Sunday, March 20, 2011













RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI appeals for people of Libya
Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal for the people of Libya this Sunday, calling on those in “positions of military and political responsibility,” to have – above all – the well being of the citizenry at heart, calling for a speedy end to hostilities and for those in power to guarantee the arrival of humanitarian aid while they continue.

Speaking at the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer with the faithful in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father said the disturbing news coming from Libya has awakened in me fear and trepidation, and that he prayed about the situation during the past week of Spiritual Exercises.

The Pope went on to say that he is following developments with great concern, and continues to pray for all those involved, before offering assurances to the Libyan people of what he described as his heartfelt closeness, and imploring God, that a horizon of peace and harmony may arise as soon as possible on Libya and the entire North African region.”

The Angelus followed a Mass of Dedication for the newly-built Roman parish church of San Corbiniano – St. Corbinian – the first bishop of Freising, in Bavaria, the diocese now joined with Munich, of which the man who was baptized Joseph Ratzinger served four years as archbishop.

In his homily, Pope Benedict said, “One who would know God, must contemplate the transfigured visage of Jesus Christ,” who is the perfect revelation of the holiness and mercy of God.

The Holy Father also urged the faithful of the parish to grow in knowledge and love of Christ, to meet him in the Eucharist, in attention to his Word, in prayer and in charity.

The Church desires to be present wherever people live and work, through the consistent Gospel witness of faithful Christians, and also by way of buildings that make it possible to gather for prayer, sacraments, and formation, as well as establishing relations of friendship and brotherhood, “in the spirit of community that Christ taught us and that the world so greatly needs.”


ALL AFRICA REPORT: President Obama said March 19 that U.S. Navy and coalition ships and submarines have launched missiles against Libyan military forces to support an international coalition to stop attacks on Libyan civilians.

Obama told reporters while on a five-day, three-nation trip to Latin America that he authorized "limited military action in Libya," and said that it has begun.

A senior U.S. military official told reporters at a March 19 Pentagon briefing that 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from U.S. Navy ships and submarines and a British ship at Libyan air defense targets in the capital city of Tripoli and the western city of Misrata from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. The senior official also said the strikes were against long-range air defense missiles and early-warning radar sites, and main command-and-control communication centers.The United States will contribute its "unique capabilities at the front end," he told reporters traveling with him in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19. Obama added that the use of force was not his first choice and "not a choice I make lightly."

In addition, the coalition was conducting aerial electronic jamming intended to protect coalition aircraft that have begun airstrikes against Libyan forces.

"In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition" that is committed to enforcing the U.N. Security Council resolution that called for protecting the Libyan people, Obama said. The coalition includes forces from Great Britain, Canada, France, Italy and the United States, a senior U.S. military official said.

Obama said he consulted with his international security team and the bipartisan leadership of Congress before acting, and he promised to "keep the American people fully informed."

The president reiterated that the United States will not send in ground troops. "Today, I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya," he began. "That action has now begun."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with European and Arab leaders in Paris March 19 to complete plans to enforce the U.N.-ordered actions. The U.N. resolution came after the Arab League voted March 12 for a no-fly zone over Libya to protect human lives.

    "The international community came together to speak with one voice and to deliver a clear and consistent message: Colonel Qadhafi's campaign of violence against his own people must stop," Clinton said March 19 in Paris. "The strong votes in the United Nations Security Council underscored this unity."

    "And now the Qadhafi forces face unambiguous terms: a cease-fire must be implemented immediately -- that means all attacks against civilians must stop; troops must stop advancing on Benghazi and pull back from Adjabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; water, electricity, and gas supplies must be turned on to all areas; humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya," Clinton added.

    Clinton said the Qadhafi government had indicated there would be a cease-fire, but the reality on the ground is continued violence.

    "Colonel Qadhafi continues to defy the world. His attacks on civilians go on," she added.


