Wednesday, May 2, 2012



Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - The prayer of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis during his general audience this morning.
Addressing more than 20,000 faithful filling St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained how, according to the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen was taken before the Sanhedrin accused of having declared that Jesus would destroy the Temple and change the customs handed down by Moses. In his address before the council Stephen explained that, in saying these things, Jesus had been referring to His body, which was the new temple. In this way, Christ "inaugurated the new worship and, with the offer of Himself on the cross, replaced the ancient sacrifices", Benedict XVI said.
Stephen wished to show that the accusation of subverting the Law of Moses was unfounded, to which end he outlined his view of the history of salvation, of the covenant between God and man. "Thus", the Holy Father explained, "he reread the entire biblical narrative to show that it led to the 'place' of God's definitive presence, which is Jesus Christ and in particular His passion, death and resurrection. Stephen interpreted his status as a disciple of Jesus in the same light, ... following Him to martyrdom. Thus, meditation upon Sacred Scripture helped him to understand ... the present".
"In his meditation upon God's action in the history of salvation" the proto-martyr "highlighted the perennial temptation to reject God and His acts, and affirmed that Jesus is the Just One announced by the prophets. In Him, God made Himself definitively and uniquely present: Jesus is the 'place' of true worship".
Stephen's explanations and his life were interrupted by his stoning, yet "martyrdom was the culmination of his life and message, because he became one with Christ. Thus his meditation upon the action of God in history, on the divine Word which was entirely fulfilled in Jesus, became a form of participation in Christ's prayer on the cross".
The moment of Stephen's martyrdom "again revealed the fruitful relationship between the Word of God and prayer", the Pope said. Yet "where did this first Christian martyr find the strength to face his persecutors and to make the ultimate gift of self? The answer is simple: in his relationship with God, in his communion with Christ, in meditating upon the history of salvation, in witnessing the action of God which reached its apex in Jesus Christ".
St. Stephen believed that Jesus was "the Temple, 'not made by human hands', in which the presence of God the Father came so close as to enter our human flesh, bringing us to God and opening the doors of heaven for us. Our prayer must, then, be contemplation of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, of Jesus as Lord of our daily life. In Him, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we too can address God ... with the trust and abandonment of children who turn to a Father Who loves them with an infinite love".

Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - Made public today was a General Decree concerning the renewed juridical framework of Caritas Internationalis. The document, which bears the signature of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., was approved by the Holy Father on 27 April, and comes into force from the moment of its publication.
The publication of the decree is being accompanied by an explanatory text in English, written by Msgr. Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, excerpts from which are given below.
"In its sixty-one years of existence, Caritas Internationalis has always been a privileged instrument of the Church’s charitable activity. Drawing upon its long experience of this worthy institution, and in particular the developments of recent years, the Holy See has sought to update the juridical status of Caritas Internationalis, in order the better to support its activity in the context of the modern world".
"Blessed John Paul II gave it public canonical juridical personality by means of the Chirograph 'Durante l'ultima Cena'. ... This public juridical person is governed principally, though not exclusively, by its proper legislation and by the relevant provisions of the Code of Canon Law. The Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena', in recognising the special bond linking Caritas Internationalis with the Apostolic See, implicitly established that its governance and operation should make reference to the First Section of the Secretariat of State. At the same time, the Chirograph gave the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' the task of following and accompanying the activity of Caritas Internationalis".
The process of updating the juridical framework of Caritas Internationalis
"The experience garnered in almost eight years of applying the Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena' has made it possible to understand in greater detail how to carry forward a process of juridical updating that not only respects but expresses even better the nature of the organisation and clarifies the distribution of competences among dicasteries and offices with an interest in it".
"Between January and May of last year, a working group of representatives from Caritas Internationalis and the Holy See studied a new version of the Statutes of Caritas Internationalis, with the intention of resolving the interlinked doctrinal, juridical and economic issues. ... During the said meetings of the working group, one of the points to emerge was the need for legislation to complement the Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena', as a normative reference-point for the application of the new Statutes. Having received the draft Statutes, the Holy Father gave precise instructions to the Cardinal Secretary of State on the contents of the said text due to complement the Chirograph. Accordingly, in deference to these indications, the General Decree was drawn up and the new Statutes and Internal Rules were revised in accordance with it".
Some characteristic features of the new General Decree
"Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the General Decree clarify the competences of the principal dicasteries involved. In this regard, first and foremost, the role of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' has been strengthened (art. 1), the dicastery, that is, that follows the institutional activity of Caritas Internationalis and is responsible for approving its texts with doctrinal or moral content".
"Articles 4 and 5 establish guidelines for the future redaction of specific norms governing employment of personnel and the preparation of a suitable welfare regime. The employees of Caritas Internationalis, in fact, while they are not Vatican employees, are part of the working community of the Apostolic See".
"Article 6 ... establishes that at least three members of the Executive Board be papal appointments. This allows the Holy Father to designate individuals of specific proven competence, particular those coming from poor regions or regions deserving of privileged attention. ... It remains the case, however, that the majority of members are chosen by national Caritas agencies, which therefore continue to be responsible for the governance of this important structure of the Confederation.
"Moreover, provision is made for an Ecclesiastical Assistant and a Support Commission. ... In addition to the 'nihil obstat' of the Holy See for candidates for the offices of President and Secretary-General, ... the General Decree and the new Statutes require a 'nihil obstat' for the candidates for Treasurer".
"Article 7 re-affirms the general principle that significant canonical and Vatican legislation is binding upon those who are employed in entities situated within Vatican City and institutionally linked to the Holy See".

Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the conclusions of the eighteenth plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The meeting was held in Rome from 27 April to 1 May and examined the theme: "The Global Search for 'Tranquillitas Ordinis'. 'Pacem in Terris', fifty years on". The conference was presented by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the "Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences; Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France, and Margaret S. Archer, professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne, Switzerland.
During the meeting participants focused their attention on the contribution Blessed John XXIII’s Encyclical "Pacem in Terris" has made to the social doctrine of the Church. That document reaffirms the central thesis of all Church social doctrine, which is that "each individual man is truly a person. His is a nature that is endowed with intelligence and free will". On this basis the Encyclical underlines the notion of the common good, that is to say "all those social conditions which favour the full development of human personality". Participants in the plenary concluded that, in the modern world characterised by globalisation, the economic crisis and nationalist and religious conflicts, it is vital to rediscover the truth about human beings and the common good, because they are the cornerstones of social life.
Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Papantla, Mexico, presented by Bishop Lorenzo Cardenas Aregullin, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong.
- Appointed Msgr. Paul R. Sanchez of the clergy of Brooklyn, U.S.A., episcopal vicar for Queens, and Msgr. Raymond F. Chappetto, also of the clergy of Brooklyn, vicar for clergy and consecrated life and pastor of Our Lady of the Snows at Floral Park, as auxiliaries of Brooklyn (area 466, population 4,849,605, Catholics 1,556,575, priests 619, permanent deacons 179, religious 177). Bishop-elect Sanchez was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971. He has worked as pastor in a number of parishes and is a member of the diocesan liturgical commission. Bishop-elect Chappetto was born in Astoria in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1971. He has worked as pastor in various parishes in Brooklyn.
On Tuesday 1 May it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Fr. Raymond Poisson, pastor of the Sainte-Marguerite-d'Younville pastoral unit in the diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Canada, as auxiliary of Saint-Jerome (area 2,156, population 444,000, Catholics 431,000, priests 91, permanent deacons 19, religious 137), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Saint-Hyacinthe, Canada in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983. He studied in Canada and in Rome, and has served in pastoral duties and as private secretary to the bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil.


Unknown people attacked this morning a sit-in involving Salafists and members of pro-democracy movements in front of Egypt's Defence Ministry in Cairo. When the military moved in to quell the unrest, deploying armoured vehicles and firing tear gas, mayhem followed. Egypt's 23 May presidential is now in jeopardy.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - At least 11 people were killed in clashes that broke out between police and demonstrations early this morning outside the Egyptian Defence Ministry. Organised by Salafists protesting the exclusion of their leader Hazem Abu Ismail from the upcoming presidential election, the demonstration turned into a peaceful rally calling for the resignation of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Members of secular-oriented parties also joined the protest, including activists from the 6 April youth movement, one of the main groups behind last year's popular revolt.

According to local sources, a group of unidentified men attacked the camp of protesters with guns and rods, forcing soldiers to intervene. However, instead of going after the hooligans, the soldiers on foot and in armoured vehicles attacked the demonstrators.

"Eight armoured personnel carriers from the military central zone entered the Abassiya area to disperse the fighting between protesters, and not to disperse the peaceful demonstrators," an army statement said. "However, protesters attacked the armed forces. The armed forces have orders to hold their ground."

These are same words used to justify the massacre of Copts in front of the Maspero building on 9 October 2011 that claimed 27 lives. Only a few days ago, an Egyptian court dropped the case into the incident for lack of evidence.

Experts and political leaders note that Egypt is sliding back into a pattern of repression and violence, which could jeopardise the 23 May presidential election.

