Wednesday, September 8, 2010







VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS REPORT) - In his general audience, held this morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to a subject he began last week, that of St. Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century German Benedictine religious "who distinguished herself for her spiritual wisdom and the sanctity of her life".

Referring to the mystical visions the saint received throughout her life, the Holy Father highlighted how "they were rich in theological content. They referred to the main events of the history of salvation and use a Mainly poetic and symbolic language. For example, in her best known work entitled 'Scivias' ('Know the Ways') she summarised the events of the history of salvation in thirty-five visions, from the creation of the world to the end of time. ... In the central part of her work she develops the theme of the mystical marriage between God and humankind which came about in the Incarnation".

"Even in this brief outline", Benedict XVI went on, "we see how theology can receive a special contribution from women, because they are capable of speaking of God and of the mysteries of the faith with their specific intelligence and sensitivity". In this context he encouraged all women "who undertake this service to do so with a profound ecclesial spirit, nourishing their reflections with prayer and looking to the great riches - still partly unexplored - of the mediaeval mystical tradition, especially as represented by such shining examples as Hildegard of Bingen".

Turning his attention to other writings by the saint, the Pope recalled how "two are particularly important because, like 'Scivias', they contain her mystical visions. They are the 'Liber vitae meritorum' (Book of Life's Merits) and the 'Liber divinorum operum' (Book of Divine Works) which is also known by the name of 'De operatione Dei'. The former ... underscores the profound relationship between man and God and reminds us that all creation, of which man is the apex, receives life from the Trinity. ... In the second work, considered by many to be her masterpiece, she again describes creation in its relationship with God and the centrality of man, revealing a powerful biblical-patristic kind of Christocentrism".

Hildegard was also interested in "medicine and the natural sciences, as well as music", said the Holy Father. "For her, all of creation was a symphony of the Holy Spirit, Who is in Himself joy and contentment".

"Hildegard's popularity led many people to consult her. ... Monastic communities, both male and female, as well as bishops and abbots all sought her guidance. And many of her answers remain valid, even for us", said the Pope.

"With the spiritual authority she possessed, in the last years of her life Hildegard began to travel. ... She was considered to be a messenger sent by God, in particular calling monastic communities and clergy to a life in conformity with their vocation. Hildegard especially opposed the German Cathar movement. The Cathars - their name literally means 'pure' - supported radical reform of the Church, principally to combat clerical abuses. She reprimanded them fiercely, accusing them of wanting to subvert the very nature of the Church and reminding them that the true renewal of the ecclesial community is not obtained by changing structures so much as by a sincere spirit of penance and a fruitful journey of conversion. This is a message we must never forget".

The Pope concluded: "Let us always invoke the Holy Spirit that He may bring saintly and courageous women to the Church, like St. Hildegard of Bingen, who using the gifts received from God, may make their precious and specific contribution to the spiritual growth of our communities".

VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo the Holy Father attended a performance of Mozart's Requiem played by the Symphony Orchestra of Padua and Veneto, and the "Accademia della voce" Choir of Turin, conducted by Claudio Desideri.

At the end of the concert, one of a number of such initiatives to mark the fifth anniversary of his pontificate, the Pope expressed his thanks to the musicians and singers, reaffirming his particular affection for Mozart whose music, he said, reminded him of his parish church when, as a child, during Mass "I felt that a ray of the beauty of heaven had touched my heart. I feel the same each time, including today, I listen to this great, dramatic and serene meditation upon death.

"In Mozart", the Holy Father added, "everything is in perfect harmony, each note, each musical phrase. ... Even opposites are reconciled and... 'Mozartian serenity' envelopes everything at all times. This is a gift of the Grace of God, but also the fruit of Mozart's own living faith which - especially in his sacred music - manages to reveal the shining response of divine Love which brings hope even when human life is beset by suffering and death".

Recalling the last letter Mozart wrote to his dying father, in which the composer affirmed that death did not frighten him and thanked God for the opportunity of recognising therein the key to happiness, Benedict XVI affirmed: "That letter expresses a profound and simple faith, which also emerges in the great prayer of the Requiem and which, at the same time, leads us to love the vicissitudes of earthly life intensely, as gifts of God, and to rise above them, contemplating death serenely as the 'key' that opens the door to everlasting happiness".The Holy Father concluded: "Mozart's Requiem is an exalted expression of faith, one that knows the tragic nature of human life and does not remain silent before its dramatic aspects; thus it is an expression of Christian faith, aware that all of man's life is illuminated by the love of God".


VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - During today's general audience, Benedict XVI read an English-language message for his forthcoming visit to the United Kingdom, due to take place from 16 to 19 September.

"I am very much looking forward to my visit to the United Kingdom in a week's time and I send heartfelt greetings to all the people of Great Britain. I am aware that a vast amount of work has gone into the preparations for the visit, not only by the Catholic community but by the Government, the local authorities in Scotland, London and Birmingham, the communications media and the security services, and I want to say how much I appreciate the efforts that have been made to ensure that the various events planned will be truly joyful celebrations. Above all I thank the countless people who have been praying for the success of the visit and for a great outpouring of God's grace upon the Church and the people of your nation.

"It will be a particular joy for me to beatify the Venerable John Henry Newman in Birmingham on Sunday 19 September. This truly great Englishman lived an exemplary priestly life and through his extensive writings made a lasting contribution to Church and society both in his native land and in many other parts of the world. It is my hope and prayer that more and more people will benefit from his gentle wisdom and be inspired by his example of integrity and holiness of life.

"I look forward to meeting representatives of the many different religious and cultural traditions that make up the British population, as well as civil and political leaders. I am most grateful to Her Majesty the Queen and to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for receiving me, and I look forward to meeting them. While I regret that there are many places and people I shall not have the opportunity to visit, I want you to know that you are all remembered in my prayers. God bless the people of the United Kingdom!"


VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Following his general audience this morning, the Holy Father received members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The meeting marked the sixtieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, which "commits member States of the Council of Europe to promote and defend the inviolable dignity of the human person".

Speaking English, Benedict XVI referred to the topics on the parliamentary assembly's agenda, such as "persons who live in particularly difficult situations or are subjected to grave violations of their dignity". He made particular mention of "people afflicted with handicaps, children who suffer violence, immigrants, refugees, those who pay the most for the present economic and financial crisis, those who are victims of extremism or of new forms of slavery such as human trafficking, the illegal drug trade and prostitution, ... victims of warfare and people who live in fragile democracies". The Pope also dwelt on the organisation's efforts "to defend religious freedom and to oppose violence and intolerance against believers in Europe and worldwide.

"Keeping in mind the context of today's society in which different peoples and cultures come together", he added, "it is imperative to develop the universal validity of these rights as well as their inviolability, inalienability and indivisibility. On different occasions I have pointed out the risks associated with relativism in the area of values, rights and duties. If these were to lack an objective rational foundation, common to all peoples, and were based exclusively on particular cultures, legislative decisions or court judgements, how could they offer a solid and long-lasting ground for supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe? ... How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values, rights and stable, universal principles understood in the same way by all member States of the Council of Europe?"

He went on: "These values, rights and duties are rooted in the natural dignity of each person, something which is accessible to human reasoning. The Christian faith does not impede, but favours this search, and is an invitation to seek a supernatural basis for this dignity".

The Holy Father concluded by expressing his conviction that "these principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death, with marriage - rooted in the exclusive and indissoluble gift of self between one man and one woman - and freedom of religion and education, are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents".


VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue today released an English-language communique describing its "great concern at the news of the proposed 'Koran Burning Day' on the occasion of the anniversary of the 11 September tragic terrorist attacks in 2001 which resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and considerable material damage.

"These deplorable acts of violence, in fact, cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community. Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection. We are speaking about the respect to be accorded the dignity of the person who is an adherent of that religion and his/her free choice in religious matters."The reflection which necessarily should be fostered on the occasion of the remembrance of 11 September would be, first of all, to offer our deep sentiments of solidarity with those who were struck by these horrendous terrorist attacks. To this feeling of solidarity we join our prayers for them and their loved ones who lost their lives.

"Each religious leader and believer is also called to renew the firm condemnation of all forms of violence, in particular those committed in the name of religion. Pope John Paul II affirmed: 'Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions' (address to the new ambassador of Pakistan, 16 December 1999). His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI similarly expressed, 'violence as a response to offences can never be justified, for this type of response is incompatible with the sacred principles of religion' (address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, to the new ambassador of Morocco, 6 February 2006)".


VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Barbara Jatta as curator of prints at the Vatican Apostolic Library.


