Tuesday, June 25, 2013








Vatican Radio REPORT: The church exists for courageously proclaiming -until martyrdom- Christ, to serve and "take nothing for herself". In his homily at morning Mass on Monday, Pope Francis pointed to St. John the Baptist as model for Church: he didn't claim the Truth, the Word as his own; he diminished himself so Christ could shine.

June 24th is the Solemnity of the Birth of the Saint, whom the Gospels indicate as the forerunner or precursor of Jesus. Dedicating his homily to him Pope Francis said the Church is called to proclaim the Word of God, even to martyrdom.

Pope Francis began his homily by addressing best wishes to all who bear the name John. The figure of John the Baptist, the Pope said, is not always easy to understand. "When we think of his life - he observed – we think of a prophet," a "man who was great and then ends up as a poor man." Who is John? The Pope said john himself explains: "I am a voice, a voice in the wilderness," but "it is a voice without the Word, because the Word is not him, it is an Other." Here then is the mystery of John: "He never takes over the Word," John "is the one who indicates, who marks". The "meaning of John's life - he added - is to indicate another." Pope Francis then spoke of being struck by the fact that the "Church chooses to mark John’s feast day” at a time when the days are at their longest in the year, when they "have more light." And John really "was the man of light, he brought light, but it was not his own light, it was a reflected light." John is "like a moon" and when Jesus began to preach, the light of John "began to decline, to set". "Voice not Word - the Pope said - light, but not his own"

"John seems to be nothing. That is John’s vocation: he negates himself. And when we contemplate the life of this man, so great, so powerful - all believed that he was the Messiah - when we contemplate this life, how it is nullified to the point of the darkness of a prison, we behold a great mystery. We do not know what John’s last days were like. We do not know. We only know that he was killed, his head was put on a platter, as a great gift from a dancer to an adulteress. I don’t think you can lower yourself much more than this, negate yourself much more. That was the end that John met". 

Pope Francis noted that in prison John experienced doubts, anguish and he called on his disciples to go to Jesus and ask him, "Are you You, or should we expect someone else?". His life is one of “pain and darkness”. John “was not even spared this”, said the Pope, who added: "the figure of John makes me think so much about the Church":

"The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of a Word, her husband, who is the Word. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest of the Earth. John could have made himself important, he could have said something about himself. 'But I never think', only this: he indicated, he felt himself to be the voice, not the Word. This is John’s secret. Why is John holy and without sin? Because he never, never took a truth as his own. He would not be an ideologue. The man who negated himself so that the Word could come to the fore. And we, as a Church, we can now ask for the grace not to become an ideological Church ... "

The Church, he added, must hear the Word of Jesus and raise her voice, proclaim it boldly. "That - he said - is the Church without ideologies, without a life of its own: the Church which is the mysterium lunae which has light from her Bridegroom and diminish herself so that He may grow"

"This is the model that John offers us today, for us and for the Church. A Church that is always at the service of the Word. A Church that never takes anything for herself. Today in prayer we asked for the grace of joy, we asked the Lord to cheer this Church in her service to the Word, to be the voice of this Word, preach this Word. We ask for the grace, the dignity of John, with no ideas of their own, without a Gospel taken as property, only one Church that indicates the Word, and this even to martyrdom. So be it! "

Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, and attended by a group of priests and collaborators of the Pontifical Council for Culture, a group of employees of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology and the Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office.



Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, the Holy Father received 30 members of the delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. The Pope recalled that 21 previous meetings have helped to strengthen the mutual understanding and ties of friendship between Jews and Catholics.
This is Pope Francis' first official meeting with a group of representatives of Jewish organizations and communities since his election. The pontiff said that the “Nostra Aetate” Declaration of the Second Vatican Council represents “a key point of reference for relations with the Jewish people” for the Catholic Church.
“In that Council text, the Church recognizes that 'the beginnings of its faith and election are to be found in the patriarchs, Moses, and prophets'. And, with regard to the Jews, the Council recalls the teaching of Saint Paul, who wrote 'the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable' and who also firmly condemned hatred, persecution, and all forms of anti-Semitism. Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!”
The Holy Father noted that “the fundamental principles expressed by the Declaration have marked the path of greater awareness and mutual understanding trodden these last decades by Jews and Catholics, a path which my predecessors have strongly encouraged, both by very significant gestures and by the publication of a series of documents to deepen the thinking about the theological roots of the relations between Jews and Christians.”
Nevertheless, this represents “only the most visible element of a vast movement that takes place on the local level a bit throughout the world, as I know from personal experience. During my ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I had the joy of maintaining relations of sincere friendship with leaders of the Jewish world. We talked often of our respective religious identities, the image of the human person found in the Scriptures, and how to keep an awareness of God alive in a world now secularized in many ways. I met with them on various occasions to discuss the common challenges faced by both Jews and Christians. But above all, as friends, we enjoyed each other’s company, we were mutually enriched through encounter and dialogue, with an attitude of reciprocal welcome, and this helped all of us grow as persons and as believers.”
“These friendly relations are, in a way, the basis for the development of a more official dialogue,” the Pope said, encouraging those present to follow their path, “trying, as you do so, to involve younger generations. Humanity needs our joint witness in favour of respect for the dignity of man and woman created in the image and likeness of God and in favour of the peace that is, above all, God’s gift.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by recalling the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—affirms the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received His Excellency Dr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta, in audience. Prime Minister Muscat then met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial talks, the apostolic origins of the Maltese Church were recalled, along with the decisive impression that Christianity has made upon the history and culture of the people of the archipelago. Also remembered were the pastoral visits to Malta made by Blessed Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict XVI, which left profound memories in the life of the Church and on the people.
The need of maintaining Christian values steadfast was reaffirmed and the important role—protected thanks to the many agreements concluded between the Holy See and Malta—carried out by the Catholic Church with her educational and charitable institutions was mentioned, including teaching the Catholic religion in state schools, Catholic schools, and on Church properties. Particular note was made of the Agreement on the civil effects of religious marriages, which will be the object of further discussions between the Parties.
While mentioning the important challenges and critical situations affecting the Mediterranean region and the country’s role in the European Union, special emphasis was given to the deep commitment, on the part of both the Church and the Government of Malta, to dealing with the phenomenon of migration to Europe.
Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., released the following communique.
“This morning the Holy Father received in audience Mr. Adolfo Perez Esquivel, recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, accompanying Mr. Felix Diaz, leader of the Qom ethnic tribe's “La Primavera” Community, with his wife Mrs. Amanda Asijak, and Fr. Francisco Nazar, vicar for the indigenous populations of the Diocese of Formosa, Argentina.”
“Mr. Diaz expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father for the audience and for what it means as an expression of interest and support. He related to Pope Francis the difficulties faced by the indigenous peoples of Argentina and Latin America, as well as his concerns for the protection of their rights, especially in regard to their territory and cultural identity.”
Vatican City, 23 June 2013 (VIS) – At 11:15 this morning in the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received members of the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul. He thanked them for the charitable activities they undertake and for their collaboration in the smooth operations of the celebrations that take place in the Vatican.
The association came into being at the wish of Paul VI, who in 1970 disbanded various groups of pontifical guards including the Palatine Guard of Honour created by Pius IX in 1850. His intention was to bring together a group of the faithful of Rome who wished to express their unconditional fidelity to the Apostolic See. Former members of the guard were thus invited to join a new group called the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul, the statutes of which were approved by Paul VI in 1971.
The Association is divided into three sections: liturgy, culture, and charity, and has a general secretariat. It undertakes various initiatives with the aim of bearing witness to Christian life, the apostolate, and faithfulness to the Apostolic See.
“I know,” the Pope commented, “that there is a lot of 'behind the scenes' work. I also know that your service of welcoming [pilgrims and tourists] to St. Peter's Basilica, your service for the liturgical celebrations, your apostolate, also extends to cultural and charitable activities. Above all charity, your concrete attention towards others, towards the poorest, weakest, and most needy is the hallmark of the Christian.”
Serving the Church and one's brothers and sisters without asking anything in return, the pontiff said, “is beautiful. Serving without asking anything in exchange, like Jesus. Jesus served us all and never asked for anything in return. Jesus did things freely and you do things freely. Your reward is precisely this: the joy of serving the Lord and of doing it together!” This service is a great Christian virtue of ”magnanimity, having a large heart, always expanding your hearts with patience; expanding it, loving all and not those insignificant things that do us such harm.”
Finally, the Pope blessed those present and asked them to think of everyone they love: “your family and your friends, so that the Blessing may go out to them. But also think of some of those persons you don't like so well, those who do you evil, those you are a little angry with. Think of them too so that the Blessing might also go out to them.”
Vatican City, 23 June 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, the Holy Father Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer he recalled Jesus' most incisive words: “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” He then asked: “but what does it mean 'to lose one's life for Jesus' cause'? This can happen in two ways: by explicitly confessing the faith or implicitly defending truth. The martyrs are the best example of losing one's life for Christ. In two thousand years an immense host of men and women have sacrificed their lives to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. And today, in many parts of the world, there are … so many martyrs who give their lives for Christ, who are brought to death for not denying Jesus Christ. This is our Church.”
“Today we have more martyrs than in the first centuries! But there is also the daily martyrdom, which doesn't result in death but is also a 'losing of one's life' for Christ: doing one's duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of giving and sacrifice. Think how many fathers and mothers put their faith into practice every day, offering their lives for the good of the family! … How many priests, brothers, and sisters generously carry out their service for the Kingdom of God. How many young people give up their own interests to dedicate themselves to children, the disabled, the elderly... These too are martyrs! Everyday martyrs, martyrs of everyday life! And there are many people, Christians and non-Christians, who 'lose their own life' for the truth. Christ said 'I am the truth', so those who serve the truth serve Christ.”
The Holy Father recalled how St. John the Baptist devoted himself entirely to God and, in the end, died for the truth. “How many people pay dearly for their commitment to the truth! How many righteous men and women prefer to go against the current so as to not deny the voice of their conscience, the voice of truth! Righteous people, who are unafraid of going against the current! And we must not be afraid!”
Before concluding, the Pope addressed the young persons present, telling them: “Don't be afraid to go against the current, when they want to steal our hope, when they propose rotten values to us, values like food that has gone bad—and when food has gone bad it makes us sick, these values make us sick. We have to go against the current! And you, young people, be the first: Go against the grain and be proud of going against the grain. Go on, be brave and go against the current! And be proud of doing it!”
Vatican City, 23 June 2013 (VIS) – Shortly after praying the Sunday Angelus today, the Holy Father was at the Vatican train station to welcome the 250 children between the ages of 6 and 10 who were participating in the “Children's Train: A Journey through Beauty” initiative. Co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Italian Railway System, the project was dedicated to children who have had problems with social inclusion and psycho-social difficulties. The children, accompanied by their families and teachers, were introduced to visual communication and the language of images through works of art—particularly in the cathedrals of the various cities—and educational workshops.
The seven car train, which started from Milan, made stops in Bologna and Florence before pulling into the Vatican stop shortly before 12:00pm. The children's first strong impression was of the immense cupola of St. Peter's Basilica and emotions were running high in the short time it took for the gates of Vatican territory to be opened and their train to be towed to its destination by a diesel engine. Pope Francis arrived at 12:20pm and greeted them, chatting with them and asking how the trip went amid hugs and kisses. The Vatican train station was filled with the joy of the little ones, seeking the Pope's attention, who treated them like royalty.
Vatican City, 22 June 2013 (VIS) – Shortly after noon today in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father received 5,000 pilgrims from the Diocese of Bresica, Italy, accompanied by their bishop, Luciano Monari. They had travelled to Rome as part of the Year of Faith to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the election of their fellow Brescian, Paul VI, to the pontificate. The Pope focused on three fundamental aspects in Paul VI's witness and teachings: love for Christ, love for Church, and love for humanity.
“Paul VI,” said the Pope, “knew how to witness, in difficult years, to the faith in Jesus Christ. … The total love for Christ emerges throughout Montini's life, even in his choice of name as Pope, which he explained with these words: He is the Apostle 'who loved Christ so supremely, that he wished and tried in the highest degree to bring Christ's Gospel to all nations and offered his life out of love of Christ.' [His was] a profound love for Christ, not to possess, but to proclaim him,” the pontiff continued. “These passionate words are great words. Let me tell you something: this address in Manila, and also the one in Nazareth, have been a spiritual strength for me. They have done me good in my life. I go back to this address, again and again, because it it does me good to hear these words of Paul VI today. And do we have the same love for Christ? Is He the centre of our lives? Do our everyday actions witness to him?”
Francis then spoke of his second point, Paul VI's love for the Church. It was “a passionate love, the love of a lifetime, joyful and painful, expressed from his first encyclical, 'Ecclesiam suam'. … He loved the Church and offered himself for her without reservation. … This is the heart of a true Shepherd, a true Christian, a man capable of loving!” Pope Francis then stressed that, for him, “Evangelii Nuntiandi” is the “greatest pastoral document written to date.” “Paul VI had a very clear vision that the Church is a Mother who bears Christ and who leads to Christ.” The Holy Father then addressed the faithful again, asking them: “Are we truly a Church united to Christ, going out and proclaiming to all, even and especially those whom I call the 'existential periphery', or are we wrapped up in ourselves, in our groups, in our little cliques? Do we love the great Church, the Mother Church, the Church that sends us on mission and makes us go out of ourselves?”
The pontiff then turned to his third point, love for humanity. This is also tied to Christ. It is the passion for God that compels us to meet persons, to respect them, recognize them, and serve them.” Francis recalled Paul VI's words at the last session of Vatican Council II: “The religion of the God who became Man has met the religion of man who made himself God. What happened? A combat, a fight, an anathema? This could have happened, but it didn't. The old story of the Samaritan was the paradigm for the Council's spirituality. … All this doctrinal wealth was focused in a single direction: to serve humanity … in its every condition, in its every sickness, in its every need. The Church has almost declared herself humanity's handmaid.”
Pope Francis then added, “this also gives us light today, in this world where humanity is denied, where it's preferred to travel the path of gnosticism—either the 'no flesh' of a God who didn't take flesh, or the 'no God' of Promethean man who can go forward [alone]. At this time we can say the same things as Paul VI: the Church is the handmaid of humanity, the Church believes in Christ who came in the flesh and therefore serves humanity, loves humanity, believes in humanity. This is the inspiration of the great Paul VI.”
“Dear friends,” the Pope concluded, “gathering in the name of the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI does us good! His witness nourishes the flame of love for Christ in us.”
Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – At 5:30pm Saturday afternoon in the Paul VI Audience Hall, a concert sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization as part of the Year of Faith was given. After Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of that dicastery, greeted those present on behalf of the Holy Father, who couldn't attend because of an “urgent task that cannot be put off but must be dealt with at the present moment”, he read the Pope's words of thanks to the organizers, singers, choir, and orchestra. Then the Italian Symphonic Orchestra of the RAI, conducted by Juraj Valcuha, performed Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 in D minor op.125, accompanied by the Choir of the National Academy of St Cecilia.
Vatican City, 22 June 2013 (VIS) – Made public today was the letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 10 May, in which he appoints Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Czech territory, which will take place in Velehrad, Czech Republic, on 5 July 2013.
The mission that will accompany the cardinal is composed of Msgr. Tomas Holub of the Diocese of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, secretary general of the Czech Bishops' Conference, and Fr. Ladislao Nosek, S.J., vicar of the Parish of St. Stephen in Prague, Czech Republic, and chaplain of several Czech Catholic schools.
Also issued today was a letter, likewise written in Latin and dated 10 May, appointing Cardinal Franc Rode, C.M., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as his special envoy to the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Slovakian territory, which will take place in Nitra, Slovak Republic, on 5 July 2013.
The mission that will accompany the cardinal is composed of Msgr. Vladimir Stahovec of the Diocese of Roznava, Slovakia, currently rector of the Pontifical College of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Rome, Italy, and Don Martin Kramara, of the Diocese of Zilina, Slovakia, chaplain of the Diocese of Rome for the Pastoral Care of Resident Slovakians.
Finally, the letter of the Holy Father, dated 25 May, was also made public, in which he appointed Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, archpriest emeritus of the Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls Basilica, as special envoy to the closing celebration of the sixth centenary of the discovery of the statue of Santa Maria della Libera to be held in the shrine of Cercemaggiore, Campobasso, Italy on 2 July of this year.
Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
This afternoon he is scheduled to receive Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
On Saturday, 22 June, the Holy Father received:
   - His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, accompanied by an entourage,
   - Her excellency Mrs. Neda Rosandic Saric, former Croatian ambassador to Argentina, and
   - Fr. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, S.J., rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy.
Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Mario Leon Dorado, O.M.I., as apostolic prefect of Western Sahara. Fr. Leon Dorado is currently administrator of the same Apostolic Prefecture.
On Saturday, 22 June, the Holy Father:
  - appointed Fr. Bernard Taiji Katsuya as bishop of Sapporo (area 83,452, population 5,518,088, Catholics 17,619 , priests 56, religious 308), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Muroran-Hokkaido, Japan in 1955 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sapporo in 1986. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and academic roles, most recently, since 2008, as director of the District of Sapporo and, since 2012, as substitute pastor of Tsukisamu.
  - accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, USA, presented by Bishop John Charles Dunne, upon having reached the age limit.



Lourdes: processions resume as floodwaters recede    | Lourdes,Basilica of the Rosary,Marian torchlight procession, Father Horacio Brito, Sanctuary of Lourdes, Grotto, Grotto of Massabielle.

Unusual scene on the Domaine
 Staff and teams of volunteers have been working round the clock to clean up the shrine in Lourdes after last week's devastating floods. On Friday evening, Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of the Rosary and a Marian torchlight procession took place in the evening, on a slightly altered course to enable cleaning operations to take place.
Father Horacio Brito, Rector of the Sanctuary of Lourdes announced that the Grotto was due to be reopened on Saturday afternoon for the Rosary. A note on the Lourdes website invited pilgrims to come and pray at the Grotto of Massabielle.
The prefect's office for the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region confirmed on Saturday that the floodwaters are receding but over the weekend many roads remained closed and some residents were still unable to return to their homes.
The underground Basilica of Saint Pius X, which can normally host up to 25,000 pilgrims, is still partly flooded, with its floor covered by mud.
Just eight months months ago, freak floods caused an estimated 1.3 million euros in damages to Lourdes. The clean-up operation this time is expected to be much more costly. Officials said 37 hotels in the town have been badly damaged by the floods and will not be able to re-open for several months.
If you would like to make a donation to help the Sanctuary of Lourdes deal with the damage caused by the floods, please send a cheque made out to the Association Diocésaine de Tarbes et Lourdes to:
Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes
Solidarité Inondations 2013
1, avenue Monseigneur Théas
65108 LOURDES Cedex

Make a gift online here:


ASIA NEWS REPORT: Fr Pizzaballa talks about the killing of the priest, new martyr in Syria. Franҫois Mourad was killed during an attack by Islamic fighters against the Monastery of St Anthony, in Idlib province. Until his death, the priest had worked with the Franciscans to alleviate the suffering of Christians and Muslims. Now the village stands completely destroyed.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - "Fr. Franҫois Mourad's killing of is a sad occurrence and a blow to all the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land," said Fr Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, as he spoke with AsiaNews about the Syrian clergyman who died on Sunday in al-Ghassaniyah, a predominantly Christian village in Jisr al-Shughur District, Idlib province. His funeral was celebrated yesterday in the small village of Kanaieh, a few kilometres from where he was killed.
Until yesterday, there were two versions of the murder, the first spoke about a stray bullet, the second of an actual attack carried out by Islamist insurgents against the Monastery of St Anthony in al-Ghassaniyah.
"The second is the most reliable version," Fr Pizzaballa said. "From the photos and the testimony of our religious, the rebels attacked the village in past few weeks, forcing most residents to flee."
The Monastery of St Anthony was the only safe haven, where Fr Franҫois lived along with some Franciscan friars, four nuns and ten lay Christians. But on Sunday, rebels part of a fringe extremist Islamic group, stormed that place too."
According to the Custos of the Holy Land, Islamists broke into the convent, looted it and destroyed everything. When Fr Franҫois tried to defend the nuns and other people, the gunmen shot him dead.
"Right now, the village is completely deserted," Fr Pizzaballa said. "Rebels have moved there with their families and occupied the houses still standing."
"Let us pray that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can get back to a normal life soon," he said.
Hailing from a village in the province of Latakia in northwestern Syria, Fr Franҫois Mourad, 49, was trained by the Franciscan Fathers in the Holy Land.
Feeling called to a more contemplative life at the end of the 90s, he left the Franciscans to complete his studies with the Trappists of Latrun (Palestine).
Once back in Syria, he was ordained priest by the Syriac Catholic bishop of Al-Hasakah on the Syrian side of the Al-Jazira region.
In recent years, he launched a new monastic foundation, inspired by Saint Simon and founded a small monastery of contemplative life in Hwar, Aleppo province, devoting himself to the training of some young postulants, all Syrians.
He was in Hwar until this year when fighting between Islamic rebels and regime forced him to take refuge in al-Ghassaniyah, on the Orontes River, guest of the local Franciscan monastery.

Until his death, he worked together with the friars to bring relief to the Christian and Muslim residents of the area. (S.C.)


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese, 
24 Jun 2013

Fr Philip Gibbs SVD with Highlanders in PNG where he has spent the past 40 years
Anthropologist, photographer and film-maker, Caritas Australia research adviser and missionary priest, Father Philip Gibbs has found a unique way to empower the people of the PNG's remote Western Highlands. For a people with an oral tradition, many of whom are illiterate, instead of turning to the internet or giving them books to explore issues of concern, Fr Philip lets them use his video camera to explore these issues for themselves and to make their own films to enlighten others.
"I offer input but those making the films or videos are the ones who decide on the subject matter and write the scripts before going out to film different aspects of the issue they want to explore. Once it is all on film, I step in and help with the editing," he says.
The results so far are a series of powerful videos and short films, many of which are shown on local communal TV, raising awareness about such important subjects as HIV/AID, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis which is once again destroying lives and malaria which like TB, is producing powerful strains of the disease which are resistant to drugs.
"One of the films we are doing at the moment has a group of students  looking at the Value of Life. And what we've found is that with many of our HIV/AIDS programs there is not much point raising awareness if people don't want to be aware. And this depends very much on how people value their lives," he says.
The reasons for the lack of value some people in PNG place on their lives are complex. Poverty and lack of education are two reasons. This is further exacerbated by people who having left school early and unable to find work, turning to home-made alcohol and marijuana where they become more likely to engage in high risk behaviour that can result in contracting diseases such as HIV.
"The film looks at all these issues and while it doesn't provide all the answers, it is stimulating discussions and that's a good start," Fr Philip says.
By making their own films, the people of the Highlands have a voice with which to enlighten others.

Fr Philip Gibbs showing Highlanders how to use a video camera to make their own films
The films are not only shown on communal TV in the Highlands but increasingly on national TV across PNG.
One recent film looked at money, the way people use it in helpful positive ways and in unhelpful ways. Another explored PNG's street children or "taxi boys" as they are known and offered new insights and possible solutions.
"The media in countries like Australia are inclined to see PNG as a basket case with stories about sorcery and being burned to death as witches, instances of often shocking domestic violence and the reimplementation of the death penalty. But there is some really good work being done in PNG and although there are definitely some negatives, the story overall is a positive one," he insists.
In Australia to address a conference in Canberra on sorcery related violence in PNG last week, Fr Philip says the belief in sorcery lies in the culture of Melanesian spirituality and cites instances where if someone has an accident in some of the remote villages of the Highlands' jungles and mists, the question asked is usually "who is behind it?"
However sorcery is not as widespread as some sensationalist media stories have suggested, he says.
"The Simba province is regarded as the worst where of 3000 deaths last year, between 100-200 were sorcery related," he says. "While this is of great concern, as are the reports of domestic violence, these should not overshadow the large number of good loving marriages and strong healthy relationships between couples and their children that exist in villages throughout the Highlands."
Grounded in superstition, ignorance and fear, sorcery is found in isolated pockets of PNG and in some cases is being exploited by the unscrupulous to gain power and wealth. Perhaps surprisingly for some  90% of the population in PNG's census of 2000 describing themelves as Christians.
"On Sundays churches across the country are packed. In Mt Hagen, the Catholic churches are full to the brim. There are always very lively liturgies and numbers steadily increasing, particularly among young men."
Fr Philip has spent the past 40 years in PNG. Based in the Highlands, he works closely with the Australian born Archbishop of Mt Hagen, the Most Rev Douglas.

Fr Philip Gibbs loves photographing the men, women and children of PNG
Secretary of Social Concerns with the Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Fr Philip also works as a researcher for Caritas Australia and the agency's various projects in the Highlands. For the past several years these have included a program that ranged across the whole area of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
"A lot of work has gone into this and supported by Caritas, Catholic Health Services have created a wide range of SDI management programs, begun training of health workers and establishing laboratories and services across three of the five provinces across the Highlands. It is a slow process but more and more people are becoming aware of these diseases and how they are contracted and how they can be managed," he says.
 While malaria remains PNG's major health problem, until recently malaria-carrying mosquitoes were virtually unknown in the cooler climate more than 5000 feet above sea level. 
"But with increasing temperatures, malarial mosquitoes have infiltrated new areas across the Highlands where people have never been exposed to malaria and have no resistance," he explains.
A priest with the Society of the Divine Word, Fr Philip grew up in New Zealand says learning as a teenager how to keep an old car on the road has come in handy in Mt Hagen and is proud that despite the horrendous unsealed muddy steep roads his Suzuki has to travel, he has managed to keep it going.
His ability with a camera is even more impressive. Self taught, he has become a renowned film maker in his own right and is now not only helping empower and give the PNG's Highlanders a voice but mentoring an increasingly impressive group of upcoming film makers and photographers.


Papa Giovanni XXIII
Angelo Roncalli, born in Sotto Il Monte in 1881, is known for his profound spirituality as well as his extraordinary goodness from the young years of his life. When he feels a need to serve God, Angelo goes to study theology in Bergamo, and in Apollinare School (Rome) and becomes a priest. During his studies, he gets to know his two dearest friends, Mattia and Nicola. Very soon, most people see marvelous talents in him, including his wide knowledge and a constant readiness for sacrifice. The Holy See makes him go further to bishop and cardinal, and the Holy Father sends him to various places as a representative of the Church. When Pius XII dies on October, the 9th, 1958, 77 year-old Angelo goes to Rome, to conclave to choose a new pope. However, this time, it is him who hears gentle words of Jesus "Tu es Petrus!" ("You are Peter!") and from October, the 28th leads the church as pope John XXIII. Anonymous

2003 Film 

 Ricky Tognazzi
 Bob Hoskins, Carlo Cecchi, Roberto Citran 

Monday, June 24, 2013


Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist - Mass During the Day
Lectionary: 587

Reading 1               IS 49:1-6

Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm              PS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15

R. (14) I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Reading 2           ACTS 13:22-26

In those days, Paul said:
“God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.

From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

“My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Gospel      LK 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.


Birth of St. John the Baptist
Feast: June 24

Feast Day:June 24
THE birth of St. John was foretold by an angel of the Lord to his father, Zachary, who was offering incense in the Temple. It was the office of St. John to prepare the way for Christ, and before he was born into the world he began to live for the Incarnate God. Even in the womb he knew the presence of Jesus and of Mary, and he leaped with joy at the glad coming of the son of man. In his youth he remained hidden, because He for Whom he waited was hidden also. But before Christ's public life began, a divine impulse led St. John into the desert; there, with locusts for his food and haircloth on his skin, in silence and in prayer, he chastened his own soul. Then, as crowds broke in upon his solitude, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come, and gave them the baptism of penance, while they confessed their sins. At last there stood in the crowd One Whom St. John did not know, till a voice within told him that it was his Lord. With the baptism of St. John, Christ began His penance for the sins of His people, and St. John saw the Holy Ghost descend in bodily form upon Him. Then the Saint's work was done. He had but to point his own disciples to the Lamb, he had but to decrease as Christ increased. He saw all men leave him and go after Christ. "I told you," he said, "that I am not the Christ. The friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth because of the Bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled." St. John had been cast into the fortress of Machærus by a worthless tyrant whose crimes be had rebuked, and he was to remain there till he was beheaded, at the will of a girl who danced before this wretched king. In this time of despair, if St. John could have known despair, some of his old disciples visited him. St. John did not speak to them of himself, but he sent them to Christ, that they might see the proofs of His mission. Then the Eternal Truth pronounced the panegyric of the Saint who had lived and breathed for Him alone: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist"

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

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