Thursday, May 24, 2012


Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father received participants in the sixty-fourth general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, to whom he delivered an address focusing on the challenges of the new evangelisation in a society increasingly distanced from God. "Our situation requires renewed drive, aimed at the essential aspects of Christian faith and life", he said. "At a time in which God has, for many people, become the great Unknown and Jesus is simply an important figure of the past, we cannot relaunch missionary activity without renewing the quality of our own faith and prayer. ... We will not be able to win mankind to the Gospel unless we ourselves first return to a profound experience of God".
The Pope began his remarks by recalling that this autumn marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and he exhorted the prelates to implement its teachings in order to meet the social and cultural transformations of our time which, he said, "also have visible consequences in the religious sphere". Societies of ancient Christian tradition are today characterised by secularism. Thus the spiritual and moral heritage which lies at the roots of the West "is no longer understood in its profound significance, ... and a rich soil risks becoming an inhospitable desert".
The Pope identified a number of worrying trends, including a drop in religious practice and diminishing participation in the Sacraments. "Many baptised have lost their identity. They do not know the essential contents of the faith, or believe they can cultivate that faith without ecclesial mediation. And while many look doubtfully at Church teaching, others reduce the Kingdom of God to certain broad values, which are certainly related to the Gospel but which do not touch the central nucleus of Christian faith".
"Unfortunately it is God Himself Who remains excluded from many people's horizon and, when not met with indifference, closure or rejection, discourse about God is relegated to the subjective sphere, reduced to an intimate and private affair which is marginalised from the public conscience. The heart of the crisis affecting Europe also arises from this abandonment, this lack of openness to the Transcendent".
In this context, Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that "new methods of announcing the Gospel or of pastoral activity are not enough to ensure that the Christian message finds greater acceptance". As the Council Fathers said, "we must begin again from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed. ... Our primary task, our true and only task, remains that of dedicating our lives to the one thing that ... is truly dependable, necessary and ultimate. Men live from God, from He Whom, often tentatively and unawares, they seek in order to give full meaning to lives. We have the task of announcing Him, revealing Him and leading others to meet Him".
The Holy Father continued: "The fundamental condition in order to be able to speak about God is to speak with God, increasingly to become men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and moulded by His Grace. ... We must allow ourselves to be found and seized by God so as to help the people we meet be touched by the Truth. ... The old and new mission facing us is that of introducing the men and women of our time to a relationship with God, to help them to open their minds and hearts to the God Who seeks them and wants to come close to them, leading them to understand that doing His will does not curb freedom; rather, it means being truly free, it means achieving true goodness in life.
"God is the guarantor not the competitor of our freedom", the Pope added in conclusion. "Where space is given to the Gospel, and therefore to friendship with Christ, man realises he is the object of a love which purifies, warms, renews, and makes us capable of serving mankind with divine love".

Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - In a traditional annual meeting coinciding with the commemoration of the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the Holy Father this morning received in separate audiences Rosen Plevneliev, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, and Nikola Gruevski, prime minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, each accompanied by a delegation. The delegations subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, head of the Holy See delegation to the sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, yesterday delivered an address before that gathering, which is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 to 26 May. Speaking English, the archbishop reaffirmed the Holy See's support for Resolution WHA64.9 on "sustainable health financing structures and universal coverage", which urges member States to aim for affordable universal coverage and access for all citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity.
He also recalled how Benedict XVI has emphasised the importance of establishing "real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all. Consequently, if it is not to become inhuman, the world of healthcare cannot disregard the moral rules that must govern it".
Archbishop Zimowski noted that "more countries, especially those with emerging economies, are moving towards universal coverage", thanks also to "good policies that promote equity. ... Therefore my delegation strongly believes that in the endeavour to promote universal coverage, fundamental values such as equity, human rights and social justice need to become explicit policy objectives", he said.
The archbishop made an appeal for high-income countries to show greater solidarity towards poorer nations in order to overcome funding shortfalls in health. In this context he quoted the Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" in which Benedict XVI writes: "More economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid, thus respecting the obligations that the international community has undertaken in this regard".
In conclusion the head of the Holy See delegation affirmed that "progress towards universal coverage cannot be the effort of State machinery alone. It requires support from civil society. ... With over 120,000 social and healthcare institutions worldwide, the Catholic Church is in many developing countries one of the key partners of the State in healthcare delivery, providing services in remote areas to rural low-income populations, enabling them to access services that would otherwise be out of their reach. The efforts and contribution of such organisations and institutions towards universal access, merit the recognition and support of both the State and the international community, without obliging them to participate in activities they find morally abhorrent".


