Wednesday, March 21, 2012




Vatican City, 18 March 2012 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Pope dedicated some remarks to the importance of sacramental Confession during this liturgical period which, he said, is "a time in which to pay greater attention to the voice of God".
On the horizon ahead of us during Lent is the profile of the cross of Christ, "the apex of the love which brings us salvation. ... Jesus was raised on the cross so that anyone in danger of dying because of sin, by turning in faith to the One Who died for us, would be saved".
Benedict XVI explained how God's merciful love is infinite and reaches so far as the giving of His only Son as a pledge for our sins. We therefore have a great responsibility. "Each one of us must, in fact, recognise we are sick in order to be healed. Each must confess our sins, so that the forgiveness of God, already given on the cross, can have an effect on our hearts and our lives".
"Sometimes", the Pope went on, "man loves the shadows more than the light, because he clings to his sin. But it is only by opening himself to the light, by sincerely confessing his sins to God, that he can find true peace and true joy. It is, then, important to make regular use of the Sacrament of Penance, especially during Lent, in order to receive the Lord's forgiveness and intensify our journey of conversion".
The Pope thanked people who were praying for him for his name day, on tomorrow's Feast of St. Joseph. He likewise asked the faithful for their prayers for his forthcoming apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba, which is due to begin on Friday. "I invite everyone to accompany me with their spiritual proximity", he said, "so that this visit may bring abundant fruits of Christian life and ecclesial renewal, contributing to the authentic progress of peoples".
Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father remarked on the fact that the Sixth World Water Forum came to an end yesterday in the French city of Marseille, and that this Thursday will be World Water Day. "I hope that these initiatives may contribute to ensuring equal, secure and adequate access to water", he said, "thus promoting every human being's right to life and nutrition, and the responsible use of the goods of the earth for the benefit of present and future generations".

Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - Given below is a note released this morning by the Holy See Press Office concerning the summary of the findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland. It is, the English-language text reads, "a synthesis of the results of the Visitations to the four archdioceses, to religious institutes and to the Irish seminaries. It has been approved by the offices which conducted the Visitation and it also contains some further observations from the Holy See, in addition to those that the individual dicasteries communicated to the leaders of the respective archdioceses or institutes.
"There follows a list of some of the principal elements contained in the summary:
"(a) The Holy See reiterates the sense of dismay expressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland and the closeness that he has often manifested towards the victims of these sinful and criminal acts committed by priests and religious.
"(b) The Visitation, which was pastoral in nature, was able on the one hand to acknowledge the seriousness of the shortcomings that gave rise, in the past, not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors, to an inadequate understanding of and reaction to the terrible phenomenon of the abuse of minors. On the other hand, it is clearly pointed out that, beginning in the 1990s, decisive progress has been made, leading to a greater awareness of the problem and profound changes in the way of addressing it. It is recommended that bishops and religious superiors keep up their commitment to welcoming and supporting victims of abuse.
"(c) The guidelines contained in the 2008 document Safeguarding Children (which supersedes earlier documents) envisage: far-reaching involvement of the lay faithful and of ecclesiastical structures in the work of prevention and formation, close cooperation with civil authorities in swift reporting of accusations, and constant reference to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in matters that pertain to its competence. These norms have proved to be an effective instrument for handling accusations of abuse and for increasing the awareness of the entire Christian community in the area of child protection. The Guidelines are to be further updated on the basis of the Circular Letter published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 3 May 2011, and periodically reviewed.
"(d) The work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children is thorough and far-reaching. Of particular value is its auditing of the implementation of the guidelines in individual dioceses and religious institutes. It is recommended that this auditing process be extended as soon as possible to all the dioceses and religious institutes and that it be regularly repeated.
"(e) On the basis of the recently published document Interim Guidance, bishops and religious superiors, in cooperation with the National Board, will have to formulate norms for handling cases of priests or religious who have been accused, but in whose case the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to proceed. Similarly, norms should be established for facilitating the return to ministry of falsely accused priests, and for ensuring that proper pastoral attention is given to priests or religious who are found guilty of abuse of minors.
"(f) The Visitation to the seminaries was able to appreciate the commitment of the formators and the seminarians, and the attention given to intellectual, human and spiritual formation. In the seminaries, clear child protection norms are in place, with a broad understanding of all that this involves for the life of the Church. In order to improve the quality of the formation, it has been recommended, among other things, to ensure that it is rooted in authentic priestly identity, to reinforce the structures of episcopal governance over the seminaries, to introduce more consistent admissions criteria, to ensure that the seminarians are housed in buildings reserved for their exclusive use, and to include in the academic programme in-depth formation on matters of child protection.
"(g) Each religious institute is invited to design a three-year programme for focusing anew on the founding charism and on the fundamental sources, developing adequate means for revitalising individual communities in the areas of prayer, community life and apostolic mission. The institutes are invited to develop a collaborative ministerial outreach towards those who suffer the consequences of abuse.
"(h) The Visitation recognised that the painful events of recent years have also opened many wounds within the Catholic community. On the other hand, this time of trial has also brought to light the continuing vitality of the Irish people’s faith. Among the signs of hope are the dedication with which many bishops, priests and religious live out their vocation, the human and spiritual bonds that many of them have observed among the lay faithful at a time of crisis, the deep faith of many men and women and a remarkable level of involvement among priests, religious and lay faithful in the structures of child protection. In this context, a renewed call to communion is made - communion among the bishops themselves and with the Successor of Peter, communion between bishops and priests, between pastors and laypersons, between diocesan structures and communities of consecrated life.
"(i) Finally, certain pastoral priorities are mentioned which may help to guide renewal: formation in the content of the faith, a new appreciation of the commitment of the laity, the role of teachers of religion, openness to the contribution offered by movements and associations, and fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium. It is stated, moreover, that the Holy See and the Irish bishops have already initiated a joint reflection on the present configuration of dioceses in Ireland, with a view to adapting diocesan structures to make them better suited to the present-day mission of the Church in Ireland".

Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the arrival in Palermo of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture which has the aim of promoting dialogue between believers and non-believers on the great issues facing the modern world. The event will take place in Palermo, Italy, on 29 and 30 March and have as its theme "The Culture of Legality and Multi-Religious Society".
Participating in today's press conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Bishop Antonino Raspanti of Acireale; Bishop Carmelo Cuttitta, auxiliary and vicar general of Palermo; Giusto Sciacchitano, anti-Mafia prosecutor, and Fr. Jean-Marie Laurent Mazas F.S.J., executive director of the Courtyard of the Gentiles.
Following Bologna, Paris, Bucharest, Florence, Rome and Tirana, the Courtyard of the Gentiles is moving to Sicily where, according to a note released by the Holy See Press Office, believers and non believers face "a crucial challenge: responding with a culture of dialogue and legality, rooted in the great multi-religious and multi-cultural tradition of Sicily, to the non-culture of organised crime, and opening bridges of dialogue with the reawakening which is stirring Arab society on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Palermo is the ideal place to do this, because of its dual nature as the historical meeting point of cultures and religions, and as the original 'cradle' of the Mafia while at the same time being symbolic of the struggle against the Mafia (it was there that the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime was signed in 2000).
The event will begin in the cathedral of Monreale on 29 March with a talk by Cardinal Ravasi on "Society, Culture and Faith". "The presence of the 'Courtyard' in Sicily", Cardinal Ravasi has declared, "is an expression of the desire to officially relaunch the Church’s commitment against illegality and any degeneration of the law". On 30 March the "Courtyard" will move on to the University of Palermo where philosophers, religious, jurists, historians and intellectuals will discuss "divine law and human justice", "religion and human rights", "pluralism and universalism" and "religions and public space". Speakers will include Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the philosopher Remi Brague and the historian of the Mafia Salvatore Lupo. That evening in the cathedral of Palermo, Cardinal Ravasi, anti-Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso, young people of the anti-Mafia association"Addiopizzo" and Cardinal Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo will participate in an open meeting with citizens of Sicily to reaffirm the popular and everyday character of the commitment to dialogue and legality.
Other aspects of the initiative include a "Narrative Courtyard" for university students, to be held on 29 March in the Palermo branch of LUMSA University, and a "Courtyard of Children" for local boys and girls, to be held in front of Palermo cathedral on the evening of 30 March.

Vatican City, 18 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, for the death of His Holiness Shenouda III, Patriarch of Alexandria, who died on 17 March.
"I gratefully recall", the Holy Father writes, "his commitment to Christian unity, and his memorable visit to my predecessor Pope Paul VI when, in Rome on 10 May 1973, they signed the Joint Declaration of Faith in the Incarnation of the Son of God. I also recall his meeting in Cairo with Pope John Paul II on 24 February 2000, during the course of the Great Jubilee. The entire Catholic Church shares the mourning of Coptic Orthodox and, with fervent prayer, asks the One Who is the resurrection and the life to welcome His faithful servant to His side".

Vatican City, 19 March 2012 (VIS) - Today, Feast of St. Joseph and the Holy Father's name day, Benedict XVI received telephone greetings from Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy. In the course of the cordial conversation, the Holy Father likewise congratulated the prime minister, who today celebrates his sixty-ninth birthday.

Vatican City, 17 March 2012 (VIS) - Between 14 and 16 March a number of meetings took place between the authorities of the Holy See and Vatican City State, and experts of MONEYVAL (the Department of the Council of Europe which deals with the evaluation of systems adopted by member States to counter money-laundering).
An English-language communique made public today explains that "the meetings made it possible to continue gathering information on the steps taken thus far in the process of complying with international standards in the area of preventing and countering money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, such as the adoption of the Decree No. CLIX of 25 January 2012, ... as well as the ratification of and adhesion to certain international conventions pertinent to the question. ... The present phase will lead to the drafting of a report which, as scheduled, will be examined by the plenary assembly of MONEYVAL next July".

Vatican City, 17 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
- Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France.

Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, U.S.A., as archbishop of Baltimore (area 12,430, population 3,119,000, Catholics 499,529, priests 543, permanent deacons 158, religious 1,249), U.S.A.
- Appointed Msgr. David J. Malloy of the clergy of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, U.S.A., pastor of the parish of St. Francis de Sales at Lake Geneva, as bishop of Rockford (area 16,717, population 1,665,000, Catholics 451,509, priests 288, permanent deacons 136, religious 184), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Milwaukee in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983. He studied in Rome then served for a number of years in the diplomatic service of the Holy See before becoming an official of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household. From 2006 to 2011 he was secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He succeeds Bishop Thomas G. Doran, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Christian Lepine, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Montreal, Canada, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 1,103, population 2,574,000, Catholics 1,640,000, priests 1,163, permanent deacons 100, religious 4,158). He succeeds Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Fr. Gregory L. Parkes of the clergy of the diocese of Orlando, U.S.A., vicar general, chancellor for canonical affairs and pastor of the parish of Corpus Christi at Celebration, as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee (area 36,724, population 1,381,566, Catholics 74,868, priests 94, permanent deacons 67, religious 49), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Mineola, U.S.A. in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1999. Before becoming a priest he worked in the banking sector. He studied in Rome and, since ordination, has worked in pastoral care in the diocese of Orlando.
On Saturday 17 March it was made public that the Pope:
- Appointed Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, apostolic nuncio to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, also as apostolic nuncio to Lesotho.
- Appointed Bishop Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Faisalabad, Pakistan.


