Thursday, February 16, 2012


Vis reports:

Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father visited the Major Seminary of Rome for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust, which falls on Saturday. The Holy Father visited the chapel before going on to meet with auxiliary bishops of Rome, superiors of diocesan seminaries and 190 seminarians.
Following the reading of the Gospel, Benedict XVI pronounced a "lectio divina" on the passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans in which the Apostle invites the faithful not to conform to this world but to transform themselves and renew their minds in order to discern the will of God, "the good and acceptable and perfect".
"We can reflect upon the Church today", he said in his off-the-cuff remarks. "There is much talk about the Church of Rome, many things are said. Let us hope that people also talk about our faith. Let us pray to God that it may be so".
The Pope then went on to refer to the force of evil which, in today's world, also emerges "in two great powers which are good and useful in themselves but easily open to abuse: the power of finance and the power of the media. Both are necessary, both are useful, but so subject to misuse that they often go against their true goals".
Today "we see how the world of finance can dominate mankind. Possession and appearance dominate and enslave the world. ... Finance is no longer a tool to promote well being and to support the life of man, but a force that oppresses him, one which almost has to be worshipped". The Pontiff called on his audience not to conform to this power. "Be non conformists. What counts is not possession but existence", he said. Christians must not bow to this power, but use it as "as a means, with the freedom of the children of God".
Turning then to consider the question of public opinion, Benedict XVI highlighted how "we have a great need of information, knowledge about the truth of the world; but there is a power of appearance which in the end counts even more than reality itself". Appearance "overlies the truth and becomes more important. Man no longer pursues the truth but wants above all to appear". Here too "there is a Christian non conformism. ... We want not appearance but truth, and this will give us true freedom".
"Christian non conformism redeems us and restores us to truth. Let us pray to the Lord that He may help us to be free in this non conformism, which is not against the world but is authentic love for the world".

Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received participants in the Second Symposium of European and African Bishops, which began on 13 February and is examining the theme of "Evangelisation today: pastoral communion and cooperation between Africa and Europe". The event will come to an end tomorrow with a pilgrimage to the Italian shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello.
"For the Church in Europe", the Pope said, "the encounter with the Church in Africa is always a moment of grace, because of the hope and joy with which ecclesial communities in Africa live and communicate their faith. ... Moreover, it is a pleasure to see how the Church in Africa, though experiencing so many difficulties and having such need of peace and reconciliation, is open to sharing her faith".
In the relationship between the two Churches, bishops must "take account of the fundamental bond between faith and charity, because these two aspects illuminate one another in their truth. Charity favours openness towards modern men and women in their concrete reality, in order to bring them to Christ and His love for each individual and each family, especially those who are poor and alone".
The Holy Father also turned his attention to the difficulties facing the prelates, including religious indifference "which causes many people to live as if God did not exist, or to make do with a vague religiosity incapable of measuring up against the question of truth or the requirement to be coherent". In the same context he also mentioned "the influence of a secularised environment often hostile to Christian faith" and "hedonism which has helped to make the crisis of values penetrate into daily life". Another symptom of "serious social malaise is the spread of pornography and prostitution". However, "these things must not discourage you", he told the bishops. "Rather, they should be a reason for renewed commitment and hope; the hope that arises from the awareness that ... the risen Christ is always with us".
Benedict XVI reiterated the central role the family plays in pastoral care, because it is "the firmest guarantee for the renewal of society. The family conserves usages, traditions, customs and rites impregnated with faith, and is fertile terrain in which vocations can flower". In this context he invited the participants in the symposium "to pay particular attention to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
"The family is also the forge of youth", the Pope added. "Europe and Africa have need of young people who are generous, who can take responsibility for their own future. At the same time, all the institutions must be aware that young people are the keys to the future and that everything must be done to ensure their journey is not hindered by uncertainty and darkness".
"The cultural dimension is also important in the formation of young people", the Holy Father went on. "The Church respects all discoveries of truth, because all truth comes from God, but she knows that the gaze of faith fixed upon Christ opens man's mind and heart to the First Truth, which is God. Thus culture nourished by faith leads to authentic humanisation, while false cultures end up by leading to dehumanisation: we have seen sad examples of this in Europe and in Africa".
Pope Benedict concluded his remarks: "Your symposium has given you the chance to reflect upon the problems of the Church on the two continents. Certainly there is no lack of difficulties, and some of them are great; yet they are also proof that the Church is alive, that she is growing and is unafraid to carry out her evangelising mission. To do this, she needs the prayer and commitment of all the faithful. ... As pastors, however, you have a particular responsibility. ... The moral authority and the prestige that uphold the exercise of your juridical power can only come from the holiness of your life".

Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - The Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See met in the Vatican on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 February under the presidency of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Governorate of Vatican City State, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and Vatican Radio. Reports were read out concerning the consolidated budget of the Holy See and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and the gathering was addressed by Archbishop Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
According to a communique released this morning, the cardinals present intervened, "expressing their pleasure at the forecast results but not failing to make known their concern at the prevailing general crises, which has not spared even the general economic system of the Vatican. This is evident above all as regards the Holy See, which receives indispensable subsidisation from the free offerings of the faithful. The members of the Council expressed their profound gratitude for the support the faithful give, often anonymously, to the universal ministry of the Holy Father, and exhorted them to continue this good work. Moreover, it was recognised that there is an ongoing commitment to improve the administration of the goods and resources of the Holy See".

Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Budiarman Barar, the new ambassador of Indonesia to the Holy See, for the presentation of his Letters of Credence.
- Daniel Edgardo Ramada Piendibene, the new ambassador of Uruguay to the Holy See, for the presentation of his Letters of Credence.
- Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio to Argentina.
- Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany.

Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Luciano Russo as apostolic nuncio to Rwanda.


by Nina Achmatova
Putin signs a decree to introduce the fundamentals of religion at a national level. From September, pupils can choose between Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, or opt for "moral ethics".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - After two years of experimentation, from next September, the fundamentals of religion will become a compulsory subject in all Russian schools. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved the decree that introduced the teaching of religion throughout the country following a trial that took place only in some regions.

The elementary and middle school students may choose to study either the history of one of the four religions termed 'traditional' - Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism - or more general courses on "foundations of religious culture" or "Fundamentals of public ethics ". So far the lessons have been concentrated in only a quarter of the school year, but the Orthodox Church has asked it be extended over the whole year in 2012. Banned during the Soviet period, religion returned to schools in April 2010 but only in 19 regions, with an initiative strongly supported by the Patriarch of Moscow and blessed by the Kremlin, interested in cementing common values of national identity .

From the beginning, the idea has raised strong criticism in Russia, a country that has experienced 70 years of state atheism, and where different ethnicities and religions live. "I think it is wrong to divide the children into groups according to religion - said Ivar Maskurov, an expert on religions – it could cause many problems."

Another objection raised by critics of religion in the school is the lack of qualified teachers and good textbooks, as was admitted by the Elena Romanova, Head of the Ministry of Education for the teaching of religion.

The skepticism of the secular world is not shared by the religious themselves. Not only does the Patriarchate of Moscow support the initiatibe, but also the Muslim community. The mufti Krganov Albir, Chairman of the Committee of Muslim spiritual in Chuvashia (Russian autonomous republic) said that "the new subject has become very popular with both pupils and parents in Chivashia schools. Parents say they have learned a lot about religion when their children attend these courses."

In February, at Putin's order, the Ministry of Education launched training courses for teachers of religion, while in March the families will have to decide which course in which to enroll their children.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
16 Feb 2012

Front and back covers of Youth Lenten Program for 2012
Pope Benedict XVI's exhortation to "Make disciples of all Nations" is not only the official theme set for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, but the focus of the first-ever Lenten Program specifically designed for Australian youth.
Every year for almost 30 years, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Catholic Adult Education Centre (CAEC) has produced a detailed booklet with an accompanying CD of prayers, reflections, readings and discussions designed in five sessions covering each Sunday during the 40 day period of Lent.
But this year, for the first time ever, CAEC has created a Youth version of its annual Lenten Program.
Designed and produced specifically for young people between the ages of 16 and 24, the Program promises to inspire young people across Australia whether they are involved with Catholic youth ministries, university chaplaincies, parishes, teachers and other community groups.
"Both the traditional version of the Lenten Program and our Youth version carry the same theme but in the Youth version the approach is different with songs specially written for the program by Fr Rob Galea, Steve Kirk and Gary Pinto," says Thomas Waugh, Director of CAEC.

Lenten songs, prayers and reflections created specially
for Australian Youth
Not only did these three favourite Catholic musicians write and perform songs for the Youth Lenten Program CD, but each also gives testimonies to their faith. In addition the Lenten Program for young people carries a powerful testimony from Jessica Langrell, the well-known Theology on Tap organiser and Student Chaplaincy Convenor at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney.
Both versions of the Lenten Program for 2012 were designed and produced here in Sydney at CAEC's Lidcombe offices and as happens each year, will supply dioceses and parishes, youth ministries, organisations and communities across the country.
For the past several years, in addition to the traditional Lenten Program in English, CAEC has created an Italian version to meet the demand of parishes and communities among the large Italian populations of Sydney and Melbourne.
"But this is the first time we've created a Youth version," says Thomas Waugh, adding that the demand for such a version has grown exponentially since Sydney's World Youth Day in 2008 and last year's WYD in Madrid.
"Pride in faith and youth ministries have become an increasing feature throughout the Church in Australia," he says. "Young people have also embraced the New Evangelisation and understand it is not enough to witness your faith. You must move on from there and proclaim your faith and the good news of Christ."

Thomas Waugh, Director of CAEC
Using vibrant, fresh graphics, contributions from popular Catholic musicians and youth leaders together with specially written prayers, testimonies and youth-oriented reflections and topics for discussion, the Lenten Youth Program of 2012 breaks new ground.
"The days when young people were embarrassed to admit they were Catholic to their peers have long gone. Thanks to World Youth Day there has been a resurgence with today's youth proudly proclaiming their faith and taking the message of Christ to the wider community," says Thomas.
But although this year's theme for the Lenten program echoes that set for WYD13 in Rio de Janeiro, he insists the message is not only for young people but for everyone, no matter what their age.
"When the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI took the significant step of establishing the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation as a Dicastery of the Roman Curia in September 2010, he provided us with a timely reminder that it is the duty of the Church 'always and everywhere' to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ," the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell writes in his introduction to both versions of 2012's Lenten Program.
Endorsing the choice of theme for this year's program, the Cardinal was confident those who used the program would be renewed in their relationship with Christ and find fresh impetus to ensure Australians of every background had the opportunity to encounter Him.
To obtain more information or to download either version of the Lenten Program for 2012 log on to


CISA REPORT: NAIROBI, February 14, 2012 (CISA)-Kenyan Catholic Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo of Isiolo Apostolic Vicariate has challenged local Catholics to embrace the concept of self-reliance towards sustaining the Church.
The Bishop, who is current Chair for the Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Missions, observed that the money that the local Church has historically received from Europe for the local missionary work was “gradually dwindling”
“In this case, the local Church has no option but to educate the faithful on the need to stand in their own in terms of the missionary needs of the Church,” said Bishop Mukubo.
He was speaking at Watakatifu Wote Senta, Ngong’, on February 14, while addressing a five-day meeting for diocesan coordinators for both the Pontifical Missionary Societies (PMS) directors and diocesan coordinators for Pontifical Missionary on Childhood (PMC).
The meeting, organized jointly by PMS and PMC national offices, Nairobi has brought together 45 participants, drawn from all dioceses in the country and its theme is: Be worthy instruments in creating missionary awareness.
The Bishop thanked the clergy, religious men and women as well as the laity who were currently supporting the Church its missionary work through both the PMS and PMC activities.
In his address, Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, Archbishop Alain Paul lebeaupin said local Christians had responsibility of assisting the Church in all aspects.
“The missionaries have played their part by planting the spiritual seeds to the local people both here in Kenya and rest of the African continent.
It was now up to the local Church through its hierarchy and faithful to prove that they were capable of helping the Church on its own feet in all aspects,” he said.
“The spiritual seeds planted by the missionary must be assisted to grow and yield the intended fruits,” he added.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - There are now 272 confirmed deaths in the fire which broke out on the night of February 15 in the prison in Comayagua, in Honduras. The number of injured, hospitalized, is about sixty. The figures, provided by the responsible of the prison administration and medical sources, unfortunately, are provisional, as the fire brigade spokesman said it was still impossible to ascertain both exactly the number of deaths and that of possible escapees. There were 852 inmates in the prison.
Caritas Honduras has published a statement on behalf of the Bishop of the area, His Exc. Mgr. Roberto Camilleri, OFM, Bishop of the Diocese of Comayagua, the document is signed by the presbytery of the diocese, of which a copy was sent to Fides. Here is the text: "The Catholic Church of the Diocese of Comayagua deeply regrets what happened during the worst tragedy in the history of prisons in our country ... We invite everyone, with a common effort, to alleviate the most urgent needs of survivors and families affected. We are sorry that this is the third incident that occurs in prisons in Honduras, with the aggravating circumstance that the jail penalty of Comayagua was considered the highest level of national security.
We believe the inhuman conditions of life of insecurity and the terrible overcrowding of the prison population that exists in our country are deplorable. In particular, the Centre of Comayagua was built to accommodate 250 persons, whilst the population amounted to 852 prisoners. We invite all the institutions of the Honduran society to ask our authorities to ensure the protection and dignity of prisoners, in order not to repeat a sad tragedy like this, involving so many families in Honduras. We ask the Christian community to offer their prayers to the God of life, so that he may welcome our departed brothers and sisters in his glory, and to the relatives we say you are not alone, but God is with you in these difficult times".(CE) (Agenzia Fides, 16/02/2012


Mark 8: 27 - 33
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesare'a Philip'pi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?"
28 And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Eli'jah; and others one of the prophets."
29 And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ."
30 And he charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men."


Laws ensuring decent conditions are too long in coming, rights group says
Chelluz Pahun, Jakarta
February 15, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Domestic workers ‘need protection’
Yuniyanti Chuzaifah (centre) at the conference
The chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence against Women says the need to provide protection that is enshrined in law for domestic workers is more acute than ever.
“The number of domestic workers is getting bigger. But the problems they face are also many,” Yuniyanti Chuzaifah said at a discussion on the working conditions of maids and servants yesterday at the commission’s office in Jakarta.
These problems, according to various reports, include exploitation, long working hours, unpaid overtime, physical violence and sexual abuse.
Convention No 189, a treaty adopted last June by the International Labor Organization, stipulates that domestic work means “work,” Chuzaifah added.
“So it is not a service. Domestic workers are, like other workers, entitled to decent working conditions,” she continued.
By ratifying the convention and also passing a bill on the protection of domestic workers, she said, “the state will be acknowledging domestic workers as people engaged in proper work and safeguard their rights.”
Calls for such a bill have gathered pace since 2004, but so far the government has yet to draft any legislation.
However, a lawmaker has said that “a committee has been formed and will start working on a bill soon.”
Oki Asokawati says the bill will cover several important issues such as a proper wage, decent working conditions, maternity leave, accommodation, and proper healthcare and education.
“The main issue is that domestic work is an occupation,” she said.


St. Onesimus
Feast: February 16

Feast Day: February 16
Died: 95
HE was a Phrygian by birth, slave to Philemon, a person of note of the city of Colossæ, converted to the faith by St. Paul. Having robbed his master and being obliged to fly, he providentially met with St. Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome, who there converted and baptized him, and sent him with his canonical letter of recommendation to Philemon, by whom he was pardoned, set at liberty, and sent back to his spiritual father, whom he afterwards faithfully served. That apostle made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his Epistle to the Colossians, and afterwards, as St. Jerome and other Fathers witness, a preacher of the Gospel and a bishop. He was crowned with martyrdom under Domitian in the year 95.

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)


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