Wednesday, March 21, 2012


RADIO VATICANA REPORT: The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March.

On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws".

Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has been drawn up.

However still, in all regions of the world, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.

Linda Bordoni spoke to South African lawyer Mike Pothier about the significance of this annual observance.

First of all, Pothier, who works at the Cape Town-based Catholic Parliamentary Liason Office, explains that the office is a unit of the Southern African Bishops Conference. It was set up in 1997 in order to provide a mechanism of communication between the Church in South Africa and the country's governing bodies.

Pothier remembers the terrible events that put Sharpeville on the world map on that March day back in 1960, during which - he says - the apartheid regime perpetrated the single worst massacre of civilians during the apartheid struggle. This led, he continues, to the decision on the part of the liberation movvement to take up an armed struggle against apartheid, and of course it led to a great crackdown by the apartheid government against the liberation movement.

And today, in 2012, eighteen years since the beginning of democracy in South Africa, Pothier says that in his work at the Parliamentary Liason Office he still deals with issues that are connected to racial issues.

He says there are still deep seated racist attitudes in South Africa and this for example gives rise to criticism of the government based on racial prejudice. And he explains that one aspect of the Church's tasks is to try to educate people in that respect : that people are not competent or incompetent according to their race, but according to education, experience, and so on.

From the other direction there are hints of a kind of counter-racism with the the policy of affirmative action - because it makes use of racial categories to qualify people for jobs, positions,admittance to university and so on.

Pothier says the Government says this is a way to redress the balance. "We had well over 100 years of institutionalised racism in our legal system and before that more than 200 years of colonial racial discrimination. The Governemnt says that through affirmative action we are trying to undo some of that damage".

Pothier says the Church in South Africa broadly supports that policy. But it is also critical when necessary or if it feels it s being exceeded or is being applied in an unjust way.

Of course there are ohter areas across the world where there are examples of racial discrimination and racial thinking. Pothier remembers the document issued by the Pontifical Justice and Peace Commission back in 1988, in which racism is described as "a wound in humanity's side that mysteriously remains open".

He says that is a very good way of describing it, maybe we don't understand why "it mysteriously remains open", but, Pothier says, "if we look in the Middle East we can see examples of it. If we look elsewhere in Africa, in the newest nation South Sudan, as it struggles to get to its feet we find what we can call tribalism or ethnic divides but they are also racially based: people are finding reasons to discriminate against each other, even to the point of killing each other, based on the the characteristics of language, geographical origins, of tribe, etc". In the US recent studies show that how that in the economic downtown African Americans were predominantly, or worst affected".

So, in South Africa, Pothier continues, "we have made great strides". But we shouldn't think it was only in the systematised apartheid era that racism existed. It exists in a less systematic, less legalised way all over the world".

Regarding the Internation Day Against Racial Discrimination, Pothier says it is a public holiday, and it has been so since 1995. It is known as Sharpeville Day and commemorative events take place all over the country.

He says that if the very "acute manifestation of racism that occurred at Sharpeville 52 years ago can help people around the world to see that that kind of massacre of 69 people is the ultimate end of racial thinking and racial government, then hopefully it's a message that will serve some purpose all over the world."

Pothier speaks of the new generation of South Africans - the "Born Frees" - the generation born after 1994 - that generation that is now entering its early twenties has not known institutionalised discrimination and it makes a huge difference and one can see how easily young people mix with one another. the situation is much much better, the only question is "why did it take us so long to reallse that?" IMAGE GOOGLE

