Friday, March 26, 2010




(VIS) - Yesterday evening in St. Peter's Square more than 70,000 young people, most of them from dioceses in Rome and Lazio but also from other areas of Italy, met with the Pope for an encounter of prayer, meditation and dialogue, in an event organised to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of World Youth Days, established by John Paul II in 1985. A number of people bore witness to their faith, in a programme of events that also included songs and dances. Silence descended as the World Youth Day Cross was carried into the square in a torchlight procession, accompanied by an image of the Blessed Virgin "Salus Populi Romani". On his arrival in the square, Benedict XVI thanked the young people for their participation, their "magnificent witness of faith" and their "eagerness to follow Jesus". He then responded to questions put to him by three of the youthful participants. "What can I do with my life to make it great and beautiful?" was the first question put to the Holy Father who, referring to the parable of the rich young man, replied by saying "in the first place, do not waste life, but live it profoundly, not living only for oneself". "God wanted my life since all eternity", the Holy Father went on. "I am loved, I am necessary. God has a plan for me in the totality of history. ... For this reason, the first step is to know, to seek to know, God. ... Then it is essential to love. ... These are, so to say, rules of love, ... with the following essential points: the family as the foundation of society; life, to be respected as a gift of God; order in sexuality, in relations between man and woman; order in society and, finally, truth. ... Perfection (that is, being good, living in faith and truth) is substantially one thing, but has many different forms. ... Finding my vocation and living it everywhere is important and fundamental, whether I am a great scientist or a labourer". The second question was "what does it mean to say that Jesus looks at us with love, and how can we have this experience today?" to which the Pope replied: "Of course I would say that we can, because the Lord is always present and looks at each one of us with love. But it is up to us to discover His gaze". The first step, he explained, "is to know the figure of Jesus as He appears in the Gospels", but we must know Him, "not just academically and theoretically, but with the heart; that is, we must talk to Jesus in prayer. ... Reason is also necessary but, at the same time, so is the heart". The key elements are "to listen, to respond, to enter into the community of believers and into communion with Christ in the Sacraments where He gives Himself to us (the Eucharist, Confession etc), and finally, to put the words of faith into practice that they may become a power in my life". "Where can I find the strength to make courageous choices, and who can help me?" was the third and last question put to Benedict XVI. Let us begin, he replied "with what is a difficult word for us: sacrifice. ... Even a good professional life cannot be accomplished without sacrifices, without adequate preparation, which always requires discipline". In the same way, "the art of being human also requires sacrifices" which "are explained in the Word of God and help us not to fall into the abyss of drugs, alcohol, slavery to sexuality, slavery to money, laziness. ... Being able to renounce the temptation of the moment, to move towards goodness creates true freedom and makes life valuable. In this context, I feel, we must realise that without a 'no' towards certain things, the great 'yes' to true life cannot develop".AC/YOUTH MEETING/... VIS 100326 (670)

PRESIDENT OF GUATEMALA MEETS WITH THE POPE VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today: "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Alvaro Colom Caballeros, president of the Republic of Guatemala. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. "During the cordial discussions attention turned to the good relations that exist between Church and State, and to the specific contribution the Church makes to the country's development. There followed an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with particular reference to the challenges of poverty, organised crime and emigration. The discussions also served to underline the importance of promoting human life from the moment of conception, and of the role played by education".OP/AUDIENCE PRESIDENT/GUATEMALA VIS 100326 (150)

STATEMENT BY HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE DIRECTOR VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The following communique was released late this morning by the Holy See Press Office: "Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., questioned by journalists concerning a new 'New York Times' article which appeared on 26 March and concerns the period in which Cardinal Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich, referred them to this morning's public denial in a communique published by the archdiocese of Munich, which reads: "'The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop's knowledge of the situation of Father H.' "Thus the archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activities in a parish. "It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation. "The then vicar general, Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, has assumed full responsibility for his own erroneous decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activity".OP/NEW YORK TIMES/... VIS 100326 (180)

