Monday, December 5, 2011









VATICAN CITY, 3 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father attended a recital of the "Christmas Alpine Oratory" by the Bavarian composer Hans Berger. The performance was followed by a projection of the film: "From Heaven to Earth. Advent and Christmas in the Bavarian Alps" by Sigrid Esslinger. The film was produced by the German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, which also sponsored this evening's event.

At the close Benedict XVI spoke to thank the musicians, the director of the film and the representatives from Bayerischer Rundfunk for having brought "a taste of typically Bavarian customs and life into the Pope's home".

"In our land, Advent is called the 'time of silence'", the Holy Father remarked. "For the faith, the silence of the home becomes expectation of the Lord and joy at His presence. ... Today Advent is often precisely the opposite: a time of frenetic activity, of buying and selling, of preparations for Christmas, of large meals. ... Yet, as you have seen, the popular traditions of the faith have not disappeared; rather, they have been renewed, intensified, updated, creating islands for the soul, islands of silence, islands of faith, islands for the Lord in our time. I think this is very important. We must thank everyone ... who brings the truth of faith into our homes, in our time".

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VATICAN CITY, 4 DEC 2011 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father addressed some remarks to faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer. He reminded them that the current liturgical time of Advent "highlights two figures who had a pre-eminent role in preparing the way for the historical coming of the Lord Jesus: the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist".

In today's Gospel reading "John is presented as an ascetic figure. ... On one occasion Jesus Himself contrasted John with those who 'are in royal palaces' and who wear 'soft robes'. The way of life of John the Baptist should call all Christians to a sober lifestyle, especially in the lead-up to Christmas when the Lord (as St. Paul would say), 'though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich'".

"John's mission", the Holy Father went on, "was an appeal to conversion, his Baptism 'was associated with an ardent call to a new way of thinking and acting, it was associated above all with announcing the judgement of God' and the imminent coming of the Messiah". John "called people to inner conversion on the basis of a recognition and confession of their sins. As we prepare for Christmas, it is important we look into ourselves and make a sincere assessment of our lives".

In his language greetings following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI noted that this week marks the sixtieth anniversary of the International Organisation for Migration and of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as the fiftieth anniversary of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. "May the Lord protect people who, often under constraint, have to abandon their own country or who have no nationality of their own", the Pope said. "While encouraging solidarity towards them, I pray for all those who strive to protect and assist these our brothers and sisters in emergency situations, often exposing themselves to serious fatigue and danger".

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VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, apostolic nuncio to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Guyana, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles.

- Twelve prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop John Myers of Newark, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Edgar M. da Cunha S.D.V., Gaetano Aldo Donato and Manuel A. Cruz, and by former Auxiliary Bishops David Arias O.A.R. and Dominic Anthony Marconi.

- Bishop Paul Gregory Bootkoski of Metuchen.

- Bishop Arthur Joseph Serratelli of Paterson, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Frank Joseph Rodimer.

- David M. O'Connell C.M. of Trenton, accompanied by Bishop emeritus John Mortimer Smith.

- Bishop Donald Walter Trautman of Erie.

- Jasna Krivosic-Prpic, ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on her farewell visit.

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


UCAN REPORT: Prelate condemns recent arrest of nun on charges of trafficking children
Sri Lanka
December 5, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of Church boycotts state Christmas events
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith addressing the media at a press conference in Colombo

The Catholic Church is to boycott all government functions over Christmas in protest over the arrest of a nun on child trafficking charges.

At a press conference in Colombo on December 3, Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said he will not participate in government-sponsored events this festive season.

He said the Church strongly condemns the arrest of Sister Mary Eliza, an Indian nun serving at Prem Nivasa orphanage in Moratuwa, near Colombo.

The orphanage also provides shelter for abandoned single pregnant women.

“Our reaction to this is to stay away from any state functions or state-organized event this Christmas, until this matter is sorted out,” the Cardinal said.

He said the arrest last week was carried out without any foundation of proof.

Police and National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) officials raided the orphanage last week following a tip-off that children were being sold there.

“The sisters serving in these homes are from different countries and do a magnificent service. The NCPA has acted purely on an anonymous telephone call,” the cardinal said, condemning the adverse publicity given by the media last week.

“The NCPA gave interviews to the media without investigating the anonymous call they received. What happened here is that the NCPA and police did not know the true facts about the orphanage, and gave the media incorrect information, which was used maliciously against the nuns.”

He said the nuns were providing tremendous support for very vulnerable people.

“When pregnant women go to this orphanage seeking shelter, these nuns do not ask their caste or creed. Some girls have been raped and are suicidal because someone has destroyed their life and dignity,” said Cardinal Ranjith, who is also president of the bishops’ conference.


Image from a media release


CATH NEWS REPORT: The St Nicholas Russian Catholic Community in Melbourne now has a "new and permanent home" in St Kilda East, according to a media release from the community.

The parish will celebrate the first Divine Liturgy at 10 am on Decembere 18, and sing the Office of Vespers for the Feast of St Nicholas at 5pm the same day, he added."The Holy See provided the money for the purchase of the old Congregationalist Church on the corner of Inkerman and Hotham Streets, St Kilda East, and the pledge of further finance to renovate and adapt the church to our Byzantine usage," writes Archpriest Fr Lawrence Cross.

"This is the day we have all been waiting for so expectantly and I trust that everyone in our community will make a special effort to be there.


The World as It Could Be: Catholic Social Thought for a New GenerationPRESS RELEASE OF BOOK: Providing insight and into the world's most pressing concerns--those of human dignity and rights, globalization, religious liberty and world peace--bestselling author and priest Thomas D. Williams adds his reassuring voice to the panoply of issues that engage Christians in the public sphere. One of the most trusted and dynamic voices from the Catholic community and the official Vatican analyst for CBS News, Father Williams helps Catholics step back from today's controversies and understand Catholic teachings in a deeper way. Addressing the most heated debates ripped from national headlines and fervently discussed among Catholics--from abortion and capital punishment to global governance to the economy--Father Williams draws upon his years of teaching and research in this sophisticated yet accessible analysis of the moral dilemmas and political challenges that Catholics face every day. Examining these moral conflicts, and the often opposing forces of individual rights versus those of the community, Father Williams speaks to Catholics and non-Catholic alike in this examination of the Catholic faith, its influence in the world, and what it teaches millions of followers regarding social justice.


The World as it Could Be offers a thoroughly understandable explanation of the richness of Catholic social thought applied to a broad range of contemporary moral challenges. Most importantly, Father Williams explains how the truth about the dignity of the human person—rooted in God’s creation of Man in His image—has shaped Catholic social teaching about the ‘new things’ challenging this dignity from Pope Leo XIII to Pope Benedict XVI. The result is a remarkable set of insights about the ordering of society that best promotes integral human development.” —Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House

“This is an important book—a richly sourced, intelligent and engaging overview of the roots and current state of Catholic social thought. Grounded in excellent scholarship and written with admirable clarity and balance, this text will be an invaluable resource for Catholics serious about understanding the social implications of their faith for years to come.” —Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia

“This volume not only explores the riches of Catholic social teaching, but clarifies and develops important aspects of that teaching. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Catholic social thought.” —Kenneth L. Grasso, Texas State University

“Someone who knew nothing of the tradition of Catholic thought about morality and social life would find inThe World as It Could Be a lucid and compelling introduction to the subject. But Fr. Williams’ book is far more than that. It is a philosophically sophisticated engagement with that great and challenging tradition by a scholar who recognizes that, for all its virtues, it is and will always be a work in progress.” —Robert P. George, professor, Princeton University

“Father Thomas Williams manages to make clear the thought of the Social Magisterium even while taking the reader through the challenging complexity of the subject matter. He emphasizes consistency at the level of principles without ignoring the way that the questions and approaches to problems evolve. This book is useful for beginners and scholars.” —Russell Hittinger, professor, University of Tulsa

“Fr. Thomas Williams is a distinguished teacher of the social doctrine of the Church. His thoughtful and expert reflections on its historical development and on possible approaches to new issues and challenges make The World as it Could Be a valuable resource for all those interested in the wisdom the Church’s social teaching offers society for the twenty-first century.” —George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney


Agenzia Fides REPORT - There is growing tension between North and South Sudan: the latter accuses Khartoum's troops of having crossed the frontier on its territory to hunt down the rebels operating in the border regions between the two States. According to the newspaper "Sudan Tribune", troops of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF, the Army of Khartoum) briefly occupied the town of Jaw, in the State of the Union. The military in Khartoum were hunting for members of the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), the guerrilla group active in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile (states belonging to Sudan which are on the border with South Sudan). The southern Sudanese troops engaged with the military from the north in clashes between 3 and 4 December, forcing the soldiers to leave the area of Khartoum.
Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, on the borders of Sudan with South Sudan, home to ethnic groups that fought alongside southern Sudan during the civil war ended in 2005 with a peace agreement that paved the way for the independence of the south, sanctioned in July this year.
Previously, the Minister of Information of the Upper Nile had declared to the Catholic Bakhita Radio that the SAF military had attacked the village of Danda on the morning of December 1. The attackers were repelled by the south Sudanese military. The Minister pointed out that it was the first time the government of Khartoum led an attack with its military instead of using irregular allied militias. The Minister added that Sudan could try to annex some areas rich in oil, disputed by the two countries before their border is marked permanently.
The tension is heightened by the threat of Khartoum to prevent the export of oil in south Sudan through its ports (crude oil is in fact sent by pipeline to Port Sudan before being loaded onto tankers). The intervention of China (the main buyer of Sudan's oil) has so far prevented the application of this measure. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 05/12/2011)


We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam) – New Film by Nanni Moretti | Nanni Moretti, We Have a Pope

Michel Piccoli plays reluctant Pope
The Pope is dead. The Conclave is assembled in the Sistine Chapel. Three heavyweight cardinals, the bookies’ favourites, surge ahead in the first few ballots of the ensuing election – only to fall into a deadlock. When a compromise candidate (played by Michel Piccoli) is eventually chosen from the backbenches he steps forward with a humble heart and a nervous smile. But his courage fails him, and just as he is invited onto the balcony to greet the waiting world, he runs back to his room in terror, and eventually escapes into the city to contemplate the strange turn of events that has brought him to this point.

It’s an unusual theme for Italian director Nanni Moretti, a self-professed atheist. Many viewers might have expected him to put together a hard-hitting expose of ecclesiastical corruption, or at least to take a few easy swipes at the Catholic Church. Instead, we get a light-comedy that treats its ecclesiastical protagonists with amused curiosity and uncritical affection.

It’s an entertaining two hours, but it never really opens up the central question of how a man gets chosen for this high office, or why this particular man finds it impossible to bear. Veteran actor Michel Piccoli brings out the dignity and vulnerability of the avuncular Pontiff; but we don’t get any sense of what this inner struggle means to him.

There are some great scenes. Moretti himself plays a secular psychoanalyst brought into the Vatican to help the Pope overcome his paralysis. Their first session takes place before the assembled cardinals, and the visiting therapist is told he is free to explore any areas of the Pope’s life, apart from… his relationships, his childhood, his mother, etc. Moretti, dumbfounded, ploughs on. The clash of cultures, of mentalities – religious and secular, classical and post-Freudian – is illustrated with such gentleness and humour.

We see a particularly corpulent Swiss guard being led into the papal apartments, and realise he is the Pope’s stand-in, charged with opening the curtains in the morning and switching off the lights at night. On the second day he discovers a penchant for method acting and feels obliged to polish off the lavish Pontifical breakfast; and by the third day he can’t resist the flourish of a papal blessing, raising his hand in benediction from behind the net curtains.

And when the Vatican spokesperson is asked why the new Pope has not appeared and what this unprecedented event means for the wider Church, he responds “It’s perfectly normal for a Holy Father to seek some space for prayer and reflection as he prepares for his new responsibilities” – the kind of pious flannel that so easily becomes a substitute for an uncomfortable truth.

The ending, which I won’t give away, is unsatisfactory. It doesn’t make dramatic sense of what’s come before, and it highlights the fact that the film is a collection of amusing vignettes rather than a coherent whole. We Have a Pope provokes a few reflections about vocation, the yawning gap between office and person, and the relationship between priesthood and acting, but it fails to make any deep impressions. It’s not tough enough or funny enough to avoid falling into whimsy. Directors like Woody Allen and Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) are somehow able to mix light comedy and even slapstick with themes of profound seriousness; I wish Moretti had managed to do the same.

Two stars out of five.


St. Sabbas


Feast: December 5


Feast Day:December 5
Born:439 at Motalala, Cappadocia

Hermit, born at Mutalaska near Caesarea in Cappadocia, 439; died in his laura 5 December, 532. He entered a Basilian monastery aat the age of eight, came to Jerusalem in 456, lived five years in a cavern as a disciple of St. Euthymius, and, after spending some time in various monasteries, founded (483) the Laura Mar Sabe (restored in 1840) in the gorges of the Cedron, southeast of Jerusalem. Because some of his monks opposed his rule and demanded a priest as their abbot, Patriarch Salustius of Jerusalem ordained him in 491 and appointed archimandrite of all the monasteries in Palestine in 494. The opposition continued and he withdrew to the new laura which he had built near Thekoa. A strenuous opponent of the Monophysites and the Origenists he tried to influence the emperors against them by calling personally on Emperor Anastasius at Constantinople in 511 and on Justinian in 531. His authorship of "Typicon S. Sabæ" (Venice, 1545), a regulation for Divine worship throughout the year as well as his authorship of a monastic rule bearing the same title (Kurtz in "Byzant, Zeitschrift", III, Leipzig, 1894, 167-70), is doubtful. After him was named the Basilica of St. Sabas with its former monastery on the Aventine at Rome. His feast is on 5 December.


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