Vatican City, 21 March 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI is due to make an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba from 23 to 29 March, to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the independence of Mexico, and the four hundredth of the discovery of the image of "Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre" in Cuba. For the occasion statistics have been published concerning the Catholic Church in those two countries. The information, updated to 31 December 2010, comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church.
Mexico has a surface area of 1,958,201 square kilometres and a population of 108,426,000, of whom 99,635,000 (91.89 percent) are Catholic. There are 93 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 6,744 parishes and 7,169 pastoral centres of other kinds. Currently, there are 163 bishops, 16,234 priests, 30,023 religious, 505 members of secular institutes, 25,846 lay missionaries and 295,462 catechists. Minor seminarians number 4,524 and major seminarians 6,495.
A total of 1,856,735 students attend 8,991 centres of Catholic education of all levels and 1,822 special education centres. Other institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Mexico include 257 hospitals, 1,602 clinics, 8 leper colonies, 372 homes for the elderly or disabled, 329 orphanages and nurseries, 2,134 family counselling centres and other pro-life centres, and 340 institutions of other kinds.
Cuba has a surface area of 110,861 square kilometres and a population of 11,242,000, of whom 6,766,000 (60.19 percent) are Catholic. There are 11 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 304 parishes and 2,210 pastoral centres of other kinds. Currently, there are 17 bishops, 361 priests, 656 religious, 24 members of secular institutes, 2,122 lay missionaries and 4,133 catechists. Minor seminarians number 13 and major seminarians 78.
A total of 1,113 students attend 12 centres of Catholic education of all levels and 10 special education centres. Other institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Cuba include 2 clinics, 1 leper colony, 8 homes for the elderly or disabled, 3 orphanages and nurseries, and 3 institutions of other kinds.


Funeral: Israelis pictured gathering around the bodies of the four shooting victims today, before they were taken to their graves in a Jerusalem cemetery
A teacher and 3 school children were killed by an Al-Quaeda gunman on Monday, March 19, 2012. There were in their Jewish school, Ozar Hatorah, in Toulouse, France. This is following a wave of violence on minorities in France. The killings were terrorist attacks.
PICTURED : Bodies of victims
President Sarkozy placed the country on high alert after the shootings. The suspect is Mohammed Merah age 23; 300 police have been sent to his apartment for his capture.
The victims bodies have been transported to Israel where they will be buried. They were teacher Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Gabriel 4, and Arieh 5, and Miriam Monsonego, 7 (pictured).


by Wang Zhicheng
The police smashed a tombstone because the engraving said the deceased was a "father". But he "had no right" to the title because was not recognized by the government. only relatives and a few faithful of the village allowed at funeral ceremony and cemetery.

Beijing (AsiaNews / UCAN) - "Beijing is even afraid of the dead" is the comment of a faithful from Hebei to AsiaNews reacting to reports that police destroyed the tombstone of an underground priest.

On March 19 a group of police smashed with a sledgehammer the tombstone of Fr. Joseph Shi Liming, 39, educator in the clandestine seminary of Baoding (Hebei), who died in a car accident along with six seminarians (see 02/01/2012 On line mourning for a priest and six seminarians who died in an accident in Hebei).

On the 19 the ceremony marking "100 days" since his death was to have been held. Relatives and faithful had planned to visit the Damaquan cemetery (Zhaoxian County) and inscribe the words "tomb of Fr. Shi Liming" on the tombstone. The police, who had issued threats against the faithful, smashed the tombstone, the reason being, Fr. Shi was not recognized as a priest by the government, and so "had no right" to writing that designated him a "father".

Security forces have also forbidden to the faithful from other neighboring counties to participate in the ceremony. Only close relatives and some Catholics in the village were given permission to enter the cemetery.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - From Somalia reports of clashes and bombings continue. A car bomb exploded this morning in the center of the capital, Mogadishu, near the presidential palace, injuring a bystander. The same area was hit on March 19 by mortar fire that killed five civilians.
Today's attack comes just after the warning issued by a spokesman of the Shabab militia to the people to stay away from government buildings and those of AMISOM (the African Union force in Somalia) that supports the troops of the government of transition.
Instead, in the south, fighting between the Shabab and the Kenyan military continue. According to Radio Shabelle, three Air Force aircraft in Nairobi attacked on March 20 some of the Shabab training camps in the Diif area and in the Lower Juba region.
In Baidoa, 250 km south of Mogadishu, Ethiopian troops were instead, along with those of the Somali transitional government, fighting hard with the Shabab.
The army of Nairobi intervened in Somalia officially to hunt down the kidnappers of some Western tourists committed by Somali bandits in the Kenyan territory. Among them was the British Judith Tebbutt, who was released in the last hour, it seems after the payment of a ransom. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/3/2012)


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
16 Mar 2012

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Philip Wilson,
Tim Fischer and Sr Anne Derwin
The events leading up to and including the Canonisation and the Thanksgiving Mass for Mary MacKillop have been captured in an official DVD which documents the coverage both in Australia and Rome.
A number of Sisters of St Joseph from Sydney as well as a representative from New Zealand and Peru gathered at MacKillop Place for the launch by the former Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer AC.
Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Philip Wilson - President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference - and Congregational Leader Sr Anne Derwin were also present.
The postulator for the Cause for Canonisation, Sr Maria Casey may have thought most of her work had been completed when Pope Benedict XV1 proclaimed Mary MacKillop a saint on17th October 2010 however another chapter had only just begun. That was the gathering of many hours of news footage from all over Australia and Rome to be re-formated and edited for an "official coverage" of the momentous event.

Sr Maria Casey
Tim Fischer, who is now retired, Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Wilson all spoke of their personal reflections of the canonisation along with what they thought it brought to all Australia.
The former ambassador and his staff were of particular assistance to the Mary MacKillop organising committee, not only providing hands-on help in Rome but helping with introductions and advice.
Sr Maria Casey also thanked Cardinal Pell for the on-going support of the Archdiocese and also the support of the ACBC through Archbishop Wilson.
"They were simply wonderful and backed this great event right from the start," Sr Maria said. "Many doors were opened for us however there were many other people and Sisters who contributed a great deal and although the names are too numerous to mention I want them to know we are also indebted to them."
The three and a half hour DVD is divided into seven Chapters. They are: Introduction; Announcement; Preparation; Canonisation; Thanksgiving Mass; Highlights and Extras.
Footage includes gatherings in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia for those who could not travel to Rome but came together for the Announcement of the date for the canonisation and the Canonisation itself in St Peter's Square. Many watched the coverage live on huge screens set up in the capital cities.

Sisters, friends and students gathered
for the launch of the Official DVD
Other footage shows some of the additional special events in Rome including performances by Australia Catholic University dancers and also actors and musicians.
The Thanksgiving Mass held the day after the canonisation at St Paul Outside the Walls is a particular moving Mass and as Tim Fischer said had "something very special, very warm and very Australian about it."
And of course there are numerous scenes with many Sisters and pilgrims celebrating the moment the Holy Father announced "St Mary of the Cross MacKillop".
The DVD will no doubt re-invigorate wonderful memories and for those who could not travel to Rome it will provide a new experience but edited in a "news coverage format" showing how both the Catholic and non-Catholic media recorded the event - a great deal from live coverage - it will also be an asset for the archives of Australia's first saint.

Congregational Leader Sr Anne Derwin
For information on the DVD and sales visit the Mary MacKillop Gift Store at or email them at
The footage was generously provided by Channels, 7,9,10, Sky News and the ABC as well as Vatican Television and Catholic Communications.
The DVD was produced by Catholic Communications


Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of ColumbusUSCCB REPORT: WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, as archbishop of Baltimore.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, March 20, by Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ², apostolic nuncio to the United States.
He succeeds Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, who was named head of the Equestrian Order (Knights) of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem last August.
William Lori was born in Louisville, May 6, 1951. He studied at The Catholic University of America and St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977. He was named an auxiliary bishop of Washington in 1995, and bishop of Bridgeport in 2001.
He currently chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Baltimore Archdiocese has a population of 3,119,000 people, with 499,529, or 16 percent, of them Catholic.


John 5: 17 - 30
17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working still, and I am working."
18 This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.
20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel.
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself,
27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.
28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice
29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
30 "I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.


St. Nicholas of Flue
Feast: March 21

Feast Day: March 21
Born: 21 March 1417 at Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Died: 21 March 1487
Canonized: 15 May 1947 by Pope Pius XII
Major Shrine: Sachseln, Switzerland
Patron of: councilmen, difficult marriages, large families, magistrates, parents of large families, Pontifical Swiss Guards, separated spouses, Switzerland
Had Nicholas not been a saint, or had he eaten and drunk like other saints, Switzerland with all it has meant for peace and humanity would probably not exist today. For Nicholas's entire life was ordained in view of his vocation to save his country.
Nicholas von Flue was born on March 21st, 1417 in the Canton of Unterwalden on the lake of Lucerne, a citizen of a peasant democracy and a farmer's son. As he grew up he proved himself a capable farmer, and the ability he displayed in the local parliament, of which every male citizen was a member, led to his election at an early age as councillor and judge. He also proved himself a capable commander of troops. In the war against the duke of Tirol he persuaded his compatriots to respect a convent of nuns. Though willing to perform his military service, Nicholas condemned as immoral, wars of aggression and the slaughter of non-combatants inevitable in any major modern war. About the age of thirty he married a farmer's daughter, Dorothy Wiss, and built a farmhouse to receive her. The couple had ten children and descendants survive to this day.
Nicholas had thus approved himself to his countrymen as a thoroughly capable man, as farmer, military leader, member of the assembly, councillor, judge and father of a family—also a man of complete moral integrity. All the while, however, he led a life of contemplative prayer and rigorous fasting. He was the subject of symbolic visions and a diabolic assault.
After some twenty years of married life, in 1467 Nicholas received a compelling call to abandon his home and the world and become a hermit. Though she had just borne his tenth child his wife heroically consented. His neighbors, however, even his older children, regarded his action as indefensible, unbalanced, immoral and irresponsible. He set out for Alsace, where he intended to live. Had he carried out his intention his vocation would have been missed. A storm, however, symbolically interpreted, and friendly advice not to settle where the Swiss were detested made him turn back from the border. At the same time he became incapable of eating or drinking—a condition which continued for the rest of his life. As an act of obedience to a bishop he once ate with acute agony a piece of soaked bread. (The problem of prolonged fasting is more fully discussed in the account of St. Lidwina of Schiedam.)
He resumed to his native canton, passing the first night undiscovered in the cow-shed of his farm and settled in a hermitage at Ranft within a few miles of his home. It was no temptation to return home, as he never felt the least desire for his former life. Symbolic visions continued to be a feature of his contemplation, and when, after a month's strict surveillance, his countrymen were convinced that his fast was genuine, they recognised his sanctity and vocation, and he became a spiritual guide whose advice was widely sought and followed. Pilgrims came from distant parts to consult him. He acquired influence with Duke Sigismund of the Tirol, whom he confirmed in his neutrality when the Swiss confederacy met and defeated Charles of Burgundy. Everything was ready for the climax of Nicholas's life: the accomplishment of his unique vocation.
The victorious cantons were at loggerheads. The rural cantons opposed inflexibly the demand of Zurich and Lucerne that Freiburg and Soleure be admitted to the confederacy. A conference held at Stans, December 1481, failed to reach agreement. Next day the delegates would disperse and a civil war ensue which would presumably have destroyed the confederacy. The parish priest, once Nicholas's confessor, hurried to Ranft and laid the matter before the hermit. During the night Nicholas dictated suggested terms of agreement. The priest resumed in time to persuade the delegates to give a hearing to the proposals of a man so widely respected for his well tried practical abilities and so widely venerated for his holiness. The terms suggested—the conditional admittance of Freiburg and Soleure—were unanimously accepted and embodied in the agreement of Stans. Switzerland had been saved.
Nicholas survived his achievement almost six years, universally revered, visited and consulted. On March 21st 1487, his seventieth birthday, he died, apparently of his first illness. One is glad to know that his wife and children attended his deathbed. After all, she had never lost her husband completely. Honored by Swiss Protestants, venerated by Swiss Catholics, Nicholas's cult, uninterrupted since his death, was officially sanctioned by Clement IX (1667-9). In 1947 he was canonized by Pope Pius XII.


No comments: