Wednesday, November 28, 2012






Vatican City, 28 November 2012 (VIS) - "World AIDS Day, a United Nations initiative intended to draw attention to a disease that has caused millions of deaths and tragic human suffering, will fall on 1 December", said the Pope following his catechesis at this morning's general audience. "HIV/AIDS particularly affects the poorest regions of the world, where there is very limited access to effective medicines. My thoughts turn in particular to the large number of children who contract the virus from their mothers each year, despite the treatments which exist to prevent its transmission. I encourage the many initiatives that, within the scope of the ecclesial mission, have been taken in order to eradicate this scourge".
Vatican City, 27 November 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, gave an address at the inaugural ceremony of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna, Austria, yesterday. The centre is an independent organisation, recognised by the United Nations and founded by Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain, to which the Holy See adheres in the role of Founding Observer.
"It is my privilege to bring to this assembly the greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, as well as his prayerful wishes for the success of the activity of this Dialogue Centre", said Cardinal Tauran.
"We are being watched", he continued. "Everyone is expecting from the initiative of His Majesty King Abdullah, supported by the governments of Austria and Spain, with the assistance of the Holy See as founding observer, honesty, vision and credibility.
"This Centre presents another opportunity for open dialogue on many issues, including those related to fundamental human rights, in particular religious freedom in all its aspects, for everybody, for every community, everywhere. In this regard, you will understand that the Holy See is particularly attentive to the fate of Christian communities in countries where such a freedom is not adequately guaranteed. Information, new initiatives, aspirations, and perhaps also failures will be brought to our attention. It then will be the task of the centre - and when possible with the cooperation of other organisations - to verify their authenticity and to act consequently, in order that our contemporaries not be deprived of the light and the resources that religion offers for the happiness of every human being.
"Believers have to work for and to support all that favours the human person in his material, moral and religious aspirations. So three attitudes are required: respect of the other in his/her specificity; mutual objective knowledge of the religious tradition of each other, particularly through education; and collaboration in order that our pilgrimage towards the Truth be realised in freedom and serenity.
"Concluding and quoting Pope Benedict XVI, I would like to assure you of the cooperation of the Catholic Church: 'By her presence, her prayer and her various works of mercy, especially in education and health care, she wishes to give her best to everyone. She wants to be close to those who are in need, near to those who search for God'.
"It is in this spirit of brotherhood and friendship that we have to work!", the cardinal concluded.
Vatican City, 27 November 2012 (VIS) - The following prelates died recently:
- Bishop Aloysius Balina of Shinyanga, Tanzania, on 6 November at the age of 67.
- Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers S.V.D., emeritus of Saint John's-Basseterre, Antigua, on 6 November at the age of 102.
- Bishop Alfons Demming, auxiliary of Munster, Germany, on 31 October at the age of 84.
- Bishop Michel Hrynchyshyn C.SS.R., apostolic exarch for Ukrainian faithful of Byzantine rite resident in France, on 12 November at the age of 83.
- Bishop Luiz Eugenio Perez, emeritus of Jaboticabal, Brazil, on 14 November at the age of 84.
- Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, apostolic nuncio, on 31 October at the age of 75.
- Bishop Patrick Francis Sheehan O.S.A., emeritus of Kano, Nigeria, on 8 November at the age of 80.
- Bishop Patrick Ronald Cooney, emeritus of Gaylord, U.S.A., on 15 October at the age of 78.
- Bishop Rene-Marie Ehouzou C.I.M., of Porto Novo, Benin, on 17 October at the age of 68.
- Bishop Eduardo Herrera Riera, emeritus of Carora, Venezuela, on 27 October at the age of 85.
- Archbishop Henry Ernest Karlen C.M.M., emeritus of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on 28 October at the age of 90.
- Bishop Felix Eugenio Mkhori, emeritus of Lilongwe, Malawi, on 27 October at the age of 81.
- Archbishop George Riashi, emeritus of Tripoli of Lebanon of the Greek-Melkites, Lebanon, on 28 October at the age of 78.
- Bishop Odorico Leovigildo O.F.M., apostolic vicar of Requena, Peru, on 14 October at the age of 100.
- Bishop Jose Agostinhi Sartori O.F.M., emeritus of Palmas-Francisco Beltrao, Brazil, on 6 June at the age of 83.
- Bishop Jean-Pierre Urkia M.E.P., apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos, on 21 December 2011, at the age of 92.
- Bishop Joseph B. Willigers M.H.M., emeritus of Jinja, Uganda, on 30 September at the age of 81.