    ASIANEWS REPORT: Aid centre to help "bear witness to God's love" to those affected and suffering. Special issue of the Catholic weekly on the disaster, only distributed on the Internet because it impossible to print and post. March 24 a special bishops meeting on the emergency. Battle to cool the reactor in Fukushima continues. Reactors n. 1 and 2 now reconnected to power grid.

    Sendai (AsiaNews) - Mgr Martin Tetsuo Hiraga, Bishop of Sendai has published a message to all Japanese to comfort the victims and thank everyone for the help that the diocese is receiving from abroad. Sendai is the diocese hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami and includes the province of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the closest to the epicentre. The message is dated March 17, the same day a centre for survivors and aid coordination for volunteers was set up in the cathedral of Sendai.

    Two days ago, the Catholic weekly published a special issue on the disaster. It was only published on line, given the enormous difficulties in printing and distribution.

    On March 24, at the request of the President of the Episcopal Conference, the Japanese bishops will gather for an extraordinary emergency meeting to discuss and plan their response to the disaster.

    Meanwhile, the emergency at the nuclear plant in Fukushima continues. Soldiers and fire-fighters are trying to cool the plants with tons of water piped from tanker trucks. At the same time, engineers working on the electricity grid to restart the reactor cooling system. A security officer said that the reconnection of electricity to the reactors 1 and 2 at the plant is expected later today.

    Below the complete text of Msgr. Hiraga’s message:

    My dear fellow Japanese people, I am Bishop Tetsuo Hiraga of Catholic Sendai Diocese. At this tragic moment of unprecedented catastrophe caused by the great earthquake and its subsequent tsunami that struck northeast shore areas of this country, we have received a number of heartfelt messages and cordial condolences, donations from all over the country and abroad. We thank you very much for your thoughts and prayers, and for your kind assistance.

    As you know, vast areas on the northeast coast are affected and our diocesan chancery office is yet to grasp the full details of the damage. Along with unforeseeable development of the crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, we will have much more information to come that may affect our life even more. To respond to the current adversities, we held a meeting with Caritas Japan president Bishop Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, members of Caritas Japan staff and Bishop Daiji Tani of Saitama, and decided to set up an emergency center to coordinate humanitarian aid operations in Sendai.

    The center is called “Sendai Diocese Support Center” and is to do its best with the help of your prayers, encouragement and assistance. The center is also trying to give as much information and updates but, in its early stage of activities, it may fall short of your expectations. Please excuse us if this is the case.

    Today’s Gospel reading includes a passage “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find”. We believe firmly in God who is love, even we have got stricken hard by this catastrophe. We are determined to do the best we can hand in hand, so that our relief activities for the people affected and suffering may witness the love of God.

    Thank you very much.

    Sendai, 17 March 2011


    BISHOP'S RELEASE: Cardinal Brady urges everyone to read bishops’ pastoral responseTowards Healing and Renewal

    • Towards Healing and Renewal outlines initiatives to enhance the personal, pastoral, spiritual and practical support available to survivors of abuse.
    • €10m co-funding over the next five years for Towards Healing, the expanded counselling service for survivors. Opening hours extended this weekend. Statistics and free phone contact numbers for the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain below.
    • Meetings and dialogue between bishops and survivors of abuse to continue.
    • Pope Benedict’s 2010 pastoral letter prompts the reflections of over 3,000 people on renewal in the Church in Ireland .

    To coincide with the first anniversary of the Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, Irish bishops have published the pastoral response Towards Healing and Renewal. Copies of this pastoral response are available in parishes across the country and online from7:00pm this evening.

    Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has encouraged everyone to read this short pastoral response to key issues raised by the Pope’s letter of March 2010.

    Cardinal Brady said “Towards Healing and Renewal – which has been published to mark the first anniversary of Pope Benedict’s Pastoral Letter - is a short but very important pastoral document. It represents part of a wider response and longer journey by the Church in offering its support to survivors of abuse on their journey to healing and peace, and in committing itself to renewal. I urge everyone to read Towards Healing and Renewal.

