Thursday, October 14, 2010




FIFTH GENERAL CONGREGATION VATICAN CITY, 13 OCT 2010 (VIS REPORT) - The Fifth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops was held this afternoon in the Vatican's Synod Hall. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The Synod Fathers' speeches were followed by a period of free discussion during which the Holy Father was also present. (Image source:
Extracts from some of today's contributions are given below: HIS BEATITUDE NERSES BEDROS XIX TARMOUNI, PATRIARCH OF CILICIA OF THE ARMENIANS, LEBANON. "Looking back to the first Christian community we see that the first Christians did not have an easy life, nor were they exempt from difficulties and adversities; quite the contrary, they endured outrage and persecutions. But this did not prevent them from proclaiming the teachings of Jesus integrally, or from practicing forgiveness. We find similar situations in our own times. Christians not enlightened by the Holy Spirit think they should be spared difficulties. It is important to point this out, and in this sense to re-evangelise our faithful by presenting them the faith as it was lived during the first centuries of Christianity. This does not mean that we should not fight to re-establish justice and peace in the Middle East. But it would be wrong to consider that, without justice and peace, Christians cannot fully live their faith, or that they must emigrate. Moreover, nobody emigrates to look for a better Christian life. The principal concern of convinced Christians - who by virtue of their Baptism are called to bear witness to their faith and lead a Christian life in the community - is not searching for material wellbeing and peace, or fleeing problems that threaten their own and their family's serenity. On the contrary, following the example of ... their ancestors in the Middle East, they must work together with their Christian brethren to bear witness through life and through example, to make Jesus' message of love more convincing". BISHOP PAUL HINDER O.F.M. CAP., APOSTOLIC VICAR OF ARABIA, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. "The two vicariates of the Arabian peninsula, comprising Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, U.A.E., Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, have no native Christians. The three million Catholics in a population of sixty-five million inhabitants are all labour migrants from a hundred nations, the majority from the Philippines and India. About eighty percent are of Latin Rite, the others belong to the Eastern Catholic Churches. Both apostolic vicars are of Latin Rite, and the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin has the 'ius commissionis' for the territory. Two thirds of the eighty priests are Capuchin Friars from India, the Philippines, Europe and America, belonging to different rites. ... There are strict immigration laws (restricting the number of priests). ... There is no freedom of religion (no Muslim can convert but Christians are welcome into Islam), and only limited freedom of worship in designated places, granted by benevolent rulers (except in Saudi Arabia)". ARCHBISHOP ELIE BECHARA HADDAD B.S. OF SAIDA OF THE GREEK-MELKITES, LEBANON. "The sale of Christian land in Lebanon is becoming a dangerous phenomenon. It threatens the Christian presence to the point of reducing it to a minimum in the future. To resolve this question we propose: (1) Creating a strategy of solidarity between Churches, sponsored by the Holy See. (2) Modifying the discourse of the Church towards Islam, to distinguish clearly between Islam and fundamentalism. This will facilitate our dialogue with Muslims and help us persevere in our own land. (3) Going from the concept of aid for Middle Eastern Christians to the concept of development, thus rooting them more firmly in their land. ... In this context, our own experience in the diocese of Saida is has been emblematic". BISHOP ANTOINE AUDO OF ALEPPO OF THE CHALDEANS, SYRIA. "Despite the decrease in the number of vocations, candidates should be tested before being admitted to the seminary. Seminarians should be taught the profound meaning of each liturgy and so become able to open themselves to the universality of the Church. Our theological foundation should be Vatican Council II, so as to answer the question of modernity in the Arab-Muslim context, giving special attention to the correct use of the Arabic language. Finally, in keeping with the advice of Benedict XVI, we must give importance to solid and vibrant doctrinal formation, translating it into daily life. In the pastoral dimension we must learn to preach, catechise, accompany families, listen to confessions. ... Another important element is pastoral and spiritual accompaniment during the practice of priestly ministry. ... We must look objectively at the needs of priests, and seek transparent accountability in dioceses, helping develop trust between priests and faithful. The Congregation for the Eastern Churches should help each patriarchate and diocese to create a system of healthcare and retirement insurance. The resources are there, competence and rigour are lacking". ARCHBISHOP BERHANEYESUS DEMEREW SOURAPHIEL C.M. OF ADDIS ABEBA, ETHIOPIA, PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF THE ETHIOPIAN CHURCH, AND PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA. "Ethiopia has about eighty million inhabitants, half of whom are below the age of twenty-five. The great challenge which the country faces is poverty and its consequences, such as unemployment. Many young people, aspiring to escape poverty, attempt to emigrate, by any means. Those who emigrate to the Middle East are mostly young women who go legally or illegally to seek employment as domestic workers because most of them lack professional training. In order, to facilitate their journey, the Christians change their Christian names to Muslim names, and dress as Muslims so that their visas can be processed easily. In this way, Christians are indirectly forced to deny their Christian roots and heritage. ... Even if there are exceptions where workers are treated well and with kindness, the great majority suffer exploitation and abuse. ... It would seem that Christians who die in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to be buried there; their bodies are flown to Ethiopia for burial. Could the Saudi authorities be requested to allocate a cemetery for Christians in Saudi Arabia? Many Ethiopians turn to the Catholic Churches of the Middle East for assistance and counselling. I would like to thank the Catholic hierarchies in the Middle East who are doing their best to assist victims of abuse and exploitation. We are grateful, for example, for the great work of Caritas Lebanon. Modern migration is looked upon as 'modern slavery'. But let us remember that today's migrants are tomorrow's citizens and leaders either in their host countries or in their home countries". The general congregation of the Synod of Bishops was then addressed by a guest specially invited by the Holy Father: Rabbi David Rosen, adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and director for inter-religious affairs of the American Jewish Committee and the Heilbrunn Institute for International Inter-religious Understanding. Rabbi Rosen focused his remarks on the subject of Jewish-Christian relations and the Middle East. Extracts of his speech are given below: "The relationship today between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people is a blessed transformation in our times - arguably without historic parallel. In his words in the great synagogue here in Rome last January, Pope Benedict XVI referred to the teaching of the Vatican Council II as 'a clear landmark to which constant reference is made in our attitude and our relations with the Jewish people, marking a new and significant stage'. Until recently most of Israeli society has been quite unaware of the profound changes in Catholic-Jewish relations. However this situation has begun to alter significantly in the last decade for different reasons, but two in particular are especially noteworthy. The first is the impact of the visit of the late Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, following the establishment of full bilateral relations between Israel, and the Holy See six years earlier. ... It was the power of the visual images, the significance of which Pope John Paul II understood so well, that revealed clearly to the majority of Israeli society the transformation that had taken place in Christian attitudes and teaching towards the Jewish People with whom the Pope himself had maintained and further sought mutual friendship and respect. For Israelis to see the Pope at the Western Wall, the remnant of the Second Temple, standing there in respect for Jewish tradition and placing there the text that he had composed for a liturgy of forgiveness that had taken place two weeks earlier here at St. Peter's, asking Divine forgiveness for sins committed against the Jews down the ages, was stunning and overwhelming in its effect. Israeli Jewry still has a long way to go in overcoming the negative past, but there is no question that attitudes have changed since that historic visit". "The other major factor is the influx of other Christians who have doubled the demographic make-up of Christianity in Israel. I refer first of all to the estimated approximately fifty thousand practicing Christians who were part and parcel of the immigration to Israel in the last two decades from the former Soviet Union. ... However there is a third significant Christian population in Israel whose legal standing is sometimes problematic. These are the scores of thousands of practicing Christians among almost a quarter of a million of migrant workers - from the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Most of them are in the country legally and temporarily. However close to half of them have entered or remained illegally and their position is legally precarious. Nevertheless the substantial Christian presence among this population maintains a vibrant religious life and constitutes a significant third dimension to the Christian reality in Israel today. These factors have contributed, among others, to an increasing familiarity in Israel with contemporary Christianity". "Christians in Israel are obviously in a very different situation from their sister communities in the Holy Land who are part and parcel of a Palestinian society struggling for its independence and who are inevitably caught up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a daily basis. ... It is only right and proper that such Palestinian Christians should express their distress and their hopes regarding the situation. ... The plight of Palestinians generally and Palestinian Christians in particular should be of profound concern to Jews both in Israel and the diaspora. To begin with, especially as Judaism brought the recognition to the world that every human person is created in the divine image. ... We have a special responsibility in particular for neighbours who suffer. This responsibility is even greater when suffering is born out of a conflict of which we are a part and paradoxically precisely where we have the moral and religious duty to protect and defend ourselves. ... Indeed Jewish responsibility to ensure that Christian communities flourish in our midst, respecting the very fact that the Holy Land is the land of Christianity's birth and holy places, is strengthened by our increasingly rediscovered fraternity. "Yet even beyond our particular relationship, Christians as a minority in both Jewish and Muslim contexts, play a very special role for our societies at large. The situation of minorities is always a profound reflection of the social and moral condition of a society as a whole. The wellbeing of Christian communities in the Middle East is nothing less than a kind of barometer of the moral condition of our countries. The degree to which Christians enjoy civil and religious rights and liberties, testifies to the health or infirmity of the respective societies in the Middle East. Moreover as I have already indicated, Christians play a disproportionate role in promoting inter-religious understanding and co-operation in the country. Indeed I would presume to suggest that this is precisely the Christian metier, to contribute to overcoming the prejudice and misunderstanding that bedevil the Holy Land". "The 'Instrumentum laboris' of this Special Assembly for the Middle East quotes Pope Benedict XVI: ... 'It is important on the one hand to have bilateral dialogues - with the Jews and with Islam - and then also trilateral dialogue'. Indeed this last year, for the first time, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews co-hosted together with the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC) and the foundation for the Three Cultures in Seville Spain, our first trilateral dialogue. This was a particular joy for me, ... and I earnestly hope that this is just the beginning of more extensive trilateral dialogue, to overcome suspicion, prejudice and misunderstanding, so that we may be able to highlight the shared values in the family of Abraham for the wellbeing of all humanity".SE/ VIS 20101014 (2120) SIXTH GENERAL CONGREGATION VATICAN CITY, 14 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Sixth General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops took place today in the Synod Hall in the presence of the Holy Father and 167 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon. Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below: HIS BEATITUDE IGNACE YOUSSIF III YOUNAN, PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH OF THE SYRIANS, LEBANON. "For the past 2000 years, and especially during the last fourteen centuries, Christians have become a minority in their own lands and have been harshly tested in their witness of faith, even to the point of martyrdom. Our beloved Saviour, before His last sacrifice, defended the Truth, synonym of the unalienable right of a person to freedom, while proclaiming His salvation to all, even to those who opposed His message of ineffable and universal love. Our salvation lies in courageous adherence to His message, and in fearless proclamation of Truth in authentic charity. Our faithful, who have the right to hope as they live their lives in this tormented region of the Middle East, expect a great deal from this Synod. It is up to us to give them reasons for their faith, a faith inseparable from hope in our beloved Lord Who assures us: 'Do not fear, little flock'. In living faith like this, with one heart and soul, we will learn how to bear courageous witness together to the One who said 'I am the Truth and Life'. Only Truth can set us free". ARCHBISHOP CLAUDIO MARIA CELLI, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS. "Digital culture is present in the various nations of the Middle East and in local Churches through television, radio, cinema, websites and social networks. All this media space has an impact on daily life. ... As indicated in the 'Relatio', it is necessary to train pastoral workers as well as lay people and journalists, but not only them. The formation of seminarians is also a vital issue, not so much as regards technology which they handle better than we do, but as regards communication, which is communion in this rapidly developing culture. Without priests - and without bishops - who understand modern culture, the communication gap will persist, something which will not favour the transmission of the faith to the young in the Church. It is not sufficient to build websites: what is needed is a presence that is able to create authentic means of communication, that opens 'places' where people can gather to bear witness to their faith and to their respect for others. Obviously this does not mean ignoring personal encounter and physical community life. These are not alternative actions: they are both indispensable for extending God's kingdom". BISHOP JEAN TEYROUZ, AUXILIARY OF CILICIA OF THE ARMENIANS, LEBANON. "Pope John Paul II called for relations between the Catholic communities of the diaspora and the various patriarchates to be maintained and intensified. ... The Orthodox Churches enjoy various powers in all affairs concerning their patriarchates. From an ecumenical perspective, failing to give the Eastern Catholic Churches more legal powers constitutes an obstacle and creates the risk of seeing them disappear one day. Not to plan the future is to condemn oneself to failure. Life has its own way of punishing those who lag behind. On the other hand, should these same Churches have greater jurisdiction, would this not be a stimulant to promoting the unity of Churches? Finally, should the Catholic Church not give more jurisdictional powers to the patriarchs of the 'sui iuris' Churches for the good of all the Catholic and Orthodox Churches?" ARCHBISHOP GEORGES BOU-JAOUDE C.M. OF TRIPOLI OF THE MARONITES, LEBANON. "The 'Instrumentum laboris' barely mentioned the role of the laity in the Church and their relationship with clergy and bishops. In the Maronite Church, lay persons have always participated in Church life, by means of the Marian brotherhoods. At the same time, lay people have always been responsible for administering the material goods and property of the Church, while sub-deacons assist in dealings with the civil authorities. New movements have come into being, inspired by similar movements in the West; some have become inculturated in the Eastern Churches, others have yet to do so. World Youth Days have given rise to various youth groups and commissions in dioceses. A congress of lay persons was held in Lebanon in 1997, called by the prefect of the Apostolate for the Laity in Rome. Another is currently being prepared by decision of the Eastern Catholic patriarchs". BISHOP CAMILLO BALLIN M.C.C.J., APOSTOLIC VICAR OF KUWAIT. "In Muslim tradition, the Gulf is the land sacred to the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed, and no other religion should exist there. How can we reconcile this affirmation with the reality of our Churches in the Gulf where there are approximately three million Catholics? They come from Asia and other regions. The reality of their presence, which cannot be overlooked, questions the Muslim assertion. We cannot limit our assistance to these faithful only to celebration of Sunday or even daily Mass, and to our homilies. We must recover the missionary aspect of the Church. Indeed, a Church which does not have a missionary spirit and which turns in on itself, on its own devotions and traditions, is destined to live a life that is not the life 'in abundance' the Lord wished. In this, the Latin missionary congregations have a very important role to play. It is vitally important to welcome the charisms, the new ecclesial realities recognised by the Holy See, although often judged as suitable only for the Latin Church and little or not at all for the Eastern Churches. It is important to form the Christians of our Churches in a truly Catholic and universal spirit, breaking the shackles of provincialism (even religious provincialism), of (ethnocentric) nationalism and (latent) racism. I would like to assure Your Beatitudes the Patriarchs, and all our brother bishops, that in the Gulf region we are doing everything in our power and that, if you themselves were there, you could do no more. We ask our Muslim brothers to give us the space to be able to pray properly". ARCHBISHOP PAUL NABIL EL-SAYAH, PATRIARCHAL EXARCH OF ANTIOCH OF THE MARONITES, ARCHBISHOP OF HAIFA, PATRIARCHAL EXARCH IN JERUSALEM, PALESTINE AND JORDAN. "The ecumenical question, in the Middle East in general and in the Holy Land in particular, has become one of the most important challenges facing the Church at all levels. We have thirteen major Churches in Jerusalem, with well-defined traditions and heritage, ... and clearly marked physical and psychological frontiers. The scandal of our division is sometimes transmitted live, especially when it occurs in the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday or in the Church of the Nativity on Christmas morning, while the communications media looks on. ... Our identity as Christians will always be lacking unless we truly strive to advance in the ecumenical project. ... There can be no true witness unless our Churches are united and work together. Meeting the ecumenical challenge is not an option, but an urgent necessity. ... I wish to exhort our Churches to take all necessary steps to save the Council of Churches of the Middle East, which appears to be on the point of collapse. It is the only haven in which our Churches can come together and would be a great loss to the ecumenical cause".SE/ VIS 20101014 (1260)
AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 14 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father yesterday received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany. - Rabbi David Rosen, director for inter-religious affairs of the American Jewish Committee and adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.AP/ VIS 20101014 (50)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 14 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller M.Sp.S., auxiliary of Chicago, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of San Antonio (area 60,036, population 2,196,159, Catholics 695,079, priests 381, permanent deacons 348, religious 1,025), U.S.A. The archbishop-elect was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1956, he was ordained a priest in 1984 and consecrated a bishop in 2003.
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CMAA REPORT: January 3-7, 2011Old St. Patrick’s ChurchNew Orleans, LouisianaInstructors: Dr. William Mahrt and Scott TurkingtonWinter Intensive Preliminary ScheduleThis in-depth week of chant study will give you the confidence you need to be an excellent singer of Gregorian chant or a director of a chant schola in your parish. This year’s Winter Intensive offers tracks for beginning and advanced students.This Winter Intensive 2011 will take place at Old St. Patrick’s Church in historic New Orleans, Louisiana. Registration begins at 1:00pm on Monday, January 3 with daily classes running through Friday at noon. The week’s study will culminate with participants singing at Mass on Friday afternoon.Instruction on Two Levels Scott Turkington of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina, will offer his famed and rigorous (and fun!) course for beginning and advancing singers. Dr. William Mahrt of Stanford University will offer an advanced class for experienced chanters interested in broadening their abilities both in terms of scholarship and performance practice.Friday’s Mass at 2:00pm (Epiphany propers) will conclude with a solemn Te Deum sung in honor of the Vigil of Our Lady of Prompt Succour, the patroness of New Orleans. Her miraculous intervention has saved the city from fire, flood, and other disasters; and most notably during the Battle of New Orleans on 8 January, 1815. After Our Lady saved the city from the invading British army, a perpetual Te Deum was vowed on that date. At St. Patrick’s we will observe this unique custom, and in celebration of the city’s French heritage, the Gregorian chant melody will be sung alternating with the organ versets by Louis Marchand. Andrew Mills, organist.TuitionTuition for each of the courses (beginning or advanced), including all instruction, the Parish Book of Chant, and catered lunches and on Tuesday through Friday, is $320. The CMAA is entirely dependent on your donations to make scholarship assistance available. Write to us if you would like to make a donation.Textbooks The Parish Book of Chant(included in tuition) and the Graduale Romanum or the Gregorian Missal. The Graduale Romanum and the Gregorian Missal, along with other Solesmes and CMAA book titles, will be available for purchase at the Chant Intensive book table.Each class (beginning or advanced) is limited to 25 participants. The registration deadline is Wednesday, December 15, 2010. Late registrations: add $25; subject to availability.AccommodationsHousing is separate and to be arranged by attendees. A special conference rate of $139 per night plus tax will be available to Chant Intensive participants at the Residence Inn New Orleans Downtown, just a few blocks away from the church. A limited number of rooms have been reserved for our group. To make a reservation, call Marriott reservations at 1-(888) 364-1200, and ask for the Church Music Association of America group block no later than Thursday, December 16, 2010. REGISTER USING
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Cath News report: The Australian Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life has established a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee to facilitate the inclusion of people who are deaf and hard of hearing in church communities by the training of priests in sign language and greater use of interpreters at Mass.This is a step forward, as most Australian dioceses have zero resources to cater for Catholics with these disabilities, let alone the myriad of other disabilities many Catholics have.But problems abound as to the practicality of catering for people who are deaf and hard of hearing whose disabilities are as individual as they are.Beyond WA, Sydney’s Ephpheta Catholic Centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people services Sydney, Broken Bay and Parramatta. While it is well supported by Sydney Cardinal George Pell and specialises in signing for the deaf, it does not have expertise in catering for the hard of hearing.Melbourne has the John Pierce Centre for Deaf Ministry, which services Victoria by dealing in Auslan, “our natural language”.The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee was launched on September 29 by the Australian Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life.The committee, consisting of Emmanuel coordinator Barbara Harris and Fr Paul Pitzen, Ephpheta’s official translator Nicole Clark as chair, Ms Danni Wright and John Pierce Centre executive manager Rebecca Miller, will have monthly teleconferences and will meet face to face on November 3-4 in Melbourne.The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee will address barriers to inclusion and participation in the Church experienced by people who are deaf and hard of hearing.A new Youtube clip has been posted on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website in which Danni Wright, part-time community worker at Sydney’s Ephpheta Catholic centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, signs the content of the press release announcing the new Committee.
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IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT: Sister Pia Buxton CJ died at St Joseph's, York on 3 October 2010, peacefully after a short illness, in the 78th year of her age and the 56th year of her religious life in the Congregation of Jesus. Her funeral took place at the Bar Convent, York on Tuesday 12 October attended by her family, members of the CJ, IBVM, and MWA communities, and many friends. The chief celebrant was Fr John Bane, Parish Priest of the nearby Parish of the English Martyrs'. Helping him were Canon Michael Ryan and The Rev Anthony Lester O.Carm.Sister Jane Livesey CJ, Provincial, gave the following address. Before I begin my words about Pia I would like to begin by reading only one of the innumerable cards, letters and e-mails that so many have written about her – this one will stand for all. It comes from His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and he says: 'I want to express my sincere sympathy to the Congregation of Jesus on the death of their much loved Sister Pia Buxton. She did much for the order in so many ways and taught my sister Geography when she was at St Mary’s, Ascot. But I know that she will be known for her lovely character, her profound spirituality and love of people. May the good Lord reward her with abundant life in the home she longed for in heaven.' It is a great gift when someone remains very much themselves right to the end of their life. It is also a great grace to be given by God enough time to say farewells and put one’s house – or in our case, room – in order, but not to have to suffer for too long. Both that gift and that grace, Deo gratias, were Pia’s in her final days. When I saw her for the last time, four days before she died, by which time it was clear that she did not have much longer to live, our time together was short and mostly silent but at one point she looked at me and said “Jane...”. I replied “Yes, Pia” and she said “You might like to begin your words at my requiem...” - brief pause - and I had the temerity to finish the sentence with “by saying that you would much rather have been doing it yourself?” We both laughed and she said, as I knew she would, “Yes”. And she would, of course, have done it with her particular brand of perspicacity, honesty, humour and, not least, ability to say the sometimes uncomfortable and challenging without losing the affection and respect of her listeners – probably one of her greatest gifts – and one that made her own life uncomfortable on occasion too. But Pia was never a woman for things being comfortable – the gospel imperative to go out and preach the good news, and its articulation in the mission-orientated spirituality of St Ignatius and Mary Ward were what motivated her all day and every day. She had, in addition, taken the precaution of sending me the scripts of one or two of what she obviously considered to be her most significant talks to different groups and I shall be drawing on these before I finish – I wouldn’t dare not! But with Pia, the question is where to start? She more than fulfilled Mary Ward’s prophecy about women in time to come doing much. We have already heard from John, her brother, about the things that her family loved in her and about the childhood that made her the woman that she was.Her education at Rye St Anthony – allegedly she was sent to that lay-run school to ensure that no nuns got their hands on her, was followed by a year at the finishing school at Errollston where the nuns did indeed get their hands on her – or rather, Mary Ward did. It is easy to forget, given the huge range of her apostolic activity over the past 50 plus years, that the first 20 years of her religious life were spent at Ascot, teaching geography and being immersed in the life of a boarding school. But her gifts were spotted early and only seven years after final profession she was appointed Novice Mistress, although continuing with a very full programme of teaching and boarding duties. It was, perhaps, as Novice Mistress, that she first discovered the courage which was one of her defining characteristics. This courage enabled her to take a very different view of how the life of her novices should be conducted and in particular the extent of their exposure to Ignatian spirituality and the life and wisdom of Mary Ward. This involved taking a stand on the proportion of their time that novices should be given for reading and study - a proportion that ate into the some of the more traditionally accepted noviceship activities such as washing up and sock sorting. It was not always to the liking of others in the community but she stuck to her guns and all her former novices, whether still in the CJ or now living a lay life, were and are profoundly grateful to her for the way in which she enabled the foundations of their futures – human and spiritual - to be dug so deeply and in such rich soil. It was this same gift that would be seen in her spiritual direction and associated ministries in later years. Breadth of vision was another of Pia’s defining characteristics, allied with an energy and enthusiasm which never left her. I doubt if any of us have ever met anyone more able to see the bigger picture – an ability that did, it has to be said, sometimes leave little room for the detail – but, as the prophet said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” – well, on that basis, there was little chance of the people perishing in any sphere in which Pia operated. That breadth of vision was rooted in her total immersion in, and love for, St Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises and for Mary Ward. It was those two things that literally fuelled her sense of mission and her desire to spread the Kingdom of God. As she grew older she became ever more clear that that Kingdom was not a Kingdom confined to Church-goers (of any Church) or to followers of any of the great Abrahamic religions, but a Kingdom absolutely open to all those seeking meaning and purpose. And how many such people did she walk alongside, guide in the ways of the Spiritual Exercises, encourage in the knowledge and love of Mary Ward? The number must be simply uncountable – and those of us here today simply the very small tip of a very large iceberg. But we do represent the literally hundreds of people who would be here if they could be, to honour and give thanks to God for someone whose presence in their lives was transforming – her own family; her CJ and IBVM family both in this country and in every continent; members of other religious orders in this country who elected her President of their association, the Conference of Religious, during her time as Provincial Superior; those whom she trained in spiritual direction over many years, including those with whom she founded and ran the Cambridge spiritual direction course; the Mary Ward Association; those to whom she gave retreats – at Whitby, at Clare Priory, at St Beuno’s and elsewhere; those for whom she was an inspirational speaker; and, not least, those for whom she was a spiritual director without equal.Courage and breadth of vision are two of the indispensable qualities of leadership and Pia was undoubtedly a leader. She led from the front and sometimes that leadership took people, as with St Peter, at the end of John’s gospel, where they would rather not go...but it was a leadership that called out gifts and qualities in others, and put them to much fuller use, than perhaps the owners of them wouldhave done if left to their own devices. As a leader, and a prophetic one, she was not afraid to challenge both individuals and institutions. I referred earlier to the talks she sent me. In one of them, given to a gathering of women contemplatives as long ago as 1986 she says – “To follow Christ as women today we may have to be prophetic in order to be loyal, and get hurt and sometimes disturbed”. She spoke of what she knew. Pia didn’t just challenge other people to be prophetic, she challenged herself to be so as well – and it cost her and on more than one occasion. In another of the talks she refers to something that was ever closer to her heart – the role of women in the world and in the Church, and the continuation of the place of women as a second-class citizenry in the Church in particular. She describes herself, absolutely truthfully, as “a loyal and loving member of the Roman Catholic Church” and says that “it is because of my love and concern for the Church that I say what I say”. We would not be true to her today – I would not be true to her today - if I did not acknowledge her concern for the Church and for the effects of its overwhelmingly masculine, patriarchal and clerical organisation - as seen in its authority structure, in its liturgical expression and in its failure to value and harness the power of the feminine. All of these were the cause of sadness and pain to her – but, like Mary Ward, she remained within the tent, albeit taking any opportunity that presented itself, to address those issues, lovingly and loyally, but bravely and honestly. Finally, on this matter, I cannot resist what was obviously a favourite quotation of Pia’s as she used it quite a few times. It is from Emily Bronte, who was clearly a woman after both Pia and Mary Ward’s own hearts– she says “For women to be thought half as good, they have to do twice as well. Fortunately, this is not difficult” – end of quote! Pia sat very lightly to the material things in life – she was not a nest-builder herself and was pretty clear that nest-building was not a characteristic of the true follower of Mary Ward. She also had absolutely no vanity, other than a lifelong appreciation of her own “neat ankles”! She took very seriously the words of Mary Ward in the Just Soul that “the felicity of this course was a singular freedom from all that could make one adhere to earthly things, with an entire application and apt disposition to all good works”. She was always ready to move on in response to the call of God, right to the end – and never more so than then. But there was a very creative side to her nature (as anyone who ever saw her spelling can attest!) and she knew how to enjoy things and have fun. That side of her latterly found expression in the garden at Tufnell Park; in her creative approach to cooking – Pia and the recipe book were strangers to one another; in the wonderful booklets about the various places associated with Mary Ward that she researched and produced. It had also found expression earlier on in her life and in what she called “The slape” – at the time, the mid 1970s - a ground-breaking enterprise in which through the medium of slides, voice and music put on tape, she produced a wonderful life of Mary Ward which made her accessible to many people. It was in that, that she used a piece of poetry that remained always close to her heart – written by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1603, just before his expected execution – Give me my scallop shell of quiet My staff of faith to walk upon My scrip of joy, immortal diet, My bottle of salvation, My gown of glory, hope’s true gage And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage. Dear Pia – on Sunday the 3rd of October this year, the Lord furnished you with all of those things and thus you took your last pilgrimage with Him and to Him. We rejoice to envisage you meeting merrily in heaven with Him and with Mary Ward and with so many other family and friends and we are profoundly grateful for your legacy to us and to so many. And for ourselves we can truly say, to paraphrase a sentence from Hamlet – “She was a woman, take her for all in all, we shall not look upon her like again”. May she rest in peace. See also: Sr Pia Buxton RIP
Posted by JesusCaritasEst at 10:19 AM 0 comments

Agenzia Fides REPORT -“LRA rebels are moving towards Darfur,” Bishop of Bangassou tells Fides"The LRA rebels are moving towards the border with Darfur, Sudan," Fides has learned from Archbishop Juan José Aguirre Muños, Bishop of Bangassou, Central African Republic, where the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have recently attacked the town of Birao in the north-east of the country. "I do not have direct news about what happened in Birao, which is 2,000 miles from Bangassou, but I know for a fact that the largest group of LRA fighters has left the area in my diocese to head north. Among them is probably their leader, Joseph Kony," said Bishop Muños.According to the Bishop of Bangassou, the recent series of attacks carried out by the guerrillas reveals quite well their progression to the north. "In recent months, the rebels have attacked towns like Yalinga, then continuing north up to Birao, located in the far northeastern part of the country, on the border with Chad and Darfur, Sudan."The bishop continues: "It is an area without border control, where there are already other guerrilla groups from Central Africa operating."The LRA, originally from northern Uganda, has become a regional problem because the guerrilla group especially targets, in addition to Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan. "What saddens us most is that we know that among the LRA troops who attacked Birao there are several young girls and boys who had been kidnapped from areas of my diocese in recent months," said Bishop Muños. "There are about 11 who were kidnapped in Rafai and another 14 in Agouma. I know that some of them are still with the guerrillas because I heard the testimony of Germaine, a girl who managed to escape from the hands of the guerrillas and whom I later found after she had wandered for nine days in the forest to escape her captors."Bishop Muños explains: "Germaine said she was kidnapped in March 2007 in Obo, in the eastern Central African Republic on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. At the time, she was 15. In September of this year, she managed to escape. For three years, she was the sex slave of Kony, the LRA leader, which is why I think he is with the guerrilla group that is heading to Darfur.""Germaine is now at a center in Bangassou. We hope she will be able to find the serenity of a normal life," concluded Bishop Muños.
Posted by JesusCaritasEst at 10:16 AM 0 comments

Asia News report: The families of the victims are often afraid to use the courts for fear of reprisals. The proposals of the Justice and Peace Commission to combat the phenomenon. Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The cases of rape, and attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan are dramatically increasing, and 70% are in Punjab, according to Kashif Mazhar, vice-president of "Life for All". A phenomenon that has recently seen examples of great cruelty, in which the families of the victims are afraid to seek justice. A 13 year old Christian girl, Kiran Nayyaz, was raped last year and had a child. Her father, Nayyaz Masih told AsiaNews: "I'm poor, working as a janitor at the school in Chak Jhumra. My daughter worked as a waitress, and I had complained before of being harassed. She was raped by a driver, Muahammad Yahweh, who then fled”.Joseph Francis, National Director of CLAAS (Center for Legal Aid Assistance) told AsiaNews, "Nayiaz Masih and his family came to us, in shock, they were even afraid to talk about this incident. We gave them refuge. Kiran had a baby, and together with the Justice and Peace Commission we are working to see they get justice. "Instead Father Anwer Patras has confirmed to AsiaNews news of the kidnapping, rape and murder of a Christian girl of 12, Lubna Masih in Rawalpindi. The incident occurred on September 27 last. Lubna Masih studied at Presentation Convent. On leaving her home around 18:30, she was followed by a group of five young Muslim men who then forced her into a car and drove away. Lubna tried to resist and shouted, but no one helped her. Her captors took her in an Islamic cemetery, Dhoka Ellah Buksh, raped and murdered her, and then they threw her body on the street.Her father, Saleem Masih, told AsiaNews, "I still can not believe it happened. Those responsible are protected by influential local politicians. Two organizations have contacted us, ensuring protection. But I still don’t feel safe enough to report it”. Father Amer Anwer added: "The family is terrified, they do not want to go to court, they are still in chock." The Commission for Justice and Peace, in a study on the phenomenon, has launched a number of proposals. First, that there are women police and officers responsible for human rights at all police stations, to deal with crimes against women. Then, the discriminatory laws against women must be amended, and, finally, a form of legal protection for women and children against domestic violence.
Posted by JesusCaritasEst at 10:10 AM 0 comments

St. Callistus IPOPEFeast: October 14Information:Feast Day:October 14Died:223Patron of:cemetery workersThe name of St. Callistus is rendered famous by the ancient cemetery which he beautified, and which, for the great number of holy martyrs whose bodies were there deposited, was the most celebrated of all those about Rome. He was a Roman by birth, succeeded St. Zephirin in the pontificate in 217 or 218, on the 2nd of August, and governed the church five years and two months, according to the true reading of the most ancient Pontifical, compiled from the registers of the Roman Church, as Henschenius, Papebroke, and Moret show, though Tillemont and Orsi give him only four years and some months. Antoninus Caracalla, who had been liberal to his soldiers, but the most barbarous murderer and oppressor of the people, having been massacred by a conspiracy raised by the contrivance of Macrinus, on the 8th of April 217, who assumed the purple, the empire was threatened on every side with commotions. Macrinus bestowed on infamous pleasures at Antioch that time which he owed to his own safety and to the tranquillity of the state, and gave an opportunity to a woman to overturn his empire. This was Julia Moesa, sister to Caracalla's mother, who had two daughters, Sohemis and Julia Mammaea. The latter was mother of Alexander Severus, the former of Bassianus, who being priest of the sun, called by the Syrians Elagabel, Emesa, in Phoenicia, was surnamed Heliogabalus. Moesa, being rich and liberal, prevailed for money with the army in Syria to proclaim him emperor; and Macrinus, quitting Antioch, was defeated and slain in Bithynia in 219, after he had reigned a year and two months, wanting three days. Heliogabalus, for his unnatural lusts, enormous prodigality and gluttony, and mad pride and vanity, was one of the most filthy monsters and detestable tyrants that Rome ever produced. He reigned only three years, nine months, and four days, being assassinated on the 11th of March 222 by the soldiers, together with his mother and favorites. His cousin—German and successor, Alexander, surnamed Severus, was for his clemency, modesty, sweetness, and prudence one of the best of princes. He discharged the officers of his predecessor, reduced the soldiers to their duty, and kept them in awe by regular pay. He had in his private chapel the images of Christ, Abraham, Apollonius of Tyana, and Orpheus, and learned of his mother, Mamma a, to have a great esteem for the Christians. It reflects great honour on our pope that this wise emperor used always to admire with what caution and solicitude the choice was made of persons that were promoted to the priesthood among the Christians, whose example he often proposed to his officers and to the people, to be imitated in the election of civil magistrates. It was in his peaceable reign that the Christians first began to build churches, which were demolished in