Wednesday, July 28, 2010




VATICAN CITY, 28 JUL 2010 (VIS report) - The plenary assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) will be held in Accra, Ghana, from 27 July to 1 August. The event is due to be attended by 250 people including cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful from Africa and other parts of the world.
SECAM, the president of which is Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dal-es-Salaam, Tanzania, is celebrating its fortieth year of activity with a week of reflection on the theme: "Self-Reliance and the Way Forward for the Church in Africa". Within the context of plenary assembly, Archbishop Leon Kalenga Badikebele, apostolic nuncio to Ghana, will deliver a Message from Benedict XVI to the participants.
The plenary assembly, the highest administrative body in SECAM, meets every three years. This year's agenda includes a meeting of bishops on the central theme of the plenary and a round table discussion, as well as a renewal of their joint commitment to achieve the ideals of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
The national and regional episcopal conferences of Africa and other bodies affiliated to SECAM will present their evaluations on the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in the Vatican last October on the theme: "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JUL 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to the additional role of ordinary for Catholic faithful of Eastern rite resident in Brazil who do not have their own ordinary. In his new role, Archbishop Oliveira de Azevedo replaces Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid S.C.I., archbishop emeritus of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Rome report: Joseph Schmidt died in Rome July 28, 2010. This is his last interview.

Right here in this same square, 500 years ago, the world’s smallest army pledged its loyalty to the head of the Catholic Church.
Back then, terrorism didn’t exist and driving in a Popemobile had yet to replace being carried aloft on a chair. Yet, as veteran Swiss Guard Josef Schmidt recalls, the pontiff still faced significant threats:
“It all began with Pope Julius II, who asked the Swiss government for soldiers to protect him and to accompany him when he went outside the Vatican. The canton of Lucerne sent 189 guards and they arrived on January 22, 1506.”
It’s been 500 years and the Swiss Guard is still protecting the pope. They sustained one of their biggest losses in the 16th century, when the papal guard whisked Clement VII away from the apostolic palace… through a secret passageway to Castel Sant’Angelo; a refuge for pontiffs under seige.
“While defending Pope Clement VII from the German troupes, 147 Swiss guards died. The 49 who survived stayed on as the Pope’s body guards.”
Schmidt served as corporal, sergeant, and lieutenant under 3 different popes over a span of 15 years.
“For almost 8 years, I served Pius XII, then John XXIII and in the later years it was Paul VI.”
There are 110 soldiers in the Swiss Guard. Over the centuries, their mission has remained the same.
“First of all, they have to guard the Pope’s apartment, night and day. Secondly, they have to perform ‘extraordinary services’ which are private and public audiences with the pope. In those days, the Pope didn’t travel, the longest trip was to Castelgandolfo.”
Each guard makes about $1,500 a month, and gets free accommodation within the Vatican city. Their motivation goes beyond the material…
“Some of the people that serve in the Swiss Guard have a complete conversion! Guarding the Vicar of Christ is something priceless.”
While most Swiss Guards look like they’ve walked out of the Middle Ages, others wear plain clothes and carry automatic weapons. They’re an elite unit, with both ceremonial and military duties.
“All of us have trained in the Swiss army, which is no walk in the park. Plus, in the Swiss Guard, there’s a different tone; the training and discipline are very rigorous, but naturally in a healthy way.”
Seven hundred Swiss Guards will mark their 500 years alongside the Pope starting in April when they begin a march from Switzerland to the Vatican. They’re scheduled to arrive on May 6. For the Papal army, it’s a true march through time.


Asia News report: The aircraft lost contact with the control tower just before the disaster. The area is shrouded in fog and heavy clouds. Rescue teams are heading towards the area, but the roads are impassable and the area is mountainous and full of forests.

Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A plane with 152 people aboard crashed this morning on Margallo Hills, north of Islamabad. The 152people also includes six crew.
The plane had departed from Karachi at 7:50 this morning and was about to land in Islamabad. So far, no one knows the causes of the disaster, but the hills around Islamabad are full of fog and bad weather has affected the area for the past two days. According to civil aviation authorities, the plane had lost contact with the control tower just before the crash.
The area is mountainous, full of forests and the roads are impractical, making the work of rescue teams that have already set off for the scene of the accident difficult.