For their part, Mohammed Mursi, the Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood) candidate, and independent (Islamist) Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh suspended their campaign today to protest against the military's violence.

Mursi announced that he would bring three million of people into the streets if the military refuse to give up power to civilian leaders.



Article by Fr R Cross and Photos by Mr R Hiini of The Record
A contingent of US sailors from the 95,000-tonne aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill volunteered a day to help paint the wrought iron fence of St Mary's Cathedral on Friday 27 April.

They were welcomed to the Cathedral by Archbishop Costelloe and the Cathedral Dean., Mgr Michael Keating.

A number of volunteers from the Cathedral Parish joined the US sailors in the project.


Olympic training day for Catholics | More Than Gold, Catholic Training Day, James Parker
With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Games now just around the corner, the Catholic community is being invited to prepare for the biggest summer of parties modern Britain has ever experienced.

On Saturday 12 May, leaders from More Than Gold, the churches’ ecumenical Olympic charity, will host a full day of information and training for Catholic parishes, schools and agencies who wish to engage with this summer’s four months of festivities.

With the Olympic Torch Relay travelling the length and breath of the country between May and July, and an extended Bank Holiday in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, ending with August and September brimming over with world class sport, there is much to be celebrated.

James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator of the 2012 Games, said: “Never has the Catholic community in Britain been offered a season to build community as unique as this summer. Opportunities like this only come once in a lifetime and it is imperative that everyone is prepared. We have world-class leaders on hand to ensure that we as Catholics are ready and confident to engage with our own local communities and to welcome the many thousands of visitors who will travel throughout our land.”

The training day is to be held at St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea between 10am and 4pm and will include training on a variety of subjects, including how to run a local festival, how to engage with local chaplaincy, what to do if you wish to host the family members of an Olympic athlete, how to address issues of social injustice around the Games, and how to use sport to bring values to young people.

To find out more or to book online, please visit and


Corruption has become 'rampant' in many churches, says NCCI top official
Philip Mathew, Bangalore
April 30, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Church council ends national meeting
Church leaders at the opening worship of the NCCI
The National Council of Churches in India ended its 27th national assembly in Bangalore on April 28 with a call to end illegal sale of Church property.
Church property must not be sold or leased but preserved for posterity, the meeting agreed.
Augustine Jayakumar, Lutheran Church leader, said corruption had become “rampant” in many churches.
“The NCCI must withdraw the membership of Churches whose officials indulge in corruption,” he said.
Some 400 people attended the April 25-28 assembly.
The NCCI, founded in 1914, is a forum of 30 Protestant and Orthodox Churches and more than 50 related organizations.


Agenzia Fides REPORT- The Italian Fidei Donum missionary found dead last Sunday, Father Luigi Plebani (see Fides 05/30/2012) will be buried in Brazil, according to his desire.
Yet there is currently not an official report from the local police related to his death. According to some information released by the media, the missionary was found hanged, he also had a piece of tape over his mouth: the detail is considered as a possible indication of homicide, although police have not excluded the hypothesis of suicide. The Bishop of Ruy Barbosa, His Exc. Mgr. Andre de Witte, speaking with reporters, said that the cause of Fr. Luigi’s death is not yet clear. "Padre Luis", as he was known in Brazil, had participated in the morning at a party for an ordination, during which it was cheerful. However, said the Bishop, the Italian missionary had in the past received death threats by prisoners he regularly visited in the local prison: "one of his activities as a missionary was carried out in prison, and had already received some death threats", apparently by gangs linked to drug trafficking. "We are waiting for the autopsy results to know the truth about this crime," concluded the Bishop.
Fr. Luigi Plebani, according to his wishes, will be buried in Palmares, in the state of Pernambuco, which had been his first missionary destination in Brazil, thirty years ago, when he arrived in the parish of Lagoa dois Gatos. The priest was born in Rudiano, in the province of Brescia (northern Italy) in 1947, where he was ordained a priest in 1973. Before leaving for Brazil, in 1980, he had carried out his pastoral ministry in Brescia. In addition to Ruy Barbosa, the priest had previously worked in Itaipé in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 02/05/2012)


John 12: 44 - 50
44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.
45 And he who sees me sees him who sent me.
46 I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
47 If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
48 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak.
50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me."


