Thursday, March 1, 2012


Vatican City, 1 March 2012 (VIS) - A congress organised by the Cultural Project Committee of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) was held recently in Rome on the theme: "Jesus, Our Contemporary". For the occasion, Benedict XVI sent a message to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the CEI. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
"The name and the message of Jesus of Nazareth", the Pope writes, "frequently arouse interest and exert strong attraction, even among people who do not succeed in adhering to His word of salvation. We are therefore impelled to evoke an increasingly profound and thorough understanding, in ourselves and everywhere, of the real figure of Jesus Christ. This can only spring from the hermeneutic of faith, placed in a fruitful relationship with historical reason. It was for this purpose that I wrote my two books on Jesus of Nazareth".
"On several occasions in the course of my pontificate, I have recalled the need to give priority to opening a pathway to God in human hearts and lives. ... We cannot entrust our lives to an indefinite superior body or to a cosmic force, but to God Whose face as Father has been made familiar by the Son, 'full of grace and truth'. Jesus is the key that opens the door of wisdom and love to us, that dispels our loneliness and keeps hope alive in the face of the mystery of evil and death. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, in Whose name many believers in various countries of the world today still face suffering and persecution, cannot therefore be confined to a distant past but is crucial to our faith today.
"What does it mean", the Pope adds, "to say that Jesus of Nazareth, Who lived between Galilee and Judea two thousand years ago is a 'contemporary' of every man and woman alive today, and in every epoch? Romano Guardini explains it to us in words that remain as timely as when they were written: 'His earthly life entered into eternity and in this way is related to every hour of earthly time, redeemed by His sacrifice'".
"Jesus enters human history forever, where He lives on in all His beauty and power in that frail body which is the Church, ever in need of purification but also full of divine love. To Him she turns in the liturgy, to praise Him and to receive authentic life. The contemporaneity of Jesus is revealed in a special way in the Eucharist, in which He is present with His passion, death and resurrection. It is this that makes the Church contemporaneous with every human being, capable of embracing all people and all epochs because she is guided by the Holy Spirit in order to perpetuate the work of Jesus in history".

Vatican City, 1 March 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world concerning the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land. The letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the congregation, has the purpose of sensitising the Catholic Church around the world with regard to the Holy Land, and of promoting initiatives of prayer and fraternal charity towards Christians of Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine and neighbouring countries.
"The Son of God made man, after having crossed this land announcing the Kingdom and confirming the word with mighty works, wonders and signs, went up to the Holy City to immolate Himself", reads the English-language version of the letter. "From that time, every Christian finds himself at home in that City and in that Land. This is possible thanks to the pastors in this place, who, by the will of the Lord Jesus, continue in our day also to gather our brothers and sisters in the faith to celebrate the love of Him Who 'makes all things new'.
"The Congregation for the Oriental Churches hereby reminds the bishops of the entire world of the unceasing request of Pope Benedict XVI that the mission of the Church in the Holy Places be generously supported. Although specifically pastoral, this mission at the same time offers a praiseworthy social service to all without exception. In this way, fraternity, which can overcome division and discrimination, increases and gives renewed impetus to ecumenical dialogue and inter-religious collaboration. This constitutes an admirable work of peace and reconciliation, which is all the more necessary today, as we share the Holy Father’s preoccupation 'for the people of those countries where hostilities and acts of violence continue, particularly Syria and the Holy Land'".
"This year, Good Friday seems more fitting than ever as a sign of the needs of both pastors and faithful, which are bound up with the sufferings of the entire Middle East. For the disciples of Christ, hostility is often the daily bread which nourishes the faith and sometimes makes the echo of martyrdom. Christian emigration is exacerbated by the lack of peace, which tends to impoverish hope, changing it into the fear of facing alone a future that seems to exist only in the abandonment of one’s own country.
"Nonetheless, as was the case for the Gospel’s grain of wheat, so the trials of Christians in the Holy Land prepare without doubt a brighter tomorrow. The dawning of this new day, however, requires support now for schools, medical assistance, critical housing, meeting places, and everything else that the generosity of the Church has devised".
"We have the duty to restore the spiritual patrimony which we have received from these Christians’ two millennia of fidelity to the truth of the faith. We can and must do this by our prayer, by concrete assistance, and by pilgrimages. The Year of Faith, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican Council II, will provide particular motivation for us to direct our steps towards that Land. ... Next Good Friday, around the Cross of Christ, let us be conscious of being together with these brothers and sisters of ours. May the loneliness that is at times strongly felt in their situation be overcome by our fraternity".
Also made public today was a report prepared by the Custody of the Holy Land (a province of the Order of Friars Minor with responsibility for the Holy Places), listing the works carried out with the proceeds of the Good Friday collection of 2011. Restoration and maintenance has been carried out on numerous shrines, churches and convents in the Holy Land including such places as Bethlehem, Jerusalem (Gethsemane and the Shrine of the Flagellation, among others), Jaffa, Magdala and Mount Tabor. Other initiatives sought to improve welcome services for pilgrims.
A significant part of the proceeds was used to fund student scholarships, to help small business, and to build houses, schools and areas for children. Other recipients of aid included families, parish communities, the poor and cultural institutions.

Vatican City, 1 March 2012 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That the whole world may recognise the contribution of women to the development of society".
His mission intention is: "That the Holy Spirit may grant perseverance to those who suffer discrimination, persecution or death for the name of Christ, particularly in Asia".


grondinproulxThe episcopal ordinations of the Most Reverend Gaétan Proulx, O.S.M, and Denis Grondin, the two new Auxiliary Bishop of Quebec City, took place on February 25, 2012, at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, which is in the Archdiocese of Quebec City. The celebration was presided by the Archbishop of Quebec City, the Most Reverend Gérald C. Lacroix, with the participation of the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, the Most Reverend Pedro López Quintana, and a number of other Bishops from across the country. The TV broadcast of the celebration is available from the video library of the Quebec City Catholic television channel ECDQ.TV.
Link to the videos of the celebration


The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, has just returned from Rome where he attended the Pontifical Academy for Life’s General Assembly.
Bishop Anthony had an individual meeting with Pope Benedict XVI where he presented the Holy Father with a copy of his new book, Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium.
Bishop Anthony said that at the General Assembly, members discussed infertility and medically effective and ethical ways to deal with it.
“Founded by Pope John Paul II, the Academy is responsible for the development and promotion of many of the Catholic Church's positions on questions of medical ethics,” Bishop Anthony said
Its website contains details about the Assembly and podcasts of some good interviews. It's worth a look.”
Visit the Pontifical Academy for Life at:


ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Jibran Khan - Shafique Khokhar
For religious and civil society leaders, the late Catholic minister is an example to follow in interfaith dialogue. For the bishop of Islamabad, he was "a brave and faithful man". A human rights activist says that his death leaves a leadership vacuum. His "sacrifice will not be in vain," Muslim scholar states.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Catholic public figures, Christian leaders, Muslim scholars and human rights activists are remembering Shahbaz Bhatti a year after his death. A group of armed extremists gunned down the Minority Affairs minister, a Catholic, on the morning of 2 March 2011, leaving his body riddled with bullets. Since then, investigators have tried several times to cover up the affair, blaming it on family squabbles or financial disputes. However, his memory lives on in civil society as others promote his work, ideals and political-cultural testament in favour a secular and multicultural Pakistan. "I am ready to die for a cause," he said in a video that was posted on the Internet. "I am living for my community [. . .] and I will die to defend their rights," choosing death "for my principles". These words encapsulate the sense of the work he passed on, a spiritual testament to inspire others who today remember him with admiration and affection as an example to follow.

Many moderate Muslim leaders and imams value Shahbaz's work and share his legacy. Maulana Mehfooz Khan, imam in Lahore and a member of the Islamic Ideology Council, is one of them. Over the years, he developed a close relationship with the slain minister based on friendship and respect. For him, Shahbaz Bhatti was "an ambassador of interfaith harmony. His services for the minorities of Pakistan are highly appreciated. He stood firm for what he believed in" and "his sacrifice will not go in vain, he will be remembered as a voice for the voiceless."

Another Muslim activist, Iftikhar Ahmad, agrees. The district coordinator of SPARK (Child Right Committee) in Faisalabad said, "I worked a lot with Shahbaz Bhatti against the blasphemy laws, Hudood Ordinance and the Shariah Bill." The minister's assassination was clearly connected with "extremism and I am pained that our independent courts have released the culprit of his murder".

