Saturday, March 31, 2012


It was announced on Saturday Pope Benedict XVI has given $100,000 (US) for the charitable work of the local Church in Syria. The Holy Father has repeatedly appealed for the end of violence in Syria, and has called for dialogue and reconciliation between the those involved in the conflict, in view of peace and the common good.

The donation was made through the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’. Monsignor Giampietro Dal Toso, the Secretary of the Council, was scheduled to meet with the Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, His Beatitude Gregorios III Laham, President of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria, and other representatives of the local Church on Saturday, at which time he was scheduled to present the donation of the Holy Father.

The Catholic Church is active in charitable work throughout Syria, especially in the area of Homs and Aleppo.


John 11: 45 - 56
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him;
46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.
48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation."
49 But one of them, Ca'iaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all;
50 you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish."
51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation,
52 and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
53 So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Jews, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called E'phraim; and there he stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.
56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?"


The appeal of the All India Christian Council (AICC) to the Indian government. In Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region home to many Indian and Filipino Christians who suffer violence and discrimination. The mufti's words contrary to United Nations Charter.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In mid-March, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, said that all existing churches in the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed. Reacting to this the All India Christian Council (AICC) organization has condemned this statement as "bigoted" and "dangerous" for the many Christians who live in Arab states.

The All India Christian Council (AICC) condemns the statement of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who claims it is "necessary to destroy all the churches in the region."

According to Joseph D'Souza, president of the AICC, the muftis' controversial demand endangers the Christian Churches throughout the Arabian Peninsula, and could have repercussions for religious minorities in other countries.

John Dayal, AICC General Secretary, calls on the Government of India and other civilized countries to ensure that the nations of the Arabian Peninsula clearly reject the Wahhabi imam's bigoted statement, and ensure security and protection to the churches in Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and UAE. Christianity is already banned in Saudi Arabia, there are no churches.

Local media reported the controversial statement together with the proposal of the Parliamentary Assembly of Kuwait, calling for the "removal" of the churches in his country.

Kuwait's parliament recently proposed to introduce laws on the removal of Christian churches from the country and imposition of strict laws inspired by sharia. Later, it clarified that the law was not talking about removing the churches, but forbade the construction of new churches and Christian places of worship in the Islamic country. The Grand Mufti stressed that Kuwait, as a State of the Arabian Peninsula, should destroy all the churches on its territory. There are many Christians living in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, many of whom come from India and the Philippines: More than 3.5 million in total, of which at least 800 thousand just in Saudi Arabia.

The All India Christian Council has been following the developments in the region for some time with growing alarm and concern, given that Christians continue to suffer violence and discrimination. The situation is particularly disturbing, because India has many of its citizens - mostly workers, but also businessmen, engineers and medical personnel - in the region. A large number of migrants from the southern states of India are Christian.
The All India Christian Council reiterates that the declaration of the Grand Mufti is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on religion or belief.

SHARED FROM:,-who-wants-to-eliminate-all-churches-24393.html


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
30 Mar 2012

Collecting the dole is demoralising
and many lose confidence
and their self esteem
Dr John Falzon, CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society's National Council says unemployment benefits for Australians are not only the lowest in the OECD but are forcing people into poverty.
"You don't help people get into jobs by forcing them into poverty. But leaving unemployment benefits at $35 a day is exactly what the Government is doing," he says.
Federal Treasure Wayne Swan has warned of a tough budget and predicts severe cuts to Government services and programs in a bid to fulfil Labor's election promise to produce a surplus by 2012-13. But despite speaking at the opening of this year's Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) annual Conference yesterday with its focus on the worsening plight of Australia's half million unemployed, he and others in the Government made no move to address the issue or respond to lobbying by welfare agencies across Australia for unemployment benefits to be increased.
"There has been no increase in the Newstart allowance since 1994," Dr Falzon says, joining more than 50 member organisations of ACOSS and their call for a long overdue rise in the Newstart allowance.
Currently the allowance is less than $245 per week or less than half the Australian minimum wage which currently stands at $589 per week.
Research has found that not only is the Newstart allowance forcing people to live below the poverty line but for more than two thirds of those on the allowance a third or more is used for rent and housing costs, leaving less than $20 a day for food, electricity and phone bills, clothing, healthcare, bus and train fares and clothing.

The cost of a family's
weekly supermarket shop
has escalated over the past year
"Surviving on $245 a week must be a humbling if not traumatic experience," says former chief of Western Mining and one time president of the Business Council of Australia, Henry Morgan while Heather Ridout, outgoing CEO of the Australian Industry Group and newly appointed member of the Reserve Bank describes the Newstart allowance as inadequate "and unable t o cover even the most basic living costs."
The theme of this year's ACOSS conference, "Sharing the Wealth of the Lucky Country", is a bid to highlight the plight of Australia's unemployed and their worsening situation.
Treasurer Swan expanded on the theme in his opening address to the Conference with many references to the benefit to all Australians from the tax on mining companies which will come into force on 1 July this year. But the bonanza reaped while adding to planned reductions in corporate tax and the Future Fund does not include an increase to $50 a day for the Newstart.

105,000 Australians are
currently homeless
ACOSS member organisations attending the conference included St Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Social Services, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, the Australian Red Cross, Mission Australia, Homelessness Australia, the Salvation Army, Anglicare, Uniting Care and the Smith Family. All have spoken about the rise in the number of families and individuals turning to agencies such as Vinnies for food vouchers and financial help with electricity and utility bills, rent and other expenses.
"We know the key indicators of financial stress include being able to pay bills on time and save for a rainy day, and it is heartbreaking to see more and more people struggling to do this," says Dr Falzon and cited the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which found that close to 31% of low economic resourced households have been unable to pay their utility bills on time over the past 12 months, with a further 10% of these households forced to see assistance from welfare and community organisations.
"Rising poverty across Australia is a major concern," says Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS. "We've known for a long time the Newstart allowance is low but there is now a growing consensus that the allowance is no longer sustainable, and simply cannot be allowed to continue, especially if we want to avoid greater levels of poverty in our country."
Experts and researchers will present new studies that show how allowances such as Newstart and Sole Parenting payments now lag $133 per week behind pension payments and are driving more and more people into poverty.

Dr John Falzon, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society
"Unemployment can happen to anyone. You shouldn't have to live in poverty if it does," says Dr Goldie and will join member organisations to lobby the Government to increase Newstart from $35 to $50 per day and to index all future rises be linked to increases in wages not price rises.
To illustrate the difficulty of surviving on $35 a day, ACOSS made a list of what could be bought for this amount. What they came up with was half a tank of petrol or 1 pair of school or work shoes, or one day's worth of family groceries or one weekly bus or train ticket.
Speakers at the ACOSS Conference which concludes this evening include Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, Sky News political editor, David Speers, Tim Costello of World Vision, Lesley Hall of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and Jennifer Westacott of the Business Council of Australia.


in Cisa News
CAPE TOWN, March 30, 2012 (CISA) -A former Anglican bishop ordained a Catholic priest is one of the stars of an anti-apartheid musical in South Africa.
Fr Robert Mercer, 77, was deported from South Africa in 1970 for his stand against apartheid, along with several other Anglican priests.
He and other members of the Anglican Community of the Resurrection defied segregation laws by running a multi-racial parish.
They were, says Fr Mercer, “deemed to be a corrupting influence on students” at Stellenbosch University, where they worked as chaplains. One of the Anglican priests was jailed, Catholic Herald reports.
Their stand has been dramatised in a multi-media pop musical called Brothers, which ran for five nights at Stellenbosch University, the country’s top Africaans University.
The musical was performed in September 2010 in a mix of Africaans and English and was directed by playwright Peter Krummeck.
Fr Mercer, who grew up in Zimbabwe, went on to become Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, in the Anglican Province of Central Africa, in the midst of a civil war.
He was bishop for 11 years before leaving the Anglican Communion to join the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, part of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion. He served as metropolitan bishop from 1988 to 2005, when he retired to England.
Fr Mercer became a Catholic in January and was ordained a priest for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on March 26.


By Madeleine Teahan on Monday, 26 March 2012
A young man stands above the crowd at Wembley Arena (Mazur/
A young man stands above the crowd at Wembley Arena (Mazur/
Complete silence filled Wembley Arena on Saturday afternoon as approximately 8,000 young Catholics adored the Blessed Sacrament.
The famous sports arena was host to the Flame Youth Congress which was a day of prayer and praise for young Catholic across Britain.
The day culminated in exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament led by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster who said: “Consider the love of God which brought you into existence. Consider how total that love is, for it brought Jesus to give himself entirely for you and to you, on the Cross and here in the Blessed Sacrament. In this light you are truly extraordinary. Maybe you have never thought of that before.”
Drawing on the theme of the Olympic Games which London will host this year, he continued: “We won’t all be Olympic or Paralympic athletes, but we definitely all have our races to run, our finishing lines to cross.
“Consider the people you have heard today – the athletes, the Mizen family, Fr Timothy, Fr Christopher and Sr Catherine. Are there things in their words that have encouraged you? What are the gifts that the Lord has given you that he might fan into a flame, to share with the world? Name these gifts and ask God to help you to use them well, always for the glory of his name.”
The day also included a keynote speech from Father Timothy Radcliffe on the theme of respect, followed by dance and drama.
Testimonies were heard from the Mizen family, whose son Jimmy was murdered in a South London bakery and there was a short talk on silence from Father Christopher Jamison, made famous through the BBC documentary ‘The Monastery’ and ‘The Big Silence.’


On Friday I will attend the funeral in Montreal of a dear Jesuit colleague:

Father Marc Gervais, S.J.
December 3, 1929-March 25, 2012

Marc Gervais, a priest from Montreal, taught for decades at Loyola College and Concordia.
Priest had a passion for film

Pierre Obendrauf, Postmedia News

Postmedia News • Mar. 28, 2012
Last Updated: Mar. 28, 2012 3:05 AM ET
A Montreal priest with a passion for world cinema, Marc Gervais was an influential educator, film consultant and author of scholarly works on Ingmar Bergman and Pier Paolo Pasolini.
He died late Sunday afternoon, age 82, at a Jesuit retreat in Pickering, Ont. His funeral is Friday at his parish church next to Concordia University's Loyola campus, where he taught for decades.
Gervais had been suffering from dementia for several years when he passed away. He is survived by his brother, André, a prominent Montreal lawyer, and his sister, Connie.
Family, friends, colleagues and students remember Gervais as a charismatic humanist who communicated his lifelong love of film to generations of Loyola College and Concordia students.
Among them were Denys Arcand (a future Oscar winner), John Kent Harrison (who went on to make TV movies such as The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler), and Kevin Tierney (producer of Bon Cop, Bad Cop).
"I think in some ways the goal of my entire professional career has been to get Marc's approval," Tierney wrote by email from Mexico City, where he's promoting his latest film, French Immersion.
"Maybe I don't have to worry about that anymore or maybe it's worse now knowing I can't."
Some of Gervais' students went on to become journalists, such as the CBC's Hana Gartner and The Gazette's Paul Cherry, who took two or three courses with him in the mid-1990s.
"He was humble about his credentials," said Cherry, now The Gazette's crime reporter. "I remember one day he mentioned in a very by-theway manner that he knew Jean-Luc Godard personally."
Born and raised in Sherbrooke, Que., Gervais was the second child of Sylvia Mullins and Superior Court Justice Césaire Gervais. He got the movie bug early: Though not yet the legal cinema-going age of 14, he used to tag along with his grandmother, Lily Mullins, on her outings to the theatre.
Gervais graduated from Loyola in 1950 with a bachelor of arts degree. In 1960 he got a master's of fine arts in drama at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1963 and began his academic career at Loyola in 1967. In 1979 he received a doctorate in film esthetics from the Sorbonne.
Over the years - first at Loyola, then at Concordia after its founding in 1974 - he gave courses on Hollywood silents and musicals and Westerns, on German expressionist cinema and Italian neo-realism and the French New Wave, and on directors as varied as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino.
In a course called Film Ideas, Gervais screened one film every week at the old Cinema V in Notre Dame de Grâce. He also opened up screenings to the public at Concordia's F.C. Smith Auditorium.
"His passion was for teaching - he loved to teach," said his long-time Concordia colleague Sheelah O'Neill, who runs the communications studies department.
In emails to her, some of his former students remembered their mentor as someone who, as Harrison put it, "ignited our passion and in most cases, changed the direction of our lives."
"Who can forget," Harrison wrote, "those moments when he would freeze a frame of Bergman or Rossellini on that rickety old 16-millimetre projector, hold his hands to heaven and without a word manage to engage our limbic brains with paragraphs of profundity?"
Gervais attended the annual Cannes Film Festival 39 times; defended Pasolini as a jury member at the 1968 Venice Film Festival and in his 1973 book about the controversial Italian filmmaker; became the go-to international Bergman expert in 1999 with his book Ingmar Bergman: Magician and Prophet; and worked as a consultant on such Catholic-themed films as Agnes of God, Black Robe and The Mission.
Gervais was also the founding director of the Loyola Institute for Studies in International Peace, a founding member of Concordia's Lonergan University College and commissioner with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
An award in his name - the $2,000 Marc Gervais Prize in Communications Studies - is given each year to a BA student graduating from Concordia.
In his spare time, Gervais was an avid tennis player and a big baseball and hockey fan, favouring - to the dismay of his Montreal acolytes - the Boston Bruins.
He struck an urbane figure in tweed jackets and ascots, looked a bit like French director François Truffaut and did funny impersonations of movie stars such as Cary Grant.
He lived most of his life on or just next to Loyola campus.
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* * * * * *


St. Benjamin
Feast: March 31

Feast Day: March 31
Died: 424 in Persia
Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.
The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: "The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations, no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels." We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c."


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