Thursday, February 24, 2011













VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2011 (VIS REPORT) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

"Today in the Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Michel Sleiman, president of the Republic of Lebanon. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

"The cordial discussions served to highlight how Lebanon, because of the presence of various Christian and Muslim communities there, stands as a message of freedom and respectful coexistence, not only for the region but for the whole world. In this context, it is increasingly necessary to promote collaboration and dialogue between religious confessions.

"Attention then turned to the importance of civil and religious authorities being committed to educating consciences in peace and reconciliation, and the hope was expressed that the formation of the new government may favour the desired stability of the nation, which is called to face important internal and international challenges.

"The talks then dwelt on the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to recent events in certain Arab States, with the parties expressing their shared conviction that it is vital to resolve the ongoing conflicts in the region.

"Finally, particular attention was given to the delicate situation of Christians in the entire region, and to the contribution they can make for the good of society as a whole".

OP/ VIS 20110224 (250)


VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming pastoral visit to the diocese of San Marino - Montefeltro has been published. The event is due to take place on Sunday 19 June.

The Pope will depart from the Vatican by helicopter at 8 a.m., landing at Torraccia airport in the Republic of San Marino at 9.15 a.m. At 10 a.m. he will preside at a concelebration of the Eucharist then pray the Angelus in the Olympic stadium of Serravalle.

The Holy Father will then travel to Valdragone where he will have lunch with the organisers of his visit and with members of the "John Paul II" International Foundation.

That afternoon he will begin his official visit to the Republic, travelling to San Marino's Piazza della Liberta where he will be greeted by Captains Regent Giovanni Francesco Ugolini and Andrea Zafferani.

He will then go on to meet with members of the government, the congress and the diplomatic corps, to whom he will deliver an address. Finally the Pope will visit the basilica of San Marino to venerate the relics of St. Marinus.

At 6.30 p.m. the Holy Father will travel by helicopter to Pennabilli in the Italian province of Rimini where he will visit the cathedral and meet with young people of the diocese.

Finally, the Pope will return by helicopter to the Vatican, where he is due to land at 9 p.m.

PV-SAN MARINO/ VIS 20110224 (250)


VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Reynaldo G. Evangelista of Boac.

- Bishop Buenaventura M. Famadico of Gumaca.

- Bishop Rolando Joven T. Tirona O.C.D., prelate of Infanta.

- Bishop Julius S. Tonel of Ipil.

- Bishop Martin S. Jumoad, prelate of Isabela.

- Bishop Elenito R. Galido of Iligan.

- Bishop Emilio Z. Marquez of Lucena.

AL/ VIS 20110224 (90)


VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Berlin, Germany, presented by Cardinal Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, Germany, also as military ordinary for Germany.

- Appointed Fr. Helmut Dieser of the clergy of the diocese of Trier, Germany, pastor of Adenau, Dumpelfeld, Kaltenborn and Kaltenborn-Herschbach, as auxiliary of Trier (area 12,870, population 2,484,000, Catholics 1,525,000, priests 1005, permanent deacons 166, religious 2,302). The bishop-elect was born in Neuwied, Germany in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1989.

- Appointed Fr. Eugenio Andres Lira Rugarcia of the clergy of the archdiocese of Puebla, Mexico, president of the archdiocesan commission for the pastoral care of communications; and Fr. Dagoberto Sosa Arriaga, episcopal vicar for pastoral care, as auxiliaries of Puebla (area 20,932, population 4,664,000, Catholics 4,339,000, priests 585, permanent deacons 1, religious 1,121). Bishop-elect Lira Rugarcia was born in Puebla in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1991. Bishop-elect Sosa Arriaga was born in La Loma, Mexico in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1983.


Agenzia Fides REPORT – On the night between 21 and 22 February, in the parish community of Mecapala, a community of about 5,000 inhabitants, in the Mexican state of Puebla, Father Santos Sánchez Hernández was found dead in the rectory. He was a native of the community of Pastoria in the town of Chicontepec, in Veracruz. According to a note written by the Bishop of Tuxpan, Bishop Juan Navarro Castellanos, sent to Fides, everything points to the probability that someone entered the priest's quarters, probably to steal, and once he was discovered, he attacked the priest with a machete, gravely injuring him and then finally killing him. The case is under investigation, says the Bishop's message. Fr Santos, 43 years old, had arrived at the parish on 24 June 2010. “We invite everyone in the Diocese of Tuxpan unite with us in prayer, praying to the Lord for Fr Santos Sanchez Hernandez, for his family and for the diocesan community, and the consolation of eternal hope,” writes Bishop Navarro Castellanos in the message. In an interview to a local newspaper in Tuxpan, after the funeral Mass for the priest, the Bishop said: “He that murders must make amends with God, because to kill is a mortal sin. Life is a divine gift from God that no man can dispense”. Bishop Navarro Castellanos further condemned the climate of violence and insecurity, observing that “this comes as a reflection on the corruption, the shame and the immoral social situation of the institutions which create ethical and social disorder, which confuse people, creating situations and attitudes which lead to violations of human rights and to violence.” According to the biography of the priest released by the Episcopal Conference of Mexico, Fr Santos Sanchez Hernandez was born on 29 August 1967 in Potrero del Llano, Veracruz. He studied philosophy and theology at the Interdiocesan Seminary in Xalapa. He was ordained a deacon on 22 December 1998 and a priest on 28 April 1999. He was appointed parish priest of St Francis of Assisi in Zontecomatlán, Veracruz, on 4 June 2000. He was coordinator of the Pastoral Liturgy (from December 2002), coordinator for Indigenous Pastoral Care for the diocese (from February 2004). He had a degree in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of Mexico (2006 to 2009). He was appointed assistant parish priest of Santiago El Pescador in Tamiahua on 14 November 2009, then appointed parish priest of San José in Mecapalapa, Puebla on 24 June 2010. He was recently appointed Dean of the parish of Tihuatlán.


CNS REPORT -- "I've stopped using the word coincidence" to describe how the upcoming film "The Way" got made, said its writer-director-producer, Emilio Estevez. "It was providence. ... It was the divine."

"The Way," which stars Estevez's father, Martin Sheen, tells the story of four Westerners walking the 500-mile pilgrimage route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Emilio Estevez, writer-director-producer of "The Way," smiles as his father, actor Martin Sheen, who stars in the movie, looks on prior to a screening at Georgetown University in Washington. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Sheen, who joked during a Feb. 18 interview with Catholic News Servicethat "I did my own walking" in the movie without a stunt double's help, recalled the first time he tried to make the pilgrimage himself.

"It was in 2003, and we were between seasons filming 'The West Wing,'" Sheen recalled. "I really wanted to make 'the way,' but we really didn't have enough time. So I did what every good American did: I rented a Mercedes and drove the route," he laughed.

But it was in Burgos, Spain, on that vehicular trek that Estevez's son, Taylor, met the woman who would become his wife. "That was the first miracle," Sheen said, adding he urged his own son to write a documentary or drama about the pilgrimage.

Estevez, sitting next to his father, recounted other occurrences he attributed to divine providence.

For one thing, he was able to conduct his filming in 2010 -- not in 2011, as Spanish officials had expected.

When Spaniards saw his tight, 40-day shooting schedule -- "40 days -- the normal time it would take a pilgrim to walk from St.-Jean (France) to Santiago," Estevez said -- they told him, "It rains every day. Your 40 days will become 60."

Instead, "it rained two days," Estevez said. "And both days we were scheduled to shoot interiors."

Estevez also received permission from officials to film inside the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. "We didn't get it until 48 hours before we arrived" at the city that concludes the pilgrimage, he said, adding that his was the first dramatic film to have received permission.

In the film, Sheen plays a doctor estranged from his son (Estevez). When he learns that his son has perished in a storm in the Pyrenees on the first day of his pilgrimage, Sheen makes the impulsive decision to cremate his son's remains and go on the pilgrimage himself, carrying his son's remains with him.

Along the way, the doctor meets a carefree Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) who says he's making the pilgrimage to lose a few pounds, but gorges himself at nearly every opportunity; a bitter Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) who says she'll quit smoking once she's completed the journey; and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt) with writer's block.

After a Feb. 18 screening of "The Way" at Georgetown University, Sheen told the audience during a question-and-answer session that the story structure is similar to that of "The Wizard of Oz," with Sheen's character as Dorothy, Dutchman Joost as the Cowardly Lion, Canadian Sarah as the Tin Man and Irishman Jack as the Scarecrow.

And therein lay another miracle during the film shoot. While looking for sites in the Spanish countryside to introduce the Jack character, Estevez found a field with baled hay -- a perfect tie between Jack and the Scarecrow.

"The Way" is more than just a movie to Estevez and Sheen. It was a chance for them to work together. Estevez called his father's acting in the film "the performance of a lifetime."

For his part, Sheen said the expected father-son roles were reversed in filming. "That's what the film is about," he added, "how the father is led by the son, because of the journey of the boy."