the succeeding persecution. Lampridius, this emperor's historian, tells us that a certain idolater, putting in a claim to an oratory of the Christians which he wanted to make an eating-house of, the emperor adjudged the house to the Bishop of Rome, saying it were better it should serve in any kind to the divine worship than to gluttony, in being made a cook's shop.To the debaucheries of Heliogabalus St. Callistus opposed fasting and tears, and he every way promoted exceedingly true religion and virtue. His apostolic labours were recompensed with the crown of martyrdom on the 12th of October 222. His feast is marked on this day in the ancient Martyrology of Lucca. The Liberian Calendar places him in the list of martyrs, and testifies that he was buried on the 14th of this month in the cemetery of Calepodius, on the Aurelian Way, three miles from Rome. The pontificals ascribe to him a decree appointing the four fasts called Ember-days; which is confirmed by ancient Sacramentaries, and other monuments quoted by Moretti. He also decreed that ordinations should be held in each of the Ember-weeks. He founded the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary beyond the Tiber. In the Calendar published by Fronto le Duc he is styled a confessor, but we find other martyrs sometimes called confessors. If St. Callistus was thrown into a pit, as his acts relate, it seems probable that he was put to death in some popular tumult. Dion mentions several such commotions under this prince, in one of which the praetorian guards murdered Ulpian, their own prefect. Pope Paul I and his successors, seeing the cemeteries without walls, and neglected after the devastations of the barbarians, withdrew from thence the bodies of the most illustrious martyrs, and had them carried to the principal churches of the city. Those of SS. Callistus and Calepodius were translated to the Church of St. Mary beyond the Tiber. Count Everard, lord of Cisoin or Chisoing, four leagues from Tournay, obtained of Leo IV, about the year 854, the body of St. Callistus, pope and martyr, which he placed in the-abbey of Canon Regulars which he had founded at Cisoin fourteen years before; the church of which place was on this account dedicated in honour of St. Callistus. These circumstances are mentioned by Fulco, Archbishop of Rheims, in a letter which he wrote to Pope Formosus in 890. The relics were removed soon after to Rheims for fear of the Normans, and never restored to the abbey of Cisoin. They remain behind the altar of our Lady at Rheims. Some of the relics, however, of this pope are kept with those of St. Calepodius, martyr, in the Church of St. Mary Trastevere at Rome. A portion was formerly possessed at Glastonbury.Among the sacred edifices which upon the first transient glimpse of favour, or at least tranquillity, that the church enjoyed at Rome, this holy pope erected, the most celebrated was the cemetery which he enlarged and adorned on the Appian Road, the entrance of which is at St. Sebastian's, a monastery founded by Nicholas I, now inhabited by reformed Cistercian monks. In it the bodies of SS. Peter and Paul lay for some time, according to Anastasius, who says that the devout Lady Lucina buried St. Cornelius in her own farm near this place; whence it for some time took her name, though she is not to be confounded with Lucina who buried St. Paul's body on the Ostian Way and built a famous cemetery on the Aurelian Way. Among many thousand martyrs deposited in this place were St. Sebastian, whom the Lady Lucina interred, St. Cecily, and several whose tombs Pope Damasus adorned with verses.In the assured faith of the resurrection of the flesh, the saints, in all ages down from Adam, were careful to treat their dead with religious respect, and to give them a modest and decent burial. The commendations which our Lord bestowed on the woman who poured precious ointments upon him a little before his death, and the devotion of those pious persons who took so much care of our Lord's funeral, recommended this office of charity; and the practice of the primitive Christians in this respect was most remarkable. Their care of their dead consisted not in any extravagant pomp, in which the pagans far outdid them,[8] but in a modest religious gravity and respect which was most pathetically expressive of their firm hope of a future resurrection, in which they regarded the mortal remains of their dead as precious in the eyes of God, who watches over them, regarding them as the apple of his eye, to be raised one day in the brightest glory, and made shining lustres in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Posted by JesusCaritasEst at 10:09 AM 0 comments

TODAY'S GOSPEL: OCT. 14: Luke 11: 47 - 54
Luke 11: 47 - 5447Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.48So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed them, and you build their tombs.49Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, `I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,'50that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation,51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechari'ah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation.52Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering."53As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard, and to provoke him to speak of many things,54lying in wait for him, to catch at something he might say.
Posted by JesusCaritasEst at 8:38 AM 0 comments
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