Friday, January 21, 2011



The Pope began his address by referring to the current age, marked, he said, "by profound changes" which "sometimes generate feelings of insecurity, primarily due to the precarious social and economic situation, but sharpened also by a certain diminution in the perception of ethical principles, principles which are the foundation of law and of the individual moral behaviour which gives strength to that law".

He went on: "Our world, with all its new hopes and possibilities, is at the same time affected by the impression that moral consensus is breaking down and that, as a consequence, the basic structures of coexistence are no longer able to function fully. Thus, many people are tempted to think that the forces mobilised to defend civil society are, in the end, destined to fail. Faced with this temptation we - Christians in particular - have the responsibility to rediscover a new resolve in professing our faith and doing good".

The Pope highlighted how "in our day great importance is given to the subjective dimension of existence", noting that this involves "a serious risk because modern thought has developed a reductive view of conscience, according to which there are no objective references in determining what has value and what is true; rather, each individual provides his own measure through his own intuitions and experiences, each possesses his own truth and his own morals. The most evident consequence is that religion and morals tend to be confined to the subjective and private sphere; and faith with its values and its modes of behaviour no longer merits a place in public and civil life. Thus, if on the one hand society gives great importance to pluralism and tolerance, on the other religion tends to become progressively marginalised, considered irrelevant and, in a certain sense, foreign to the public sphere, almost as if it had to limit its influence on the life of man.

"Yet on the contrary", he added, "for us as Christians the true meaning of 'conscience' is man's capacity to recognise truth and, even more so, the possibility he has to hear its call, to seek it and to find it".

"The new challenges emerging on our horizon impose the need for a renewed encounter between God and man. May society and public institutions rediscover their 'soul', their spiritual and moral roots, so as to give a new consistency to their ethical and juridical reference values, and hence to their practical actions. ... The provision of religious and spiritual services which, in accordance with current norms, State and Church ensure is offered to the Police, bears witness to the perennial fruitfulness of this encounter".

The Holy Father concluded his remarks: "The unique vocation of the city of Rome requires that today you, as public officials, should show a good example of positive and profitable interaction between a healthy secularism and the Christian faith. ... Always consider man as an end in himslef, so that everyone may live in an authentically human way. As the bishop of this city of ours, I would like to invite you to read and mediate upon the Word of God, in order to find therein the source and criterion of inspiration for all your actions".

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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace, following a centuries-old tradition, Benedict XVI blessed several lambs whose wool will be used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

In a 1978 document, "Inter Eximina Episcopalis," Pope Paul VI restricted use of the pallium to the Pope and to metropolitan archbishops. In 1984 John Paul II decreed that the pallium would be conferred on the metropolitans on 29 June.

The custom of blessing the lambs takes place every year on the 21 January liturgical memory of St. Agnes, a virgin who suffered martyrdom about the year 305 and whose symbol is a lamb. She is buried in the basilica named after her on the Via Nomentana in Rome, and it is there that the lambs are taken after the papal blessing.

The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains and the palliums are made by the Sisters of St. Cecelia from the newly-shorn wool.

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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.


IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT: A Chaldean Catholic doctor was shot at point-blank range at the Rabi'a hospital in the Sukar district of Mosul on Saturday, in the latest of a series of targeted attacks on Iraqi Christians.

Dr Nuyia Youssif Nuyia, one of the leading heart specialists in the region, was shot by unidentified gunmen who burst into his clinic. The gun had a silencer. Dr Nuyia survived the attack but is said to be in a serious condition. Married, with four children, Dr Nuyia was the private physician of the late Msgr. Faraj Rahho and many priests and religious.

An Iraqi Christian group released a statement complaining of the lack of support from Western countries for efforts to provide security to the religious minority in Iraq. The group charged that "the West denies its Christian roots and is indifferent to all religions," adding that Western observers fail to recognize that "in these Muslim countries 'democracy' means 'chaos.'"


CNA REPORT: Two Catholic bishops in the region of Rio de Janeiro have reported on the arduous work carried out by the Church in response to torrential rains and flooding that have so far left 765 people dead.

According to a Jan. 20 bulletin from the Civil Defense of Rio de Janeiro, the municipality of Nova Friburgo reports 357 deaths, followed by Teresopolis with 323 deaths, Petropolis with 64, and Sumidouro with 21.

Regarding the Church’s efforts to address the tragedy, Bishop Filipo Santoro said the situation is dramatic as there have never been so many deaths in such circumstances. “We cannot stop speaking about the fact that solidarity is being shown everywhere,” the bishop said.

He noted that many churches and schools have opened their doors to those made homeless by the floods. “It is a network of solidarity that can’t be measured. People are seeking the best way to help and that can be done through unity and companionship, as we have done,” he said.

Bishop Edney Gouvea Mattoso of Nova Friburgo said the work of recovering the bodies of victims is difficult but continues to take place. “Our work has been effective in obtaining donations of basic necessities, coats, and in the fraternal and spiritual care for those affected. Many of them were left with only the clothes on their backs and have wandered aimlessly through the streets,” he said.

Some sectors in Nova Friburgo can only be reached by helicopter, he added, warning that while the rescue effort continues, “it is very difficult, especially because damage to roadways is preventing immediate access.”


CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT: The European Parliament has urged governments to do more to protect Christians from persecution.

It said in a resolution addressed to EU institutions: “In some cases, the situation facing Christian communities is such as to endanger their future existence – if they were to disappear, this would entail the loss of a significant part of the religious heritage of the countries concerned.

“We call on the [European] Council, the Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy … to pay increased attention to the subject of freedom of religion or belief and to the situation of religious minorities, including Christians, in agreements and co-operation with third countries as well as in human rights reports.

The document said the December 31 explosion at an Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt, was only one of numerous attacks against Christians in 2010. It cited incidents in Nigeria, Iraq, Philippines, Vietnam and Cyprus.

It added that the EU had stressed the duty of governments to guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and belief and was committed to promoting democracy and respect for human rights and civil liberties as a fundamental aim.

In called on the EU’s foreign ministers to find “instruments to provide security and protection for Christian communities under threat” when they discuss persecution at their meeting on January 31.

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told the European Parliament that any “discrimination or violence” because of religious beliefs violates EU values and should be “taken seriously and condemned with the same force”.

She added that the EU would not “turn a blind eye” to the plight of “long-established Christian communities in the Middle East,” and was “ready to enhance co-operation with governments to combat intolerance and protect human rights”.

“These attacks are unacceptable, perpetrated by extremists with an agenda of intolerance that must be condemned and resisted,” she said. “EU delegations closely monitor such issues around the world, and the EU’s next annual human rights report this spring will address the situation of religious minorities around the world. I am fully committed to keeping freedom of religion or belief at the top of the EU’s agenda.”


CATH NEWS REPORT: The urgency for aged-care reform will not be reduced by the challenge of flood recovery, said the chief executives of Catholic Health Australia and the Council on the Ageing in The Australian.

"Change opportunities come along once every political generation. With the opportunity to fix aged care and put it on a sustainable footing, aged-care consumers and providers are now united about what needs to change and how," wrote Martin Laverty and Ian Yates.

"We're determined not to see this reform opportunity botched, and there is no real reason for the budget deficit to stand in the way.

They said the 20-year plan for aged-care reform recently released by the Productivity Commission "will need debate and deep reading by government, consumers and providers".

"With the commission report prompting the next phase of the aged-care debate, government will likely find that consumers and providers will be able to unite on why change is needed and how change should occur," they wrote.In the interim, Mr Laverty and My Yates "see three main priorities for reform" - providing real service choice to consumers; the aged-care system's complexity and inconsistency; and the "overstretched" system itself.

"This unity of consumers and providers should make the job for the Gillard government in reforming aged care a whole lot easier this year than it was last time in 1997."


Agenzia Fides REPORT – In Swaziland the new school year has just commenced. Among the young faces that populate the classes of this mountainous Country are 140,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC's). “Apart from not having a school uniform, the orphans do not even have warm clothes,” reports a teacher from the Central Primary School in Motshane. Many of these children also come to school on an empty stomach and it is difficult for them to concentrate in class before they get their meal at school during break time. This year there is even more to worry about because principals have refused to accept OVCs back into class. This follows a stand-off between the Swaziland Principals' Association (SWAPA) and the Deputy Prime Minister’s (DPM) office, which is responsible for paying fees for the children. Some schools have already done turned pupils away. This is a setback for Swaziland's pursuit of Universal Primary Education - goal two of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Free Primary Education was supposed to be launched in 2008, but a shortage of funding forced its delay. Finally introduced last year, there has been significant improvement in facilities and staffing for 2011. The government has provided mobile classrooms to many overcrowded schools and also hired more teachers. However, the OVC controversy threatens to overshadow this. One in four Swazis in the age band from 15 to 49 is infected with HIV; the high death rate of people of reproductive age means a huge number of children are now growing up without parents. Aggravating this, about 70 percent of the one million-strong population lives below the poverty line of less than two dollars a day. This makes the question of school fees a significant one. Of the 579 pupils at Ngwenya Central Primary in Mbabane, 239 are orphans or vulnerable children in need of government support to pay fees. At neighbouring Motshane Primary School there are 135 OVCs out of 441 students. For this year, the government is promising to pay only a third of the amount as a first-term deposit. Poverty and the AIDS pandemic threaten to make an early mark on the next generation in this Country.


St. Agnes


Feast: January 21


Feast Day:January 21


Major Shrine::Church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura and the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, both in Rome
Patron of:Betrothed couples; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; gardeners; Girl Scouts; girls; rape victims; virgins

Few legends of saints have been more cherished than that of the virgin martyr Agnes. She was held in high regard by the primitive Christian Church, and her name has remained a symbol of maidenly purity through the ages. According to tradition, Agnes was a Christian girl of Rome, perhaps twelve or thirteen years old, when Diocletian began his persecutions. Like St. Lucy, she was sentenced by a judge to a house of ill fame, but a young man who looked upon her lustfully was stricken blind. Thereafter she was taken out to be burned, but whether she met her death by fire or sword we cannot know with any certainty. Although we have no contemporary sources for the facts of her life and martyrdom, there is little reason to doubt the main outline of the story. References to this young saint appear in many Church writings of later date. St. Ambrose, St. Damasus, and Prudentius all praise her purity and heroism. Her name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Agnes' crypt was in the Via Nomentana, and the stone covering her remains was carven with the words, (most holy lamb). A church in her honor is presumed to have been built at Rome in the time of Constantine the Great. In the apse of this basilica, which was rebuilt in the seventh century by Pope Honorius, there is still to be seen the large and beautiful mosaic depicting the saint. St. Agnes is the patroness of young girls and her symbol is, naturally, a lamb. On the anniversary of her martyrdom, the Pope, after high pontifical Mass in her church at Rome, blesses two lambs, and their wool is later woven into the worn by archbishops.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: JAN. 21: MARK 3: 13- 19

Mark 3: 13 - 19
13And he went up on the mountain, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him.
14And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach
15and have authority to cast out demons:
16Simon whom he surnamed Peter;
17James the son of Zeb'edee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Bo-aner'ges, that is, sons of thunder;
18Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean,
19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

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