Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - Returning to a recent series of catecheses on the theme of prayer, Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience this morning to what has been called the "Little Pentecost", an event which coincided with a difficult moment in the life of the nascent Church.
The Acts of the Apostles tell us how Peter and John were released from prison following their arrest for preaching the Gospel. They returned to their companions who, listening to their account of what had happened, did not reflect on how to react or defend themselves, or on what measures to adopt; rather, "in that moment of trial they all raised their voices together to God", Who replied by sending the Holy Spirit.
"This was the unanimous and united prayer of the whole community, which was facing persecution because of Jesus", the Pope explained. It involved the community "because the experiences of the two Apostles did not concern only them, but the entire Church. In suffering persecution for Jesus' sake, the community not only did not give way to fear and division, but was profoundly united in prayer".
When believers suffer for the faith, "unity is consolidated rather than undermined, because it is supported by unshakeable prayer. The Church must not fear the persecutions she is forced to suffer in her history, but must trust always, as Jesus did in Gethsemane, in the presence, help and strength of God, invoked in prayer".
Before trying to understand what had happened the first community sought to interpret events through the faith, using the Word of God. In the Acts of the Apostles St. Luke notes how the community of Jerusalem began by invoking God's greatness and immensity. Then, using the Psalms, those early Christians recalled how God had acted in history alongside His people, "showing Himself to be a God Who is concerned for human beings, Who does not abandon them", Benedict XVI said. Subsequently the events were read "in the light of Christ, Who is the key to understanding all things, even persecution. The opposition to Jesus, His passion and death were reread ... as the accomplishment of the plan of God the Father for the salvation of the world. ... In prayer, meditating on Sacred Scripture in the light of the mystery of Christ helps us to interpret current reality as part of the history of salvation which God enacts in the world".
Thus the plea the first Christian community of Jerusalem made to God in prayer was not "to be defended, to be spared from trials or to enjoy success, but only to be able to proclaim ... the Word of God frankly, freely and courageously". The community also asked that "their proclamation be accompanied by the hand of God so that healing, signs and wonders could be accomplished. In other words, they wanted to become a force for the transformation of reality, changing the hearts, minds and lives of men and bringing the radical novelty of the Gospel".
"We too", the Holy Father concluded his catechesis, "must bring the events of our daily lives into our prayer, in order to seek their most profound significance. And we too, like the first Christian community, allowing ourselves to be illuminated by the Word of God and meditating on Sacred Scripture, may learn to see that God is present in our lives, even at moments of difficulty, and that everything ... is part of a plan of love in which the final victory over evil, sin and death is truly is that of goodness, grace, life and God".

Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - After greeting the pilgrims attending his general audience this morning, who had come from many different countries including South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Lithuania and Peru, the Holy Father expressed his thanks for the congratulations he has received over recent days. "I would like to express my gratitude for the good wishes you have been sending me for the seventh anniversary of my election", he said. "I ask you to support me always with your prayers so that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I may continue my service to Christ and the Church".

Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", today released the following communique:
"On 17 April, as requested during the 16 March meeting held at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Commission received the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X. The text of the response will be examined by the dicastery then submitted to the Holy Father for his judgement".

Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - The Vatican Secret Archives, where all the documentation relating to the Holy See is conserved and catalogued, are this year celebrating their fourth centenary. Among the initiatives organised to mark the occasion is a congress entitled "Religiosa Archivorum Custodia", which began yesterday in the Vatican and is examining the history of the archives, their cultural importance and the results of the most recent research.
Due perhaps to an erroneous interpretation of the name (the word "secret" is to be understood in its Latin definition of "private"), the archives have always been surrounded by an aura of mystery. They were established by Pope Paul V in 1611 and originally contained the manuscripts from the pontificate of Gregory VII (1073-1085) which had survived the Avignon schism. Speaking on Vatican Radio Msgr. Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, explained that they "contain centuries and centuries of catalogued letters sent or received by Popes, documents of the Apostolic Camera, diplomatic papers from the various nuncios and diplomatic missions, as well as documents from Councils and Synods, etc. The archives were originally contained in 400 metres of shelf space, now they cover 85 kilometres".
In 1881 Pope Leo XIII opened the archives for free consultation by researchers. According to the German historian Arnold Esch, "it is the greatest archive in the world as regards the Middle Ages. Above all it is an archive which contains material of universal value and importance".
Despite the efforts of academics a large part of the Vatican Secret Archives remains unexplored, chiefly the vast amount of material originating in apostolic nunciatures, and from the period of World War II.

Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of Rio Gallegos, Argentina, presented by Bishop Juan Carlos Romanin S.D.B., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.


St Elphege millennium celebrations | St Elphege, Southwark

St Elphege at Greenwich
Saint Elphege was one of the most popular saints of medieval England, and is closely associated with the diocese of Southwark. The 1000th anniversary of his martyrdom in Greenwich is on Thursday, 19 April. Many services will be taking place throughout the diocese to commemorate him.
Elphege was born in 954, at Little Weston, two miles from Bath in Wiltshire. He entered the Benedictine monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire and became a hermit at Glastonbury. In 976 he was appointed Abbot of Bath by St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury.

He was made Bishop of Winchester in 984 around the time that the Danes and Norwegians invaded Britain. Elphege was sent to meet with the Norwegian leader King Olaf. After they spoke together the King asked to be confirmed and then promised not to invade again, and returned with his men to Norway. The introduction of Christianity to Norway is largely due to him.

In 1006 Elphege became Archbishop of Canterbury. Five years later the Danes returned and sacked and burned Canterbury. St Elphege was taken captive to Greenwich. His captors demanded a ransom of £3000, but Elphege refused to allow his ravaged people to raise the money. When his captors demanded gold he is reported to have said to them: "The gold I give you is the Word of God."

His captors, drunk with wine and enraged at the ransom being refused, pelted Elphege with bones of oxen and stones, until one of them dispatched him with an axe. He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral and 11 years later, on the orders of King Canute, his body was taken for reburial at Canterbury. He was canonised by Pope Gregory Vll in 1078.

Celebrating the Millennium

On Thursday, 19 April 2012, Bishop Patrick Lynch will attend a service at Southwark Anglican Cathedral opening the Millennium celebrations. A later service will be held at St Alfege Anglican Church in Greenwich, at the site of the martyrdom, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury will preach.

On Sunday, 22 April 2012, Bishop Paul Hendricks will preside at Mass at St Elphege, Wallington, the only church in the diocese dedicated to the saint. Mass will be offered in the local Anglican church of St Mary's, Beddington, on the actual feast, 19 April.

The Bishops of Winchester owned land and premises at Beddington and it is probable that by the late 9th century a wooden Saxon church existed on the site of St Mary's, so St Elphege will have known the area and offered Mass there. His predecessor as Bishop of Winchester, St Ethelwold, died at Beddington.

Masses to mark the Millennium will also be offered at St Thomas of Canterbury, Canterbury, and in the Greenwich parishes of Our Ladye Star of the Sea and St Joseph.

St Thomas a Becket, when facing his own martyrdom in 1170, is reported to have said: "I commend myself to God, to holy Mary, to blessed Denys, and St Elphege."