    “The publication today of Towards Healing and Renewal, along with our five-year undertaking to continue funding of the new and expanded Church counselling service for survivors of abuse, are both tangible signs of our commitment to work with all people of goodwill to ensure, as best we can, that every child on this island is properly cared for and kept safe from all forms of abuse and harm.”

    Cardinal Brady continued, “As a result of the grievous wrong of abuse, for many survivors their faith in God and the Church has been profoundly damaged. Many have expressed a hope that this damage can be addressed. In Towards Healing and Renewal we commit trained pastoral personnel to this delicate challenge of healing and renewal.”

    In his 2010 Pastoral Letter Pope Benedict XVI apologised to victims of abuse and suggested that the Church in Ireland work towards healing, renewal and reparation. He called for “a new vision [to] inspire present and future generations to treasure our common faith.” Since Pope Benedict’sPastoral Letter the following has taken place across Ireland:

    • Bishops met with, and listened to, survivors of abuse and their representatives. These meetings will continue with survivors and their representatives to hear their views on Towards Healing and Renewal.
    • Listening and consultation on the subject of renewal in the Church has also taken place. Over 3,000 people contributed responses addressing renewal: just over a quarter of these came through diocesan channels, a fifth from lay associations and almost half from religious communities.

    Towards Healing and Renewal expresses the bishops’ commitment to existing initiatives as well as to a number of new initiatives. It focuses on:

    • Prayer for survivors of abuse
    • Listening with care and sensitivity
    • Spiritual support to individual survivors of abuse
    • Creating a safer future for children in the Church and
    • Review of dioceses, religious congregations and societies by the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

    Cardinal Brady said, “Pastoral outreach to survivors is a necessary Church response to abuse, but so too is the offer of professional assistance to those in need. Last month the Irish Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland, and the Irish Missionary Union launched an expanded counselling service for survivors of abuse. Towards Healing is a free, confidential helpline and counselling referral service and it continues the important work of Faoiseamh. It provides survivors with a professional and caring environment along with a wide range of support services.

    “For Christians, prayer is an essential part of the journey to healing and renewal. We, as bishops, renew our commitment to the tradition of Friday Penance with a particular emphasis on remembering the suffering of those who have been abused. Towards Healing and Renewal also refers to the vital role of parishes in assisting the process of healing for survivors of abuse.”

    Cardinal Brady concluded, “A colossal breach of trust occurs when a child is abused. If the abuser is a priest or religious then an even greater betrayal has been perpetrated. The mismanagement of abuse allegations by church authorities compounded this damage. As we continue on our journey of renewal, the Church resolves to repair the breach of trust which has taken place. We ask humbly that we be given this opportunity.”

    Notes for Editors

    Requests for media interviews can be arranged by contacting Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Office 00 353 86 1727678

    • The bishops’ pastoral response Towards Healing and Renewal is available in churches throughout Ireland this weekend and in the English, Irish and Polish languages.
    • About Towards Healing, the Catholic counselling support service:

    - Towards Healing is a free, confidential helpline and counselling referral service, which is a Catholic Church response to abuse by clergy and religious. The service was originally provided through an organisation known as Faoiseamh, established by Conference of Religious of Ireland in 1997 and also supported by dioceses over the years.

    - Faoiseamh solely provided a counselling service. Towards Healing meets the needs of survivors in a more comprehensive manner through group work, practical workshops and a bridging service to link clients of Towards Healing with other statutory and non-statutory services relevant to the needs of the client, including: psychiatry, addiction services, services for the homeless and general medical, dental and welfare services. As before, the service is entirely confidential.

    - The Towards Healing service has a new board and structure, and it commenced its operation on 1 February 2011. Towards Healing will operate to best practice under the supervision of its clinical director, Dr Melissa Dermody.

    - When people initially make contact with the Towards Healing helpline they will speak to a trained telephone counsellor. A decision will then be made involving the counsellor and the client as to whether to proceed to face to face counselling. The new service will also provide a bridge to other services if required.

    - €20m has been spent on the confidential helpline and counselling referral service to date and a further €10m is available to support the new Towards Healing service over the next five years. The €10m contribution will be divided equally between dioceses and religious orders.

