Thursday, March 29, 2012





Vatican City, 28 March 2012 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today the Holy Father presided at Mass in Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion Jose Marti, in the presence of thousands of faithful who had come from all over Cuba. Extracts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below: (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
"“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. In this text from today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals Himself as the Son of God the Father, the Saviour, the One Who alone can show us the truth and give us genuine freedom. His teaching provokes resistance and disquiet among His hearers. ... Even so, He exhorts them to believe, to keep His word, so as to know the truth which redeems and justifies.
"The truth is a desire of the human person, the search for which always supposes the exercise of authentic freedom. Many, without a doubt, would prefer to take the easy way out, trying to avoid this task. Some, like Pontius Pilate, ironically question the possibility of even knowing what truth is, ... or deny that there exists a truth valid for all. This attitude, as in the case of scepticism and relativism, changes hearts, making them cold, wavering, distant from others and closed. There are too many who, like the Roman governor, wash their hands and let the water of history drain away without taking a stand.
"On the other hand, there are those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in “their truth”, and try to impose it on others. ... Anyone who acts irrationally cannot become a disciple of Jesus. Faith and reason are necessary and complementary in the pursuit of truth. God created man with an innate vocation to the truth and He gave him reason for this purpose. Certainly, it is not irrationality but rather the yearning for truth which the Christian faith promotes".
"Furthermore, the truth which stands above humanity is an unavoidable condition for attaining freedom, since in it we discover the foundation of an ethics on which all can converge and which contains clear and precise indications concerning life and death, duties and rights, marriage, family and society, in short, regarding the inviolable dignity of the human person. This ethical patrimony can bring together different cultures, peoples and religions, authorities and citizens, citizens among themselves, and believers in Christ and non-believers.
"Christianity, in highlighting those values which sustain ethics, does not impose, but rather proposes Christ’s invitation to know the truth which sets us free. ... In Christ we find the truth about God and about mankind. He helps us to overcome our selfishness, to rise above our vain struggles and to conquer all that oppresses us. The one who does evil, who sins, becomes its slave and will never attain freedom. Only by renouncing hatred and our hard and blind hearts will we be free and a new life will well up in us".
"The Church lives to make others sharers in the one thing she possesses, which is none other than Christ, our hope of glory. To carry out this duty, she must count on basic religious freedom, which consists in her being able to proclaim and to celebrate her faith also in public, bringing to others the message of love, reconciliation and peace which Jesus brought to the world. It must be said with joy that in Cuba steps have been taken to enable the Church to carry out her essential mission of expressing her faith openly and publicly. Nonetheless, this must continue forwards, and I wish to encourage the country’s government authorities to strengthen what has already been achieved and advance along this path of genuine service to the true good of Cuban society as a whole.
"The right to freedom of religion, both in its private and in its public dimension, manifests the unity of the human person, who is at once a citizen and a believer. It also legitimises the fact that believers have a contribution to make to the building up of society. Strengthening religious freedom consolidates social bonds, nourishes the hope of a better world, creates favourable conditions for peace and harmonious development. ... When the Church upholds this human right, she is not claiming any special privileges for herself. She wishes only to be faithful to the command of her divine founder, conscious that, where Christ is present, we become more human and our humanity becomes authentic. This is why the Church seeks to give witness by her preaching and teaching, both in catechesis and in the schools and universities. It is greatly to be hoped that the moment will soon arrive when, here too, the Church can bring to the fields of knowledge the benefitsof the mission which the Lord entrusted to her and which she can never neglect.
"A shining example of this commitment is found in the outstanding priest Felix Varela, teacher and educator, an illustrious son of this city of Havana, who has taken his place in Cuban history as the first one who taught his people how to think. Father Varela offers us a path to a true transformation of society: to form virtuous men and women in order to forge a worthy and free nation, for this transformation depends on the spiritual, in as much as “there is no authentic fatherland without virtue”. Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity".

