Monday, March 21, 2011








VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2011 (VIS report) - At noon today, following his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Corbinian, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

The Pope noted that the second Sunday of Lent is that of the Transfiguration when Christ, after having announced His Passion to His disciples, took Peter, James, and John with Him to a mountaintop, as narrated by the Apostle Matthew: "He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light".

"For our senses, sunlight is the most intense in nature", the Holy Father said, "but for the spirit, the disciples saw, for a few moments, an even more intense radiance, that of Jesus' divine glory that illuminates all the history of salvation. ... The Transfiguration is not a change in Jesus but the revelation of His divinity. ... Peter, James, and John, in contemplating the divinity of the Lord, were preparing to face the scandal of the cross".

"We too participate in this vision and in this divine gift, making space for prayer and for listening to the Word of God", the Pope concluded. "Moreover, during this time of Lent I urge you, as did Servant of God Paul VI, to answer the divine call to penance with some voluntary act that goes beyond the denials imposed by the weight of daily life".

After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI mentioned the "worrying news that has been arriving from Libya in the past days" and which has caused him "disquiet and fear". "I prayed to the Lord about it in particular during this week of spiritual exercises", he added.

"I am now following the latest events with great apprehension", he asserted. "I pray for those who are caught up in that country's dramatic situation and make an urgent appeal to everyone with political and military responsibilities to concern themselves above all with the safety and wellbeing of the citizens, guaranteeing access to humanitarian aid. I ensure the population of my heartfelt closeness, while I ask God that peace and harmony may be reached as soon as possible in Libya and in the entire North African region".

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VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. made the following declaration yesterday afternoon concerning the sentence issued by the "Grande Chambre" of the European Court of Human Rights:

"This sentence of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the exposition of the crucifix in the classrooms of Italian State schools has been received with satisfaction by the Holy See.

"It is, in fact, a significant and historic sentence, as shown by the conclusion reached by the Grande Chambre after a detailed appraisal of the matter. The Grande Chambre has, indeed, overturned in all respects a first degree sentence, adopted unanimously by a Chamber of the Court. This sentence led to an appeal by the Italian State, which received an unprecedented degree of support from numerous other European States as well as from many non-governmental organisations, an expression of widespread feeling amongst people.

"It is thus acknowledged, at an authoritative and international juridical level, that the culture and rights of man should not be placed in contradiction with the religious foundations of European civilisation, to which Christianity has made an essential contribution. It is furthermore recognised that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, each country should be guaranteed a margin of appreciation with regard to the value of religious symbols within its cultural history and national identity, and in terms of the places in which they are displayed (as has been demonstrated in these days also by sentences of the supreme courts of several European countries). By contrast, in the name of religious freedom there is a paradoxical tendency to limit or indeed even to deny this freedom, with the result of excluding every expression of it from public spaces. Thus this very freedom itself is violated, obscuring specific and legitimate identities. The Court therefore declares that the display of the crucifix is not a form of indoctrination, but rather an expression of the cultural and religious identity of countries with a Christian tradition.

"This new sentence of the Grande Chambre is also welcome as it effectively contributes to re-establishing trust in the European Court of Human Rights on the part of a large number of Europeans, convinced of the vital role played by Christian values in their history, and in the construction of European unity and its culture of rights and freedom".

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VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel this morning, Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Holy Father and Roman Curia concluded their spiritual exercises. This year's meditations were led by Fr. Francois Marie Lethel, O.C.D., secretary prelate of the Pontifical Academy of Theology and professor at the Teresianum Pontifical Theology Faculty. The theme was "The Light of Christ at the Heart of the Church: John Paul II and the Theology of the Saints".

At the end of the Lenten exercises Benedict XVI addressed the participants, also thanking Fr. Lethel for the "safe guidance and spiritual richness" shown in these days. "You have shown us the saints", he said, "as stars in the firmament of history ... demonstrating that the 'small' saints are 'great' saints. You have shown us that the "scientia fidei" and the "scientia amoris" ... complete one another, that reason and great love go together and, even more, that great love sees farther than reason alone".

The Pope noted that the exercises finished on the feast St. Joseph, his personal patron as well as Patron of the Church, "a humble saint, a humble worker, who was considered worthy to be the Redeemer's guardian".

The Pontiff continued, "St. Matthew defined St. Joseph with a word: 'he was just', ... and in light of the Old Testament ... the 'just' is the person who is immersed in God's word, who lives in the Word of God, who lives the Law not as a 'yoke' but as 'happiness', one who lives the Law - we could say - as 'Gospel'. St. Joseph was just, he was immersed in the Word of God as written and transmitted in the wisdom of his people, and in this way he was prepared and called to know the Incarnate Word - the Word that came to us as man - and he was destined to guard and protect this Incarnate Word. This is his mission forever, to guard the Church and our Lord".

Subsequently in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father received the greetings of the members of the Curia for his feast day. The address was made by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

Benedict XVI has also written a letter to Fr. Lethel expressing his gratitude for the preaching of the spiritual exercises. "You have led us through the meditations," the Pope writes, "a spiritual journey inspired by the witness of my venerable predecessor John Paul II, whose upcoming beatification raised the topic of sainthood. ... With this focus you have matched the catechesis I have been developing in the Wednesday general audiences over the years with the purpose of making the Church better known and loved as she appears in the lives, the works, and the teachings of the saints. ... Such reflection and contemplation on the mystery of Christ, reflected in the existence of its most faithful followers, constitutes a fundamental element that I have inherited from Pope John Paul II and that I continue with full conviction and great joy".

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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Corbinian, where he celebrated Mass and consecrated the new church.

In his homily, the Pope commented on the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Christ of the second Sunday of Lent, which has "two elements, both very important: on the one hand, the mystery of the Transfiguration and, on the other, that of the temple, or rather the House of God within your own homes".

The Holy Father explained that by means of the Transfiguration "the disciples were prepared for the Paschal mystery of Jesus: to overcome the terrible trial of the Passion and to better understand the luminous truth of the Resurrection".

"The will of God", he continued, "is fully revealed in the person of Jesus. A person who wishes to live according to God's will must follow Jesus, listen to Him, welcome His words and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, absorb them more deeply. The first invitation I wish to extend to you", the Pope to the parishioners, "is to grow in your knowledge of and love for Christ, both as individuals and as a community; to encounter Him through the Eucharist, by listening to His words, in prayer and in charity".

Pope Benedict XVI went on to state that "the second point concerns the Church, as an edifice but above all as a community". In this respect, he recalled that St. Corbinian founded the diocese of Frisinga in Bavaria, where he served as bishop for four years. In giving thanks to those who have contributed to building this church, he remarked, "today is an important day, which crowns the efforts, the work, the sacrifices and the commitment of the residents here to create a mature Christian community. They now have a new definitively consecrated church".

"Just as the church building has been erected, my visit here is intended to encourage you to continue to build the Church of living stones, which you yourselves represent. ... To this end, I exhort you to make your church the place in which you learn to hear the Word of God, the permanent 'school' of Christian life from which every activity of this young and busy parish originates".

The Pope remarked that the parish community of St. Corbinian is young, composed in large part of newly-married couples. He exhorted the community to "give life to family pastoral care characterised by an open and cordial welcome to new families, and to favour reciprocal knowledge so that the parish community increasingly becomes a 'family of families', able to share with each other, not only the joys but the inevitable difficulties of initiating family life".

"Dear friends of St. Corbinian! The Lord Jesus Christ, who conducted the Apostles to the mount to pray and showed them His glory, has today invited us to this new church; here we may hear Him, to acknowledge His presence in the Eucharist; and thus become a living Church, temple of the Holy Spirit, a worldly sign of the love of God".

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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world concerning the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land.

The English-language letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the same congregation, explains how "the Holy Land expects the brotherhood of the universal Church and desires to reciprocate it in sharing the experience of grace and suffering that marks her journey. She wishes to recognise, first of all, the grace of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, and that of the papal vist to Cyprus. These events have increased the interest of the world and the return of a great number of pilgrims in the historical footsteps of the Lord Jesus. Yet also tangible is sorrow at the escalating violence to Christians in Eastern regions whose consequences are felt acutely in the Holy Land. The Christians of the East are experiencing the actuality of martyrdom and are suffering because of the instability or absence of peace. The most disturbing sign of this is their inexorable exodus. Indeed a few positive signs in some situations do not suffice to invert the sorrowful tendency of Christian emigration which impoverishes the entire area, draining it of the most vital forces constituted by the young generations".

"This appeal for the collection is inherent in the cause of peace, of which the brothers and sisters of the Holy Land desire to be effective instruments in the hands of the Lord for the good of the whole of the East".

"It takes place at the beginning of the Lenten journey towards Easter and can culminate on Good Friday or on the occasions considered most favourable in each local context. However, the collection everywhere remains the ordinary and indispensable means of promoting the life of Christians in that beloved Land".

After highlighting how "the Congregation for the Eastern Churches acts as spokesperson for these Churches' needs for pastoral care, education, social assistance and charity", the prefect and secretary of the dicastery note that "Pope Benedict invites us, however, to go beyond the gesture, although it is praiseworthy, of concrete help. The relationship must become more intense in order to attain a 'true spirituality anchored to the Land of Jesus'".

An attachment to the letter of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches explains how, in the period 2009-2010, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - the mission of which is to "to keep alive the liturgy in the places of worship, to take care of pilgrims, to enhance apostolic works, and support the Christian community" - dedicated particular attention to the planning and execution of such projects as: the Sanctuary of St. John the Baptist at Ain Karem, the Sanctuary of the Transfiguration at Mount Tabor, scholarships for university students, and building homes for the poor and for young married couples.

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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Samuel Irenios Kattukallil and Thomas Anthonios Valiyavilayil.

- Archbishop Thomas Koorilos Chakkalapadickal of Tiruvalla of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Philipos Stephanos Thottathil.

Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, accompanied by Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese.

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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Anthony Fallah Borwah, professor of philosophy at the University of Liberia and administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Monrovia, as bishop of Gbarnga (area 34,000, population 1,400,000, Catholics 18,000, priests 7, religious 23), Liberia. The bishop-elect was born in Wodu, Liberia in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1996.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - “We heard a heavy bombardment on the outskirts of the city. Tripoli is emptying, the population fleeing from fear of being bombed,” says Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, Libya, to Fides. The Apostolic Vicar reiterates his opposition to the military action taken: “War does not solve anything. I don't know how this new war will finish that is reawakening sad memories about the Libyans' recent history. I keep repeating that we need to cease shooting immediately and begin mediation straight away to resolve the crisis peacefully. Why have diplomatic means not been considered?”. Bishop Martinelli finally recalls the plight of Eritrean refugees trapped in Libya: “We are working to transfer the refugees from Eritrea to the border of Tunisia. I spoke with the Bishop of Tunis to see if they can accept them, given that on their side of the border there are international humanitarian aid organisations.”


CNN REPORT: The Catholic Church in Ireland is pledging an extra 10 million euros (about $14 million) to help victims of abuse at the hands of priests and other Catholic officials, it announced this weekend.

The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of a major papal statementon the widespread problem of child abuse in the deeply Catholic country.

"As a result of the grievous wrong of abuse, for many survivors their faith in God and the Church has been profoundly damaged," said Ireland's senior churchman, Cardinal Sean Brady.

"Many have expressed a hope that this damage can be addressed," he said, adding that the latest moves were "tangible signs" the church was working to ensure all children were cared for.

The financial pledge is part of a Church initiative called "Towards Healing and Renewal."

The new money will be divided equally between dioceses and religious orders over a period of five years, the church said.

It comes on top of 20 million euros (about $28 million) that has been spent on the confidential helpline and counselling referral service to date.

The initiatives from Irish bishops mark the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's Pastoral letter to Irish Catholics.

Since the letter last year, bishops have been meeting with abuse survivors, and will continue to do so, the church said.

As part of the plan, bishops are to set aside each first Friday as a day of fasting and prayer in reparation for the abuse.


UCAN REPORT: Prayer rooms at home will compensate for lack of churches, ease evangelization reporter, Urumqi
March 21, 2011
Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Urumqi

A shortage of churches has prompted Bishop Paul Xie Tingzhe of Urumqi from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region to urge his faithful to build shrines for the whole family to pray at home.

The appeal in a pastoral letter to revive the “good practice,” which has been an age-old tradition in the Church, was posted on his blog on March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph.

The prelate “commands as well as pleads with” all Xinjiang faithful who have two Catholics or more in their family to pray at least one decade of the Rosary together every day.

“By doing so, every family will become a sanctuary and every member in the family will be more holy. The family bond will be more solid and harmonious,” said the bishop who is not recognized by the government.

Bishop Xie said he wrote his Lent pastoral letter to encourage Catholics to pray more, since he believes three simple ways to evangelize are: prayers, living out the Words of God and doing charitable works.

A family sanctuary is needed because there are only 18 churches in Xinjiang and the government does not allow Catholics from several families to get together in private prayer, he said.

In his letter, he also reminds his 26 priests to make frequent visits to each Catholic family in the diocese.

Urumqi has 2,000 Catholic families with 10,000 faithful and around 90 catechumen are baptized each year there at Easter, Christmas and Assumption Day on August 15.

“The practice of family prayer was more common among Catholics several generations ago but is less popular among the newly baptized or younger faithful,” said Fang Xuejun, a 43-year-old Church worker at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urqumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang.

He agreed that Catholics who have a prayer room at home would probably be more fervent in their evangelization, “probably because it will serve as a reminder to serve God’s mission.”



Screenshot from a Video Of Christmas Island Riots, uploaded to YouTube

Australian Federal Police officers used tear gas and "bean bag" bullets to quell unrest in sections of the Christmas Island facility - home to 2398 detainees - which were burnt down by asylum seekers unhappy with centre conditions and delays to the processing of asylum claims.The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office has described the response to the protests at the Christmas Island immigration detention centre as "highly inappropriate", according to a report onAdelaideNow.

"The use of tear gas and bean bag rounds fired by shotguns is a highly inappropriate method for managing this situation," said ACMRO director Father Maurizio Pettena CS.

In a media release, Fr Pettena said that the protests by asylum seekers at the facility were an "understandable reflection of the conditions of detention".

"The frustration involved with been locked up for the duration of the application process is
immense and we need to consider more appropriate and humane responses to this issue."

According to the statement, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Australian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International all report on overcrowded conditions, lack of health and legal services, insufficiently qualified government and contractor staff, insufficient interpreter services, isolation, depression, hopelessness, despair, anxiety, self harm, suicide and attempted suicide in Australian immigration detention centres.

"Proper management should include effective legal representation, sufficient mental health and
medical care, and expedient processing of claims", Fr Pettena said.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on Friday announced an independent inquiry into conditions on Christmas Island, The Advertiser report said. It will examine security breaches, centre infrastructure, staffing, and the role of Serco, the private contractor that manages the facility.

He warned asylum seekers involved in the unrest risked having their refugee claims rejected. "There is no excuse for violent and extreme behaviour," he said.


CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT- Donation highlights star's previous charitable efforts

Oscar-winning actor Sandra Bullock has donated $1 million to aid victims in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Bullock has often helped people in need, as the actor also gave $1 million to Doctors without Borders to aid the relief effort in Haiti after the country was hit by a devastating earthquake in January 2010.

Free of celebrity attitude, Sandra Bullock took her freshly adopted son Louis on to the set of ther latest film in lieu of leaving him with a sitter.

Free of celebrity attitude, Sandra Bullock took her freshly adopted son Louis on to the set of ther latest film in lieu of leaving him with a sitter.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The American Red Cross is extremely grateful for this generous support from Sandra Bullock and her family," the organization said in a statement. "This contribution is vitally important as the Red Cross works to provide critical assistance and essential relief items in this time of urgent need for so many people in Japan."

According to CNN, Bullock's contribution is the largest celebrity donation to the Red Cross since the disaster struck last week. The charity may have received large donations that were kept confidential at the donors' request.

Sandra Bullock's film career has also brought her riches beyond the dreams of many, and she obviously appreciates her luck. Sandra was recently listed at the 22nd highest earner in Hollywood for 2010, taking home over $22 million. She currently has four films in production and five in development.

Sandra was hard at work on the set of her new movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," filming on location at the Westwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Rather than leave him in the care of a nanny, she took along her son Louis, who she adopted last year. The film, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, follows a nine-year-old amateur inventor and astrophysicist who scours New York City for a lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father after he was killed in the September 11 attacks. Sandra stars alongside Tom Hanks, John Goodman and James Gandolfini. The film will be released in 2012.