UCAN report: Officials in northern China’s Hebei province have rearrested Father Peter Wang Zhong of Xiwanzi moments before he could walk to freedom following a three-year prison term.

Sources told that Father Wang’s relatives and about 20 laypeople were waiting to pick him from Tangshan Jidong prison at around 4 a.m. on July 24.
They saw Father Wang walking toward the prison gates(PICTURED) before three or four men grabbed him and dragged him to a nearby police car.
The gates closed while Father Wang was still struggling.
The gate reopened about an hour later and two police cars emerged.
Father Wang’s relatives and the laypeople then stopped the car with the priest inside to speak to him.
They also demanded to know why the government officials were detaining the priest again.
“Father Wang told us not to create any problems with the officials, that he was okay and asked us let them take him away,” a source said.
There was a short standoff, after which the Catholics backed down.
Hours later, Father Wang called his younger sister to say he was safe.
Local Catholics suspect the officials want the priest to “work openly” and accept the authority of the government-sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association.
Officials from Guyuan County asked Father Wang in May what he wanted to do after his release, they said.
Father Wang told the officials he wanted to return to Guyuan because Catholics there needed him, they added.
Sources believe the officials took action at the prison gates as they feared Catholics would protect and hide the well respected priest after he returns to the parish.

The priest was jailed for illegal assembly and for illegally making an official government seal to stamp documents in late 2007 after the consecration of a church in Guyuan.
Auxiliary Bishop Leo Yao Liang of Xiwanzi’s underground community presided at the consecration Mass that was concelebrated by some 20 priests and attended by more than 7,000 people.
Bishop Yao, Father Wang the parish priest, and four other priests were arrested. The other priests were released shortly afterwards. Only Father Wang was sentenced while the bishop was put under house arrest for 30 months. 

Agenzia Fides report – The Uruguay Bishops' Conference informed Fides of a recent CELAM Meeting held 20 - 22 July in Bogota. The meeting was the fourth and final general coordination meeting of CELAM, the Council of Latin American Bishops' Conferences, Mgr Carlos Collazzi, Bishop of Mercedes and the President of the Bishops' Conference of Uruguay was there. The aim of the meeting was to assess, plan and arrange the next CELAM General Assembly scheduled for 17 to 20 May 2011 and to be hosted by Uruguay. CELAM presidency, directors and executive secretaries, the finance Committee meet every year for a general coordination meeting. Bishop Collazzi attended the meeting as President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Uruguay and head of the CELAM department for Particular Churches. The main novelty of the meeting was the announcement of the 33rd CELAM General Assembly in Montevideo a gathering of Cardinals and Bishops representing the Bishops' Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Assembly, besides electing a new CELAM president and presidents of departments and commissions, will assess the implementation of the programmes of the latest global plan after listening to reports from Departments, Commissions, General Secretariat and Presidency. 
Agenzia Fides REPORT- The dioceses of Guinea-Bissau are organising a course 2 - 27 August, for recently arrived missionaries, we read in a statement sent to Fides. The course provided for new missionaries includes basic notions of the Creole language and the cultural customs of the peoples of Guinea-Bissau.

The course, open to lay and religious missionaries, is held during the school holiday period in preparation for the new pastoral year 2010/2011. Lessons in Creole will be given by major seminarian Paulo Araujo Pina from the diocese of Bafatá.

According to the latest reports 15 new missionaries recently arrived in Guinea-Bissau from various parts of the world.

Cath News report: The Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction (AECSD) is inviting participation in a new Symposium that aims to examine the impact of contemporary spirituality on the practice of spiritual direction.

The Inaugural National Symposium of the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction: Exploring Contemporary Spirituality and its Impact on the Practice of Spiritual Direction will feature academic papers and practitioner presentations exploring the topic, according to a press statement.
The Symposium will be held on October 29-30 in Melbourne.
The statement lists the Symposium's speakers and their topics are listed below.
Registrations are open to people interested in spiritual direction and spirituality studies; spiritual direction practitioners, staff members and students of spiritual direction formation programs and academics, it said.
Further details can be found on the group's website, linked below.

