Monday, December 10, 2012


Vatican City, 10 December 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the International Congress "Ecclesia in America" on the Church in the American continent was inaugurated with a Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica. The congress was organised by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Knights of Columbus in collaboration with the Institute for Guadalupan Studies, and will be inspired by the work of the Synodal Assembly, convoked by Blessed John Paul II in November and December 1987, entitled "Encounter with the living Jesus Christ: The way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America".
The Holy Father, who arrived at the Basilica at 7 p.m., greeted the participants, first recalling that "Blessed John Paul II had the foresight and intuition to improve the relationships of cooperation between the particular Churches throughout North, Central and South America, at the same time facilitating greater solidarity among the nations of the continent. Today these themes merit review in order to put Christ's redeeming message into practice with greater diligence, in the hope of reaping abundant rewards of sanctity and ecclesial renewal. The theme that guided the reflections of the Synodal Assembly can also serve as an inspiration for your work during these days. ... In effect, Jesus Christ's love and the power of His grace must take root ever more intensely in the hearts of the people, families and Christian communities of your nations, to allow them to progress with dynamism along the paths of harmony and fair progress".
The Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in America" focuses on "current challenges and difficulties which present specific and complex characteristics. Indeed, secularism and various religious groups are spreading throughout the continent, giving rise to numerous problems. Education and the promotion of a culture of life are matters of fundamental urgency in view of a widespread mentality that tends to attack the dignity of the person and damage the institution of marriage and family. How can one fail to be concerned about painful situations of emigration, displacement or violence, especially when linked to organised crime, narcotrafficking, corruption and arms dealing? And how should we face the painful inequalities and areas of poverty caused by questionable economic, political and social measures?"
The Pope emphasised that all these important questions require careful study, "yet in addition to their technical evaluation, the Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from the encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent. ... The love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming His name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants. ... For this reason we ought to take up this commitment, ... encouraging priests, deacons and consecrated men and women and pastoral agents to purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the Word of God and the Church's Magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. ... A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America", concluded the Pope.
Vatican City, 9 December 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter's Square. The Pope, in the Gospel of this second Sunday of Advent, commented on the figure of St. John the Baptist, who is presented by all four Gospels at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, as his precursor, while St. Luke offers us a posterior reading.
"John, as the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, both of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and therefore prepares mankind for the spiritual worship of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus", explained the Pope. "John the Baptist is defined as the 'voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths'. The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God precedes, as it comes to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness".
"Thus he plays an important role, but always in relation to Christ", said the Pope, recalling the words of St. Augustine: 'John is the voice that passes away, Christ is the eternal Word'. Our task today is to listen to that voice, to give space to Jesus and to welcome Him, the Word that saves us, into our hearts. In this time of Advent, let us prepare to see, through the eyes of faith, God's salvation in the humble stable in Bethlehem. In our consumerist society, where we seek joy in material things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced externally as a superficial holiday, but rather as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to mankind".
Vatican City, 8 December 2012 (VIS) - At 3.45 p.m., on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI made his way to Piazza di Spagna in Rome for the traditional act of veneration of the image of the Virgin Mary on the column situated in front of the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See.
During his journey, the Holy Father stopped briefly at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, where he greeted the members of the Via Condotti Storeowners Association. Once in the square, the Pope began by offering a prayer, followed by a reading from the Apocalypse of St. John, a homily and the offering of a floral tribute to the image of the Virgin. In his address, the Pope reflected on the Gospel of this solemnity, the Gospel of the Annunciation.
Benedict XVI began by explaining that the encounter between the angel and Mary, the decisive moment in which God became Man, "was enveloped in a great silence. ... That which is truly great often goes unnoticed and calm silence is more fruitful than the frenzy that characterises our cities, and which, in due proportion, was also present in the important cities of those times, such as Jerusalem. All this action prevents us from pausing, allowing ourselves to be calm and listening to the silence in which the Lord makes his discreet voice heard."
