Friday, August 24, 2012


Vatican Radio report" Preparations for the Pope's upcoming visit to the country continue. The visit is scheduled to take place from September 14 to 16 – and the sense of anticipation among the Lebanese Christian community is strong. The General Treasurer of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Lebanon, Msgr. George Masri, told Vatican Radio the Holy Father's visit is an event of hope for the whole Church, especially for his community, which constitutes a small minority who, he says, "live their witness with blood."

“We are,” he continued, “a Church of martyrs - but at the same time we are a minority living through trust and hope in Jesus Christ.”

Asked about the impact the Pope's visit might have on dialogue among Christians and Muslims in the broader region, Msgr. Masri said that, although “dogmatic” dialogue is difficult, “The Holy Father gives confidence and courage,” that help Lebanese Christians to conduct what he calls a “living dialogue,” with their Muslim neighbours. “We have great hopes for the visit of the Holy Father,” he said, “and we are preparing, Christians and Muslims, in this great event. We hope that the dialogue between us and our Muslim brothers can remain a dialogue of true coexistence.”


Given recent comment by Conservative representative Todd Akin, a Pro-Life Speaker, Rebecca Kiessling was interviewed on CNNs "Piers Morgan". Kiessling survived 2 abortions after her mother was violently raped.
Todd Akin is running in Missouri and made some controversial comments on August 19, 2012 concerning rape. He was asked by a interviewer from a St. Louis TV Station whether women who have been raped should be allowed to have an abortion.
Akin replied:

Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice the particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare, If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
The Piers Morgan directly addressed this controvery by inviting Kiessling and Allred both conceived in rape. Kiessling is an attorney and was interviewed with Gloria Allred another attorney.
Kiessling noted, “Modern America doesn’t allow us to kill a rapist or even a child molester. The Supreme Court has said that they did not deserve the death penalty. And I don’t believe that I or any other child similarly situated deserve the death penalty for the crimes of our fathers.”
“You talk about how much you care about women. Well, what good is my right to anything as a woman if I don’t have my right to life?” asked Kiessling.
“Rape victims are four times more likely to die within the next year after (they have had an) abortion, from suicide, murder, drug overdose, etc.” Kiessling in reference to the victimised women, said “I want to protect them from the rapist,” , “and from the abortion, not the baby. A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim — an abortion is. We need to educate the American public on the truth in this matter and not make public policy based on myth and misinformation.”


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
24 Aug 2012

Rebel fighters in Syria now include militias backed by Al Qaeda and Islam jihadists
Syria's civil war is now in danger of becoming an Islamic Jihad with Christians increasingly the target for out-of-control foreign militias," says the spiritual director to Sydney's 400-strong Syrian Catholic community. Afraid to give his name which could put his family in Syria at risk, he says communication with loved ones is now virtually impossible and the community has grave fears for their safety.
"Until two weeks ago I was able to reach my family via mobile phone. But the connection is now broken. It's the same with the internet. We no longer know the fate of those we love," he says.
In Homs, Qusair and other cities, Christians have been massacred, their churches burned and family members kidnapped for ransom by rebel militia jihadists.
A number of church leaders around the globe are on record saying Syria's revolution is being hi-jacked by extremist groups such as Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Islam's even more hardline fundamentalists, the Salafists.
Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly called for peace in Syria but what began as a non-violent rebellion in March 2011 has descended into a bloodbath of horror with reports of appalling atrocities not only by President Assad's army but by rebel militias as well.

Sydney's Syrian community shocked at the devastation of their homeland
"My father's cousin has been shot and killed by jihadist rebels and my brother was recently captured and held for ransom," says Sydney's Syrian Catholic community's spiritual director.
The rebellion led by Syria's Sunni Muslim majority against President Assad's Muslim Alawite minority has become increasingly radicalised as foreign Islamic extremists infiltrate the freedom fighter armies or simply enter Syria as rag tag but well armed militias.
Although Christianity in Syria dates back 2000 years, 90% of Syria's population of 23 million today is made up of Muslims with Christians accounting for just 9% of which 500,000 are Catholics.
While Syria's initial protests were non-violent and sectarian with demands of freedom and democracy for all, the nation descended into chaos and violence as a result of Assad's brutal and merciless crackdown. Using his army against his own citizens, Assad's actions horrified the world.
But over the past year mercenaries from the Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Libya and Iraq have entered the country and changed demands for democracy to demands for Islamic rule and Sharia law. These militias are financed and armed in a large part by the Sunni regime of Saudia Arabia and are taking advantage of Syria's turmoil to create a jihadist Holy War against Assad's Alawite minority and the nation's Christians.

Christian church bombed as violence in Syria escalates
In the Hamidieh area of the country, all 138,000 Christians have been forced to flee to Damascus or Lebanon, or take refuge by hiding in the hills in the surrounding countryside, he says. In Homs, the Church of mar Elian is half destroyed and Our Lady of Peace Cathedral is occupied by rebels.
French priest, Father Philip Tournyol Clos, a Greek Catholic Melkite recently visited Syria calls Homs "the martyred city" and says fanatical Sunni extremists have turned the rebellion into a Holy War with Christians increasingly in danger.
In Aleppo and Damascus are now under relentless attack from both sides, Christians yet again being forced to flee.
"What we saw in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya is now happening in Syria with Muslim extremists determined taking over," says the spiritual director. "Two or three years ago Christians were forced to flee Iraq for the safety of Syria because their homes, businesses and churches were being bombed. Now the same thing is happening all over again and they are being forced to flee Syria as well."
He has no doubt that what is happening to Christians in Syria from the foreign jihadists is "ethnic cleansing" and militant Muslims want Christians purged from the Middle East.
For Sydney's Syrian community it is agonising to watching TV footage of Syrian violence and the escalating civil war which has claimed thousands of lives and left thousands more homeless.

Civil War in Syria has led to persecution and slaughter of Christians
"Two years ago everyone lived in peace and harmony whether they were Sunnis, Alawites or Christians. There were good schools and universities and compared to most other countries in the Middle East, Syria was doing well. We even had fibre optic cable and broadband. But now that has all gone. Schools have been bombed or have closed. Poverty has become common and for the first time in living memory in Syria, people are dying of hunger."
For those who manage to escape, life is difficult as Syrian Christians scramble to survive in the sprawling refugee camps of Jordan or try to find somewhere safe to live in Lebanon.
"In Jordan, Christians are being attacked in the refugee camps by the Sunnis who accuse Christians of being 'unbelievers.' While there is less danger of persecution, in Lebanon, life there is expensive and many who have been forced to flee, just don't have the money," he says.
Each week, Sydney's Syrian Catholic Community gather at St Mary's Catholic Church, Concord to pray for their families and for Syria's agony. Each week they also contribute funds to help those caught up in the civil war or in refugee camps.
"We send the money direct to the Church in Syria and in Lebanon to make sure it gets to the people who need the most help," he says.


by Jibran Khan
Muslim leader: no one can desecrate the Koran. And the faithful in the mosque call for the application of the "black law". Appeal of Bishop of Islamabad for unity among Christians "around the child." APMA lawyer speaks of "delicate matter" but is optimistic to have "good news soon." Families forced to flee denounce their abandonment by government.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - If guilty of blasphemy, the child should be punished according to the laws of the country. This is a widespread view among Muslims in Pakistan, whether laymen or religious leaders, regarding the tragedy of an 11 year old Christian girl who is disabled and was recently charged under the "black law". To date the child is being detained under lock and key in a reform school - pending a full hearing for release on bail - for desecrating a few pages of a book that conatined verses from the Koran (see AsiaNews 19/08/2012 An 11-year-old disabled Christian girl arrested for blasphemy, 300 families flee). Interviewed by AsiaNews on the issue scholar Mehmood Ahmed Khan, a member of the Islamic Ideology Council (IIc), said that "Rimsha is a minor, but if she is mentally stable and committed the crime, child or not she should be punished." He adds, "no one can be allowed to desecrate the Koran."

Several human rights organizations, including the Masihi Foundation and Life for All, along with the Catholic Church of Pakistan have announced a demonstration tomorrow in Lahore on August 25, demanding the release of Rimsha Masih - this is the name of the girl, arrested on blasphemy charges - and who faces up to life in prison. The incident occurred on August 17 in Umara Jaffar, G-12 Islamabad, where the family of the minor live. In response, a mob of local Muslims - egged on by the imams - attacked the Christian community, forcing hundreds of families to flee.

Bishop Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi has launched a call: "it is time for the entire Christian community to unite and string around the child. Sunday - adds the prelate - our voices will be heard in support thereof." Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) has appointed parliamentarian Tahir Naveed Chaudhry lawyer to Rimsha. He assures us that "we will defend the rights of the oppressed" and has prepared "a panel of experts to plead the case." It is a "delicate matter," says the lawyer, but he is optimistic and promises "good news soon."

However, sources say that the APMA lawyer was not allowed meet the child in prison. Now the goal is to get her out of jail and put it in a safe place, since the vast majority of blasphemy deaths are the result of extra-judicial killings, even in prison under the gaze of guards (see AsiaNews 17/09 / 2009 Punjab: young Christian man accused of blasphemy killed in prison). The Christian NGO World Vision in Progress has filed an appeal for bail, which will be discussed on 28 August.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Christian families forced to flee in fear of extremist attacks, accuse the government of neglect and disinterest, despite government proclamations in recent days that ensured comfort and help. Islamabad has announced the distribution of food aid, but so far "has not done anything," says a witness. There is a climate of "insecurity" among the people and they do not "trust to return to their homes." Meanwhile, the police have opened an investigation against 150 people suspected of the assault on the Christian Quarter of the capital when word got out of the blasphemy case.

Among the Muslims of Islamabad feelings toward the religious minority are mixed: some are willing to "accept" the return of the Christians in their homes, others do not. But on one point I agree the faithful who flock to mosques around the capital: if the girl is guilty, "to be punished according to law." No discounts or extenuating circumstances.



