VIS REPORTS: CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BE WITNESSES OF PRAYER
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning's general audience was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 5,500 faithful. Having recently completed a series of catecheses dedicated to prayer in the Old Testament, the Pope today began a new cycle on the subject of the prayer of Christ which, he said, was "like a hidden canal irrigating His life, relationships and actions, and guiding Him with increasing firmness to the total gift of self, in keeping with the loving plan of God the Father". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
One particularly significant moment of prayer followed the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. This, the Pope noted, poses a query as to why Jesus, Who was without sin, should have chosen to submit Himself to John's Baptism of penance and conversion. John the Baptist himself raised the question, saying "I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?". The Holy Father explained how "by emerging Himself in the Jordan River, Jesus ... expressed His solidarity with people who recognise their sins, who chose to repent and change their lives. He helps us to understand that being part of the people of God means entering into a new life, a life in conformity with God. By this gesture Jesus anticipated the cross, beginning His active life by taking the place of sinners, bearing the weight of the sin of all humankind on His shoulders".
By praying after His Baptism, Jesus demonstrates His intimate bond with the Father, "experiencing His paternity and apprehending the demanding beauty of His love. Speaking to God, Jesus receives confirmation of His mission", with the words that resound from on high: "This is my son, the Beloved" and with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him. "Through prayer", the Pope said, "Jesus lives in uninterrupted contact with the Father in order to achieve His project of love for mankind". It is in this profound union with the Father that Jesus made the move for the hidden life of Nazareth to His public ministry.
Jesus' prayer had its roots in His family, deeply attached to the religious tradition of the People of Israel, but its "most profound and essential origin is in the fact that He is the Son of God, in a unique relationship with God the Father". In the Gospel narratives "the setting for Jesus' prayers always stands at the crossroads between the traditions of His people and the novelty of a personal and unique rapport with God. The 'deserted place' to which He often retired, the 'mountain' He ascended to pray and the 'night' which gave Him solitude, all recall phases of God's revelation in the Old Testament and indicate the continuity of His plan of salvation".
"Jesus' prayer enters into all stages of His ministry and into every day of His life. It is not interrupted by fatigue. Quite the contrary, the Gospels make it clear that Jesus was wont to spend part of the night in prayer, ... and when the decisions to be taken become more urgent and complex, His prayer becomes longer and more intense".
"Contemplating Jesus' prayer, we should ask ourselves how we pray", said Benedict XVI, "and how much time we dedicate to our relationship with God". In this context he highlighted "the importance of the prayerful reading of Holy Scripture. ... Listening, meditating and remaining in silence before the Lord is an art we learn through constant practice", he said.
Christians are today called "to be witnesses of prayer, because our world often remains closed to the divine, to the hope which leads to the encounter with God. Through profound friendship with Jesus, by living in Him and with Him as children of the Father, through faithful and constant prayer, we can open ourselves to heaven and God. Indeed, by following the paths of prayer, ... we can also help others to follow them".
In conclusion, the Holy Father exhorted the faithful "to maintain an intense relationship with God, to pray, not intermittently but constantly and faithfully, so as to illuminate our lives as Jesus taught us. And let us ask Him to help us communicate with those around us, with those whom we meet on our journey, transmitting to them the joy of meeting the Lord, light of life".
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Following his catechesis this morning, the Holy Father delivered greetings in various languages to groups attending his general audience.
Speaking English to delegations from a number of countries participating in a meeting being promoted by the Sant'Egidio Community on the theme "No Justice without Life", he said: "I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order".
He then turned to greet students of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, and a delegation from the French diocese of Belley-Ars accompanied by Bishop Guy Bagnard, who have come to Rome with a portrait of St. John Mary Vianney for the Vatican Basilica in commemoration of the Year for Priests. "Following the example of St. John Mary Vianney", he told them, "let us rediscover the importance of prayer in our lives".
The Holy Father also welcomed nuns of the Congregation of Daughters of Divine Charity who, accompanied by Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, Bosnia Herzegovina, have come to Rome on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for the recent beatification in Sarajevo of five members of their order martyred during World War II. "Grateful for their witness, let us pray to God to give us the courage to persevere in our service", the Pope said.
Finally, he thanked representatives of the Italian Federation of Bakers for their gift of a number of "panttoni" which will be used for the Pope's charity.
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is leading a delegation sent by the Holy See to Istanbul to participate in celebrations marking the Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy See and the Patriarchate exchange regular annual visits for the feast days of their respective patrons.
The Holy See delegation to this year's celebration - which coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the election of His Holiness Bartholomew I as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople - is made up of Cardinal Koch; Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Fr. Andrea Palmieri, an official of the same dicastery, and Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey. The group attended a divine liturgy celebrated by Bartholomew I in the patriarchal church of Fanar, then met with the Patriarch and the synodal commission which oversees relations with the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Koch gave Bartholomew I a gift and a message from the Holy Father. In the message, which was read out at the end of the divine liturgy, Benedict XVI recalls his most recent meeting with the Patriarch during last month's Day of Prayer for Peace in the Italian town of Assisi. "I give thanks to the Lord for having allowed me to strengthen the bonds of sincere friendship and true brotherhood which unite us, and to bear witness before the entire world to the broad vision we share".
The message continues: "The present cultural, social, economic, political and religious circumstances place exactly the same challenges before Catholics and Orthodox. Announcing the mystery of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ needs to undergo deep renewal in many regions which once accepted the light but are now suffering the effects of secularisation which impoverishes man in his deepest dimension. Faced with this emergency we must show all mankind that we have achieved a maturity in the faith, that we are capable of coming together despite human tensions, thanks to our joint search for truth and with the awareness that the future of evangelisation depends upon the witness of unity and the level of charity the Church can show".
The Pope concludes by asking the Lord that, through the intercession of Sts. Andrew, Peter and Paul, both Church may receive "the gift of unity which comes from on high".
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Benedict's general prayer intention for December is: "That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect".
His mission intention is: "That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation".
BXVI-PRAYER INTENTIONS/ VIS 20111130 (70)
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Jose Francisco Rezende Dias of Duque de Caxias, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Niteroi (area 4,722, population 2,206,000, Catholics 1,185,959, priests 139, permanent deacons 59, religious 269), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Alano Maria Pena O.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Esmeraldo Barreto de Farias of Santarem, Brazil, as archbishop of Porto Velho (area 84,696, population 664,958, Catholics 598,000, priests 29, permanent deacons 1, religious 128), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Moacyr Grechi O.S.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Nicholas Mang Thang of Hakha, Myanmar, as coadjutor archbishop of Mandalay (area 212,407, population 9,078,000, Catholics 23,617, priests 57, religious 173), Myanmar, and as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Hakha.
- Erected the new diocese of Gaoua (area 10,411, population 260,550, Catholics 19,074, priests 14, religious 24) Burkina Faso, with territory taken from the diocese of Diebougou, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Bobo-Dioulasso. He appointed Fr. Modeste Kambou, vicar general of the diocese of Diebougou, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Bouti, Burkina Faso in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991. He has worked as parochial vicar, and as professor and later director of the minor seminary of St. Tarcisius of Kakapele.
- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Osnabruck, Germany, presented by Bishop Theodor Kettmann, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:
- Bishop Luigi Belloli, emeritus of Anagni-Alatri, Italy, on 5 November at the age of 88.
- Archbishop Oscar Rolando Cantuarias Pastor, emeritus of Piura, Peru, on 7 November at the age of 80.
- Bishop Domenico Tarcisio Cortese, emeritus of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea, Italy, on 11 November at the age of 80.
- Bishop Justo Oscar Laguna, emeritus of Moron, Argentina, on 3 November at the age of 82.
- Bishop Jean-Paul Randriamanana, auxiliary of Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 9 November at the age of 61.
- Bishop Crescenzio Rinaldini, emeritus of Aracuai, Brazil, on 24 October at the age of 85.
- Archbishop Hector Rueda Hernandez, emeritus of Medellin, Colombia, on 1 November at the age of 90.
- Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi M.Sp.S. of Tepic, Mexico, on 1 November at the age of 73.
- Bishop Dieudonne Yougbare of Koupela, Burkina Faso, on 4 November at the age of 94.
Catholics in Ende archdiocese, in East Nusa Tenggara, are today mourning the loss of a pastor who they say contributed greatly to the growth of the local Church.
Divine Word Archbishop Emeritus Donatus Djagom died yesterday in his sleep at age 92.
His body was sent to Christ the King Cathedral Church in Ende today where it will lie in state until his funeral on December 2.
He will be buried in the grounds of the Archdiocesan Palace after a requiem Mass led by Archbishop Vincentius Sensi Potokota of Ende.
“Archbishop Emeritus Donatus was very close to his people. Many, especially in villages, really felt his presence as a pastor,” Archbishop Potokota said.
He “was dedicated and committed to the growth of the local Church while he led this archdiocese for 27 years,” he said, adding the former prelate “paid great attention to the role of ordinary Catholics.”
Divine Word Father Johanes Damianus Mukese, head of theFlores Pos newspaper, praised Archbishop Emeritus Donatus for building an effective strategy for pastoral work.
“He started pastoral discussions involving priests and laypeople in 1984. During his leadership, three major pastoral discussions were held,” Fr. Mukese said.
He also credited the late archbishop with having encouraged many local people to answer their religious calling.
“The number of native-born priests grew fast, and many of them became missioners,” he said.
Archbishop Emeritus Donatus was born on May 10, 1919 in Bilas, Manggarai and ordained a priest in Teteringen, the Netherlands, on August 28, 1949.
On December 19, 1968, he was appointed archbishop of Ende, and his episcopal ordination was on June 11, the following year. He retired on February 23, 1996.
The first official results will be published in early December, but already the Africa Union and the European Union have launched appeals for the results of the vote to be accepted by all candidates. Fr. Loris agrees that "the problem now is to see if the results are accepted by all candidates. The election observers have in fact found several irregularities. One needs to establish whether this is due to irregularities caused by delays, organizational difficulties and technical and logistical errors, or if it is deliberate fraud. There have been reports of already voted ballots in favor of a particular candidate, but investigation still needs to be carried out to verify these facts", concludes Father Loris. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 30/11/2011)
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- African-American Catholics are much more engaged in their church on a variety of levels than are white Catholics, concludes the first National Black Catholic Survey.
Whether in a majority black church, a mixed or mostly white parish, the survey found African-American Catholics feel satisfied and fulfilled in their parishes, explained retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress.
By "engaged," Bishop Ricard explained, the authors of the report mean African-Americans are involved in their parishes well beyond simply attending Mass somewhat regularly. That includes having strong networks of friends and family in their churches, participating in multiple parish activities and saying their spiritual, emotional and social needs are met there.
Bishop Ricard, who is rector of the Washington seminary of his religious order, the Josephites, said the results of the survey surprised and pleased him and the leaders of the National Black Catholic Congress who commissioned it, along with the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Church Life and the office of the school's president. The survey will be used as the basis of a pastoral plan for evangelization that will be presented during next July's National Black Catholic Congress in Indianapolis.
"This is a bright spot for the church," said Bishop Ricard in an interview Nov. 28 at St. Joseph's Seminary. Whatever their parish situation, a majority of African-American participants in the attitudinal survey conducted by Knowledge Networks, "feel affirmed and have decided they are going to stay Catholic," he said. "It's a very optimistic message."
Among the conclusions of the survey were that black Catholics feel more committed to their parishes emotionally, spiritually and socially than do white Catholics. In those respects, as in many other aspects of the survey, black Catholics were shown to be much more like black Protestants in their approach to church than they are like white Catholics.
"Compared with other religious and racial groups, African-American Catholics behave and look like African-American Protestants," said the executive summary written by study authors Darren W. Davis, a professor of political science and associate vice president for research at Notre Dame, and Donald B. Pope-Davis, professor of psychology and vice president and associate provost Notre Dame.
Still, "African-American Protestants are clearly more highly involved by every measure of engagement," they continued. Therefore, they said, the pattern "is taken as suggestive of a cultural effect, as opposed to a Catholic effect, whereby the historical and cultural norms of the African-American community weigh just as heavily on African-American Catholics as on African-American Protestants."
The survey was conducted this summer in phone calls to 3,215 people, including 2,104 African-Americans, proportionally representing Catholics and Protestants according to their ratio in the U.S. population. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said their parish is not predominantly African-American. No margin of error was given.
In one set of comparisons, asking "how well does your parish meet your needs," black Catholics, and both black and white Protestants were more likely than their white Catholic counterparts to agree. For instance, when the question asked about spiritual needs, 78 percent of black Catholics and 86 percent of black Protestants said "well" or "very well," while 67 percent of white Catholics and 81 percent of white Protestants said the same.
The difference was sharper when the question asked about parishes meeting social needs, with 62 percent of black Catholics, 76 percent of black Protestants and 63 percent of white Protestants saying "well" or "very well," while just 41 percent of white Catholics said so.
Bishop Ricard said the finding that black Catholics are almost as at-ease in mixed or mostly white parishes as they are in majority black parishes shows that efforts have been successful in helping African-Americans to feel a part of the Catholic Church and make it their own.
That model could hold lessons for dioceses and churches that are struggling to help immigrants from Latin America and Asia feel like they belong, he said.
Like African-Americans, Latino and Asian immigrants have a strong cultural sense of community, Bishop Ricard said. "There is less emphasis on the individual and more on the communitarian aspects of a church."
For instance, black Catholics in the survey were much more likely to say it's important that their friends attend their church. Just about 7 percent of white Catholics agreed with that statement. But 27 percent of black Catholics said so. Phrased another way, 48 percent of black Catholics said being with others in church is an important reason to go, compared with 26 percent of white Catholics, 58 percent of black Protestants and 52 percent of white Protestants.
And there also are lessons for all types of parishes that are interested in having their members become more deeply engaged.
Bishop Ricard related the experience of a large Florida parish that made the effort to have the pastor or a member of the parish staff personally visit every one of the 2,000 registered families. Completed over the course of a year, these visits featured conversations about what people wanted from their church, what was working and not working and what their everyday concerns were, he said.
"It had a significant effect on increasing people's involvement," he said. It wasn't so much that the parish would be able to adapt to all those concerns, but a matter of "making people feel personally involved," he said.
The survey did find various aspects of church life where African-Americans consider improvement is needed. Among them that although most African-Americans do not consider the church racist -- 77 percent said they don't consider it racist -- nearly a third have felt uncomfortable being the only black in a church and a quarter have encountered people avoiding them or refusing to shake hands.
Majorities of African-Americans said the church should put more effort into emphasizing black saints; promoting black vocations and black bishops; supporting issues such as affirmative action and problems in Africa and promoting racial integration.
But there was also hopeful news when it comes to young adults being involved, the survey found.
"African-American young adults, both Catholic and Protestant, are more religiously engaged and consider religion to be more important than whites of the same age," the authors wrote. "Older individuals are more religiously engaged than younger adults, and there is an age gap, but African-American young adults are also religiously engaged. Whatever disengagement exists among African-Americans, it cannot be attributed to a generation gap. White Catholic young adults, by contrast, have an extremely low level of religious commitment."
It also found that black Catholics were much more likely than their white counterparts to say religion is important in their lives. They also are more likely to say they would turn to their pastor or another church leader for help in times of crisis such as a death in the family, marriage or alcohol problems.
ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT: BY Denis Fitzgerald
Advent is a time of yearning to see the presence of Jesus in our world. As Christians, love of neighbour is one of the ways in which we are called to give witness to this presence.
This has a parish dimension as well as a personal one. As Bishop Peter Elliott put it in a recent letter to Australian parishes: “We are challenged and called to be a loving, compassionate and inclusive community – to be truly ‘One Body in Christ’.”
Who is our neighbour? We know from the parable of the Good Samaritan, and from two thousand years of action and reflection on Christ’s teaching, that we are called to continually extend our reach, to include as our neighbour both those who are close to us and those with whom we may not immediately be comfortable; as the saints have done through the ages, and as so many strive to do today.
It is a challenge in our parishes and communities to ensure that all people are included in the life of the Church: those new to our area; people who are shy, or who do not communicate readily; people different from ourselves – older, younger, richer, poorer. Our time is limited, as is our energy. And there are people who we do want to catch up with. How can we get around to everyone?
This challenge cannot be met by any one of us, but it cannot be met without us. A parish or community endeavour is called for, involving many individuals in a concerted way. (See boxed text below).
Another dimension to our engagement can be as part of the broader political community.
Work continues towards the development in Australia of a National Disability Insurance Scheme. This broad proposal would establish a national scheme to tackle the individualised needs of Australians who have a permanent disability. The recommendations being worked on by governments at Commonwealth and state level would greatly increase the quality of care and of support for those who care for them.
Popular support is also necessary. A report earlier this year from the Productivity Commission considered that there would be positive long-run economic benefits from such a scheme, but that it would require that we double our current public spending on disability support.
Individuals, parishes and other groups can express their support for these developments through the websitewww.everyaustraliancounts.com.au
Denis Fitzgerald is Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria.
Each of us as individuals and members of parishes is called on to promote and recognise the gifts and lives of people with disability, as part of our broad response to the Gospel call: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me” (Matt 25:40).
Disability is a major factor in the lives of many Australians. There are 350,000 people in Australia who have a permanent disability, and rely on others for care, mobility or communication. About 550,000 people are primary carers of people with disabilities.
Since 1992, the United Nations has promoted 3 December as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities. It seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The Church in Australia has regularly drawn this day to the attention of parishes, and has provided resource material to assist parish communities to engage more effectively with their members who have disabilities. It reminds us that many people with disability are participating fully in their parish communities. But it also reminds us that this is not always the case, and it seeks to increase awareness of gains to be made.
In 2011, the material provided by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference includes a booklet, Reflection and Response: Welcoming People with Disability. The booklet speaks to us in various ways. By reminding us of te scriptural setting: “‘Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same function: in the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another’ (Rom 12; 4-6).”
By drawing out some of the implications of this: “Parish communities need every person to be part of the worshipping body. A parish is not complete or whole unless it includes, nurtures and rejoices in each of its members.” And by providing a set of prayer cards and support material to assist parishes in creating accessible communities.
A complementary series of checklists challenges us in the areas of:
- Hospitality and relationships
- Sensory access
- Resource access
- Buildings and physical access.
For information on support materials: www.css.org.au
Kairos Catholic Journal Volume 22, Issue 22
St. Andrew the Apostle
Feast: November 30
|Matthew 4: 18 - 22|
|18||As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.|
|19||And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."|
|20||Immediately they left their nets and followed him.|
|21||And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb'edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.|
|22||Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.|