Sunday, February 13, 2011









VATICAN RADIO REPORT- Pope Benedict during his Sunday Angelus spoke of four Roma, or gypsy, children who died in a fire last week in Rome. The three boys and one girl ranging in age between 4 and 11 died when their tiny shack was consumed in flames in an unauthorized encampment on the outskirts of the city.

The Holy Father said the incident forces us to ask ourselves whether a society more united and fraternal, more consistent in love - that is, more Christian – could not have avoided such a tragic event.

He said this question applies to many other painful situations, less or more well-known, that occur every day in our cities and our countries.

The Holy Father’s remarks came during his discourse on the Gospel of the day, which was the Sermon on the Mount.


AGENZIA FIDES REPORT-“The celebrations went on all night and this morning the situation is quite calm,” Fr Luciano Verdoscia, a Comboni missionary who works in Cairo tells Fides, following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. “There are still demonstrators in Tahrir Square. I immagine that the celebrations will continue on today,” said the missionary. Regarding the immediate future for Egypt he says, “we need to see how the economy will respond, given that it has taken a hiding during these days of protests. We will see how the authorities re-establish security. If the army is able to restabilise security effectively, the tourism sector may take up its activities again.
“Tourism has come to a complete standstill. The hotels are empty. Restaurants and bars which are usually full of tourists are closed and some have even been looted. Tourism is one of the most important sectors for the economy, together with the tolls for crossing the Suez Canal and the oil and gas sector,” said Fr Luciano. “In terms of food, Egypt produces fruit and vegetables, so at least there is still some food security.”
Egypt is currently ruled by the military, by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Fr Luciano Fides relays to Fides his impressions gathered in Tahrir Square: “On the transition into the hands of the military, I have heard various things. Some fear that the Minister for Defence, Tantawi, who has shown a certain reluctance for reform, may impose a crackdown, after the protesters have left the streets. Others rather, are confident that the army can lead the Country through the transition to democracy, because according to them, the army has not been contaminated by the corruption of the regime. However I do not know how true this is. One thing is certain: the army was reorganized by the United States, which subsidizes it with one and a half billion dollars a year, not counting the hundreds of instructors and technicians sent to Egypt for training the local armed forces.”
Finally, regarding how the U.S. is seen by the protesters, the missionary reports: “The United States has been the subject of negative slogans, both from one side and the other. One of the slogans shouted by the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, was 'Mubarak servant of Israel and America'. Instead, the pro-Mubarak protesters accuse the U.S. of being responsible for the revolution and of supporting the revolutionary movement.”



Catholics need to study Marian doctrines more closely, says bishop

The inauguration of the Church of England General Synod last month (Photo: PA wire)

Auxiliary Bishop George Stack of Westminster has told the Church of England General Synod that Catholics as well as Anglicans need to study Marian doctrine more closely.

He was speaking before a Synod debate on the 2005 Anglican-Catholic statement on Mary, entitled Mary Grace and Hope in Christ.

The statement has been controversial among some Anglicans who do not feel it represents their views on the Virgin Mary.

But Bishop Stack said questions raised by the 2005 statement were “equally legitimate for Catholics as they are for Anglicans”.

He pointed out that John Paul II himself said that Mary was “one of the areas in need of fuller study before a true consensus of faith can be achieved”.

The 2005 Anglican-Catholic document, he said, was never an “authoritative declaration” but was meant to provoke further discussion.

The bishop said he “welcomed” the recent critical study of the document issued by the Faith and Order Advisory Group of the Church of England.

But he suggested that some of the essays placed too much weight on what individual Church Fathers had said, arguing: “Contrast the conviction of John Henry Newman that ‘it is not the assertion of an individual Father of the Church that carries weight, but their common testimony by which they witness to an apostolic tradition’ with the weight placed in some essays that individual Fathers had dissenting views on the sinlessness, virginity and obedience of Mary.”

The bishop also said that the proclamation of the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, in 1854 and 1950 respectively, should be viewed in their historical context.

Bishop Stack said: “A changing understanding of sin and the need for redemption when these truths were under attack from an atheistic and reductionist politique was certainly an influence on Pius IX in his proclamation of the Immaculate Conception.

“The doctrine of the Assumption in 1950 might be viewed in the context of a totalitarian crushing of the dignity of the human person by Fascist and Communist regimes.”


“Many of you will remember the extraordinary scenes in Rome at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005. Among his many strong, identifiable, rock like characteristics was his devotion to Mary, Theotokos, Mother of God, God Bearer. He caused consternation when he became Pope and broke the rules of heraldry by insisting on having the letter “M” on his Papal coat of arms instead of an heraldic device. He regularly referred to his Episcopal motto as a sign of his devotion to Mary “Totus Tuus” — Totally Yours.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was this Pope who was noted for his devotion to Mary who wrote in his document on Church Unity “Ut Unum Sint” in 1995: …. “the Virgin Mary, as Mother of God and Icon of the Church …. is one of the areas in need of fuller study before a true consensus of faith can be achieved”.

Was this not one purpose of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission’s work which began in 1970? Its latest phase concluded in 2005 with the Seattle Agreement “Mary Grace and Hope in Christ”. The subject of Mary had been addressed once before, in the ARCIC statement on Authority in the Church in 1981. The fact that Mary found a place in the theological and historical minefields of the document on Authority, and not just in devotional literature, is an indication of her important role in understanding how the salvation achieved by Jesus Christ is communicated to each individual believer and also to the community of the Church as a whole. This was the deliberate intention of the Second Vatican Council when it placed its reflections on the role of Mary in the unfolding plan of salvation in the document on The Church “Lumen Gentium”. It is in that context that I would like to reflect with you on the Seattle Agreement document “Mary, Grace and Hope in Christ” published jointly by the Anglican Communion and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in Rome.

The authors give the purpose and status of this document quite clearly in their introduction: “The authorities have allowed this statement to be published so that it may be widely discussed. It is not an authoritative declaration by the Roman Catholic Church, or by the Anglican Communion, who will study and evaluate the document in due course”.

“Study and evaluate the document in due course”: is this very far removed from those words of Pope John Paul I quoted earlier: “The study of Mary is one of the areas in need of fuller study before a true consensus of faith can be achieved”? The Seattle statement itself seeks to do this when it says “In framing this statement, we have drawn on the scriptures and common tradition which predates the Reformation and Counter Reformation …. At the same time, we have had to face squarely dogmatic definitions which are integral to the faith of Roman Catholics but largely foreign to the faith of Anglicans”.

The sentence which brought joy to my heart said “We have sought to embrace one another’s way of doing theology” because it invites each of our communities to move away from static historical positions. Using the tools of biblical language, theological methods and even devotional life to seek to understand how the living faith of the Church is moulded by our understanding of the place of Mary in the Mystery of Faith, the saving action of Jesus her Son.

That is why, as a Catholic bishop, I welcome the properly “critical” nature of the series of essays by the Faith and Order Group of the Church of England. The neuralgic points of the Catholic doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary are examined in those essays through the eyes of scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the place of Tradition and now the authority of the Magisterium is exercised by the Pope and Bishops. I realise that these are all loaded words. John Paul’s “fuller study before a true consensus of faith is found” needs to engage critically with the evangelical conviction that the sinlessness of Mary somehow removes her from the need of the whole human race for salvation, makes her somehow “less” of a human being is focused on the text from Romans 3:23 (all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God). Realised eschatology is the creative tool which explores this seeming conflict when applied to the two Marian doctrines. The status of Tradition in interpreting the scriptures, and whether it diminishes or distorts the primacy of the Word of God is a legitimate evangelical concern. Contrast the conviction of John Henry Newman that “it is not the assertion of an individual Father of the Church that carries weight, but their common testimony by which they witness to an apostolic tradition” with the weight placed in some essays that individual Fathers had dissenting views on the sinlessness, virginity and obedience of Mary. The doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary may sometimes seem to distort or misunderstand the role of Jesus as the unique mediator between God and the human race. An example of such a distortion would be the development of a theology which places her as an intercessor by the side of her Son.

And the degree to which these dogmas and their teaching on virginity, sinlessness and obedience in the life of Mary have affected an understanding and role of women in the life of the church mentioned in the Faith and Order Group Response need to be explored in the historical context in which the dogmas were proclaimed. A changing understanding of sin and the need for redemption when these truths were under attack from an atheistic and reductionist politique was certainly an influence on Pius IX in his proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. The doctrine of the Assumption in 1950 might be viewed in the context of a totalitarian crushing of the dignity of the human person by Fascist and Communist regimes.

These questions raised by a study of Mary Grace and Hope in Christ are equally legitimate for Catholics as they are for Anglicans in an exploration and explanation of the two doctrines on Our Lady and the light they shine on her life and the whole drama of salvation as lived out in and through the Church. Today’s debate is even more significant in the light of last week’s announcement that the third phase of the ARCIC dialogue will begin in May on the subject of “The Church as Communion – Local and Universal”.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The initiative includes the planting of 112,500 trees on an area 75 hectares and involves three villages. Among the supporters, the archbishop of Semarang: The environment is a "pressing problem" for the economy and population growth. To date over 50 thousand already grafted shrubs.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - An environmental restoration project on the slopes of Mount Merapi - theatre last October of a series of eruptions - which involves the planting of more than 110 thousand trees in an area about 75 hectares, over three villages . This is the initiative launched by an Indonesian inter-faith forum, made up of Christians and Muslims, which has enthusiastically joined the local youth movement. Among the supporters is Mgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Pr, Archbishop of Semarang, who defines the preservation of a "pressing problem" for the economy and population growth.

The project originated on the slopes of Mount Merapi, located on the border area between the provinces of Central Java and Yogyakarta, it is important for two reasons: it aims to qualify the area hit by a series of volcanic eruptions, which caused death and devastation in October and November. It will also promote joint initiatives between Christians and Muslims in the name of multiculturalism and brotherhood, with the involvement of young people. "A month after installation as bishop of Semarang and three months after the volcanic eruption of Merapi - said Mgr. Pujasumarta - I received an invitation from a group called PALM, formed by inter-religious leaders of central Java, to support projects of reforestation of areas affected by the lava flow. "

The group name is an acronym of the Indonesian slogan "Penghijauan Area Lereng Merapi " - the regeneration of the slopes of Mount Merapi, through reforestation programs - and is supported by numerous organizations that promote interfaith dialogue. Among others Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) - the world's largest moderate Muslim country - of Yogyakarta, the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, Catholic scientists and biologists, and university professors are participating.

The reforestation project covers an area of 75 hectares, including three villages situated on the slopes of the volcano. "We want to plant at least 112,500 trees," said the archbishop, of which 51,750 have already been grafted and that 85,875 will be provided by other donors. "The preservation of the environment - continues the archbishop - is an urgent matter to be encouraged, in addition to restoring the economy of the local population and a sustainable environmental ecosystem."

All participants involved in the project at the end of the meetings loudly sing the national anthem and recite prayers of Indonesia following the instructions of the leaders of the interfaith movement. Fr.Aloys Budipurnomo Pr, head of the interreligious commission for the Archdiocese of Semarang, underlines the enthusiastic support of the project by local youths, "a source of hope - the religious states – we are planting the seed of brotherhood among the young activists of all faiths, thanks to this project".

The initiative for reforestation of the slopes of Mount Merapi follows in the footsteps of a project begun last December by a Xaverian priest, Fr Rodolfo Cyrus, who with the help of groups and institutions promoted the reconstruction of an irrigation system destroyed by the lava flow.


Agenzia Fides REPORT – The Mexican Senator, at the request of the Federal Government and the state of Oaxaca, is prepared to act with all necessary measures to safeguard the physical integrity of Father Alejandro Solalinde, a measure that had been sought for some time. The Mexican town of Ixtepec is in fact becoming famous globally because the media have learnt about the work of Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra at the home for pilgrims without documents, known as “Hermanos del camino”. This commitment, which has received much criticism, has become a unique example in defending the Central American migrants who have to travel almost all of Mexico on their journey to the United States of America.
Many of these migrants were seized by drug gangs who use them as runners to bring drugs into the United States, or to act, under threat of death, as hit men in the struggle between criminal groups and Mexican cartels to maintain control of the territories for the sale of drugs. Precisely because of this continual violation of human rights Father Solalinde has repeatedly raised his voice, managing to attract the attention of many, and receiving threats and intimidation (see Fides 03/01/2011).
In recent days Fr Solalinde has been disappointed by the fact that the Mexican Government and other Central American countries have given up interest in the problem rather than implementing measures to put an end to the kidnappings and criminal extortion. According to statements by the priest to the local press, the Mexican government can not seek only to “clean up the country's image”, but must fight crime, because we can not deny that these crimes are happening in Mexico. Father Alejandro Solalinde is also the Pastoral Care Coordinator for human mobility in the South Pacific region.


CATH NEWS REPORT: Cairns and Townsville church properties have come through Cyclone Yasi in remarkably good condition - despite Cairns bearing the brunt of the category 5 cylcone's ferocity, said a report in the Catholic Leader.

Schools and churches around Tully and Silkwood in the Cairns diocese have reported some damage.

Cairns diocese Catholic Education Services communication officer Andrea Gregory said this was mainly to guttering, fencing, signage and water in classrooms although there was some relatively minor structural damage in a couple of instances.

She said St Clare's School, Tully, and St John's School, Silkwood, which had been amongst the most hard-hit schools, were aiming to open on Monday, February 14.

Townsville diocese Catholic Education communications officer Julie Plath said schools around Ingham - Our Lady of Lourdes, Gilroy Santa Maria College, Canossa at Trebonne and St Peter's at Halifax - were to open last Tuesday."However, a definite reopening date is yet to be advised," she said.

Cyclone Yasi's damage bill will exceed $500 million, but a clearer picture wil be known in the next few days.


St. Catherine de Ricci


Feast: February 13


Feast Day:February 13

23 April 1522 at Florence, Italy

Died:2 February 1590 at Prato, Italy
Canonized:29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV

The Ricci are an ancient family, which still subsists in a flourishing condition in Tuscany. Peter de Ricci, the father of our saint, was married to Catherine Bonza, a lady of suitable birth. The saint was born at Florence in 1522, and called at her baptism Alexandrina, but she took the name of Catherine at her religious profession. Having lost her mother in her infancy, she was formed to virtue by a very pious godmother, and whenever she was missing she was always to be found on her knees in some secret part of the house. When she was between six and seven years old, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli, near the gates of Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun. This place was to her a paradise: at a distance from the noise and tumult of the world, she served God without impediment or distraction. After some years her father took her home. She continued her usual exercises in the world as much as she was able; but the interruptions and dissipation, inseparable from her station, gave her so much uneasiness that, with the in consent of her father, which she obtained, though with great difficulty, in the year 1535, the fourteenth of her age, she received the religious veil in the convent of Dominicanesses at Prat, in Tuscany, to which her uncle, F. Timothy de Ricci, was director. God, in the merciful design to make her the spouse of his crucified Son, and to imprint in her soul dispositions conformable to his, was pleased to exercise her patience by rigorous trials For two years she suffered inexpressible pains under a complication of violent distempers, which remedies themselves served only to increase. These sufferings she sanctified by the interior dispositions with which she bore them, and which she nourished principally by assiduous meditation on the passion of Christ, in which she found an incredible relish and a solid comfort and joy. After the recovery of her health, which seemed miraculous, she studied more perfectly to die to her senses, and to advance in a penitential life and spirit, in which God had begun to conduct her, by practicing the greatest austerities which were compatible with the obedience she had professed; she fasted two or three days a week on bread and water, and sometimes passed the whole day without taking any nourishment, and chastised her body with disciplines and a sharp iron chain which she wore next her skin. Her obedience, humility, and meekness were still more admirable than her spirit of penance. The least shadow of distinction or commendation gave her inexpressible uneasiness and confusion, and she would have rejoiced to be able to lie hid in the centre of the earth, in order to be entirely unknown to and blotted out of the hearts of all mankind, such were the sentiments of annihilation and contempt of herself in which she constantly lived. It was by profound humility and perfect interior self-denial that she learned to vanquish in her heart the sentiments or life of the first Adam—that is, of corruption, sin, and inordinate self-love. But this victory over herself, and purgation of her affections, was completed by a perfect spirit of prayer; for by the union of her soul with God, and the establishment of the absolute reign of his love in her heart, she was dead to and disengaged from all earthly things. And in one act of sublime prayer she advanced more than by a hundred exterior practices in the purity and ardour of her desire to do constantly what was most agreeable to God, to lose no occasion of practicing every heroic virtue, and of vigorously resisting all that was evil. Prayer, holy meditation, and contemplation were the means by which God imprinted in her soul sublime ideas of his heavenly truths, the strongest and most tender sentiments of all virtues, and the most burning desire to give all to God, with an incredible relish and affection for suffering contempt and poverty for Christ. What she chiefly laboured to obtain, by meditating on his life and sufferings, and what she most earnestly asked of him, was that he would be pleased, in his mercy, to purge her affections of all poison of the inordinate love of creatures, and engrave in her his most holy and divine image, both exterior and interior—that is to say, both in her conversation and her affections, that so she might be animated, and might think, speak, and act by his most Holy Spirit. The saint was chosen, very young, first, mistress of the novices, then sub-prioress, and, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, was appointed perpetual prioress. The reputation of her extraordinary sanctity and prudence drew her many visits from a great number of bishops, princes, and cardinals—among others, of Cervini, Alexander of Medicis, and Aldobrandini, who all three were afterwards raised to St. Peter's chair, under the names of Marcellus II, Clement VIII, and Leo XI.

Something like what St. Austin relates of St. John of Egypt happened to St. Philip Neri and St. Catherine of Ricci. For having some time entertained together a commerce of letters, to satisfy their mutual desire of seeing each other, whilst he was detained at Rome she appeared to him in a vision, and they conversed together a considerable time, each doubtless being in a rapture. This St. Philip Neri, though most circumspect in giving credit to or in publishing visions, declared, saying that Catherine de Ricci, whilst living, had appeared to him in vision, as his disciple Galloni assures us in his life. And the continuators of Bollandus inform us that this was confirmed by the oaths of five witnesses. Bacci, in his life of St. Philip, mentions the same thing, and Pope Gregory XV, in his bull for the canonization of St. Philip Neri, affirms that whilst this saint lived at Rome he conversed a considerable time with Catherine of Ricci, a nun, who was then at Prat, in Tuscany. Most wonderful were the raptures of St. Catherine in meditating on the passion of Christ, which was her daily exercise, but to which she totally devoted herself every week from Thursday noon to three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday. After a long illness she passed from this mortal life to everlasting bliss and the possession of the object of all her desires, on the feast of the Purification of our Lady, on the 2nd of February, in 1589, the sixty-seventh year of her age. The ceremony of her beatification was performed by Clement XII in 1732, and that of her canonization by Benedict XIV in 1746. Her festival is deferred to the 13th of February.

In the most perfect state of heavenly contemplation which this life admits of, there must be a time allowed for action, as appears from the most eminent contemplatives among the saints, and those religious institutes which are most devoted to this holy exercise. The mind of man must be frequently unbent, or it will be overset. Many, by a too constant or forced attention, have lost their senses. in he body also stands in need of exercise, and in all stations men owe several exterior duties both to others and themselves, and to neglect any of these, upon presence of giving the preference to prayer, would be a false devotion and dangerous illusion. Though a Christian be a citizen of heaven, while he is a sojourner in this world, he is not to forget the obligations or the necessities to which this state subjects him, or to dream of flights which only angels and their fellow inhabitants of bliss take. As a life altogether taken up in action and business, without frequent prayer and pious meditation, alienates a soul from God and virtue, and weds her totally to the world, so a life spent wholly in contemplation, without any mixture of action, is chimerical, and the attempt dangerous. The art of true devotion consists very much in a familiar and easy habit of accompanying exterior actions and business with a pious attention to the Divine Presence, frequent secret aspirations, and a constant union of the soul with God. This St. Catherine of Ricci practiced at her work, in the exterior duties of her house and office, in her attendance on the sick (which was her favourite employment, and which she usually performed on her knees), and in the tender care of the poor over the whole country. But this hindered not the exercises of contemplation, which were her most assiduous employment. Hence retirement and silence were her delight, in order to entertain herself with t. Creator of all things, and by devout meditation, kindling in her soul the fire of heavenly love, she was never able to satiate the ardour of her desire in adoring and praising the immense greatness and goodness of God.



Sirach 15: 15 - 20
15If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
16He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.
17Before a man are life and death, and whichever he chooses will be given to him.
18For great is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power and sees everything;
19his eyes are on those who fear him, and he knows every deed of man.
20He has not commanded any one to be ungodly, and he has not given any one permission to sin
Psalms 119: 1 - 2, 4 - 5, 17 - 18, 33 - 34
1Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!2Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,4Thou hast commanded thy precepts to be kept diligently.5O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping thy statutes!17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live and observe thy word.18Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.33Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I will keep it to the end.34Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law and observe it with my whole heart.
Corinthians 2: 6 - 10
6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification.8None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.9But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,"10God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Matthew 5: 17 - 37
17"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.
18For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
19Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21"You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.'
22But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.
23So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
25Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison;
26truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.
27"You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery.'
28But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
31"It was also said, `Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'
32But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33"Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.'
34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
37Let what you say be simply `Yes' or `No'; anything more than this comes from evil.

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