Friday, February 24, 2012


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday morning the Holy Father met with priests of the diocese of Rome. Following a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Benedict XVI delivered a long off-the-cuff commentary on the Gospel passage. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Apostle says: "I ... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".
The first call we receive is that of Baptism, the Pope explained, the second is the vocation to be pastors at the service of Christ. "The great ill of the Church in Europe and the West today is the lack of priestly vocations. Yet, the Lord calls always, what is lacking are ears to listen. We listened to the Lord's voice and must remain attentive when that voice is addressed to others. We must help to ensure the voice is heard so that the call will be accepted".
According to St. Paul, the primary virtue which must accompany vocation is humility. This is the virtue of the followers of Christ Who, "being equal to God, humbled Himself, accepting the status of servant, and obeying even unto the cross. This was the Son's journey of humility, which we must imitate. ... The opposite of humility is pride, the root of all sin. Pride means arrogance, which above all seeks power and appearance. ... It has no intention of pleasing God; rather of pleasing itself, of being accepted, even venerated, by others. The 'self' becomes the centre of the world; the prideful self which knows everything. Being Christian means overcoming this original temptation, which is also the nucleus of original sin: being like God, but without God".
By contrast "humility is above all truth, ... recognition that I am a thought of God in the construction of His world, that I am irreplaceable as I am, in my smallness, and that only in this way am I great. ... Let us learn this realism; not seeking appearance, but seeking to please God and to accomplish what He has thought out for us, and thus also accepting others. ... Acceptance of self and acceptance of others go together. Only by accepting myself as part of the great divine tapestry can I also accept others, who with me form part of the great symphony of the Church and Creation". In this way, likewise, we learn to accept our position within the Church, knowing that "my small service is great in the eyes of God".
Lack of humility destroys the unity of Christ's Body. Yet at the same time, unity cannot develop without knowledge. "One great problem facing the Church today is the lack of knowledge of the faith, 'religious illiteracy'", the Pope said. "With such illiteracy we cannot grow. ... Therefore we must reappropriate the contents of the faith, not as a packet of dogmas and commandments, but as a unique reality revealed in its all its profoundness and beauty. We must do everything possible for catechetical renewal in order for the faith to be know, God to be known, Christ to be known, the truth to be known, and for unity in the truth to grow".
We cannot, Benedict XVI warned, live in "a childhood of faith". Many adults have never gone beyond the first catechesis, meaning that "they cannot - as adults, with competence and conviction - explain and elucidate the philosophy of the faith, its great wisdom and rationality" in order to illuminate the minds of others. To do this they need an "adult faith". This does not mean, as has been understood in recent decades, a faith detached from the Magisterium of the Church. When we abandon the Magisterium, the result is dependency "on the opinions of the world, on the dictatorship of the communications media". By contrast, true emancipation consists in freeing ourselves of these opinions, the freedom of the children of God. "We must pray to the Lord intensely, that He may help us emancipate ourselves in this sense, to be free in this sense, with a truly adult faith, ... capable of helping others achieve true perfection... in communion with Christ".
The Pope went on: "Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".
"Where there is truth, there is charity", the Pope concluded. "This, thanks be to God, can be seen in all centuries, despite many sad events. The fruits of charity have always been present in Christianity, just as they are today. We see it in the martyrs, we see it in so many nuns, monks, and priests who humbly serve the poor and the sick. They are the presence of Christ's charity and a great sign that the truth is here".

Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received members of the "Circolo di San Pietro" who gave him, as they traditionally do every year, the "Peter's Pence" collection which is raised annually in parishes and religious institutes of the diocese of Rome. The sum is offered to the Pope to help him respond to the many petitions that come to him from around the world, especially from the poorest countries.
Benedict XVI thanked the members of the group for their efforts in favour of the needy, including canteens for the poor, shelters and international aid, and he encouraged them to ensure that faith, charity and witness continue to be the guiding principles of their apostolate.
"Lent has just begun", the Pope noted, "a liturgical period which invites us to reflect upon the nucleus of Christian life: charity. ... The witness of charity has a particular effect upon the heart of mankind; the new evangelisation ... requires great openness of spirit and a sagacious readiness to accept everyone", he said.
The Holy Father highlighted how "the authenticity of our faithfulness to the Gospel may also be measured in terms of the concern and solicitude we effectively strive to show towards others, especially the weak and the marginalised. Concern for others involves wishing their good in all aspects: physical, moral, and spiritual. Although modern culture seems to have lost a sense of good and evil, we must reaffirm that goodness exists and it triumphs.
"Responsibility towards our fellows means, then, wanting and doing good for others, hoping that they too will open themselves to the logic of goodness", he added. "Concern for our brothers and sisters means opening our eyes to their needs, overcoming that hardness of heart which makes us blind to others' suffering. Thus the service of charity becomes a privileged form of evangelisation, also in the light of Jesus' teaching, Who will consider what we have done to our fellows, especially the smallest and weakest, as having been done to Him".
Concluding his address, Benedict XVI highlighted the need to "bring our hearts into harmony with Christ's heart, so that our loving support for others may be translated into participation and sharing of their suffering and hopes. This will reveal both God's infinite mercy for all mankind, ... and our own faith in Him. Meeting others and opening our hearts to their needs is an opportunity for salvation and beatitude".
The "Circolo di San Pietro" was founded in Rome in 1869 by a group of young people under the guidance of Cardinal Jacobini and delegated by the Pope to exercise charity towards the poor.

Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received His Majesty Siaosi Tupou V, King of Tonga. The King subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
The cordial discussions dwelt on various aspects of the country's social and economic life, as well as on the positive contribution the Catholic Church makes in various sectors of society, and her activities of human promotion. There followed an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with particular reference to the Pacific island States.

Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued the following declaration:
"In accordance with the decision taken at the end of the second meeting of the Vietnam - Holy See Joint Working Group, held in the Vatican on 23 and 24 June 2010, the third meeting of the Joint Working Group will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 27 and 28 February. Following a number of visits by the non-resident Pontifical representative to Vietnam, the meeting will serve to strengthen and develop bilateral relations".

Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.
- Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, apostolic nuncio to Italy and the Republic of San Marino.
This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Erected the new eparchy of Segheneity (area 29,499, population 850,000, Catholics 35,557, priests 52, religious 70) Eritrea, with territory taken from the eparchy of Asmara. He appointed Fr. Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, vicar general of Asmara, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1996. He studied in Rome and has been active in pastoral work in and around Asmara.
- Appointed Fr. Dominik Schwaderlapp of the clergy of the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, vicar general and canon of the metropolitan chapter, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 6,181, population 5,200,000, Catholics 2,111,166, priests 1,061, permanent deacons 317, religious 2,028). The bishop-elect was born in Selters/Westerwald, Germany in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1993. He has worked in pastoral care and served for a number of years as private secretary to the archbishop of Cologne


The Islamic State of Iraq has hit "the security forces and officials" to "avenge the campaign of eliminations and torture" in prisons. Over the past two months sectarian violence has intensified. Behind the attacks of a power struggle between majority Shi'ite and Sunni Arab bloc.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Iraqi cell of al Qaeda has claimed a series of deadly attacks that have bloodied the capital and many parts of the country, causing at least 55 dead and about 225 wounded. The Islamic State of Iraq, this is the name of the extremist organization, allegedly struck the security forces and government officials, to "avenge the campaign of torture and eliminations" that Sunni men and women, "have to suffer in prison in Baghdad and in other cities. "

The claim of the Al Qaeda movement has appeared on a website yesterday evening, after repeated bloody attacks in 12 Iraqi cities. Over the past two months - since the departure of U.S. troops from the country, on December 31 last, after 9 years - al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist movements have stepped up their attacks against Shiites, fuelling fears of a new - unstoppable - wave of sectarian violence.

The government, a Shiite majority, has called the attacks a "desperate attempt" by fundamentalists to demonstrate that the nation will never be stable. The wave of violence yesterday left behind burned cars, bloodied classrooms, damaged buildings and wounded crowding hospitals, it also demonstrated the "vulnerability" of a nation marked by years of war and sectarian conflicts, that the departure of U.S. soldiers has not stopped.