Fr Norman WeslinFATHER NORMAN WESLIN has died at the age of 81 on May 16. He passed away at his retirement home in Traverse City, Michigan. He was a former army colonel, husband and priest.
Norman's wife Mary died in a tragic car accident. Norman was ordained a priest in 1986 to the Oblates of Wisdom. He was in the army for 20 years and also worked with Mother Teresa for several months.
He worked tirelessly for the Gospel of Life. He had been arrested over 70 times for protests at abortion sites. In 2009 he was arrested on the campus of the University of Notre Dame for carrying a cross and praying. This was to protest President Barack Obama's speech. There were 88 protesters on that day now know as the "ND88".

He founded the "Lambs of Christ" which calls for peaceful protests to abortion while praying the rosary:
He also founded the organization called " Mary Weslin Homes" for unwed mothers.
The National Director of Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone is quoted as saying:
“Our loss is Heaven’s gain,”Father Weslin’s commitment to unborn children was so profound that he spent time behind bars on many occasions. He told me in 2001, while awaiting sentencing on a federal charge, that he wasn’t ashamed to be arrested because Jesus and the Apostles all went to jail. He believed that a priest’s place was not behind his people, lending encouragement, but out in front leading the way.”


50th International Eucharistic Congress Reveals the ‘Through the Eyes of the Apostles’ Exhibition
Pilgrims will have an opportunity to travel back in time at an exciting exhibition at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC2012) which will be hosted in Dublin from 10 – 17 June.
This three dimensional exhibition titled ‘Through the Eyes of the Apostles: Life Overwhelmed by a Presence’ will transport visitors to Capernaum, the village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus lived during His public ministry. The sensory rich reconstructed surroundings will include the smell of the trees and the sound of the lapping of waters. It will allow the visitor to walk in the Apostles footsteps and truly experience what it must have been like at this pivotal moment in history.
Writer, John Waters, a key speaker at the Congress, who saw the exhibition last year in Rimini, described feeling: “impossible not to be moved, impossible not to be transported. For what I felt was that suddenly I had been embraced in something involving a collapsing of time and space. History was foreshortened and the past 2,000 years became irrelevant. I was in Capernaum. I had returned to the centre of history. ‘Is He here?’ I found myself wondering. Is He here?”
This exhibition relives what happened when Jesus arrived in Capernaum and what those people witnessed. It documents several key elements of His ministry; the waterfall at which John the Baptist baptized Jesus; the village, Capernaum, a reconstruction of the house of Peter, where Jesus stayed at an early stage in his public life; the locations in which Jesus spoke; and finally, the location of the Resurrection.
Further information:
• Aisling Harmey, Media Relations Manager, 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012, Tel: 00353 (01) 234 9903, Mob: 00353 (0) 87 137 2447 Email:
• Mark Linehan, Media Officer, 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012, Tel: 00353 (01) 234 9927 Email:
Notes for Editors:
• The 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 will take place in Dublin from 10 – 17 June 2012 with up to 25,000 pilgrims expected to attend each day at the RDS, including 12,000 international pilgrims representing more than different countries.
• IEC2012 will transform the RDS into a Eucharistic Village for an eight day festival of faith and culture. The Eucharist will be celebrated in the Liturgy and adored in the Prayer Space.
• The Congress is an international gathering of people, held every four years somewhere in the world, which aims to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church; to help improve our understanding and celebration of the liturgy and to draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist. These aims are achieved through a programme of pastoral preparation in the years leading up to the Congress and a programme of liturgical and cultural events, lectures and workshops over the course of one week. Previous Congresses took place in Quebec (2008) and Guadalajara (2004)
• The theme of the Congress is ‘The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one Another’ (Communion – like Solidarity – means a relationship of mutual love and self-giving).
• On 17 June, more than 80,000 people are expected to gather and celebrate Statio Orbis, the Final Mass, of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 at Croke Park Stadium.
• There are a total of 223 keynote speakers as part of the IEC2012 programme of events, which includes 38 speakers in the main arena delivering Catechesis (teaching), personal testimonies, homilies and addresses.
• A total of 144 presenters will deliver workshops during Congress week
• There are 41 speakers delivering addresses at the Chiara Luce Youth Space for young people between 17 and 25 years old.
• A total of 160 workshops including talks, addresses, group reflections, meetings, concerts and plays
• The full programme is available at:
• For more information:
• Registration for the Congress is now live on


