Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The third meeting of the Viet Nam - Holy See Joint Working Group took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam, on 27 and 28 February. The meeting was co-chaired by Bui Thanh Son, vice minister for Foreign Affairs and head of the Vietnamese delegation, and by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation. (image RADIO VATICANA)
The meeting, which "took place in an atmosphere of cordiality, frankness and mutual respect" according to the final communique, served to examine international issues, to review progress in relations following the working group's second meeting in June 2010, and to discuss issues related to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam.
"The Vietnamese delegation", the English-language communique reads, "emphasised that the State of Viet Nam has always implemented and continually improved the policy to respect and ensure freedom of belief and religion for the people; encouraged the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to actively and effectively participate in the current course of national, economic and social development.
"From its part, the delegation of the Holy See took note of these considerations and expressed appreciation for the attention given by civil authorities to the activities of the Catholic Church. ... The Holy See expressed the wish that its role and mission be strengthened and extended in order to enhance the bonds between the Holy See and the Catholic Church in Viet Nam as well as the intention of Viet Nam and of the Holy See to develop their relationship".
The communique goes on: "Both sides recalled the teachings of His Holiness Pope Benedict's XVI, ... and his considerations concerning being a good Catholic and a good citizen, and stressed the need for continued cooperation between the Catholic Church and civil authorities in order to concretely and practically implement those teachings in all activities.
"The two sides came up with an assessment that the Viet Nam - Holy See relationship has attained positive developments on the basis of good will and constructive dialogue, as well as respect for principles in the relationship".
The next meeting will be held in the Vatican on a date to be arranged through diplomatic channels.
While in Viet Nam, the Holy See delegation paid courtesy calls to Pham Binh Minh, minister of Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Thanh Xuan, vice standing chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, and to a number of Catholic institutions.

Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The administrative council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel (the sub-Saharan region of Africa which includes countries on the west coast and central part of the continent) recently concluded its thirtieth meeting in Rome.
Speaking on Vatican Radio, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", of which the foundation is part, explained that the administrative council had focused its attention on the financing of a number of projects. "This year", he said, "we have assigned over two million dollars for more than 200 projects in the nine countries which make up the foundation. These projects involve the struggle against desertification and drought, as well as irrigation and education".
Msgr. Dal Toso noted that the re-emergence of the problem of drought in the Sahel highlights the urgency of the measures taken. The lack of food resulting from the impact of drought on agriculture "will reach its peak in the coming months. ... Both the international community and, more specifically, a number of Catholic organisations are seeking to intervene to prevent this crisis, he said.
The secretary of "Cor Unum" pointed out that the Church represents a minority in the countries of the Sahel. "In some cases a truly minuscule minority, in an environment characterised by the presence of Islam and of traditional religions". For this reason the John Paul II Foundation also serves as "an instrument of dialogue with other religions. ... As the Pope's teaching has recently been highlighting, faith is expressed in works, and what we manage to express through charity seeks in its own small way ... to bear witness to Christ".
The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel came into being following that Pope's first trip to Africa in May 1980, where he was greatly struck by the tragic consequences of desertification. The foundation was established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984, and is actively involved in managing and protecting natural resources, in the struggle against drought and desertification, in rural development and in the fight against poverty, through the involvement of local people.

Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Luiz Henrique da Silva Brito of the clergy of the diocese of Campos, Brazil. diocesan chancellor, spiritual director of the diocesan seminary of "Maria Imaculada" and pastor of the parish of "Sao Benedito", as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (area 1,261, population 6,158,000, Catholics 3,737,000, priests 602, permanent deacons 124, religious 1,044), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Goncalo, Brazil in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1991. He studied in Brazil and in Rome. Apart from his pastoral work, he is defender of the bond at the ecclesiastical tribunal of the archdiocese of Niteroi and professor of moral theology at the archdiocesan seminary.


Archbishop of York, d. on 29 February, 992. Of Danish parentage, Oswald was brought up by his uncle Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, and instructed by Fridegode. For some time he was dean of the house of the secular canons at Winchester, but led by the desire of a stricter life he entered the Benedictine Monastery of Fleury, where Odo himself had received the monastic habit. He was ordained there and in 959 returned to England betaking himself to his kinsman Oskytel, then Archbishop of York. He took an active part in ecclesiastical affairs at York until St. Dunstan procured his appointment to the See of Worcester. He was consecrated by St. Dunstan in 962. Oswald was an ardent supporter of Dunstan in his efforts to purify the Church from abuses, and aided by King Edgar he carried out his policy of replacing by communities the canons who held monastic possessions. Edgar gave the monasteries of St. Albans, Ely, and Benfleet to Oswald, who established monks at Westbury (983), Pershore (984), at Winchelcumbe (985), and at Worcester, and re-established Ripon. But his most famous foundation was that of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, the church of which was dedicated in 974, and again after an accident in 991. In 972 by the joint action of St. Dunstan and Edgar, Oswald was made Archbishop of York, and journeyed to Rome to receive the pallium from John XIII. He retained, however, with the sanction of the pope, jurisdiction over the diocese of Worcester where he frequently resided in order to foster his monastic reforms (Eadmer, 203). On Edgar's death in 975, his work, hitherto so successful, received a severe check at the hands of Elfhere, King of Mercia, who broke up many communities. Ramsey, however, was spared, owing to the powerful patronage of Ethelwin, Earl of East Anglia. Whilst Archbishop of York, Oswald collected from the ruins of Ripon the relics of the saints, some of which were conveyed to Worcester. He died in the act of washing the feet of the poor, as was his daily custom during Lent, and was buried in the Church of St. Mary at Worcester. Oswald used a gentler policy than his colleague Ethelwold and always refrained from violent measures. He greatly valued and promoted learning amongst the clergy and induced many scholars to come from Fleury. He wrote two treatises and some synodal decrees. His feast is celebrated on 28 February. IMAGE