For Msgr. Mario Zenari, the conflict is likely to fall into oblivion. The dead are no longer news. Yesterday 10 children were killed in a neighborhood south of the capital. The Church is the only remaining institution offering hope and help to the people affected by the bombings, starvation and kidnappings. The invitation to say a prayer for the Syrians in view of Christmas.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - "The violence in Syria is in danger of becoming a forgotten conflict. At first the dead were news. Now the victims are increasing day by day, there is talk of even hundreds killed, but no one says anything, it has become routine. Like all wars, forgetfulness will envelop the Syrian war, too." With this dramatic confession, Msgr. Mario Zenari, the Papal Nuncio in Syria, told AsiaNews of the plight of the people of Damascus, the last town to officially enter the war. "Because of the embargo", he explains, "it is difficult to get humanitarian aid, but in the upcoming season of Advent I invite you all to pray for Syria, to devote a moment of the day to the suffering of these people. Do not let the suffering endured by the Syrians be forgotten."
The prelate said that from the beginning of November, "the humanitarian situation is hell; it has also involved the capital, now transformed into an armored city." The drama is especially acute in the suburbs: Darayya, Qudssaya, Irbin. Here they fight day and night, the bombs have pulverized even the few houses left standing. Yesterday, 76 people died in bombings. Among these were also 10 children struck by a cluster bomb while playing in a soccer field located in a southern district of the capital.
"Several of my employees", said Msgr. Zenari, "have been living in the Nunciature, because they cannot return to their homes, others no longer have a roof and spend the night in basements or in makeshift shelters. The parishes have turned into dormitories. The convents try to offer hospitality to everyone, even in the garden." "But now", continues the nuncio, "with the arrival of displaced people, they are in danger of dying of starvation and the cold. Every day I receive calls from religious and priests who ask me: What can we do for these people?. The Church has made all its spaces available, from the office rooms, to the storerooms, to the very places of worship. However, without external aid and the possibility of a ceasefire, even these efforts are likely to be a small drop in the bucket."
Bishop Zenari confesses that the most common question among the Syrians is: "How long will this war last?".  Since the last attempts in June by Kofi Annan to obtain a ceasefire, the conflict is no longer a temporary emergency, but has become a daily reality that seems endless. "This uncertainty", said the nuncio, "is killing the hope of returning to normality, which adds to the pain for their loved ones killed."
Having recently returned from a trip to Italy, in a short time the prelate witnessed the war's deterioration: "Now the population lives in even more dramatic conditions than a few months ago. To the pain for the bombings, and the vendettas among political and religious groups, there has also been added local crime, which sides with no one. There are hundreds of kidnappings in the country that are wiping out families, not just rich ones, but now even those of the poorest. These criminals by their own admission do not support any political or military faction. They are exploiting the climate of instability for their own interests. The media, unfortunately, does not talk about it, but many families, even here in Damascus, are affected by this scourge, which has made their lives even more painful."
The diplomat explained that there are two types of kidnappings. The first is political and is used by groups on both sides to demand the release of prisoners. The second is motivated by ransom.
This is very common and is forcing the population even to take up public collections to free their loved ones, who often risk of being killed anyway in the general indifference. The Nuncio said that the Church is active also in this field and in all the parishes where there are these cases, committees have been set up to negotiate with the kidnappers. "The Church", he affirms, "is the only real institution that has remained intact in the country, where every State and private body is breaking apart. Everyone turns to her: Christians, Muslims, Alawites and Sunnis. Clergymen, priests, religious men and women often attempt, at the risk of their lives, to bring reconciliation and forgiveness even where it seems impossible."
According to the prelate, we must prevent this war from falling into oblivion.  The West has a duty to inform itself, to try to understand this situation, even if the media and governments are prone to easy answers. Msgr. Zenari clarifies that there is no Arab Spring occurring in Syria, as it has in other Middle Eastern countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya. After a year of riots and demonstrations, too many external factors have entered into this war. The population has no voice and has only one desire: to go back to living. (SC)



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 Nov 2012
Budding artists at opening of last year's children's Christmas Story Exhibition
Judging winners and runners up from among more than 1000 artworks created by Year 5 and Year 6 Catholic school students for the Archdiocese of Sydney's annual children's Christmas Story Art Exhibition was no easy task, says John Charadia, Creative Arts Advisor with the Catholic Education Office (CEO).
"Once we would have had about a dozen real standouts among the 90 paintings and artworks chosen to be part of The Christmas Story Exhibition in the Crypt. But this year each one in the exhibition is a standout," he says.
This year's entries included impressively imagined and well executed artworks using charcoal or acrylics on canvas. Some children showed off their artistic talents with water colours, pastels or coloured pencils while others tried their hand with oils or created rich collage tapestries.
"Because the standard overall is now so high, we introduced a new criteria this year which is possibly best summed up as 'balance'.
"While it is hard to define exactly what this is in words, but both symmetry and asymmetry are key along with the way the child uses his or her imagination, the depth and skill of illustration and the visual impact of the work," John says.
For the judges other equally important criteria include the title chosen for the artwork along with the student's accompanying personal reflection and description of the work and what it means. Although brief, this is a way for the judges to chart the young artist's insight and understanding of their faith, the Scriptures and the true meaning of Christmas.
"As with the artworks, some of these written explanations were outstanding. In fact some were inspiring and so beautiful, they read like prayers," says John who says the children's Christmas Story Exhibition and Competition continues surprise and delight him.
Choosing 93 paintings from 800 entries is no easy task
For the past 10 days, John and fellow judges: artist-teacher and veteran of Sydney's annual Archibald Prize, Les Quick of James Sheehan Catholic High School, Orange; artist-tutor Amanda McPaul-Browne; and Wanda Grein of the Anise Art Consultancy have been surrounded by entries for this year's exhibition and deciding not only on the winners and runners up, but those that deserve highly commended stickers.
They have also had the almost impossible task of choosing just 93 artworks from more than 1000 entries received.
"Each year it seems to become more and more difficult," John says but admits he and the other three judges were all were tremendously excited by the calibre and overall standard of this year's entries both in terms of art and creativity as well as in written expression.
Entries from Year 5 students and Year 6 students are divided into separate categories with each having its own winner, runner up and third-place getter. Each of the two winners receives $400 in high quality art supplies and a lavishly illustrated book on faith and art. The runners up receive $200 of top quality art supplies with third place getters receiving $100 in supplies.
In addition to these awards, there are also three special trophies for the Year 5 and Year 6 budding artists. One is the Spirit of Christmas Award sponsored and judged by Sally McDowell, a leading graphic designer and artist. The second is the Executive Director's Acquisitive Award which is chosen by CEO's Director of Schools, Dr Dan White. The artwork of whichever youngster is awarded this important trophy is "acquired" and for the next five years will be part of the CEO's art collection and on display at the CEO's Lidcombe offices.
The third and most coveted award of all and open to all entrants is the Cardinal's Choice Trophy.
Judges face a difficult task this year from so many outstanding entries
Well-known for his love and knowledge of art, the annual Christmas Story Exhibition was the brainchild of the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell as a way to encourage Catholic youngsters to celebrate Christmas and their faith using their visual as well as written skills.
As he does each year, His Eminence personally decides which entry should receive the Cardinal's Choice Trophy and for several weeks before the Exhibition opens at the St Mary's Cathedral's Crypt on the first Sunday in Advent, he has a selection of the children's artworks displayed at Cathedral House. This way he has time to carefully study and assess each one before making his choice.
Open to students at Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Diocese of Bathurst, the Diocese of Broken Bay and the Diocese of Wollongong, as well as to youngsters in Year 5 and Year 6  Catholic Religious Education Classes at public schools, the Christmas Story Exhibition has become a much-loved tradition.
Trophy winners, finalists, those who are highly commended and all 93 of the artworks that will be on display at the Crypt at St Mary's Cathedral will be announced on Sunday, 2 December, the first day of Advent. This is when every child, their parents, family and friends will gather in the Crypt for the official opening of the exhibition which runs each year from the first Sunday in Advent until Epiphany or Sunday 6 January 2013.
"We believe every child is a winner and on Sunday every child whose artwork is hanging in the Crypt will receive a special certificate signed by His Eminence Cardinal Pell and Dr Dan White," John says.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - "With these elections, conducted in a peaceful and exemplary manner, the people of Sierra Leone confirms the outgoing President. The announcement of the results was not too peaceful and there have been difficulties and protests on behalf of the supporters of the defeated candidate, but the President of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Christiana A.M. Thorpe, gave official publication of the results on November 23," says to Fides Agency Fr. Gerardo Caglioni, Xaverian missionary, commenting on the outcome of the presidential elections in Sierra Leone held on November 17 (see Fides 17/11/2012).
Ernest Bai Koroma was re-elected for a second term of five years, beating in the first round (with 58.7%, that is to say 1,314,881 votes) Julius Maada Bio, 48, of the SLPP (Sierra Leone People's Party ), who obtained 37.4% of the vote. The required majority was 55%. Otherwise a ballot with a second round would have been required.
"In the program of the election campaign of both major candidates, there were promises to build a better Sierra Leone. The APC (All People's Congress) pointed out the improvement carried out compared to the past government and was committed to infrastructure, agriculture, in expectation of life, in international relations and development. The SLPP instead highlighted the good things it had achieved in the past, when it consolidated peace and reaffirmed the authority of the state – immediately after the war between 2002 and 2007 - as well as development, infrastructure, economy and good governance," recalls the missionary.
Fr. Caglione emphasizes, however, "no one has been able to state precisely how they intended to find the resources to fully realize the good programs presented. This applies in particular to the party that has just won the election. One consideration that could weigh heavily on the future of the Country, if we consider that many promises are not always fully maintained or perhaps often circumvented. "
"I remember - adds Fr. Caglioni - that in the past, Sierra Leone was called the Athens of West Africa, which is now one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. It occupies the 180th place out of 187 in the scale of developed countries. Poverty covers 78% of the population and its residents have a per capita income of $ 1.25 per day. As regards to infant mortality it occupies the 12th place among the highest in the world. One in eight women dies in childbirth and the last cholera epidemic claimed 259 victims."
On the other hand, education does not improve as expected, public transport and electricity do not cover much of the national territory. Drinking water is not always available. The extraction of precious minerals (such as rutile, diamonds and precious stones, bauxite, gold and iron) and the recent oil exploration – of good quality – do not promise to greatly improve the quality of life of population.
"The global economy leaves some doubt on the future cooperation (with the West or the Chinese?) And new partners do not always convince the people of Sierra Leone. Not always their interest and placement in the international market corresponds for the good and the desire for progress in Sierra Leone," concludes Fr. Caglioni. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 26/11/2012)



