Saturday, February 18, 2012



Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 10.30 a.m. this morning, Benedict XVI celebrated the fourth ordinary public consistory of his pontificate, during which he created twenty-two new cardinals.
Following the opening prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father pronounced his homily, «Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam».

Venerable Brothers,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With these words the entrance hymn has led us into the solemn and evocative ritual of the ordinary public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals, with the placing of the biretta, the handing over of the ring and the assigning of a titular church. They are the efficacious words with which Jesus constituted Peter as the solid foundation of the Church. On such a foundation the faith represents the qualitative factor: Simon becomes Peter – the Rock – in as much as he professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. In the proclamation of Christ the Church is bound to Peter and Peter is placed in the Church as a rock; although it is Christ himself who builds up the Church, Peter must always be a constitutive element of that upbuilding. He will always be such through faithfulness to his confession made at Caesarea Philippi, in virtue of the affirmation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

The words Jesus addressed to Peter highlight well the ecclesial character of today’s event. The new Cardinals, in receiving the title of a church in this city or of a suburban Diocese, are fully inserted in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter, in order to cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church. These beloved Brothers, who in a few minutes’ time will enter and become part of the College of Cardinals, will be united with new and stronger bonds not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the entire community of the faithful spread throughout the world. In carrying out their particular service in support of the Petrine ministry, the new Cardinals will be called to consider and evaluate the events, the problems and the pastoral criteria which concern the mission of the entire Church. In this delicate task, the life and the death of the Prince of the Apostles, who for love of Christ gave himself even unto the ultimate sacrifice, will be an example and a helpful witness of faith for the new Cardinals.

It is with this meaning that the placing of the red biretta is also to be understood. The new Cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the colour of their robes. Furthermore, they are asked to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the transparency and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and strength of shepherds, with the fidelity and courage of martyrs. They are to be eminent servants of the Church that finds in Peter the visible foundation of unity.

In the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed there is offered a model to imitate and to follow. Against the background of the third prediction of the Passion, death and resurrection of the Son of Man, and in profound contrast to it, is placed the scene of the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, who are still pursuing dreams of glory beside Jesus. They ask him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mk 10:37). The response of Jesus is striking, and he asks an unexpected question: “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” (Mk 10:38). The allusion is crystal clear: the chalice is that of the Passion, which Jesus accepts as the will of God. Serving God and others, self-giving: this is the logic which authentic faith imparts and develops in our daily lives and which is not the type of power and glory which belongs to this world.

By their request, James and John demonstrate that they do not understand the logic of the life to which Jesus witnesses, that logic which – according to the Master – must characterize the disciple in his spirit and in his actions. The erroneous logic is not the sole preserve of the two sons of Zebedee because, as the evangelist narrates, it also spreads to “the other ten” apostles who “began to be indignant at James and John” (Mk 10:41). They were indignant, because it is not easy to enter into the logic of the Gospel and to let go of power and glory. Saint John Chrysostom affirms that all of the apostles were imperfect, whether it was the two who wished to lift themselves above the other ten, or whether it was the ten who were jealous of them (“Commentary on Matthew”, 65, 4: PG 58, 619-622). Commenting on the parallel passages in the Gospel of Luke, Saint Cyril of Alexandria adds, “The disciples had fallen into human weakness and were discussing among themselves which one would be the leader and superior to the others… This happened and is recounted for our advantage… What happened to the holy Apostles can be understood by us as an incentive to humility” (“Commentary on Luke”, 12, 5, 24: PG 72, 912). This episode gives Jesus a way to address each of the disciples and “to call them to himself”, almost to pull them in, to form them into one indivisible body with him, and to indicate which is the path to real glory, that of God: “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mk 10:42-44).

Dominion and service, egoism and altruism, possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place. There is no doubt about the path chosen by Jesus: he does not merely indicate it with words to the disciples of then and of today, but he lives it in his own flesh. He explains, in fact, “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). These words shed light upon today’s public Consistory with a particular intensity. They resound in the depths of the soul and represent an invitation and a reminder, a commission and an encouragement especially for you, dear and venerable Brothers who are about to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals.