St. Athanasius
Feast: May 2

Feast Day: May 2
295 at Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 2 May 373 at Alexandria, Egypt
Major Shrine: Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt

San Zaccaria, Venice, Italy
St. Athanasius, known as the "champion of orthodoxy," was born about the year 297, in Alexandria. There is a tradition, related by Rufinus, that he first attracted the notice of Patriarch Alexander as he was playing at baptism on the seashore with other small boys. After watching young Athanasius perform the rite, the prelate called the boys to him and by questioning satisfied himself that the baptisms were valid. He then undertook to have these boys trained for the priesthood. Athanasius received an excellent education, not only in Christian doctrine, but also in Greek literature and philosophy, rhetoric, and jurisprudence. He knew the Scriptures thoroughly, and learned theology from teachers who had been confessors during the terrible persecutions under Maximian. In youth he appears to have formed friendships with several hermits of the desert, especially with the great Antony, whose biography he was to write. He was reader to the patriarch, and in 318 became his secretary. During this period he wrote a discourse, , in which he attempted an explanation of the Incarnation and the doctrine of the Trinity.
In Egypt two strong and often divergent forces had early appeared in the Christian Church: the conservative hierarchy in Alexandria, represented by the patriarch or bishop, and the theologians of the schools, who cared little for tradition and stood for free reasoning on theological subjects. The leaders of the latter party had sometimes been obliged, like the famous Origen, to go into exile. There were also schisms over the distribution of authority in the Church and over doctrinal questions. It was probably about the year 323 that one Arius, a priest of the church of Baucalis, began to teach that Jesus, though more than man, was not eternal God, that he was created in time by the Eternal Father, and could therefore be described only figuratively as the Son of God. The patriarch demanded a written statement of these doctrines. With only two dissenting voices the bishops condemned them as heresy, and deposed Arius, together with eleven priests and deacons of Alexandria. Arius retired to Caesarea, where he continued to propagate his ideas, enlisting the support of Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and other Syrian prelates. In Egypt he had already won over many of the metaphysicians, as well as Meletius, bishop of Lycopolis, and leader of a dissident group. Theology being the topic which most deeply engaged men's minds, the Arian controversy interested all classes of the population. The heretical propositions were publicized in the form of songs set to popular tunes, and these were chanted in the forums and carried by sailors from port to port.
Athanasius, as the patriarch's secretary, took a prominent part in this great Church struggle. It is probable that he even composed the encyclical letter announcing the condemnation of Arius. We know that he was present, as an attendant on Alexander, at the famous Council of Nicaea, summoned by the Emperor Constantine to determine matters of dogma. There the sentence against Arius was confirmed, and the confession of faith known as the Nicene Creed promulgated and subscribed. This gathering of churchmen influenced Athanasius deeply, and, as a modern writer has said, the rest of his life was a testimony to the divinity of the Saviour.
Shortly after this Alexander died, and Athanasius succeeded him, although he was not yet thirty. One of his first acts was a tour of his enormous diocese, which included the great monastic settlements, especially the Thebaid. He ordained a bishop for Abyssinia, where the Christian faith had recently been established. Yet in spite of his best efforts, there was strong opposition. The Meletians made common cause with the Arians, and the movement, temporarily discredited by the Council of Nicaea, was soon again rampant in Asia Minor and Egypt.
In 330 the Arian bishop of Nicomedia, Eusebius, returned from his exile and before long had persuaded the aging Constantine to write to Athanasius, bidding him readmit Arius into communion, in the interests of unity. Eusebius sent an ingratiating letter in defense of Arius, but Athanasius held to his conviction that the Church could have no communion with heretics who attacked the divinity of Christ. Then Eusebius wrote the Egyptian Meletians urging them to impeach Athanasius for personal misconduct. They brought charges that he had levied a general tribute of linen for use in his own church, and made other petty accusations. At his trial before the emperor, Athanasius cleared himself and returned in triumph to Alexandria, bearing with him a letter of approval from Constantinople.
His enemies now accused him of having murdered a Meletian bishop named Arsenius, and summoned him to attend a council at Caesarea. Knowing that his supposed victim was in hiding, Athanasius ignored the summons. In 335 an order came from Constantinople to appear before another assembly at Tyre, packed by his opponents and presided over by an Arian who had seized the see of Antioch. Realizing that his condemnation had been decided on, Athanasius abruptly left the council and took ship for Constantinople. There he accosted the emperor as a suppliant in the street and obtained an interview. So completely did he vindicate himself that Constantine summoned the bishops to Constantinople for a retrial of the case. Then, for some unexplained reason, he suddenly changed his mind. Before the first letter arrived, a second was sent, confirming the sentence and banishing Athanasius to Treves. During this first exile, Athanasius kept in touch with his flock by letter.
