POPE ENTRUSTS ITALY TO VIRGIN'S PROTECTION
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Benedict XVI presided over the praying of the Rosary together with the bishops of Italy, entrusting the people of Italy to the Virgin. The Italian bishops were gathered for a General Assembly on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the political unification of Italy.
After praying the Luminous Mysteries, Benedict XVI addressed the Italian bishops, recalling that this basilica "is the first in the West dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God", and that on 1 January 2000, Pope John Paul II opened the Holy Door "entrusting the Jubilee Year to Mary. Today we also wish to cross the threshold of this Most Holy "Door", which is Christ, and we ask the Virgin Mary to sustain our journey and to intercede for us".
"The dispositions of the Virgin's heart - listening, receptiveness, humility, faithfulness, praise, and waiting -", he said, "correspond to the inner provisions and the gestures that shape Christian life. Aware that they express what God desires of the Church, they are what nourish her". (Image source: Radio Vaticana)
"Faith, in fact", he continued, "is not alienation. The experiences that poison the dignity of humanity and the quality of social life are other [than faith]. ... Italy, celebrating 150 years of political unity, has reason to be proud of the presence and outreach of the Church, which does not pursue privileges nor intend to substitute the responsibilities of political institutions. Respectful of the State's legitimate secularity, the Church is attentive to sustaining the fundamental rights of the human person. Among these are foremost ethical instances and therefore the openness to transcendence, which constitute values prior to any state jurisdiction because they are inscribed in the very nature of the human person".
The Church recalls "the duty to promote and protect human life in all its stages and to concretely support the family". In this context he referred to the problem of unemployment "that compromises the serenity of planning for family life in young persons, seriously damaging the authentic and harmonious development of society".
The Pope urged the prelates to encourage "the faithful laity to overcome every spirit of small-mindedness, distraction, and indifference, and to participate in social life in the first person. Promote the formation of initiatives inspired by the Church's social doctrine so that those who exercise political and administrative responsibilities do not fall victim to the temptation to exploit their positions for personal interest or the thirst for power".
"Taking education as the theme of this decade's pastoral commitment, you have sought to express the certainty that Christian existence - the good life of the Gospel - is precisely the demonstration of an accomplished life. In this way you assure a service that is not just religious or ecclesial but social as well, contributing to building the city of humanity. Take heart, then! In spite of every difficulty, 'nothing is impossible for God'".
Benedict XVI concluded by entrusting the Italian peoples to the protection of Mary "Mater unitatis", so that the Lord might grant them "the invaluable gifts of peace and fraternity, and therefore harmonious development. That political forces might also be helped to live this anniversary of Unity as an occasion to strengthen the national union and to overcome every prejudicial conflict. That diverse and legitimate sensitivities, experiences, and perspectives might be rebuilt in a wider picture in order to seek together that which truly contributes to the good of the country. That the example of Mary might open the path to a more just, mature, and responsible society, capable of rediscovering the profound values of the human heart.
CARITAS INTERNATIONALIS: WITNESS TO LOVE OF GOD
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received 400 participants of the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis, with its president, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
The Pope recalled that that agency, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, was founded by Pope Pius XII after the horrors of World War II "to demonstrate the solidarity and concern of the entire Church in the face of so many situations of conflict and emergency in the world". Meanwhile, Pope John Paul II strengthened even more the ties linking the various national Caritas associations to one another and to the Holy See, granting public canonical juridical personality to Caritas Internationalis. "As a result, the international agency took on a particular role in the heart of the ecclesial community and was called to share, in collaboration with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, in the Church's mission of making manifest, through practical charity, that love which is God himself".
"Through such witness ... the Church reaches out to millions of persons and makes it possible for them to recognize and sense the love of God, who is always close to every man and woman in need. For us Christians, God himself is the source of charity; and charity is understood not merely as generic benevolence but as self-giving, even to the sacrifice of one's life for others in imitation of the example of Jesus Christ".
Caritas Internationalis, the pontiff explained, "differs from other social agencies in that it is ecclesial; it shares in the mission of the Church. This is what the Popes have always wanted and this is what your General Assembly is called forcefully to re-affirm. It should be noted that Caritas Internationalis is basically made up of the various national Caritas agencies. In comparison with many Church institutions and associations devoted to charity, Caritas is distinctive. Despite the variety of canonical forms taken by the national agencies, all of them offer an outstanding aid to Bishops in their pastoral exercise of charity. This entails a particular ecclesial responsibility: that of letting oneself be guided by the Church's Pastors. Since Caritas Internationalis has a universal profile and is canonically a public juridical person, the Holy See is also responsible for following its activity and exercising oversight to ensure that its humanitarian and charitable activity, and the content of its documents, are completely in accord with the Apostolic See and the Church's Magisterium, and that it is administered in a competent and transparent manner. This distinctive identity remains the strength of Caritas Internationalis, and is what makes it uniquely effective".
Then referring to the important role of that agency at the international level, the Pope affirmed that, thanks to the experience gained in these years, the Caritas members have learned to be "advocates within the international community of a sound anthropological vision, one nourished by Catholic teaching and committed to defending the dignity of all human life. Without a transcendent foundation, without a reference to God the Creator, without an appreciation of our eternal destiny, we risk falling prey to harmful ideologies".
Caritas Internationalis is "an organization charged with fostering communion between the universal Church and the particular churches, as well as communion between all the faithful in the exercise of charity. At the same time it is called to help bring the Church's message to political and social life internationally. In the political sphere - and in all those areas directly affecting the lives of the poor - the faithful, especially the laity, enjoy broad freedom of activity. No one can claim to speak 'officially' in the name of the entire lay faithful, or of all Catholics, in matters freely open to discussion. On the other hand, all Catholics, and indeed all men and women, are called to act with purified consciences and generous hearts in resolutely promoting those values which I have often referred to as 'non-negotiable'".
"It is within this greater horizon, then, and in close collaboration with the Church's Pastors who are ultimately responsible for her witness of charity, that the national Caritas agencies are called to continue their vital witness to the mystery of God's healing and transforming love made manifest in Jesus Christ. The same holds true for Caritas Internationalis, which can rest assured that it will enjoy the assistance and support of the Holy See - particularly through the competent dicastery, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum - as it strives to carry out its mission".
SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING OF SYNOD FOR MIDDLE EAST
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This past 17 and 18 May, at the head office of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the fourth meeting of the Special Council for the Middle East was held.
A statement issued today noted that "Secretary General Archbishop Nikola Eterovic presided over the work, which was attended by all members of the Council". In his opening speech he particularly mentioned His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., who was recently elected Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, Lebanon.
The Council members stressed that "the coexistence of religions is essential for the development of mutual understanding and tolerance, to promote peaceful and fruitful relations in collaboration for the common good".
There are also, reads the statement, "the increasingly demanding requirements of ecumenical and religious dialogue, which stimulate the search for communion and the witness on the part of the Lord's disciples to live the faith in charity, with the hope for better times".
"Special attention has been given to the drafting of a summary of the synodal documents, especially the propositions, in light of the wording of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation that, as in other special Assemblies, will be published in due course by the Pope".
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
-Seven prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their ad limina visit:
- Archbishop Maria Callist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum of the Latins,
- Bishop Innayya Chinna Addagatla of Srikakulam,
- Bishop Prakash Mallavarapu of Vijayawada,
- Bishop Joseph Kariyil of Cochin,
- Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of Kannur,
- Bishop Joseph Karikkassery of Kottapuram, and
- Fr. Vincent Arackal, apostolic administrator of Calicut.
This afternoon, the Pope is going to receive the President of the Republic of Hungary, Pal Schmitt, who offers a concert to the Pontiff in the Paul VI Hall.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Raymond Wickramasinghe, professor of Moral Theology at the National Seminary of Our Lady of Lanka, as bishop of Galle (area 5,493, population 2,580,000, Catholics 9,511, priests 33, religious 97), Sri Lanka. The bishop-elect was born in 1962 in Uthuwankanda, Mawanella, Sri Lanka and was ordained in 1989.
(Fr. serves: St. John Vianney, Highland Grove, St. Mary's, Chandos, and Our Lady of Lourdes, Cardiff.)
Tel: (613) 339-2852
Fax: (613) 339-2121
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - A powerful Muslim businessman, with the help of a group of accomplices, kidnapped two Christian sisters, forced them to convert to Islam and marry him. The girl's father reported the kidnapping to the police but the police blocked investigations by reversing the facts: the daughters fled because of their father’s violence. A priest from the diocese of Faisalabad points out that the kidnapping of young women has become "common practice", because the authorities and police are "puppets in the hands of extremists."
The father of two girls, Rehmat Masih is a Christian carpenter from Jhung District, in Faisalabad, Punjab province, an arena of repeated violence against religious minority. Muhammad Waseem - the parent explains to AsiaNews, - is a Muslim businessman in the area, long time leader of a banned extremist group. A few weeks ago he came to my house, along with gunmen, saying he was concerned about my daughters and wanted to marry them. " In case of refusal, the man continues, the Muslim businessman threatened to abduct the two girls.
Masih filed a complaint with the police, but authorities did not want to open an investigation. On May 24 the dramatic epilogue, "My daughters were returning from the market - he says - and a vehicle owned by Muhammad Waseem intercepted them and threw them inside, taking them away." The parent returned to the police to report the kidnapping. In response, officials said that "Waseem is a respected and admired businessman, the accusations against him are" false. "The authorities say the girls would fled because their father is an alcoholic who had "abused" them with "immoral actions."
A neighbour argues the defence of the Christian father, emphasizing his goodness and integrity. "I've known Rehmat for 20 years - Shahid Malik told AsiaNews – he is a decent man. I have never heard words out of place out of his mouth. " On the contrary, Muhammad Waseem is an influential man and we have seen him repeatedly threaten the Masih family. The police, he adds, are reversing the facts because "he can not do anything against Waseem, which is collusion."
The next day, May 25, Muhammad Waseem married by force Saima Masih, in the presence of Mullah Muhammad Qasim Zubair. With the ceremony, according to Islamic laws, the Christian woman was "converted" and has embraced the Muslim faith. Local sources also make clear that the religious leader who officiated the ceremony is linked to outlawed Islamist groups (-e-Sahaba Sipe), protagonists of numerous kidnappings of Hindu or Christian women.
Rehmat Masih is desperate: the police asked him to forget his daughters, leaving him indefenseless. "Instead of serving the Punjab government - says the father - [the police] are the servants of extremist groups."
Fr. John William, a priest of the diocese of Faisalabad, confirms that the kidnapping of young women has become "common practice", because the authorities and police are "puppets in the hands of extremists." In recent days, AsiaNews reported the tragedy of another young girl, again from Punjab, seized by force and forced to marry a Muslim (see AsiaNews, 12/05/2011 Punjab: Christian student nurse forced to convert to marry Muslim man).Christian and Hindu girls, the priest continues, are forced to marry Muslims and convert to Islam, while police and local authorities "are paid" to settle the bureaucracy to avoid reports. The officials are in the hands of extremists and religious leaders in Friday sermons "speak openly of killing and kidnapping Christian girls." And the government, said Father John, "is complicit."
"The government of South Sudan has appealed to international organizations because the displaced persons from Abyei need help, but so far, from what I know, nothing has happened, even if there are people of good will who want to help them. Furthermore, the rain continues to scourge, and to make things worse there is the presence of mosquitoes and the outbreak of diseases like malaria and diarrhea. In other words, the situation remains very serious, " concludes the Apostolic Administrator of Khartoum.
North and south Sudan have pledged to peacefully resolve the crisis through negotiations to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian capital and headquarters of the African Union.
CATH NEWS REPORT: Students from Australian Catholic University are peppering up the chorizo, clicking the castanets, charging up the mechanical bulls and living with “Alegria”, all before they even arrive in Madrid, reports Beth Doherty on the WYD website.
Specifically targeted to engage university pilgrims from Australia’s largest Catholic University, the 'Alegria' program aims to give young people an experience of the joy of World Youth Day even if they can't make it to Madrid.
As part of the 'Alegria' program the Identity and Mission Team at ACU National created “Viva Day” to give students a taste of Spanish culture and faith, and also do valuable preparation for their pilgrimage.
National Formation Coordinator for Mission and Identity Thérèse Nichols is learning new Spanish words each day, and even tried some flamenco dancing at the 'Viva day' held at ACU Melbourne.
“Each campus added its own unique flavour and character to Viva Day that included Spanish dancing, games, Spanish food, WYD songs and Spanish music, Spanish language classes and some even had mechanical bulls!! “On March 15th on each of our six campuses we celebrated Viva Day. Viva Day is something we created to bring WYD alive on each campus with a Spanish fiesta to celebrate. Five months out it was the ideal time to promote, publicise and boost registrations”, she said.
“VIVA day not only boosted our registrations but gave every campus a little taste of what WYD will be like in Madrid!” she said.
Thérèse said that they have lots of registrations, and with just a little bit of time to go, are focusing on building the “joy” among pilgrims.
'Alegria' is an exciting and vibrant group of students who desire to learn, grow and share together in the Catholic faith. Students from all walks of life are invited to come along fortnightly to hang out together in a relaxed and casual forum on campus."
St. Augustine of Canterbury
APOSTLE OF ENGLAND, ARCHBISHOP
Feast: May 27
When Pope Gregory began to plan for the evangelization of England, the land was still largely pagan, although in the southwest there were remnants of earlier missionary efforts. To lead this important mission, Gregory chose Augustine, prior of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome, of which Gregory had been the founder. Nothing is known of Augustine's life until the year 596, when, with a party of Benedictine monks, he set out northwards from Rome. He carried letters of commendation to various Gallic bishops. On reaching Provence, the monks accompanying Augustine grew fearful of the dangers that lay ahead. Alarming stories were told of the ferocity of the pagans and the hazards of the Channel crossing. They persuaded Augustine to return to Rome to ask the Pope's permission to abandon the whole enterprise. Meanwhile the Pope had received word that the common people of England and also some of their chieftains and kings were ready to welcome Christian missionaries. After Pope Gregory had told Augustine this news and had discussed the situation with him further, Augustine rejoined his companions and inspired them with his own courage. Taking with them several Franks to act as interpreters, the party crossed safely over to the Isle of Thanet, in the domain of Ethelbert, King of Kent, whom they formally notified of their arrival and of their purpose in coming.
Ethelbert was still a pagan, but his wife Bertha, daughter of King Charibert of the Franks, had been converted to Christianity. Sitting under a spreading oak, Ethelbert received the missionaries. After listening carefully to their words, he gave them permission to preach to his subjects. He also made over to them a house in Canterbury, with the use of the little stone church of St. Martin, which had stood there since the period of Roman occupation. This had formerly been the oratory of Queen Bertha and her confessor Liud hard. Ethelbert was converted and baptized at Pentecost, 597. After this promising start, Augustine went back to Provence to be consecrated bishop by Vergilius, metropolitan of Arles and papal legate for Gaul. On his return some ten thousand of Ethelbert's subjects were baptized in the Swale River.
Augustine, greatly heartened by the success of his mission, now sent two of his monks to Rome to report to the Pope, and to ask for more helpers. Also he wished to have the Pope's counsel on various problems. When the monks came back to England with a fresh band of missionaries, they brought the pallium for Augustine. Among the new group were Mellitus, Justus, and Paulinus, who was afterwards archbishop of York. With these "ministers of the Word," wrote the Venerable Bede, "the holy Pope sent all things needed in general for divine worship and the service of the Church, viz. sacred vessels, altar cloths, ornaments for churches, and vestments for priests and clerks, and also many books." The latter item was especially important, for the books helped to inspire the great love of learning which characterized the English Church.
Gregory sent to Augustine a plan for developing an ecclesiastical hierarchy and establishing a working organization for the whole country-a plan which was not fully carried out in Augustine's lifetime. There was to be a northern and a southern province, with twelve suffragan bishops in each. In a letter to Mellitus, which is presented earlier, following the life of
In 603 Augustine rebuilt and reconsecrated the Canterbury church and the house given him by King Ethelbert. These structures formed the nucleus for his metropolitan cathedral. They were destroyed by fire in 1067, and the present cathedral, begun by the great Lanfranc in 1070, stands on their site. A converted temple outside the walls of Canterbury was made into another religious house, which Augustine dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. After his death this abbey became known as St. Augustine's.
With the King's support, the Christianization of Kent proceeded rapidly, but Gregory's charge had stated, "All the bishops of Britain we commend to your Fraternity." The survivors of the ancient British or Celtic Church and their bishops had been driven westward and southward into Wales and Cornwall by the Saxon conquerors of the fifth century. Here they had persisted as Christian communities, cut off from the outside world. Although they were sound in fundamental doctrine, some of their usages were at variance with those of Rome. Now, in virtue of his archiepiscopal jurisdiction, Augustine invited the Celtic bishops to meet with him at a spot outside the confines of Wessex, which has since come to be known as Augustine's Oak. In long conferences with the representatives of the Celtic Church Augustine urged them to comply with the customs of the rest of Western Christendom, in particular in the method of determining the date of Easter, and to aid him in converting the pagans. Loyalty to their own local traditions, however, and bitterness against their Saxon conquerors, made them unwilling to agree, even though Augustine performed a miracle of healing in their presence to prove the supernatural source of his authority. They consented to attend a second conference, held in Flintshire, but it too proved a failure. Augustine did not rise to greet his Celtic brothers when they arrived and they felt that he lacked Christian humility. They refused either to listen to him or acknowledge him as their archbishop. It was not until 664, at the Synod of Whitby, that their differences were resolved and ecclesiastical uniformity was established.
Augustine's last years were spent in spreading and consolidating the faith in Ethelbert's realm, which comprised large sections of eastern England south of Northumbria. Sees were established in London and Rochester, with Mellitus appointed bishop over one and Justus over the other. Seven years after his arrival Augustine died, leaving the continuation of his work to others.
|John 15: 12 - 17|
|12||"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.|
|13||Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.|
|14||You are my friends if you do what I command you.|
|15||No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.|
|16||You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.|
|17||This I command you, to love one another.|