Asia News report: Her labourer husband took out a loan to have his sick father undergo medical treatment. Muslim landlord who owns the debt now wants repayment; to achieve his goal, he threatened and insulted the family, calling them “lowlife” who “will always be our slave” because “We Muslims are superior to any other religion.” Initially, police refused to intervene and file a complaint about the abduction.
Kasur (AsiaNews) – A group of Muslims abducted a Christian woman, mother of two, because her husband failed to repay a loan he had contracted because of his poverty. The Muslim creditor threatened to seize his wife and children and use them as slaves if the debt was not paid in time. Two days ago, he, his children and other family members organised a sit-in (pictured) demanding that police intervene, but so far, it has failed to lift one finger to free the woman. The incident occurred in Fatehpuh Kasur (Kasur District), about 100 kilometres from Punjab’s capital Lahore.
The town is home to Ejaz Masih, his wife Sana, their two children and his parents. He works as labourer in the fields, whilst his wife works as a maid. Both are working hard to give their children an education.
Last July, Muhammad Nawaz Randhawa sold his fields to Chaudhry Ilyas Tiwana, who inherited all the labourers as well.
Earlier, Ejaz Masih had asked Randhawa for a loan to pay for his father’s medical treatment. After Randhawa told Tiwana about the loan, the latter summer Ejaz on 15 August to tell him that he had two weeks to repay it, “otherwise you will work my fields for the rest of your life, together with your family”. What is more, “We’ll come and take your wife and children to work for us as slaves. You have no choice [but pay]. Do dare not tell anyone; or else, you’ll be responsible for the consequences,” he added. “You are lowlife and will always be our slave. We Muslims are superior to any other religion.” After he was thrown out of the landlord’s home, Ejaz went home where he told his wife and parents about the incident. “My wife said we should contact police and the authorities because we could not let anyone take our children to be their slaves,” Ejaz told AsiaNews.

“I told her that those people were very influential and that they would kill us if we contacted police. My parents told me to send my children to the house of an uncle, for protection, which we did.”

“Last Friday,” Ejaz went on to say, “around 5 am, seven to eight people with weapons came to take away my wife. They threatened us with their weapons. I tried to stop them, but they threw me to the ground and beat my father.”

When his mother called for help, neighbours came out but no one tried to stop the kidnappers. His brother, Javed, contacted police, but they refused to register the complaint.

On Monday, Ejaz, his parents, children and brother protested in front of the Fatehpuh Kasur Press Club, demanding justice and his wife’s release.

Despite many attempts and requests, Tiwana was unavailable to make any comment about the incident.

Following the protest, Senior House Officer Malik Babar said, “We are aware of the matter and we will arrest the culprits.”

However, the district coordination officer said he had no information about any such incident, but “I will instruct police to take the necessary action in this regard.”,-mother-of-two,-abducted-and-forced-into-slavery-because-of-debt-19407.html


Cath News report: The Church has donated 48 hectares of land to Carteret Islanders whose homeland off Papua New Guinea is dfisappearing under a rising sea.

About 1700 Carteret Islanders - more than half the population - must evacuate to Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, in the face of the rising water level.

A fundraising event initiated by Brisbane Sister of Mercy, Wendy Flannery, aims to support the Tulele Peisa organisation that supports the displaced islanders, says a report in The Catholic Leader.

Sr Flannery, who has worked around the Pacific Islands region for more than 20 years, said proceeds from the event, to be held at the Irish Club in Brisbane on September 15, would go to the organisation run by Carteret Islander Ursula Rakova.

Tulele Peisa plans to relocate 1700 Carteret Islanders voluntarily, 10 families at a time, to three safe and secure locations on mainland Bougainville over the next 10 years.

"The name Tulele Peisa ("sailing the waves on our own") is most appropriate - its vision is to help the community members maintain their cultural identity and live sustainably and independently wherever they are," Sr Flannery said.

Ursula Rakova moved listeners to tears when she visited Brisbane in 2007 to speak of her people's plight.

Sr Flannery said the Church at Bougainville had donated an area of land at Tinputz and was willing to consider a second land grant "once the first group of houses are built and families resettled".

The September 15 event, starting at 6.30pm, will feature a short film, a presentation by Ms Rakova, and music and dance performances.
For more information or to make a donation phone Sr Wendy Flannery at (07) 3350 5802 or email


CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: World Prepares for Saint's 200th Birthday
The relics of St. John Bosco will arrive Saturday in San Francisco to begin the U.S. and Canadian segments of a worldwide tour.The relics have been traveling worldwide in preparation for Don Bosco's 200th birthday celebration, which will take place in 2015.

(ZN)The relics of St. John Bosco will arrive Saturday in San Francisco to begin the U.S. and Canadian segments of a worldwide tour.

The relics have been traveling worldwide in preparation for Don Bosco's 200th birthday celebration, which will take place in 2015.

On Sept. 19, the relics -- bones and tissue from the right hand and arm that have been placed in a wax replica of the saint's body -- will be brought to New Orleans.

The pilgrimage will then take the relics through Florida: St. Petersburg, Belle Glade and Miami.

The tour will continue in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, where the faithful can venerate the saint at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Two days later, the pilgrimage continues in New York, with events that include a youth rally and a Mass with Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Chicago will see the relics on Oct. 2, before the pilgrimage crosses the border into Canada to arrive in Toronto by Oct. 5.

From there, the tour will go to Montreal and finally to Surrey, British Columbia.

A Web site has been created for the "Don Bosco Among Us" pilgrimage, which offers a theme song and a store for commemorative items.

In its worldwide tour, which started Jan. 31, 2009 in Turin, Italy, the reliquary has traveled to Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Mexico.

It will visit 130 countries before the pilgrimage is over.

St. John Bosco is the founder of the Salesians, who serve as educators for the poor worldwide. He is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and laborers.


Agenzia Fides REPORT – The new pastoral year 2010/2011 in the Archdiocese of Czestochowa, upon the initiative of Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak, will be dedicated in particular to two initiatives: the Pilgrimage of the Cross and Evangelizing Missions. The missions, to be held in every parish of the Archdiocese, will be devoted to the Bible and the Cross. "The missions will be a renewal of the grace of fidelity to the Cross of Christ in the faithful,” wrote Archbishop Nowak in his letter to the faithful. “They will be an opportunity to gain the spiritual strength to stand faithfully with Mary under the Cross of Jesus, to give a true witness to the Cross and defend the Cross in our personal, family, and social life." Along with the missions, there will also be a Pilgrimage of the Cross containing a relic of the True Cross.


ALL Africa report: After 21 days of strike, hundreds of thousands of South African public sector workers have returned to work.
However, this is only a suspension of the strike, civil servants' unions said, refusing the government's offer to increase employee salaries 7.5 percent and give a grant of 800 rands to cover housing costs. The unions demanded a wage increase of 8.6 percent and a 1,000 rands in housing subsidy.

According to Fides, the unions have given themselves 21 days to finalize an agreement in principle with its members to end the dispute over wages that has caused massive disruption of public services. The union protest has paralyzed schools and hospitals, particularly amongst the poorest families who cannot afford private transport.

There were also incidents of violence to prevent workers who do not join the strike from going to work. In some cases, even the hospitalized were left unattended. It is a situation that has caused deep concern in the Catholic Church of South Africa.

To overcome the lack of personnel, the government sent 4,000 soldiers into the country's 62 public hospitals to provide medical assistance, security, and cleaning.


The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Feast: September 8
Information: Feast Day: September 8

The present Feast forms a link between the New and the Old Testament. It shows that Truth succeeds symbols and figures and that the New Covenant replaces the Old. Hence, all creation sings with joy, exults, and participates in the joy of this day.... This is, in fact, the day on which the Creator of the world constructed His temple; today is the day on which by a stupendous project a creature becomes the preferred dwelling of the Creator" (Saint Andrew of Crete).

"Let us celebrate with joy the birth of the Virgin Mary, of whom was born the Sun of Justice.... Her birth constitutes the hope and the light of salvation for the whole world.... Her image is light for the whole Christian people" (From the Liturgy).

As these texts so clearly indicate, an atmosphere of joy and light pervades the Birth of the Virgin Mary.

1. Historical Details about the Feast

The origin of this Feast is sought in Palestine. It goes back to the consecration of a church in Jerusalem, which tradition identifies as that of the present basilica of St. Ann.

At Rome the Feast began to be kept toward the end of the 7th century, brought there by Eastern monks. Gradually and in varied ways it spread to the other parts of the West in the centuries that followed. From the 13th century on, the celebration assumed notable importance, becoming a Solemnity with a major Octave and preceded by a Vigil calling for a fast. The Octave was reduced to a simple one during the reform of St. Pius X and was abolished altogether under the reform of Pius XII in 1955. The present Calendar characterizes the Birth of Mary as a "Feast," placing it on the same plane as the Visitation.

For some centuries now, the Birth has been assigned to September 8 both in the East and in the West, but in ancient times it was celebrated on different dates from place to place. However, when the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (which has a later origin than that of the Birth) was extended to the whole Church, the Birth little by little became assigned everywhere to September 8: nine months after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

2. At the Heart of Salvation

As we know, the Gospels have not transmitted to us anything about the birth of the Virgin Mary. Their attention is completely centered on the mystery of Christ and His salvific mission.

The birth of Mary is recounted by the Protevangelium of James (5:2), an apocryphal writing from the end of the 2nd century. Subsequent tradition is based on this account.

The description - although in the manner of an apocryphal document - obviously presents an important historical event: the birth of the Mother of the Lord.

But the problem that concerns us here is the significance of this event. In the case of all the Saints, the Church commemorates their birthday on the day of their return to the Lord. However, in the cases of St. John the Baptizer and the Blessed Virgin, it also celebrates the day of their earthly birth. This is a singular fact already emphasized in ancient times, for example, by Paschasius Radbertus (d. about 859).

The reason for this fact is not found primarily in the greatness or the privileges of the persons involved but in the singular mission that was theirs in the History of Salvation. In this light, the birth of the Blessed Virgin is considered to be - like that of John the Baptizer - in direct relationship with the coming of the Savior of the world. Thus, the birth and existence of Marysimilar to and even more than those of the Baptizer - take on a significance that transcends her own person. It is explained solely in the context of the History of Salvation, connected with the People of God of the Old Covenant and the New. Mary's birth lies at the confluence of the two Testaments - bringing to an end the stage of expectation and the promises and inaugurating the new times of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ.

Mary, the Daughter of Zion and ideal personification of Israel, is the last and most worthy representative of the People of the Old Covenant but at the same time she is "the hope and the dawn of the whole world." With her, the elevated Daughter of Zion, after a long expectation of the promises, the times are fulfilled and a new economy is established (LG 55).

The birth of Mary is ordained in particular toward her mission as Mother of the Savior. Her existence is indissolubly connected with that of Christ: it partakes of a unique plan of predestination and grace. God's mysterious plan regarding the incarnation of the Word embraces also the Virgin who is His Mother. In this way, the Birth of Mary is inserted at the very heart of the History of Salvation.

3. Christological Orientations

The Biblical readings of the Feast have a clear Christological- salvific orientation that forms the backdrop for contemplating the figure of Mary.

Micah 5:1-4a. The Prophet announces the coming of the Lord of Israel who will come forth from Bethlehem of Judah. The Mother of the Messiah, presented as one about to give birth, will give life to the prince and pastor of the house of David who will bring justice and peace. She will work with the Messiah to bring forth a new people.

Romans 8.28-30. This passage does not speak directly about Mary but about the believer justified by the grace of Christ and gifted with the indwelling of the Spirit. He or she has been chosen and called from all eternity to share Christ's life and glory. This is true in a privileged manner for Mary, Spouse and Temple of the Holy Spirit, Mother of God's Son, and intimately united with Him in a Divine plan of predestination and grace. Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23. The meaning of this seemingly and genealogy is theologically profound: to place Jesus, the MessiahLord, within the dynastic tree of His people. He is a descendant, and in fact "the descendant," of Abraham (cf. Gal 3:16) and the Patriarchs in accord with the promises, and He is the semi-heir of the Prophets. The ring that united Christ with His people is Mary, Daughter of Zion and Mother of the Lord.

The virginity stressed by the Gospel text is the sign of the Divine origin of the Son and of the absolute newness that now breaks forth in the history of human beings.

The Christological-salvific purpose and tone dominate not only the Bible readings but also the Eucharistic Celebration and the Liturgy of the Hours.

It has been observed that, although the texts of this Feast's celebration are less rich than those of other Marian feasts, they do have one outstanding characteristic: "The number of themes is rather restricted, [but] there are extremely numerous invitations to joy" (J. Pascher).

Indeed, joy pervades the whole of this Feast's liturgy. If many "will rejoice" at the birth of the precursor (cf. Lk 1:14), a much greater joy is stirred up by the birth of the Mother of the Savior. Hence, this is a Feast that serves as a prelude to the "joy to all people" brought about by the Birth of the Son of God at Christmas and expressed by the singing of hymns and carols.

Added to this theme of joy on this Marian Feast is that of light because with Mary's birth the darkness is dispersed and there rises in the world the dawn that announces the Sun of Justice, Christ the Lord.  
TODAY'S GOSPEL: Matthew 1: 18 - 23

Matthew 1: 18 - 23
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;
19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;
21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).