Vatican City, 28 March 2012 (VIS) - After celebrating Mass this morning in Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion Jose Marti, Benedict XVI held a meeting in the apostolic nunciature with Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba.
"I took the decision to ask for some moments of your time, which I know is full of commitments, when I learned that you would take pleasure in this modest and simple encounter", said Fidel Castro to the Pope. During the meeting, which according to Vatican Radio lasted about half an hour, the former president spoke to the Holy Father of his pleasure at the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who had been a great benefactress of Cuba, and of John Paul II, "a man whose contact with children and ordinary citizens invariably aroused feelings of affection". For his part Benedict XVI spoke of his own pleasure at being in Cuba and at the cordiality of his welcome.
Fidel Castro asked the Pope a number of questions about changes in the liturgy and the role of the Pontiff, and Benedict XVI replied by speaking about his meeting with peoples and his service to the universal Church. The former president also turned his attention to the plight mankind is facing in the modern world, while the Pope spoke of the absence and non recognition of God, and the fundamental importance of the relationship between faith and reason. Finally, Castro asked the Pope to send him a number of books to enable him to study the issues raised in their talk, and Benedict XVI said he would give thought to which texts to send. Finally, the former president presented the Pope his wife and two of his children.

Vatican City, 28 March 2012 (VIS) - As the Pope prepared to leave Cuba this afternoon he recalled the profound impression that country had left on his predecessor Blessed John Paul II, "when he came to these lands as a herald of truth and hope". Benedict XVI reiterated the fact that he had come to Cuba as a pilgrim of love, to give thanks to the Virgin Mary "who has accompanied the journey of the Church in this nation and given encouragement to all Cubans so that, from the hand of Christ, they might discover the true meaning of the desires and aspirations found in the human heart and gain the strength needed to build a fraternal society in which no one feels excluded".
At Jose Marti airport in Havana, where he arrived at 4.30 p.m. amid the acclamation of tens of thousands of faithful who had thronged to see him, the Pope thanked the president and other State authorities "for the interest and generous cooperation which they have shown in the the preparation of this journey". He also thanked members of the episcopal conference and others who had spared no effort to ensure the success of his visit. "I hold deep in my heart all the Cuban people, each and every one. You have surrounded me with prayer and affection, offered me cordial hospitality and shared with me your profound and rightful aspirations.
"I came here as a witness to Jesus Christ, convinced that, wherever He is present, discouragement yields to hope, goodness dispels uncertainties and a powerful force opens up the horizon to beneficial and unexpected possibilities", said the Holy Father. He also expressed the hope that Christ's message of salvation would strengthen the zeal and pastoral concern of Cuban bishops and all who cooperate the work of evangelisation, particularly the lay faithful so that, "by intensifying their commitment to God in the midst of their homes and workplaces, they may never tire of offering their responsible contribution for the good and the integral progress of their homeland.
"The path which Christ points out to humanity, and to each particular individual and people, is not a source of constraint, but rather the primary and principal premise for their authentic development. The light of the Lord, has shone brightly during these days; may that light never fade in those who have welcomed it; may it help all people to foster social harmony and to allow the blossoming of all that is finest in the Cuban soul, its most noble values, which can be the basis for building a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled. May no one feel excluded from taking up this exciting search for his or her basic freedoms, or excused from this this by indolence or lack of material resources, a situation which is worsened when restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its people.
"I now conclude my pilgrimage, but I will continue praying fervently that you will go forward and that Cuba will be the home of all and for all Cubans, where justice and freedom coexist in a climate of serene fraternity. Respect and promotion of freedom which is present in the heart of each person are essential in order to respond adequately to the fundamental demands of his or her dignity and, in this way, to build up a society in which all are indispensable actors in the future of their life, their family and their country.
"The present hour urgently demands that in personal, national and international coexistence we reject immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints which tend to make understanding more difficult and efforts at cooperation ineffective. Possible discrepancies and difficulties will be resolved by tirelessly seeking what unites everyone, with patient and sincere dialogue, and a willingness to listen and accept goals which will bring new hope.
"Cuba, look again to the faith of your elders, draw from that faith the strength to build a better future, trust in the Lord’s promises, and open your heart to His Gospel so as to renew authentically your personal and social life.
"As I bid you a heartfelt adios, I ask our Lady of Charity of El Cobre to protect all Cubans under her mantle, to sustain them in the midst of their trials and to obtain from Almighty God the grace that they most desire. Hasta siempre, Cuba, a land made beautiful by the maternal presence of Mary. May God bless your future".
Having concluded his farewell address, Benedict XVI boarded his plane for Rome where, following a flight of ten and a half hours, he arrived at 10.15 a.m. local time on 29 March.