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
24 May 2012

"Family unity is precious..." Dr Elsie Heiss
Youngsters from three primary schools across Malabar, La Perouse and Matraville have spent the past few weeks creating large red, black and yellow hands to be hung throughout the small garden surrounding the Archdiocese of Sydney's Reconciliation Church at La Perouse.
This "sea of hands" will be one of the central features of the Sorry Day Commemoration Ecumenical Service to be held at the little church on Saturday, 26 May.
Although La Perouse's historic church has supported small services on Sorry Day over the past few years, 2012 marks the first time the city's Aboriginal community has joined together and as respected elder and Executive Officer of the Archdiocese's Aboriginal Catholic Ministry , Dr Elsie Heiss puts it: "organised and taken ownership of the day."
"Every service and Mass we hold represents a further step towards healing and reconciliation. But on Sorry Day this year we are taking this much further and with funding assistance from the Archdiocese, we are reaching out to the community and inviting everyone whether Aboriginal or non Aboriginal to join in what will be a deeply-felt Aboriginal grass roots ecumenical service," she says.
Mary Talence of the Taken Away
Children and her story are told by
her granddaughter Dr Anita Heiss
in her bestselling book
As part of this reaching out, students from Malabar's St Andrew's Catholic Primary School, Matraville's Soldiers Settlement School and La Perouse Public School have not only responded enthusiastically but are currently putting the finishing touches to the "Sea of Hands" they have created, replicating the powerful symbol created in 1997 to represent reconciliation between Australia's Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
In addition to making large hands in the symbolic Indigenous colours of yellow, red and black, the youngsters are also learning about the true meaning of Sorry Day, and what happened over a period of more than 100 years to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcibly removed from their parents, siblings and extended families to grow up alone, terrified and bewildered in federal and state-run orphanages and mission stations.
Four years ago, on 13 February 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made history when he apologised on behalf of the Federal Government for its involvement in what are now known as "the Stolen Generations."
Although the custom of removing children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders began in 1869, it wasn't until 1997 that the full extent of what had happened to generation after generation of Indigenous children finally became known with the release of the Government's "Bringing Them Home: the Stolen Children Report." Made public on 26 May, the day became known as "Sorry Day" and is commemorated each year by both Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians.
As part of Sorry Day, ceremonies are held across Australia to remember and pay tribute to the many thousands of children who suffered after being taken from their families and made wards of the state in the misguided belief of Colonial times that involved fear of inter-racial marriage, and later the idea these children were somehow being protected despite the fact they were taken with no evidence of neglect or that they were at risk in anyway.
Although they are often dubbed children of the Stolen Generations, Elsie says this is not a term used by Indigenous people. Nor was it used by her own mother and aunt who were just five and four years old when they were separated from one another as well as from their parents and other siblings and forced to grow up alone and far from everyone they knew and loved.
The Sea of Hands created by children will be part
of La Perouse Sorry Day commemorations
"My mother and aunt always referred to themselves as the 'taken away' kids. That's how the generations were known. The word stolen is never used," Elsie says.
Although her mother and her aunt were members of the "taken away children," to Elsie and their other children, they kept the pain, terror and often brutal treatment received during their childhood to themselves.

