Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Vatican City, 25 June 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the document "Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry". The conference was presented by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski; Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P., and Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, respectively prefect, secretary and under secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The cardinal explained that the document had been requested during the plenary of the congregation in 2005. Preparation began in 2008 on the basis of replies and suggestions from the various episcopal conferences, and the final text was approved by the Holy Father on 25 March 2012, twentieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores dabo vobis".
The document is divided into three parts, of which the first examines the current situation of priestly vocations in the world today, and the relevant forms of pastoral care. Part two analyses the identity of the ministerial priesthood, while part three makes some suggestions for the pastoral care of vocations. The key to understanding the text, the cardinal said, lies in the idea that "fostering vocations to the priesthood is a constant challenge for the Church".
Part one of the document identifies three factors which hinder vocational pastoral care, evident above all in Churches of ancient Christian tradition in the west: falling birthrates and the crisis in families, the spread of a secularised mentality, and the difficult conditions in which priests live and exercise their ministry.
"In the light of those difficulties", said Cardinal Grocholewski, the document "lays down the conditions necessary to ensure that the grace of the call finds fertile terrain in the Church, and openness among young people to the priestly vocation". This includes "creating a fruitful soil for Christian life in the ecclesial community; ... the irreplaceable function of prayer; ... the importance of integrated pastoral care; ... a new drive to evangelisation and the mission; ... the central role of the family; ... a coherent and joyful witness of life on the part of priests; ... the educational effectiveness of voluntary work; ... and the importance of schools and universities".
For his part Archbishop Brugues explained that part two of the document covers certain specific elements which, he said, "must be highlighted, precisely because they are being threatened or put in the shade and set aside by the well-known difficulties in Church life and by contemporary culture. This risks provoking dangerous deviations in the value of vocations to priestly ministry".
These elements include "a tendency towards the progressive transformation of the priesthood into a profession". This can be associated with "the danger of exaggerated activism, an increasing individualism which not infrequently closes priests in a perverse and depressing solitude, and the confusion of roles in the Church which comes about when we lose the sense of distinction between roles and responsibilities, and not everyone comes together to collaborate in the one mission entrusted to the People of God".
Part two also emphasises the fact that priestly ministry is to be understood "in the framework of a dialogue of love between God and man which, though it exists in all Christian vocations, assumes the characteristic of a call to a typical, stable and demanding relationship with Jesus Himself, the one model of the priesthood in the New Testament. ... This new and specific relationship with Jesus causes the person called to enter into an equally new and specific relationship with the Christian community".
Finally, part three of the document focuses on certain aspects of formation for the priestly ministry. These include "a profound experience of community life in order to avoid new forms of clericalism; ... complete integration and emotional maturity; ... intense and obedient participation in the ecclesiastical context, with concrete love for one's own particular Church; ... generous openness to the universal dimensions of the mission; ... the decisive role of those who accompany vocations and ... the presentation of exemplary figures of priests".
The conference ended with some words from Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, who explained how the text "reiterates the fact that a fruitful terrain for vocations is a Christian community which listens to the Word, prays with the liturgy, and demonstrates charity. The document calls the entire Church trustingly to redouble her efforts to educate people to welcome the call of God to priestly ministry, which still today we believe is spread by His Providence and adapted to the needs of the Church and of the evangelisation of the world".

Vatican City, 24 June 2012 (VIS) - This morning, Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, Benedict XVI made his customary Sunday appearance at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.
"With the exception of the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist is the only saint for whom the liturgy celebrates the day of birth", said the Pope. "This is because his birth is closely connected to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. From the womb, in fact, John was the precursor of Jesus. His prodigious conception was announced by the Angel to Mary as a sign that 'nothing will be impossible with God'. ... The four Gospels give great importance to the figure of John the Baptist as the prophet who concluded the Old Testament, then opened the New by indicating Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. And indeed Jesus would speak of John in these terms: 'This is the one about whom it is written: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you'".
"John's father Zechariah", the Holy Father went on, "was a priest of the Old Testament order. He did not immediately believe in such unexpected paternity and was therefore made mute until the day of the child's circumcision". On that day, "moved by the Holy Spirit, Zechariah spoke thus of his son's mission: 'And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins'.
"All this happened thirty years later", Pope Benedict added, "when John began performing baptisms in the River Jordan, calling people to prepare themselves, by that act of penance, to the imminent coming of the Messiah, which God had revealed to him during the period he spent in the wilderness of Judea. For this reason he is called 'Baptist'; in other words 'Baptiser'. When one day Jesus Himself came from Nazareth to be baptised, John at first refused, then consented; he saw the Holy Spirit come to rest upon Jesus, and heard the voice of the heavenly Father proclaiming His Son".
Yet the Baptist's mission was not yet complete. "Shortly afterwards he was asked to precede Jesus also in violent death. John was decapitated in the prisons of King Herod, thus bearing compete witness to the Lamb of God Whom he had been the first to recognise and announce".