"Unfortunately, our state is not taking adequate steps against the extremism that caused the brutal assassination and extra-judicial killing of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer. I salute Shahbaz Bhatti's tireless and courageous efforts. He was not only a leader of minorities but a true human rights defender too".

Among Pakistan's Catholic public figures, Shahbaz was particular close to Mgr Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad, who could count him as a close friend. His death represents the "tragic loss of a brave and faithful man." In his view, the memory of the "noble witness" has not faded a year after his murder.

"I knew him since the 1980s as he went to a school in Khushpur, his village in Faisalabad District," the prelate said. "He was always ready to work for the nation".

Together, "we founded Christian Liberation Front," but "He had a passion for minorities and fought for their rights. I met him a couple of weeks before his assassination. He surely saw it coming;" yet, he "was steadfast-such an inspiration to all who profess the Christian faith. . . ."

Khalid Gill a senior APMA (All Pakistan Minority Alliance) member also remembers him. "Shahbaz Bhatti was a brave leader; it was an honour working under his leadership."

"Shahbaz Bhatti's assassination was a great blow to Pakistan; the more shocking because of the lukewarm attitude of the great majority, including intellectuals, liberals and members of civil society" who did not come out to protest against his death.

For Punjab Provincial Assembly Member and APMA member Pervaiz Rafique, the Catholic minister's vision of a Pakistan was that of a country "where religious minorities would be able to exercise equal rights." He worked tirelessly for a just and tolerant society.

Michelle Chaudhry, a social activist from Lahore, had known Bhatti "for 28 years" because her father had been "his mentor". His death has left a leadership vacuum and Christians are in "serious need of unity" to protect their rights. "He was selfless, always concerned for others." His family "is still waiting for justice" from the government.

For Peter Jacob, executive Director of National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), the Catholic minister's legacy must be promoted. He held a "brave posture against threats". His life recalls the "martyrdom inherent in the Christian witness" like that of "his mentor, Bishop John Joseph, 12 years ago".

Fr Aftab James Paul, director of the Diocesan Commission for Interfaith Dialogue in Faisalabad, recalls Shahbaz, the martyr," as a "symbol of the struggle for the rights of the downtrodden," a man following in the footsteps of "Jesus who sacrificed his life".

Finally, activist and poet Syed Najeeb Ali Shah, pays tribute on behalf of his fellow "poets, writers and educators" for his "struggle in favour of democracy and secularism on the first anniversary of his death."'leader'-Shahbaz-Bhatti-24120.html


Agenzia Fides REPORT-“As President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Archbishop of Johannesburg, I wish to convey my deepest sympathy to the Monsengwo family” said a statement sent to Fides by Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg, in reference to the killing on Feb. 22 in the South African city of a nephew of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (see Fides 02/29/2012) .

“The loss of any life by violence is not according to the will of God. The fact that another life is lost in Johannesburg – whoever it is – is very sad”.

“I assure the Congolese community in Johannesburg, in South Africa and our Brother, Laurent Cardinal Monsengwo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, of my prayers and full co-operation to bring the perpetrators of this violence to law”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 1/3/2012)


Court says midwives must supervise abortions  | Miss Mary Doogan,Mrs Connie Wood,Glasgow,conscientious objection to abortion, Judge Lady Smith,Court of Session Edinburgh

Court of Sessions
Two senior midwives with more than 20 years experience delivering babies, have been told by a court that they must supervise abortions. A judgment was handed down on 29 February in the case of Miss Mary Doogan and Mrs Connie Wood from Glasgow who both have a conscientious objection to abortion. Judge Lady Smith, sitting in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, ruled that the senior midwives' role is not covered by the conscience clause in the Abortion Act.

The case arose when the hospital demanded that all senior midwives must take responsibility for overseeing mid-term and late term abortions. Since 2008 the hospital has insisted that these abortions, mostly for suspected disability in the foetus, must be conducted on the labour ward, rather than the gynaecology ward where most early abortions are performed.

The midwives argued that they had never been required to supervise abortion procedures in the past, and that the hospital was asking them to be morally, medically and legally responsible for abortions. They argued that this conflicted with their profound objection to abortions and with the right to opt-out that is protected in the 1967 Abortion Act.

The case was subject of a protracted grievance procedure before coming to court in January.

The late abortion procedure, called "Medical Termination of Pregnancy" or MTOP, entails the mother being given drugs to induce labour, and then having to go through labour and deliver the baby. In more advanced pregnancies the baby is killed first by an ultrasound-guided lethal injection while still in the womb.

The hospital's labour ward delivers 6000 babies every year, but is also required to provide about 1-3 MTOPs each week - a number which has increased since a special unit for diagnosing disability in the womb was transferred to the Southern General Hospital in January 2010.

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, in whose Archdiocese, the Southern General Hospital is located, said: “I view this judgement with deep concern. I wish to put on record my admiration for the courage of the midwives who have, at very great cost to themselves, fought to uphold the right to follow one’s conscience. It is fundamental to the functioning of society that all citizens act in accordance with an informed conscience.

“Any law or judgement which fails to recognise this contradicts that most basic freedom and duty which we all have as human beings, namely to follow our conscience and act accordingly.

“Any assault on this principle undermines the very basis of the law itself and society’s moral cohesion, which the law should seek to guarantee."

Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) commented: "We are very disappointed by the judgment. SPUC has supported the midwives in bringing their case, and will now be considering their further legal options with them."

Neil Addison, director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said: “The case is yet another example of the way in which the UK Courts are interpreting s9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Freedom of Religion) in the most limited and restrictive way possible.

“The courts have not hesitated to use the convention to protect murderous terrorists but have refused to use it two midwives who do not want to kill unborn children.

“What is more surprising is the extremely restrictive interpretation the judge has put on the Conscientious Objection clause in s4 of the Abortion Act.

“As the judge has interpreted it, believing Catholics, Muslims and others will ever be able to take any form of supervisory or management role as midwives or nurses unless they are willing to be complicit in the provision of abortions.”

“This decision is in stark contrast to recent decisions in the United States’ courts which have applied the American First Amendment to protect the conscience rights of pharmacists who refused to dispense the morning-after pill.”


Matthew 7: 7 - 12

7 "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
9 Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.


St. Suitbert
Feast: March 1

Feast Day: March 1
Died: 1 March 713 near Düsseldorf, Germany
Patron of: angina sufferers; Germany; throat diseases
Apostle of the Frisians, b. in England in the seventh century; d. at Suitberts-Insel, now Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf, 1 March, 713. He studied in Ireland, at Rathmelsigi, Connacht, along with St. Egbert. The latter, filled with zeal for the conversion of the Germans, had sent St. Wihtberht, or Wigbert, to evangelize the Frisians, but owing to the opposition of the pagan ruler, Rathbod, Wihtberht was unsuccessful and returned to England. Egbert then sent St. Willibrord and his twelve companions, among whom was St. Suitbert. They landed near the mouth of the Rhine and journeyed to Utrecht, which became their headquarters. The new missionaries worked with great success under the protection of Pepin of Heristal, who, having recently conquered a portion of Frisia, compelled Rathbod to cease harassing the Christians. Suitbert laboured chiefly in North Brabant, Guelderland, and Cleves. After some years he went back to England, and in 693 was consecrated in Mercia as a missionary bishop by St. Wilfrid of York. He returned to Frisia and fixed his see at Wijkbij Duurstede on a branch of the Rhine. A little later, entrusting his flock of converts to St. Willibrord, he proceeded north of the Rhine and the Lippe, among the Bructeri, or Boructuari, in the district of Berg, Westphalia. This mission bore great fruit at first, but was eventually a failure owing to the inroads of the pagan Saxons; when the latter had conquered the territory, Suitbert withdrew to a small island in the Rhine, six miles from Dusseldorf, granted to him by Pepin of Heristal, where he built a monastery and ended his days in peace. His relics were rediscovered in 1626 at Kaiserwerth and are still venerated there. St. Suitbert of Kaiserwerdt is to be distinguished from a holy abbot, Suitbert, who lived in a monastery near the River Dacore, Cumberland, England, about forty years later, and is mentioned by Venerable Bede.

(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)

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