Wednesday, February 20, 2013







Vatican City, 19 February 2013 (VIS) – After Archbishop Filippo Iannone's apostolic visit to the Congregation of Children of the Immaculate Conception on 15 February, the Holy Father has decided to entrust the regulation of that religious institute to Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, naming him as the pontifical delegate. As such, Cardinal Versaldi will carry out the task of guiding the religious institute and of bringing the health facilities it runs to a possible economic well-standing, avoiding, however, participation by the Holy See in those tasks, according to a communique published by the Press Office of the Holy See yesterday afternoon.
Vatican City, 19 February 2013 (VIS) - Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" and Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of that dicastery, are in Jordan from today until Thursday, 21 February, to participate in the regional conference of Caritas in the Middle East, North Africa, and Horn of Africa, which is taking place in that country.
The forum is a very important opportunity to take stock of the humanitarian aid provided by Catholic charities, including Caritas, to refugees and victims of violent conflict in Syria since representatives of all the Caritas organizations of that region, as well as representatives of the local churches, will be present.
"The humanitarian situation in Syria, and throughout the region," a press release from Cor Unum states, "is unsustainable. Some estimates speak of a million refugees, more than two and a half million displaced persons, and almost one hundred thousand deaths directly attributable to violence. There are countless others, whose numbers cannot be quantified, indirectly caused by the general impoverishment of the population, caused mainly by war. The harsh winter is further contributing to this sad situation of suffering of an exhausted people, especially the weakest and most vulnerable on the fringes of society."
During their trip Cardinal Sarah and Msgr. Del Toso will visit centres housing numerous persons who have escaped the fighting in Syria. The visit with the refugees will be organized by Caritas Jordan along with other Catholic charities that deal with humanitarian assistance and intervention. A meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan is also planned for the prelates.
Vatican City, 19 February 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Fabio Martinez Castilla as archbishop of Tuxtla Gutierrez (area 22,629, population 1,280,000, Catholics 997,000, priests 139, religious 337), Mexico. Archbishop Martinez Castilla, previously of the diocese of Ciudad Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico was elected as director of the Dimension for Missionary Outreach at the last plenary assembly of the Mexican Episcopal Conference and is a member of the Permanent Council.


Security forces raided the city this morning, killing four suspected terrorists and arresting seven others. Protests mount against government after February 16 massacre at the general market. In 2012, more than 400 members of the Muslim Shiite minority killed.

Quetta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Pakistani security forces this morning killed four people and arrested seven others, accused of carrying out repeated attacks on minority Shiite Muslims. According to initial reports the targeted group includes the masterminds of the February  16 massacre of hazaras in Quetta, in which at least 89 people died. The Asian country, a large Sunni Muslim majority, is often the scene of violent attacks against members of minority ethnic groups or religions, even Muslims such as the hazara Shiites, Sufis, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus.

The security forces carried out an extensive operation in the south-western outskirts of Quetta, where fierce protests erupted involving thousands of members of the Shiite minority. Angered by the slaughter of the last few days, they are demanding greater protection and the deployment of the army.  Moreover they are refusing to bury the victims until the government meets their demands despite the Islamic tradition of burying the deceased within 24/48 hours of their death.

This morning's raid, explain the interior minister of Baluchistan and the head of the Border Guards in a joint statement, is part of an "ongoing operation" to target "high-profile people" involved in the death of "a Shiite judge and senior police officers".

One of the masterminds of the February 16 Hazara massacre at the vegetable market in Quetta, in which at least 89 people were killed and another 200 were injured, is reportedly among those targeted in the raid.  The attack was claimed by the Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), one of the most active and bloodthirsty in the entire nation. The officers also seized bombs, weapons and uniforms. A government delegation is on its way from Islamabad, to attempt mediation to put an end to the Shiite protests involving thousands of people including women and children. Just a few months before elections, discontent with the government is mounting, blamed for allowing insecurity to proliferate and of being unable to stop extremists and the Taliban.

In recent months, there have been several targeted attacks against the Shiite minority in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan. The local nationalist movements, as well as extremist groups, have adopted the technique of massacres, to force the government to hand over more resources from the exploitation of natural gas and minerals in the subsoil. 2012 was one of the bloodiest years to date for Shiites, with a toll of more than 400 deaths in several attacks, including 125 in the province of Baluchistan alone, home to a large hazara presence.



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
19 Feb 2013
Catholic Hospitals Care for One in 10 Australians
In the wake of the Federal Government funding cuts, Catholic public hospitals will be forced to reduce as many as 50 beds this year. The hospitals will also have to cut back on elective surgeries, reduce access to Intensive Care Units and terminate staff, says Martin Laverty, CEO of Catholic Health Australia (CHA).
In Treasurer, Wayne Swan's 2012-2013 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook released in October last year, Catholic public hospitals discovered funding promised in the previous May budget had been reduced by $20 million under the Government's National Health Reform Funding initiative.
Across all public hospitals in all states the discrepancy between the Government's 2012-2013 Budget and the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook was equally alarming showing an overall reduction in funding of more than  $254 million.
But what is even more worrying is the Commonwealth warning  hospital funding will be slashed by $1.5 billion over the next four years.
The Catholic Church operates 75 hospitals and 550 residential and community aged care services throughout Australia
CHA represents 75 public and private Catholic Hospitals across Australia. On any given day, one in 10 hospital patients is being cared for in a Catholic public or private hospital with Catholic hospitals' 2,300 public beds accounting for around 5% of all of Australia's public beds.
Of the nation's 19 public Catholic hospitals which are operated under contract to State or Territory governments in Qld, NSW, Vic, WA and the ACT, all are privately owned and operated as not-for-profit entities.
"The mission of Catholic services to particularly look after the poor and vulnerable means that Catholic public hospitals will try to avoid reducing services that will impact on those least able to make other arrangements," Mr Laverty says and warns that the extent of the funding cuts "threatens to hurt those within our community who would be most impacted by reductions in availability of public hospital services."
He also takes issue with the belated timing of the funding cuts which came midway through the current financial year.
Martin Laverty Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Health Australia
"Whilst no hospital group is likely to ever welcome reductions in funding as demand for services continues to grow, the way the funding reductions have been imposed part way through the financial year has been particularly difficult to deal with and has magnified their impact," he says.
Although the cuts cover the full financial year, the reductions required by hospitals have to be made in the final six months of the year, multiplying the adverse effect of these cuts.
As Catholic public hospitals are Not-for-Profit and privately owned, their fiduciary duty is to acquit their service funding by "breaking even" and are not able to overrun their allocated  budgets in the hope of a subsequent financial bailout  as has occurred with some State and Territory operated public hospitals.
"As a result cuts to service revenue have to be offset by reductions in service output," he says.
Particularly troubling for Mr Laverty is the fact that after four years of intense health reform effort, where the need to move away from a culture of cost and blame-shifting between different tiers of government was a constant theme, Australia's public health care consumers and health care professionals have once again been impacted by a continuing consequence of poor management of Commonwealth-State financial arrangements.
In his submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance Public Administration on the Implementation of Commonwealth's National Health Reform Agreement, lodged late last week, Mr Laverty predicted further reductions in services at Catholic public hospitals would have to be made as a result the Commonwealth's intention to reduce funding further over the next four years.
Catholic hospitals account for 2300 public hospital beds across Australia
"One potential impact of the public hospital funding reductions may be that public hospital managers seek to augment their revenue by treating additional private patients, and indeed are currently incentivised to do so," he writes his submission on behalf of CHA and the nation's Catholic public hospitals. "In the context of shrinking public capacity, the targeting of additional private patients by public hospitals, particularly if it is at the expense of the treatment of public patients will further exacerbate public patient waiting times and further undermine the Medicare principle of universal access to treatment at the time of need, regardless of financial circumstance."
Mr Laverty believes for public hospitals what would ultimately be preferable would be for Australia to move to a system where a single tier of government takes responsibility for funding publicly delivered health services.



Agenzia Fides REPORT - Another Catholic priest has been killed in a Latin American country. Fr. José Ramón Mendoza, age 44, was shot dead in the evening of Sunday 17 February in the Venezuelan state of Lara (about 400 km from Caracas) Fr. Mendoza was driving along the El Manzano road in the district of Iribarren. When he stopped at the traffic lights he was attacked by a gang of bandits. According to information supplied by the police probably the priest’s first reaction was to accelerate, but, fatally wounded with a shot to the head, he was found dead at the crossing of via Uruguay and via La Riberena.
The first news of the tragic event published by the local El Informador newspaper, said the crime would appear to be an attempted car theft which ended in tragedy. Local authorities have opened an enquiry to establish what actually happened.
A report sent to Fides said that Fr José Mendoza was the parish priest at San Juan Evangelista parish, in the Brisas District of El Obelisco.
The Archbishop of Barquisimeto, Archbishop Antonio José López Castillo, who went to the morgue to identify the body, said, addressing some local Catholics who had gathered at the site: "Fr. Mendoza was a man of prayer. Violence is never a way forward. They have taken the life of a minister of God. They have taken the life of an innocent man".
The archdiocese has issued a statement calling for respect for human life, and urging the authorities to put an end to all violence.
In 2010 a Catholic priest was killed in the state of Bolivar. Since the beginning of this year 2013, a total number of 4 priests have been killed in Latin America. (see Fides 05/02/2013). (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 19/2/2013)


675 adults formally elect to become Catholic  at Westminster Cathedral | Rite of Election, Westminster Cathedral

Bishop Alan Hopes with some RCIA candidates

On the weekend of 16 & 17 February, 675 people from 115 parishes in the Diocese of Westminster underwent the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults’ (RCIA) Rite of Election in Westminster Cathedral.

During the Rite of Election the 675 adults made a public commitment to entering into the communion with the Catholic Church. Presiding over the ceremony was Bishop Alan Hopes, along with Bishops John Arnold, John Sherrington and Canon Paschal Ryan, Episcopal Vicar in the Diocese.

At Easter, of those adults undergoing RCIA, 335 will receive the sacraments of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist, and 340 adults will be baptised.

Bishop Alan praised those undergoing the Rite of Election saying: “Election is a translation of a Latin word for chosen. Today you are being elected, chosen, called to salvation...Along with the whole Church, this Lent is a time for you to be renewed through an examination of your lives and a deepening of your commitment to God. We are called to turn to the Lord - we are called to holiness – we are called to be saints.”

Antony Curran, Director of Catechetics said: “RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is an exciting process by which adults become members of the Catholic Church, and through the Church deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a process of prayer, discussions, study and celebration. “

“The RCIA process helps assimilate adult men and women into the Catholic way of life so that they can comfortably pray and serve with the Catholic community. It is not a hurried process, but a deliberate, personal process of growth and understanding that takes as long as it takes. Typically, the process takes about 9 months to one year - but it may be longer if that is what a person is more comfortable with.”

Canon Stuart Wilson, Dean of the parishes of Kensington & Chelsea, who presented the Candidates and Catechumens from his Deanery, said of the meaning of the service to the wider Catholic Church: “What you see speaks volumes. A Cathedral full of enthusiastic people, many of them young adults, publically proclaiming that they want to become Catholics. It will be the same at the second Celebration. 700 people happy to be Catholics. Our Church is blessed indeed.”
The Church of Mary, Mother of God in Ponders End had 14 Catechumens and seven Candidates. Speaking about why people had chosen to undergo the RCIA programme to become Catholics, Parish priest Fr John B Shewring said: “Many of this year’s RCIA Group had already been coming to our church for some time. For them having experienced the faith, the worship and the life of the Church, there was a desire to know more about the Church and its teaching. Others had been touched by the faith of friends or partners and wanted to experience more.
Having spoken on several occasions to the members of our RCIA programme and who had been part of our community for some time it was easy to discover that there was a deep yearning within them to be fully committed to the faith and to receive the Sacraments of the Church – particularly the Eucharist.”

Because of the large numbers of people taking part,  with their parish priests, catechists, familes and friends,  the Rite of Election was held in two services -  at 3pm on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 February at Westminster Cathedral.

The ’Rite of Election’ is an ancient ceremony for adults choosing to be Catholics. The ceremony sees both Catechumens (those who are preparing to be baptised) and Candidates (those who are already baptised in another Christian tradition) being “sent forth” by their bishops to prepare to be received into parish churches across the Diocese of Westminster at Easter.

Bishop Alan Hope’s full homily from the service is available below:

“Each year, on the First Sunday of Lent, the Church recalls the forty days the Lord spent in the desert in preparation for his mission which would lead to his Passion, Death and Resurrection. The Church also recalls the devil’s efforts to tempt Jesus away from his path of obedience to God.

This time of forty days is foreshadowed in the journey of the people of Israel through the desert to the Promised Land, after their exodus from Egypt. This journey took forty years. Unlike the people of Israel, Jesus does not cry out to God in anger when he is hungry. Nor does he give up his vocation of obedience to the one true God, by succumbing to the flattery of the devil in the hope that he would give him effortless power and fame. Nor does he become a slave to the devil by testing God.

The Lord’s resolute courage in standing up to the devil comes at a great cost. His obedience to his Father in the wilderness already foreshadows that obedience which will lead him to the Cross.

Lent, then, is not simply our attempt to imitate Jesus in resisting temptation. It is an opportunity to journey with Him to the Cross. For in the Cross is our salvation. In one of his letters, St Paul calls the Cross a stumbling block for many but, he says, to those who are called, the Cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Dear Catechumens and Candidates, dear brothers and sisters, these words are addressed to you! This Rite of Election which we celebrate today is a celebration of your hope and trust in Jesus Christ, to whom you turn for salvation. The word, Election is a translation of a Latin word for chosen. Today you are being elected, chosen, called to salvation. The Church rejoices with you as she numbers you amongst all those who have been called and chosen. These holy days of Lent are a time of final preparation which will reach their climax at the great Vigil of Easter when those of you who are Catechumens will be baptised, and then together with the Candidates will be confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time.

Along with the whole Church, this Lent is a time for you to be renewed through an examination of your lives and a deepening of your commitment to God. We are called to turn to the Lord - we are called to holiness – we are called to be saints.

This is not just for special people – but for all of us! How do we become holy? We have to strive to become like Jesus Christ, the Son of God - to imitate the One who gave his life to God and for his neighbour.

Holiness is rooted in the Sacrament of Baptism. Baptism moulds us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Baptism gives us a share in the life of God himself.

Striving to become like Jesus Christ is a great challenge. There will be moments when we will be tempted, like the Lord, to give up and to take the easy way out! But take courage, for God’s grace is always given to us to strengthen us and especially in the sacraments. As we seek to become holy, we are actually learning to rely on and trust in that grace and to co-operate with God. Because this is what holiness is – a lifelong journey of seeking God through his Son Jesus Christ.

Today marks one step for you on this lifelong journey.

During this special Year of Faith, Pope Benedict has invited the Church to ponder more deeply on the treasure of the Faith we have received. You have been doing this during your time of preparation. This is the Faith which you will embrace at Easter. This is the Faith which the Church guards and cherishes. It is also something which she hands on to and shares with every generation.
As Jesus said to those first disciples whom he had called and chosen : You will be my witnesses, to the ends of the earth. He will address these words to you at the moment of your Baptism and Confirmation.

Dear Catechumens and Candidates, dear friends, throughout your lives Jesus will call you to live lives of holiness - to become saints. He will offer you God’s grace to strengthen you - through prayer, through the Mass, through the Sacraments, the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church, the commandments that give life and through all the opportunities to serve and to love others as Christ loves you.”

You have indeed been called and chosen. You are indeed the elect of Jesus Christ. And you too will become his witnesses in the world.
In cathedrals around the UK, more than 3,000 people took part in the RCIA this year. The total numbers will be published after Easter. For more information, and prelimnary statistics see:
 Source: Archbishops House


Matthew 6: 7 - 15
7"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread;
12And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
14For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
15but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


St. Conrad of Piacenza
Feast: February 19

Feast Day:February 19
1290, Piacenza, Province of Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Died:February 19, 1351, Noto, Province of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Patron of:cure of hernias
Hermit of the Third Order of St. Francis, date of birth uncertain; died at Noto in Sicily, 19 February, 1351. He belonged to one of the noblest families of Piacenza, and having married when he was quite young, led a virtuous and God-fearing life. On one occasion, when he was engaged in his usual pastime of hunting, he ordered his attendants to fire some brushwood in which game had taken refuge. The prevailing wind caused the flames to spread rapidly, and the surrounding fields and forest were soon in a state of conflagration. A mendicant, who happened to be found near the place where the fire had originated, was accused of being the author. He was imprisoned, tried, and condemned to death. As the poor man was being led to execution, Conrad, stricken with remorse, made open confession of his guilt; and in order to repair the damage of which he had been the cause, was obliged to sell all his possessions. Thus reduced to poverty, Conrad retired to a lonely hermitage some distance from Piacenza, while his wife entered the Order of Poor Clares. Later he went to Rome, and thence to Sicily, where for thirty years he lived a most austere and penitential life and worked numerous miracles. He is especially invoked for the cure of hernia. In 1515 Leo X permitted the town of Noto to celebrate his feast, which permission was later extended by Urban VIII to the whole Order of St. Francis. Though bearing the title of saint, Conrad was never formally canonized. His feast is kept in the Franciscan Order on 19 February.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

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