Vatican City, 29 March 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a declaration issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning the canonical status of the "so-called Greek-Catholic bishops of Pidhirci": Fr. Elias A. Dohnal O.S.B.M., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk O.S.B.M., Fr. Metodej R. Spirik O.S.B.M., and Fr. Robert Oberhauser. The text is dated 22 February and bears the signatures of Cardinal William Joseph Levada and Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
(1) The Holy See has followed with great concern the activities of Fr. Elias A. Dohnal O.S.B.M., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk O.S.B.M., Fr. Metodej R. Spirik O.S.B.M., and Fr. Robert Oberhauser who, having been expelled from the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat, subsequently proclaimed themselves as bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church. With their disobedience, these priests continue to challenge ecclesiastical authority, causing moral and spiritual damage, not only to the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat and the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, but also to this Apostolic See and the Catholic Church as a whole. All this provokes division and bewilderment among the faithful. The aforementioned priests, having established a group of "bishops" of Pidhirci, have recently sought to have that group recognised and registered by the competent State authorities as the "Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church".
(2) Since the beginning of this painful episode, Church representatives of various ranks have sought to dissuade them from continuing a conduct which, among other things, could deceive the faithful, as has already happened in a number of cases.
(3) The Holy See, concerned to protect the unity and peace of Christs flock, had hoped in the repentance and subsequent return of the aforementioned priests to full communion with the Catholic Church. Unfortunately the most recent developments - such as the unsuccessful attempt to acquire State registration for the "Pidhirci" group under the name of the "Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church" - demonstrates their continuing disobedience.
(4) Therefore, to safeguard the common good of the Church and the "salus animarum", and given that the so-called "bishops" of Pidhirci show no sign of repentance but continue to create confusion and disarray in the community of faithful, in particular by calumniating representatives of the Holy See and of the local Church, and asserting that the supreme authority of the Church is in possession of documentation testifying to the full validity of their episcopal ordination, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accepting the request presented by the ecclesiastical authorities of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, and by other dicasteries of the Holy See, has decided, by this declaration, to inform the faithful, especially in the countries of origin of the so-called "bishops", about their current canonical status.
(5) This Congregation, disassociating itself entirely from the actions of the so-called "bishops" aforementioned, and from their aforesaid declarations, formally declares that it does not recognise the validity of their episcopal ordinations, or of any and all ordinations that have derived, or will derive therefrom. Moreover, the canonical status of the four so-called "bishops" is that of excommunication, pursuant to canon 1459 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO), in view of the fact that an appeal sentence of the ordinary tribunal of the Major Archiepiscopal Ukrainian Church, issued on 10 September 2008, recognised them as guilty of offences under canons 1462, 1447 and 1452 of the CCEO; i.e., the offences of illegitimate usurpation of office, inciting sedition and hatred towards certain hierarchs, provoking subjects to disobedience, and harming a third party's good name by calumny.
(6) Furthermore, the use of the name "Catholic" by groups which are not recognised by the competent ecclesiastical authority is to be considered as illegitimate, pursuant to canon 19 of the CCEO.
(7) The faithful are, then, enjoined not to adhere to the aforementioned group as, to all canonical effects, it is outside ecclesiastical communion. The faithful are invited to pray for the members of the group, that they may repent and return to full communion with the Catholic Church.


On February 26, 2012, in Florida, an Afro-American teenager Trayvon Martin was fatally shot and killed. A neighbourhood watchman, George Zimmerman, saw the youth in a hoodie sweater walking to a store when they exchanged angry words and Martin was shot. Zimmerman said the killing was in self-defense. Many have seen this as a racially motivated killing. During the month of March some congregations in the USA have worn hoodies in honor of Martin. Several Christian leaders have questioned the law allowing such killings in self-defence. US President Barack Obama is commented on the case saying, "I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen," You know, if I had a son he'd look like Trayvon." Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, said: "Senseless killing from the womb to the tomb must cease. Trayvon is yet another example of the slaying of an endangered species: America's youth,"


jesus icon
A declaration issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has excommunited the canonical status of the "so-called Greek-Catholic bishops of Pidhirci": Fr. Elias A. Dohnal O.S.B.M., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk O.S.B.M., Fr. Metodej R. Spirik O.S.B.M., and Fr. Robert Oberhauser. The text is dated 22 February and bears the signatures of Cardinal William Joseph Levada and Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They had been expelled from the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat, subsequently proclaimed themselves as bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church. With their disobedience, these priests continue to challenge ecclesiastical authority, causing moral and spiritual damage, not only to the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat and the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, but also to this Apostolic See and the Catholic Church as a whole. (Edited from VIS)


Report 2011

CatholicMissionAnnualReportThursday 29 March 2012
Imagine what’s possible when we work together.Catholic Mission’s 2011 Annual Report released today shows supporters in Australia helped more than 370,000 children, 9000 catechists and nearly 3000 seminarians in 2011.
“The impact of the gifts, prayers and action from thousands of inspirational, caring Australians is testament to what’s possible when we work together in Christ’s name,” said Catholic Mission’s National Director, Mr Martin Teulan.
Contributing total revenue of $17.15 million, Australian supporters gave more than 6% of the total global funds raised for the Pope’s own mission work. Over half the funds raised internationally for the Oceania region came from Australian donors.
“For a country with a relatively small population, it is encouraging to see the difference our gifts make. For countries like Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Myanmar (Burma) and Kiribati, Australian support is a Godsend,” said Mr Teulan.
This year celebrates the 150th anniversary of the death of Catholic Mission’s founder, a lay single woman named Pauline Jaricot, whose vision grew to become the Pontifical Mission Societies, a global network known in Australia as Catholic Mission and operating in 160 countries.
With a passion for mission, Pauline gathered together small groups of workers, mostly from her family’s silk factory, to offer daily prayer and a weekly sacrifice of a penny for the Church’s worldwide missionary work.
“Pauline was a visionary of her time in the early 1800s. She saw a need for universal mission – for all missionary orders and dioceses to benefit – and did what she could to make it happen,” said Mr Teulan.
“Every Catholic Mission supporter continues Pauline’s vision today – a vision that expanded to now support the work of heroic missionaries in 1100 dioceses in Australia and overseas, reaching out to Catholic communities in need, caring for children, and training catechists, religious novices and seminarians.”
Mr Teulan said that Australians supported the work of the Church in 195 dioceses in 38 countries and more than two million Catholics received opportunities for spiritual growth and outreach to others. Other highlights in the annual report, he said, were Catholic Mission’s funding of:
· 371,505 children in their spiritual and practical needs
· 9462 catechists and 2987 seminarians in training
· The building, upkeep and maintenance of 121 pastoral centres, convents (for Sisters involved in pastoral and practical care), churches and other key buildings
· Subsidies for 9 Catholic radio and television broadcasters
“Like Pauline Jaricot nearly 200 years ago, Catholic Mission supporters continue to see a need and do something about it. Each individual gift helps share the practical and eternal love of Christ with at least one other child, parent, seminarian,” Mr Teulan said. “Together, the impact changes whole communities in 38 countries – from remote Australia to Ethiopia, from Guatemala to Madagascar.”


Cisa News REPORT
OUAGADOUGU, March 27, 2012 (CISA) -The Church’s confederation of relief and development agencies, Caritas, has launched an appeal for USD$ 2.3 million to provide food and other aid for over 45,000 people in Burkina Faso.
Caritas has urged for swift action to avoid future crisis where nearly two million people face hunger.
According to Caritas the price of corn has increased by a third compared to 2010 and the production of grain has fallen by 16 percent.
“We must act now to avoid tragedy in the coming months” said Fr Isidore Ouedraogo, the executive secretary of Caritas Burkina Faso.
“Today, we are witnessing thousands of people who eat only one meal a day. By intervening now, Caritas will help them survive the lean season when the lack of food is most acute,” Ouedraogo said.
Caritas Burkina Faso will provide food distributions to over 7000 homes.
Caritas is concerned about children under-five, who are especially vulnerable to malnutrition. Caritas Burkina Faso’s 43 nutrition recovery centres will ensure 21,000 under-fives receive food and medical support.
They will also work with the local community on education to ensure children receive the food they need.
Caritas will support over 2200 households to be able to grow their own food and restock depleted cereal reserves to help them manage their future harvests.
The humanitarian organisation promised to work at the community level strengthening people’s capacity to withstand food price hikes and poor harvests.


by Nirmala Carvalho
The priests denounced by the anti-conversion law of the State. For Fr. Cedric Prakash the allegations are "unfounded, misleading and malicious: they are all children of Catholic families." New anti-Christian attacks by Hindu ultra-nationalists in Madhya Pradesh: three arrests in Chindwara and thousands of people in prayer attacked in Barwani.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Accusations have been made of the forced conversions of 32 children and teenagers who have celebrated First Communion and Confirmation in Gujarat. In Anand district local authorities have opened an investigation into the Catholic priests of the two communities in the area of Khambhat. The complaint comes from Petlad association for human rights under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2008, the state anti-conversion law. For Fr. Cedric Prakash S.J., President of the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights, these accusations are "unfounded, misleading and malicious."

"The children - the Jesuit told AsiaNews - come from Catholic families, and the 'ceremonies' mentioned in the complaints are the traditional sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. Clearly the draconian anti-conversion law in Gujarat is not applicable in these cases. "

For Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), "the rhetoric of Hindutva is now spreading like a virus. This constant propaganda pushing the ultranationalist Hindu defenders against forced conversion of the missionaries, and every day the Christian community is more vulnerable. extremists enjoy political protection, which gives them full license to carry out their attacks with the knowledge that the victims, not aggressors, will be arrested. As was the case recently in Madhya Pradesh. "

The president of the GCIC refers to two incidents that occurred on March 25 last in different districts of the state. In Chindwara, police arrested three Christians on charges of forced conversion. The agents have registered complaints against Harichan Varti, Mayaram Padame and Santaram Parteti under various sections of the Criminal Code, including the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 1968.

In Barwani district, Hindu nationalists raided a prayer service, attended by a thousand Christian faithful. The second day the local police asked the organizers to clear the area. The Christians, however, presented the regular permits, and agents then allowed to resume the service.

Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are among the six Indian states that have anti-conversion laws. The others are: Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himanachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, Article. 25 of the country's constitution guarantees religious freedom as a fundamental right, including the right to practice, disseminate and change one's beliefs. Legal experts consider these laws ambiguous and useless, since art. 295A of the Indian Penal Code already provides severe penalties for those committing "deliberate and malicious acts, intent to offend religious feelings or any class, by insulting its religion or religious belief.",-allegations-of-forced-conversions-of-First-Communion-32-children-24376.html


Sts. Barachisius and Jonas
Feast: March 29

Feast Day: March 29
Died: 24 December 327
They were monks at a monastery in Perisa (modern Iran) and were arrested during the persecution conducted by Sassanid King Shapur II (r. 309-379). Barachisius and Jonas were giving spiritual support to other martyrs when they were taken into custody. Refusing to abjure the faith, Jonas was crushed to death, and his body cut to pieces. Barachisius had brimstone and boiling pitch poured down his throat.

(Taken from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints)


No comments: