Thursday, August 2, 2012


Vatican Radio REPORT Pope Benedict XVI has finished the third volume of Jesus of Nazareth, dedicated to the stories of Jesus’ infancy. A statement from the Press Office of the Holy See explains that this third volume, which is the completion of the previous two, is at present being translated from the original German into several languages – including English.

The statement goes on to express the hope that the new book will be translated contemporaneously into the most-spoken languages. The statement further reports the expectation that all appropriate time will be taken to complete the work of making accurate translations of the Pope’s important and highly anticipated work.

Meanwhile speaking in Introd, Northern Italy, where he is passing a period of rest, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that there may be a new encyclical from the Holy Father in the near future.

It would be the fourth encyclical by Benedict XVI following Deus caritas est in 2005, Spe salvi in 2007 and Caritas in veritate in 2009.


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Clashes occurred in Dahshur, a village 40 km south of Cairo. Tensions triggered by a dispute between a Copt and a Muslim, leaving one person dead. Dozens of Christian homes burned and the local church damaged, defended by some Muslim families until the arrival of the police.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - About 100 Christian families have fled from the village of Dahshur (Giza), 40 km south of Cairo after recent violence between the Coptic and Muslim communities. Yesterday, a group of Muslims set fire to several Christian homes and shops and even tried to set fire to the local church. The police intervened with tear gas. In the clashes 16 people were injured, including 10 officers. The group was returning from the funeral of a Muslim who died during a brawl with some Christians took place on July 27. Sources from Giza Diocese report that Coptic families have now left the village for fear of new attacks. The case of Dahshour is the first serious incident of violence between Christians and Muslims since the election of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The tensions erupted last July 27. The pastor of the parish Mari Gerges (Saint George) in Dahshur, Fr. Takla, says that on that day, Ahmed Ramadan went to Sameh Sami's laundrette (makwagi), to collect his shirts. One short had been accidently burned. At Ahmad's protest, Sameh offered to pay for it and the two made an appointment to meet that evening after iftar meal that breaks the daily fast. Ahmed arrived that the evening, but not alone. He was accompanied by several hundred people, armed with knives, guns and Molotov cocktails.

Sameh closed his shop and ran into his house for protection, where his father and brother were. The attackers fired shots and launched Molotov cocktails. One of these failed to explode, Sameh through it back at his attackers. Unfortunately it exploded near Mo'adh Hasaballah, who was badly burned. He was brought to a hospital in Cairo.

The crowd went wild. They attacked the family (father and two children) and another Christian, and burned the houses of Christians. Firefighters could not reach the burning houses because of the crowd. Many Christian houses and shops were destroyed.

Meanwhile, yesterday morning Mo'edh died in hospital. A "bearded" (a Muslim brother or a Salafist) warned Christians that in the evening (yesterday), after the funeral, they would return and would burned the church and all Christian homes, killing people at will. Some 120 Christian families fled fearing a massacre.

Meanwhile, Sameh Sami, his father and brother were arrested on charges of "manslaughter". "As usual in Egypt - comments a believer - the victim, a Copt, is put in jail."

22 year-old university student Sayed Hamam from Dahshour, explains that the man's family, law enforcement and the Christian pastor is trying to find a compromise to restore calm in the village. Sayed said that the young employee of the dry cleaner, his father and brother were immediately arrested for illegal possession of explosives and premeditated murder. Five Muslims, believed responsible for violence against the Copts homes, are being hunted by police.

According to the youngman, the violence also erupted due to the inertia of the security forces, which did nothing to stop the fires and looting. The pastor of Dahshour says that the police intervened after almost an hour into the fighting, by which time most of the buildings were burned and Christian families fled.

The Egyptian police are often accused of not intervening or complicity with Muslim violence. A video posted some time ago on Youtube demonstrates an attack on a church in Aswan (see: 05/10/2011 Attacks against Coptic churches, part of a plan to expel Egypt's Christians). The video shows the violence of Muslims and the impotence of the police (for the video click here).



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
30 Jul 2012

Carers Alliance Accuse Julia Gillard and
Wayne Swan of playing politics with NDIS
For the 400,000 Australians with significant disabilities there is ongoing concern over the Government's proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and its refusal to address how the $15 billion per year scheme will be funded when introduced or how those with disabilities will be assessed.
"The past week has been a roller coaster of emotions but the overall feeling is disappointment that the Government is so determined to rush ahead with trials that are unrepresentative and cannot deliver the across-the-board data needed," says Maree Buckwalter, President of the Carers Alliance and mother of a severely disabled 26-year-old son who needs 24 hour care.
The Productivity Commission's 2011 Report recommended the Commonwealth be sole funder and administrator of the scheme to prevent duplication and blame game politics.

But as Maree points out, the blame game has already started at the trial stage long before the scheme is even up and running. She cites last week's argy bargy with the Prime Minister accusing the Liberal states of not caring about the disabled when their Premiers argued they did not have the extra funds to invest in trials for the NDIS.
The day after the COAG meeting last Wednesday, instead of negotiating further, PM Julia Gillard announced the trials would take place in Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT even though one of these trials was limited to children under 7 with disabilities, another to young people between 12 and 18. The ACT was also included but only had a limited number of people with disabilities.
Disabled on roller coaster ride as Federal and
State Govts argue over funding of NDIS
"The whole point of the trials was to test how the scheme would ultimately work on people of all ages and all disabilities, with a trial of 10,000 beginning in July 2013 and expanded to include 20,000 the following year," Maree says and dismissed the trials agreed to by the Government last week as skewed, rushed and a "waste of money."
Late on Friday, 27 July, NSW and Victoria announced their governments would help fund trials to test the cost and effectiveness of a future NDIS and to iron out flaws. However the funding comes with conditions.
The NSW had already put well over $500 million on the table for the trials but were asked to contribute a further $70 million by the Prime Minister. Finally after two days of discussions, the NSW Government agreed to put a further $35 million towards the trials, half the additional amount the PM requested/
Andrew Constance, NSW Minister for Disabilities said the state government was funding 60 percent of the cost of the NSW trial but made it clear no additional money for blow-outs and shortfalls would be made available.
"This is it," he said.
Maree Buckwalter, President
of the Carers Alliance
Julia Gillard responded saying this was a victory for the disabled and progress toward agreements with the two states. However she has not yet accepted the offers which would cover $20,779 per person involved in the trials. With the overall cost estimated at around $36,000 per person, the Commonwealth looks set to make up the shortfall.
However the Government's commitment of just under $1 billion over four years to the NDIS, or just $250 million per year to set up the scheme and oversee the trials, falls far short of the Productivity Commission's recommendation of $600 million per year or $3.9 billion for the entire cost of the trials.

The Federal Government is also rushing ahead with the trials which under the Productivity Commission blueprint should begin in 2014, after the completion of "getting agreement on the scheme, planning details of the scheme, setting up legislation, and bedding down administrative arrangements."
NDIS funding needs certainty so significantly
disabled can receive individually tailored support
"But Julia Gillard is not concerned with how the scheme will be implemented, how it will be funded and who and how the severely dependent disabled will be assessed," Maree says and takes issue with the Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swans accusations that the states are playing politics over the NDIS.
"With the trials being rushed forward and set to begin just before next year's Federal election, the PM and her Government are the ones playing politics," she insists.
As the mother and full-time carer of a significantly disabled son, Maree is disappointed and upset at the way the NDIS is being handled.
"The Gillard Government is making a hash of it with insufficient and non representative trials, no surety of funding and no details of how the scheme will operate or how the disabled will be assessed," she says and accuses the rush to begin trials a year earlier than recommended by the Productivity Commission as "a publicity stunt" by the Prime Minister in a "bid to take ownership of an NDIS without paying up and doing the hard yards."


UCAN REPORT: One person injured in 'low intensity' explosions, terrorism not ruled out reporter, Pune
August 2, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Bomb blasts put 14 states on terror alert
One of the blast sites in Pune
Fourteen states have been placed on high alert after a series of bomb blasts yesterday rocked Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra state.
“There were a total of four bomb blasts within 30 to 40 minutes,” Pune’s police commissioner Gulabrao Rao Pol told
He said the blasts spread panic among Pune’s five million residents, who still vividly remember the killing of 17 people by a terrorist bombing two years ago.
However, Pol ruled out a terror link in the latest blasts.
“This is not an act of terror but rather mischief-making to create panic among the citizens,” he said.
Television reports described the blasts as “low intensity.”
But federal Home Secretary R K Singh contradicted the commissioner, saying a terror angle could not be ruled out as the blasts looked planned and coordinated.
The Home Ministry has since put 14 states, including Delhi, on high alert. Security has been tightened in New Delhi, the capital, and in Mumbai, the country’s financial hub.
Security forces have been briefed to pay particular attention to crowded places like markets and train stations, as they have been targets for previous bomb attacks.
The blasts occurred on the day that India’s newly appointed Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, was due to attend a function in Pune. The minister, a native of Maharashtra, had canceled the engagement at the last minute.
Commissioner Pol said the first blast occurred at around 7:30 pm on Pune’s JM Road. Dotted with shopping malls and eateries, the area attracts large crowds at this time of the evening. Bipin Patole, who lives on JM Road, told that he saw a bomb exploding “like a firecracker” just outside his home.
The commissioner reported that only one person was injured in the blasts after he picked up a plastic bag containing explosives by mistake. He added that a fifth bomb outside a petrol station was diffused, averting a potential disaster.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Commission of Social and Indigenous Pastoral of the Diocese of Comodoro Rivadavia, in Patagonia in southern Argentina, expressed its concern about a mining project recently presented by the provincial authority. The letter points out that: "As members of the Church of Chubut, along with other social protagonists for years have been sharing the same deep concern for the political mining in our province. Our voice is united and integrated with other voices who feel the same concern and have the same desire for a development that needs to be human, integral, fair and sustainable for the people of our province. And from our point of view, Christian and civic, we face this challenge that transcends the merely religious character. No aspect can be left out, because it affects all dimensions of the human being."
The statement recalls the rights of communities, stressing that these projects "alter their habitat and endanger their main resources, namely, the breeding of animals." Shortly after the document insists on the fact "that one cannot conceive the idea of progress and development with the depletion of human and natural resources, it threatens the lives of future generations." The document concludes that "the province could offer an alternative proposal of integral development, based on an ethic that considers the responsibility towards the natural and human ecology." (CE) (Agenzia Fides 02/08/2012)
The original text (in Spanish):


Luke 1: 26 - 33
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!"
29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."


Our Lady of the Angels of Portiuncula
Feast: August 2

Feast Day: August 2
A town and parish situated about three-quarters of a mile from Assisi. The town, numbering about 2000 inhabitants and officially known as Santa Maria degli Angeli, has grown up around the church (basilica) of Our Lady of the Angels and the adjoining Franciscan monastery. It was here that on 24 Feb., 1208, St. Francis of Assisi recognized his vocation; here was for the most part his permanent abode, after the Benedictines (of the Cluny Congregation from about 1200) had presented him (about 1211) with the little chapel Portiuncula, i.e. a little portion (of land); here also he died on Saturday, 3 October, 1226. According to a legend, the existence of which can be traced back with certainty only to 1645, the little chapel of Portiuncula was erected under Pope Liberius (352-66) by hermits from the Valley of Josaphat, who had brought thither relics from the grave of the Blessed Virgin. The same legend relates that the chapel passed into the possession of St. Benedict in 516. It was known as Our Lady of the Valley of Josaphat or of the Angels -- the latter title referring, according to some, to Our Lady's ascent into heaven accompanied by angels (Assumption B.M.V.); a better founded opinion attributes the name to the singing of angels which had been frequently heard there. However this may be, here or in this neighbourhood was the cradle of the Franciscan Order, and on his death-bed St. Francis recommended the chapel to the faithful protection and care of his brethren. Concerning the form and plan of the first monastery built near the chapel we have no information, nor is the exact form of the loggia or platforms built round the chapel itself, or of the choir for the brothers built behind it, known. Shortly after 1290, the chapel, which measured only about twenty-two feet by thirteen and a half, became entirely inadequate to accommodate the throngs of pilgrims. The altar piece, an Annunciation, was painted by the priest, Hilarius of Viterbo, in 1393. The monastery was at most the residence, only for a short time, of the ministers-general of the order after St. Francis. In 1415 it first became associated with the Regular Observance, in the care of which it remains to the present day. The buildings, which had been gradually added to, around the shrine were taken down by order of Pius V (1566-72), except the cell in which St. Francis had died, and were replaced by a large basilica in contemporary style. The new edifice was erected over the cell just mentioned and over the Portiuncula chapel, which is situated immediately under the cupola. The basilica, which has three naves and a circle of chapels extending along the entire length of the aisles, was completed (1569-78) according to the plans of Jacob Barozzi, named Vignola (1507-73), assisted by Alessi Galeazzo (1512-72). The Doric order was chosen. The basilica forms a Latin cross 416 feet long by 210 feet wide; above the middle of the transept rises the magnificent cupola, flanked by a single side-tower, the second never having been finished. In the night of 15 March, 1832, the arch of the three naves and of the choir fell in, in consequence of an earthquake, but the cupola escaped with a big crack. Gregory XVI had all restored (1836-40), and on 8 Sept., 1840, the basilica was reconsecrated by Cardinal Lambruschini. By Brief of 11 April, 1909, Pius X raised it to a "patriarchal basilica and papal chapel". The high altar was therefore immediately rebuilt at the expense of the Franciscan province of the Holy Cross (also known as the Saxon province), and a papal throne added. The new altar was solemnly consecrated by Cardinal De Lai on 7 Dec., 1910. Under the bay of the choir, resting against the columns of the cupola, is still preserved the cell in which St. Francis died, while, a little behind the sacristy, is the spot where the saint, during a temptation, is said to have rolled in a briar-bush, which was then changed into thornless roses. During this same night the saint received the Portiuncula Indulgence. The representation of the reception of this Indulgence on the façade of the Portiuncula chapel, the work of Fr. Overbeck (1829), enjoys great celebrity.
The Portiuncula Indulgence could at first be gained only in the Portiuncula chapel between the afternoon of 1 Aug. and sunset on 2 Aug. On 5 Aug., 1480 (or 1481), Sixtus IV extended it to all churches of the first and second orders of St. Francis for Franciscans; on 4 July, 1622, this privilege was further extended by Gregory XV to all the faithful, who, after confession and the reception of Holy Communion, visited such churches on the appointed day. On 12 Oct., 1622, Gregory granted the same privilege to all the churches of the Capuchins; Urban VIII granted it for all churches of the regular Third Order on 13 Jan., 1643, and Clement X for all churches of the Conventuals on 3 Oct., 1670. Later popes extended the privilege to all churches pertaining in any way to the Franciscan Order, even to churches in which the Third Order held its meetings (even parish churches, etc.), provided that there was no Franciscan church in the district, and that such a church was distant over an Italian mile (1000 paces, about 1640 yards). Some districts and countries have been granted special privileges. On 9 July, 1910, Pius X (only, however, for that year) granted the privilege that bishops could appoint any public churches whatsoever for the gaining of the Portiuncula Indulgence, whether on 2 Aug. or the Sunday following (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, II, 1910, 443 sq.; Acta Ord. Frat. Min., XXIX, 1910, 226). This privilege has been renewed for an indefinite time by a decree of the S. Cong. of Indul., 26 March, 1911 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, III, 1911, 233-4). The Indulgence is toties-quoties, that is, it may be gained as often as one wishes (i.e. visits the church); it is also applicable to the souls in purgatory.
While the declarations of the popes have rendered the Portiuncula Indulgence certain and indisputable from the juridico-canonistic standpoint, its historical authenticity (sc. origin from St. Francis) is still a subject of dispute. The controversy arises from the fact that none of the old legends of St. Francis mentions the Indulgence, and no contemporary document or mention of it has down to us. The oldest document dealing with the Indulgence is a notary's deed of 31 October, 1277, in which Blessed Benedict of Arezzo, whom St. Francis himself received into the order, testifies that he had been informed by Brother Masseo, a companion of St. Francis, of the granting of the Indulgence by Honorius III at Perugia. Then follow other testimonies, for example, those of Jacob Cappoli concerning Brother Leo, of Fr. Oddo of Aquasparta, Peter Zalfani, Peter John Olivi (d. 1298, who wrote a scholastic tract in defence of this indulgence about 1279), Blessed John of Laverna (Fermo; d. 1322), Ubertinus of Casale (d. after 1335), Blessed Francis of Fabriano (d. 1322), whose testimony goes back to the year 1268, etc. In addition to these rather curt and concise testimonies there are others which relate all details in connection with the granting of the Indulgence, and were reproduced in numberless books: e.g. the testimony of Michael Bernardi, the letters of Bishop Theobald of Assisi (1296-1329) and of his successor Conrad Andreae (1329-37). All the testimonies were collected by Fr. Francesco Bartholi della Rossa in a special work, "Tractatus de Indulgentia S. Mariae de Portiuncula" (ed. Sabatier, Paris, 1900). In his edition of this work, Sabatier defends the Indulgence, although in his world-famous "Vie de S. François" (Paris, 1894), he had denied its historicity (412 sqq.); he explains the silence of St. Francis and his companions and biographers as due to reasons of discretion etc. Others seek to accord more weight to the later testimonies by accentuating their connection with the first generation of the order; others again find allusions to the Indulgence in the old legends of St. Francis. On the other hand, the opponents regard the gap between 1216 and 1277 as unbridgable, and hold that the grounds brought forward by the defenders to explain this silence had vanished long before the latter date. No new documents have been found recently in favour of the authenticity of the Indulgence.
[Note: The norms and grants of indulgences were completely reformed by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council in his Apostolic Constitution "Indulgentiarum Doctrina" (1967), and the Portiuncula Indulgence was again confirmed at that time. According to the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, the Catholic faithful may gain a plenary indulgence on 2 August (the Portiuncula) or on such other day as designated by the local ordinary for the advantage of the faithful, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Holy Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff), by devoutly visiting the parish church, and there reciting at least the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. The Indulgence applies to the cathedral church of the diocese, and to the co-cathedral church (if there is one), even if they are not parochial, and also to quasi-parochial churches. To gain this, as any plenary indulgence, the faithful must be free from any attachment to sin, even venial sin. Where this entire detachment is wanting, the indulgence is partial.]

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