According to biblical tradition, the Son of man is the one who receives power and dominion from God (cf. Dan 7:13f). Jesus interprets his mission on earth by combining the figure of the Son of man with that of the suffering Servant, described in Isaiah (cf. 53:1-12). He receives power and the glory only inasmuch as he is “servant”; but he is servant inasmuch as he welcomes within himself the fate of the suffering and the sin of all humanity. His service is realized in total faithfulness and complete responsibility towards mankind. In this way the free acceptance of his violent death becomes the price of freedom for many, it becomes the beginning and the foundation of the redemption of each person and of the entire human race.

Dear Brothers who are to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals, may Christ’s total gift of self on the Cross be for you the foundation, stimulus and strength of a faith operative in charity. May your mission in the Church and the world always be “in Christ” alone, responding to his logic and not that of the world, and may it be illumined by faith and animated by charity which comes to us from the glorious Cross of the Lord. On the ring which I will soon place on your finger, are represented Saints Peter and Paul, and in the middle a star which evokes the Mother of God. Wearing this ring, you are reminded each day to remember the witness which these two Apostles gave to Christ even unto martyrdom here in Rome, their blood making the Church fruitful. The example of the Virgin Mother will always be for you an invitation to follow her who was strong in faith and a humble servant of the Lord.

As I bring these brief reflections to a close, I would like to extend warm greetings and thanks to all present, especially to the official Delegations from various countries and to the various diocesan groups. The new Cardinals, in their service, are called to remain faithful to Christ at all times, letting themselves be guided only by his Gospel. Dear brothers and sisters, pray that their lives will always reflect the Lord Jesus, our sole shepherd and teacher, source of every hope, who points out the path to everyone. And pray also for me, that I may continually offer to the People of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy Church with a firm and humble hand.
Following his homily the Pope pronounced the the formula of creation of the new cardinals, their names and the diaconate or presbyteral order to which they have been assigned. The new cardinals then recited the Creed and swore their faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors. They then received their biretta and ring from the hands of the Pope who also assigned them their title or diaconate.
Following the ceremony Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, introduced the ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the following blesseds: Jacques Berthieu, French martyr and priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); Pedro Calungsod, Filipino lay catechist and martyr; Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth and of the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord; Maria del Carmen (nee Maria Salles y Barangueras), Spanish foundress of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching; Maria Anna Cope (nee Barbara), German religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse U.S.A.; Kateri Tekakwitha, American laywoman, and Anna Schaffer, German laywoman. The Holy Father has decreed that the canonisation ceremony will take place on Sunday 21 October. The consistory concluded with the apostolic blessing.

Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - Following are the names of the twenty-two new cardinals created by Pope Benedict XVI in this morning's consistory, and the titular or diaconate churches he assigned to them:
- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, diaconate of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio.
- Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, diaconate of San Domenico di Guzman.
- Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, diaconate of San Ponziano.
- Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, diaconate of San Cesareo in Palatio.
- Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, diaconate of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia.
- Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, diaconate of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami.
- Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, diaconate of Sant’Elena fuori Porta Prenestina.
- Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, diaconate of San Sebastiano al Palatino.
- Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, diaconate of Annunciazione della Beata Vergine Maria a Via Ardeatina.
- Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, diaconate of Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio.
- Cardinal George Alencherry, title of San Bernardo alle Terme.
- Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, title of San Patrizio.
- Cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka, O.P., title of Santi Marcellino e Pietro.
- Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, title of San Callisto.
- Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, title of San Marcello.
- Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, title of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario.
- Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, title of San Giovanni Maria Vianney.
- Cardinal John Tong Hon, title of Regina Apostolorum.
Non electors:
- Cardinal Lucian Muresan, title of Sant’Atanasio.
- Cardinal Julien Ries, diaconate of Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia.
- Cardinal Prosper Grech, O.S.A., diaconate of Santa Maria Goretti.
- Cardinal Karl Josef Becker, S.J., diaconate of San Giuliano Martire.

Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - With the creation of twenty-two new cardinals in this morning's consistory, the College of Cardinals now has 213 members of whom 125, being under the age of eighty, are eligible to vote in an eventual conclave for the election of a new Pope. The non electors, that is cardinals over the age of eighty and ineligible to vote in a conclave, now number 88.
Benedict XVI has created eighty-four cardinals in the four consistories of his pontificate.
The current members of the College of Cardinals come from seventy-one States, distributed as follows: Europe 119, North America (U.S.A. and Canada) 21, Latin America 32, Africa 17, Asia 20 and Oceania 4.

Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique released yesterday evening by the Holy See Press Office at the end of the day of reflection and prayer which brought together the members of the College of Cardinals in preparation for today's consistory.
"This afternoon, following the celebration of Vespers, the cardinals present continued to make their contributions. Counting both the morning and afternoon sessions, a total of twenty-seven talks were given, touching upon a wide range of subjects associated with new evangelisation and the Year of Faith.
"Attention was given to the problems of evangelisation in various parts of the world and in different cultures: The increasing numbers of Christians in China despite difficulties; inter-religious dialogue and the struggle against poverty in India; the trials faced by Christians in the countries of the Middle East; the importance of popular religiosity for evangelisation in Latin America; the challenge of secularism which tends to marginalise religion from social life in the West; challenges and difficulties as well as encouraging prospects and events that are signs of hope, such as new and vivacious ecclesiastical experiences like World Youth Days and International Eucharistic Congresses.
"Discussion also focused on the educational emergency, the renewal of catechesis, the transmission of faith to young people, the formation of evangelisers (lay people, religious and priests), and the importance of a mature faith capable of witness and discernment before the realities of today's world.
"Suggestions were made for the forthcoming Year of Faith. These included in-depth analyses to accompany the various periods of the liturgical year, encouraging pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Rome, and favouring new forms of popular mission.
"Emphasis was given to the ecumenical commitment of Christians in announcing their shared faith in Christ, the validity of Vatican Council II as a compass to guide the Church's journey today, the importance of bearing witness to Christian joy and sanctity, and the enduring fascination of the saints.
"Before praying the Angelus at around 7 p.m., the Holy Father concluded the session with some words of his own. He thanked the relators", cardinal-designate Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Fisichella, "and all the participants. Their words had represented a 'broad mosaic of ideas and proposals', he said. The Pope also highlighted the importance Vatican Council II has for "rediscovering of the contemporary importance of Jesus and the faith". He underlined the need for an authentic renewal of catechesis in order to highlight its precious content of truth, and to react against what has been defined as 'religious illiteracy'. He reaffirmed the need for profound conviction of the truth of God's revelation in His Son Jesus Christ, because 'if there is no truth, we have no compass and do not know where to go', and 'only if there is truth can life be rich and beautiful". Without thisconviction, 'we cannot re-evangelise humankind today'.
"Since God is love, truth is expressed in charity, and charity in turn "reveals the truth". The Pope concluded by saying that the motto of the Year of Faith could be summarised in the words: 'Living truth in charity'".

Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Christopher Glancy C.S.V., pastor of the parish of St. Francis Xavier in Corozal, Belize, as auxiliary of the diocese of Belize City - Belmopan (area 22,965, population 307,899, Catholics 152,718, priests 32, permanent deacons 4, religious 93), Belize. The bishop-elect was born in Moline, U.S.A. in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1993. He worked in pastoral care and vocational ministry in the U.S.A., before moving to Belize in 1998.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
17 Feb 2012