WORLD MISSION DAY 2010: BUILDING ECCLESIAL COMMUNION VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Pope's Message for the eighty-fourth World Mission Day has been published. This year the Day falls on Sunday 24 October and has as its theme: "Building Ecclesial Communion is the Key to the Mission". Extracts from the Message are given below: "The month of October, with the celebration of World Mission Day, offers diocesan and parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, ecclesial movements, and the entire People of God an opportunity to renew their commitment to announcing the Gospel and to giving their pastoral activities a greater missionary scope". "A mature faith capable of entrusting itself entirely to God with filial devotion, nourished by prayer, meditation on the Word of God and the study of the truths of faith, is a necessary premise for the promotion of a new humanism founded on the Gospel of Jesus". "In a multi-ethnic society which is experiencing new and worrying forms of solitude and indifference, Christians must learn to offer signs of hope, to become a universal brotherhood, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or misplaced fears, undertake to make the planet a home for everyone". "The awareness of the call to spread the Gospel stimulates each individual member of the faithful, and all diocesan and parish communities, to integral renewal, and to open themselves to an ever greater degree to missionary co-operation between Churches, in order to promote the announcement of the Gospel in the heart of each individual, of whatever people, culture, race or nationality, and in all places". "Ecclesial communion is born of the encounter with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. ... The Church becomes 'communion' on the basis of the Eucharist in which Christ, present in the bread and wine, through His sacrifice of love builds the Church as His body, uniting us both with the Triune God and among ourselves". "On this World Mission Day in which the eye of the heart ranges over the immense area of the mission, let us all feel involved in the Church's commitment to announce the Gospel. This missionary impulse has always been a sign of vitality in our Churches, and the co-operation among them is a unique testimony of unity, fraternity and solidarity, which gives credibility to those who announce the Love that saves. "Thus I renew my invitation to everyone to pray and, despite the economic difficulties, to commit themselves to offering fraternal and concrete help in support of the young Churches. This gesture of love and sharing, which will be distributed thanks to the valuable efforts of the Pontifical Missionary Works (to whom I express my gratitude), will go to support the formation of priests, seminarians and catechists in the most distant mission lands, and to encourage the young ecclesial communities. "In concluding this annual Message I want, with particular affection, to express my recognition to the male and female missionaries who bear witness in the most far-flung and difficult places, often with their lives, to the coming of the Kingdom of the Lord".MESS/WORLD MISSION DAY/... VIS 100326 (520)

PROGRAMME OF POPE'S APOSTOLIC TRIP TO PORTUGAL VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the programme of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Portugal, due to take place from 11 to 14 May to mark the tenth anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, the shepherd children of Fatima. The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.50 a.m. on Tuesday 11 May, arriving at Portela airport near Lisbon at 11 a.m. Following the welcome ceremony at the "Mosterio dos Jeronimos", he will pay a courtesy visit to Anibal A. Cavaco Silva, president of Portugal, in the "Palacio de Belem". At 6.15 p.m., he is due to celebrate Mass in Lisbon's "Terreiro do Paco". At 10 a.m. on Wednesday 12 May he will meet with representatives of the world of culture in the Belem cultural centre in Lisbon, while at midday he is scheduled to meet with Jose Socrates, the Portuguese prime minister, at the apostolic nunciature in Lisbon. That afternoon he will travel by helicopter to Fatima where, at 5.30 p.m., he is due to visit the Chapel of the Apparitions. He will then preside at Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons in the Church of the Blessed Trinity. At 9.30 p.m. he will bless a torchlight procession on the esplanade in front of the Shrine of Fatima, and complete the day by praying the rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions. At 10 a.m. on Thursday 13 May the Holy Father will celebrate Mass on the esplanade of the Fatima Shrine following which, at 1 p.m. he will have lunch with Portuguese bishops and the papal entourage. In the afternoon he will meet with representatives of social pastoral care organisations in Fatima's Church of the Blessed Trinity. Later the same evening he is due to meet with the Portuguese episcopate. On Friday 14 May Benedict XVI will depart by helicopter from Fatima for Porto where, at 10.15 a.m., he will preside at a Eucharistic celebration in the city's Gran Plaza de la Avenida dos Aliados. The farewell ceremony will take place at 1.30. p.m. at the international airport of Porto whence the papal flight is scheduled to depart at 2 p.m., arriving at Rome's Ciampino airport at 6 p.m.PV-PORTUGAL/PROGRAMME/... VIS 100326 (380)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. - Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. - Albert Edward Ismail Yelda, ambassador of the Republic of Iraq, on his farewell visit.AP/.../... VIS 100326 (70)


