In a strongly worded appeal at the end of the Sunday Angelus prayer and reflection, before greeting pilgrims to the Papal Summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, he said:
“Dear brothers and sisters,
I am following with great concern the dramatic and growing violence in Syria, which has caused numerous deaths and severe suffering. I invite the Catholic faithful to pray that efforts for reconciliation prevail over division and hatred. In addition, I renew an urgent appeal to the Syrian Authority and population, for peaceful coexistence to be restored as soon as possible and for an adequate response to the legitimate aspirations of the citizens, respecting their dignity and for the benefit of regional stability. My thoughts also go to Libya, where the force of arms has not resolved the situation. I urge International organizations and those who have political and military responsibilities to revive with conviction and determination the search for a peace plan for the country, through negotiation and dialogue”.
Since February, civil war has torn Libya apart.Despite dozens of NATO air strikes, in the past few months, the situation between rebels in Benghazi and forces loyal to Gadaffi in Tripoli is at a stalemate with huge human, economic and infrastructural losses on all parts, including NATO countries.
Sunday was also the second time that Pope Benedict has appealed for a peaceful solution to the crisis wracking Syria. But as the Pope launched his plea, scores of tanks and armoured vehicles are reported to have entered the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour after a heavy bombardment that began before dawn.
The Apostolic Nuncio in the country, Archbishop Mario Zenari, says the Pope’s appeal shows how much the Holy Father “has the region at heart”. He also underlines that Syria “was and still is, an exemplary country in terms of harmony between different religious confessions, for mutual respect between the Muslim majority and Christian minority”. The Nuncio also calls for good will on both sides to find a negotiated solution and he expresses his hope “for an end to the bloodshed”.
Reacting to the Papal appeal, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Damascus Gregoire III Laham, adds “We are not afraid of Islam, we are afraid of a chaos taking over similar to that in Iraq”. The Patriarch also appeals to the international community – Europe and the United States in particular – to “find a solution to the Israeli Palestinian question”, which he says “is of greatest importance for the Arab nations in the region and our future”. Finally the Patriarch appeals to the Arab peoples of the Middle East – Christian and Muslim - “to love one another”. He says “We can with the love of God, Christians and Muslims overcome this crisis and this tragic situation and continue - Christians, Muslims and Arabs – on the path of peace, progress, freedom and democracy in the Arab world”.
But on the ground, facing international condemnation, including from Syria's regional allies, President Bashar al- Assad continues to defend the military campaign against dissent. In a phone conversation on Saturday evening UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Assad to stop the use of military force against civilians immediately. While on Sunday the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby issued a statement expressing "growing concern and strong distress over the deteriorating security conditions in Syria due to escalating violence and military operations in Hama and Deir al-Zor and other areas of Syria". On Sunday alone over 60 people were reported killed in the military operations, a toll expected to rise.
Activists say at least 1,650 civilians have been killed and ten of thousands arrested since the uprising began in mid-March. Access to Syria has been severely restricted for international journalists and it is rarely possible to verify accounts by witnesses and activists. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, says he is worried about the killings but also about the tactics used by the authorities to quell the on-going demonstrations.
Reflecting on the Sunday Gospel he said : “It is an incident whose great significance the Fathers of the Church understood. The sea symbolises today’s life and the instability of the visible world. The storm indicates the many troubles that oppress man. The boat, instead, represents the Church built on Christ and led by the Apostles. Jesus wants to educate the disciples to bear with courage the adversities of life, placing their trust in God, the One who revealed himself to the prophet Elijah on Mount Horeb in “a tiny whispering sound” (1 Kings, 19:12).
On Peter’s rescue, “Saint Augustine, imaging that he was addressing the apostle, said, ‘The Lord lowered himself and took you by the hand. On your own, you cannot stand up. Squeeze the hand that comes down to you’ (Enarr. in Ps. 95:7; PL 36, 1233)! Peter walks on the water not because of his own strength but because of divine grace in which he believes. When doubt overwhelms him, when he stops looking at Jesus and is afraid of the wind, when he no longer fully trusts the words of the Master, he moves away from Him and begins to sink. The great thinker Romano Guardini wrote that the Lord “is always near us for he is the root of our being. However, we must test our relationship with God between the poles of distance and proximity. Proximity invigorates us; distance tests us’ (Accettare se stessi, Brescia 1992, 71).”
Pope Benedict XVI concluded, “before we seek or invoke him, the Lord himself comes to us, lowering the Heavens to hold out a hand and raise us up to his height”. “He only waits for us to trust him completely. Let us call on the Virgin Mary, a model of complete trust in God, that amid so many concerns, problems and difficulties that trouble the sea of our life, our hearts may heed the reassuring word of Jesus, ‘Have courage! It is me; fear not!’, so that our faith in Him may grow.”
The CWL of 2011 is about a lot more than receptions in church halls, although their presence and support of families who have just lost loved ones is a tremendous example of compassion and outreach. A quick read of one of their recent issues of their official publication, "The Canadian League", included stories tackling numerous hot button issues including child poverty, corporate responsibility of Canadian mining companies, palliative care, hospice, prostitution and other important resolutions brought forward by CWL members.
The publication also highlights the intense work being done at the local level by councils thorughout the country. These are women of action and they're not afraid to step forward, bringing along with them the voices of tens of thousands of members from across Canada. You can learn more about the CWL through their national website here or for Ontarians through the provincial web presence here.
In fact, every year a delegation travels to Ottawa to meet with our political leaders to discuss issues of great relevance. The 2010 visit included meetings with the Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance as well as numerous other Chiefs of Staff, opposition members and other government officials. Now that's some substance to sink your teeth into.
In action for over 90 years in Canada, the CWL continues to be one of the most visible and engaged lay movements in the country. Their manadate is clear, as outlined on their national website:
The objectives of the League shall be to unite Catholic women of Canada:
to achieve individual and collective spiritual development.
to promote the teachings of the Catholic church.
to exemplify the Christian ideal in home and family life.
to protect the sanctity of human life.
to enhance the role of women in church and society.
to recognize the human dignity of all people everywhere.
to uphold and defend Christian education and values in the modern world.
to contribute to the understanding and growth of religious freedom, social justice, peace and harmony.
For this year's national gathering in Toronto, keynote speakers will include Dr. Nancy Reeves, a registered clinical psychologist, spiritual director, best selling author and internationally respected workshop facilitator. She will be joined by Linnea Good who is called the “contemporary musical voice of the emerging church in Canada. They will speak on the topic: “The poor have good news brought to them."In addition to educational and business sessions the delegates will come together in prayer and fellowship at two of Toronto’s historic churches with the opening Eucharistic celebration at St. Paul’s Basilica and the closing Mass taking place at St Michael’s Cathedral.
Planning has been underway for more than a year on this conference and our prayers and best wishes go out to all involved. Added to the stress of convention planning is the fact that in the last couple of weeks, the CWL National office endured a fire that temporarily prevented staff from operating out of their national base in Winnipeg.
We can't underestimate the powerful impact the CWL continues to have on our local and national church. Let's hope their drive to recruit new members and encourage young women to join the "League" is answered with a resounding "yes" from coast to coast.
So if you happen to be in downtown Toronto August 14-17 and run into the 600+ strong, extend your thanks for all that they continue to do. While I can't guarantee there will be any cookies, you can be sure there will be plenty of faith driven women committed to making a difference and walking the talk, serving as the hands and feet of Christ in our communities.
Sydney Archdiocese REPORT-
4 Aug 2011
Hundreds of thousands worldwide will celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop on Monday, 8 August.
Not only will schools, parishes and churches across Australia mark the Feast Day of Australia's first Saint, which was officially declared a Solemnity by the Vatican at the request of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in April this year, but the inspiration of Mary MacKillop and the life she led will be celebrated by communities and individuals in Peru, India, Kenya, the US, Scotland, Ireland, Malaysia and Europe.
"Certainly our Josephite communities in New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Peru will be celebrating. But so too will thousands of others including people from many different denominations and different faiths," says Sister Maria Casey RSJ.
A Sister of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the congregation founded by St Mary of the Cross MacKillop with Father Julian Tenison Woods, Sr Maria says that 102 years after her death, Mary MacKillop continues to touch people from all walks of life as an example of strength, compassion, kindness and belief that all people, regardless of income, race, religion, gender, were deserving of our respect.
"During her lifetime she had friends who were Jewish, friends from Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations. She never discriminated and believed in the dignity and worth of every human being," says Sr Maria who sums up the life of Australia's first saint, as "a truly good Holy human being."
But even Sr Maria, who was Postulator for Cause of Blessed Mary MacKillop, taking over from Father Paul Gardiner SJ in 2008 after he resigned due to ill health after more than 25 years as Postulator, admits she is amazed and thrilled at how Catholics and non Catholics have responded to St Mary of the Cross since the Canonisation by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on 17 October last year.
"We receive countless letters and emails about how she has touched people's lives," Sr Maria says and recounts how a Texan father in Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008, learned about Mary MacKillop during his stay and her work as an educator, as champion of immigrants and refugees as well as the poor, oppressed and destitute.
"He came to Australia for World Youth Day with his daughter. He suffered from Parkinson's Disease. He prayed at Mary MacKillop's tomb for her intercession and claims that his prayers had been answered and that the symptoms had been relieved. For the first time in years he could hold a pen to write. After his return to the US he wrote sometime later to say that he was spreading the good news of Mary MacKillop in his native Texas," she says.
There are also stories that have come from East Timor. In one a young teacher and her young students were in an extremely dangerous situation during the bloody battles following the nation's independence. With great courage and risk to her life, the teacher gathered up her students and managed to get them to safety. Later when asked if she was afraid, she said "no, because I walked with Mary MacKillop. She was with me and kept us from harm."
Similar tales are repeated again and again, even from such far off places as Kenya, a Hindu community in India where the people first heard about Mary MacKillop from a visiting Australian cricket team, and Kuala Lumpur where the televised canonisation of Mary MacKillop was played and replayed.
Since Mary MacKillop was canonised on 17 October last year, Sr Maria says people from across the world email or write to share their love of Australia's first saint.
"The other day I asked some of our older Sisters what the Feast Day will mean to them, and they said what impressed them most was her inspiration to young and old, Catholic and non Catholic, and the significant number of Muslim people who have a great respect and love for her," says Sr Maria, adding that each year an Islamic primary school in Sydney brings its young students to Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney to visit the tomb of St Mary of the Cross. "They appreciate her values and the fact she is such a strong role model for women as well as for those who are down and out and need help."
St Mary of the Cross's legacy also continues through her various teachings.
Last year at a Mass for Education at the Cathedral a child was asked what Mary MacKillop meant to her and she repeated Mary's words: 'Never see a need without doing something about it." She then eloquently told everyone present that if we followed this advice and everyone did "something kind and good each day," that we could change the world.
Appropriately, Sr Maria who was Postulator for the Cause of Blessed Mary MacKillop will join her friend and fellow Postulator for the Cause, Fr Paul Gardiner and will be in Penola, SA with him on the first Feast Day of St Mary of the Cross.
Author of An Extraordinary Australian: Mary MacKillop, regarded by scholars as the definitive biography of her life, beliefs, faith and holiness, Fr Paul is now 88. Officially retired and a beloved figure in the town, he continues to study, read classical Latin and Greek and to celebrate Mass when needed at nearby St Joseph's Church.
For both Sr Maria and Fr Paul the canonisation was the culmination of many many years of work by many many people who first began collecting records and important papers relating to her faith, love of God and her life of holiness for her canonisation back in 1920s.
But it was Cardinal Patrick Moran, the then Archbishop of Sydney who recognised the holiness of Mary MacKillop even earlier and after attending her prior to her death on 8 August 1909, he announced had that he had "just left the bedside of a saint."
In Sydney the first Feast Day of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop will be celebrated at Mary MacKillop Place, Mount Street North Sydney with Masses at 8 am, 10 am and 1 pm which will be held on Glenroy Green, the square in front of the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel.
The Chapel itself will be open for private prayer and visits to the tomb of Australia's first saint from 8.30 am until 4 pm on Monday, 8 August.
Mariam Gill was abducted on her way home from the market. Her father and brother filed a complaint with police, which failed to intervene however because her kidnapper is “a respectable Muslim businessman”. A Muslim religious leader says the action was in accordance with Islamic law. Islamabad bishop warns that cases of forced conversion are “rising at an alarming rate”.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Another young Christian woman in Pakistan has been abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper. Despite a formal complaint, police did not intervene because the author of the crime is a “respectable businessman”. Local Muslim religious authorities also claim that the woman’s conversion was legal. However, her case however is similar to that of Farah Hatim (see Jibran Khan, “The drama of Farah Hatim, common to many women in Pakistan,” in AsiaNews 25 July 2011) and is indicative of a climate of impunity for people who abuse Christian women. The bishop of Islamabad warns that the “the cases of forced conversion are rising at an alarming rate”.
Mariam is a young Christian woman from Kahota, a town some 20 kilometres from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. She was abducted on Wednesday by one Muhammad Junaid, a local Muslim, who forcibly converted her to Islam and married her.
The young woman’s father, Munir Gill, said that Junaid is an “important businessman”. He had “his eyes on my daughter and asked her for marriage.” He complained to the man’s fathers “without results”.
“Mariam went to the market on Wednesday, but never returned,” said her brother Sohail Gill. “We searched for her everywhere. Some people in the market told us that they saw Muhammad Junaid forcefully taking Mariam from the market. We went to the police to register a case, but they delayed the application and showed no interest in the matter.”
Yesterday, a local Muslim religious leader, Maulana Hafeez Aziz, “converted Mariam to Islam and celebrated her marriage with Muhammad Junaid”.
“Muhammad Junaid is a respectable Muslim businessman,” said Amir Mirza, a police officer in Kahota. “The young woman converted and married him of ‘her own free will’.
For Maulana Hafeez Aziz, “Muhammad Junaid is a true follower of Prophet Muhammad. He has fulfilled Sharia. Converting a non-Muslim is a pious act. Only a true Muslim can do that.”
Yesterday, Mariam Gill was interrogated by local officials. She told them that she was abducted and forced to convert and that she has no intention of abandoning Christianity.
At the end of the meeting, they decided to return the young woman to her family, urging the two sides to reach an agreement. However, Muhammad Junaid issued threats, saying that if he did not get the young woman back, there would be “terrible consequences” to pay.
Contacted by AsiaNews, the bishop of Islamabad Rufin Anthony described the case as “a dreadful incident”. In his view, “the cases of forced conversion are rising at an alarming rate. The matter needs to be checked, kidnapping of Christian girls is becoming a common practice in Punjab. Law enforcement agencies need to enforce the law.”
Young Christian women are not alone. Many young Hindu women have been forced to flee across the border into India in the face of government and police indifference.
“It is time to take concrete action to guarantee the safety of minorities in Pakistan,” the prelate said.
In 2010, 72 projects were promoted to combat leprosy and health system development. In addition to donations for a total of 1.5 million, medicines and medical equipment worth a total of 8.2 million were sent. Doctors, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and clinics in Austria, during the fund-raising campaign, provide first aid kits, sterile gloves, disposable syringes and various other equipment.
During July and August medicines are sorted and packaged in order to be sent on the basis of the requests. So far this year 3,200 boxes have been prepared to be sent to 29 missionary hospitals in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There are approximately 4.5 million patients who will benefit from this aid.
"For many of our patients the fact that there are people in Austria who do not forget them and do not leave them alone means to be half way on the road to recovery. We are grateful that Missio Austria with its organization in the fight against leprosy for many years has 'amplified' our voice ' ", writes Sister Mary Frederik from Tanzania.
Although leprosy is now officially considered "under control" every year 250,000 new infections worldwide are recorded. The projects currently supported by Missio Austria are mainly intended to overcome the discrimination experienced by patients in the past, integrating the therapies in the ordinary health system. (MS) http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=29614&lan=eng
Feast: August 7
Founder of the Theatines, born October, 1480 at Vicenza in Venetian territory; died at Naples in 1547. Under the care of a pious mother he passed a studious and exemplary youth, and took his degree as doctor utriusque juris at Padua in his twenty-fourth year. In 1506 he became at Rome a prothonotary Apostolic in the court of Julius II, and took an important share in reconciling the Republic of Venice with that pontiff. On the death of Julius in 1523 he withdrew from the court, and is credited with founding, shortly after, an association of pious priests and prelates called the Oratory of Divine Love, which spread to other Italian towns. Though remarkable for his intense love of God, he did not advance to the priesthood till 1516. Recalled to Vicenza in the following year by the death of his mother, he founded there a hospital for incurables, thus giving proof of the active charity that filled his whole life. But his zeal was more deeply moved by the spiritual diseases that, in those days of political disorder, infected the clergy of all ranks, and, like St. Augustine in earlier times, he strove to reform them by instituting a body of regular clergy, who should combine the spirit of monasticism with the exercises of the active ministry.
Returning to Rome in 1523 he laid the foundations of his new congregation, which was canonically erected by Clement VII in 1524. One of his four companions was Giovanni Pietro Caraffa, Bishop of Chieti (in Latin Theate), afterwards Paul IV, who was elected first superior, and from whose title arose the name Theatines. The order grew but slowly. During the sack of Rome in 1527 the Theatines, then twelve in number, escaped to Venice after enduring many outrages from the heretic invaders. There Cajetan met St. Hieronymus Æmiliani (see SOMASCHI), whom he assisted in the establishment of his Congregation of Clerks Regular. In 1533 Cajetan founded a house in Naples, where he was able to check the advances of Lutheranism. In 1540 he was again at Venice, whence he extended his work to Verona and Vicenza. He passed the last four years of his life, a sort of seraphic existence, at Naples where he died finally of grief at the discords of the city, suffering in his last moments a kind of mystical crucifixion. He was beatified by Urban VIII in 1629, and canonized by Clement X in 1671. His feast is kept on the 7th of August.
Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/C/stcajetan.asp#ixzz1UJRIcg32
|1 Kings 19: 9, 11 - 13|
|9||And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Eli'jah?"|
|11||And he said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;|
|12||and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.|
|13||And when Eli'jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Eli'jah?"|
|Psalms 85: 9 - 14|
|9||Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.|
|10||Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.|
|11||Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.|
|12||Yea, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.|
|13||Righteousness will go before him, and make his footsteps a way.|
|Romans 9: 1 - 5|
|1||I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit,|
|2||that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.|
|3||For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race.|
|4||They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;|
|5||to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.|
|Matthew 14: 22 - 33|
|22||Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.|
|23||And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,|
|24||but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them.|
|25||And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.|
|26||But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.|
|27||But immediately he spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."|
|28||And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water."|
|29||He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus;|
|30||but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."|
|31||Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?"|
|32||And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.|
|33||And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."|