    - On average Faoiseamh provided 20,000 counselling sessions a year. Between 1997 and 2010 Faoiseamh provided face to face counselling to over 4,000 individuals and helpline support to over 15,000 survivors of abuse by clergy.

    - The Towards Healing service can also provide assistance to family members of survivors. This will be considered, if requested, on a case by case basis. Towards Healing has extended its opening hours for this weekend as follows:

    Saturday 19 March – 12pm to 12 midnight

    Sunday 20 March – 12pm to 12 midnight

    Monday, back to normal opening hours 11am to 8pm

    - The normal opening hours for the Towards Healing service are: Mondays and Wednesdays, 11am to 8pm and on Fridays 11am to 4pm. Its free phone helpline numbers are: from the Republic of Ireland 1800 303416; from Northern Ireland and Britain 0800 0963315.

    Media contacts: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444


    Agenzia Fides REPORT – The Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) National Director of Mexico, Fr Guillermo Alberto Morales Martínez, who attended the continental meeting of PMS Directors of American countries in Santa Cruz (see Fides 11/3/2011; 15/3/2011), shared the developments in the Mexican PMS' operations, highlighting the commitment of the laity as “the cornerstone of the mission”.
    In a statement sent to Fides, Fr Morales writes: “The PMS came to our country in 1860, creating great enthusiasm in the community, in particular for the responsibility they took in mission Ad gentes, which means going into places where Christ is not known and organising pastoral care that promoted the work of our Church and that today bears great fruit in Mexico.”
    According to the National Director, the greater part of the activities carried out by the PMS in Mexico regard the formation of pastoral care workers, especially through especially through missionary conferences, because it is in the meetings and programs for children, youth, adults and also for those who come to visit the sick, enrich the Church's mission in Mexico. Fr Morales adds: “The wealth of the Church lies in the laity, and perhaps we need to better organise their structures to facilitate their work and their organisation, valuing the gift of their work and their universal diversity, in order to share faith with others.”
    “Aparecida currently provides us with a great challenge: the mission of new evangelisation,” concludes Fr Morales. It is a mission that all of need to assume regarding all those who are baptised and Catholics but who have distanced themselves from the Church and do not practice their faith. The laity have a first hand role, not excluding the mission Ad gentes, the mission to people who do not know Christ. The Church has much need of the laity and their work to share their faith with others.”


    CATH NEWS REPORT: In 1994, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo showed a frail little Sudanese girl crouched, head bowed, struggling to make her way to a feeding centre with a large vulture behind her, ready to claim her body when she died, writes Rev Peter Ingham, the Bishop of Wollongong.

    The photographer had waited some 20 minutes to catch the photo, after which he chased the vulture away and watched as the little girl resumed her struggle on her own.

    Appearing first in the New York Times, the photo caused controversy. The photographer was castigated for being so absorbed in his work that he didn’t think to reach out and to help the little girl in such real trouble. Two months after the Prize was awarded, the photographer suicided.

    This tragic story can be a parable about the Transfiguration. Can’t we all get so caught up in our work, our sporting or recreational life, or positioning ourselves for advancement, that we can become blind to the needs of people around us.

    Lent wants us to be alert. To what do you and I give priority? Are we missing some transfiguring (aha) moments, when the penny drops, and we have a truly revealing moment, an important insight about our life, about our destiny, about how we should act.We overlook the everyday opportunities to interrupt whatever we are doing to pay attention to our spouse, hug our kids, assist our friends, and welcome a stranger. Such insights or transfigurations don’t impact because we are so focussed on what we are about that, like Peter, James and John, we are not alert enough to catch a glimpse of the Glory of God being revealed to us! Opportunities lost!

    The Gospel of the Transfiguration celebrates what Peter, James and John saw on the mountain. St Peter never forgot the Transfiguration of Jesus in all his glory as the Son of God. Years later he referred to it in his second letter:

    “We had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honoured and glorified by God, the Father, when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour.” We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)

    Why didn’t the Apostles tumble earlier to Jesus being the Son of God? St Luke says, “Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep but they kept awake and they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” (Lk 9:32-33)

    So they were not fully awake. This can be a good image of why we often miss the transfiguring glory of God – our minds are in slumber mode!

