Wednesday, December 7, 2011











VIS REPORTS: VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Tomorrow 7 December, Benedict XVI will switch on the lights of the biggest Christmas tree in the world, a "sign of universal peace and brotherhood among peoples" located in the Italian town of Gubbio.


The "tree", which is made up of an arrangement of coloured lights on the side of Mount Ingino, has been erected by volunteers every year since 1981. Its base is approximately 450 metres wide and it extends for 750 metres up the hillside from the city's mediaeval walls to the basilica of St. Ubaldo. The silhouette of the tree is marked with 300 green lights, and it covers a surface area of some 130,000 square meters illuminated with 400 multicoloured lights. At the top is a comet made up of 250 lights covering an area of 1,000 square metres.

The tree is illuminated every year on 7 December, during a traditional celebration attended by representatives of the world of culture, show business and politics. Benedict XVI will activate the illumination from his apartments in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. He will touch the screen of a Sony "Tablet" with an "Android" operating system which, via the Internet, will transmit the command to switch on the electric current to the tree.

The Holy Father will be seen in Gubbio thanks to a television linkup organised by the Vatican Television Centre. The event, which will be televised both nationally and internationally, is due to begin at 5.30 p.m. and the illumination of the tree will take place at 6.30 p.m.

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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue today met with a delegation from the Jain religion. The meeting was presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council, and by Nemu Chandaria, deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Institute of Jainology.

"This meeting was the second one after that of 14 February 1995. Moreover, there have been contacts between the Jain community and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue since 1986", reads an English language communique published today. During the meeting, "held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and friendship, members of the delegations expressed satisfaction over the cordial relations and cooperation that exist between both the Christian and Jain communities in countries where they live their day-to-day lives in proximity.

"While expressing the desire to expand mutual concrete collaboration", the communique adds, "the delegations agreed that it must be ever more strengthened at the local levels to better contribute towards the common good of the entire society. In particular, they stressed the importance of educating the younger generations to be aware of their own traditions, and to know and better respect those of others.

"With an aim to find concrete areas of convergence as the basis of collaboration, they discussed the Jain principle of 'non-violence' (Ahimsa) and that of Christian 'charity'. They found some common elements that can motivate and sustain Jain-Catholic collaboration, recognising the differences between the two principles.

"They also recognised that these elements, on a practical level, call upon the followers of both the traditions to promote mutual respect, truthfulness, honesty, freedom, peace, social harmony and to commit themselves to eliminate every form of violence against human beings, in particular injustice, poverty and exploitation of natural resources".

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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See yesterday became a member State of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM-OIM). The Holy See's request was accepted by the Geneva-based institution in the course of its recent plenary.

The OIM was established in 1951 and bases its activities on the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits both migrants and society. It has 130 member States and around 100 observers, including States and non-governmental organisations.

Speaking on Vatican Radio yesterday, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, noted that, "as we are witnessing a continuous increase in the number of migrants and refugees in the world, it is important for us to be present and to participate in the efforts of the international community with the specific contribution of the Holy See: an ethical voice which gives a fresh interpretation to these new situations. ... What must prevail is not so much politics, as the need to meet the human needs of these people, as they migrate through the various regions of the world".

Archbishop Tomasi recalled how the Church has always been in the frontline in helping migrants, through a broad network of Catholic organisations. For this reason, "collaboration with the structures of the international community is a logical operative step helping us to make our service even more effective", he said. Ecclesiastical structures "serve all people generously, irrespective of their religious faith, colour or legal status. What counts is human beings and their dignity, and this is often at risk in the situations of marginality which arise as people move from one country to another seeking work or new forms of survival". The Church's ethical contribution will, then, focus on "the defence of human beings and their dignity".

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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has been awarded the John Paul II peace prize, which is granted by the cultural association "Anassilaos", based in the Italian city of Reggio Calabria.

In his acceptance speech, the cardinal recalled how John Paul II's Encyclical "Redemptoris hominis" identified "respect for human rights as the best way to ensure peace among peoples". Benedict XVI likewise, "by emphasising the universal values shared by religious, cultures and schools of thought", has "identified the foundation of peace in an absolute value: truth".

For this reason, Cardinal Bertone continued, "the current Pontiff never ceases to remind Christians of the centrality of Jesus Who, breaking down the walls that separate us, shows us the real possibility ... of commitment to universal peace".

The secretary of State also dwelt on John Paul II's "concrete gestures for peace", such as his concern for human rights, his trips to conflict zones, his initiatives in the international community and the inter-religious meetings he promoted in Assisi.

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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Given below is an English-language translation made by Vatican Radio of a comment by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. for "Octavia Dies", a weekly programme produced by the Vatican Television Centre.

"'What will become of this child?' The Gospel relates that this is the question on the lips of friends and relatives at the birth of the young John, who will be known as the Baptist. It is also the question that we all ask when we contemplate the wonder of a child coming into the world. And in that question there is hope, but also a certain concern.

"It is the question we asked at the Pope's meeting with children two weeks ago - certainly the most wonderful and moving moment of the entire visit to Benin - with the elderly Pontiff surrounded by delightful little children dancing and holding his hand. The synodal document brought to Africa by the Pope enumerates, in a striking passage, some of the 'intolerable treatment inflicted on so many children'; 'children killed before birth, unwanted children, orphans, albinos, street children, abandoned children, child soldiers, child prisoners, children forced into labour, children ill-treated on account of physical or mental handicap, children said to be witches or warlocks, children sold as sex slaves, traumatised children without any future prospects'. The Church knows she must work for all of these children. Of the more than 125,000 health institutions and charities headed by the Church in the world, over 20,000 are specifically dedicated to children; many others are dedicated to education, or to the rescue of children from a life on the streets or other difficulties.

"On the occasion of a recent international conference on the protection of children from sexual abuse, the intervention of Msgr. Scicluna - with its 'Decalogue' of clear and firm principles on how to protect children - was well received. And it is fair to remember the valuable and generous efforts of so many women, religious and lay, in this field. This is certainly one of the most wonderful - and beneficial - ways in which women serve humanity and the Church. In this time of Advent and Christmas, which is especially the Christ child, these are spontaneous reflections: we have every reason to continue to be in the frontline on these frontiers".


Mariette Beco 80 ans
Mariette Beco deceased

Banneux WEBSITE RELEASE: In the morning of Friday 2nd December, Mariette Beco, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared eight times from the 15th of January to the 2nd of March 1933, died, aged 90, in an old people’s home at Banneux.

The news of her death was soon spread among pilgrims, arousing a vivid emotion.

Mariette’s last years were those of most elderly persons with both joys and sufferings. The Rector of the Shrine of Banneux, Father Leo Palm, had several encounters with Mariette. He remembers her as a person loved by her family and attached to her son and her grand-children. Mariette also mourned her two daughters, one who died on her prime childhoud, the second who died in 2008, aged 61.

Funeral ceremonies
● Prayer wake - Tuesday 6 December at 7 p.m. – Chapel of the Message.
● Funeral service of Mariette Beco – Wednesday 7 December at 11 a.m. – Great Church to Banneux

The Apparitions of Banneux were officially recognized by the Church in 1949 by Mgr Kerkhofs, bishop of Liege. During his visit to Banneux, Pope John Paul II had an encounter with Mariette Beco.
In 2008, the year of the official ceremonies of the 75th anniversary of the Apparitions, Mariette Beco requested Father Joseph Cassart, then Rector of the Shrine to merely make known a letter in which she made her last statement about the Apparitions: “I was no more then a postman who delivers the mail. Once this has been done, the postman is of no importance any more”.

Just like his predecessors Mgr Aloys Jousten, present-day bishop of Liege, solemnly reaffirmed the authentic character of the Apparitions in remembrance of the official recognition 60 years before, in 2009.

All through her life, Mariette proved to be perfectly discreet. She came to the spring and to the little Chapel of the Apparitions as unnoticed as best she could, praying to the Virgin Mary whom she has now set off to see again forever.


CNA REPORT: .- Around 5,000 runners are participating in the 10th annual relay from Mexico to New York in honor of the upcoming feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The massive run shows the widespread “love and respect for Our Lady of Guadalupe,” organizer Mirian Dominguez told CNA. “When we run, there's so much love, so much emotion.”

Dominguez explained that the tag-team journey begins each year in October and passes through cities in Mexico and the southern and eastern United States.

The 10th annual run, organized by Dominguez's parish of St. Paul's in Wilmington, Del., kicked off in Mexico City and will end at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.

Each segment of runners carries a torch for Our Lady of Guadalupe, which Dominguez calls a symbol of hope for Catholics around the world.

The torch and pilgrims will arrive at Wilmington's St. Paul Parish on Dec. 6 and be greeted by Mass, a meal and fellowship. Runners will stay overnight at parishioners' homes.

The frigid weather conditions that sometimes plague the runners this time of year don't phase the participants in the least, Dominguez said. They keep going “because of their faith, their love,” she noted.


The Northern Star


CATH NEWS REPORT: Three young men will dedicate their lives to the faith during an ordination ceremony at St Carthage's Cathedral in Lismore, borthern NSW, tomorrow night, reports the Northern Star.

Reverend Foster said he had a calling to become a priest when he was seven years old. "I said to the teacher and the students, when I grow up I want to be a priest," he said.Roland Agrisola, 27, Shelwin Fernandez, 25, and James Foster, 29, will each be ordained priests, the first time since 1967 three men have been ordained on the same day in the Lismore Diocese.

"So I don't feel nervous. I just feel a sense of deep joy and deep peace because this is the moment we have been preparing for for many years."

Foster completed his pastoral placing as a deacon in the parishes of Iluka, Yamba and Maclean, while Fernandez served in Kempsey and Agrisola was placed in Casino.

Agrisola said his deaconship gave him the opportunity to visit the sick and learn how to conduct funerals, baptisms and marriages.

The men will be expected to live simply but their personalities will not change completely.

"It's not about giving up everything ... because as spiritual leaders we have to go to where people are and lead them to God from there," he said.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: Death toll of three separate attacks in Baghdad and Hilla, against the Shia community that celebrates the festival of Ashura, rises to 30. Several women and children among the dead. Even attacks on Christian activities in the north. Threatening letters to Baghdad businesses. AsiaNews sources: campaign targeting anything that goes "against Shariah."

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - 30 died in a series of attacks that took place yesterday in central Iraq. The bloodiest attack took place in al-Nil, north of the city of Hilla where a car bomb exploded while a procession was passing, killing 16 people including women and children. Further south, a double attack in two different areas of the capital Baghdad killed at least 11 people, but the toll could worsen. The violence against the Iraqi Shia community in the holy month of Muharram-ul-Haram, which culminates on the feast day of Ashura - the "mourning" of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in the 7th century – follow on a few days from attacks on Christian shops and activities of in the north (see AsiaNews 03/12/2011 Zakho, Iraqi Islamic extremists attack Christian-owned shops and properties), confirms the climate of insecurity and tension that reigns in the country.

For years in Iraq, during the festival of Ashura there has been a peak in sectarian violence between majority Shi'ite and minority Sunni Muslims, in power at the time of the dictator Saddam Hussein. The tension has been exacerbated with the U.S. invasion in 2003 and the subsequent fall of the regime. For the past two years security has been entrusted only to Iraqi forces, in anticipation of the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country (about 10 thousand men, which will start later this year). Eyewitnesses report that the attack in Hilla hit those who were at the end of the procession: "This was a terrible explosion - refers to a man - you could hear the screams of women, and I saw the bodies of women and children on the ground. "

On December 2, however, Islamic extremists targeted Christian shops and activities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq: in Zakho, 470 miles from Baghdad, near the border with Turkey, a fundamentalist group incited by the local imam’s sermon devastated dozens of liquor stores, a hotel and massage centres, injuring at least 30 people. The attacks have continued even in the following days in Dohok, where three shops and a community centre belonging to Chaldean Christians were burnt.

Christian sources for AsiaNews, anonymous for security reasons, add that "in Baghdad liquor stores are subject to threats", the managers have received threatening letters, which state that the exercise "will be blown up." The attacks are the result of a "campaign" that targets "all that is contrary to Shariah," promoted by Islamists who want to radicalize the country. Unfortunately, the source adds, there is no "moderate movement" capable of containing the fundamentalist drift. "The attacks against Christians in the north - warns the Christian personality - are well prepared and have a purpose: to warn the Kurds against supporting the Syrian resistance." Once again, the Christian community, is an "easy target", a victim of those with higher interest in the "game for the conquest of power." (DS)


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The heavy rains that are hitting on Kenya have swiped away a lot of bridges and blocked many roads, making it harder to rescue thousands of people left homeless due to the floods. According to the Kenya Red Cross (KRCS), since October at least a dozen have died and other 40,000 people have been victims of natural disasters. In past days, due to a landslide in Keiyo, in the Rift Valley, other people died and others in Nyanza, western Kenya and coastal region. In Garbatula, district of Isiolo, hundreds of farmers have lost crops. In other parts of the country there is the danger of epidemics because of contaminated water caused by the explosion of lavotories and wells, and other areas due to ruptured pipelines.
According to the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission (KNCHR), which controls the northern part of the country, floods have affected the whole county of Isiolo, by breaking the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro river. Garfarsa, Kombola, Sericho, Merti and Garbatula are some of the areas most seriously affected. The displaced and the people in greatest difficulties are in urgent need of food aid, mosquito nets, tents, blankets, kitchen utensils and medicines. A few days ago also the banks of the Nzoia River broke, evacuating thousands of people in the areas of Budalang'i, Bunyala and Funyula in western Kenya. Other thousands of victims were recorded in areas of Nyatike and Nyando, Nyanza and the Coastal Province where, in the month of October, flash floods caused serious damage to the population, destroyed schools and water purification systems. In November, the Global Disaster Alert together with Coordination System had launched a warning for floods in Kenya, after more than 300 families had been displaced and livestock swept away by floods in Wajir, northern Kenya. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 07/12/2011)


St. Nicholas


Feast: December 6


Feast Day:December 6
Born:270, Patara, Lycia
Died:6 December 343, Myra, Lycia
Major Shrine:Basilica di San Nicola, Bari, Italy.
Patron of:Children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, prostitutes, repentant thieves, many cities.

The great veneration with which this saint has been honoured, both in the Greek and Latin churches for many ages, and the great number of altars and churches which have been everywhere erected in his memory, are proofs of his extraordinary sanctity and of the glory which he enjoys with God. The Emperor Justinian built a church in his honour at Constantinople, in the quarter called Blaquernae, about the year 430, and he was titular saint of four churches in Constantanople. All accounts agree that he was a native of Patara, in Lycia. We are told that in his infancy he observed the fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays, refusing to suck the breasts on those days. Happy are they who, from their infancy and innocent age, are inured to the exercises of devotion, penance, and perfect obedience. St. Nicholas increased his fervour in these and all other virtues with his years, especially when he had devoted himself to a religious life in the monastery of Holy Sion, near Myra, of which house he was made abbot by the archbishop, its founder. Charity in comforting and relieving the distressed seemed his characteristical virtue. Amongst many other instances, it is related that when three young virgins were exposed through distress to the danger of falling into vicious courses, he, for three successive nights, conveyed to them through the window a competent sum of money for a fortune for one of them, so that they were all portioned and afterwards happily married. Lycia was a large ancient province of Asia, in which St. Paul had planted the faith. Myra, the capital, three miles from Patara and from the sea, was an archiepiscopal see, founded by St. Nicander, of so great dignity that in later ages, thirty-six suffragan bishoprics were subject to it. This metropolitan church falling vacant, the holy abbot Nicholas was chosen archbishop, and in that exalted station became famous by his extraordinary piety and zeal, and an incredible number of stupendous miracles. The Greek histories of his life agree that he suffered imprisonment for the faith, and made a glorious confession in the latter part of the persecution raised by Diocletian: and that he was present at the great council of Nice, and there condemned Arianism. The silence of other authors make many justly suspect these circumstances.

The history of the translation of his relics place his death in 342. He died at Myra and was buried in his own cathedral. The relics of St. Nicholas were kept with great honour at Myra, till they were translated into Italy. Certain merchants of Bari, a seaport in the kingdom of Naples situated on the Adriatic Gulf, sailed in three ships to the coast of Lycia; and watching an opportunity when no Mohammedans were near the place, went to the church in which the relics of St. Nicholas were kept, which stood in a desert place three miles from the sea, and was guarded by a small community of monks. They broke open the marble coffin in which the sacred bones lay, and carried them off to their ships; the inhabitants, upon the alarm given, pursued them to the shore with horrible outcries, but the Europeans were got safe on board. They landed at Bari on the 9th of May 1087, and the sacred treasure was deposited by the archbishop in the Church of St. Stephen. On the first day, thirty persons were cured of various distempers, imploring the intercession of St. Nicholas, and from that time the tomb of St. Nicholas of Bari has been famous for pilgrimages. The authentic history of this translation, written by John, at that time archdeacon of Bari, by order of the archbishop, is extant in Surius.


TODAY'S GOSPEL AND MASS ONLINE: DEC. 6: Matthew 18: 12 - 14

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