Vatican City, 24 June 2012 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father recalled the fact that today in Italy marks the Day of the Pope’s Charity and he thanked parish communities, families and faithful for their "constant and generous support which goes to help so many of our bothers and sisters in difficulty".
In this context he also reminded the faithful that he will make a brief visit to areas recently affected by earthquakes in northern Italy. "I would like this to be", he said, "a sign of the solidarity of the entire Church, and therefore I invite everyone to accompany me with their prayers".
Finally, he also had words of greeting for Polish faithful who, with the archbishop of Poznan, the Oratorian Fathers and pilgrims at the shrine of the Mother of God in Gostyn, are celebrating the five hundredth anniversary of its foundation. "Let us thank God", the Pope said, "for the grace which that place has showered upon generations of faithful through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. May her protection accompany you always".

Vatican City, 23 June 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Bologna Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI presided at a meeting of heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

Vatican City, 24 June 2012 (VIS) - Fr. Lombardi has provided journalists with information about meetings the Pope held on Saturday 23 June, first with heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and subsequently with Cardinals George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, and Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
"In the context of the circumstances that have arisen following the publication of reserved documents, the Holy Father is seeking to deepen his knowledge of the situation through continuous dialogue with those people who share with him the responsibility for governing the Church", Fr. Lombardi said.
"Last Saturday, as has already been made public, he became more fully informed on the course of the investigations in a meeting with the Commission of Cardinals responsible for conducting them, led by Cardinal Julian Herranz.
"This morning he is participating in the meeting with heads of dicasteries which, as is customary, is focusing on the issue of coordinating the work of the Roman Curia, something which is particularly important and urgent today in order to bear effective witness to the spirit of union which animates it.
"In the afternoon he has chosen to meet with a number of members of the College of Cardinals who, by virtue of their vast and varied experience serving the Church, not only in Rome but also internationally, may profitably exchange ideas and suggestions with the Holy Father in order to help re-establish that climate of serenity and trust in the service of the Roman Curia.
"Naturally the Holy Father will, over coming days, continue his discussions and reflections, also taking advantage of the fact that many pastors have come to Rome for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which is an extraordinary opportunity for the community of the universal Church to feel united to the Pope in prayer, service, and the witness of faith for mankind in our time".

Vatican City, 24 June 2012 (VIS) - The American journalist Gregory Burke, who is currently Rome correspondent for Fox News, will shortly take up the post of "communications advisor" to the Secretariat of State, according to an announcement made by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J.
"This new figure", Fr. Lombardi explained, "will have the task of dealing with communications issues in the work of the Secretariat of State, and will oversee relations with the Holy See Press Office and other media institutions of the Holy See".
Vatican City, 25 June 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Fra' Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, accompanied by an entourage.
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- Cardinal Jose Manuel Estepa Llaurens, archbishop military ordinary emeritus of Spain.
On Saturday 23 June he received in audience: Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, and Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Vatican City, 25 June 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Pius Riana Prapdi, vicar general of the archdiocese of Semarang, Indonesia, as bishop of Ketapang (area 34,600, population 543,314, Catholics 101,593, priests 30, religious 91), Indonesia. The bishop-elect was born in Painiai, Indonesia in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1995. He studied in Rome and has worked, among other things, in pastoral care and as director of diocesan Caritas. He succeeds Bishop Blasius Pujaraharja, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
On Saturday 23 June it was made public that he:
- Gave his consent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Melkite Church of Bishop Jean-Abdo Arbach B.C., apostolic exarch for faithful of Greek-Melkite rite resident in Argentina, as metropolitan archbishop of Homs, Hama and Yabroud (Catholics 30,000, priests 19, permanent deacons 1, religious 29), Syria.
- Appointed Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, apostolic nuncio in Kenya and permanent observer to the United Nations Environment and Human Settlements Programs (UNEP and UN-Habitat), as apostolic nuncio to the European Union.
- Appointed as members of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See: Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India, and Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China.