The movie is also an homage to Sheen's father and Estevez's grandfather, Francisco Estevez, to whom the film is dedicated. The elder Estevez was born in the Galicia region of Spain. Sheen said that when growing up in Dayton, Ohio, he heard his father speak often of the pilgrimage route, commonly known to Spanish speakers as "El Camino," which fueled his desire to make the pilgrimage himself.

Estevez said four preview screenings of "The Way" on behalf of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students brought such a great response "we may have to change our marketing strategies."

The early strategy, Estevez added, was to market merely to "humans," not to any specific demographic.

But Estevez said that in advance of the movie's Sept. 30 U.S. opening, he and Sheen will conduct a 30-day, 30-city cross-country promotion bus trip from Los Angeles to New York. "The Way" opens April 15 in England, Ireland and Malta.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The attack, preceded by threatening phone calls, took place Feb. 19. The damage amounted to 60 million rupees. The Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar: "The political unease has added to unresolved issues and tensions grow. In this tense political landscape, we Christians are the victims. "

Srinagar (AsiaNews) - Suspected Islamic militants set fire on Feb. 19 to the School of the Convent of St. Luke, a Protestant educational institution that began its activities about 17 years ago in Srinagar, Kashmir. The damage is estimated at 60 million rupees (958 thousand euro). The attack occurred at about 22.30 local time. Eight rooms, including classrooms, library and computer labs were completely destroyed.

The school's principal, Grace Paljor, said they are currently compiling an inventory of the damages, which are now calculated for 60 million rupees. She also claims to have been verbally threatened, several times, before the accident, for being Christian. The school has 450 students. At the time of the attack it was closed for the holidays and so there was no harm to people. The school will reopen on 1 March.

"The school administration is used to receiving threatening phone calls from time to time from extremists. They had threatened to set fire to the school, and have carried out their threat. After theTyndale Biscoe was burned in August of 2010, the extremists have begun to target the Christian schools in the valley. We complained to the Munshi Bagh police station. " Sources have told AsiaNews that the school has been targeted because of baseless rumours about a conversion.

"We live in precarious times here in a state with a Muslim majority, and we hope that the sentiments against us will not grow. The political unease has added to unresolved issues between us and tensions are growing. In this tense political landscape, we Christians are the victims”, denounced Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery, OFM, of the Catholic Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar. "However, even though Catholics are a tiny minority, that is just 0.014% of the population, the Church has for decades made a significant contribution to the advancement and development of the state, thanks to our mission of education, health and social institutions, our contribution to state-building is appreciated, though sadly, in moments of tension, some marginal groups spread malicious rumours, target our work and sow suspicion and division".

The President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) has condemned the attack. Sajan K. George told AsiaNews: "Even the most mild and unfounded rumours can cause criminal acts of the fundamentalists. The school was burned down because of false and fabricated rumour of an attempted conversion. In September 2010, Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson schools have suffered the same fate for the same reason. In November 2006, the GCIC coordinator for Kashmir, Bashir Tantray, was killed by Islamic militants. The Christian community has been targeted by religious fundamentalists. We demand that the authorities of Jammu and Kashmir protect Christians”.


Click to play
Iraqi Christians face uncertain future
  • Many Iraqi Christians have fled to France, reporting threats and persecution
  • Massacre at a Baghdad church in October killed 56 people, injured more than 70
  • Iraqi Christians once numbered 1.2 million; now down to 400,000, bishop says
  • Worshippers in France say they didn't want to leave Iraq but danger was too great

Creteil, France (CNN REPORT) -- At Sunday mass in the suburbs outside Paris, a score of Iraqi Catholics are praying for themselves and their families.

They are part of a group of nearly 60 brought here in early November after a bloody massacre at their church in Baghdad. In that attack, believed to have been carried out by al Quaeda, 56 people died, including two auxiliary priests, and more than 70 were injured -- among them the parish priest of Our Lady of Salvation, Father Raphael Kuteimi.

Kuteimi was struck by grenade fragments during the attack, which went on for four hours. He was brought to France for medical treatment. The church did have some police protection, he says, but there are just too many threats against the Christian community.

Pierre Whalon, an Anglican bishop who helps bring the religiously persecuted to France, points out that no one takes note of threats to the Christian community until there is a major attack.

"There has been a Christian assassinated every single day since 2003. At least one," Whalon says. "You know, the news reports just get tired of it, because what's new? Another Christian or two or 10 murdered today in Mosul or Baghdad or elsewhere."

Whalon says the Christian community of Iraq, which numbered about 1.2 million before the war began, now is down to about 400,000, with many moving out under the threat of death. After the attack in October, the number of people on waiting lists seeking refuge in France swelled to more than 4,000.

No one wants to see such an ancient community disappear, says the bishop, least of all the refugees themselves -- but they have little choice.

That's certainly the feeling of "Elias," who wants to keep his real name secret because he still has family he is trying to bring out of Iraq. The former government bureaucrat was wounded in the church attack and says he heard the gunmen say they want to drive Christian infidels out of the country. The last thing he wanted to do, he says, is to leave his homeland.

"I am now in France, not my country," says Elias. "I have no job here. I had a very good job in Baghdad, a very good salary, my wife too, assistant professor. And now we will come here -- for what? But if we have no protection to keep ourselves away from them, we must leave, and that's why you see us here."

"I have memories. I have lots of feelings about Iraq, especially Baghdad," he continues, choking back tears. "So when I remember some of them I start to cry sometimes. I cry -- but what can we do? It's our destiny."

It's a destiny now being played out thousands of miles from his home,


Agenzia Fides REPORT – Bishop Martin Albert Happe of Nouakchott in Mauritania, asked the Bishops of Guinea Bissau to send missionaries from the Guinean community. Mauritania is a country with an Islamic majority and among those Christian followers, the majority are foreigners. Currently the majority of foreigners in Mauritania are originally from Guinea Bissau. Therefore, Bishop Happe called for the presence of Guinean missionaries who would be a great support to the emigrant communities. As highlighted in the communication sent to Fides by the Diocese of Bissau, the call for the presence of mission teams from Guinea Bissau in Mauritania it not a new thing. Despite the small number of missionaries available, the Catholic community of Guinea Bissau has not spared efforts to ensure the presence of some missionaries, especially in times of need. The last mission team was sent in 2009. However, a more structured presence could further enrich both communities.


CATH NEWS REPORT: Archbishop Philip Wilson, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has sent a mesage of condolence to the bishop and the people of Christchurch as they cope with the earthquake disaster, in a media release.

"We send out sincere condolences to those who have died and their families."You and the people of Christchurch are very much in our prayers at this time, and we pray that our Lord will continue to accompany you," Archbishop Wilson wrote.

"The proximity of our countries and the solidarity we share in times of disaster lead us to feel enormous grief for what your people are experiencing.

"We extend our heartfelt thoughts to you, and hope that in the midst of this, you can find peace and solace.


St. Ethelbert


Feast: February 24


Feast Day:February 24


Died:24 February 616

King of Kent; b. 552; d. 24 February, 616; son of Eormenric, through whom he was descended from Hengest. He succeeded his father, in 560, as King of Kent and made an unsuccessful attempt to win from Ceawlin of Wessex the overlordship of Britain. His political importance was doubtless advanced by his marriage with Bertha, daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks (see BERTHA I). A noble disposition to fair dealing is argued by his giving her the old Roman church of St. Martin in his capital of Cantwaraburh (Canterbury) and affording her every opportunity for the exercise of her religion, although he himself had been reared, and remained, a worshipper of Odin. The same natural virtue, combined with a quaint spiritual caution and, on the other hand, a large instinct of hospitality, appears in his message to St. Augustine when, in 597, the Apostle of England landed on the Kentish coast

In the interval between Ethelbert's defeat by Ceawlin and the arrival of the Roman missionaries, the death of the Wessex king had left Ethelbert, at least virtually, supreme in southern Britain, and his baptism, which took place on Whitsunday next following the landing of Augustine (2 June, 597) had such an effect in deciding the minds of his wavering countrymen that as many as 10,000 are said to have followed his example within a few months. Thenceforward Ethelbert became the watchful father of the infant Anglo-Saxon Church. He founded the church which in after-ages was to be the primatial cathedral of all England, besides other churches at Rochester and Canterbury. But, although he permitted, and even helped, Augustine to convert a heathen temple into the church of St. Pancras (Canterbury), he never compelled his heathen subjects to accept baptism. Moreover, as the lawgiver who issued their first written laws to the English people (the ninety "Dooms of Ethelbert", A.D. 604) he holds in English history a place thoroughly consistent with his character as the temporal founder of that see which did more than any other for the upbuilding of free and orderly political institutions in Christendom. When St. Mellitus had converted Sæbert, King of the East Saxons, whose capital was London, and it was proposed to make that see the metropolitan, Ethelbert, supported by Augustine, successfully resisted the attempt, and thus fixed for more than nine centuries the individual character of the English church. He left three children, of whom the only son, Eadbald, lived and died a pagan.


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