Agenzia Fides REPORT - "In Australia and New Zealand Churches struggle to cope with the influence of secularism. But with the development of technology and communication information, even in other Pacific countries, such as Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, one realizes that the challenge is the same: reaching with the Gospel the verandas of our humble homes in rural areas": This is what is said in a message sent to Fides Agency by His Exc. Mgr. Rochus Tatamai, MSC, Bishop of Berlina, at the conclusion of the Episcopal Council of the Federation of Bishops of Oceania, held in the past few days in Paita, New Caledonia. The meetings of the Council, made up of eight Bishops, are in view of the General Assembly of the Federation of Episcopal Conferences of Oceania to be held in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2014.
In the meeting, which has just concluded, the Bishops faced the issue in order to better prepare the different communities of the faithful of Oceania for the Year of Faith (11 October 2012 - 24 November 2013), bringing attention to the challenges of the "new evangelization," according to Pope Benedict XVI’s recommendations.
The meeting took stock of the cooperation and sharing among the Churches in different countries of Oceania, noting that efforts in this direction are underway, such as the exchange of professors among Seminars. Among other issues faced, the possibility of an insurance coverage for priests working in the diocese and for the care of their personal health.
The Federation of Bishops of Oceania consists of four Episcopal Conferences: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea-Solomon Islands, and CEPAC, which includes all other nations and small islands in the Pacific, such as Fiji, Tonga, Guam, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Vanuatu. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 23/08/2012)


ANGOLA PRESS REPORT: Ndalatando — The bishop of Ndalatando Diocese, in Kwanza Norte Province, Almeida Kanda, reiterated this Thursday his appeal to the citizens of the region to abstain from every kind of physical or verbal violence, during the electoral process.
The preacher stressed in an interview to ANGOP, that his appeal aims at giving a contribution, so that the electoral process be organised with success.
Bishop Almeida Kanda said the Catholic Church calls for broad participation of all citizens in the general elections scheduled for August 31 in order to contribute to the process, avoiding all sorts of verbal or physical violence.
It also called on voters to respect the symbols of all parties.


Feast Day:
August 24
1st century AD, Iudaea Province (Palaestina)
1st century AD, Armenia
Major Shrine:
Bartholomew-on-the-Tiber Church, Rome, the Canterbury Cathedral, cathedral in Frankfurt, and the San Bartolomeo Cathedral in Lipari
Patron of:
Armenia; bookbinders; butchers; cobblers; Florentine cheese merchants; Florentine salt merchants; leather workers; nervous diseases; neurological diseases; plasterers; shoemakers; tanners; trappers; twitching; whiteners
One of the Twelve Apostles, mentioned sixth in the three Gospel lists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14), and seventh in the list of Acts (1:13).
The name (Bartholomaios) means "son of Talmai" (or Tholmai) which was an ancient Hebrew name, borne, e.g. by the King of Gessur whose daughter was a wife of David (2 Samuel 3:3). It shows, at least, that Bartholomew was of Hebrew descent; it may have been his genuine proper name or simply added to distinguish him as the son of Talmai. Outside the instances referred to, no other mention of the name occurs in the New Testament.
Nothing further is known of him for certain. Many scholars, however, identify him with Nathaniel (John 1:45-51; 21:2). The reasons for this are that Bartholomew is not the proper name of the Apostle; that the name never occurs in the Fourth Gospel, while Nathaniel is not mentioned in the synoptics; that Bartholomew's name is coupled with Philip's in the lists of Matthew and Luke, and found next to it in Mark, which agrees well with the fact shown by St. John that Philip was an old friend of Nathaniel's and brought him to Jesus; that the call of Nathaniel, mentioned with the call of several Apostles, seems to mark him for the apostolate, especially since the rather full and beautiful narrative leads one to expect some important development; that Nathaniel was of Galilee where Jesus found most, if not all, of the Twelve; finally, that on the occasion of the appearance of the risen Savior on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, Nathaniel is found present, together with several Apostles who are named and two unnamed Disciples who were, almost certainly, likewise Apostles (the word "apostle" not occurring in the Fourth Gospel and "disciple" of Jesus ordinarily meaning Apostle) and so, presumably, was one of the Twelve. This chain of circumstantial evidence is ingenious and pretty strong; the weak link is that, after all, Nathaniel may have been another personage in whom, for some reason, the author of the Fourth Gospel may have been particularly interested, as he was in Nicodemus, who is likewise not named in the synoptics.
No mention of St. Bartholomew occurs in ecclesiastical literature before Eusebius, who mentions that Pantaenus, the master of Origen, while evangelizing India, was told that the Apostle had preached there before him and had given to his converts the Gospel of St. Matthew written in Hebrew, which was still treasured by the Church. "India" was a name covering a very wide area, including even Arabia Felix. Other traditions represent St. Bartholomew as preaching in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Armenia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and on the shores of the Black Sea; one legend, it is interesting to note, identifies him with Nathaniel.
The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia, is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. On account of this latter legend, he is often represented in art (e.g. in Michelangelo's Last Judgment) as flayed and holding in his hand his own skin. His relics are thought by some to be preserved in the church of St. Bartholomew-in-the-Island, at Rome. His feast is celebrated on 24 August. An apocryphal gospel of Bartholomew existed in the early ages.
source EWTN

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