Asia News report: The rector of the minor seminary of St. Teresa, Fr. Thomas Philip, is accused of being involved in the suicide of a young Hindu student; according to the judges, fomented by the nationalistic right wing, he also tried to convert him to Christianity. The Archbishop of Bhopal tells AsiaNews: "A conspiracy against the works of the Church. But we continue on the road to Calvary, full of faith”.
Bhopal (AsiaNews) - A court in Madhya Pradesh has refused to set bail for Fr Thomas Philip, priest and rector of the minor seminary of St. Teresa, who judges consider implicated in the suicide of young Venu Kumar. The priest is also accused of trying to convert Kumar, a Hindu, to Christianity, but the Archbishop of Bhopal and local Catholics speak of a hoax, created to damage the local Church.
The accusations were launched by the father of a seminarian, Fr. Sreenivas, who told the media that he had sent his son to study at the seminary despite not being Christian. According to the man, who has travelled to Bhopal along with one of the leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad - a paramilitary movement that preaches a return to the purity of the Hindu - the suicide was due to attempts to convert operated on the boy.
But the local archbishop, Mgr. Leo Cornelio, explains to AsiaNews: "The arrest of the rector of the seminary, Fr Thomas Philip, has instilled new belief in our clergy, between the religious and faithful, who are now vigilant in prayer for the Church. In this season of Lent, as we approach the holiest week of the year, the crucified Christ is visible to our people. In our state there is an ongoing large-scale conspiracy against the Catholic Church".
Behind this conspiracy, the bishop adds, "there are right-wing nationalist forces, who try in every way to discredit the good work of the Church. But against these challenges, we continue to find joy and hope in our faith. If they have persecuted Christ, with his innocence, our sufferings are nothing. We are standing in front of difficulties, and we are called to witness with our lives. "
On the other hand, he emphasizes, "the charges made against us are always related to conversion, and always come from right wing sympathizers. These people can not see the good work the Church has made in education, health and social services; they not want to admit how we have helped generations of people, without concern for caste or creed. They make false and trumped up charges against us. But it is also sad to note that, in their rage against us, they stop serving their people".
Fortunately, the Archbishop of Bhopal concludes, "these tests do not discourage us, but rather help us to strengthen our unity. The desire to witness the truth sets us free and enables us to continue to victory. We journey towards our Calvary with the cross, to witness the resurrection. This is our task: to be witnesses of Christ's suffering. "
The prelate's statements are confirmed by a local priest, who writes: "I regret that Fr. Thomas is in jail, also because I know that the accusations against the rector to be completely false. We do not know how long he will be kept in prison, but we continue to pray for him. Without doubt, this is a period of trial for us".,-priest-imprisoned-without-evidence:-It


CNA report: In a communique released on Thursday, the top leaders of the Legionaries of Christ acknowledged and asked forgiveness for the “reprehensible actions” of their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel. Jim Fair, communications director for the Legion, told CNA on Friday that the communique was issued during the territorial directors annual meeting in Rome after a discussion on the current state and future of the order.
The March 25 statement's recognition of the allegations against the order's founder comes nearly four years after the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith completed a canonical investigation in 2006. Though the scandals surrounding Fr. Maciel have been alluded to by leaders within the movement in previous documents, homilies and conferences, the recent statement is the first one to be jointly written and signed by the all the territorial directors of the movement.

Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, LC, general director of the Legion.

“We had thought and hoped that the accusations brought against our founder were false and unfounded, since they conflicted with our experience of him personally and his work,” reads Thursday's statement. “However, on May 19, 2006, the Holy See’s Press Office issued a communique as the conclusion of a canonical investigation that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had begun in 2004.”
“At that time, the CDF reached sufficient moral certainty to impose serious canonical sanctions related to the accusations made against Fr Maciel, which included the sexual abuse of minor seminarians. Therefore, though it causes us consternation, we have to say that these acts did take place.”
“We later came to know that Fr Maciel had fathered a daughter in the context of a prolonged and stable relationship with a woman, and committed other grave acts,” the communique added. “After that, two other people surfaced, blood brothers who say they are his children from his relationship with another woman.”
“It has taken us time to come to terms with these facts regarding his life,” the leaders said. “For many, especially the victims, this time has been too long and very painful. We have not always been able, or found the way to reach out to everyone in the way we should have, and in fact wanted to. Hence the need we feel to make this communique.”
“We ask all those who accused him in the past to forgive us, those whom we did not believe or were incapable of giving a hearing to, since at the time we could not imagine that such behavior took place. If it turns out that anyone culpably cooperated in his misdeeds we will act according to the principles of Christian justice and charity, holding these people responsible for their actions.”
The Legion of Christ became the subject of an Apostolic Visitation after the double life of its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, came to light. The five bishops who were appointed to carry out the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion of Christ, which began on July 15 of last year, will present their final report to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on April 30, after eight months of work.
Looking ahead to the end of the visitation, the Legion leaders wrote, “We will embrace with filial obedience whatever indications and recommendations the Holy Father gives us as a result of the apostolic visitation, and we are committed to putting them into practice.”
“The past months have helped us to reflect on our identity and mission, and they have also moved us to review various aspects of our institutional life, humbly and in all simplicity,” they added.
The communique concluded by listing multiple “resolutions” that the group will now adhere to, including honoring the “truth” about their history, continuing “to offer safety” for minors, improving cooperating with bishops and other institutions in the Church and redoubling their “dedication to their mission of offering Christ's Gospel to as many people as possible.”


CNA report: The Chilean bishops announced this week that a special service led by young people will be held in Santiago to pray and express solidarity with all affected by the 8.8 earthquake that struck the country in February.
The event will be held on Saturday, March 27 at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on top of Mount San Cristobal and is open to all youth groups of the Archdiocese of Santiago and anyone wishes to pray for the country.
Brothers from the Taize Community will lead the prayer service. The French community also plans to meet in Chile in December 2010 as part of the activities the Church is organizing for the country's bicentennial celebrations.
Brother Pedro of the Taize Community remarked that the timing of the prayer service is a perfect way to invite young people “to participate in the celebrations of the Paschal Mystery, which will take place in all parishes this week.”

Cath News report: A funeral service for Katie Peirce, daughter of gangland killer Victor Peirce, was held yesterday in the same South Melbourne St Peter and Paul parish where her father's funeral took place in 2002.
She was later buried in the same Altona plot as her father, The Age reports.
Katie, 22, was found dead from a suspected drug overdose at a Greensborough house last December. She leaves behind a two-year-old daughter.
Father Bob Maguire, who presided over the funeral, said the family was one at conflict with itself.
Evidence of that surfaced briefly at yesterday's service when Katie's mother, Wendy Peirce, confronted Katie's half-brother Chris as he sat in his pew. She demanded that he leave. He refused and saw out the service while Fr Maguire acted as the peacemaker, calling for reconciliation at least for the sake of Katie's child.
The priest said it was a funeral for a grieving mother and the friends of Katie to say farewell, but the conflict did not surprise him. "It was a funeral that reflected the way that they lived and we had to accommodate them," he said.
Wendy had to be helped up to speak at the service that drew some 100 mourners.
Shaking, she said "My beautiful daughter, Katie my beautiful daughter", and told the congregation that she could not protect her daughter "from the evil of this world".
Outside, a hearse lined with flowers featured a card saying "With all my love, Nan", The Age report added.

CISA report: Cardinal John Njue has said that the Catholic Church will continue to lobby incessantly the issue on sanctity of life.The cardinal said this during an Ecumenical meeting also attended by members of parliament at a Nairobi hotel on Wednesday March 24, 2010.The cardinal reiterated that everyone has a right to life and the church will always condemn abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment.“The Catholic Church strongly feels the fight against abortion is the fight for family,” said the cardinal.He called upon members of parliament to correct the anomaly and recognize in the constitution that life begins at conception.Dr Stephen Karanja representing Catholic Doctors Association said, “The arguments you hear are not representing doctors’ association. We are against death of our children. Doctors are led by the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors to do everything possible to preserve human life.”Dr Karanja said that there is nothing in medical firmament called abortion adding that abortion injures women physically and “we must protect the mothers of this country.”The evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Secretary General Wellington Mutiso said, “Life is sacred and it begins at conception adding that a foetus is not sub-human.”He appealed to members of parliament to do something or else they will have to say no to a good constitution at the referendum because it carries a pro-abortion clause.In reaction to the faiths stand, MP David Musila said, “The contentious issues raised by the church have been more or less relegated on the sides but all is not lost.”He said they will try and rally other MPs in parliament to get the necessary votes so that the nation goes to the referendum united.Another contentious issue in the draft constitution for Kenya is the presence of Muslim civil courts known as the Kadhi courts.This has once again widened the Christian-Muslim split. Kenyan Church leaders have dismissed the creation of the Kadhi Courts, as currently proposed in the draft constitution, as a ploy to "elevate one religion over the other," while the Islamic clerics have warned that they would mobilise the Muslim community to reject a new draft that omits the Kadhi courts.However, MP Peter Kenneth, felt that Kadhi courts were not an issue because it constitutes personal law. He requested that the draft constitution be amended for the entire country to bring everybody on board.
St. Margaret Clitherow
Feast: March 26
Feast Day:
March 26
1556 as Margaret Middleton at York, England
25 March 1586 at York, England
25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI
Major Shrine:
The Shambles, York
Patron of:
businesswomen, converts, martyrs

Margaret Clitherow, born in Yorkshire, England, was the wife of John Clitherow, whose family was Catholic, although he had taken on the state religion of England long before he married. Two or three years after her marriage, Margaret became a Catholic. Her home became a stopping-off place for priests, and Mass was offered secretly there.
Her husband went along with her interests, even when she sent their oldest son to Douai, in France, to be educated. Not only was she devout, she was also a zealous promoter of the faith, converting others and bringing back backsliders to the practice of their religion. Meanwhile, the laws against the Catholic faith became more harsh, and the. government was determined that Catholicism should be stamped out in Yorkshire where it was especially strong.
Everyone loved St. Margaret Clitherow, and even her servants knew that she hid fugitive priests, but no one betrayed her. She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church with him. Her husband was summoned by the authorities to explain why his oldest son had gone abroad, and the Clitherow house was searched. A Flemish boy, from fear, revealed the hiding place of the priests where chalices and vestments were kept. Margaret was arrested along with a neighboring housewife who had attended Mass at the Clitherow home. Margaret's only concern was that her family was safe.
She was brought to trial and would not plead, her only statement being, "Having made no offense, I need no trial." If she had been tried, her family would have been called as witnesses against her, and she was determined that this would not happen. Reluctantly, the judge sentenced her to be "pressed to death," a bizarre death sentence in which the condemned was placed under a door (or similar object) and rocks piled on the door until the person was crushed to death.
Margaret died on March 25, 1586, her last words being, "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!" She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970.


John 10: 31 - 42
The Jews took up stones again to stone him.
Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?"
The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God."
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, `I said, you are gods'?
If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken),
do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,' because I said, `I am the Son of God'?
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;
but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there he remained.
And many came to him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true."
And many believed in him there.