St. Nicholas of Flue


Feast: March 21


Feast Day:March 21
Born:21 March 1417 at Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Died:21 March 1487
Canonized:15 May 1947 by Pope Pius XII
Major Shrine:Sachseln, Switzerland
Patron of:councilmen, difficult marriages, large families, magistrates, parents of large families, Pontifical Swiss Guards, separated spouses, Switzerland

Had Nicholas not been a saint, or had he eaten and drunk like other saints, Switzerland with all it has meant for peace and humanity would probably not exist today. For Nicholas's entire life was ordained in view of his vocation to save his country.

Nicholas von Flue was born on March 21st, 1417 in the Canton of Unterwalden on the lake of Lucerne, a citizen of a peasant democracy and a farmer's son. As he grew up he proved himself a capable farmer, and the ability he displayed in the local parliament, of which every male citizen was a member, led to his election at an early age as councillor and judge. He also proved himself a capable commander of troops. In the war against the duke of Tirol he persuaded his compatriots to respect a convent of nuns. Though willing to perform his military service, Nicholas condemned as immoral, wars of aggression and the slaughter of non-combatants inevitable in any major modern war. About the age of thirty he married a farmer's daughter, Dorothy Wiss, and built a farmhouse to receive her. The couple had ten children and descendants survive to this day.

Nicholas had thus approved himself to his countrymen as a thoroughly capable man, as farmer, military leader, member of the assembly, councillor, judge and father of a family—also a man of complete moral integrity. All the while, however, he led a life of contemplative prayer and rigorous fasting. He was the subject of symbolic visions and a diabolic assault.

After some twenty years of married life, in 1467 Nicholas received a compelling call to abandon his home and the world and become a hermit. Though she had just borne his tenth child his wife heroically consented. His neighbors, however, even his older children, regarded his action as indefensible, unbalanced, immoral and irresponsible. He set out for Alsace, where he intended to live. Had he carried out his intention his vocation would have been missed. A storm, however, symbolically interpreted, and friendly advice not to settle where the Swiss were detested made him turn back from the border. At the same time he became incapable of eating or drinking—a condition which continued for the rest of his life. As an act of obedience to a bishop he once ate with acute agony a piece of soaked bread. (The problem of prolonged fasting is more fully discussed in the account of St. Lidwina of Schiedam.)

He resumed to his native canton, passing the first night undiscovered in the cow-shed of his farm and settled in a hermitage at Ranft within a few miles of his home. It was no temptation to return home, as he never felt the least desire for his former life. Symbolic visions continued to be a feature of his contemplation, and when, after a month's strict surveillance, his countrymen were convinced that his fast was genuine, they recognised his sanctity and vocation, and he became a spiritual guide whose advice was widely sought and followed. Pilgrims came from distant parts to consult him. He acquired influence with Duke Sigismund of the Tirol, whom he confirmed in his neutrality when the Swiss confederacy met and defeated Charles of Burgundy. Everything was ready for the climax of Nicholas's life: the accomplishment of his unique vocation.

The victorious cantons were at loggerheads. The rural cantons opposed inflexibly the demand of Zurich and Lucerne that Freiburg and Soleure be admitted to the confederacy. A conference held at Stans, December 1481, failed to reach agreement. Next day the delegates would disperse and a civil war ensue which would presumably have destroyed the confederacy. The parish priest, once Nicholas's confessor, hurried to Ranft and laid the matter before the hermit. During the night Nicholas dictated suggested terms of agreement. The priest resumed in time to persuade the delegates to give a hearing to the proposals of a man so widely respected for his well tried practical abilities and so widely venerated for his holiness. The terms suggested—the conditional admittance of Freiburg and Soleure—were unanimously accepted and embodied in the agreement of Stans. Switzerland had been saved.

Nicholas survived his achievement almost six years, universally revered, visited and consulted. On March 21st 1487, his seventieth birthday, he died, apparently of his first illness. One is glad to know that his wife and children attended his deathbed. After all, she had never lost her husband completely. Honored by Swiss Protestants, venerated by Swiss Catholics, Nicholas's cult, uninterrupted since his death, was officially sanctioned by Clement IX (1667-9). In 1947 he was canonized by Pope Pius XII.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: MAR. 21: LUKE 6: 36- 38

Luke 6: 36 - 38
36Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
37"Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
38give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

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