In 337 Constantine died, shortly after his baptism by Eusebius of Nicomedia, and his empire was divided among his three sons, Constantine II, Constantius, and Constans. Many of the exiled prelates were now recalled. One of the first acts of Constantine II, who had sovereignty over Britain, Spain, and Gaul, was to allow Athanasius to return to his see. Two years later Constantine II was to be killed in battle in Aquileia. The patriarch reentered Alexandria in seeming triumph, but his enemies were as relentless as ever, and Eusebius of Nicomedia had completely won over the Emperor Constantius, within whose portion of the empire Alexandria was situated. New scandals were invented and Athanasius was now accused of raising sedition, promoting bloodshed, and keeping for himself corn intended for the poor. A Church council which met at Antioch again deposed him, and ratified an Arian bishop for Alexandria.
In the midst of all this confusion a Cappadocian priest named Gregory was forcibly installed as patriarch of Alexandria by the city prefect, pagans and Arians having now joined forces against the Catholics. Confronted unceasingly by acts of violence and sacrilege, Athanasius betook himself to Rome to await the hearing of his case by the Pope. A synod was summoned, but the Eusebians who had proposed it failed to appear. The result was a complete vindication of Athanasius, a verdict afterwards endorsed by the Council of Sardica. Nevertheless he found it impossible to return to Alexandria until after the death of Gregory, and then only because Emperor Constantius, on the eve of a war with Persia, thought it politic to propitiate his brother Constans by restoring Athanasius to his see.
After an absence then of eight years, Athanasius was welcomed back to Alexandria in 346, and for three or four years there was comparative peace. But the murder of Constans in 350 removed the most powerful support of orthodoxy, and Constantius, once he found himself ruler of both West and East, set himself to crush the man he now regarded as a personal enemy. At Arles in 353 he obtained the condemnation of Athanasius from a council of Gallic bishops, who seem to have been kept in ignorance of the importance of the issues. Two years later at Milan he met with more opposition from the Italian bishops, but when with his hand on his sword he gave them their choice between condemnation of Athanasius and exile, by far the greater number yielded. The few stubborn bishops were exiled, including the new Pope Liberius. He was sent into isolation in Thrace until, broken in body and spirit, he too gave his consent to the Arian decrees. Athanasius held on for another year with the support of his own clergy and people. Then one night, as he was celebrating a vigil in the church of St. Thomas, soldiers broke in. Athanasius was instantly surrounded by his people, who swept him out into the safety of darkness; but for six years thereafter he had to live in hiding. His abounding energy now expressed itself in literary composition, and to this period are ascribed his chief writings, including a , three letters to Serapion, a defense of his position to Constantius, and a treatise on the synods of Rimini and Seleucia.
The death of Constantius in 361 was followed by another shift in the situation. The new emperor, Julian, a pagan, revoked the sentences of banishment enacted by his predecessors, and Athanasius returned once again to his own city. But it was only for a few months. Julian's plans for a reconquest of the Christian world could make little headway as long as the champion of the Catholic faith ruled in Egypt; he also considered it necessary to banish Athanasius from Alexandria as "a disturber of the peace and an enemy of the gods." During this fourth exile, he seems to have explored the entire Thebaid. He was in Antinopolis when two hermits informed him of the death of Julian, who, it was later ascertained, at that moment was expiring in distant Persia, slain by an enemy's arrow.
The new emperor, Jovian, a soldier of Catholic sympathies, revoked the sentence of banishment and invited Athanasius to Antioch, to expound the doctrine of the Trinity. Jovian's reign lasted only a year, and his successor in the East, Valens, succumbed to Arian pressure in Constantinople and in May, 365, issued an order banishing again all orthodox bishops who had been exiled by Constantius and restored by his successors. Once more the worn and aged prelate was forced to flee. The ecclesiastical historian, Socrates, tells us that Athanasius hid himself this time in his father's tomb, but a better- informed writer says that he spent the months in a villa in a suburb of Alexandria. Four months later Valens revoked his edict, fearing possibly a rising of the Egyptians, who were determined to accept no other man as bishop. Joyfully they escorted him back. Athanasius had spent seventeen years in exile, but his last years were peaceful. He died in Alexandria on May 2, 373. His body was twice removed, first to Constantinople, and then to Venice.
While the theological controversies which marked this period may seem both complex and remote, they were an important milestone in the history of the Church, Athanasius rendering an outstanding service. The statement of Christian doctrine known as the Athanasian Creed was probably composed during his life, but not actually by him. In his works there is deep spiritual feeling and understanding, and as Cardinal Newman said, he stands as "a principal instrument after the Apostles by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world."


No comments: