POPE RECALLS APOSTOLIC VISIT TO CROATIA
VATICAN CITY, 8 JUN 2011 (VIS) - In the Wednesday general audience celebrated in St. Peter's Square today, the Pope recalled his apostolic visit to Croatia this past weekend, 4-5 June, which had the theme "Together in Christ". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Holy Father noted that the main reason for his visit was the first National Day of Croatian Catholic Families, culminating in Sunday morning's Eucharistic celebration, which took place in Zagreb's Hippodrome with a great number of faithful present.
"In Europe today, the nations of firm Christian tradition", he stated, "have a special responsibility to defend and promote the value of the family based on marriage, which continues to be crucial both in the educational as well as the social arena. This message, therefore, has a special importance for Croatia that, with its rich spiritual, cultural, and ethical heritage, is preparing to enter into the European Union".
During the Mass for the families, the Pope continued, he had the chance to "emphasize the gift and commitment of communion in the Church as well as to encourage married couples in their mission. In our days, while there are, unfortunately, a growing number of separations and divorces, the faithfulness of married couples has become a meaningful witness of Christ's love that allows them to live marriage for what it is: the union of a man and a woman who, with Christ's grace, love one and help one another for their entire lives, in joy and sorrow, in health and in sickness".
"Faith in the God who is love", he continued, "is mainly spread through the witness of faithfulness in conjugal love, which naturally translates into love for the children who are the fruit of that union. But this faithfulness is not possible without God's grace, without the support of the faith and the Holy Spirit".
Then, referring to the vigil with the youth held Saturday evening, Benedict XVI noted that the young persons present told him that "God seeks them before and more than they themselves seek Him. This it the joy of faith: discovering that God loves us first! It is a discovery that keeps us always disciples and, therefore, always young in spirit!".
Another moment of his trip was celebrating, with the bishops, priests, religious, and seminarians, evening vespers at Zagreb's Cathedral where is found "the monumental tomb of Blessed Cardinal Aloysius Viktor Stepinac, Bishop and Martyr. In Christ's name, he courageously opposed the abuses of Nazism and fascism, and then later, of the communist regime".
The Pope commented that in his meeting with representatives of civil society and the political, academic, cultural, and business worlds as well as the diplomatic corps and religious representatives in the National Theater of Zagreb, "I paid homage to the great Croatian cultural tradition, which is inseparable from its history of faith and the living presence of the Church".
"Once again it has been made clear to all that Europe has a profound vocation to preserve and renew a humanism that has Christian roots and that can be defined as 'catholic', that is, universal and whole. It is a humanism that lies at the center of the human being's conscience, its transcendent openness and, at the same time, its historical reality, which is capable of inspiring political projects that are diverse but convergent in building a substantial democracy based on the ethical values rooted in human nature itself".
The Holy Father concluded by thanking all who had prayed for his travels and asked that "through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Croatians, may what I have tried to sow bear abundant fruit for the Croatian families, for the entire nation, and for all of Europe".
VATICAN CITY, 8 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father:
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Campos (area 12,520, population 1,063,000, Catholics 919,000, priests 81, permanent deacons 2, religious 103), Brazil, presented by Bishop Roberto Gomes Guimaraes, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Roberto Francisco Ferreria Paz, who is currently auxiliary bishop of Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Barra do Piraí-Volta Redonda (area 4,768, population 804,000, Catholics 604,267, priests 51, permanent deacons 2, religious 82), Brazil presented by Bishop Joao Maria Messi, O.S.M., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Francesco Biasin, who is currently bishop of Pesqueira, Pernambuco, Brazil.
- appointed Fr. Omar Alberto Sanchez Cubillos, O.P., as bishop of Tibu (area 7,825, population 222,000, Catholics 211,000, priests 30, permanent deacons 1, religious 42), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Cogua, Clombia in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He is currently prior of the Cristo Rey Monastery in Bucaramanga, Colombia.
CBN REPORT: NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- School Bible clubs face many challenges these days, ranging from uninterested students to legal questions of whether such clubs are even constitutional.
But the Redbank Valley High School Bible Club in the small western Pennsylvania town of New Bethlehem certainly doesn't face such problems.
Two-thirds of the student body shows up for the 10:02 a.m. Monday weekly meetings. So many kids attend that students claim it is by far the world's largest Bible club in any public school.
The Key? Have Fun
Five years ago when they started, Club leaders hit on a wildly winning formula.
"Being a Christian is fun; it's the best way to go," Danielle Barlett, Bible Club vice president, recalled saying at the time. "So, let's bring some fun into the community."
Since then, these student leaders have spent thousands of hours across the years making sure the Monday meetings entertain and appeal to kids.
"It's not like going to church and just sitting there listening to a lesson. We get games and activities and videos," Bible Club president Ashley Reefer told CBN News
One of the highlights of the Bible Club is skits.
In one of them, the students created a lively, noisy game show where a contestant guessed the price paid for various products. The last "product" to appear was a fellow student, and it was revealed the price paid for him was the blood of Christ.
Communicating God's Love
The Redbank Valley High Bible Club always makes sure to present a loving message to the hundreds of students who throng to the meetings.
"Obviously God is the best person to cling to," Barlett said.
She then summed up the spiritual appeal of the Club's main message to students.
"I think when they're looking for something to cling to, and hey there's Somebody that loves you and Somebody who cares for you, that's the whole deal right there," she said.
"We've actually had some salvation lessons, and people have come to Christ through what we're teaching them," Reefer pointed out.
Maggie McCauley told CBN News about the day the Bible Club had real paramedics stage a rescue by rushing in the school to save a student.
McCauley, who was just 15 years old at the time, then gave a lesson.
"There are different ways that we can save lives physically, but the only way we can really save your life spiritually is by bringing you to God," she said during that lesson.
She then led a prayer for salvation, and to her astonishment, 43 hands went up.
"Kids in a high school accepting Christ in front of all their peers during the school day -- that doesn't happen anywhere else," she said.
Barlett believes public school is the perfect place for such happenings.
"Jesus calls us to go everywhere and to spread His word," she said. "And I know that public school is the best place because you're with all your friends and there's different cliques going on."
"And if we can all come together as one and be the Body of Christ, that's an amazing thing," she said.
Coming to a School Near You?
Many Christian students feel they couldn't do something like this in their school. But the Redbank Valley High Bible Club members point out this is everyone's constitutional right.
Students have the freedom to talk about God and enjoy Him every day no matter where they are, and that includes school, they say.
The Club kids are careful, though, to make sure their meetings don't stray across any legal lines. For instance, no teacher or school official runs these religious gatherings, which might suggest state sponsorship.
"It's totally student-led and we do all the lessons ourselves and the prayers and everything like that," Reefer assured CBN News.
After a while, the Christian kids at Redbank decided what they had was working so well, they wanted to spread their model around.
They've been advising other schools on how to get started. To their delight, Bible Clubs are popping up in nearby communities.
"It's nice to see how the other schools who didn't think they could do it to begin with, now they are," said a jubilant Doug Gundlach, next year's Club president.
Club Bible Giveaway
Back in their own town, the Bible Club decided to really live up to their name by being a constant source of Bibles to all who need them.
Club members worked with others in the community and raised thousands of dollars to buy hundreds of Bibles that they pass out for free at their public school.
Club Treasurer Elena Kunselman has been keeping track.
"We've given out 300 Bibles to the students in the past couple of years," she said.
"You're walking down the hall and you see all these Bibles everywhere," Barlett marveled. "And it's a great thing to see in a public school."
"I pray that we can be a light to others and we can be a good witness," she said while leading prayer at a recent Bible Club meeting.
Bible Club Bursting at Seams
So far, that witness has led to tremendous growth. When the Club first started, it was just a tiny Fellowship for Christian Athletes meeting that gathered in a corner of advisor Joe Harmon's history and civics classroom.
So few students were coming, members decided to throw it open to the entire student body. And it began to grow by leaps and bounds.
Soon the Club had to move to the much bigger band room, then to the theater-sized auditorium.
"Now we're filling up over half of the auditorium," Reefer said.
Of the school's 600 students, 393 showed up for the Bible Club meeting that CBN News attended. It's grown so popular, it's now beginning to attract outside Christian talent to tiny New Bethlehem.
In April, the Bible Club put on an Open House for the entire community that featured the Christian comedy duo, The Skit Guys.
New Bethlehem has fewer than a thousand residents, but more than a thousand people showed up on a Monday night for the standing room only Open House.
Barlett isn't surprised at all this success.
"We're so loving. We're so accepting, and again, it's a small town so we're all friends, we're all family," she explained.
"And once you're talking to somebody and you're saying 'God's really doing some things in my life,' that catches their interest," she added. "And it just starts spreading."
"We know that it is the Spirit leading us," Reefer said. "And it's amazing what He's doing here at Redbank."
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, leader of the pro-Muslim Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N), is the new finance minister of Punjab province. He already holds the portfolio for Education and Health and will be called in the coming days to submit the annual budget, before the members of the Provincial Assembly. In recent days the ministry post has been the focus of a fierce controversy given that it first seemed that the portfolio of Finance would be assigned to the Christian Kamran Michael (PML-N), former head of the ministry for human rights and minorities . However, the opposition of the radical wing of the party blocked the appointment.
Today came the appointment of Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, a 44 year old businessman who graduated from the University of Lahore, a member of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz, a liberal party in economic terms, but radically conservative on social issues. As a new provincial minister of Finance, he shall be called by June 10 to submit the annual budget. This is the third portfolio to be allocated to the Muslim politician, the son of a prominent local politician and related to two members of the National Parliament.
The provincial government of Punjab wanted to end the controversy raised in recent days, when the Finance portfolio was assigned - at first - to the Christian political Kamran Michael (pictured), the PML-N leader and former head of the ministry for Human Rights and Minorities. The appointment followed the break-down of the coalition between the PML-N and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), leading to a reshuffle in the seats of provincial government. With the post of minister, the Christian politician was to present the annual budget.
However, a substantial fringe of his party was against the possibility that a Christian - and not a Muslim – would fill the post. Michael was also unable to attend the meeting of the provincial government – to discuss issues surrounding the economy - precisely because of his Christian faith.
Interviewed by AsiaNews on the latest case of discrimination against minorities, the bishop of Islamabad calls on the PML-N party "to decide what kind of message they want to send to the world community." Accepting this kind of bigotry and intolerance, said Msgr. Rufin Anthony, "will confirm the worst impressions about Pakistan and the PML-N in particular." He adds that the Christian politician is a citizen of Pakistan like everyone else, and therefore should enjoy equal rights.
Haroon Barkat Masih, president of Masihi Foundation strongly condemns the episode. His organisation accuses the party of giving in to the lunatic fringe, while the Anglican Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik talks of "shameful hypocrisy". Rizwan Paul, Life for All, said that minorities "all contribute to the growth of gross domestic product and compares Raja Riaz, the leading exponent of the PPP and the chief minister of Punjab to the Taliban, for his " extremist views ". Condemnation also comes from Mehfooz Ahmed Khan, a Muslim leader, contrary to this episode of "discrimination" who also urges the court in the city to "take action".
The right to educate their children “according to their own convictions” is a “fundamental parental right” recognized by the Spanish Constitution, said the bishop.
Classes in Catholic religion and morality provide a benchmark for understanding human existence in light of the Christian faith, the bishop stressed.
The Church teaches by responding to “the problems and deepest questions of students, while at the same time laying the foundation and giving reasons for the loftiest of values, such as love, justice, freedom and forgiveness,” he continued.
Bishop Jimenez said his message was aimed particularly at Christian teachers, but also “at all those teachers who, although they do not confess our faith, nevertheless value the good that it promotes and contributes to the comprehensive formation of students.”
He expressed his trust that school administrators “will apply the corresponding legislation” to the area of Catholic religion and morality so that parents and students “can exercise this fundamental right.”
He also urged students to “regard religious teaching as essential for their personal, intellectual, social, and above all, spiritual growth.”
“The Lord gives young people reasons for believing, hoping and loving, and his presence in your growth is the best gift you will find in your lives,” he told them.
“The heart” of religion classes is Jesus Christ, he said, “who is a continual example of life, love and hope with his words, works and his very person.”
Jesus Christ is “not only an example,” the bishop said. “He is also strength for students in time of weakness; mercy and forgiveness in times of sin; love and understanding in times of loneliness; and above all, he is a gift, as he gives us his Life so that we might have eternal life.”
Health Canal report: By: Julia Phipps - Hundreds of students at Catholic colleges on Brisbane's south side are piloting an online game to improve alcohol awareness among teens.
The research project, jointly funded by Griffith University and the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC), involves the design and testing of an alcohol harm minimisation
It includes an online game, experiential and role plays and is being tested by more than 200 year 10 students at San Sisto College at Carina and Villanova College at Coorparoo.
The eight-week pilot study began on April 29.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele says the majority of current teaching resources for alcohol education were out of date and don't reflect the recently revised Australian drinking .
"This project aims to produce a tangible resource for use in secondary schools which is both interactive and fun and that increases awareness and knowledge about drinking in moderation," Associate Professor Rundle-Thiele said.
A survey the students' attitudes towards alcohol and knowledge of drinks will be run the new program is implemented to assess its effectiveness.
The researchers will work in the schools with the students and teachers to oversee the project.
The IVD has been present in Angola since 1991 and operates in several sectors, including education, health care, professional training, defense of human rights. In recent years it has concentrated its activities in the provinces of Luanda and Moxico, engaging particularly in the training of local teachers, combining school education, literacy in the first place, the education to development and human rights. About 500 teachers (professors of schools and youth group leaders) benefited from residential training courses; during the awareness meetings about 7,000 people; 750 operators "seniors" were involved in literacy training courses and among other activities computer courses and other initiatives to raise awareness on human rights through radio and print were also initiated
Feast: June 8
ST. MEDARD, one of the most illustrious prelates of the Church of France in the sixth century, was born of a pious and noble family, at Salency, about the year 457. From his childhood he evinced the most tender compassion for the poor. On one occasion he gave his coat to a destitute blind man, and when asked why he had done so, he answered that the misery of a fellow-member in Christ so affected him that he could not help giving him part of his own clothes. Being promoted to the priesthood in the thirty-third year of his age, he became a bright ornament of that sacred order. He preached the word of God with an unction which touched the hearts of the most hardened; and the influence of his example, by which he enforced the precepts which he delivered from the pulpit, seemed irresistible. In 530, Alomer, the thirteenth bishop of that country, dying, St. Medard was unanimously chosen to fill the see, and was consecrated by St. Remigius, who had baptized King Clovis in 496, and was then exceeding old. Our Saint's new dignity did not make him abate anything of his austerities, and, though at that time seventy-two years old, he thought himself obliged to redouble his labors. Though his diocese was very wide, it seemed not to suffice for his zeal, which could not be confined; wherever he saw the opportunity of advancing the honor of God, and of abolishing the remains of idolatry, he overcame all obstacles, and by his zealous labors and miracles the rays of the Gospel dispelled the mists of idolatry throughout the whole extent of his diocese. What rendered this task more difficult and perilous was the savage and fierce disposition of the ancient inhabitants of Flanders, who were the most barbarous of all the nations of the Gauls and Franks. Our Saint, having completed this great work in Flanders, returned to Noyon, where he shortly after fell sick, and soon rested from his labors at an advanced age, in 545. The whole kingdom lamented his death as the loss of their common father and protector. His body was buried in his own cathedral, but the many miracles wrought at his tomb so moved King Clotaire that he translated the precious remains to Soissons.