"They told us the good bits and left out the other stuff. The bad things, my mother took with her to the grave and I only found out about them many years later," she says.
Much of what Elsie discovered came from the meticulous research through ill-kept and forgotten documents handed down from state and federal aboriginal welfare agencies, carried out by her daughter, Dr Anita Heiss. Internationally acclaimed poet, writer and social commentator, Anita is the author of "Who Am I: The Diary of Mary Talence" which pieces together the story of her grandmother and Elsie's mother.
Taken from her parents to the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children's Home aged 5, Mary found herself five years later living in Sydney with a white family, confused and bewildered and wondering why she didn't fit in.

Elsie Heiss explaining the Indigenous Stations
of the Cross
But until the Government's "Bringing them Home" report of 1997, Elsie says she had not realised the scale and enormity of what had been done to her mother and to so many thousands of other children like her.
Today a mother of five and grandmother to eight, Elsie says the experiences endured by the "taken away children" have left scars on the following generations and great pain. But she says the most powerful legacy of all from her mother's experience, is the realisation of just how important family is and how vital it is to hold those you love close, and constantly protect and treasure each one.
"I tell my kids and grandkids that family unity is precious, and that staying close to one another and being there for one another in good times and bad is very important and they must not forget this. I think of my own mother growing up without her family, and each night when I pray to the Virgin Mary one of my prayers is to bless my children and grandchildren with health and strength and love."
For Elsie and so many others, Sorry Day is an emotional time, but it is also a positive one that offers real reconciliation, healing and positive looking ahead to the future.

Dr Elsie Heiss
"The little booklet we've printed for Sorry Day 2012 includes a prayer giving thanks to the Lord and acknowledges that while we 'embrace the past, we are alive in the present and have hope in the future.'"
The Sorry Day commemoration at the Reconciliation Church, La Perouse will also include music by Indigenous singer songwriter, Archie Roach and his moving "They Took the Children Away," followed by St Therese's beautiful "Come Holy Spirit" and US country gospel's Charley Pride singing "All God's Children." The final song will have everyone present joining in to sing the joyous "Holy Spirit of this Land", its powerful words summing up Australia with "from the red earth pindan to the deep blue seas, Holy Spirit of this land."
"We want the Sorry Day commemoration to end on a happy and hopeful note," says Elsie.
More than 250 are expected at the Reconciliation Church which begins at 11.a.m and where those unable to fit inside the tiny church will spill out into a garden among the brightly coloured "Sea of Hands."


by Jian Mei
Fr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, vicar general of the Diocese of Shanghai, and 40 priests celebrated Mass. A large number of plainclothes police monitored worshippers from other dioceses during the pilgrimage month. In Hebei, an underground priest and seminarian are arrested. Mgr Paul Li Yi, bishop of Luan (Changzhi, Shanxi) dies.

Sheshan (AsiaNews) - Thousands of pilgrims from Shanghai and across the country have gathered to pray at the Our Lady of Sheshan Basilica today, 24 May, feast day of Mary Help of Christians, anniversary of the Day of Prayer for the Church in China set aside by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, a day that also marks the feast day of the national Marian shrine.

Amid a drizzle, at half-past 8, Fr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, vicar general of Shanghai, led the crowd of Catholics in a procession from the Mid-hill Church, carrying the Statue of the Blessed Mother, up to the hilltop basilica.

Once at the hilltop church, Father Ma and almost 40 priests celebrated the Eucharist. Sheshan novices sang during the Mass. There were more than 3,000 faithful inside the basilica for the Mass.