    The slumber of prejudice can cause us to be so set in our ideas that our minds are shut like a steel trap and nothing objective can get in.

    Or our minds can be so overloaded from the incessant assault of images, commercials and chatter through modern technology, that we can live in constant distraction with our perceptions dulled, insensitive to the deeper realities of life.

    When do we ever go apart, or take some solitude so we can reflect on our experiences in life? Then we won’t be so unalert to the people around us, indifferent to their struggles, their joys, their needs.

    One “aha” transfiguring moment for me was when I visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I was so overawed at this natural wonder that I spontaneously said “How Great Thou Art!” St Paul wrote, “Ever since God created the world, his everlasting power and Deity however invisible, have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made.”(Rom 1:20)

    In the Old Testament, we read: “Naturally stupid are all who have not known God and who, from the good things that are seen, have not been able to discover Him who is, or by studying the works, have failed to recognise the Artificer.” (Wis 13:1)

    Another transfiguring “aha” moment for me was when my dear mum was dying. It hit me so clearly that this was the really critical and transfiguring time of her life as she was about to go through the gates of death to the fullness of life with God. Aided by my faith and her goodness, I saw life in its true perspective as a journey with the Lord whom, at death, we meet as a familiar friend whom we have cultivated our whole life through, not as a severe, remote or frightening judge!

    The Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent focuses us on the humanity of Jesus as he is tempted in the wilderness, whereas the Gospel of the Second Lenten Sunday reveals the Divinity of Jesus. I think St Paul summed it up very well when he said “if we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will also share in his glory.” (Rom 8:17)

    Peter W Ingham DD is the Bishop of Wollongong


    St. Herbert


    Feast: March 20

    Date of birth unknown; d. 20 March, 687; an anchorite of the seventh century, who dwelt for many years on the little island still known as St. Herbert's Isle, in the Lake of Derwentwater. He was for long the friend and disciple of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Little is known about him, save that it was his custom every year to visit St. Cuthbert for the purpose of receiving his direction in spiritual matters. In the year 686, hearing that his friend was visiting Carlisle for the purpose of giving the veil to Queen Eormenburg, he went to see him there, instead of at Lindisfarne as was usual. After they had spoken together, St. Cuthbert said, "Brother Herbert, tell to me now all that you have need to ask or speak, for never shall we see one another again in this world. For I know that the time of my decease is at hand." Then Herbert fell weeping at his feet and begged that St. Cuthbert would obtain for him the grace that they might both be admitted to praise God in heaven at the same time. And St. Cuthbert prayed and then made answer, "Rise, my brother, weep not, but rejoice that the mercy of God has granted our desire." And so it happened. For Herbert, returning to his hermitage, fell ill of a long sickness, and, purified of his imperfections, passed to God on the very day on which St. Cuthbert died on Holy Island. It is said that the remains of St. Herbert's chapel and cell may still be traced at the northern end of the island on which he lived. In 1374 Thomas Appleby, Bishop of Carlisle, granted an indulgence of forty days to all who, in honour of St. Herbert, visited the island in Derwentwater and were present at the Mass of St. Cuthbert to be sung annually by the Vicar of Crosthwaite.



    Genesis 12: 1 - 4
    1Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.
    2And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
    3I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."
    4So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
    Psalms 33: 4 - 5, 18 - 20, 22
    4For the word of the LORD is upright; and all his work is done in faithfulness.
    5He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
    18Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
    19that he may deliver their soul from death, and keep them alive in famine.
    20Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield.
    22Let thy steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in thee.
    2 Timothy 1: 8 - 10
    8Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God,
    9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago,
    10and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
    Matthew 17: 1 - 9
    1And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart.
    2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.
    3And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him.
    4And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah."
    5He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
    6When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.
    7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear."
    8And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
    9And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead."

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