Late yesterday afternoon, the authorities imposed a curfew on the city of Tikrit, a Sunni stronghold and birthplace of Saddam Hussein, in Hilla and other parts of the governorate of Babil, south of Baghdad. Last week, another 18 people were killed in a suicide attack, which struck the police academy in the capital.

Violence against the Shia majority, in a multiethnic country also composed of Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians, has increased since the government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (Shia) took action against top members of the Iraqiya bloc , which also includes Sunnis. Following the departure of U.S. troops, in fact, the government issued an arrest warrant against the Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi (Sunni), on charges of financing death squads. Hashemi vehemently denies any wrongdoing and has taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan in the north of the country, under the protection of the regional government.,-55-dead-and-225-wounded.-Al-Qaeda-claims-killing-24061.html


lentUSCCB REPORT: WASHINGTON—Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers “10 Things to Remember for Lent” as the Church prepares to begin the season with Ash Wednesday on February 22:
1. Remember the formula. The Church does a good job capturing certain truths with easy-to-remember lists and formulas: 10 Commandments, 7 sacraments, 3 persons in the Trinity. For Lent, the Church gives us almost a slogan—Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving—as the three things we need to work on during the season.
2. It’s a time of prayer. Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. As we pray, we go on a journey, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him.
3. It’s a time to fast. With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast. And maybe that’s why it gets all the attention. “What are you giving up for Lent? Hotdogs? Beer? Jelly beans?” It’s almost a game for some of us, but fasting is actually a form of penance, which helps us turn away from sin and toward Christ.
4. It’s a time to work on discipline. The 40 days of Lent are also a good, set time to work on personal discipline in general. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive. “I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to pray more. I’m going to be nicer to my family, friends and coworkers.”
5. It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control – it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die. The suffering and death of Christ are foremost on our minds during Lent, and we join in these mysteries by suffering, dying with Christ and being resurrected in a purified form.
6. Don’t do too much. It’s tempting to make Lent some ambitious period of personal reinvention, but it’s best to keep it simple and focused. There’s a reason the Church works on these mysteries year after year. We spend our entire lives growing closer to God. Don’t try to cram it all in one Lent. That’s a recipe for failure.
7. Lent reminds us of our weakness. Of course, even when we set simple goals for ourselves during Lent, we still have trouble keeping them. When we fast, we realize we’re all just one meal away from hunger. In both cases, Lent shows us our weakness. This can be painful, but recognizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity.
8. Be patient with yourself. When we’re confronted with our own weakness during Lent, the temptation is to get angry and frustrated. “What a bad person I am!” But that’s the wrong lesson. God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.
9. Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering or otherwise in need. The third part of the Lenten formula is almsgiving. It’s about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love.
10. Learn to love like Christ. Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on cross for all of us. Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him.
For more resources for Lent from USCCB, visit:


Ireland: day of atonement & healing at Sligo Cathedral  | Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, Vigil of Atonement and Healing, clerical child abuse

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, in the west of Ireland, is organising a 24 hour Vigil of Atonement and Healing beginning on Friday 24 February at 8am. This 24 hour vigil will take place in collaboration with the town parishes of St Anne's and St Joseph's. The purpose of the vigil is to pray forgiveness for the suffering caused by clerical child abuse. An invitation to join the vigil has been extended to all who wish to pray healing for those who have suffered, but in particular to the people of Sligo and to the faithful of the Diocese of Elphin.

Giving his blessing to the initiative, Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin, said: "I warmly welcome this important liturgical event. In 2011, on the first anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict's Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Bishops of Ireland published a pastoral response to the Holy Father's Pastoral Letter. Our pastoral response, called Towards Healing and Renewal, contained a number of key commitments to help address the needs of survivors and amongst which was the need to pray intensively for all those affected by abuse. I wish to commend the priests of the Cathedral and all who will assist them for undertaking the organisation of this timely pastoral event here in Sligo, and I pray for its success."

Father Tom Hever said: "We are fortunate that our very own Sister Marianne O'Connor, Director General of the Conference of Religious of Ireland, has agreed address us as our keynote speaker. Sister Marianne's reflection and witness will no doubt prove to be immensely interesting and the highpoint of our vigil. I would also like to thank the members of the coordinating committee for all their time and planning efforts invested during the preparation of what will no doubt turn out to be a very significant liturgical event in the life of our local faith community."
For more information see:

Source: Irish Catholic Media Office


The cures that Lent provides
Lenten Message from Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta

'The Temptation of Christ' (1854) - Ary Scheffer
'The Temptation of Christ' (1854) - Ary Scheffer.
When you hear the word ‘Lent’ what comes to mind? Giving up chocolates or alcohol or texting for 40 days? When I was a child Lent was the time when you gave up what you liked best and if you ordered a meat pie from the school tuckshop on Friday, you received an egg sandwich and a lecture!
Lent in those days was an exciting time. There was something heroic about vowing to give up things as important as chocolate, even if it was only for a few weeks. And there were meatless Fridays and only one real meal on certain days. You got to look and feel grave, even dismal, to match the black and purple that covered the statues and the priests in that season. My views of Lent have matured somewhat since then, but such childhood experiences are very formative.
Now, of course, I know a bit more about the history and spirituality of Lenten discipline. I know, for instance, that Lent was from early times a special time of intense preparation for those getting ready to be baptised at Easter. They made a retreat for 40 days, imitating Jesus’ retreat in the desert. From the 3rd Century they were also joined by those who had committed notorious sins and were called to public penance. These penitents were reconciled with the Church in Holy Week. Desert hermits, monks and nuns, also engaged in asceticism of various kinds in the lead-up to Easter.
Why the self-denial? Sin, we know, damages us, our relationship with our neighbours and our relationship with God. Conversion and penance are about being turned upside down, inside-outed, spun around, away from sin and the harm it does and towards something better, a more healthy life-style. Lent proposes three very helpful techniques for this.
One is fasting. We inherited this practice from the Jews and share it with the Muslims and others. It is said to have many benefits: schooling the passions, reducing lust, resisting the devil, teaching temperance, helping appreciate more what we normally have.
More recently, people fast for peace, to identify with the hungry, to take a stand against consumerism, to cleanse themselves of toxins or merely to lose weight. One way or another, fasting seems to help us get a handle on ourselves; to acknowledge our self-indulgence, our over-indulgence, our obsession with our own comfort; to confess that this diminishes us; and to co-operate with God in His project of healing our hearts. Fasting is good for our relationship with ourselves.
Almsgiving – that is, charitable giving to the poor such as Project Compassion – is another practice we share with all the world’s great religions. By giving we assist others in need; but we also try to restore a right relationship between ourselves and others. We try to face up to our selfishness, our unwillingness to share; to acknowledge the injustice and uncharity of a world in which so many starve or are otherwise neglected; we try by engaging in a little generosity to relate better to people. Almsgiving is good for our relationship with others.
Prayer is the third Lenten strategy. Of course, like the other two, it’s an all-year-round practice. But in Lent Catholics try to do a bit extra: they make a good Confession, pray the Stations of the Cross, go to Mass on Fridays, or attend as much as possible of the Triduum ceremonies of Holy Thursday night, Good Friday afternoon and the Easter Vigil.
By prayer we try to face up to our neglect of the spiritual element in our lives, our unwillingness to share our time and space, our minds and wills with God; we acknowledge our spiritual lukewarmness, the practical agnosticism of so much of daily life; and we try to communicate better with the One who most loves us and wants to heal us. Prayer is good for our relationship with God.
Three broken relationships – with our God, our neighbours and ourselves – and three Lenten remedies. This is not self-medicating, mind you: Christ prescribes these medicines for our souls.
I invite you, as I did last Lent, to approach the wonderful sacrament of confession, absolution, reconciliation and penance. This Lent I ask you also to avail yourself of the other cures that Lent provides. Give Christ, the physician of bodies and souls, a chance. Let the Church, the pharmacy for the soul, dispense what you need. Fast, pray, give, and let God do the rest.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - At least 8 000 Tuareg fleeing from fighting in neighboring Mali have found refuge in Burkina Faso, arriving in poor condition. The Government has organized to establish a coordination committee to bring together refugees, currently scattered between the western and the Sahel areas of the country, in a more central place and provide them with education and sanitation. The humanitarian situation is alarming: many of the displaced are living outdoors and the bad weather, aggravated by dry winds and dusty harmattan, favours the spread of disease; food, clean water and sanitation are precarious, said a responsible of the Red Cross in Burkina Faso. People urgently need help to survive, they also need blankets, kitchen utensils, carpets and curtains. Forty Red Cross volunteers are already operational. Since early February about 4,000 displaced persons have arrived in the region, and the flow continues in Inabao and Deou, Oudalan province, and in Mentao, Soum Province.
This situation unfortunately will aggravate the current food insecurity. The Government has stated that in 146 of the 350 municipalities this year it rained a lot less and this could cause further famine. Meanwhile, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), at least 30,000 displaced people in Mali were in desperate condition because of the fighting in the north of the country since mid-January. In Aguelhoc, 150km northeast of Kidal in northeastern Mali, the bloody fighting has forced an estimated 4 000 people to abandon their homes. Most had little food and lived in makeshift shelters in the semi-arid region. Some have found shelter with host families. The ICRC together with the Mali Red Cross have arranged for the distribution of millet, rice, oil and salt, towels, blankets, sleeping mats, buckets, cooking utensils and personal hygiene items. The Red Cross of Mali has already sent urgent food assistance for 600 displaced persons in particularly serious conditions. According to the two international organizations, in Menaka, in the Gao region, the fighting has forced an estimated 26 000 people to abandon their homes in search of a safe haven, both inside and outside the city. The ICRC is also monitoring the situation in Tessalit (Kidal region), Léré and Niafunké (Timbuktu region), involved in clashes in Mali. According to local sources, there may still be 20 000 displaced in these areas. The clashes in Menaka and Andéramboukane have forced more than 15 000 people to seek refuge in Niger, in north Tillabery region. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 24/2/2012)


St. Ethelbert
Feast: February 24

Feast Day: February 24
Died: 24 February 616
King of Kent; b. 552; d. 24 February, 616; son of Eormenric, through whom he was descended from Hengest. He succeeded his father, in 560, as King of Kent and made an unsuccessful attempt to win from Ceawlin of Wessex the overlordship of Britain. His political importance was doubtless advanced by his marriage with Bertha, daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks (see BERTHA I). A noble disposition to fair dealing is argued by his giving her the old Roman church of St. Martin in his capital of Cantwaraburh (Canterbury) and affording her every opportunity for the exercise of her religion, although he himself had been reared, and remained, a worshipper of Odin. The same natural virtue, combined with a quaint spiritual caution and, on the other hand, a large instinct of hospitality, appears in his message to St. Augustine when, in 597, the Apostle of England landed on the Kentish coast
In the interval between Ethelbert's defeat by Ceawlin and the arrival of the Roman missionaries, the death of the Wessex king had left Ethelbert, at least virtually, supreme in southern Britain, and his baptism, which took place on Whitsunday next following the landing of Augustine (2 June, 597) had such an effect in deciding the minds of his wavering countrymen that as many as 10,000 are said to have followed his example within a few months. Thenceforward Ethelbert became the watchful father of the infant Anglo-Saxon Church. He founded the church which in after-ages was to be the primatial cathedral of all England, besides other churches at Rochester and Canterbury. But, although he permitted, and even helped, Augustine to convert a heathen temple into the church of St. Pancras (Canterbury), he never compelled his heathen subjects to accept baptism. Moreover, as the lawgiver who issued their first written laws to the English people (the ninety "Dooms of Ethelbert", A.D. 604) he holds in English history a place thoroughly consistent with his character as the temporal founder of that see which did more than any other for the upbuilding of free and orderly political institutions in Christendom. When St. Mellitus had converted Sæbert, King of the East Saxons, whose capital was London, and it was proposed to make that see the metropolitan, Ethelbert, supported by Augustine, successfully resisted the attempt, and thus fixed for more than nine centuries the individual character of the English church. He left three children, of whom the only son, Eadbald, lived and died a pagan.

(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)


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