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
19 Apr 2012

Students from Mary MacKillop College Wakely participated
in the Alliance leadership training course
Over the past several months, 200 students from Catholic high schools across the Sydney Archdiocese have trained to be the eyes and ears of their schools and communities as well as the city's future leaders.
An initiative of the Sydney Alliance, the two day leadership building courses were specially tailored for the senior high school students by the Archdiocese of Sydney's Justice and Peace Office in conjunction with the Catholic Education Office (CEO).
These unique introductory leadership training sessions have involved students from 24 Catholic high schools, and included students from Caringbah's De La Salle College, Aquinas College at Menai, Ryde's Holy Cross College, Domremy College at Five Dock, St Claire's Waverley and St Mary's Cathedral College.
Fifty students took part the first of the courses held last year, with a further 150 participating in the courses in February and March this year.
"The courses have been a tremendous success and the feed-back we received has been extremely encouraging," says Chantelle Ogilvie-Ellis, Justice and Peace Promoter for the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Archdiocese's representatives on the Sydney Alliance Action Council.
Chantelle adds that each of the participants in the leadership training courses is now receiving individual support and mentoring.
Training in community leadership is a key feature of the Sydney Alliance as a way to bring communities, schools and groups together and for their voices to be heard in shaping the future and the type of city in which they live.
Chantelle Ogilvie-Ellis, Justice and
Peace Promoter and member of
the Sydney Alliance Action Council
A non-political citizens' coalition, the Sydney Alliance was established in a bid to create a safer, better, more inclusive, equitable and sustainable city. Made up of more than 50 partnerships between organisations, religions, communities, educators, universities, schools and unions as well as ethnic and cultural groups, the Alliance is committed to working for the common good.
Although the Alliance was officially launched in September last year with an inaugural assembly at Sydney's Town Hall attended by more than 2000, a dedicated team had spent almost four years planning the agenda, details and vision for this unique venture.
The initial meeting of a loose group of partner organisations who were keen to create the Alliance and give Sydney's citizens a voice, was held at the Archdiocese of Sydney's Polding Centre in 2008.
"Everyone there contributed ideas and what came up again and again was that we must work for the common good, that we must respect the dignity of the human person and that we must join together in solidarity," recalls Dr Steven Lovell Jones, Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and member of the Sydney Alliance Board as well as being Cardinal Pell's representative on the Sydney Alliance Leaders' Council.
Several years of meticulous research, "listening campaigns" and planning followed.
Today, just seven months after its public launch, the Sydney Alliance has more than 500,000 members from 54-plus participating groups and organisations.
Already the Alliance has trained more than 1300 adults from communities, unions and religious groups and organisations in civic participation, leadership and relationship building. This is in addition to leadership training undertaken by the 200 students from Sydney's Catholic high schools.
"By giving people the organisational tools and skills, they can help their communities or schools tackle issues that concern them and make a difference," Chantelle says.
In addition to helping tailor the courses for students at Catholic high schools, Chantelle has been part of the Alliance "listening" campaigns over the past two years, uncovering issues of concern among the city's many diverse communities as well as issues that affect us all no matter what our age or walk of life.

Prayer area during training reminded students
of the principles of Catholic social justice teaching
"One listening campaign I was involved with canvassed 18 different schools and by taking teachers out of the mix, we encouraged students to talk freely. What amazed us is how switched on they are. Two of the issues of concern for many were job security for their parents, and the lack of bulk billing at medical clinics," says Chantelle.
At another recent "listening" campaign at St Brigid's Parish, Marrickville, she says racial and ethnic stereotyping by the media and the police was another major issue for many young people.
"One young woman of Pacific Islander descent told me that when she went out with her brothers and sisters, people automatically assumed they were part of a gang," she says.
The Sydney Alliance intends to use its wide-ranging "listening" campaigns to learn about the concerns everyday Sydneysiders, and then take action. Among the issues the Alliance is expected to tackle over the coming year include public transport, access to quality health care, social inclusion. Other issues of concern such as bullying, aged care, unemployment, homelessness, domestic violence, gambling and the city's often crumbling infrastructure are likely to be part of the Alliance's future action agenda.
The first series of "listening" campaigns which began just over two years ago are now almost complete and the Alliance will shortly present a detailed agenda over this and coming years. The agenda announced for 2012 will also signal the beginning of negotiations between the Alliance and the city's decision makers at both a local, state and federal level.
"Being part of the Alliance and helping forge a future for Sydney and the common good is very exciting, and this is just the start," Chantelle says.
To find out about the Alliance, its training sessions and how you can become involved, log on to


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The XI National Congress of the Youth in Mexico will be celebrated in July, organized by the Episcopal Commission for the Prophetic Pastoral Care in the Mission, by the National Directorate of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) of Mexico and by the Diocese of Coatzacoalcos. In fact, the Congress will be held in the city of Coatzacoalcos, in Veracruz, from 19 to 22 July 2012, with the slogan, "Missionary Youth, announces Christ everywhere."
In the communication Fides received, it has to be remembered that this Congress follows the previous 10 National Youth Missionary Congresses (CONAJUM) that have borne fruit in the missionary service of the Universal Church. The main motivation of this XI Congress is, as stated in the convocation, to "enliven, strengthen and give a boost to the baptesimal commitment of young people of Mexico such as Missionary Disciples, in the light of the document of Aparecida and the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini in order to ensure that the Word of God may reach those who are far away and those who do not yet know Christ, motivating, forming and sending young people to evangelize mankind." (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 18/04/2012)


NGONG’, April 17, 2012 (CISA) – The Catholic Diocese of Ngong’ has a new Bishop.
54-year-old Rev Fr John Oballa Owaa, who was the immediate Rector of Saint Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Langata, was ordained on April 14 at the Ngong’ Police Traffic Training Grounds.
John Cardinal Njue presided over the occasion. He was assisted by archbishops Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu Archdiocese and Archbishop Boniface Lele of Mombasa Archdiocese.
In his homily, Cardinal Niue welcomed the new Bishop to the diocese, observing that he has been shepherding it for the last two and half years as its apostolic administrator.
“Here you will find people, the clergy, religious men and women and lay people, ready to support you and the church,” he told the huge congregation that had turned up for the historic occasion.
The congregation included over 30 bishops, scores of priests, religious men and women and the laity.
A large number was from the Archdiocese of Kisumu, where the new Bishop was ordained as a Diocesan priest as well as working in various capacities , chief among them being Diocesan Vicar General, Diocesan Finance Administrator and as well as a Parish priest.
Cardinal Njue urged the new Bishop to steer the Diocese in the right direction.
Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin said the diocese was missionary. “We have a huge presence of missionaries in the Diocese and this, it is expected, will always remain the case,” said the Apostolic Nuncio.
He asked the clergy, religious men and women as well as the laity to ensure that they have given Bishop Owaa their maximum support.
Bishop Owaa in his address assured the Diocese of his full commitment.
Area local Member of Parliament and minster for Internal Security, Professor George Saitoti reminded Bishop Owaa that the Diocese was cosmopolitan. “Here you will find the Maasai pastoralists, living along side farmers and businesspeople,” explained Prof Saitoti.
He also paid tribute to the two Bishops, Colin Davies and Cornelius Schilder who have shepherded the diocese before Bishop Owaa.
“The two have played their part and we look forward to benefit from your contribution in the missionary service of the diocese,” he added.
The diocese covers the whole of maasai land.


by Bernardo Cervellera
The candidate, Fr Chen Gongao, has the Holy See's approval. He delayed his ordination ceremony until now to avoid the presence of unlawful bishops. The Vatican and the faithful have repeatedly slammed the "Maoist practices" of the Patriotic Association.

Rome (AsiaNews) - An Episcopal ordination approved by the Holy See will take place tomorrow in Nanchong (Sichuan). However, an excommunicated bishop might attend the ceremony despite Vatican instructions.

Fr Joseph Chen Gongao, 47, served as diocesan secretary and administrator in Nanchong and was rector of the Sichuan Catholic Seminary.

Mgr Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan, who will ordain him, took part in unlawful ordinations in Leshan but he later asked for forgiveness and was pardoned by the Holy See.

However, another unlawful bishop ordained in Leshan, Mgr Paul Lei Shiyin, might attend tomorrow's ceremony. He remains in a state of excommunication.

When UCANews asked him if he would attend the Nanchong ordination, Fr Lei yesterday said, "Why should I not go?"

President of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) in Sichuan, Mgr Lei has already participated in the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Peter Luo Xuegang of Yibin.

The Vatican reacted at the time by issuing a statement in which it expressed its regrets that Mgr Lei had "aggravated its situation".

Following last year's two unlawful Episcopal ordinations in Leshan and Shantou, which various bishops in communion with the pope were forced to attend, often against their will, the Vatican said that ordination ceremonies approved by the Holy See must respect Catholic tradition, which means that no one under excommunication can participate.

The presence of excommunicated bishops is a source of division within the Church and among the faithful. It drives communities to resist CPCA abuses and Maoist practices.

Fr Joseph Chen Gongao is known as a good evangeliser and a loyal servant of the Catholic Church.

He was elected bishop in 2010 but delayed his ordination because he and his community wanted to ensure that no unlawful bishop would be present.

Nevertheless, some Nanchong Catholics are still hoping that if Mgr Lei does come that he will take part in the ceremony without demanding to place his hand on the new bishop.

The diocese of Nanchong (about 200 km north of Chongqing) has 80,000 members and dozens of priests and seminarians.



John 3: 16 - 21

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.


St. Apollonius the Apologist
Feast: April 18

Feast Day: April 18
Martyr whose Apologia or defense of the faith, is called one of the most priceless documents of the early Church. Apollonius was a Roman senator who was denounced as a Christian by one of his slaves. The Praetorian prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perenis, arrested him, also putting the slave to death as an informer. Perennis demanded that Apollonius denounce the faith, and when he refused, the case was remanded to the Roman senate. There a debate took place between Perennis and Apollonius that clearly outlines the beauty and the value of Christianity. Despite his eloquent defense, Apollonius was condemned and beheaded.

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


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