London: World AIDS Day Mass | Catholics living with HIV, HIV prevention and care, World AIDS Day,Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Fr John Creagh, Mill Hill Missionaries,

Panels from UK AIDS Memorial Quilt, at Warwick Street in 2011
 Catholics living with HIV, those working in HIV prevention and care in local agencies, and volunteers, will celebrate the annual Mass to mark World AIDS Day on Sunday, 2 December 2012, 5pm, at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho, London W1B 5NB. The Mass will be celebrated by Fr John Creagh, a priest member of the Mill Hill Missionaries, a religious community working predominantly in African countries. Fr Creagh worked in Kenya for some time and is now an NHS mental health chaplain, also offering pastoral support at London's Mildmay Hospital, in Shoreditch.
CAPS, a national registered charity, offers peer support to people living with HIV who wish to integrate their faith with this experience through its Positive Catholics ministry. It draws people from a variety of backgrounds to a range of activities including monthly meetings and weekend retreats.
For more information about CAPS see:


Luke 21: 5 - 11

5And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said,6"As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."7And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?"8And he said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!' and, `The time is at hand!' Do not go after them.9And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once."10Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.




Watch 1 - 


St. Virgilius
Feast: November 27

Feast Day:November 27
Born:8th century Ireland
Died:784 at Salzburg, Austria
Canonized:10 June 1233 by Pope Gregory IX
Patron of:Salzburg, Austria; Slovene

Virgilius was a scientist before his time, and in his monastery of Aghaboe in Ireland he was known as "the Geometer" because of his knowledge of geography. In 743, he left Ireland for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land but got no farther than the court of Pepin, the father of Charlemagne. In 745, Pepin defeated Odilo, duke of Bavaria, and sent St. Virgilius to be abbot of the monastery of Sankt Peter and in charge of the diocese of Salzburg.
In accordance with the Irish custom, the bishop was subject to the abbot, who was the real head of the diocese. This was contrary to continental custom, and so Virgilius consented to be consecrated bishop. His most notable accomplishment was the conversion of the Alpine Slavs; moreover, he sent missionaries into Hungary.
In his first days at Salzburg, he was involved in controversies with St. Boniface, one over the form of baptism, which the pope decided in Virgilius's favor. Virgilius also expressed a number of opinions on astronomy, geography, and anthropology, which to Boniface smacked of novelty, if not heresy. He reported these views to Rome, and the pope demanded an investigation of the bishop of Salzburg. Nothing came of this and apparently Virgilius was able to defend his views.
Virgilius built a grand cathedral at Salzburg, baptized the Slavic dukes of Carinthia, and sent missionaries into lands where no missionary had yet gone. Returning from a preaching mission to a distant part of his diocese, he fell sick and died on November 27, 784. When the Salzburg cathedral was destroyed by a fire in 1181, the grave of Virgilius was discovered and this led to his canonization by Pope Gregory IX in 1233.
His feast is kept throughout Ireland and in the diocese of Salzburg.


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