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Friday, December 17, 2010

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: FRI. DEC. 17, 2010











CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: FRI. DEC. 17, 2010: HEADLINES-

AMERICA: USA: CARDINAL BURKE ON UNIVERSITIES

ASIA: PHILIPPINES: CHRISTMAS CEASEFIRE: A STEP TOWARDS PEACE

AFRICA: EGYPT: BISHOP SPEAKS ON PEACE

EUROPE: IRELAND: BISHOP COMMENTS ON EU COURT JUDGEMENT

TODAY'S SAINT: DEC. 17: ST. JOHN OF MATHA

TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 17: Matthew 1: 17





POPE MEETS WITH ROMAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORTS) - Yesterday at 5 p.m., in keeping with a pre-Christmas tradition of meeting with university students, the Holy Father presided at Vespers in the Vatican Basilica with students from Roman universities. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

"The God of Abraham", he said in his homily, "revealed Himself, He showed His face and came to dwell in our flesh, in Jesus the Son of Mary - true God and true man - Whom we will meet once again at the Manger in Bethlehem. To return there, to that humble and cramped place, is not simply a mental journey; it is a path we are called to follow by experiencing the closeness of God here and now, and His action which renews and sustains our lives".

"The road to the Manger of Bethlehem is a journey of inner liberation, an experience of profound freedom, because it encourages us to emerge from ourselves and to move towards God, Who has come close to us. ... He wishes to infuse courage into our lives, especially when we are tired and weary, when we need to rediscover the serenity of the journey and joyfully to feel that we are pilgrims on our way to eternity. ... The Child we will find between Mary and Joseph is the Logos-Love, the Word which can give full consistency to our lives. ... In Bethlehem, the today of God and the today of man meet, and together they begin a journey of dialogue and intense communion.

"Dear friends", the Holy Father added, "you who are following the fascinating and demanding journey of research and cultural endeavour, the Incarnate Word asks you to share with Him the patience 'to build'. Building your lives, building society, is not an undertaking that can be achieved by distracted and superficial minds and hearts. ... In our own time we feel the need for a new class of intellectuals capable of interpreting social and cultural dynamics, and of proposing solutions that are not abstract, but concrete and realistic. Universities are called to play this vital role, in which the Church will provide her committed and effective support".

The Roman university community - which is made up of State, private, Catholic and Pontifical institutions - must, said Benedict XVI, "play an important historical role: that of overcoming the misunderstandings and prejudices which at times hinder the development of authentic culture. Working together, especially with faculties of theology, Roman universities can show that it is possible to implement a new dialogue and new collaboration between Christian faith and the various fields of knowledge, without confusion or separation but sharing the same aspiration to serve man in his entirety".

At the end of the ceremony, an African university delegation consigned the image of "Maria Sedes Sapientiae" to a delegation of Spanish students. The image will be taken on pilgrimage to all Spanish universities in preparation for World Youth Day, due to be held in the Spanish capital Madrid in August next year.

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APOSTOLIC VIGOUR AND DRIVE FOR NAPLES JUBILEE YEAR

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Italy, for opening of the archdiocese's Jubilee Year which began recently and is due to last for all of 2011.

Naples, the Pope writes, "has a rich religious heritage, and this calls for coherence of faith and courage of witness. In keeping with this opulent tradition, Christian sanctity has flowered abundantly, finding expression in famous figures who left profound traces in the Church and in society. These shining examples have handed down the responsibility to continue the history of faith and charity in your land, showing the same vigour and apostolic drive as they did.

"Of course", the Holy Father adds, "today's social and cultural context is very different from the past and, although we may joy in the Lord for the genuine and persisting faith of so many Christians, it is painful to note the spread of a secularised view of life and the emergence of evils afflicting the body public, which is threatened by individualism.

"In this atmosphere, negative and deviant models also exercise their influence, having a strong impact on family and social life, especially on the new generations. Thus I wish to reiterate the urgent need for the human and Christian formation of children and young people, because they are seriously exposed to the risks of deviancy".

