Sunday, June 24, 2012


RADIO VATICAN REPORT: Vatican Radio - On a sunny June Sunday in Rome, Pope Benedict greeted the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus. June 24th is the feast of Saint John the Baptist and it was on this figure of the Church that the Pope spoke of before the recitation of the Marian Prayer.
"This Sunday, we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, the great saint who prepared the way for our Lord. John was a voice, crying in the wilderness, calling God’s people to repentance. Let us heed his voice today, and make room for the Lord in our hearts."

The Holy Father explained that John’s conception to Mary’s elderly cousin Elizabeth is a sign that “nothing is impossible to God”.

Pope Benedict described John the Baptist as “the forerunner of Jesus, a messenger who prepares the way for the Son of God.

Thirty years later continued the Pope, John begins baptizing people in the Jordan river, hence the name “the Baptist”. He wanted people to repent in preparation for the imminent coming of the Messiah.

God, underlined the Holy Father, had a mission for this great Saint. He was the one to Baptize Jesus and in his own violent death bore witness to the Son of God and was the first to make Jesus known publicly.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict, speaking in Italian, told those gathered he was making a visit on Tuesday to the areas in Northern Italy hit by a recent earthquake. He expressed the solidarity of the whole church with those affected and he invited the faithful to pray for all those in need.



Egypt has elected a new president however, some question the validity of the vote. The first supposedly free election since the revolution ended last week. The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi was elected. It is said that Morsi collected over 13 million votes and his rival Ahmed Shafik had over 12 million. In a breakdown Morsi received under 52% and Shafik over 48% of the vote.
It has been said that, Morsi "represents the older, more conservative wing of the Brotherhood and openly endorses a strict Islamic vision," this according to an official of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The late President Mubarak left office 16 months ago after the revolution in Cairo's Tahrir Square. This latest vote release puts the country's Coptic Christians in fear. This includes 10% of the Egyptian population of 85 million people.
There is anxiety that sharia law will be enforced. It is apparent that some seat were sponsored by political parties; and thus unconstitutionally. This accounts for the 71% majority of the Islamists.
As Egypt passes into a new government it is important for all Christians to keep them in prayer. Prayers for peace, stability and freedom...please keep these people in prayer.
(files from Cath.Online/CNN/blogger)


Viewpoint: Faith and football |  Fabrice Muamba, faith and football

St Luigi Scrosoppi
Are footballers and their fans becoming more religious? The image of players making the sign of the cross as they run out on the pitch, or score a goal, is very familiar. After Bolton's Fabrice Muamba collapsed with a serious heart attack in March, his team mates appealed for prayers, and many attributed his recovery to the thousands of prayers offered in those first crucial hours.
Recently it was announced that a former Manchester United footballer is training to become a priest. Phil Mulryne, once a teammate of Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, has enrolled at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. Mulryne, 34, began his career with the Manchester United youth team in 1994. He joined Norwich in 1999 and later had spells with Ipswich Town, Barnsley, Leyton Orient and Polish side Legia Warsaw.
Faith is an important feature in the lives of many top players. Practicing Catholic players include: Wayne Rooney, Reyes, Gilberto, Cech, Crespo, Del Horno, Duff, Alonso, Morientes, Ronaldo, O'Shea, Luque and Prso - to name but a few.
Most clubs have their own chaplain - Barcelona even has a chapel in their grounds. And all clubs have special Masses said for them throughout tournaments.
In Wroclaw throughout UEFA EURO 2012, the Church of St Elizabeth became a particular place of devotion for fans. Many came to pray for their teams there - and also scaled the 200 steps of the 12th century tower to get a breathtaking view of the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw.
Since 2001, football players have had their own patron saint: St Luigi Scrosoppi. Born in 1804 in Udine, northern Italy, to a very poor family, Fr Luigi devoted his life to working with poor young men and women, establishing many orphanages and schools enabling young people to better themselves by gaining an education and skills. He also encouraged boys to take part in sports and is often depicted in art carrying a football.
On Sunday night, Italy, a Catholic country, narrowly beat England in the quarter final. On Wednesday, the semi-final between two more Catholic countries, Spain and Portugal takes place. It looks as though St Luigi is going to be kept very busy over the next few days.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
22 Jun 2012

Some of the survivors of the latest tragedy. Many still missing
With 90 feared dead after an overloaded vessel carrying an estimated 210 asylum seekers capsized in Indonesian waters 120 km north of Christmas Island, numbers of those drowned in the past 18 months in their bid to reach sanctuary in Australia now stands at 557 but could possibly be far higher.
In December 2010 more than 48 men, women and children were lost when their flimsy boat broke up in high seas after crashing onto the jagged rocks off Christmas Island.
Just under a year later, in November 2011, a further 27 asylum seekers lost their lives off Java. Less than two weeks later another boat capsized off the Java coast. Of the 250 aboard more than 200 drowned.
As well as these four tragedies, there are disturbing and credible reports of two boats - one of which was carrying 105 asylum seekers and the other, 97 - that "disappeared" recently while making the journey from Indonesia to Australia.

More than 48 asylum seekers drowned when their boat
was thrown onto rocks at Christmas Island in 2010
"As well as those two boats, there may well be others we just don't know about," says Fr Jim Carty, coordinator of the Marist Asylum Seeker and Refugee Services.
According to Fr Carty when numbers of asylum seekers such as those who lost their lives on the vessel known as SIEV X during the Howard era when 353 of the 400 on board drowned are added to those who have died on voyages made over the past 18 months, the death toll over the past 12 years would top 1000.
"The decision to get on a boat in order to seek asylum is not made by someone who has any choice," says Fr Maurizio Pettenà, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO). "No one wants to be an asylum seeker. No one wants to risk their life in open waters. But these people are desperate. They know the boat journey is dangerous and they know they're likely to end up in detention, but in their situation, it is often seen as a necessary step in order to secure their long term future."

Fr Jim Carty has worked with
refugees and asylum seekers
for more than 35 years
Fr Pettenà has joined calls for the government and politicians on both sides of the House to explore alternative measures that would allow people who are most at risk and affected directly by conflict and persecution in their homelands to depart in an orderly fashion and be processed here in Australia.
"Australia should explore suitable arrangements with countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka to allow people to escape to safety and by allowing processing in Australia it would take away the need for so many people to put themselves and their lives at the mercy of people smugglers and these dangerous journeys," he says.
Fr Pettanà is convinced the only way to prevent continuing tragedies such as the one that occurred in the waters of Indonesia last night is to increase Australia's humanitarian intake.
"At present the demand for refugee visas far outstrips supply," he says and is encouraged by the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen's pledge to expand the number of those found to be genuine refugees that Australia resettles each year.
But while the Government and Opposition continue to "exploit" asylum seekers to gain political points and refuse to come together to create a bi-partisan, humane and workable policy on the issue, the tragic loss of life of some of the world's most desperate and vulnerable will continue, Fr Carty warns.

Fr Maurizio Pettana says Australia
needs to prevent more tragedies
and urges the Government to explore
alternative measures and policies
"This latest tragedy reveals once again the plight of the 2000-plus asylum seekers and refugees being held in camps, detention centres, compounds and prisons in Indonesia. Many of these people have been found to be genuine refugees by the UNHCR (United Nations Human Rights Commission for Refugees) but having waited year after year in often appalling conditions there is still no guarantee of them finding resettlement," says Ian Rintoul of Australia's Refugee Action Coalition pointing out it is little wonder that with no hope of resettlement, no rights and no opportunity to work legally or for their children to attend school, so many refugees from Indonesia are willing to risk everything including their lives to try and make it to Australia.
For the past decade or more, Indonesia has become a warehouse for thousands of desperate Afganistani, Pakistani, Burmese, Sri Lankan and other refugees. But what few Australians do not realise is that the pitiful conditions many are forced to live in, which include rat-infested dwellings where as many as three and four families bed down in one room, are run by international agencies directly funded by our Government.
Three years ago a report by Australian lawyer, Jesse Taylor revealed the cost of the upkeep for more than 2000 of these refugees was paid for by the Australian Government in an effort to prevent or discourage them from trying to reach Australia by boat.

Nearly 1000 asylum seekers have drowned
or disappeared on their way to Australia
"Despite this being under the Federal Government's own humanitarian plan, in the first three months of this year only 17 of the hundreds if not thousands of refugees held in Indonesia and referred by the UNHCR have been accepted for settlement in Australia," Ian Rintoul reports.
He joins Fr Pettanà, Fr Carty, church leaders and other refugee advocates in calling on both sides of Parliament to develop a workable, humane and fair policy that puts human rights not politics front and centre.
According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 42 million forcibly displaced people in the world today who have fled violence, persecution and conflict.
The 4000 asylum seekers who have managed to reach Australia in the past six months is a very tiny proportion of this number, Ian Rintoul says and urges the Government to expand the number of resident visas granted on humanitarian grounds.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Peruvian Episcopal Conference criticized a bill that proposes to decriminalize sex among minors in Peru: this bill would increase, "libertinism and promiscuity," they said. In a statement sent to Fides Agency, Mgr. Salvador Pineiro, Archbishop of Ayacucho and president of the Episcopal Conference, emphasizes the responsibility of parents in the sex education of children and adolescents, and urges the Peruvian authorities "to have a responsible attitude before the rights of adolescents." The Church has asked to stop this bill because it would lead to "early initiation of sexual activity in children", "it will increase non-responsible fatherhood and abortion," creating "new situations of injustice, exploitation and youth abuse, as well as the loss of values required in the formation of responsible men and women."
The bill, recently approved by the Parliamentary Committee for Women and Families, will have to be presented for vote at the Congress Assembly. The measure modifies a provision of the Penal Code which provides for penalties of up to 30 years in prison for sex between minors of 18 years of age. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 23/6/2012)


by Melani Manel Perera
With the Civil War, the community of Mullikulam (Mannar, Northern Province) has lost everything: homes, properties, land. They can't return to their home village because the Navy wants to build a naval base there. Now the government has placed them in a forest: they sleep on the floor, surrounded by elephants and snakes. They need to build new homes, but they have no tools. Catholic priest: "We are witnessing an intolerable and meaningless discrimination."

Mannar (AsiaNews) - They live in the jungle, on the ground without a roof or a tent over their heads, surrounded by elephants, snakes and other wildlife. There are 145 families, 285 Tamil Catholics from the village of Mullikulam in Mannar District (Northern Province, Sri Lanka). In theory, these people would be among the first groups of civil war refugees (IDPs - Internally Displaced People) to enjoy the resettlement programs promoted by the government. In practice, for more than 20 years they have not had a home, or jobs to be able to survive. A group of people - including two Catholic priests, a Buddhist monk and two members of NGOs - visited the community and said they were "shocked" by the conditions in which these people find themselves. "What crime", said Ven. Buddhiyagama Chandrarathana Thero, "could these people have ever committed, to live like animals?".

The population of Mullikulam

The first settlements in the area of Mullikulam date back to 1800. Tamil and Catholic, the population has always lived from agriculture and artisanal fishing. Thanks to the rainy season, the area is rich in water, which the inhabitants have used for large crops of rice. However, since the start of the conflict - which hit the northeastern provinces of Sri Lanka - the community has lost all political, social, economic, cultural and environmental rights.

The population was forced to leave the village for the first time in 1990. In 2002, with the signing of a peace agreement thanks to the mediation of Norway, the people returned to their villages. But in 2007, when the conflict resumed, the people once more found themselves without anything. "The army", one evacuee, who remains anonymous for reasons of safety, told AsiaNews, "told us to leave all our stuff and not take anything with us. It was only supposed to be for three days, then we would return to our homes. Five years have passed." They were all scattered throughout Thalvuoadu, Valkeipetrankandal, Thalaimannar, Nanattan, Madukkarai and Mannar, while another 400 families are living in their homes.

Why can't we return to our village?

Since 2009, by which time the war was over, many worked to support their cause and to ask that these people be resettled in their homes. Among many others was also the Bishop of Mannar, who together with other bishops of the north went all the way to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The same population has tried in every way to attract the attention of the authorities to their case, but without success. The government has always "justified" their silence on the issue by claiming the need to keep the area a "high security zone." In fact, some say the issue results from a project of the Sri Lankan Navy, which allegedly has chosen to build a new naval base right in the area of Mullikulam. "We will let you use our land", some evacuees have tried to say, "even if it is ours by right. But at least, let us live nearby."

The government's solution

After numerous appeals, peaceful marches and petitions, in February 2012 the Secretary of Defense agreed to visit the people, to find a solution. The reply came from the authorities: "You cannot return to your homes. You will be settled near the village of Mullikulam". That is, in the jungle of Marichchikattu.

"We had no choice", said another community leader, also anonymous, "we no longer wanted to be a burden for all those who have helped us over the years. So, on June 15 we moved to this forest. Our hope is to establish ourselves in the village of Manangkadu. But we have absolutely nothing. After 30 years, we have to rebuild our lives again."

Winifreeda Cross, a fisherwoman, says: "Even today, there is no way to have a peaceful life. There are mosquitoes everywhere that keep us from sleeping at night. Moreover, in the surrounding areas it's full of elephants. We came here because we have decided to sacrifice our lives for the future of our children. But we are afraid. If we don't manage to survive these difficulties, what will we do?".

However, the problems don't "just" concern the jungle. The area where they live now, in fact, belongs to the State Forestry Department. This means that without an official license, people cannot touch the land, neither to build houses, nor to cultivate it.

"There would be fishing", says Francis Joseph, a community leader, "which has always been one of our main activities. The Navy has given us permission to fish in the area. But how can we do this, without equipment? When we were displaced, we had to leave everything."

Hopes for the future

From June 15 until today, the Navy has "built" two bathrooms, and given them a tank of water, enough for the minimum needs of these people. Nothing compared to the real needs of the community. "We need boats", said Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, a human rights activist, "fishing nets, fishing lines, motors, lamps, mosquito nets, dry food rations, kerosene. We are witnessing an intolerable discrimination, because for no reason these people are being prevented from returning to their places of origin."



Jun 24, 2012 - Feast of Birth of John the Baptist

Isaiah 49: 1 - 6
1 Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
4 But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God."
5 And now the LORD says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength --
6 he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Psalms 139: 1 - 3, 13 - 15
1 O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me!
2 Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar.
3 Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
13 For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well;
15 my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.
Acts 13: 22 - 26
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, `I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'
23 Of this man's posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.
24 Before his coming John had preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, `What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.'
26 "Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.
Luke 1: 57 - 66, 80
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son.
58 And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari'ah after his father,
60 but his mother said, "Not so; he shall be called John."
61 And they said to her, "None of your kindred is called by this name."
62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled.
64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.
65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea;
66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.


Birth of St. John the Baptist
Feast: June 24

Feast Day: June 24
THE birth of St. John was foretold by an angel of the Lord to his father, Zachary, who was offering incense in the Temple. It was the office of St. John to prepare the way for Christ, and before he was born into the world he began to live for the Incarnate God. Even in the womb he knew the presence of Jesus and of Mary, and he leaped with joy at the glad coming of the son of man. In his youth he remained hidden, because He for Whom he waited was hidden also. But before Christ's public life began, a divine impulse led St. John into the desert; there, with locusts for his food and haircloth on his skin, in silence and in prayer, he chastened his own soul. Then, as crowds broke in upon his solitude, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come, and gave them the baptism of penance, while they confessed their sins. At last there stood in the crowd One Whom St. John did not know, till a voice within told him that it was his Lord. With the baptism of St. John, Christ began His penance for the sins of His people, and St. John saw the Holy Ghost descend in bodily form upon Him. Then the Saint's work was done. He had but to point his own disciples to the Lamb, he had but to decrease as Christ increased. He saw all men leave him and go after Christ. "I told you," he said, "that I am not the Christ. The friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth because of the Bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled." St. John had been cast into the fortress of Machærus by a worthless tyrant whose crimes be had rebuked, and he was to remain there till he was beheaded, at the will of a girl who danced before this wretched king. In this time of despair, if St. John could have known despair, some of his old disciples visited him. St. John did not speak to them of himself, but he sent them to Christ, that they might see the proofs of His mission. Then the Eternal Truth pronounced the panegyric of the Saint who had lived and breathed for Him alone: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist"

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


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