by Bernardo Cervellera
The winning story of two young Koreans of the eighteenth-nineteenth century who loved each other virginally and supported each other until martyrdom. Director Kim Suhyeong: It is a thanksgiving to God for the faith given to Koreans. Today there are Korean missionaries in many countries around the world.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Korean Embassy to the Holy See has made a nice gift to the Italian Catholic community: it has organized the screening of a film about a pair of Korean martyrs, John and Rugalda, who both suffered martyrdom in the early 1800s. The film has a meditative and dramatic pace, with moments of high poetry and high-level photography. The screening took place in Pius X hall, on via della Conciliazione, but the film will also be shown on the Catholic channel TV2000 tonight, June 25, at 9:20 p.m. The work is produced in Korea by the PBC (Pyeonghwa Broadcasting Corporation), linked to the Korean Bishops' Conference.

The Italian title ("Giovanni e Rugalda, due sposi vergini" - "John and Rugalda, two virgin spouses"), doesn't do justice to the work. The theme is not the Church's teaching on premarital sex, but the story of two real people who lived their faith and their vocation to the point of martyrdom. The film proves, if proof were needed, that the Christian tradition and the stories of the martyrs have no end of material to fill entire TV series, without inventing characters who often risk banality.

Focusing on the tastes and traditions of the time (the XVIII - XIX centuries), the film tells the story of John Yu Jung-cheol, 19, and Rugalda Yi Sun-I, 16. Both come from noble and wealthy Christian families; both, after baptism, decide to consecrate themselves to the Lord. But the environment shaped by the Confucian tradition did not allow young people from wealthy families not to marry and have children. So the first foreign priest (Chinese), who raised them in the faith, in agreement with the parents, has them enact a marriage ceremony, while maintaining the covenant to live "as brother and sister."

In a clean but dramatic manner, the work shows the derision that surrounds them, as well as the their travail in the "temptations" (documented also by the letters left by Rugalda). But it is especially in the story of their martyrdom that the film reaches its high points. In 1801 John's family is arrested and sentenced to death. John's father, Augustine, among the early converts in Korea, is quartered in the public square. John and Rugalda, arrested at different times, manage to send each other messages, sustaining each other through their torture and suffering, in the hope of "seeing each other in Paradise."

It should be noted that the two, along with other Korean martyrs, are awaiting approval for their beatification from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Director Kim Suhyeong, present at the screening, told AsiaNews that his work is inspired by the movie "The Mission" by Roland Joffé, set in Latin America. It is meant to be a thanksgiving to God for the gift of faith to Korea, born 200 years ago, without the presence of any missionary. Another thanks is for the growth of Christianity in a hostile environment. "This couple depicted in the movie", he said, "are two out of thousands of faithful who have given their lives". And the third thanks is for the Korean Church: "Now", he concluded, "we have grown to the point of sending missionaries to many other countries around the world. All this faith was born and developed from the testimony of the Korean martyrs."

For more information on John Yu and Rugalda Yi, see.: Various Authors, Sposi e Santi, Dieci profili di santità coniugale, Cantagalli, 2012.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
26 Jun 2012

People must not be made to feel a burden
or that they have a duty to die
Voluntary euthanasia not only requires the will and judgment of the patient but the will and judgement of the doctor who must decide whether they agree with the patient, and that the patient would be better off dead.
"If the doctor can make such a judgement of a competent patient, then the doctor can equally make such a judgment in the case of the incompetent patient," Dr Bernadette Tobin, Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics at St Vincent's Hospital and Reader in Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) warned in her keynote address last week on Ethics and Euthanasia.
The third in ACU's landmark Voice Speaker series, Dr Tobin pointed out that if a person was genuinely exercising autonomy, and not merely yielding to impulse or compulsion, in choosing to kill themselves or to be deliberately killed, they would proceed on the basis that either human life in certain conditions or circumstances retained no intrinsic value or dignity and/or the world be a better place if one's life were intentionally terminated.
"Both judgements are mistaken," she said and added that such judgments held grave implications for the weak and disabled.

Dr Bernadette Tobin
"Every human being is equal precisely in having a human life which is our common humanity, our personhood, our dignity, our intrinsic value. In refusing to violate that life, one respects the human person in the most fundamental and indispensible way," she explained.
This was no less true with regard to the life of a person trapped in an irreversible coma or an irreversibly unresponsive state, Dr Tobin insisted and said the respect for all human persons required that no choice be made to violate that value by terminating that life.
While many advocates of euthanasia claim assisted suicide should only be available on a voluntary basis, mercy killing as it is frequently known, cannot be limited by one's own particular identity and circumstances.
"The very reasoning that leads us to accept euthanasia when it is voluntary commits us to accepting it when it is non-voluntary," Dr Tobin cautioned and explained that the common feature was the judgement that "death may be a benefit."
Advocates of euthanasia underestimated the pressure legalisation of assisted suicide would place on others who would feel compelled to "avail themselves of the practice."

Dr Peter Saul, intensive care
specialist calls euthanasia
a side show and says
he is more interested in
the 95.5% who want to live
"People should not be made to feel they are a burden because they are dependent on others," Dr Tobin said and dismissed British philosopher and committed euthanasia advocate, Baroness Mary Warnock who speaks of people having "a duty to die" and believes those with dementia who have become "a burden to their family or the state" should be among those to receive permission if they elect to die.
"Many are already suffering enough and don't need someone, with the privileged background of Baroness Warnock, breathing down their neck and telling them they shouldn't really be here," Dr Tobin said.
Discussing advances in palliative care and Australia's "serious if not adequate effort to improve the care of people in pain," Dr Tobin admitted that not all people die well.
"Some die badly in pain or discomfort, without the benefits of palliative medicine, lonely, uncared for, with unresolved hostility or resentment to a family member or friend, feeling a burden on others, fearful their life amounted to nothing much, that they could have lived it better," she said and called for doctors to be trained to relieve pain "at least as well as are vets!"
But even in pain and discomfort, few with terminal illnesses opt for "assisted suicide," Dr Tobin said and quoted intensive care specialist at Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital, Dr Peter Saul who regards euthanasia as nothing more than a side show.

Intrinsic value and dignity in every human life
Pointing out that in nations such as the Netherlands where assisted suicide has been legalised, only 0.5% want to be given poisonous overdose, Dr Saul says: "I'm more interested in the 99.5% who want to die well. Let's deprive euthanasia of its oxygen."
After Dr Tobin delivered her keynote address, a panel discussion took place between euthanasia advocate, Dr Philip Nitchske, Professor Margaret O'Connor, the Vivian Bullwinkel Chair in Palliative Nursing at Monash University, Melbourne and Father Frank Brennan, human rights champion and Professor of Law at ACU's Public Policy Institute.
Designed to create public debate on important issues, ACU's quarterly Voice Speaker Series launched in October 2011 with a discussion on the Ethics of War. In March this year the discussion was Refugees and Our Ethical Obligations followed by last week's address and discussion on Ethics and Euthanasia. Details of each in the series can be accessed by logging on to


LOMÉ, June 22, 2012 (CISA)- Fear, shame and deep-rooted cultural traditions continue to marginalize disabled children in Togo, as they are often ridiculed, locked up, hidden and neglected, cutting them off from normal life.
According to Christian Blind Mission (CBM), an international organization to assist the disabled, about 378 thousand children are disabled out of a population of six million inhabitants. In smaller villages, such situations are magnified by the reactions of neighbours forcing the disabled to remain locked in houses to avoid being seen, mocked and insulted for their deformities.
On the occasion of the recent celebration of African Child Day, a warning was launched not to neglect disabled children, discriminate or use violence against them. Few attend school and receive the education they need. Changing entrenched cultural traditions of the country is very difficult, but the families whose children have been helped well know that they should not exclude them from everyday life.
In 2011 the Government of Togo ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and is aware of the difficulties the disabled face. However, it must still determine serious measures to help counter the popular belief. In Africa, between 5 and 10% of children have disabilities, primarily due to genetic causes and complications during childbirth, from diseases such as polio, measles, meningitis and cerebral malaria, as well as for lack of food and poor health care.


Irish priest looks back at ICEC 2012 |  International Eucharistic Congress, Niall Leahy SJ
Niall Leahy SJ found an Irish Catholic community ready to embrace renewal and celebrate their faith at the International Eucharistic Congress 2012 in Dublin. A lot has changed in Ireland in the 80 years that have passed since the country last hosted the Congress, so how did this year’s event reflect the transformation in its host country and in the wider Church?
80 years ago, a fledgling Irish state hosted the International Eucharistic Congress. The black and white images from 1932 show masses of people welcoming church dignitaries enthusiastically and paying public homage to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, present in the Eucharist.
In 2012, Dublin became one of the few cities to have hosted the International Eucharistic Congress more than once. During the intervening years, Ireland has changed in many ways, culturally, socially and economically. Equally, the Second Vatican Council has transformed the Catholic Church's understanding of its own mission and place in the world. With this in mind, as I journeyed through each day of the Congress I was eager to find out how Catholic Christians' way of 'doing Church' in Ireland has evolved over the best part of a century.
To read more of Fr Niall's piece on Thinking Faith see:


Agenzia Fides report - The Catholic Church and the Defensoria del Pueblo have urged the government of Bolivia and the police, whose agents have been asking for a salary increase in the past few days, to speak without taking radical positions, to avoid violence.
The Secretary General of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference (CEB), His Exc. Mgr. Oscar Aparicio, on behalf of the Church launched an "urgent appeal to establish as soon as possible an open and responsible dialogue, to avoid violence that would have unpleasant consequences". "Moreover, no claim, however legitimate it may be, must leave the people defenseless," said Mgr. Aparicio in a statement sent to the international press and to Fides, referring to the measure taken by the police not to patrol the streets, asking higher wages.
Meanwhile Defensoria del Pueblo, declared: "We are concerned about the situation of helplessness in which the population finds itself, in the absence of protection on behalf of the police. We appeal to both sides to seek a solution in the framework of dialogue and peace , avoiding radical and uncompromising positions that prevent peaceful solutions and agreements."
Sergeants, corporals and police forces are in revolt in about 20 units and command centers throughout the country, and have even looted their own offices, a Directorate of Intelligence and Disciplinary Tribunal, one block from the presidential palace in La Paz .
According to the data sent to Fides, the rebels demand a minimum wage of 2,000 bolivianos (about $ 287), the pension with 100% of their salary and the annulment of a law that forbids them to express themselves as public opinion. The Interior Minister Carlos Romero, has responded by saying that the first point is plausible, but has asked for dialogue, and did not say anything about the other two requests. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 26/6/2012)


Matthew 7: 6, 12 - 14
6 "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.
12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.


St. William of Vercelli
Feast: June 25

Feast Day: June 25
Born: 1085 at Vercelli, Italy
Died: 25 June 1142 at Guglietto, Italy
ST. WILLIAM, having lost his father and mother in his infancy, was brought up by his friends in great sentiments of piety; and at fifteen years of age, out of an earnest desire to lead a penitential life, he left Piedmont, his native country, made an austere pilgrimage to St. James's in Galicia, and afterward retired into the kingdom of Naples, where he chose for his abode a desert mountain, and lived in perpetual contemplation and the exercises of most rigorous penitential austerities. Finding himself discovered and his contemplation interrupted, he changed his habitation and settled in a place called Monte-Vergine, situated between Nola and Benevento, in the same kingdom; but his reputation followed him, and he was obliged by two neighboring priests to permit certain fervent persons to live with him and to imitate his ascetic practices. Thus, in 1119, was laid the foundation of the religious congregation called de Monte-Vergine. The Saint died on the 25th of June, 1142.

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

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