Wednesday, January 25, 2012





VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Pope was presented with two lambs which had earlier been blessed for today's feast of St. Agnes. The blessing took place in the basilica on Rome's Via Nomentana which bears the saint's name and where she is buried. The wool of the lambs is used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

The pallium is a white woollen band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops. The lambs, the symbol of St. Agnes who was martyred in Rome around the year 305, are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from 18 to 25 January, was the theme for the Pope's reflections before praying the Angelus this morning, as he invited the faithful "to join the prayer which Jesus addressed to the Father on the eve of His Passion: 'That they may all be one, so that the world may believe'".

The theme of the texts for this year's Week of Prayer has been taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians: "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ". The Pope explained how "we are all called to see Christ's victory over sin and death - that is, His Resurrection - as an event which radically transforms those who believe in Him and opens their way to incorruptible and immortal life. Recognising and welcoming the transforming power of faith in Jesus Christ supports Christians in their search for full unity among themselves".

Benedict XVI affirmed that "our search for unity will be realistic if change first comes about within us, if we let God act, if we allow ourselves to be transformed in the image of Christ, if we enter into new life in Christ Who is the true victory. The visible unity of all Christians always comes from on high, from God; it requires humility to recognise our weakness and to accept the gift. However, to use a phrase often repeated by Blessed Pope John Paul II, each gift is also a task. And so the unity that comes from God requires a daily commitment on our part to open ourselves to one another in charity. ... The time we dedicate to prayer for the full communion of Christ's disciples will give us a deeper understanding of how we will be transformed by His victory, by the power of His Resurrection".

In concluding the Pope recalled how the Week of Prayer will conclude this Wednesday with the celebration of Vespers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls for the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul. The event will be attended by representatives from other Churches and Christian communities, he said, "and together we will renew our prayer to the Lord, source of unity".

After the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI expressed his best wishes for a happy New Year to countries in the Far East which are celebrating the new lunar year. "In the present global economic and social crisis, my hope for those peoples is that the new year may be marked by justice and peace, and bring relief to the suffering. My particular wish is that the young, with their enthusiasm and ideals, may offer a new hope to the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

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

- Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville.

- Bishop Roger Joseph Foys of Covington.

- Bishop Richard Frank Stika of Knoxville.

- Bishop Ronald William Gainer of Lexington

- Bishop James Terry Steib S.V.D. of Memphis.

- Bishop William Francis Medley of Owensboro.

- Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, ambassador of France, on his farewell visit.

On Saturday 21 January he received in audience:

- Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

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


AGENZIA FIDES REPORT: Corral Falso (Agenzia Fides) – On Saturday night, January 21, a group of armed men burst into a chapel in the community of Corral Falso, in the municipality of Atoyac de Alvarez, and opened fire on the faithful who had gathered in prayer for the mass of a community member’s soul killed the previous week: the toll of the tragic violence is seven were killed and five were injured, according to a statement from the Attorney General in the region of Guerrero. The police said they had received a phone call on Saturday night, January 21, which denounced that three men had fired on a group of faithful. The agents of the State Police then visited the scene, where they found the dead and wounded. These were taken to the general hospital Atoyac de Alvarez for medical care. At the same time of the Corral Falso aggression, there were 2 other episodes of violence in the area of the coast, in the municipality of Benito Juarez, in the region of San Jeronimo, and in the municipality of San Marcos, in the region of the Costa Chica. The total is a further 15 more deaths. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 23/01/2012)


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
24 Jan 2012

Christian Copts protest in Egypt
Tomorrow, 25 January marks the first anniversary of Egypt's popular uprising when hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand democracy, jobs and the overthrow of ruthless dictator, Hosni Mubarak. But for Sydney's Christian Coptic community there will be no celebrations to mark the event.
Instead Christian Copts and Egyptian-Australian Muslims will stand together in solidarity outside the Egyptian consulate to protest the hi-jacking of the revolution by Egypt's military and Islamic fundamentalists.
"The Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydney is living in sadness and is mourning the ugly and inhumane actions by Egypt's military junta that have caused unbearable suffering to the Egyptian people, especially the Coptic Christians," Father Tadros Simon, Vicar General of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney said in a statement on the anniversary of the uprising when Egyptians world-wide remember those who died or were injured during last year's demonstrations that ushered in the so-called Arab Spring.
But the revolution that was supposed to bring democracy, freedom of speech, free elections, boost the economy, end police brutality and create jobs for the 48% of the country who were unemployed, has instead seen a sharp escalation in military and police violence and crackdowns as well as a rise in the formerly banned Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Sulafists.

Protests in Tahrir Square, Cairo
In Egypt's recent series of elections, the formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood's coalition of Muslim fundamentalists, garnered 47% or 235 seats in the 498-seat Parliament while the hardline Sulafists' Al Nour Party, which wants to impose strict Sharia Law, won 25% of the vote or 125 seats.
"Last year's revolution was non sectarian. It had nothing to do with religion and was a demand for democracy. But this is not what has happened. The Islamists who now hold the majority do not represent the revolution and stand for nothing that was fought for," insists Peter Tadros of the Australian Coptic Movement (ACM).
But the Islamist fundamentalists and extremists now control Egypt's new Parliament.
Equally disturbing for Australia's Egyptian and Coptic community is the fact that those who are determined to take back the revolution and what they demonstrated for, are now being labelled "trouble-makers" and "traitors" by Egypt's interim military government.

Bombing at Coptic Church in Alexandria
"The rally at the Egyptian Consulate tomorrow is about remembering those who gave their lives in the uprising and to raise awareness about what is happening in Egypt, and to let people know the revolution and all that was fought for is far from over," Peter says.
Organised by Sam Mansour of the EAC-Aus (the Egyptian Association for Change Australia), the rally will begin at 6 pm with more than 1000 of the city's Coptic and Egyptian community and their supporters expected to attend.
"Discrepancies about the voting in the three elections continue to emerge with an academic in Cairo estimating that as many as 9 million of the 27 million votes received being invalid," Sam charges and says there is widespread evidence in his homeland of ballots being dumped in rubbish bins without being counted along with claims that in many instances people voted 42 times or more and had each of these votes counted as valid.
While elections are yet to be held for Egypt's upper house and for president, the rise of the Brotherhood and Sulafists alarms moderates throughout Egypt's 80 million population who are concerned for the nation's 8 million Christian Copts who trace their ancestry back to the time of the Pharoahs and their conversion to Christianity to the second century, several hundred years before the founding of Islam.

Coptic Christians attacked by Muslim extremists
as they march in memory of the dead
Persecution of Egypt's Christian Copts has dramatically increased during the past year with their churches burned, homes attacked, businesses destroyed and forcibly evacuated from their villages. The culmination of this reign of terror against the Copts occurred in October last year during a peaceful demonstration by Cairo's Coptic community to protest the latest burning by Muslims of one of their churches.
Attacked with clubs, stones and bottles from surrounding rooftops by Muslim extremists, the demonstration became a horrifying blood bath after the military moved in and rammed huge armed personnel carriers at high speed into the crowds. Men women and children fled in terror as military vehicles ran over people and made no attempt to slow down. Twenty-seven Coptic Christians were killed and more than 300 injured.

Egyptian Coptic Christians protested
against burning of their churches
"But three months later there has been no proper inquiry and no one has been found responsible for the massacre and no one has been brought to justice," says Peter Tadros and dismisses Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) invitation to the world to join in celebrations tomorrow to mark "the success of the revolution" as insulting.
"The fight and struggle for freedom, justice and equality is yet to be achieved," he insists describing the tyranny and brutal repression of pro democracy protestors and Coptic Christians in Egypt by the SCAF as just as cruel and despotic as the Mubarak regime.
For Father Tadros Simon, Vicar General of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney, the 12 months since last year's uprising in Cairo on 25 January 2012 gives Egyptians no cause for celebration.
"We as the Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydney and its Affiliated Regions are boycotting any celebrations, and see no point celebrating until and only until, Egypt comes out of the dark tunnel she has been pushed into by the ruling Military junta," he says.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Sr. Benigna Menezes
Leaders from various Christian denominations met in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) for the Week of Prayer for Christian unity. “There is room for everyone in God’s plan of salvation,” the local bishop, Mgr Prakash Mallavarapu said.

Vijayawada (AsiaNews) – Christian unity “is not just about friendship and cooperation. It requires willingness to give and challenge each other. We must open ourselves to our fellow man, offering and receiving so as to enter Christ’s new life, which is the only victory,” said Mgr Prakash Mallavarapu, bishop of Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), as he welcomed religious leaders from other Christian denominations at the start of the Week of prayer for Christian unity at the local pastoral centre last Friday. This year’s topic, “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ”, comes from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians

Catholic, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Methodist and other clerics together opened the prayer service with a procession, led by Mgr Prakash who carried a Bible.

“There is room for everyone in God’s plan of salvation,” the bishop said. “Through His death and resurrection, Christ embraces all”.

“The movement of ecumenical unity is a new awareness that is slowly creeping beneath the suffering body of Christ which craves to remain united under the one head that is Jesus Christ, the Lord of all humanity,” said Rt Rev Gowada Daivashirvadan, bishop of the Church of South India, which belongs to the Anglican Communion.

Rev Bernard Apel, a German clergyman from the World Council of Churches, was present at the ceremony.

About 10 per cent (1 million) of the population of Vijayawada, where the ceremony was held, are Christians. Across India, Christians represent only 2.3 per cent of the population.


Catholic & Coptic Orthodox leaders launch historic book | Most Rev Kevin McDonald,Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos, Week of Christian Unity,'Joint Statements between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches,
Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum

Bishop Angaelos and Bishop McDonald
The Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, Most Rev Kevin McDonald and the Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos marked the Week of Christian Unity today, with the launch of the first book compiled by the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum: 'Joint Statements between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches'.

The book includes statements by Pope Benedict XVI and by the leadership of the Syrian, Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches. It aims to increase ecumenical cooperation and raise people's awareness on Catholic and Oriental Orthodox similarities, rather than differences.

Speaking at the launch at the offices of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Bishop Angaelos, who co-chairs Forum with Archbishop McDonald, said: "We're facing serious threats of increased secularism and marginalization of religion in general and Christianity in particular. As members of first century churches we really need to both live and introduce people to the wealth, meaning and value of what it means to witness and live our Christianity today.

"It's very easy to become theoretical about theology and forget that we are talking about our faith in the incarnate word, in salvation and in the presence of God. We forget to speak in communion of what we can have in common."

Bishop Angaelos gave the example of the time he sent a letter of support to the Catholic Church during the adoption issue a few years ago because of the common stance.

"When you're in a dialogue, it's not about compromise, its about reaching deeply into the Biblical routes in such a way that convergence can be developed," said Archbishop McDonald. "The purpose of publishing this book is precisely to engage people in this process at a local, grass-root level.

"We're not talking about agreed statements from theologians that have yet to be ratified," said the Archbishop of Southwark. "We're talking about agreed statements to which the Catholic Church is already committed."

"These differences will be resolved because Christ makes one promise about one flock and one shepherd and we will be unified one day," said Bishop Angaelos."We have a lot in common, which far outweighs our differences.

"We have so much happening this year with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee so there needs to be a very clear Christian voice. Also, if our faithfuls don't see us working together, it's pointless to preach about love, forgiveness and acceptance from the pulpits."

The General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church said he also hopes to have shared prayer gatherings in the future to get more people involved.

Other members of the Forum attending were Abba Seraphim; His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhannesian; Mgr Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham; Mgr Paul Hendriks, Auxilary Bishop of Southwark, and Father Peter Farrington (co-Secretary).

For a link to the Coptic media channel see:


Cisa News REPORT:
CISA NEWS: CAIRO -Islamist MPs took centre stage on Monday January 23, as Egypt’s parliament met for the first time since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak, while their supporters massed outside to cheer the historic event.
A year after the uprising, many Egyptians see the new parliament as the first sign of democratic rule, in sharp contrast to the toothless legislature that existed under President Mubarak.
The 508-member assembly was dissolved in February 2011 by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that took power when Mubarak was forced to step down.
Egypt’s first democratic parliamentary elections, held in phases between November and earlier this month, saw Islamists clinch nearly three-quarters of the seats.
The long-banned Muslim Brotherhood won a crushing victory with 47.18 percent through its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
The ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nur party came second with 24.29 percent, with the liberal Wafd party finishing a distant third.
The packed first session was chaired by parliament’s most senior member, Mahmud al-Saqqa of the liberal Wafd party, ahead of a vote for parliament’s speaker.
The Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organised political grouping, had been widely expected to triumph in the polls but the surge by Al-Nur and high visibility of Salafi movements have raised fears about civil liberties and religious freedom.
Outside parliament, hundreds of Islamist supporters greeted deputies on their way in, in scenes unimaginable just a year ago when most Islamist movements were banned.
The exact role of parliament remains unclear, with power remaining in the hands of the generals who took power from Mubarak.
Elections for parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council, are to begin later this month and end in February. Then the two chambers will choose a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution.
According to AFP, the SCAF has vowed to cede power to civilian rule by June when a new president is elected.


St. Ildephonsus
Feast: January 23

Feast Day: January 23
607 at Toledo, Spain
Died: January 23, 667
Archbishop of Toledo; died 23 January, 667. He was born of a distinguished family and was a nephew of St. Eugenius, his predecessor in the See of Toledo. At an early age, despite the determined opposition of his father, he embraced the monastic life in the monastery of Agli, near Toledo. While he was still a simple monk, he founded and endowed a monastery of nuns in Deibiensi villula. We learn from his writings that he was ordained a deacon (about 630) by Helladius, who had been his abbot and was afterwards elected Archbishop of Toledo. Ildephonsus himself became Abbot of Agli, and in this capacity was one of the signatories, in 653 and 655, at the Eighth and Ninth Councils of Toledo. Called by King Reccesvinth, towards the end of 657, to fill the archiepiscopal throne, he governed the Church of Toledo for a little more than nine years and was buried in the Basilica of Saint Leocadia. To these scanty but authentic details of his life (they are attested by Ildephonsus himself, or by his immediate successor, Archbishop Julianus, in a short biographical notice which he added to the "De viris illustribus" of Ildephonsus) some doubtful or even legendary anecdotes were added later. At the end of the eighth century Cixila, Archbishop of Toledo, embellished the biography of his predecessor. He relates that Ildephonsus was the disciple of Isidore of Seville, and recalls in particular two marvellous stories, of which the second, a favourite theme of hagiographers, poets, and artists, has been for ages entwined with the memory of the saint. Ildephonsus, it is said, was one day praying before the relics of Saint Leocadia, when the martyr arose from her tomb and thanked the saint for the devotion he showed towards the Mother of God. It was related, further, that on another occasion the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in person and presented him with a priestly vestment, to reward him for his zeal in honouring her.

The literary work of Ildephonsus is better known than the details of his life, and merits for him a distinguished place in the roll of Spanish writers. His successor, Julianus of Toledo, in the notice already referred to, informs us that the saint himself divided his works into four parts. The first and principal division contained six treatises, of which two only have been preserved: "De virginitate perpetuâ sanctae Mariae adversus tres infideles" (these three unbelievers are Jovinianus, Helvidius, and "a Jew"), a bombastic work which displays however a spirit of ardent piety, and assures Ildephonsus a place of honour among the devoted servants of the Blessed Virgin; also a treatise in two books: (1) "Annotationes de cognitione baptismi", and (2) "Liber de itinere deserti, quo itur post baptismum". Recent researches have proved that the first book is only a new edition of a very important treatise compiled, at the latest, in the sixth century, Ildephonsus having contributed to it only a few additions (Helfferich, "Der westgothische Arianismus", 1860, 41-49). The second part of his works contained the saint's correspondence; of this portion, there are still preserved two letters of Quiricus, Bishop of Barcelona, with the replies of Ildephonsus. The third part comprised masses, hymns, and sermons; and the fourth, opuscula in prose and verse, especially epitaphs. The editions of the complete works of Ildephonsus contain a certain number of writings, several of which may be placed in either of the last two divisions; but some of them are of doubtful authenticity, while the remainder are certainly the work of another author. Moreover, Julianus states that Ildephonsus began a good number of other works, but his many cares would not permit of his finishing them. On the other hand, he makes no mention of a little work which is certainly authentic, the "De viris illustribus". It may be considered as a supplement to the "De viris illustribus" of Isidore of Seville, and is not so much a literary historical work as a writing intended to glorify the Church of Toledo and defend the rights of the metropolitan see.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)



St. John the Almsgiver
Feast: January 23

Feast Day: January 23
Born: 550 at Arnathus, Cyprus
Died: 616 at Arnathus, Cyprus
Patron of: Knights Hospitaller
Patriarch of Alexandria (606-16), b. at Amathus in Cyprus about 550; d. there, 616. He was the son of one Epiphanius, governor of Cyprus, and was of noble descent; in early life he was married and had children, but they and his wife soon died, whereupon he entered the religious life.

On the death of the Patriarch Theodorus, the Alexandrians besought Emperor Phocas to appoint John his successor, which was accordingly done. In his youth John had had a vision of a beautiful maiden with a garland of olives on her head, who said that she was Compassion, the eldest daughter of the Great King. This had evidently made a deep impression on John's mind, and, now that he had the opportunity of exercising benevolence on a large scale, he soon became widely known all over the East for his munificent liberality towards the poor. One of the first steps he took was to make a list of several thousand needy persons, whom he took under his especial care. He always referred to the poor as his "lords and masters", because of their mighty influence at the Court of the Most High. He assisted people of every class who were in need. A shipwrecked merchant was thus helped three times, on the first two occasions apparently without doing him much good; the third time however, John fitted him out with a ship and a cargo of wheat, and by favourable winds he was taken as far as Britain, where, as there was a shortage of wheat, he obtained his own price. Another person, who was not really in need, applied for alms and was detected by the officers of the palace; but John merely said "Give unto him; he may be Our Lord in disguise." He visited the hospitals three times every week, and he freed a great many slaves. He was a reformer who attacked simony, and fought heresy by means of improvements in religious education. He also reorganized the system of weights and measures for the sake of the poor, and put a stop to corruption among the officials. He increased the number of churches in Alexandria from seven to seventy.

John is said to have devoted the entire revenues of his see to the alleviation of those in need. A rich man presented him with a magnificent bed covering; he accepted it for one night, but then sold it, and disposed of the money in alms. The rich man "bought in" the article, and again presented it to John, with the same result. This was repeated several times; but John drily remarked: "We will see who tires first." It was not John. Another instance of his piety was that he caused his own grave to be dug, but only partly so, and appointed a servant to come before him on all state occasions and say "My Lord, your tomb is unfinished; pray give orders for its completion, for you know not the hour when death may seize you." When the Persians sacked Jerusalem in 614, John sent large supplies of food, wine, and money to the fleeing Christians. But eventually the Persians occupied Alexandria, and John himself in his old age was forced to flee to his native country, where he died.

His body was brought to Constantinople, thence to Ofen by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary; thence in 1530 to Toll near Presburg, and finally in 1632 to Presburg cathedral. He was the original patron saint of the Hospitallers, and was commemorated by the Greeks on 12 Nov. His life, written by Leontius of Neapolis, in Cyprus, was translated into Latin by Anastasius the Librarian in the ninth century and was referred to at the Seventh General Council.

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