Candlelight procession and vigil for the unborn
Hobart is the latest Australian city to join the annual 40 Days for Life prayer vigil for mothers and their unborn children.
From 21 February, on the eve of Ash Wednesday, many hundreds of Tasmanians as well as concerned men and women in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tweed Heads, Adelaide and Perth will hold round-the-clock prayer vigils for the unborn and to raise awareness of the increasingly large number of abortions performed in Australia each year.
"The tragic reality of abortion continues on a daily basis, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of unborn children and causing untold suffering and pain for mothers, fathers, abortion workers and indeed our entire culture," says Bishop Julian Porteous, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation and Renewal and Patron of the city's 40 Days for Life campaign.
To launch this year's vigil for the unborn, Bishop Porteous will preside over Mass at St Peter's Catholic Church, Surry Hills, before leading a group of more than 400 including a number of priests and religious, on a candlelight procession along Devonshire Street to the Preterm Abortion Clinic on the corner of Elizabeth and Randall Streets.
The Preterm Clinic is the city's best known abortion clinic and as in previous years, participants in Sydney's 40 Day Lenten Prayer Vigil will gather on the corner opposite. Those taking part will operate in shifts so throughout the 40 days of Lent, there will always be a group keeping vigil and praying for the mothers and their unborn children.

Prayer Vigil Celebrates Life
In addition, trained counsellors from Family Life International, which hosts the event, will be on hand to answer questions from passersby and to offer support and comfort to those asking for help.
"Sometimes women who believe abortion is their only option will stop and talk and with patience, love and prayer we are able to show them that terminating a pregnancy is not the answer," says Paul Hanrahan, Director of Family Life International, pointing out that what many people don't realise is that counselling and support for a mother-to-be is ongoing and often includes financial help as well.
"Some women we help already have three children and with a husband out of a job, she is in a panic about how they will manage with the arrival of another child. But we help with finances when needed," Paul says. "We also have a large network of volunteers who assist the mother with baby- sitting, shopping and many other different ways not only during the pregnancy but after the baby is born."

Priests and Religious join young Catholics to participate
in 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil
Interestingly, while pregnant, a woman may be at her wit's end and see abortion as the only possible solution, when she is given the assistance and counselling needed to change her mind and to instead decide to continue her pregnancy and have the baby, the panic and fears disappears and she copes extremely well.
"None of the many 'turnarounds' we have had has regretted the decision to have their babies and are always overcome with joy when the infant arrives," he says. "They also find their worst fears are never realised and while it might be a strain financially, they realise they can manage."
During last year's 40 Days for Life Lenten Vigil in Sydney, five women about to enter the Preterm Clinic, spoke with participants in the prayer vigil, then changed their minds and by December 2011 had all given birth to healthy robust infants.
"To have that many decide against abortion is wonderful and particularly rewarding for all of us who believe in the sanctity of life," Paul says and hopes for even more success this year.

Bishop Julian at the 40 Days for Life vigil last year.
The 40 Days for Life Lenten campaign was founded in 2004 by a small pro-life group in Texas. Quickly spreading across the US, it is now a powerful international movement.
Since 2007, 422 cities across the US, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Europe, Puerto Rico, Spain, Argentina, Armenia and Australia have held vigils, and this number keeps growing.
"As a society we cannot allow ourselves to accept the fact abortion is acceptable, because to take that view is to see human life as expendable," Bishop Julian Porteous insists and believes abortion will only end in Australia when enough people pray and fast to end it.
"The Lenten season calls us to make greater sacrifices than we normally might, so let us go in the name of Christ to Australia's oldest abortion centre to pray and reach out with charity to everyone there, especially the unborn who may never experience any love apart from our prayers."
In addition to the Shrove Tuesday, 21 February Mass and procession to the Preterm Clinic and 40 days of prayer vigils on the opposite corner, St Peter's Catholic Church in Surry Hills will be open for all night Adoration every Friday and Saturday throughout.
The 40 Days for Life Vigil culminates on Sunday, 1 April with a Mass at St Peter's followed by Benediction and a victory celebration for the many participants in the Church courtyard.


Meet Christina Wirth

\"At the end of the day, basketball is just a game. I always need to remember that my faith is more important than anything I will ever do on a basketball court. When I find myself devoting more time, thought, and energy to my sport that I devote to cultivating my relationship with God, I need to take a step back and get my priorities straightened out.\"

Christina Wirth has found basketball to be a source of spiritual growth as well as a platform to share the faith.
Christina Wirth has found basketball to be a source of spiritual growth as well as a platform to share the faith.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI--Christina Wirth lives the dream of every girl who loves basketball. She has been the Most Valuable Player of an NCAA major conference tournament, a WNBA second-round draft pick, and a leading scorer for a first-place European team.
But Christina loves something much greater than basketball, and the sport has given her a platform to share that love with others. \"At the end of the day, basketball is just a game,\" she told Catholic Online. \"I always need to remember that my faith is more important than anything I will ever do on a basketball court. When I find myself devoting more time, thought, and energy to my sport that I devote to cultivating my relationship with God, I need to take a step back and get my priorities straightened out.\"
As a member of Catholic Athletes for Christ, Christina helps others recognize these priorities as well.
Christina\'s basketball resume is impressive. After four years at Vanderbilt University--where she averaged almost twelve points a game--she was selected in the second round of the 2009 WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever, where she played in the WNBA Finals. From there Christina seized the opportunity to play in Europe; she is currently with Alges in Portugal\'s Liga Feminina, where she is a leading scorer.
Throughout her career, Christina\'s Catholic faith has grown in tandem with her basketball skills. \"Playing basketball has been a tremendous tool for growth in my faith life,\" she said. \"There have been many times in my career in which I just didn\'t feel like working out or putting in that extra effort, but in order to be successful in sports, you often have to do things that don\'t feel good at the moment, but you know that those things will be worth it in the long run.\"
Christina has connected that lesson to her faith. \"There are times when my prayer life seems dry or when I\'m struggling against temptation,\" she said. \"The easy thing then is to give in to that temptation or to just neglect setting aside time for prayer, but I have learned that it is pleasing to God when I struggle against my flesh and do what is right even when it isn\'t easy. God will always grant us sufficient grace to live for Him is we only ask for it.\"
Catholic faith and sports have been integral to Christina\'s life literally from the beginning. Her father, Alan Wirth, was a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. He and his wife Diane (a former Jehovah\'s Witness who converted to Catholicism) made sacrifices to send their six children to Catholic schools. \"For as long as I can remember, my family attended Sunday Mass together,\" said Christina. \"I look back now and I am very thankful for that strong, Catholic foundation.\"
That foundation served her well when she enrolled at Vanderbilt University. \"College was the first time in my life where I wasn\'t surrounded primarily by Catholics,\" she said. \"I had great friends from all kinds of different Protestant denominations, and we would often get into discussions about various faith-related topics. I was challenged by many of my Protestant friends to defend Catholic teaching on things such as the Eucharist, Mary\'s perpetual virginity, and Purgatory.\"
Christina did not always know how to answer those questions, and it motivated her to learn more about Catholicism. \"I remember thinking I need to know why I believe what I believe,\" she recalled. \"I was not content with simply remaining Catholic because that\'s how I was raised.\"
Like an athlete not backing away from a challenge, Christina searched for answers and grew stronger in her faith. \"I absolutely fell in love with the Mass and the Eucharist,\" she said. \"I found rich and compelling answers to all of my questions.\"
One of those college teammates who challenged Christina to defend Catholicism was Jennifer Risper, a non-denominational Protestant. \"As I began to learn more about my faith I would start discussions with her about things that she had asked me about,\" said Christina. \"These discussions lasted for almost a year, after which Jennifer converted to Catholicism.\" Jennifer is her best friend, and they are teammates once again in Portugal--this time in faith as well as in basketball.
Christina has discovered two role models who continue to influence her: Blessed Mother Teresa and Blessed John Paul II. \"Mother Teresa\'s love for the poor and her servant\'s heart inspire me to find ordinary ways in my daily life to show great love for those around me,\" she said. \"Blessed John Paul II was a courageous leader. I was blessed to be able to attend his beatification in Rome last May, and ever since then, I have been drawn to learning more about his life.\"
What she has learned has made a great impact. \"From World Youth Day to the Theology of the Body to the New Evangelization, Blessed John Paul II had such a great gift for spreading
the truth of Jesus Christ to a world that is in desperate need of hope,\" said Christina. \"I feel personally challenged by their lives to use every opportunity I have to serve, to love, and to spread truth and hope to those I meet.\"

Christina acknowledges the pitfalls to spiritual growth that are in the athletic world, and realizes she must deal with them. \"As an athlete, coaches are always telling you to \'take pride in what you do,\'\" she said. \"While there is a certain kind of pride that can be good and even healthy, there is a fine line between that kind of pride and a sinful kind of pride that is the opposite of the virtue of humility. When you have success and people are praising you or telling you how great you are, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have accomplished that success on your own, when, in reality, God is the source of all good things. Without God, we cannot take our next breath. Without God, we would have none of the talents that we have. I am constantly asking God to keep me humble and to remind me that without Him, I am nothing.\"
Christina\'s gifts and goals extend beyond the basketball court. She took a leave of absence from Vanderbilt\'s School of Nursing when the opportunity to play professional basketball arose. A call to minister to both the corporal and spiritual needs of God\'s people seems evident, and Christina is ready to give her whole heart to whatever path God places in front of her. This is evident in her advice to young Catholic athletes.
\"Stay close to the sacraments,\" she counsels, \"because there is no greater source of grace and strength. Always train and compete hard in order to win in your sport, but more importantly, ask God for the grace to grow spiritually so that you may spend eternity with Him.\"
James Penrice is a contributor to Catholic Online, and a correspondent for Catholic Athletes for Christ.


Photo: DPA
Germany’s political parties said on Saturday they expected to find a candidate for President within the next few days, following Christian Wulff's resignation on Friday. Former East German pastor Joachim Gauck is said to be a favourite.
Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly met the leaders of her coalition parties just hours later, and again on Saturday for two hours.

Her conservative Christian Democratic Union has a clear majority with sister party the Christian Social Union and the Free Democrats in the Federal Convention which elects presidents.

But Merkel said on Friday she would be looking for a candidate who could appeal to all parties, and specifically said she would be talking with the main opposition parties.

The Social Democratic Party and the Green Party said on Saturday they were confident of finding an acceptable candidate very quickly – probably even by Wednesday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. They and the government parties are set to meet on Sunday for talks.

A major commemoration is planned in Berlin for Thursday for the ten victims of a neo-Nazi gang which toured the country killing eight Turkish and one Greek man, as well as a policewoman. Merkel is expected to speak, but it is thought efforts will be made for a new president to be present.

All parties have said they would want a candidate from outside the ranks of the political parties. Although the government parties have not gone public with their preferences, the SPD and Greens have made it known they would favour the former east German pastor and civil rights campaigner Joachim Gauck.

“He remains our favourite,” SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel told Deutschlandfunk radio on Saturday. Gauck was the first keeper of the East German secret service Stasi files after reunification and is widely respected.

The 72-year-old appeared in public in Koblenz on Friday evening – to from his new book – but refused to make any comment about the presidency.

He was a candidate last time around, but Merkel pushed through Wulff instead.

A criminal investigation was formally launched on Saturday into Wulff’s potentially corrupt relationship with filmmaker David Groenewold.

Wulff’s immunity from such investigation formally ended at the weekend after he resigned on Friday following months of pressure about his time as state premier of Lower Saxony.

Wulff will most likely receive the honorary presidential pension of €199,000 a year, it was said on Saturday, although there is some concern about whether he resigned for political or for personal reasons. The pension is only due to those who leave for political reasons.

The Local/DPA/hc


Soldiers mistook them for pirates. The other nine members of the crew are unharmed. Italy's ambassador to India says the incident was a "tragic error" but adds the fishing boat took a "hostile posture". The Indian Navy says no weapons were on board. The vice president of the Bishops' Conference of Kerala calls for compassion. "Such things should never happen again."

Trivandrum (AsiaNews) - The two fishermen killed by Italian marines off the coast of Kerala were Catholic. The Italian soldiers were on board of an Italian oil tanker, the MV Enrica Lexie. The circumstances of the incident continue to be murky. Italian authorities called the deaths a "tragic error". The San Marco Regiment riflemen mistook the fishing trawler for a pirate ship. The Indian Coastguard and Navy want to question the captain and crew of the Italian cargo ship, saying they failed to respect standard procedures. Early reports indicate the fishing boat was not carrying weapons. The other fishermen, all Catholic, are unharmed. The incident occurred on Wednesday.

"People are really worried," said Francis Kallarakkal, archbishop of Verapoly and vice president of the Bishops' Conference of Kerala. His heart goes out to the families of the dead and the survivors.

"People read the news in the papers but everything is unclear. They wonder how such things can happen," the prelate added.

Two fishermen are dead, one from the Diocese of Trivandrum (capital of Kerala) and the other from the Diocese of Kellam.

"Their bishops visited their respective families to express their closeness and solidarity. I pray for them and express all my compassion."

Summoned by the Indian foreign minister, the Italian Ambassador to India Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte called the incident "very sad", but defended the marines on the Enrica Lexie. According to him, the fishing boat failed to respond to warning signals and adopted a "hostile posture, typical of pirates. "

Kerala authorities have set up an endowment for the families of the deceased of INR 500,000 (US$ 10,000).

Events that led to incident remain unclear. "It was foolhardy," the archbishop said. "Piracy does exist but so do laws that regulate what can and cannot be done in international waters. Before firing on another ship, all verifications must be done. We are talking about human beings. One must deal with them with compassion. Such things should never happen again." (GM)


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Several families with economic difficulties in the municipalities of Dangbo, Adjarra and Porto-Novo received 75 motorcycle taxis at the "Centre Michael Magone" in Porto-Novo. This is a microcredit project that has been made possible through the generosity of the researcher and promoter, Eng. Enrique Castillo, and the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain. The initiative is part of the project to support the most disadvantaged areas of Benin. "Where there is no transport development," is what is reads in a note on behalf of engineer Castillo, released by ANS, in which the design of the motorcycle taxi is defined as a sustainable project, ensuring the development and creation of jobs. During the ceremony the responsibility of the beneficiaries was also highlighted who are called to pay monthly payments and have been invited to observe the deadlines on time and avoid delays that could harm subsequent beneficiaries of the project. During the ceremony, presided by Don Juan José Gómez, sdb, Director of the "Foyer Don Bosco", future drivers were sensitized on the issue of road safety and in particular the use of the helmet. Later, after the signing of contracts and commitments for the payment, the 75 recipients returned to their homes aboard their new means of transport. The project of the motorcycle taxi has helped many poor families by strengthening their self-sufficiency and autonomy, with solid support that allows them to go ahead and give a positive boost to their lives. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 17/2/2012


Mark 9: 2 - 13
2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them,
3 and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
4 And there appeared to them Eli'jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.
5 And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah."
6 For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.
7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him."
8 And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.
10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.
11 And they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that first Eli'jah must come?"
12 And he said to them, "Eli'jah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?
13 But I tell you that Eli'jah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."
St. Simon of Jerusalem
Feast: February 18

Feast Day: February 18
Died: 106 or 107 AD, Jerusalem
ST. SIMEON was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin to Our Saviour. We cannot doubt but that he was ail early follower of Christ, and that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. When the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser,his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66, in which Sts. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, the civil war began in Judea, by the seditions of the Jews against the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. They therefore departed out of it the same year,—before Vespasian, Nero's general, and afterwards emperor, entered Judea,—and retired beyond Jordan to a small city called Pella, having St. Simeon at their head. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned thither again, and settled themselves amidst its ruins, till Adrian afterwards entirely razed it. The Church here flourished, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in it.
Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David. St. Simeon had escaped their searches; but, Trajan having given the same order, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint, as being both of the race of David and a Christian, to Atticus, the Roman governor in Palestine. The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. After having undergone the usual tortures during several days, which, though one hundred and twenty years old, he suffered with so much patience that he drew on him a universal admiration, and that of Atticus in particular, he died in 107. He must have governed the Church of Jerusalem about forty-three years.
(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)


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