mgr_lepine3Cardinal_Turcotte_2012(CCCB – Ottawa)… His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today accepted the resignation of His Eminence Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte and named the Most Reverend Christian Lépine as Archbishop of Montréal. At the time of his appointment, Bishop Lépine was Auxiliary Bishop of Montréal. Cardinal Turcotte had been responsible for the Archdiocese of Montréal for 22 years. He had offered his resignation after attaining the age of 75 years in 2011, as stipulated by the Code of Canon Law. With the announcement of the acceptance of the resignation of Cardinal Turcotte, the Holy Father also announced that he appointed him as Apostolic Administrator of Montréal until the new Archbishop takes canonical possession of his Archdiocese.
Born in Montréal on September 18, 1951, the Most Reverend Christian Lépine was ordained to the priesthood on September 7, 1983. He studied Theology at the University of Montréal and Philosophy in Rome. After pastoral work at the Montreal parishes of Saint-Joseph-de-Mont-Royal and Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, he served at the Vatican from 1998 to 2000. Upon returning to Canada, he was appointed to the Grand Séminaire in Montréal and then, in 2006, served as pastor for the parishes of Notre-Dame-des-Champs and Purification-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie. On July 11, 2011, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Montréal and his Episcopal Ordination took place on September 10, 2011.
His Eminence Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte was born in Montréal on June 26, 1936, and was ordained to the priesthood May 24, 1959. In 1964, upon his return to the Archdiocese from a year of studies at the Catholic Faculties of Lille in France, he was named Diocesan Chaplain of JICF (Jeunesse indépendante catholique féminine) and of the Christian Worker Movement. From 1967 to 1974, he was responsible for a number of areas within the Office for Clergy. In 1974, he became Director of the Office for Parishes, and in 1977, he was named Diocesan Bursar. Archbishop Paul Grégoire appointed him Vicar General of the Archdiocese and General Co-ordinator for Pastoral Activities, on September 25, 1981.
Pope John Paul II promoted him to the See of Suas and Auxiliary Bishop of Montréal on April 15, 1982. He was ordained to the Episcopate by Archbishop Paul Grégoire, on June 29, 1982. Pope John Paul II named him Archbishop of Montréal on March 17, 1990. The Pope announced his elevation to the rank of Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church on October 30, 1994. He became a member of the College of Cardinals, November 26, 1994, in Rome. Over the course of his 30 years as Bishop, Cardinal Turcotte was, for over 20 years, an Ex Officio Member of the CCCB Permanent Council. He served as President of the Episcopal Conference from 1997 to 1999. As a member of the College of Cardinals, he held appointments to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops.
The Archdiocese of Montréal is Canada's second largest Archdiocese, with 214 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 1,494,132, which is served by 440 diocesan priests, 572 priests who are members of religious communities, 3,678 Religious Sisters and Brothers, 96 permanent deacons and 105 lay pastoral assistants.


Meet our new Vicar General

Sunday 18 March 2012
2304-p12-greg-bennet-350By Edwina Hall
The newly appointed vicar General of Melbourne, Mgr Greg Bennet, has turned his hand to many things in life. As a boy he lived first in Canterbury and North Balwyn, and then moved to Bullengarook, in the Macedon Ranges, as a teenager.
"I was blessed with the best of both worlds. I come from six lines of butchering on the Bennet side of the family. My mother and father had a business in Maling Road, Canterbury, which my sister now runs, so as children our lives revolved around the family business. And then my parents bought a property in the country in Bullengarook," Mgr Bennet said.
"As Fr Barry Tobin always jokes, 'can anything good come out of Bullengarook?'"
Mgr Bennet, 48, is the second of four children to Len and Maureen Bennet, who these days live in Tylden.
"I come from a family where our faith was lived in ordinary acts and association to the Church was always important," he said. "The witness of living faith as disciples was gently and lovingly nurtured in us as a family."
As a young man Mgr Bennet worked for Westpac—then known as the Commercial Bank of Australia. His career was going from strength to strength when he realised that he was called to the priesthood.
"I went to work in banking and I started studying economics and administration. I was simply working at a local branch and then out of the blue I got a call to say I had been seconded to the state manager's office in Collins Street. It was at that time that I had been beginning to consider the priesthood, so I thought the message from God was 'go to the city' and maybe the sense of priesthood vocation would diminish.
"While I was extremely happy at work, I knew there was a deeper call beyond that. At the end of that year I began the process of entering Corpus Christi Seminary. The day that I was going in to see Archbishop Little, I was called into the general manager's office to say I had been offered a secondment to Frankfurt. I phoned the vocations manager and said, 'look, I'm in a bit of a bind here because I've been offered this job and I really want to go to the seminary'. I saw Archbishop Little the next day and he said, 'come on in to Corpus Christi. Go back and tell your boss you are having another transition'."
Mgr Bennet said he was humbled and honoured to have been asked to be Vicar General.
"I pray that I will do it well for the diocese, and when I say that, I mean the people of the diocese. I know there will be days when it won't be easy, but I come with trust and hope that God, who brought me to this moment, has been with me and will sustain me. I'm excited; it's all before me in so many ways.
"My understanding [of the role of Vicar General] is that I have been engaged to work very closely with the Archbishop, to support him, the priests and the many dimensions of the diocese in the delivery of the Good News to people and I understand that I will be involved in areas of governance.
"Whatever happens, my sense of being a priest in this role is something that is foremost and that therefore achievement will be around 'have I supported the mission of the diocese, its pastoral mission in particular, and valued and honoured people?'"
Mgr Bennet, who has been the parish priest at St Bede's in North Balwyn for the past four and a half years, said he would dearly miss his parishioners there.
"From my arrival at St Bede's to my departure I've had a real sense of being cared for. The liturgical life of the community is something that has nourished my priesthood, so the people of St Bede's will always be dear to me."
  • 1986 Corpus Christi College
  • 1992 Ordained by Bishop Frank Little
  • 1996-1998 M.Science, Loyola College, Baltimore
  • 1998-2000 Studies at Teresanium Angelicum, Rome
  • 2000 Director, Ministry to Priests
  • 2005 Director, AOFE
  • 2007 Parish Priest, St Bede’s, Balwyn North
  • 2007 Victorian Parliamentary Chaplain
  • 2012 Vicar General, Archdiocese of Melbourne
Photo by Fiona Basile.


Worldwide walks for water  | walks for water, CAFOD
More than 300,000 people across the world are currently taking action on the water and sanitation crisis in the run up to World Water Day on 22 March.

People are walking in over 60 countries from Bangladesh to Benin, Nigeria to Norway and Mozambique to Malaysia. They are walking in solidarity with the millions of people – overwhelmingly women and children - who walk great distances each day to collect water for their basic needs and the billions who have no safe place to go to the toilet.

Walkers will be calling on governments to put an end to the water and sanitation crisis that kills one child under five every twenty seconds, 4,000 every day. They are walking to demand that politicians take action to tackle preventable diarrhoeal diseases that are the biggest killer of children in Africa, taking more young lives than HIV/AIDs, malaria and measles combined.

* In Belgium, an incredible 21,270 school children will be walking a combined total of 133,151km on World Water Day, that’s over a third of the distance from the Earth to the moon!

* The entire Cirque de Soleil cast are planning a walk through Las Vegas in their costumes.

* 30 energetic walkers in London will walk the 20 miles from one side of the city to the other.

* Over 10,000 people will walk in Nigeria whilst 40,000 are expected to walk in Madagascar, both countries directly affected directly by the water and sanitation crisis.

* In Kannungu in Uganda, walkers are meeting with the Minister of Water and Environment, and officials from the Ministry of Health to tell them it’s time for action.

CAFOD campaigns manager Clare Lyons said: “Access to clean water is one of the most fundamental human needs, and it should be one of the most automatic human rights. Yet every day hundreds of millions of people are still going without clean water and sanitation; and for millions more, every day is consumed by walking and queuing for hours to carry water home.

“It doesn’t have to be this way: what we lack is simply the political will and the financial commitment from the world’s most powerful countries to get clean water and safe sanitation to the people who need them. To know that hundreds of thousands of people are walking in solidarity with this aim is amazing and their dedication to the issue must be listened to. That’s why our Thirst for Change campaign is calling on David Cameron to put water poverty on the table at the next G8 Summit, and we ask everyone who can to add their voice.”

Throughout World Water Day and the week of walking for water, CAFOD supporters will be backing ’Thirst for Change’ by sending their own personal messages to David Cameron and walking in solidarity with those suffering water poverty. Campaign events will take place around England and Wales to raise funds for the charity’s overseas water programmes and to raise awareness of the urgent need for action.

Jennifer Williams, coordinator of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation campaign added: “Unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation mean children are missing school and are dying needlessly from disease caused by contaminated water. Ending this crisis would increase school attendance, help break the poverty cycle and, most importantly, save lives.”

This year, the timing of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation is crucial. It comes almost exactly a month before leaders from across the world gather in Washington DC at a vital meeting on 20 of April to discuss what they are going to do to get taps and toilets to the world’s poorest communities.

This high-level meeting, organised by the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, is a huge opportunity for real change but it won’t work unless Development and Finance Ministers give it the attention it deserves.

Participants in the World Walks for Water and Sanitation event will send a clear message to politicians that they cannot ignore the water and sanitation crisis any longer. They will demand that leaders commit to attending this meeting and prepare to make strong commitments for action.
To read more about CAFOD's Water campaign see:


ASIA NEWS REPORT: A bomb exploded near the Syrian-Orthodox church in the capital, killing two guards and wounding five others. Across the country there were over 20 explosions. AsiaNews sources: attacks to derail the upcoming Arab League summit. The violence set to continue.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Matthew, in Baghdad, is one of the objectives targeted by Iraqi extremists, who this morning carried out a series of attacks across the country to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the U.S. invasion - March 20, 2003 - to overthrow Saddam Hussein Nasser. Church sources in Iraq asking for anonymity for safety reasons, told AsiaNews, that the two guards were killed in the attack, while five others were injured. Meanwhile, the provisional toll from the bomb attacks - in more than 20 explosions - in the capital, in Kirkuk, in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, and Hillah in Mahmoudiya is at least 39 dead and 200 wounded.

AsiaNews sources in Iraq confirm "at least the 20 explosions" in different areas of the country, including the bombing of the church of St. Matthew, which "caused the death of two guards and wounded five other people." At present it is unclear if the place of Christian worship was the real target of the extremist. In Kirkuk, a city 300 km north of the capital, there were "three blasts that caused about 10 deaths and more than 40 wounded" in a neighborhood where the attackers "have targeted a police station."

Reports speak of 13 other deaths and fifty wounded in Karbala, the Shiite holy city, where two car bombs exploded. More attacks were reported in Hillah, Latifuyah and other areas of Iraq, although currently there is no official news.

The long trail of blood today marks the ninth anniversary of the U.S. invasion and is just the latest in a series of unending violence that mark a nation divided between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, and where Christians are often the victim of revenge caught in the crosshairs of power plays. From 2003 to December 2011, the date of complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, 4,550 U.S. soldiers have died and 300 allies. However, the real carnage regards the Iraqi civilian population, which has around 100 thousand casualties since the war began.

Iraqi political experts interviewed by AsiaNews emphasize that today's attacks could be linked to the upcoming Arab League summit, to be held in Baghdad - for the first time since 1990 - between 27 and 29 March next. "There are nations - said the expert - who want to derail the summit, because the league is composed of a majority of Sunnis." Added to this is "the feast of Nawruz", the traditional celebration that marks the new year for Shiite and Kurdish communities. Born within the pre-Islamic era sacred to the Zoroastrians, it is now observed by many Sufi and Baha'i.

The attackers, said the source, want to strike at key events and "we expect more attacks in the coming hours and days to come." Violence in Iraq "is not finished." (DS),-dozens-of-dead.-Church-of-St-Mathew-in-Baghdad-targeted-24283.html


Cisa News REPORT
CAIRO, March 20, 2012 (CISA) -Christians need to have equal rights in the new Egypt, according to the acting leader of Coptic Catholics, who refuses to be downbeat as the impact of Islamist success in recent elections sinks in.
Bishop Kyrillos William Samaan of Assiut, who is representing Cairo-based Patriarch Cardinal Antonios Naguib who is now gravely ill, said Christians of different Churches were setting up formal ecumenical structures to safeguard the place of the faithful in Egyptian society.
In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop William recognised the threat to the Church posed by extremist groups and confirmed reports that many Christians were leaving Egypt. But he added: “The Christians are not afraid. They take to the streets and demand their rights. We have a mission even though we are few in number.”
The bishop, who has been standing in for Patriarch Naguib for the past month, went on to describe the role of Christians in helping to prepare Egypt’s new constitution as “indispensible”. He said: “The new constitution should be for all Egyptians, not just for one group.”
Church sources have confirmed that representatives of four Christian denominations are involved in the constitution commission.
Bishop William said the Church was hopeful in spite of the success of Islamist parties in parliamentary elections – in January and November – making specific reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned under the former regime of Hosni Mubarak. He said: “We have no problems with the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in recent elections.”
The Muslim Brothers polled 37.5 percent in the elections for the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament but fell short of achieving 50 percent of the total seats available.
The ultra-Islamist Al Nour party of the Salafists achieved a shock 27.7 percent in the elections and commentators have said that this party is likely to gain influence as Muslim Brothers look to shore up support.
Bishop William underlined that many members of the Muslim Brotherhood were more moderate than the Salafis, whose Al Nour party has stated that Islamic Shari’a law should be integrated into Egypt’s new constitution, raising questions about the future rights of minorities, including Christians.
Bishop William asserted the importance of Christians in a country where the faithful are up to 15 percent of the total population – but admitted that many are leaving, mostly for economic reasons.
He said: “Christians are not strangers in this country. Many Muslims recognize that there were Christians in this country before Islam.”
The bishop highlighted increased ecumenical cooperation since the political upheavals began 15 months ago.
He said a council of all Churches was being set up, with meetings for clergy of different denominations, youth, women and other Christian groups – all intended to encourage solidarity and mutual support.


John 5: 1 - 16
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za'tha, which has five porticoes.
3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.
5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?"
7 The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me."
8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk."
9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath.
10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet."
11 But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.'"
12 They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet, and walk'?"
13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you."
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath.


St. Herbert
Feast: March 20

Feast Day: March 20
Died: 20 March, 687
Date of birth unknown; d. 20 March, 687; an anchorite of the seventh century, who dwelt for many years on the little island still known as St. Herbert's Isle, in the Lake of Derwentwater. He was for long the friend and disciple of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Little is known about him, save that it was his custom every year to visit St. Cuthbert for the purpose of receiving his direction in spiritual matters. In the year 686, hearing that his friend was visiting Carlisle for the purpose of giving the veil to Queen Eormenburg, he went to see him there, instead of at Lindisfarne as was usual. After they had spoken together, St. Cuthbert said, "Brother Herbert, tell to me now all that you have need to ask or speak, for never shall we see one another again in this world. For I know that the time of my decease is at hand." Then Herbert fell weeping at his feet and begged that St. Cuthbert would obtain for him the grace that they might both be admitted to praise God in heaven at the same time. And St. Cuthbert prayed and then made answer, "Rise, my brother, weep not, but rejoice that the mercy of God has granted our desire." And so it happened. For Herbert, returning to his hermitage, fell ill of a long sickness, and, purified of his imperfections, passed to God on the very day on which St. Cuthbert died on Holy Island. It is said that the remains of St. Herbert's chapel and cell may still be traced at the northern end of the island on which he lived. In 1374 Thomas Appleby, Bishop of Carlisle, granted an indulgence of forty days to all who, in honour of St. Herbert, visited the island in Derwentwater and were present at the Mass of St. Cuthbert to be sung annually by the Vicar of Crosthwaite.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)


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