Tuesday, April 27, 2010
CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: MON. APRIL 26, 2010: HEADLINES:
VATICAN: POPE: THE CHURCH HAS THE RIGHT TO PUBLIC EXPRESSION-
EUROPE: SCOTLAND: BISHOPS URGE VOTERS TO CONSIDER FAITH WHEN VOTING-
AFRICA: KENYA CHURCHES DISMAYED OVER DRAFT DECISIONS-
ASIA: CHINA: VICTIMS OF QUAKE ARE IN DIRE NEED OF SUPPLIES & AID-
AUSTRALIA: ATTENTION TO CAFOD BHP QUERIES-
AMERICA: CANADA: STUDENTS WALK FOR LIFE-
POPE: THE CHURCH HAS THE RIGHT TO PUBLIC EXPRESSION
VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Charles Ghislain, the new ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See. In his address, the Pope highlighted how "human life and dignity are a precious resource to be defended and promoted resolutely, especially on the basis of natural law". The Church "wishes to be a factor of harmonious coexistence among all peoples. To this end she makes here own active contribution, especially through her numerous educational institutions, her social activities and the commitment of many of her faithful to voluntary work. The Church is happy to serve all sectors of Belgian society".
"Nonetheless", he continued, "it is worth pointing out that the Church, as an institution, has the right to express herself in public. ... She respects the right of everyone to think differently from herself, and would like to see her own right to expression respected. ... The Church, having the common good as her objective, wants nothing other than the freedom to be able to present this message, not imposing it on anyone, and respecting people's freedom of conscience". The Pope then made mention of the Belgian St. Damian de Veuster, highlighting how "religious roots nourished his education and formation, just as they nourished the teachers who awoke such admirable generosity in him. St. Damian shared his life with marginalised lepers, to the point of himself suffering the illness that afflicted them. With witnesses such as him, everyone can understand that the Gospel is a source of power they need not fear. "I am convinced", he added, "that despite recent social developments, your land remains rich in Christian soil. This can nurture the generous commitment of growing numbers of volunteers who, inspired by the evangelical principles of fraternity and solidarity, accompany people in difficulties".
Referring then to the country's involvement in Europe, and to the fact that the Belgian Herman Van Rompuy was recently elected as first president of the European Council, the Pope noted how "the art of consensus cannot be reduced to purely dialectic abilities, rather it must seek truth and goodness". This, he explained quoting his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", is because "without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalised society at difficult times like the present".
In closing his remarks the Holy Father had words of greeting for the bishops of Belgium, especially Archbishop Andre-Mutien Leonard "who with enthusiasm and generosity has recently begun a new mission as archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels". He also greeted priests, deacons and all the faithful who make up the Catholic community in Belgium. "I invite them to bear courageous witness to their faith", he concluded. "In their lives as citizens may they fully exercise their right to propose values that respect human nature, and that correspond to the most profound and authentic spiritual aspirations of the person".
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INHABITING THE DIGITAL UNIVERSE WITH A BELIEVING HEART
VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father addressed participants in the congress: "Digital Witnesses. Faces and languages in the multi-media age". The congress was organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference, the president of which is Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa.
"The time in which we are living is seeing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication", said the Pope. "The Internet is by nature open, tendentiously egalitarian and pluralist, but at the same time it also represents a new gulf. Indeed, we talk of the 'digital divide', which separates the included from the excluded, and this must be added to other separations which already divide nations, both from one another and within themselves".
Benedict XVI also noted "the dangers of conformity and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, which are already evident in the diminution of the spirit of criticism, in the truth reduced to an interplay of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of individual intimacy. We are witnessing a 'pollution of the spirit which clouds our faces and makes them less prone to smile'.
"And yet", he added, "the aim of this congress is precisely to recognise faces, and therefore to overcome those collective dynamics that can lead us to lose a sense of the depths people have, to remain on the surface. When this happens those people become bodies without a soul, objects to be exchanged and consumed".
"And how is it possible to return to people's faces today?" the Pope asked. In this context, quoting from his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", he explained how the media can have a civilising effect "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values.
"To achieve goals of this kind, they need to focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity".
"Only in these conditions can the epoch-making change we are experiencing be rich and fruitful in new opportunities. ... More than by our technical resources, necessary though they are, we wish to identify ourselves by inhabiting the [digital] universe with a believing heart which helps to give a soul to the endless flow of communications on the Internet".
And the Holy Father concluded: "This is our mission, the indispensable mission of the Church. The task of all believers who work in the media is that of 'opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence'".
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APPOINTMENTS FOR THE SYNODAL ASSEMBLY ON THE MIDDLE EAST
VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - In view of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, due to take place in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October on the theme "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. 'The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul'", the Holy Father appointed:
- His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, as president delegate "ad honorem".
- His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, as president delegate "ad honorem".
- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as president delegate.
- His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon, as president delegate.
- His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, as relator general.
- Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites, as special secretary.
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OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Fabio Fabene, official of the Congregation for Bishops, as bureau chief of the same congregation.NA/ VIS 20100426 (30)
PRIESTS: REMAIN FAITHFUL TO VOCATION, PRACTICE ASCETICISM
VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope quoted the theme of this year's World Day, "witness awakens vocations", noting how it is "closely linked to the life and mission of priests and of consecrated persons."The first form of witness that awakens vocations is prayer", he added, calling on parents to pray that "their children's hearts may open to listening to the Good Shepherd", because He alone "protects His flock with immense tenderness and defends it from evil, and in Him alone can the faithful place their absolute trust".
The Holy Father continued: "On this day of special prayer for vocations, I particularly encourage ordained ministers, stimulated by the Year for Priests, to feel a commitment 'to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world'; to remember that the priest 'continues the work of redemption on earth'; to pause 'frequently before the tabernacle'; to remain 'completely faithful to their vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism': to make themselves available for listening and forgiveness; to undertake the Christian formation of the people entrusted to their care; and to cultivate 'priestly fraternity'".
After praying the Regina Coeli, Benedict XVI turned his attention to two priests, Angelo Paoli and Jose Tous y Soler, today proclaimed as Blesseds in, respectively, Rome and Barcelona, Spain. The former was an "apostle of charity in Rome, nicknamed the 'father of the poor'. He dedicated himself particularly to sick and convalescent people in the hospital of San Giovanni".
Jose Tous y Soler, founder of the Institute of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, despite numerous trials and difficulties, never allowed himself to be overcome with bitterness or resentment. He stood out for his exquisite charity and his capacity to bear and understand the shortcomings of others", said the Pope.
Finally, he addressed a special greeting to the Italian association "Meter" which "for fourteen years has been promoting a national Day for child victims of violence, exploitation and indifference. On this occasion I particularly want to thank and encourage those who dedicate themselves to prevention and education, especially parents and teachers, and the many priests, nuns, catechists and animators who work with children in parishes, schools and associations".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison C.S.Sp. of Banjul, Gambia, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Fr. Chris Brennan, S.M.A., apostolic administrator of Gbarnga, Liberia, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown and Bo, Sierra Leone, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop Patrick Daniel Koroma of Kenema, Sierra Leone, on his "ad limina" visit.
- Bishop George Biguzzi S.X. of Makeni, Sierra Leone, on his "ad limina" visit.
On Saturday 24 April he received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
SCOTLAND: BISHOPS URGE VOTERS TO CONSIDER FAITH WHEN VOTING
CNA report: In light of the upcoming general election in the United Kingdom next month, Catholic Church leaders in Scotland are hoping to combat “apathy” among voters and are urging the faithful to make their “faith count” at the ballot box.“It is crucially important that apathy is not allowed to win in this election,” said Cardinal Keith O'Brien, president of Scotland's Bishops' Conference, last Thursday. “I hope Catholic voters will make the cross count by quizzing their candidates on the important moral matters which affect us and that they use the resources which the Bishops' Conference has provided to inform themselves on as wide a range of issues as possible.”
The Scottish prelate gave his remarks on the release of a general statement from bishops in Scotland, titled, “Make your faith count!” The election message will be made available to the Catholic faithful in all 500 parishes throughout the country.
Urging Catholics to consider what hangs in the balance this election, the bishops pointed out that the “political choices we face today are not the choices your parents and grandparents faced.”
“They would never have voted for any candidate who refused to protect unborn human life, who supported experimentation on human embryos, or planned to assist unfortunate people to commit suicide. They would never have voted for a candidate who would undermine marriage and family in the way that has happened in recent years with cross-party support. They would never have voted for candidates who rejoiced in same sex unions,” the bishops said.
Continuing the list of recent political decisions unfavorable to Catholics, the Scottish bishops wrote, “They would never have voted for candidates who would stop the Church offering adoption services. They would never have voted for candidates who were clearly hostile to the values they held dear. Your parents and grandparents voted for those they believed shared the same fundamental Christian values as they did. It is for us to do likewise to shape a society where the dignity of each individual and life itself is respected.”
“As Catholics we know the importance of protecting every human life and of the value that married family life gives to society,” the bishops added. “These values were once widely shared but times have changed. Many of those standing for election, of whatever party, do not share our basic principles and values.”
“That is why we say to you: when you vote, make your faith count. Vote with your faith to protect human life; to support marriage and the family; to protect religious freedom; to protect Catholic education. Vote with your faith, and uphold the right of conscience and religious freedom,” the Catholic bishops advocated.
“In urging you to let your faith count at the ballot box, we ask you to think carefully before you cast your vote. Which candidate displays values closest to yours? Which candidate will best respect and protect your religious freedom and your freedom of conscience? Which candidate do you trust most to do a good job for you and your community?”
“As your bishops, it is not our intention to tell you which party to vote for,” the prelates noted. “It is our duty to encourage you to engage with the political process and to vote for the candidate who best represents the values we, like our parents and grandparents before us, hold dear.”
KENYA CHURCHES DISMAYED OVER DRAFT DECISIONS
All Africa report: The Kenya Cabinet has delivered a blow to Churches and politicians opposed to the draft law after ruling out any changes before the referendum.
The decision was reached after a meeting called Tuesday to, among other things, deliberate on efforts to reach a consensus and reviewing the timetable leading to the vote.
"After the review the Cabinet concluded that it was practically impossible at this stage to amend the Constitution of Kenya or Constitution Review Act in order to accommodate concerns expressed by Christian Church leaders and others.
"Consequently, Cabinet agreed to support the draft constitution in its current form," said a statement sent to newsrooms after the meeting chaired by President Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.
However, Cabinet agreed that talks between the government and Church will continue to "accommodate the concerns of the Christian Churches on the issue of abortion and right to life".
If agreement is reached, then such changes will have to go through an Act of Parliament, according to the Cabinet.
The Cabinet decision comes just a day after a meeting scheduled between representatives from the Church and government failed to take off after the latter requested for more time.
The Church objects to the section of Article 26 which empowers doctors to end a pregnancy only if it endangers the woman's life or she needs emergency treatment.
The section reads: "Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger , or if permitted by any other law."
Christian leaders are also opposed to the retention of kadhis' courts in the proposed Constitution under Article 169 and 170, which limit their authority to disputes over personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance, where all the parties are Muslims and agree to take the case to a Kadhi.
Politicians, led by Higher Education minister William Ruto, have vowed to mobilise Kenyans to vote No in the referendum unless consensus is reached on contentious issues.
In particular, the politicians, largely drawn form the Rift Valley, are opposed to provisions in the draft constitution touching on land, devolution and executive.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have already voiced their strong support for the draft, putting them on a collision course with the clique coalescing around Mr Ruto and the Church.
A mini-Cabinet reshuffle last week that saw Mr Ruto removed from the prestigious Agriculture Ministry was interpreted as a move to cut him down to size for his opposition to the draft. However, he has since said that he will not be cowed.
According to the time table leading to the referendum, as set out in the Constitution Review Act 2008 and the Constitution of Kenya, Attorney General Amos Wako has thirty days, once the draft is passed in Parliament, to publish it. Mr Wako is expected to do so on May 6.
Then, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) will have one week to formulate a referendum question that will lead to a Yes or No answer.
It will then set a referendum date and allow time for both sides to carry out their campaigns. According to the law, the referendum cannot be held more than 90 days after the AG publishes the draft. This means that August 6 will be last day that a vote can be held.
CHINA: VICTIMS OF QUAKE ARE IN DIRE NEED OF SUPPLIES & AID
Asia News report: Ten days after the quake, tents, food and other relief supplies are still in great shortage. In many places, supplies are available but have not been handed out or only haphazardly, often without due regard for the elderly and the wounded. Locals talk about the situation. Monks play a crucial role in the rescue and relief efforts.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ten days after the devastating earthquake that rocked Yushu, relief efforts are still ill organised and often inadequate. Many of the homeless are forced to sleep overnight in makeshift shelters in frigid temperatures, at altitudes that average 4,000 metres.
In the city of Jiegu, seat of the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, many victims are still waiting for tents. Among the “lucky” ones who received them, some say they are like decorations.
Vegetable farmer Chen Longgang is one of them. Even though he got a tent from the government (pictured), he told the South China Morning Post, “The tent cannot be assembled at all because the steel joints, which are essential to erect tents, are missing”.
His is not an isolated case—many of the homeless got tents that could not be assembled for lack of parts.
Han Yusheng, the leader of a vegetable farmer co-op in the village, complained about the lack of management skills and co-ordination among various departments involved in disaster relief.
"It is chaotic,” he said. "We have to go to temporary government offices for steel joints”.
By contrast, Beijing stressed its great organisational effort, noting how its truck convoys brought tents, food and other relief supplies over damaged roads. However, many quake survivors complain about the government’s failure to hand out relief supplies fairly, as authorities had promised. Instead, local officials often told survivors “to come back again the next day because they are too busy”.
In Yushu, the distribution of supplies remains chaotic, with people fighting in the streets for rice, flour, instant noodles and yogurt. As one might expect, the young tend to get what they want, whilst the elderly and the injured are often with little or nothing. Indeed, some have complained that many of the homeless got nothing, whilst others were able to stockpile relief supplies in their own homes.
In the village of Burang (Anchong), 110 kilometres south of Jiegu, it was the same story. Baiga, the local village chief, said that more than 800 people had not yet received any relief supplies, whether tents or food, from the government, despite losing everything, including their homes.
Local authorities admitted that they had been overwhelmed by the quake, and that poor management had made matters worse. In some cases, supply trucks were sent to the wrong place, and some areas had not yet received any relief.
The quake was quite devastating for the region’s religious community. About 90 Buddhist monasteries have been damaged, some so badly that they have become unfit for use.
The authorities said that about 8,000 Tibetan monks have become homeless and that repairing the monasteries would be a priority. In the meantime, they are preventing monks from helping in organising relief efforts.
Yushu Prefecture is home to more than 23,000 monks and lamas, living in hundreds of monasteries. Despite obstacles, their action has been crucial in rescue operations, relief distribution and body cremation.
In March 2008, the same area was rocked by anti-Chinese unrest, which was quickly crushed in bloodshed.
ATTENTION TO CAFOD BHP QUERIES
Cath News report: Following the opening of an American investigation into BHP Billiton, fresh attention is being paid to UK Caritas organisation CAFOD allegations that a partner of the mining giant had offered bribes to Filipino community leaders.
The CAFOD comments made in 2008 raised new speculation that there could be lingering issues for BHP from an aborted nickel project in the Philippines, according to a report in The Age.
CAFOD had alleged that BHP's Filipino partner in a nickel joint venture had offered bribes to community leaders to buy support for the project and silence opposition to the mining. CAFOD said that while there was no evidence that BHP was involved, the company had a responsibility to ensure that partners and contractors it had chosen to work with did not partake in bribery or corruption.
BHP Billiton has found itself the subject of an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission into alleged corrupt practises at some of its former projects. These may involve payments said to have been made in Cambodia, according to a Reuters video on The Age.
BHP has so far refused to disclose where the bribery scandal took place. It has not denied widespread reports that it involved a $US1 million payment by the company to the Cambodian government in 2006 to secure bauxite leases, The Age says.
CANADA: STUDENTS WALK FOR LIFE
Pope John Paul II, as part of what he called the New Evangelization, made an impassioned plea for Catholics, especially the young, to promote the dignity and the sanctity of all life. In response to the Holy Father’s call Michael and Jonathan will be walking across Canada, from Vancouver to Ottawa, as part of a Pro-life group called Crossroads. Founded in 1995 by a student at Franciscan University in Ohio, Crossroads is composed of small groups of college students who walk across Canada and the United States to raise awareness for the pro-life cause and work towards ending the tragedy of abortion.
During their 5500 kilometer walk, which will take them almost three months to complete, Michael and Jonathan will pray morning and evening prayer plus 20 decades of the rosary every day, attend daily Mass when possible, speak to Churches and youth groups across the country, and pray in front of abortion clinics in every major city they visit.
It will be the walk of a lifetime but it won’t be without sacrifices. In order to do the walk they will have to forgo their summer jobs and will be unable to meet the costs of their education next year. If you would like to help Jonathan and Michael in their mission, donations may be sent to Michael Hayden (attention: Walk for Life) at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, 18 Karol Wojtyla Square, Box 249, Barry’s Bay, ON K0J 1B0. Donations can also be made online through http://paypal.com/ enter the following email-
POPE AND MARTYR
Feast: April 26
Information: Feast Day: April 26
Born: Rome, Italy
Died: 25 October 304 at Rome, Italy
He succeeded St. Caius in the bishopric of Rome, in 296, about the time that Diocletian set himself up for a deity and impiously claimed divine honours. Theodoret says that in those stormy times of persecution Marcellinus acquired great glory. He sat in St. Peter's chair eight years, three months, and twenty-five days, dying in 304, a year after the cruel persecution broke out, in which he gained much honour. He has been styled a martyr, though his blood was not shed in the cause of religion, as appears from the Liberian Calendar, which places him among those popes that were not put to death for the faith.
It is a fundamental maxim of the Christian morality, and a truth which Christ has established in the clearest terms and in innumerable passages of the gospel, that the cross, or sufferings and mortifications, are the road to eternal bliss. They, therefore, who lead not here a crucified and mortified life are unworthy ever to possess the unspeakable joys of his kingdom. Our Lord himself, our model and our head, walked in this path, and his great apostle puts us in mind that he entered into bliss only by his blood and by the cross. Nevertheless, this is a truth which the world can never understand, how clearly soever it be preached by Christ and recommended by his powerful example and that of his martyrs and of all the saints. Christians still pretend, by the joys and pleasures of this world, to attain to the bliss of heaven, and shudder at the very mention of mortification, penance, or sufferings. So prevalent is this fatal error, which self-love and the example and false maxims of the world strongly fortify in the minds of many, that those who have given themselves to God with the greatest fervour are bound always to stand upon their guard against it, and daily to renew their fervour in the love and practice of penance, and to arm themselves with patience against sufferings, lest the weight of the corruption of our nature, the pleasures of sense, and flattering blandishments of the world, draw them aside and make them leave the path of mortification, or lose courage under its labours, and under the afflictions with which God is pleased to purify them and afford them means of sanctifying themselves.
John 10: 11 - 18
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."