Israel's Tourism Ministry and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land organised the trip. The ecumenical delegation includes Card Oswald Gracias and newly appointed Card Mar George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabar Church. The Indian community in the Holy Land numbers 5,000, 3,000 of them, Catholic.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A delegation of Indian religious leaders is in the Holy Land on pilgrimage to celebrate Lent. They arrived last Sunday at the invitation of Israel's Tourism Ministry and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land and they are scheduled to travel to the country's main holy sites until 1 March.

The delegation includes CBCI President Card Oswald Gracias, His Beatitude Card Mar George Alencherry Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, the Most Rev Dr Soosa Pakiam, metropolitan archbishop of Trivandrum, Most Rev Filipe Neri Ferrao, patriarch of the East Indies and Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Dr Joshua Mar Nicodemos, metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Right Rev Godwin Nag, president of UELCI and bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India.

On the first day of their stay, the religious leaders visited the Holy Sepulchre and celebrated the Eucharist on Mount Zion.

They later met with Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Holy Land, who spoke to them about the Christian communities present, about their relations with other communities and their current situation. They also discussed Indian pilgrims and how the Custody, together with Israel's Tourism Ministry, can improve and increase the number of visitors.

More than a million pilgrims visit the Holy Land each year. In the first half of 2010, they were 1.6 million, 39 per cent more than in 2009.

In the past few years, the number of pilgrims from Asia, especially India, has gone up considerably.

A good number of Indians also live in the country, mostly for work. Some 3,000 of them are Catholic.


FEBRUARY 29, known as a LEAP DAY in the Gregorian calendar, is a date that occurs in most years that are evenly divisible by 4, such as 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Years that are evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, with the exception of years that are evenly divisible by 400, which do contain a leap day; thus 1900 did not contain a leap day while 2000 did. Years containing a leap day are called leap years.
February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year. Leap years
Although most years of the modern calendar have 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Every four years, during which an extra 24 hours have accumulated, one extra day is added to keep the count coordinated with the sun's apparent position.
It is, however, slightly inaccurate to calculate an additional 6 hours each year. A better approximation is that the Earth makes a complete revolution around the sun in 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 16 seconds. To compensate for the difference, an end-of-century year is not a leap year unless it is also exactly divisible by 400. This means that the years 1600 and 2000 were leap years, as will be 2400 and 2800, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not, nor will be 2100, 2200 and 2300.

The Gregorian calendar repeats itself every 400 years, which is exactly 20,871 weeks including 97 leap days. Over this period, February 29 falls 13 times on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday; 14 times on a Friday or Saturday; and 15 times on a Monday or Wednesday.

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Look kindly, Lord, we pray, on the devotion of your people, that those who by self-denial are restrained in body may by the fruit of good works be renewed in mind. Through our Lord.


RUMBEK, February 24, 2012 (CISA) –The Diocesan Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek, Fr Fernando Colombo, has said that the season of lent offers an opportunity for spiritual growth, encouraging the faithful to make good personal efforts to profit from this special period of 40 days.
According to a statement sent to CISA by Radio Good News, Fr Colombo was presiding over the Eucharistic celebration at Holy Family Cathedral in Rumbek to mark Ash Wednesday, the beginning of lent.
He called on the faithful to cultivate their spiritual life in understanding and appreciating both the passion and the resurrection of Jesus, cautioning against the tendency to consider the resurrection and have little or no regard to the suffering and death of Jesus.
Fr Colombo advocated for a personal approach to the Lenten season, urging each faithful to design a program on how to spend the period of 40 days effectively.
Fr Colombo also said that having an attitude of tolerance, humor and even joyful acceptance of the daily challenges would constitute Lenten observance, citing the realities of a harsh weather, thirst, daily demanding duties, among others.
Fr Colombo also reminded the congregation of the three traditional ways of observing the Lenten season that is, listening to the word of God, works of charity, and fasting.