On the day of the Annunciation, Mary was "deep in thought and yet ready to listen to God. There was no obstacle within her, no barrier, nothing that would separate her from God. This is the meaning of her being without original sin. Her relationship with God is free from even the slightest rift; there is no separation, no shadow of selfishness, but rather perfect harmony. Her little human heart was perfectly 'centred' in the great heart of God. ... Coming here, before this monument to Mary, in the centre of Rome, reminds us first that the voice of God is not recognised amid noise and turmoil; his plan for our life as individuals and as a society are not visible on the surface; we need to descend to a deeper level where the forces at work are not economic or political but moral and spiritual. It is at this deeper level that Mary invites us to enter into harmony with God's action."
Secondly, Mary Immaculate teaches us that "the salvation of the world is not the work of man - of science, technology or ideology - but of Grace. ... Grace means love in its purity and beauty. It is God Himself as revealed in the salvific narrative of the Bible and fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Mary is called the 'favoured one' and this identity recalls to us God's primacy in our life and in the history of the world. She reminds us that the power of God's love is stronger than evil, and that it fills the void that selfishness creates in the history of people, families, nations and the world. Such emptiness can become a form of hell, where human life is dragged to its lowest depths and towards emptiness, losing meaning and light. The false remedies the world offers to fill the void ... in fact widen the abyss. Only love can save us from falling, but not merely any love. It must have the purity of Grace, which God transforms and renews to fill intoxicated lungs with fresh, clean air and new vital energy. Mary tells us that, however far a man may fall, he never falls beyond the reach of God, who has descended even into hell. However far astray our heart may be led, God is always 'greater than our heart'. The soft breath of Grace can disperse the darkest clouds, and make life beautiful and rich in meaning even in the most inhumane situations."
Finally, Mary Immaculate speaks to us of joy, "the true joy that emanates from a heart freed from sin. Sin carries a negative sadness that induces us to close up. Grace brings true joy, which does not depend on possessing things, but is rooted in the innermost, deepest part of the self, and which nothing and no one can take away. Even though some believe that Christianity is an obstacle to joy because they see it as an ensemble of prohibitions and rules, it is essentially a 'Gospel', a 'good tiding'. In fact, Christianity is the proclamation of the victory of Grace over sin, of life over death. Even if it entails sacrifice and a discipline of the mind, heart and behaviour, it is because in man we find the poisonous root of selfishness that causes harm to the self and to others. We must therefore learn to say 'no' to the voice of selfishness and 'yes' to that of real love. Mary's joy is complete because in her heart sin casts no shadow. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life".
"In this time of Advent", the Pope concluded, "Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God that speaks to us in silence; to welcome His Grace that frees us from sin and selfishness, so that we may experience true joy".
Vatican City, 8 December 2012 (VIS) - In the Angelus of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI emphasised that Mary is Immaculate "by a gratuitous gift of the Grace of God, which she accepted, however, with perfect willingness and cooperation. In this respect she is 'blessed' because she 'believed', because of her firm faith in God".
The Holy Father continued, "Mary represents that 'remnant of Israel', the holy root announced by the prophets. The promises of the Old Covenant are welcomed in her. In Mary the Word of God is listened to, and finds acceptance, a response; the Word finds the 'yes' that allows it to take on flesh and to dwell among us. In Mary humanity and history are truly open to God and accept his Grace, in readiness to serve his will. Mary is the genuine expression of Grace. She is the new Israel that the Scriptures of the Old Testament describe with the symbol of the bride. ... The Fathers of the Church developed this image and so the doctrine of the Immaculate was born, first with reference to the Church as virgin-mother, and then to Mary".
"The light that emanates from the figure of Mary helps us also to understand the true meaning of original sin. Indeed, in Mary the relationship with God, that may be destroyed by sin, is completely alive and active. There is no opposition within her between God and her being; rather, there is full communion, full understanding. There is a reciprocal 'yes', from God to her and from her to God. ... She is full of His Grace and His love.
"In conclusion, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary expresses the certainty of faith that the promises of God are realised: that His covenant does not fail, but has produced a holy root, from which has grown the Fruit most blessed of all the universe, Jesus the Saviour. Mary Immaculate demonstrates that Grace is able to bring about a response, that God’s fidelity can generate a true and good faith".
Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father assured his closeness to the people of the Philippines, recently struck by a violent hurricane. "I pray for the victims, for their families and for the many displaced persons. May faith and charity provide the strength to face this difficult trial".
Finally, the Holy Father greeted the members of the Movement of Christian Workers, and in particular the prayer group of the Dermopathic Institute of the Immaculate (IDI-IRCCS) in Rome, which currently faces significant challenges. "I hope that a solution can be found to the difficulties experienced by many Catholic institutions in the health sector", he concluded.
Vatican City, 10 December 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, as president of the Court of Appeal of Vatican City State.
- Appointed Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti of Tempio-Ampurias, Italy, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Ozieri, Italy. He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Sergio Pintor, upon having reached the age limit.




Children's Advent Carol Service at Westminster Cathedral | Children's Advent Carol Service at Westminster Cathedral, BIshop Alan Hopes, BIshop John Arnold

Bishop Hopes with Nativity Players
On Tuesday 4 December, 2,500 children from across the Diocese of Westminster celebrated the Nativity story in Westminster Cathedral at the annual Catholic Children’s Society Westminster Advent Carol Service. The event was divided into two parties, the first of which was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, John Arnold at 11am and the second by Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes at 2pm.

The service incorporated the Nativity play which was performed by the children and included a live donkey and sheep. The Christmas story was narrated by an actor, playing the role of Joseph, and included a variety of Christmas Carols. After the Nativity had been completed, the Bishops’ gave a brief homily to the children in which they asked the children what did Mary and Joseph bring to Christ, and what can we bring?

Speaking about the importance of remembering the true meaning of Christmas after the service Bishop Alan Hopes said: “In the run up to Christmas, parents and carers find themselves pressured into showing their love simply by how much they spend. So I am pleased that the story of God’s love for us as shown at Christmas and in the simplicity of the Crib still attracts and entrances the young”.

Paul Winterbottom, at the Catholic Children’s Society, Westminster said: “it is a great opportunity to bring together children attending Catholic Primary schools across the Diocese...and helps to improve a child’s spiritual development”.
Source: CCN


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Apostolic Nuncio in the Ivory Coast, His Exc. Mgr. Ambrose Madtha, died on Saturday, December 8 in a car accident in the west of the Country. The car carrying Mgr. Madtha was involved in an accident on the road Man-Biankouma. The Nuncio was returning to Man, where he spent the night, from the village of Odienné, where he presided over a Mass. The driver was also killed in the accident while the secretary and a religious woman are slightly wounded.
"The bishops are gathered for a special Bishops' Conference and after its conclusion the date of the Nuncio’s funeral will be notified" says to Fides Agency Abidjan Yessoh Pierre Claver N'Guessan, Vicar General of Abidjan. The body of Mgr. Madtha arrived yesterday, Sunday, December 9, at the seat of the Archbishopric in Abidjan.
Mgr. Madtha was born on November 2, 1955 in Belthangady, India, and was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in the Ivory Coast on May 8, 2008. Mgr. Madtha, who was dean of the Diplomatic Corps in the Ivory Coast, was committed to finding a peaceful solution to the post-election crisis that out-going President, Laurent Gbagbo opposed, to the current Head of State, Alassane Ouattara. During the attack of the forces of Ouattara, backed by French troops, the Presidential Residence where Gbagbo was barricaded, Mgr. Madtha remained in the Nunciature, located at 200-330 meters from the palace, where Fides had contacted him (see Fides 08/04/2011).
The Ivory Coast has not yet recovered from the political confrontation between the two factions. One of the areas most affected by latent insecurity for the presence of armed groups is precisely the west where Mgr. Madtha died. The Nuncio should have celebrated a Mass in Duékoué, a town on the border with Liberia, where during the crisis of 2010-2011 more than 3,000 civilians were massacred. In July 2012 several people were killed in the assault of a refugee camp in Nahibly, at the entrance of Duékoué. The Ivorian press recalls that Mgr. Madtha made a personal commitment on several occasions to come to the aid of refugees welcomed in a Catholic parish and other structures in the area. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 10/12/2012)


Singing for something

Monday 10 December 2012

By Anne McIlroy, Genazzano FCJ College

IN Catholic schools we work with students, many of whom have an interest in social justice and a desire to make a difference. Every now and then we meet a student who has more energy and more passion to make a difference.

Georgie is one such student. Georgie is in Year 11 at Genazzano. Last year she was one of the students selected to go to Broome as part of the Indigenous Exchange that the College runs, which was an influential experience in her education in inequality and injustice.

“The Kimberley is a magical place but even more magical for me was the meeting with this culture that I really knew nothing about. The people I met and the conversations I had which are now part of me. That was the power of this experience,” Georgie said.

The experiences on the exchange meant that the awareness of these students working in areas of need and of inequality has been heightened.

The FCJ sisters work with the very poor in the Philippines and the Genazzano community works to support their efforts with fundraising and collecting books that can be used in their work.

Georgie had the idea to utilise the talents of current Genazzano students and make a CD to raise funds for the nuns.

When asked where the idea came from, Georgie said “while I love the sausage sizzles and the coloured clothes days we have to raise money for the nuns, I thought that this would be more than that."

The CD is also a way to create an awareness of the needs of the nuns and the lives of others.

So, with very little fuss, she got together thirteen students and they recorded some wonderful music which makes up the CD, ‘Singing for Something’.

On Tuesday 27
November, current students and past students, teachers and Sisters FCJ gathered at the Madeleine Centre for the ‘Singing for Something’ CD launch.

The profits will go to the Sisters Faithful Companion of Jesus in the Philippines who will use this money to create a special and memorable Christmas for the children whose families they work with. The profits will also go towards education of these children in 2013.

Not only is the CD great for easy listening or as a Christmas present but buying the CD, means that we are enabling the Spirit of Christmas to be passed from one country to another.

Anne McIlroy-Social Justice Co-ordinator, Genazzano FCJ College

Photo courtesy of Genazzano FCJ College


by Wang Zhicheng
Mgr Thaddeus Daqin quit the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association the day of his ordination as a token of obedience to the pope. He also refused to share communion with an excommunicated bishop. The government-sanctioned Bishops' Conference, which stripped him of his title, is not recognised by the Holy See. Xi Jinping's leadership elicits hopes and brings disappointments.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) - For the past several months, the courageous auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has been under house arrest. Ordained last 7 July, he might lose his Episcopal post after government-sanctioned Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church of China (BCCCC) revoked his appointment, UCANews reported. Sources told AsiaNews the rumours circulating on the subject of Mgr Ma are true, but no official decision has yet to be made public.

The brutal action against the auxiliary bishop did not come as a surprise. On the day of his Episcopal ordination, Mgr Ma challenged the government's 60-year Church policy by resigning from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), which controls the Church, and by refusing to share the chalice with a bishop excommunicated by the Holy See.

Worshippers present at the ceremony gave the new prelate a long standing ovation. For many, he came to embody the courage exhibited by many Chinese priests and bishops. However, the authorities are truly terrified by the possibility that many more might reject the CPCA, and thus undermining party control.

Right after his ordination, the new bishop was placed under house arrest at the diocesan seminary, near Our Lady of Sheshan shrine. Since then, he has been denied the right to wear the zucchetto, ring, pectoral cross and all other tokens of his Episcopal office. Recently, he has also been denied the right to co-celebrate Mass with other priests. Seminarians and nuns who helped the bishop in his act of defiance were also punished.

Founded in 1958 on the orders of Mao Zedong, the CPCA wants to set up a Catholic Church that is independent of the Holy See, one that would see bishops named and elected independently of the pope. In his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Benedict XVI wrote that such a proposition is "incompatible with Catholic doctrine."

The Holy See does not recognise the BCCCC, which appears to have removed Mgr Ma from office, because it includes only bishops recognised by China's Communist authorities, some of whom have been excommunicated. No underground bishop is a member.

The action against Mgr Ma comes a few weeks after the Chinese Communist Party held its congress, and chose a new leadership, that of the fifth generation, under Xi Jinping, the new party general secretary, who will in a few months time also become China's president.

Many analysts have praised the new leader as a sober reformer who could improve the situation of religious freedom in China. However, the latest events indicate the opposite.


Luke 5: 17 - 26

17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.
18 And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus;
19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.
20 And when he saw their faith he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?"
22 When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts?
23 Which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Rise and walk'?
24 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the man who was paralyzed -- "I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home."
25 And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God.
26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today."


St. Gregory III
Feast: December 10

Feast Day: December 10
Died: 741

Pope St. Gregory III was the son of a Syrian named John. The date of his birth is not known. His reputation for learning and virtue was so great that the Romans elected him pope by acclamation, when he was accompanying the funeral procession of his predecessor, 11 February, 731. As he was not consecrated for more than a month after his election, it is presumed that he waited for the confirmation of his election by the exarch at Ravenna. In the matter of Iconoclasm, he followed the policy of his predecessor. He sent legates and letters to remonstrate with the persecuting emperor, Leo III, and held two synods in Rome (731) in which the image-breaking heresy was condemned. By way of a practical protest against the emperor's action he made it a point of paying special honour to images and relics, giving particular attention to the subject of St. Peter's. Fragments of inscriptions, to be seen in the crypts of the Vatican basilica, bear witness to this day of an oratory he built therein, and of the special prayers he ordered to be there recited.
Leo, whose sole answer to the arguments and apologies for image worship which were addressed to him from both East and West, was force, seized the papal patrimonies in Calabria and Sicily, or wherever he had any power in Italy, and transferred to the patriarch of Constantinople the ecclesiastical jurisdiction which the popes had previously exercised both there, and throughout the ancient Prefecture of Illyricum. Gregory III confirmed the decision of his predecessors as to the respective rights of the Patriarchs of Aquileia and Grado, and sent the pallium to Antoninus of Grado. In granting it also to Egbert of York, he was only following out the arrangements of St. Gregory I who had laid it down that York was to have metropolitical rights in the North of England, as Canterbury had to have them in the South. Both Tatwine and Nothelm of Canterbury received the pallium in succession from Gregory III (731 and 736). At his request Gregory III extended to St. Boniface the same support and encouragement which had been afforded him by Gregory II. "Strengthened exceedingly by the help of the affection of the Apostolic See", the saint joyfully continued his glorious work for the conversion of Germany. About 737 Boniface came to Rome for the third time to give an account of his stewardship, and to enjoy the pope's "life-giving conversation", At Gregory's order the monk and great traveller, St. Willibald, went to assist his cousin St. Boniface in his labours.
The close of Gregory's reign was troubled by the Lombards. Realizing the ambition which animated Liutprand, Gregory completed the restoration of the walls of Rome which had been begun by his predecessors, and bought back Gallese, a stronghold on the Flaminian Way, from Transamund, Duke of Spoleto, which helped to keep open the communications between Rome and Ravenna. In 739, Liutprand was again in arms. His troops ravaged the exarchate, and he himself marched south to bring to subjection his vassals, the Dukes of Spoleto and Benevento, and the Duchy of Rome. Transamund fled to Rome, and Gregory implored the aid of the great Frankish chief, Charles Martel. At length ambassadors from the viceroy (subregulus) of the Franks appeared in Rome (739). Their arrival, or the summer heats, brought a momentary peace. But in the following year, Liutprand again took the field. This time the Romans left their walls, and helped Transamund to recover Spoleto. When, however, he had recovered his duchy, he would not or could not comply with Gregory's request, and endeavour to recover for the pope "the four cities of the Roman duchy which had been lost for his sake." In the midst of all these wars and rumours of war, Gregory died, and was buried in the oratory of our Lady which he had himself built in St. Peter's. He died in 741, but whether in November or December is not certain. It is however, on 28 November that he is commemorated in the Roman martyrology.

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