Sunday, April 18, 2010




(VIS) - At 10 a.m. today the Pope celebrated Mass at the Floriana Granaries in Malta, the island's largest square which is used to host the most important civil and religious celebrations and can accommodate up to 10,000 people.
In his homily the Holy Father encouraged the faithful to trust in God and follow His teachings in order to gather an abundant harvest.
"Not everything that today's world proposes is worthy of acceptance by the people of Malta", he said. "Many voices try to persuade us to put aside our faith in God and His Church, and to choose for ourselves the values and beliefs by which to live. They tell us we have no need of God or the Church. If we are tempted to believe them, we should recall the incident in today's Gospel" of the miraculous catch of fish. "When Jesus appeared on the shore, He directed them to a catch so great that they could scarcely haul it in"Commenting on the first reading of today's Mass, recounting St. Paul's shipwreck on the shores of Malta "and his warm reception by the people of these islands", the Pope highlighted how the crew of the ship were forced to throw the cargo overboard, as the Apostle "urged them to place their trust in God alone while the ship was tossed to and fro upon the waves. We too", said Benedict XVI, "must place our trust in Him alone.
"It is tempting to think that today's advanced technology can answer all our needs and save us from all the perils and dangers that beset us", he added. "But it is not so. At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God, in Whom we live and move and have our being. Only He can protect us from harm, only He can guide us through the storms of life, only He can bring us to a safe haven, as He did for Paul and his companions adrift off the coast of Malta".
"It is our relationship with the Lord that provides the key to our happiness and our human fulfilment", said the Pope, noting how God "calls us to a relationship of love. ... It is our love for the Lord that must inform every aspect of our preaching and teaching, our celebration of the Sacraments, and our care for the people of God. It is our love for the Lord that moves us to love those whom He loves, and to accept gladly the task of communicating His love to those we serve"."In every area of our lives we need the help of God's grace. With Him, we can do all things: without Him we can do nothing", said Benedict XVI.
He then encouraged the faithful to "preserve the faith and values transmitted to you by your father the Apostle St. Paul. Continue to explore the richness and depth of Paul's gift to you and be sure to hand it on not only to your children, but to all those you encounter today. No visitor to Malta could fail to be impressed by the devotion of your people, the vibrant faith manifested in your feast-day celebrations, the beauty of your churches and shrines. But that gift needs to be shared with others, it needs to be articulated".
Going on then to refer to Malta's first canonised saint, Dun Gorg Preca, the Pope highlighted "his tireless work of catechesis, inspiring young and old with a love for Christian doctrine and a deep devotion to the Incarnate Word of God". This "set an example that I urge you to maintain", he told his audience. In closing his homily, the Pope addressed some words to members of the clergy present at the celebration, in the context of the current Year for Priests. "Dun Gorg was a priest of remarkable humility, goodness, meekness and generosity, deeply devoted to prayer and with a passion for communicating the truths of the Gospel. Let him serve as a model and an inspiration for you".
"Remember, too, the question that the Risen Lord put three times to Peter: 'Do you love me?' That is the question He asks each of you. Do you love Him? Do you wish to serve Him through the gift of your whole lives? Do you long to bring others to know and love Him? With Peter, have the courage to answer, 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you', and accept with grateful hearts the beautiful task He has assigned you. The mission entrusted to priests is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world".
After Mass, and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father mentioned the "particular devotion of the Maltese people to the Mother of God, expressed with great fervour to Our Lady of Ta' Pinu", whose image was "brought here specially from Gozo for this occasion. I am also delighted to present a golden rose to her, as a sign of our shared filial affection for the Mother of God.
"I ask you in particular to pray to her under the title Queen of the Family, a title added to the Litany of Loreto by my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, himself on more than one occasion a visitor to these shores. In offering you this tangible memento of my own visit, I thank you for all that I have received from you in return, especially for the warmth of your devotion and the support of your prayers for my ministry as the Successor of Peter".
Following Mass and the Regina Coeli, the Benedict XVI travelled to the apostolic nunciature in Rabat, where he had lunch with the bishops of Malta and the papal entourage.
PV-MALTA/ VIS 20100418 (970)

VATICAN CITY, 17 APR 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence to Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), for the death of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik S.J., who died in Rome yesterday at the age of 90.
"The pious demise of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, distinguished Jesuit and zealous servant of the Gospel, has aroused deep commotion in my heart. It is with profound gratitude that I recall his solid faith, his paternal affability and his intense cultural and ecclesial labours, especially as an authoritative expert on Eastern Christian spirituality. I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that, by the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and of St. Ignatius of Loyola, He may give the deceased cardinal the eternal prize promised to His faithful disciples. And to you, to the Society of Jesus, and to everyone who knew him and appreciated his gifts of mind and heart, I send a heartfelt and comforting apostolic blessing".
TGR/ VIS 20100418 (170)

VATICAN CITY, 17 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted:
- The resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Ekiti, Nigeria, presented by Bishop Michael Patrick Olatunji Fagun, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Felix Temi Ajakaye.
- The resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Awka, Nigeria, presented by Bishop Simon Akwali Okafor, upon having reached the age limit.
RE/ VIS 20100418 (80)


Asia News report: Some 700 victims are cremated together in a Tibetan ceremony in Jiegu. Little hope of finding survivors, while aid arrives slowly. Controversy over the collapse of many schools on students.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A common funeral pyre for about 700 victims in the city of Jiegu, Yushu County, devastated by the disastrous earthquake in Qinghai. After days, the arrival of relief is still slow. Meanwhile, there is growing controversy over the many students buried under collapsed schools.
In Yushu 97% of the population is Tibetan (to the point that 500 interpreters were sent with rescues teams to the area). Local tradition usually calls for sky burials, where bodies are left in the open for birds to eat, but with so many dead this is considered impractical and unhygienic.
As a result giant funeral pyres have been prepared by Buddhist monks on a green hill above the town. The bodies were brought on wagons, placed on special platforms within furrows in the ground and were cremated, to the chanted prayers of more than 500 monks and residents.
The locals explain that the ceremony is necessary "to free the spirit of the deceased”, for whom a good reincarnation and the end of suffering is augured. The heat of the flames was felt for hundreds of metres.
Meanwhile the search for survivors is non stop. People are digging through the rubble with bare hands, although hopes are dying after 3 nights in the cold. Sometimes there are real "miracles": a 13 year old girl was pulled alive from the rubble of the Hotel Minzhu after being trapped for 54 hours. In Qinghai there are 1,144 confirmed dead, including many migrants, but also 417 "missing". The wounded are 11,744 (of which 1,192 serious).
There is also controversy over inadequate relief supplies. The government says it has sent 10 thousand soldiers and doctors. But whole villages have lost everything, with families sleeping in the open on the Himalayan plateau, at a height of 4 thousand metres and where at night the temperature drops to below freezing. Aid has begun to trickle through - but is still scarce - tents, food and medicine, brought by truck from the provincial capital Xining that is 800 kilometers distant. TV shows dozens of angry refugees trying to access relief, pushing the police out of the way. Wu Heping, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security, indirectly admitted minor disturbances and riots, saying that "there is a lot of police in riot gear that controls the situation, a situation that is stable."
Controversy about the safety of schools, most of which collapsed, burying the students and teachers is also simmering. According to figures yesterday, there were 103 students and 12 teachers killed, 35 children trapped under the rubble and 38 missing, in addition to 648 injured. But parents argue that all 20 schools in Jiegu collapsed or were seriously damaged and talk about the poor quality of building materials. The authorities say they over 90% of homes have fallen in Yushu and the percentage of casualties is low compared to 23,197 students and 938 teachers in 59 schools in Yushu County, but many complain that public buildings must be safe.
In No. 3 primary school Yushu, 70 pupils died, trapped under the rubble. The 3-storey dormitory of vocational college in Yushu, built in 1998, collapsed on itself, with about 100 victims. The memory of Sichuan is recent and many are demanding serious investigations. 


CBC report: Tens of thousands of people gathered in the city of Krakow Sunday for the state funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria.

Tens of thousands of people listen to the church service for the late Polish president and his wife. (Ferdinand Ostrop/Associated Press)
The couple and dozens of senior government and military leaders were among 96 people killed in a plane crash eight days ago in western Russia.
The service began with a Roman Catholic mass at St. Mary's Basilica, a 13th-century church set on a vast market square in Krakow's Old Town. Many in the crowd that stood quietly under a sunny sky in the medieval square carried Polish flags decorated with black ribbons as the service was broadcast outside.
Afterwards, the flag-draped coffins of Kaczynski and his wife were borne in a procession down Grodzka Street to the 1,000-year-old Wawel Cathedral for burial alongside the nation's kings and heroes, marking the first time a president will be entombed at the national shrine overlooking the Vistula River.
Polish police estimated the number of mourners in and around Krakow at nearly 150,000.
Earlier in the day, the bodies of the couple were driven slowly through Warsaw past places linked to Kaczynski's life, including city hall, where he served as mayor of Warsaw, and a museum he championed that is dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Many dignitaries and world leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Charles, were unable to attend the state funeral because of the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland that has closed airspace over much of Europe for the past four days.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also cancelled their trips at the last minute because of the ash, which is dangerous to airplane engines.
Several leaders from the Baltics and Balkans came to Krakow by car. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew in from Moscow.


All Africa report: The battle for Kenya's soul kicks off on Sunday morning as church leaders take their push for draft constitution amendments to the flock. The Catholic Church, which on Friday buttressed its "No" campaign, will be educating its flock on the reasons for the stance, even as it prepares for a national prayer day over the contentious issues.
According to Bishop Martin Kivuva of Machakos Diocese, the church's stance is based on the principle of protecting life.
"We are all for the new Constitution, but we have a problem with two issues: abortion and Kadhis Court," said the Bishop, who sits in the Kenya Episcopal Conference, the highest decision-making organ of the church.
"The ball is in the court of the President and the Prime Minister to look at these issues and see that they are addressed before the referendum," he said.
Frustrate the vote
The Catholic Bishop also took a swipe at the MPs for failing to vote on the proposed amendments, saying the "mere fact that they walked out of Parliament to frustrate the vote on amendments, denies them the moral authority to ask Kenyans to vote 'Yes' or 'No'.""All we are telling the flock is to register as voters, because failing to vote in the referendum will be failing this country," he added.
The message will filter to their congregations countrywide through the bishops and priests in the masses to be read on Sunday.
The Kenya Episcopal Conference normally issues a pastoral letter to all parishes when it takes a position on an issue and the priests then read the message to the congregation during mass.
"We have a country to worry about, but we can't just take anything just because we've been pushing for it for a long time," said Bishop Kivuva.
The National Council of Churches of Kenya is also full-throttle on the "No" path, with secretary general Peter Karanja saying the church was "mobilising".
He said that they would be "empowering the clergy with material to explain their position" to their congregations. This could be brochures, pamphlets, posters and even letters.
"The campaign is on," Canon Karanja said. "Those who don't like what the church is saying should engage us on the issues and avoid the name-calling and grandstanding."
Separately, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims said it was impossible to delete the Kadhis' courts from the Constitution.
Supkem's Director General Latif Shaaban said if the courts are provided for through an Act of Parliament, it will be easier to delete them from the country's laws.
Muslim minority
"We all know what happens to an Act of Parliament . . . it can be repealed by just a handful of MPs," said Dr Shaaban adding that with the Muslim minority in the country and in Parliament, such fears are not far-fetched given that debate and voting on crucial issues have in the recent past gone ahead without a quorum.
He also argued that the push by Christians to limit the jurisdiction of the courts to just the 10-mile coastal strip was outdated.
"You cannot just overlook an international agreement because of sectoral interests," said Dr Shaaban.
"We have extended our hand of friendship to the Christian leadership so that we can all understand the courts."
However, for the Catholic and the Evangelical churches, there are two things involved: abortion and the inclusion of the Kadhi's Court in the proposed law.
The church wants the deletion of article 26(4) from the Bill of Rights.
The clause, the church insists, is vague to an extent that it empowers Parliament to legislate on (and allow for) abortion or create an avenue for 'abortion on demand' due to the loose use of "trained health professional."
However, critics of the argument insist there is no such loophole because the clause starts by saying "abortion is not permitted."
The Christians argue their inclusion amounts to "elevating" the Muslims above Christians.
Mr Shaaban said the voter registration and the "Yes" campaign among the Muslims was on.
Civil servants
At the same time, civil servants have vowed to throw their weight behind the "Yes" campaign.
Secretary general of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants Mr Tom Odege said the more than 150,000 government employees would support the draft.
He said the draft provides for workers to go on strike to express their democratic rights and to negotiate for better terms and conditions of work.
Mr Odege spoke at Kerugoya Catholic Church hall in Kirinyaga Central district, where he met the local union officials.
"We shall all participate in voting exercise to ensure the 'Yes' vote carried the day," he said adding that he would visit every corner of the country drumming support for the draft laws.
He urged the churches to soften their stand and back the draft adding that the clauses, which they were rejecting, would be amended later.
He said there was no need of derailing the constitution review process simply because of two issues, which could be addressed after the draft was passed in the referendum.


Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate Website:

The Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate are a contemplative-active community of religious women founded in Guelph, Ontario by Mother Mary Josephine Mulligan and Father W. Lloyd Ryan on August 1, 1977 within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton. The general aim of our Community is to strive for holiness of life in imitation of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother Mary. Our charism in the Church is to offer our lives, prayers and works to God for the growth and spread of the Catholic Faith through a Eucharistic and Marian spirituality and in conformity with the teachings of the Holy Father and the College of Bishops in union with him. In response to the needs of the Church, the Sisters have as their apostolates the education of youth, particularly in the field of catechetics, and the care of the elderly and the deprived.



Cath News report: Sister Angela Ryan, who heads the Australian Bishops' Committee for Professional Standards, has stressed that it's up to professional psychologists to determine whether church sexual abuse is caused by homosexuality, celibacy, or other factors.

In a news conference in Chile this week, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said homosexuality rather than celibacy is to blame for sexual abuse in the Church?
Sister Angela told the ABC Radio's AM program yesterday that it's unlikely homosexuality is the main cause.
"I think it's very difficult to say exactly what is the cause of that at any stage and I don't think you could totally ascribe it to homosexuality," she said.
"You'd need to talk with psychologists to be working that through. Clergy aren't in a position and I'm not in a position, I'm not a psychologist. So it's very difficult to make statements about things where you're not qualified."
Other Catholic leaders were not available to speak to the program, but commentator and former priest Paul Collins suggested that homosexuality as the cause is now a non-issue since Cardinal Bertone was subsequently 'reprimandeded' in a statement from Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.


St. Apollonius the Apologist
Feast: April 18
Information: Feast Day: April 18
Martyr whose Apologia or defense of the faith, is called one of the most priceless documents of the early Church. Apollonius was a Roman senator who was denounced as a Christian by one of his slaves. The Praetorian prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perenis, arrested him, also putting the slave to death as an informer. Perennis demanded that Apollonius denounce the faith, and when he refused, the case was remanded to the Roman senate. There a debate took place between Perennis and Apollonius that clearly outlines the beauty and the value of Christianity. Despite his eloquent defense, Apollonius was condemned and beheaded.



Acts 5: 27 - 32, 40 - 41

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,

28 saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us."

29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.

31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

40 So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

Psalms 30: 4 - 6, 11 - 13

4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.

5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved."

11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,

12 that my soul may praise thee and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever. --

Revelation 5: 11 - 14

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!"

14 And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.

John 21: 1 - 19

1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tibe'ri-as; and he revealed himself in this way.

2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan'a-el of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zeb'edee, and two others of his disciples were together.

3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

5 Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any fish?" They answered him, "No."

6 He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish.

7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.

8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.

10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."

11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord.

13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.

14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."

16 A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."

17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go."

19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."