Wednesday, July 7, 2010




VATICAN CITY, 7 JUL 2010 (VIS REPORT) - Before his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI blessed a marble statue of St. Annibale Maria di Francia (1851-1927), founder of the Congregation of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and of the Daughters of Divine Generosity. The statue is positioned in an external niche of the Vatican Basilica near the Arch of the Bells.
In his audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to Blessed Duns Scotus, who was born around the year 1266 in the Scottish village of Duns, entered the Friars Minor and was ordained a priest in 1291. "His intelligence earned him the traditional tile of 'Doctor subtilis'", said the Holy Father noting how he taught theology at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Paris. However, his faithfulness to Pope Boniface VIII in the latter's conflict with Philip IV the Fair led to him leaving France. He returned to Paris in 1305 to teach theology then moved on to Cologne where he died in 1308.
"Because of his fame of sanctity, his cult soon spread within the Franciscan Order, and Venerable John Paul II chose to confirm him as a blessed on 20 March 1993, describing him as a 'cantor of the incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception'. In this expression he summarised Duns Scotus' great contribution to the history of theology", said Pope Benedict.
He then went on to explain that, "though aware that because of original sin Christ redeemed us with His Passion, Death and Resurrection", Duns Scotus "makes it clear that the Incarnation is the greatest and must sublime work of the history of salvation, and that it is not conditioned by any contingent circumstance.
"Faithful disciple of St. Francis, Duns Scotus loved to contemplate and preach on the Mystery of the salvific Passion of Christ, expression of the immense love of God", the Pope added. This love "is revealed not only on Calvary but also in the Blessed Eucharist to which Duns Scotus was profoundly devoted", he said.
"This strongly 'Christocentric' theological vision opens us to contemplation, to wonder and gratitude: Christ is the centre of history and the cosmos, it is He Who gives meaning, dignity and value to our lives".
Referring then to the Scottish blessed's view on the Virgin, the Pope explained how, in contrast with most theologians of his time who opposed "the doctrine according to which Holy Mary was free from original sin from the first moment of her conception", Scotus espoused the argument of "preventive Redemption". This held that "the Immaculate Conception represents the masterwork of Christ's Redemption, precisely because the power of His love and His mediation ensured that the Mother was preserved from original sin. The Franciscans enthusiastically accepted and spread this doctrine, and other theologians - often with a solemn vow - undertook to defend and improve it".
The Pope recalled that Duns Scotus (pictured) had also tackled "the subject of freedom and its relationship with the will and the intellect". In this context he noted how "an idea of innate and absolute freedom (as developed after Scotus' time) located in the will which precedes the intellect, both in God and in man, risks leading to the idea of a God Who is not even connected to truth and goodness".
"Freedom", the Pope explained, "is authentic and helps in the construction of a truly human civilisation only when reconciled with truth. If disconnected from truth, freedom tragically becomes the principle that destroys the inner harmony of human beings, a source of abuse for the strong and the violent, a cause of suffering and mourning. Freedom ... grows and is perfected, said Duns Scotus, when man opens himself to God. ... When we listen to the divine Revelation, to the Word of God, in order to accept it, then we receive a message which fills our lives with light and hope, and we are truly free".
Benedict concluded the catechesis - his last until 4 August - by highlighting how "Blessed Duns Scotus teaches us that the essential thing in our lives is to believe that God is close to us and loves us in Jesus Christ; to cultivate, then, a profound love for Him and His Church. We are the witnesses of that love on this earth".
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VATICAN CITY, 7 JUL 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 7 JUL 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Sebastiao Lima Duarte, vicar general of the diocese of Ze Doca, Brazil, as bishop of Viana (area 26,000, population 607,000, Catholics 487,000, priests 40, religious 45), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Carutapera, Brazil in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1991. He succeeds Bishop Xavier Gilles de Maupeou d'Ableiges, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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CNN report. The son of an Iranian woman who faces execution by stoning appealed to Iran's courts Wednesday in hopes of sparing his mother's life.
A lawyer for Sajjad Mohammedie Ashtiani traveled to Tehran to persuade judiciary officials to commute the sentence of Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery and condemned to death by stoning, a method deemed barbaric by human rights activists.
Sajjad Ashtiani also penned a new open letter to the international community in which he points out the legal discrepancies of his mother's case.
The letter comes after a human rights activist Mina Ahadi told CNN that only an international campaign designed to pressure the Islamic regime in Tehran could save Sakineh Ashtiani's life.
"Legally, it's all over," said Ahadi, who heads the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty. "It's a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute."
But Sajjad Ashtiani refuses to give up.
In freshly penned letter, he wrote there was neither evidence nor legal grounds for his mother's conviction and sentence. He said the family has traveled six times from their home in Tabriz to Tehran to speak with Iranian officials, but in vain.
"So I have no option but reaching out to them this way," he said.
Why, he asked, has an accused been twice prosecuted on the same charge when Islamic criminal law allows prosecution only once?
Sajjad Ashtiani told CNN that he visits his mother every Monday in jail, never knowing whether that meeting will be their last.
If the sentence is carried out, Sakineh Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.
She was convicted of adultery in 2006 and forced to confess after being subjected to 99 lashes, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei told CNN. She later recanted that confession and has denied wrongdoing.
Her conviction was based not on evidence but on the determination of three out of five judges, Mostafaei said. She has asked forgiveness from the court but the judges refused to grant clemency.
Iran's supreme court upheld the conviction in 2007.
The circumstances of Ashtiani's case make it not an exception but the rule in Iran, according to Amnesty International, which tracks death penalty cases around the world.
"The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are women, who suffer disproportionately from such punishment," the human rights group said in a 2008 report.
Ahadi, who herself fled a death sentence in Iran in the early 1980s, told CNN that pressure from Amnesty and other organizations and individuals is likely the only way to save Ashtiani.
"Experience shows [that] ... when the pressure gets very high, the Islamic government starts to say something different," she said.
In Washington, the State Department has criticized the stoning sentence, saying it raised serious concerns about human rights violations by the Iranian government.
The anguish for Sajjad Ashtiani and his sister, Farideh, was clear last week in an open letter circulated on websites, Facebook pages and through human rights organizations.
"I am just fighting for what is right," he said. "My mother is a housewife, a good person, a caring mother. His anguish surfaced again in the new letter released Tuesday in which he asked Iranian officials to pardon his mother.
"I hope that you see to it that justice in my mother's case prevails," he said. "I have now said all that should have been said; my mother and I are asking the people of the world to help us, and are deeply grateful for what has been done thus far."


Asia News report: Son Jung-hun, a younger brother of the victim, tells the story of the victim, who fled to China and then went home after he converted to Christianity.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – A North Korean Evangelical Christian was tortured and then killed in a Pyongyang’s prison. The victim’s brother pieced the story together and made it public. In a long interview, he slams the North Korean regime, calling it “hypocritical”, trying to be above any law, be it man-made or divine. Son Jung-hun, who now lives in South Korea, became a devout Christian after his brother Son Jong-nam was sentenced to death by the world’s last Stalinist regime.


UCAN report: Two nuns were injured by an armed man as burglaries hit churches on two successive nights in Weihui diocese, Henan province, China.

The thief, a man in his 30s, broke into a church in Yanjin county, 35 kilometers outside Weichui city, on June 27. He stole a mobile phone and 370 yuan (US$55).
Disturbed by Sisters Wang Haiqin and Niu Chunqiao, who had only just moved into the church, the man assaulted them and fled. Sister Niu sustained serious injuries to her arms and legs. Sister Wang received a blow to the head but was able to get outside to summon help. A passing taxi driver called the police.
The nuns have been discharged from hospital after treatment, but are still suffering from psychological trauma and need counseling, Church sources said.
A convent attached to the Weihui city church was robbed on the previous night. The convent was unoccupied as most of the nuns were away on retreat. Around 3,000 yuan (US$443) was stolen, including 2,000 yuan from the treasurer’s room.
The incidents are under police investigation. It is unknown if both were carried out by the same person, but it is believed that they are simply burglaries, not crimes aimed specifically against the Church.
The diocese curia has advised all parishes and nuns’ houses to strengthen their security measures and Bishop Thomas Zhang Huaixin has met with security officials to ask for more protection of Church premises and workers.


UCAN report: Up to 40 Muslims broke into the home of a Catholic family and forced a thanksgiving Mass in Indonesia on July 1 to be abandoned.

“I invited dozens of Catholics to the Mass to thank God for the house I’ve just bought and to celebrate my third child’s 17th birthday,” said Servulus Sihotang (pictured), a parishioner of St Paul’s Church in Depok, West Java.
“But the Muslims suddenly forced their way in and made us stop.”
He said he had bought the house from a Muslim and Muslim neighbors had been present at a housewarming party the week before, but added that the attackers were from outside the area.
“The area is pretty vulnerable,” said Franciscan Father Taucen Hotlan Girsang, who led the Mass. “Some Muslim inhabitants do not allow any other religious activity, while some welcome it.”
He went on to say that he and local Catholics were constantly working to develop a dialogue so that people living in the area could have a better understanding of all religions recognized by the Indonesian government – Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism – and of every citizen’s right to follow the religion they choose.

USA: 30 PRO-LIFE GROUPS JOIN FORCES FOR 10 HOUR WEBCAST report - Leaders representing more than 30 national and regional pro-life organizations will be part of an unprecedented 10-hour webcast conference this Saturday to help local pro-lifers make a greater impact defending the unborn in their community and beyond.

The conference will take place July 10, from 10am to 8pm EDT.
David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, is co-hosting and coordinating the event. "Over the last two years," he said, "we've surveyed more than 28,000 people who participated in 40 Days for Life campaigns, asking them how unified pro-life efforts can expand and have even greater impact."
An overwhelming majority of respondents asked for focused training to educate, equip, and empower pro-lifers in their local communities to help bring an end to abortion.
"As a result," said Bereit, "we are launching the first step in the Ending Abortion initiative -- a massive, day-long, webcast mega-conference uniting the entire pro-life movement."
The event will break the pro-life message into ten different hour-long focused topics. Confirmed speakers include:
· CHARMAINE YOEST, Americans United for Life
· KRISTAN HAWKINS, Students for Life
· TOM MCCLUSKY, Family Research Council
· WENDY WRIGHT, Concerned Women for America
· LOU ENGLE, The Call
· MARK CRUTCHER, Life Dynamics
· ABBY JOHNSON, former Planned Parenthood abortion center director
· ALVEDA KING, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
· DR. TONY LEVATINO, former abortionist
· PEGGY HARTSHORN, Heartbeat International
· THERESA and KEVIN BURKE, Rachel's Vineyard
"The goal is to educate, equip, and empower pro-lifers to have a greater life-saving impact right where they live," said Bereit, adding that this first-ever event is designed to set the stage for greater involvement in local pro-life efforts this fall, including the next 40 Days for Life campaign, which runs from September 22 to October 31.
"A renewed groundswell of grassroots interest can also help make the pro-life issue of primary importance prior to this fall's elections," Bereit said.
Additional details are available online at .
SARDINIA: 2 MEN TRY TO STEAL MONEY FROM AN 80 YEAR OLD PRIEST report:  A nearly successful million fraud, however a 80 year old priest brought two fraudsters in Sardinia behind bars. As the Sardinian newspaper «La Nuova» (Tuesday) reported the two Nigerian pretended to be a wealthy heiress in Ivory Coast State with $ 3.5 million (daily rate € 2.8 million). They called for 15,000 euros - the bona fide man wanted to first pay as transaction costs. Only when a parish Member warned him against the rogue mesh, the priest initiated the police during the money transfer. Advertising According to newspaper the fraudsters had a suitcase with Xerox dollar bills and told the priest the notes were especially prepared to deceive the Customs authorities. For a chemical that back should convert paper into real dollars, they demanded again 1,500 euros. The two Nigerians were shown on Monday «La Nuova» according to the investigating magistrate, the police searched for possible injured.  

Agenzia Fides REPORT– July 8 will mark the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the Xaverian Missionaries in Sierra Leone. Four men - left the port of Liverpool aboard the “Apapa” on June 29, 1950 – and reached the port of Freetown the morning of July 8. The Fathers were Azzolini Augustus (who was guiding them) with Peter Serafino Calza, Attilio Stefani, and Camillo Olivana. They were the first missionaries of a great number of others who would take care of the northern part of Sierra Leone, hitherto never evangelized. This is how they earned the name of the “Four Pioneers.” With them came a new and exciting chapter in the history of Sierra Leone and the life of the Catholic Church. Sixty years may seem few in the long African history, but it can also be a lot for what it meant to this particular African nation and for the truly miraculous changes brought about by the Four Pioneers and the many brothers who promptly followed them to Sierra Leone. We can let history speak for itself.
After a long negotiation with the Holy Ghost Fathers, present in the south of the country since 1864, and the Apostolic See (particularly with the Congregation of Propaganda Fide), the missionary field in the Colony and British Protectorate of Sierra Leone was finally opened to the Xaverian Missionaries. A large portion was taken from the territories entrusted to the Holy Ghost Fathers and given over to the Xaverian Missionaries. A territory that was called "impenetrable to the Gospel, because it was – as they said back then - mainly inhabited by Mohammedans."

The truth was probably different and the facts prove it. Statistically speaking, the Muslims forces were certainly a minority compared with the followers of traditional African religions, but their influence certainly dominated the majority of the population. And the Christian presence seemed insignificant and of little value. Several Protestant groups were trying, with little success, to try a biblical approach with these people, intelligently coordinated and systematic approach, as was that of the Msgr. Azzolini and the Xaverians, had never been attempted before.

I will not tell the entire history of evangelization and the presence of the Xaverians in the past 60 years, but I do want to highlight here some elements that characterized their evangelizing and missionary work. According to some clichés and previous Xaverian practices, there were moments of misunderstanding and opposition to the method used by the Pioneers at the start of their work in Africa. The point of comparison was the mission in China and the ways of working previously experienced. The school was considered a waste of time and precious energy, not only economically but also humanly speaking. And the superiors did not always understand the value of this human instrument of evangelization. But it was with the school, even inside the school, from whence the first Christians and the first churches came. It was from the classrooms, at the appropriate time turned into churches, that the first members of the faith and the seed of what is now the flourishing Christian communities in the north of Sierra Leone. It took Vatican II - and a new generation of Xaverians - to understand that those were the means of the Gospel for integral evangelization. Those were also the instruments for the encounter with Islam and Muslims. Without the school, we never would have been able to affect the Muslim world and the many followers of traditional religions.

Writing home to the Superiors, Msgr. Azzolini says: "... I've had the chance, I do not know whether it is for better or for worse, to start a mission and a diocese out of nowhere, and I had to use the systems and methods previously unknown by our missions. I had to adapt to the methods already present in this land of Africa, and I had to suffer and struggle to understand that those were the forms of the apostolate and work that were used here in Africa. Now, we are still on that line. And, of course, things are developing and bringing new requirements and adaptations ... It should be noted that no Catholic or non-Catholic mission without scholastic commitments in Africa. It would ;ose all its prestige and its entire workforce, with the threat of even being closed. With our schools, we have truly created a Christian atmosphere in this Province, where no one even knew the meaning of the word Catholic."

This speech given by the Minister of the Interior - delivered in 1987 on behalf of President of the Republic, for the installation of Bishop George Biguzzi - confirms it: "The dedication to work [of Msgr. Azzolini], his ability to love and understand the people of his diocese, the support he received from the Catholic Mission has resulted in a rapid expansion of education in an area of our nation which until then had been neglected. Before his arrival, the Northern Province had no secondary school. ... When the bishop arrived in our country, he was in a region that was not yet open to the opportunities of education. Now that he leaves this land, I would like to assure him that his deeds will never be forgotten. It is with a deep sense of personal gratitude, mixed with a deep sorrow that we bid farewell today to one who was not only a missionary, but a brother, a friend, and a father to many Sierra Leoneans ... On behalf of the Government and the people of Sierra Leone, we express our thanks to Msgr. Azzolini and we wish him well wherever he goes. But, I want to express my sincere esteem for the Catholic Mission that gave a wonderful contribution to our development efforts, and express this to all those who, like Mgr. Azzolini, have played a major role in the activities of the Mission in Sierra Leone."

In the official speech delivered in Makeni during the proclamation of independence of Sierra Leone (1961) Mr. Blake, Provincial Commissioner, said: "For you [people of Sierra Leone], the Government has done much, but in many ways the missions have done more: Protestants - in over a hundred years - have worked hard, but at slow pace, following your course. The pace has been set by the Catholics in the ten years since their arrival among you. Today, the new government gives thanks and gives you the encouragement to follow them in their efforts." Speaking here of Bishop Azzolini means to speak of the Xaverians and the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone; it means remembering their presence in the Northern Province in these past 60 years. (By Fr. Gerardo Caglioni, SX)

Cath News report: A nationwide search is on for actors for the new Australian musical MACKILLOP.

Sr Sheila McCreanor, the Secretary General of the Sisters of St Joseph will launch the search today at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney, along with the composer of the work, Xavier Brouwer and the artistic director of the production, Anthony McCarthy, according to a media statement.
"There are many characters in the MACKILLOP story but most importantly we're looking for Mary," said Anthony McCarthy. "She's Australia's first saint so this is quite literally an 'iconic role'."
"We're also looking for Mary's parents, brothers and sisters, as well as younger actors to the play children in the numerous schools she established."
The cast list also requires three priests, two bishops and a pope - including someone to play Fr Tenison Woods (the co-founder of the Josephites).
MACKILLOP will be staged in October 2010 in Sydney and Melbourne and will include a cast of 60-80 actors plus a live orchestra. The production is being staged by the Sydney-based production company Artes Christi and the show will form part of the celebrations marking the Canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop.
The musical has been almost 10 years in the making and follows consultation between the composer Xavier Brouwer and a number of Josephite Sisters as well as with Fr Paul Gardiner SJ, the former postulator of the cause of Mary MacKillop.


St. Ethelburga

Information: Feast Day: July 7

Died: 664 at Faremoutier, France
English abbess of a monastery in France, the daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles. Ethelburga accompanied her half sister, Sethrida, to France to become a nun under the direction of St. Burgundofara. They spent the remainder of thier lives in prayer.


Matthew 10: 1 - 7

1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.

2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb'edee, and John his brother;

3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;

4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,

6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
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