Vulnerable Children Inquiry Print

Archbishop Denis-Hart Wednesday 29 February 2012

"The wellbeing and safety of all children and families is of fundamental importance to the Church," the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart said yesterday, responding to the tabling in the Victorian Parliament of the Report of the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry.

Speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops of Victoria, Archbishop Hart noted that "the Report of three volumes contains 90 separate recommendations in relation to a number of very important questions about how our society deals with its most vulnerable members. There are recommendations relating to the courts, government departments and agencies and non-government and religious organisations, including the Catholic

The Archbishop said, "Many sectors of our community will be studying the Report and will form views on its findings and recommendations.

“Detailed responses will be provided by the Church as the Report and its recommendations are
examined," Archbishop Hart said.


Press Release


Msgr. Ratzinger offers rare glimpse at his brother … the Pope

New book is a detailed portrait of the Holy Father from boyhood to his Papacy
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 27, 2012 – Brotherly love is not uncommon, but the over-80-year-old bond between Monsignor Georg Ratzinger and his brother Joseph – Pope Benedict XVI – is of one of the rarest and most fascinating fraternal relationships ever written about.

In My Brother the Pope, available March 1 in English from Ignatius Press, Msgr. Ratzinger provides German writer Michael Hesemann with the only living witness to the early days and formation of brothers who were ordained as Catholic priests together on the same day in 1951 – after surviving Nazi Germany and World War II.
Msgr. Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI – or Georg and Joseph in their early days – mere sons of an ordinary hard-working policeman and faithful Catholic who married a devout woman he met through taking out a print advertisement, are seen as never before.
“(Msgr. Ratzinger) draws the picture of a family that grew so strong through the practice of its deep faith that it could withstand all the storms of that time, even those of the godless Nazi regime,” Hesemann writes in the book’s introduction.
Noted author and Papal biographer George Weigel calls My Brother the Pope “an evocative portrait that sheds new light on the experiences that shaped some of the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI.”
Hesemann, whose idea it was to acquire Monsignor Ratzinger’s detailed memoirs about his brother and their unique bond, says of My Brother the Pope, “The Ratzinger family secret is now available to the entire world.”
Msgr. Ratzinger tells Hesemann of the brothers’ early lives, when they were forced to become part of the Hitler Youth and drafted into the army of the Third Reich. My Brother the Pope also provides an intimate look into the Ratzinger family, and the tight knit and devotional Catholic home life that produced not one – but two vocations to priesthood.
“Often on Sundays we attended Mass twice, once as servers and another time with our family, for instance, the early Mass at 6:00 and the main parish Mass at 8:00 or 8:30,” Msgr. Ratzinger tells Hesemann. “Then, in the afternoon at 2:00, there were devotions, on feast days a Vespers service. This piety, which was lived and put into practice, defined our whole life, even though today I celebrate only one Mass and refrain from going to a second one. Nevertheless, it was imparted to us as children in the cradle, so to speak, and we remained faithful to it throughout our lives. I am convinced that the lack of this traditional piety in many families is also a reason why there are too few priestly vocations today.”
In My Brother the Pope, Monsignor Ratzinger not only shares – for the first time – a unique depiction of his brother with stories never heard before, but readers will encounter the man, the best friend, who continues to serve as a confidante and guide to the Holy Father to this day in the midst of his Papacy.

The brothers Georg and Joseph confer their first blessing
“From the beginning of my life,” Pope Benedict said, “my brother has always been for me not only a companion, but a trustworthy guide. For me he has been a point of orientation and of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions. He has always shown me the path to take, even in difficult situations.”
The Ratzinger brothers celebrated the 60th anniversary of their ordinations to the priesthood last year, and the book includes many pages of black and white and color photos that illustrate the lifelong, lasting friendship the Pope and his brother have enjoyed. They continue to vacation together, and talk to each other daily.
“Not just a fascinating book but a unique one, as well,” said Fr. Benedict Groeschel, of My Brother the Pope. “We are granted an intimate look at the life of one beloved brother through the eyes of another.”
A Spanish edition of My Brother the Pope is available from Liguori Publications.
To request a review copy of My Brother the Pope or to arrange interviews with spokespersons, please contact Alexis Walkenstein
(561-445-5409 or Email); Tim Lilley (678-990-9032 or Email); or Kevin Wandra (678-990-9032 or Email) of The Maximus Group.


Jonah 3: 1 - 10
1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nin'eveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you."
3 So Jonah arose and went to Nin'eveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nin'eveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth.
4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he cried, "Yet forty days, and Nin'eveh shall be overthrown!"
5 And the people of Nin'eveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
6 Then tidings reached the king of Nin'eveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he made proclamation and published through Nin'eveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water,
8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yea, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands.
9 Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?"
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
Psalms 51: 3 - 4, 12 - 13, 18 - 19
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
18 Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on thy altar.

Luke 11: 29 - 32
29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.
31 The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
32 The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

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