Saturday, February 27, 2010




On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI and his collaborators of the Vatican Curia concluded their week of Lenten Spiritual Exercises, on the theme: “Lessons of God and the Church on the priestly vocation”.Pope Benedict XVI emerged from a week of prayer, reflection and silence to describe the meditations offered by Salesian Priest, Don Enrico Dal Covolo as a very "passionate and personal reflection” on the ministry of the priesthood.The spiritual exercises in preparation for Easter, which had started on Sunday 21 with the exposure of the Eucharist and the celebration of Vespers, were held throughout the week in the "Redemptoris Mater" chapel of the Apostolic Palace, with morning and afternoon sessions. On Saturday thanking the Don Enrico, the Pope stressed the importance of having an inner ear and docility of heart which renders us capable of listening to God: In impromptu remarks he noted that the act of listening “sums up the Christian vision of man” because man is a relational being, “he needs to listen and be listened to, above all he needs to listen to God. Only then will he truly become himself”.This form of listening, the Pope continued, is a sign of wisdom that can only be achieved in communion with the Church. A form that Pope Benedict revealed he contemplated during these days while gazing at one of the beautiful mosaics that adorn the Redemptoris Mater chapel, a mosaic which portrays the Virgin Mary, called the "Living Throne of Wisdom". "The Church Fathers say that the moment of conception of the Eternal Word in the womb of the Virgin Mary in the Holy Spirit came through the ear. Listening conceived the Eternal Word. And thus it is to have a listening heart. " The Holy Father also recalled the so-called "emblem" priests presented by Don Enrico Dal Covolo, which gave substance to their reflection on the vocation to ordained ministry. Five portraits of exemplary priests, from St. John Vianney to John Paul II, with a preamble focusing on the idea that the priesthood has ancient Fathers, such as St. Augustine and St. Ignatius of Antioch: “With renewed courage” he concluded “we now face our mission”.


Pope Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of best wishes to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I ahead of his 70th birthday. Below we publish the text of the papal telegram:To His Holiness Bartholomaios IArchbishop of ConstantinopleEcumenical PatriarchThe happy occasion of your Seventieth Birthday offers me a welcome opportunity to give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Giver of every good gift, for the abundant blessings which he has bestowed upon Your Holiness, and at the same time to convey my warm good wishes.These fervent and fraternal good wishes are accompanied by my prayers that our One Lord will sustain you with his strength and grace as you carry out your high ministry of Pastor, Preacher of the Gospel and Teacher of the spiritual life.With pleasant memories of our meetings, particularly my visit to the Phanar for the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, Peter’s brother, I exchange with Your Holiness a holy embrace, while expressing my prayerful confidence that the Spirit of God will continue to enlighten and guide our path towards the full communion willed by Christ for all his disciples.BENEDICTUS PP. XVI


CNA report:
In his fourth and most likely final book on Mother Angelica, noted author and EWTN news anchor Raymond Arroyo highlights some of the devotions and prayers of the 86-year-old nun, many of which are borne from her personal sufferings.
In an exclusive interview with CNA, Arroyo spoke about his motivation behind writing the new book and detailed some of the lesser known facts surrounding Mother Angelica's early life, including her painful disability and being raised in an impoverished, broken home. Mother Angelica, he said, is “no stranger to pain.”
“The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica,” is set to be released on March 2 and contains not only meditations and prayers written by Mother Angelica but traditional favorites of hers as well. According to Arroyo, readers will be able to “'listen in' on her private, and very human, conversations with God.”
Explaining how he came up with idea for his latest book, Arroyo said, “When I read these prayers, both those composed by her and the time tested variety, I thought: people should really see this. Taken as a whole these prayers give readers a marvelous example of how we are to approach God. And if anyone knows how to speak to God and listen to His promptings, it is Mother Angelica. It's a real treasure of a book.”
In addition to founding EWTN, a non-profit, multi-million dollar Catholic media company, Mother Angelica heads a flourishing convent in Alabama, that attracts thousands of tourists every year.
“Mother Angelica has affected the lives of literally millions and millions of people around the world,” Arroyo continued. “And one of the hallmarks of her life has been this constant prayer that she maintains even in the midst of business and personal trials. It is truly the foundation of all she has done and of the great fruit she is responsible for.”
Discussing the nun's troubled childhood, Arroyo told CNA that “Mother Angelica's father abandoned her at five. Her birth mother had emotional problems and was probably manically depressed. They were very poor and worked hard to keep themselves clothed and fed. So this girl tasted pain early on. Angelica was also born with a spinal defect. She had repeated back surgeries and for years walked with the help of braces and crutches.”
“She was no stranger to pain, and in this new book there are prayers she composed specifically for those suffering or in pain,” explained Arroyo. “Mother was always very attentive to those who were suffering – probably because she intimately knew what they were going through, and the spiritual power of suffering.”
“These prayers are so practical that I think they'll have wide appeal. There are prayers to say when in a financial crisis, prayers for easing a transition in your life, prayers for drawing us closer to God's Will. The diversity of the prayers here and their beauty is striking.”
Arroyo also mentioned that a section of the book deals expressly with a difficult time in Mother Angelica's adult life.
“One of the unique features of this book is the Dark Night of The Soul prayer diary. Mother went through a very difficult period in the 1984. She lost her birth mother and her network was on shaky financial footing. In the depth of darkness she writes these very stark, impassioned pleas to God – searching for answers and light. I think people will be touched by this. And more, it will give them hope when they encounter their own darkness and remind them that darkness is sometimes permitted by God as a path to greater light.”
Arroyo, who has worked alongside Mother Angelica at EWTN, spoke on what he finds to be most inspiring about the nun. “Her deep faith is clearly the most inspiring thing about her life,” he reflected. “She was never distracted from God, no matter the circumstances. Mother went through hell to raise this beacon of hope for so many (EWTN). In the biography people can see the effects of her faith and the challenges she overcame – but with this book they have an opportunity to experience the foundation of her life: her spirituality and the actual prayers she uttered.”
Arroyo's previous three books on the life and work of Mother Angelica have all made the New York Times bestseller list. When asked about his upcoming book, the author said “In some ways I think this book could be the most successful of the canon.”
“It is the fourth book in my Mother Angelica cycle (as I like to call it) and likely the last. It seemed right to offer readers something that was practical and uplifting, like the woman herself.”
Commenting on his previous works on the nun, Arroyo explained that “The biography covered the details of her life, the 'Little Book of Life Lessons' contained some of her spiritual wisdom, 'The Private and Pithy Lessons From The Scriptures' was a collection of her Bible lessons, and this book is the last word on her prayer life – more than a prayer book it is an intimate spiritual portrait of Mother. The whole collection can be read independently or as a whole.”
“For those who have read the biography, I think this book will deepen the experience and prolong the spiritual effects,” he added. “ At least that's what I hope.”
“I thought people should have this deeply personal reminder of a woman who is so dear to the world,” Arroyo concluded. “When you read this book, you will hear a woman worshiping God, begging Him for light, jubilating and suffering. We all go through those seasons and Mother Angelica provides a powerful spiritual example that I think we can all benefit from.”


CNA report:
Four theologians began discussions in Geneva, Switzerland this week to define the guidelines of a new project promoted from within the Conference of European Churches. The initiative hopes to study how the different Churches understand unity.
According to a statement released by the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the project is investigating church unity as it relates to church identity at the theological, theoretical level as well as in church practices. The four theologians taking part in the discussion are British Anglican Dr. Paul M. Collins from the University of Chichester, German Catholic Dr. Myriam Wijlens from University of Erfurt, Finnish Dr. Minna Hietamaki from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Orthodox Dr. Viorel Ionita from the CEC's Churches in Dialogue Commission.
The project originated with these four theologians last October in Crete at the World Council of Churches Plenary Commission on Faith and Order, according to the statement. It is connected with the network on "Ecclesiological Investigations."
The first meeting of the four theologians was hosted by the CEC's Churches in Dialogue Commission (CiD) in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22.
In what Dr. Ionita called a "very dynamic and constructive" meeting, the participants discussed aims, working methodology, partners and timing. Each of the theologians also presented a paper on unity from his or her respective theological tradition.
"The four theological traditions represented were presented in a complementary way and we hope that in the future other theological traditions could be included such as those from a free-church background," Dr. Ionita stated at the conclusion of the first session.
Meetings for this study on unity will continue until Sept. 2012 and will be highlighted by European and international presentations in several forums including the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
A comprehensive publication offering "all of the findings" along the course of the study will be published at their conclusion "in order to promote the search for the Church unity worldwide," reads the CEC's statement.
Founded in 1959, the Conference of European Churches offers a forum for dialogue for 120 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Catholic Churches and 40 associated organizations representing every country in Europe who seek to pursue understanding, grow in fellowship and make a common contribution to the mission of the Church, to the safeguarding of life and the well-being of all humankind.


Asia News report:
The three were convicted without evidence. Forced to confess under torture. The UN has called for the universal abolition of the death penalty, but China still holds the world record of executions.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Three people sentenced to death have been on hunger strike since 23 February in Jiangxi to attract attention to the injustice of their sentence. They argue that there is no evidence of their guilt and that their confessions were extracted under torture. Their protest comes just as the UN in Geneva launches a new campaign for the abolition of the death penalty.
Fang Chunping, Huang Zhiqiang and Cheng Fagen have been in prison for 7 years in Jingdezhen (Jiangxi). Along with another convicted Cheng Lihei, they were arrested in Leping (Jiangxi), in 2002 and sentenced in July 2003 for "murder, robbery and rape" over incidents that occurred in '99 and 2000. Their conviction was rejected on appeal in 2004 by the High Court of Jiangxi, that noted inconsistencies in the confessions and inconsistencies in the evidence. But in November 2004, the Jiangxi Interim Court, without introducing any new investigations or new evidence, reaffirmed the death sentence.
According to the lawyers of the three and their relatives, all 4 prisoners have good alibis and police have not been able to find compatible DNA at the crime scene. The four claim that their confessions were obtained after police beat them for long hours, hanging them from the ceiling for several days and nights, forcing them to stay on my knees until they dropped, leaving them without food, water or sleep.
Teng Biao, a lawyer and professor in defence of human rights, said that the police were under pressure to find someone to charge. He himself recalls having attended at least five other cases in which defendants were convicted on confessions extracted through torture.
The hunger strike of three convicts, comes as the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty closed in Geneva. The final document of the meeting, wanted by the UN, calls for the universal abolition of capital punishment.
In the 1970s only 23 countries had abolished the death penalty; today there are 139. In 2008, a total of 2390 death sentences were carried out. China holds the record with 1718. Recently the People's Supreme Court said it wanted to impose the capital punishment only for heinous cases or crimes against the state. But the use of torture and violence by Chinese police - also confirmed by the UN investigation - shows huge holes in Beijing’s justice system.


CISA report:
Thousands of Kenyans could have their access to life saving HIV drugs cut because of wars between health ministries over who should control donor money.Competition between the ministries of Medical Services and Public Health has already caused shortages of essential drugs in most public hospitals in the country.The war has also led Global Fund to deny Kenya USD 270 million, funds that would have been used in the fight against AIDS.With the formation of the coalition government in 2008, the health ministry was split and the Ministry of Public Health was chosen as the sub-recipient of the funds. Apart from the two ministries, other duplicate roles are allocated to the National Aids Control Council (NACC).The global Fund does not dictate to governments who should receive the money, however, sources in the NGO sector say they would have wished to deal with a single ministry.The organization wishes that the functions could be tackled by one agency for uniformity, reduction in duplication of tasks and minimization of wastage.According to AWC the war over who controls HIV and AIDS money is not new. It dates back to 2003 when the ministry of Special Programmes in the Office of the President was assigned the HIV and AIDS docket.


Cath News report:
Australian Catholic University National Vice-Chancellor Greg Craven has warned that the apparent collapse of the push for a national charter of rights would impact Victoria and the ACT, which have charters of their own.
Professor Craven, a constitutional lawyer, believes decisions of Victoria's Supreme Court could have a diminishing influence on other states because of the state's charter of rights, The Australian reports.
These jurisdictions would not become "legal pariahs", but "it probably does mean that a fair range of the jurisprudence of Victoria and the ACT will be decided rather differently to the jurisprudence of the other states and the commonwealth", said Professor Craven, who is vice-chancellor of Australian Catholic University National.
He said the scale of this development should not be exaggerated, "but with precedent, the further you move away from absolute like, the harder it gets to reason by analogy", according to The Australian report.
"When you have a charter you have moved away significantly from what you might call the Australian legal standard and to that extent I think there would be some discounting in some contexts of Victorian decisions," he said.
Professor Craven's warning about the precedent value of Victorian judgments comes soon after the Victorian opposition said the apparent collapse of the proposed national charter meant the state's jurisprudence would develop "at a tangent to the rest of the nation".


St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
Feast: February 27
Feast Day:
February 27
March 1, 1838, Assisi, Italy
February 27, 1862, Gran Sasso, Italy
1920, Rome, Italy by Pope Benedict XV
Major Shrine:
San Gabriele, Teramo, Abruzzi
Patron of:
Students, Youth, Clerics, Seminarians, Abruzzi

On a summer day a little over a hundred years ago, a slim figure in a black cassock stood facing a gang of mercenaries in a small town in Piedmont, Italy. He had just disarmed one of the soldiers who was attacking a young girl, had faced the rest of the band fearlessly, then drove them all out of the village at the point of a gun. The young man was Francesco Possenti, whose father was lawyer for the Papal States and who had recently joined the Passionist Order, taking the name of Brother Gabriel. He became very sick during his school years and had promised that if he got better, he would dedicate his life to God. St. Gabriel Possenti got better and forgot about it. He got sick again and made the same promise, but again got well and forgot his promise. Once, during a church procession in which a great banner of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was being carried, the eyes of Our Lady looked straight at him and he heard the words: "Keep your promise." Shaken, he remembered his promise, changed his life completely, and entered the Passionists.He hoped to be sent to the missions after his ordination to the priesthood, but at the young age of twenty-four, he died. Canonized in 1920, he is, along with St. Aloysius, one of the patrons of youth. He was very fond of his family and is particularly remembered as a remarkable young man who, at the age of twenty, threw all aside for God, determined to become a saint.From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . Suddenly his face began to shine with glory, and his clothing became dazzling white, . . . a cloud covered them, blotting out the sun, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."—Mark 9:2-3, 7


Matthew 5: 43 - 48
"You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.