"Christians are called to work for truth and to bear courageous witness to the Gospel in all areas of life. Each individual can and must strive to ensure that spiritual and ethical values, translated into life choices, make a decisive contribution to the creation of a more just and fraternal society. To this end we must work to create ... relationships of authentic charity which give concrete expression to solidarity and service, so as to provide alternative life examples that are accessible to all and, at the same time, emblematic".

The Holy Father concludes his message: "In this way we will reinforce the awareness that today, as always, the seed of the Kingdom of God is present and active. A seed of the future, capable, if welcomed personally and generously, of transforming even the most difficult situations and of renewing the heart and countenance of Naples".

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HOLY FATHER BESTOWS A PRIZE ON MARIAN ACADEMY OF INDIA

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening at the Palazzo of San Pio X, the Pontifical Academies held their fifteenth public session on the theme: "The Assumption of Mary, a sign of consolation and of sure hope".

During the session Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. read out a Message sent by the Pope to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Co-ordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, and to participants.

"The fifteenth public session", the Pope writes, "was organised by the Pontifical International Marian Academy and the Pontifical Academy of Mary Immaculate which, most opportunely, wanted this solemn meeting to recall the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Dogma of the Assumption".

Benedict XVI recalls how "Vatican Council II, in its Dogmatic Constitution 'Lumen gentium', teaches that Mary is a sign of sure hope and consolation for the People of God on their pilgrimage through history".

"The Fathers and Doctors of the Church, echoing the shared feeling of the faithful and reflecting upon what the liturgy celebrates, proclaimed Mary's singular privilege and illustrated her shining beauty, which supports and nourishes our hope", the Pope writes.

"Theological and spiritual reflections", he goes on, "the liturgy, Marian devotion, and artistic representations are really all part of the same thing, a complete and effective message capable of arousing wonder in our eyes, of touching our heart, of stimulating our mind to an even deeper understanding of the mystery of Mary, in whom we see our own destiny and hope clearly reflected and announced".

In this context, the holy Father invites the scholars "to follow the 'via pulchritudinis'", expressing the hope that, "even in our own day, thanks to greater collaboration between theologians, liturgists and artists, more incisive and effective messages may be presented for people's contemplation and admiration".

Accepting a suggestion made by the Co-ordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, Benedict XVI also announces that his year he is assigning the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academies Prize to the Marian Academy of India, represented by its president Fr. Kulandaisamy Raya, and to Luis Alberto Esteves dos Santos Casimiro, for his doctoral dissertation on the Annunciation in sixteenth century Portuguese painting.

The Holy Father concludes by saying: "Furthermore, as a sign of appreciation and encouragement, I wish to present the pontifical medal to the 'Gen Verde' Group, part of the 'Focolari' Movement, for its artistic undertakings so strongly impregnated with Gospel values and open to dialogue between peoples and cultures".

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ITALIAN CULTURE PROFOUNDLY MARKED BY CATHOLIC CHURCH

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Francesco Maria Greco, the new Italian ambassador to the Holy See.

In his address to the diplomat, the Pope spoke of the preparations underway for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italian unity, affirming that "one of the most important aspects of the long and sometimes tiring and difficult journey which led to the modern Italian State, was the search for a just distinction between the civil and religious communities, and for correct forms of collaboration between them. This need is more deeply felt in a county like Italy, whose history and culture are so profoundly marked by the Catholic Church, and the capital of which is the episcopal see of the visible head of that community, which has spread throughout the world.

"These characteristics", he added, "which have been part of Italy's historical and cultural heritage for centuries, cannot be denied, forgotten or marginalised. The experience of these 150 years teaches us that when attempts have been made to do so, they have led to dangerous imbalances and painful fractures in the social life of the country".

In this context the Pope underlined the importance of the Lateran Pacts and of the Villa Madama Agreement, which "set the co-ordinates for well-balanced relations, which are of benefit to the Apostolic See just as they are to the State and Church in Italy".

"These international agreements are not the expression of a desire for power, privilege or economic and social advantage on the part of the Church or the Holy See, nor do they aim to encroach into the area of the mission which the Divine Founder entrusted to His community on earth. Quite the contrary, the basis of these agreements lies in the State's just desire to ensure that individuals and the Church can fully exercise their religious freedom. This right has dimensions that are not only personal. ... Religious freedom is, in fact, a right not just of individuals, but of families, religious groups and the Church, and the State is called to safeguard not only believers' right to freedom of conscience and religion, but also the legitimate role of religion and of religious communities in the public sphere".

Benedict XVI continued: "The correct exercise and reciprocal recognition of this right enables society to make use of the moral resources and generous service of believers. Thus, we cannot hope to achieve authentic social progress by the marginalisation or even the explicit rejection of the religious factor, something which is happening in various ways in our time. One of these, for example, is the attempt to eliminate religious symbols from public places, first among them the Crucifix which is certainly the symbol par excellence of the Christian faith but which, at the same time, speaks to all men and women of good will and, as such, does not discriminate".

The Holy Father went on to thank the Italian government for having operated in this field "in accordance with a correct view of laicism, in the light of its own history, culture and traditions, finding positive support therein also from other European nations. While some societies attempt to marginalise the religious dimension", he said, "recent news stories demonstrate how, in our own time, even flagrant violations of religious freedom take place. Faced with this painful truth, Italian society and government have shown particular sensitivity towards the fate of those Christian minorities who suffer violence and discrimination because of their faith, or are forced to emigrate from their homeland.

"My hope is", the Pope concluded, "that awareness of this problem may increase and, as a consequence, efforts may be intensified to ensure full respect for religious freedom, everywhere and for everyone. I am certain the Holy See's commitment in this field will not lack Italian support in the international arena".

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VATICAN CHRISTMAS TREE TO BE LIT IN A CEREMONY TODAY

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received a delegation from the town of Luson in the province of Bolzano, part of the Italian region of Alto Adige, which has donated the Christmas tree which will decorate St. Peter's Square during the festive season this year.

The tree, which will be lit this evening during a public ceremony to be presided by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, is a Norway spruce, thirty-four metres high and ninety-three years old. Apart from the main tree, Luson has also donated fifty smaller trees which will be used to decorate various sites in the Vatican.

The Holy Father noted that the spruce, "which stood at an altitude of 1500 metres and was cut down without damaging the forest environment, will stand next to the nativity scene until the end of the Christmas festivities".

"The Christmas tree", he went on, "enriches the symbolic value of the nativity scene, which is a message of fraternity and friendship, an invitation to unity and peace, an invitation to make space for God in our life and society. He offers us His omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a child, because He wants us to respond freely with our own love. Thus the nativity scene and the tree bear a message of hope and love, and help to create an environment in which to experience the mystery of the birth of the Redeemer in the right spiritual and religious context".

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COMMUNIQUE CONCERNING CHINESE CATHOLIC ASSEMBLY

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy See Press Office released the following English-language communique concerning the Eighth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives, which took place in Beijing from 7 to 9 December.

"With profound sorrow, the Holy See laments the fact that from 7 to 9 December there was held in Beijing the Eighth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives. This was imposed on numerous bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. The manner in which it was convoked and its unfolding manifest a repressive attitude with regard to the exercise of religious liberty, which it was hoped had been consigned to the past in present-day China. The persistent desire to control the most intimate area of citizens' lives, namely their conscience, and to interfere in the internal life of the Catholic Church does no credit to China. On the contrary, it seems to be a sign of fear and weakness rather than of strength; of intransigent intolerance rather than of openness to freedom and to effective respect both of human dignity and of a correct distinction between the civil and religious spheres.

"On several occasions the Holy See had let it be known, first and foremost to the bishops, but also to all the faithful, and publicly, that they should not take part in the event. Each one of those who were present knows to what extent he or she is responsible before God and the Church. The bishops in particular and the priests will also have to face the expectations of their respective communities, who look to their own pastor and have a right to receive from him sure guidance in the faith and in the moral life.

"It is known, moreover, that many bishops and priests were forced to take part in the assembly. The Holy See condemns this grave violation of their human rights, particularly their freedom of religion and of conscience. Moreover, the Holy See expresses its deepest esteem for those who, in different ways, have borne witness to their faith with courage and it invites the others to pray, to do penance and, through their works, to reaffirm their own will to follow Christ with love, in full communion with the universal Church.

"Addressing those whose hearts are full of dismay and profound suffering, those who are wondering how it is possible that their own bishop or their own priests should have taken part in the assembly, the Holy See asks them to remain steadfast and patient in the faith; it invites them to take account of the pressures experienced by many of their pastors and to pray for them; it exhorts them to continue courageously supporting them in the face of the unjust impositions that they encounter in the exercise of their ministry.

"During the assembly, among other things, the leaders of the so-called Episcopal Conference and of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association were appointed. Concerning these two entities, and concerning the assembly itself, the words written by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 Letter to the Church in China continue to apply.

"In particular, the present college of Catholic bishops of China cannot be recognised as an episcopal conference by the Apostolic See: the 'clandestine' bishops, those not recognised by the government but in communion with the Pope, are not part of it; it includes bishops who are still illegitimate, and it is governed by statutes that contain elements incompatible with Catholic doctrine. It is deeply deplorable that an illegitimate bishop has been appointed as its president.

"Furthermore, regarding the declared purpose to implement the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church, it should be remembered that this is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, which from the time of the ancient Creeds professes the Church to be 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic'. It is therefore lamentable also that a legitimate bishop has been appointed president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

"This is not the path that the Church must follow in the context of a great and noble nation, which attracts the attention of world opinion for its significant achievements in so many spheres, but still finds it hard to implement the demands of genuine religious freedom, despite the fact that it professes in its Constitution to respect that freedom. What is more, the assembly has rendered more difficult the path of reconciliation between Catholics of the 'clandestine communities' and those of the 'official communities', thereby inflicting a deep wound not only upon the Church in China but also upon the universal Church.

"The Holy See profoundly regrets the fact that the celebration of the abovementioned assembly, as also the recent episcopal ordination without the indispensable papal mandate, have unilaterally damaged the dialogue and the climate of trust that had been established in its relations with the government of the People's Republic of China. The Holy See, while reaffirming its own wish to dialogue honestly, feels bound to state that unacceptable and hostile acts such as those just mentioned provoke among the faithful, both in China and elsewhere, a grave loss of the trust that is necessary for overcoming the difficulties and building a correct relationship with the Church, for the sake of the common good.

"In the light of what has happened, the Holy Father's invitation - addressed on 1 December 2010 to all the Catholics of the world to pray for the Church in China which is going through a particularly difficult time - remains pressing".

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AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Carl A. Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, accompanied by Bishop William Edward Lori of Bridgeport, U.S.A.

- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Peter Paul Angkyier, former vicar general and diocesan consultant of Damongo, Ghana, as bishop of the same diocese (area 29,000, population 440,000, Catholics 22,700, priests 42, religious 32). The bishop-elect was born in Nandon, Ghana in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1992.

AMERICA: USA: CARDINAL BURKE ON UNIVERSITIES


(Edited from Catholic Online) The Cardinal said:

"In a society which is marked by a virulent secularism which threatens the integrity of every aspect of human endeavor and service, for example, medicine, law, government and higher education itself, the service of the Catholic university is more needed than ever. How tragic that the very secularism which the Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission."

The Cardinal praised the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts for helping students resist what he called a "secularist dictatorship." So do I. I thank God for their important missionary work and the work of a growing number of new and renewed Catholic Colleges and Universities. The future of the Church and the world depends upon their fidelity, courage and mission.

The Cardinal explained that "A Catholic college or university at which Jesus Christ alive in His Church is not taught, encountered in the Sacred Liturgy and its extension through prayer and devotion, and followed in a life of virtue is not worthy of the name." To which I add my heartfelt "Amen!"

The challenges faced by Catholic Universities is one more instance of the broader contextual challenge the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council called a "separation between faith and life." This separation was addressed in their document on the Mission of the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) There is a disconnect between the faith many Catholics profess and the way they live their daily lives. This separation is very clear in Catholic higher education.

Building Catholic identity in our Universities entails the building of a Catholic culture within an academic community which understands its fundamental ecclesial nature. Catholic Identity in an institution, just as in persons, begins from the inside and works its way throughout like leaven or yeast. Catholic identity must be the beating heart of a Catholic school, providing the infrastructure for the entire educational mission.

This is the first obligation of a Catholic College or University President. He or she must understand, believe, live and seek to integrate the Catholic faith in a way that enables them to impart it to others, through both word and witness. They are first a disciple, a lifelong learner, one who is following the Teacher, Jesus Christ, within His Body, the Church.

In 1997, the Congregation for Catholic Education summarized this mission in its seminal document entitled "The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium". They addressed the ecclesial identity of the Catholic School and how the integration of faith, culture and life should characterize its ethos.

"It is from its Catholic identity that the school derives its original characteristics and its "structure" as a genuine instrument of the Church, a place of real and specific pastoral ministry. The Catholic school participates in the evangelizing mission of the Church and is the privileged environment in which Christian education is carried out."

In 1990 the Venerable John Paul II, released his apostolic letter entitled "Ex Corde Ecclesia"(At the Heart of the Church) affirming the Catholic educational mission in the mission of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

The Catholic University is not simply a private College with a church affiliation. It is a Catholic University. In his masterful letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul calls all Christians to a "renewal of their minds". (Romans 12:2) This renewal of the mind is the essence of Catholic education. It affirms that there is a constitutive connection between truth, freedom, education and the ability to form an authentically human and just culture. We need truly educated Catholic men and women, with renewed minds and transformed lives, who can take their place in service to furthering the work of the Church in every segment of human culture. Christianity is the new and true humanism which is needed in this urgent hour.

The Purpose of a Catholic University is to teach, form and prepare students in Christ,

through Christ, and with Christ, who has been raised and continues His redemptive mission through His Body, the Church. It is that Church which is vested with His authority to teach. In the words of the great Western Bishop Augustine:

"Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church."

Catholic Universities are an extension of the teaching work of the Catholic Church. This living Christ still teaches, and directs His Church. Through that Church he continues to influence all of human culture. The faithful of the Church are called to inculcate and live the truth as articulated under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the teaching office of the Church. At the forefront of the mission of the Catholic University is this education of the next generation of Catholic men and women. It is Christ the Teacher who teaches His Children in the Catholic University.

The Venerable John Paul II said to educators in 1979 "Catholic education is above all a question of communicating Christ, of helping to form Christ in the lives of others." In short, forming students with a Catholic world view is not a "part" of the curriculum; it is the heart of the curriculum. Faith is not simply taught in religion or theology class. Catholic identity provides the hermeneutic, the lens, through which the entire educational mission is viewed. It should also structure the framework for all curriculum development.

The Catholic educational mission is to inform and educate the whole student, who is an integrated human person, in the teaching, "the mind" of the Catholic Church, thus preparing men and women with a profoundly Catholic anthropology which permeates the meaning of human life. In the words of the Congregation for Catholic education:

"The Catholic school is committed thus to the development of the whole man, since in Christ, the Perfect Man, all human values find their fulfillment and unity. Herein lies the specifically Catholic character of the school. Its duty to cultivate human values in their own legitimate right in accordance with its particular mission to serve all men has its origin in the figure of Christ. He is the One Who ennobles man, gives meaning to human life, and is the Model which the Catholic school offers to its pupils."

EDITED FROM http://www.catholic.org/college/story.php?id=39604

ASIA: PHILIPPINES: CHRISTMAS CEASEFIRE: A STEP TOWARDS PEACE

UCAN REPORT- As the Philippine government and communist rebels started a Christmas ceasefire yesterday, Catholic bishops in the central Philippine province of Negros Occidental urged both sides to look beyond the truce and achieve lasting peace.

Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra said the country cannot afford to have a “constantly precarious” situation due to the almost four decades of conflict.

“We cannot move forward if we live in a constantly precarious situation caused by war,” Bishop Navarra was quoted in a news article in the Visayan Daily Star.

The call came even as government peace negotiators expressed “grave concern” over an attack by communist New People’s Army rebels in Samar province that resulted in the death of 10 soldiers and a nine-year-old boy.

“This incident mars an otherwise momentous agreement forged during the informal talks held in Hong Kong a few weeks ago,” said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles.

But she said the government “remains steadfast in its commitment to honor the agreed-upon suspension of military operations.”

Reports said the soldiers were on their way back to barracks for the “suspension of offensive military operations” when they were ambushed by the rebels.

Meanwhile, Kabankalan Bishop Patricio Buzon said the ceasefire between government troops and the rebels, which will last until Jan. 3, will be good for everyone.

The bishop, however, said the basic condition for peace will have to start from the heart, even as he stressed the need for sincerity on both sides.

San Carlos Bishop Jose Advincula said he hopes the ceasefire will lead to more lasting peace for the country.

The ceasefire is a confidence-building measure for the resumption of formal peace talks in February 2011.

http://www.ucanews.com/2010/12/17/philippines-needs-lasting-peace-after-truce/

EUROPE: IRELAND: BISHOP COMMENTS ON EU COURT JUDGEMENT

CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCE: Statement by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, in response to the judgement today issued by the European Court of Human Rights on A, B, and C v. Ireland:

"Today's judgment leaves future policy in Ireland on protecting the lives of unborn children in the hands of the Irish people and does not oblige Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion" - Cardinal Brady


The judgement given today by the European Court of Human Rights regarding the legal position on abortion in Ireland raises profound moral and legal issues which will require careful analysis and reflection. Today's judgment leaves future policy in Ireland on protecting the lives of unborn children in the hands of the Irish people and does not oblige Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion.

The Irish Constitution clearly says that the right to life of the unborn child is equal to that of his or her mother. These are the fundamental human rights at stake. The Catholic Church teaches that neither the unborn child nor the mother may be deliberately killed. The direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances. We are always obliged to act with respect for the inherent right to life of both the mother and the unborn child in the mother’s womb. No law which subordinates the rights of any human being to those of other human beings can be regarded as a just law.
http://www.catholicbishops.ie/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2018:16-december-2010&catid=17:news

At the beginning of Advent on 27 November last Pope Benedict spoke about the coming of Christ into our world in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Father reflected on the light that this sheds on the wonder of all human life. The embryo in the womb, he said, is not just a collection of cells but “a new living being, dynamic and marvellously ordered, a new individual of the human species. This is what Jesus was in Mary’s womb; this is what we all were in our mother’s womb.”

As a society we all have a responsibility to respond sensitively to any woman who finds herself dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. I urge anyone in this situation to contact CURA, the crisis pregnancy support service.

AFRICA: EGYPT: BISHOP SPEAKS ON PEACE

Agenzia Fides REPORT - “The Church, since she was born, also and especially in the person of Jesus Christ, lives in the shadow of the Cross. But this is the strength of Christians, from the persecutions of the early martyrs to the time of the Roman Empire”, Bishop Joannes Zakaria of the Catholic Copts in Luxor revealed to Fides, in an initial comment about the Message by Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of World Day for Peace 2011 (which is celebrated on 1 January). “That said, we cannot remain silent on religious freedom violations taking place in different parts of the world. I think not only to some Arab and Muslim countries, but also what happens in the Hindu world and even in Europe, where extreme forms of secularism undermine the Christian message. The Holy Father has noted this problem well in his Message for Peace,” Bishop Zakaria went on.

He added that “to live in peace and harmony among people of different faiths we must overcome our fear and mutual distrust and be open to dialogue. I will make a personal example. Some years ago I noticed a neighbour manifest his distrust of me. I did not lose heart and started to visit him on the occasion of Muslim holidays. Gradually the suspicion disappeared and a relationship of deep friendship was born. He then told me that his distrust toward me stemmed from the fear that I wanted to convert him to Christianity. I told him that what I ask is simply to be a good Muslim and to respect my faith.”

“I think finally that many problems, including interreligious relations, derive from the political world which, instead of promoting dialogue between peoples, cultures and faiths, instead promotes the interests of a small number of large financial groups, which tend to reduce man to a mere tool and a simple consumer. We all need to regain our full humanity, also for the good of creation that is threatened by the exploitation of natural resources, which not only pollutes but is also inhuman,” concluded the Bishop of Luxor.

AUSTRALIA: CATHOLIC SCHOOLS OUTPERFORM PUBLIC SCHOOLS

CATH NEWS REPORT: The quality of the teaching, not socio-economic advantage, is why Catholic schools have outperformed public schools in the 2009 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) scores, the Catholic Education Office in Sydney told The Catholic Weekly.

For the first time, the survey results have been broken into three sectors – government, Catholic and independent schools.

Students from independent schools performed significantly better than from Catholic and government schools, while Catholic schools scored significantly higher than their counterparts in the government sector.

Dr Sue Thomson from the Aus­tralian Council for Educational Re­search told the Sydney Morning Herald these differences were dependent on socio-economic background.

"Students in the independent or Cath­olic school sectors bring with them an advantage from their socio-economic background that is not as strongly characteristic of students in the government sector," she said.

Dr Dan White, executive director of Catholic schools in the Sydney archdiocese, refutes this: "Many Catholic schools are in the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas. Many of our families experience serious financial hardship".

"Many of the best performing schools in the archdiocese of Sydney are located in low socio-economic areas. This is because as a system of schools, resources are allocated to where the needs are greatest. That is how it has always been and will continue to be.

"The research is clear: it is the quality of the teaching in the classroom that determines how effective students learn.

"To simply equate overall academic performance to socio-economic factors diminishes the achievements of many schools from low socio-economic areas."

TODAY'S SAINT: DEC. 17: ST. JOHN OF MATHA

St. John of Matha

FOUNDER

Feast: December 17



Information:

Feast Day:December 17
Born:June 23, 1160, Faucon in Provence
Died:December 17, 1213, Rome

The life of St. John of Matha was one long course of self-sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of his neighbor. As a child, his chief delight was serving the poor; and he often told them he had come into the world for no other end but to wash their feet. He studied at Paris with such distinction that his professors advised him to become a priest, in order that his talents might render greater service to others; and, for this end, John gladly sacrificed his high rank and other worldly advantages. At his first Mass an angel appeared, clad in white, with a red and blue cross on his breast, and his hands reposing on the heads of a Christian and a Moorish captive. To ascertain what this signified, John repaired to St. Felix of Valois, a holy hermit living near Meaux, under whose direction he led a life of extreme penance. The angel again appeared, and they then set out for Rome, to learn the will of God from the lips of the Sovereign Pontiff, who told them to devote themselves to the redemption of captives. For this purpose they founded the Order of the Holy Trinity. The religious fasted every day, and gathering alms throughout Europe took them to Barbary, to redeem the Christian slaves. They devoted themselves also to the sick and prisoners in all countries. The charity of St. John in devoting his life to the redemption of captives was visibly blessed by God. On his second return from Tunis he brought back one hundred and twenty liberated slaves. But the Moors attacked him at sea, over- i powered his vessel, and doomed it to destruction, with all on board, by taking away the rudder and sails, and leaving it to the mercy of the winds. St. John tied his cloak to the mast, and prayed, saying, "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered. O Lord, Thou wilt save the humble, and wilt bring down the eyes of the proud." Suddenly the wind filled the small sail, and, without guidance, carried the ship safely in a few days to Ostia, the port of Rome, three hundred leagues from Tunis. Worn out by his heroic labors, John died in 1213, at the age of fifty-three.

source http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/J/stjohnofmatha.asp

TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 17: Matthew 1: 17

Matthew 1: 1 - 17
1The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,
4and Ram the father of Ammin'adab, and Ammin'adab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5and Salmon the father of Bo'az by Rahab, and Bo'az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
6and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uri'ah,
7and Solomon the father of Rehobo'am, and Rehobo'am the father of Abi'jah, and Abi'jah the father of Asa,
8and Asa the father of Jehosh'aphat, and Jehosh'aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi'ah,
9and Uzzi'ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezeki'ah,
10and Hezeki'ah the father of Manas'seh, and Manas'seh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josi'ah,
11and Josi'ah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoni'ah was the father of She-al'ti-el, and She-al'ti-el the father of Zerub'babel,
13and Zerub'babel the father of Abi'ud, and Abi'ud the father of Eli'akim, and Eli'akim the father of Azor,
14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli'ud,
15and Eli'ud the father of Elea'zar, and Elea'zar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,
16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
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