St. Samson

Information: Feast Day: July 28

Born: 490 at south Wales

Died: 565 at Brittany
Bishop and confessor, born in South Wales; died 28 July, 565 (?). The date of his birth is unknown. His parents whose names are given as Amon of Dyfed and Anna of Gwynedd, were of noble, but not royal, birth. While still an infant he was dedicated to God and entrusted to the care of St. Illtyd, by whom he was brought up in the monastery of Llantwit Major. He showed exceptional talents in his studies, and was eventually ordained deacon and priest by St. Dubric. After this he retired to another monastery, possibly after that on Caldy Island, to practise greater austerities, and some years later became it abbot. About this time some Irish monks who were returning from Rome happened to visit Samson's monastery. So struck was the abbot by their learning and sanctity that he accompanied them to Ireland, and there remained some time. During h is visit he received the submission of an Irish monastery, and, on his return to Wales, sent one of his uncles to act as its superior. His fame as a worker of miracles now attracted so much attention that he resolved to found a new monastery or cell "far from the haunts of men", and accordingly retired with a few companions to a lonely spot on the banks of the Severn. He was soon discovered, however, and forced by his fellow-countrymen to become abbot of the monastery formerly ruled by St. Germanus; here St. Dubric consecrated him bishop but without appointment to any particular see. Now, being warned by an angel, he determined to leave England and, after some delay, set sail for Brittany. He landed near Dol, and there built a monastery which became the centre of his episcopal work in the district. Business taking him to Paris, he visited King Childebert there, and was nominated by him as Bishop of Dol; Dol, however, did not become a regular episcopal see till about the middle of the ninth century. Samson attained the age of 85 years, and was buried at Dol. Several early lives of Samson exist. The oldest, printed by Mabillon in his "Acta Sanctorum" from a manuscript at Cîteaux, and again by the Bollandists, claims to be compiled from information derived from Samson's contemporaries, which would refer it to about 600. Dom Plaine in the "Analecta Bollandiana" has edited another and fuller life (from manuscript Andeg., 719), which he regards as earlier than Mabillon's. Later lives are numerous.

St. Victor I

Information: Feast Day: July 28
(189-198 or 199), date of birth unknown. The "Liber Pontificalis" makes him a native of Africa and gives his father the name of Felix. This authority, taking the "Liberian Catalogue" as its basis, gives the years 186-197 as the period of Victor's episcopate. The Armenian text of the "Chronicle" of Eusebius (Leipzig, 1911, p. 223) places the beginning of Victor's pontificate in the seventh year of the reign of the Emperor Commodus (180-87) and gives it a duration of twelve years; in his "Church History" (V, xxxii, ed. Schwarts, Leipzig, 1902, p. 486) Eusebius transfers the beginning of the pontificate to the tenth year of the reign of Commodus and makes it last ten years. During the closing years of the reign of Commodus (180-192) and the early years of Septimius Severus (from 193) the Roman Church enjoyed in general great external peace. The favourable opinion of the Christians held by Commodus is ascribed to the influence of a woman named Marcia. According to the testimony of Hippolytus ("Philosophumena", IX, 12) she had been brought up by the presbyter Hyacinthus, was very favourably inclined towards the Christians, perhaps even a Christian herself (Hippolytus, loc. cit., calls her philotheos God-loving). One day she summoned Pope Victor to the imperial palace and asked for a list of the Roman Christians who had been condemned to forced labour in the mines of Sardinia, so that she might obtain their freedom. The pope handed her the list and Marcia, having received from the emperor the required pardon, sent the presbyter Hyacinthus to Sardinia with an order of release for the Christian confessors. Callistus, afterwards pope, who had been among those deported, did not return to Rome, but remained at Antium, where he received a monthly pension from the Roman Christians. Irenaeus ("Adv. Haerses", IV, xxx, 1) points out that Christians were employed at this period as officials of the imperial Court. Among these officials was the imperial freedman Prosenes, whose gravestone and epitaph have been preserved (De Rossi, "Inscriptiones christ. urbis Romae", I, 9, no. 5). Septimius Severus, also, during the early years of his reign, regarded the Christians kindly, so that the influence of Christian officials continued. The emperor retained in his palace a Christian named Proculus who had once cured him. He protected Christian men and women of rank against the excesses of the heathen rabble, and his son Caracalla had a Christian wet nurse (Tertullian, "Ad Scapulam", IV). Christianity made great advances in the capital and also found adherents among the families who were distinguished for wealth and noble descent (Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", V, xxi).
Internal dissensions during this era affected the Church at Rome. The dispute over the celebration of Easter . . . grew more acute. The Christians at Rome, who had come from the province of Asia, were accustomed to observe Easter on the 14th day of Nisan, whatever day of the week that date might happen to fall on, just as they had done at home. This difference inevitably led to trouble when it appeared in the Christian community of Rome. Pope Victor decided, therefore, to bring about unity in the observance of the Easter festival and to persuade the Quartodecimans to join in the general practice of the Church. He wrote, therefore, to Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus and induced the latter to call together the bishops of the province of Asia in order to discuss the matter with them. This was done; but in the letter sent by Polycrates to Pope Victor he declared that he firmly held to the Quartoceciman custom observed by so many celebrated and holy bishops of that region. Victor called a meeting of Italian bishops at Rome, which is the earliest Roman synod known. He also wrote to the leading bishops of the various districts, urging them to call together the bishops of their sections of the country and to take counsel with them on the question of the Easter festival. Letters came from all sides: from the synod in Palestine, at which Theophilus of Caesarea and Narcissus of Jerusalem presided; from the synod of Pontus over which Palmas as the oldest presided; from the communities in Gaul whose bishop of Irenaeus of Lyons; from the bishops of the Kingdom of Osrhoene; also from individual bishops, as Bakchylus of Corinth. These letters all unanimously reported that Easter was observed on Sunday.. Victor, who acted throughout the entire matter as the head of Catholic Christendom, now called upon the bishops of the province of Asia to abandon their custom and to accept the universally prevailing practice of always celebrating Easter on Sunday. In case they would not do this he declared they would be excluded from the fellowship of the Church.
This severe procedure did not please all the bishops. Irenaeus of Lyons and others wrote to Pope Victor; they blamed his severity, urged him to maintain peace and unity with the bishops of Asia, and to entertain affectionate feelings toward them. Irenaeus reminded him that his predecessors had indeed always maintained the Sunday observance of Easter, as was right, but had not broken off friendly relations and communion with bishops because they followed another custom (Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", V, xxiii-xxv.) We have no information concerning the further course of the matter under Victor I so far as it regards the bishops of Asia. All that is known is that in the course of the third century the Roman practice in the observance of Easter became gradually universal. In Rome itself, where Pope Victor naturally enforced the observance of Easter on Sunday by all Christians in the capital, an Oriental named Blastus, with a few followers, opposed the pope and brought about a schism, which, however, did not grow in importance (Eusebius, loc. cit., B, xx). Pope Victor also had difficulties with a Roman priest named Florinus, who probably came from Asia Minor. As an official of the imperial court, Florinus had become acquainted in Asia Minor with St. Polycarp, and later was a presbyter of the Roman Church. He fell into the Gnostic heresy and defended the false learning of Valentine. St. Irenaeus wrote two treatises against him: "On the Monarchy [of God] and that God is not the Author of Evil", and "On the Ogdoad". Irenaeus also called Victor's attention to the dangerous writings of Florinus, who was probably degraded from his priestly functions by the pope and expelled from the Church (Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", V, xv, 20).
During the pontificate of Victor a rich Christian, Theodotus the Leather-seller, came from Constantinople to Rome and taught false doctrines concerning Christ, Whom he declared to be merely a man endowed by the Holy Ghost, at baptism, with supernatural power. The pope condemned this heresy and excluded Theodotus from the Church. The latter, however, would not submit, but, together with his adherents, formed a schismatic party, which maintained itself for a time at Rome. Victor may also have come into contact with the Montanists. Tertullian reports ("Ad Praceam", 1) that a Roman bishop, whose name he does not give, had declared his acceptance of the prophecies of Montanus, but had been persuaded by Praxeas to withdraw. Duchesne ("Histoire ancienne de l'église", I, 278) and others think Tertullian means Pope Eleutherius, but many investigators consider it more probable that he meant Pope Victor, because the latter had had much to do with the inhabitants of Asia Minor, and because, between 190 and 200, Praceas had gone from Rome to Carthage, where he was opposed by Tertullian. The question cannot be decided positively


Matthew 13: 44 - 46

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,

46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
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