In his homily, Father Ma explained the 'Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan' written by Pope Benedict XVI for this particular day, Joseph, a Shanghai Catholic, told AsiaNews.

He also called the participating faithful to give reverence to our Blessed Mother and to worship Jesus Christ. "Father Ma's warm and emotional homily moved the faithful at the scene," Joseph said.

It rained throughout the Mass, but the hot and humid weather did not deter the pilgrims. "Instead, they prayed zealously and fervently in the Mass," he said.

In the past, Our Lady of Sheshan shrine used to draw up to 200,000 pilgrims on the feast day, from all over China.

Since 2008, a year after the pope set aside that day as a Day of Prayer for the Church in China, the government has not allowed pilgrims from any diocese, except that of Shanghai, to visit the shrine in Sheshan.

For this reason, many dioceses mark the feast day in shrines closer to hope with Masses, Eucharistic adorations and vigils.

This year, the feast day saw a new church consecrated in Shanxi province.

Fr John, a priest from the open Church in Hebei province, told AsiaNews that he led a pilgrimage to Sheshan earlier this month. He found the security was very tight, as many plainclothes police were monitoring the pilgrimage site.

He said he prayed for the fervency of the faithful and unity in his diocese.

Similarly, several priests from various dioceses shared the same prayer intention.

Some underground priests told AsiaNews that they could not have big celebrations as security was tight, but they did remind their parishioners to pray for the suffering Church in China and for harmony in their respective dioceses.

"I especially prayed for the all the bishops and pastors in China, especially those who are under detention. May the Lord strengthen their faith. We feel lonely in this struggle for the freedom of faith," Fr Peter, an underground priest, noted.

Last week, a priest and a seminarian from the underground community in Baoding were taken into custody by police and taken to an unknown place.

They are likely to undergo sessions of political indoctrination and brain washing to get them to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, whose goal is to control Catholics and set up a Church independent of the pope.

Bishop Li Yi of Lu'an (Changzhi, Shanxi), 89, died this afternoon, on the special Day of Prayer for China. Ordained in 1949, he was consecrated as coadjutor of Changzhi in 1998.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Of the 10 countries where 60% of maternal deaths are associated with pregnancy and childbirth, 5 are African: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania. On the occasion of the upcoming Africa Day, the Spanish Catholic organization Manos Unidas wants to give a positive connotation to this event: the presentation of the first children born in the maternity ward of the health center Estaquinha in the region of Sofala, north of Mozambique. The objective is to ensure continuity in the program ESMABAMA, operating since 2003 in the mission of Estaquinha, one of 4 that is already working, which offers total health care in the region. Thanks to this project it was possible to establish a new center, fully operational, which has all the necessary means to treat most common illnesses in the area such as malaria, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, diarrhea and AIDS. With the new maternity ward the health program is complete. In many rural areas of Africa for many women motherhood involves a risk to their health and that of their children. The establishment of a ward like that of Estaquinha, together with the preparation of qualified personnel, training of women and pregnancy under supervision, is the key to give women a safe pregnancy. ESMABAMA also contributes to the education of children in the area, agricultural production and improving the health conditions of the population. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 24/5/2012)


On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. / I adore the brightness of Your purity the unerring keenness of Your justice and the might of Your love. You are the Strength / and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart! To be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light: and listen to Your voice and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You / by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds / and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart / I implore You / Adorable Spirit I Helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere / “Speak Lord for Your servant heareth.” Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul / the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth / the Spirit on Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude, that I may bear my cross with You I and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God find know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable / the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord with the sign of Your true disciples / and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Heal our wounds--our strength renews; On our dryness pour Thy dew, Wash the stains of guilt away.
The Gift of Counsel
The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."
Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.
(Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE. Glory be to the Father 7 TIMES. Act of Consecration, Prayer for the Seven Gifts)


John 10: 22 - 30
22 It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem;
23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.
24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me;
26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;
28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
30 I and the Father are one."

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