap between the values of home and school challenge leaders to continually renew their understanding of the mission and identity of Catholic schools," said Associate Professor Michael Bezzina, conference Chair and Head of ACU's School of Educational Leadership.
"World Youth Day has touched every school and parish in the country. In the midst of the constant press for change, it is important that leaders make the space to reconnect with new thinking and with colleagues new and old as they seek to renew their own practice and the work of their schools and systems."


St. Martha

Information:Feast Day: July 29
Born: Palaestina (modern-day Israel)
Died: 80, Tarascon, Gaul (modern-day France) or Cyprus
Patron of: butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers
Mentioned only in Luke, x, 38-42; and John, xi; xii, sqq. The Aramaic form occurs in a Nabatfan inscription found at Puteoli, and now in the Naples Museum; it is dated A.D. 5 (Corpus Inscr. Semit., 158); also in a Palmyrene inscription, where the Greek translation has the form Marthein, A.D. 179.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are represented by St. John as living at Bethania, but St. Luke would seem to imply that they were, at least at one time, living in Galilee; he does not mention the name of the town, but it may have been Magdala, and we should thus, supposing Mary of Bethania and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, understand the appellative "Magdalene". The words of St. John (xi, 1) seem to imply a change of residence for the family. It is possible, too, that St. Luke has displaced the incident referred to in c. x. The likeness between the pictures of Martha presented by Luke and John is very remarkable. The familiar intercourse between the Saviour of the world and the humble family which St. Luke depicts is dwelt on by St. John when he tells us that "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus" (xi, 5). Again the picture of Martha's anxiety (John, xi, 20-21, 39) accords with the picture of her who was "busy about much serving" (Luke, x, 40); so also in John, xii, 2: "They made him a supper there: and Martha served." But St. John has given us a glimpse of the other and deeper side of her character when he depicts her growing faith in Christ's Divinity (xi, 20-27), a faith which was the occasion of the words: "I am the resurrection and the life." The Evangelist has beautifully indicated the change that came over Martha after that interview: "When she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is
come, and calleth for thee."
Difficulties have been raised about the last supper at Bethania. St. John seems to put it six days before the Pasch, and, so some conclude, in the house of Martha; while the Synoptic account puts it two days before the Pasch, and in the house of Simon the Leper. We need not try to avoid this difficulty by asserting that there were two suppers; for St. John does not say that the supper took place six days before, but only that Christ arrived in Bethania six days before the Pasch; nor does he say that it was in the house of Martha. We are surely justified in arguing that, since St. Matthew and St. Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be
proved that Martha could not "serve" in Simon's house.


John 11: 19 - 27

19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house.

21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."

23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
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