"Doing good" is a principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates the "culture of encounter" that is the foundation of peace: this is what at Domus Santae Martae, in the presence of employees of the Governorate of Vatican City. Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, concelebrated at the Mass.
Wednesday's Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. "They complain," the Pope said in his homily, because they say, "If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good." And Jesus corrects them: "Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good." The disciples, Pope Francis explains, "were a little intolerant," closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that "those who do not have the truth, cannot do good." "This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon." Pope Francis said, "The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation":
"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. 'But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.' Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this 'closing off' that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy."
"Instead," the Pope continued, "the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil":
"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. 'But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good: we will meet one another there."
"Doing good" the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: "It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always."
This was the final prayer of Pope Francis:
"Today is [the feast of] Santa Rita, Patron Saint of impossible things – but this seems impossible: let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work, which is a work of creation, like the creation of the Father. A work of the family, because we are all children of God, all of us, all of us! And God loves us, all of us! May Santa Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible.
Source: 2013-05-22 Vatican Radio47th World Communications Day:
13th May 2013
Theme: "Social Networks new spaces for Evangelisation"
Yesterday, May 12, the Church marked World Communications Day, encouraging Catholics in countries across the globe to make better use of the media and other forms of communication to share the good news of the Gospel with all men and women. This year, the papal message, drawn up and released in January by Benedict XVI, focuses on the importance of social networking sites as "portals of truth and faith", and "new spaces for evangelisation".
In the message, the former pontiff, who opened the first papal Twitter account at the end of last year, invites people to appreciate the potential of social media sites and urges believers, in this Year of Faith, to consider how their presence on these networks can help spread the Gospel message of God's love for all people. (From: Vatican Radio)
To mark this important event, the archdiocese of Nairobi,in Kenya,organized the Catholic Media Festival for three days. One of the media houses, Radio Waumini, also celebrated the tenth anniversary of its foundation.
During the media festival students, from primary school to university; families and religious were invited to participate in the various activities and programmes on media awareness, organized at the festival.
Various media houses were present such as the Paulines Publication Africa; New People, The Seed, Ukweli Video Productions, The Mirror, BEAMS (Don Bosco) and Radio Maria.
The Media Festival ended with a solemn celebration of the Holy Eucharist presided over by Bishop Martin Kivuva, the Chairman of Communications at the level of the Episcopal Conference of Kenya. This Eucharistic celebration also marked the 47th World Day of Communications and the 10th anniversary of Radio Waumini.
Pope Francis welcomes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVIth home
3rd May 2013
Pope Francis had words of welcome as he greeted Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus, who returned to take up residence inside Vatican city.
In style with his own personal manner, Pope Francis left the formalities of a welcoming ceremony to Vatican authorities, who awaited the arrival of the Pope Emeritus at the Vatican heliport. These included Cardinals Bertello - President of the Governatorate, Bertone - Secretary of State, and Sodano - the deacon of the College of Cardinals as well as some bishops.
But Pope Francis was awaiting his predecessor at the entrance to the "Mater Ecclesiae" Monastery in the Vatican Gardens where Benedict will be residing. Together they preceded to the chapel for a brief moment of prayer.
The Pope Emeritus left the Vatican on February 28th after his resignation, and had been staying at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills.
He chose to leave the Vatican immediately after his resignation to physically remove himself from the process of electing his successor.
His absence also gave workers time to finish up renovations on the monastery on the edge of the Vatican gardens that until last year housed groups of cloistered nuns who were invited for a few years at a time to live inside the Vatican to pray for the Pontiff and Church at large.
In the small building, with a chapel attached, Benedict will live with his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, and the four consecrated women who do the housekeeping and prepare his meals. Inside the building, Benedict has at his disposal a small library and a study. A guest room is available for when his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, comes to visit.
Today's was not the first meeting between the Pope and the Pope Emeritus. In fact Francis visited Benedict in March in Castel Gandolfo, and they have spoken by telephone.
Source: 2013-05-02 Vatican RadioPope Francis: Remain steadfast in the journey of faith
29th April 2013
On the 5th Sunday of Easter when Jesus calls his disciples, "little children," he gives them a new commandment: "to love one another," and prepares them for his departure, Pope Francis celebrated the Holy Mass in St Peter's Square and confirmed a group of young people with the Sacrament of Confirmation.
In his homily he addressed them:
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Confirmands,
It is an invitation which I make to you, young confirmandi, and to all present. Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness. The Lord is so rich in mercy: every time, if we go to him, he forgives us. Let us trust in God's work! With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals, my dear young people!
The new things of God, the trials of life, remaining steadfast in the Lord. Dear friends, let us open wide the door of our lives to the new things of God which the Holy Spirit gives us. May he transform us, confirm us in our trials, strengthen our union with the Lord, our steadfastness in him: this is a true joy! So may it be.
Source: 2013-04-29 Vatican NewsDeacons visit the apostolate
It is a custom of Paulines Publications Africa to invite deacons every year, to get to know better the Pauline apostolate and in view of a future collaboration in the mission.
At the core of our spirituality and mission is "the Bible and the Eucharist"; so beginning from the Chapel, we took the visitors to the different sectors of the apostolate explaining the different activities carried out in those sectors.
The deacons were very grateful at the end of the visit as they came to a better understanding of what the Pauline mission entails.
Source: Paulines Editorial.Pope:
8th April 2013
"Do not be afraid to go forth and announce the Risen Christ."
Pope Francis on Sunday urged the faithful to be courageous in proclaiming their faith.
Speaking to crowds of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the Regina Coeli prayer, the Pope highlighted the fact that the eighth day of Easter is also Divine Mercy Sunday, and he renewed his Easter greetings with the words of the Risen Christ: "Peace be with you". These words – he said – are not a simple greeting: they are a gift – the precious gift that Christ offered to his disciples after he rose from the dead.
"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you…" And the Pope said "this peace is the fruit of the victory of God's love over evil, it's the fruit of forgiveness." And he said this is the true peace that comes from having experienced God's mercy. Speaking of the peace Jesus gave to the Apostles so that they could spread it in the world the Pope said that we too must have the courage to be witnesses of the faith in the Risen Christ. We must not be afraid – he said – to be Christians and to live as Christians.
Pope Francis urged those listening to have the courage to go forth and to announce the Risen Christ because he is our peace, he made peace possible with his love and his forgiveness, with his blood and with his mercy. Pope Francis concluded his address announcing he would be celebrating Mass in the afternoon in the Basilica of St John Lateran, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, and he invited those present to pray for the bishop and for the people of Rome in their journey of faith and charity.
Source: 2013-04-07 Vatican Radio.Pope Francis:
21st March 2013
Pope Francis calls Benedict to wish him happy feast day
Pope Francis called Emeritus Pope Benedict to wish him a happy St Joseph's feast day March 19th. The Argentine Pope, who placed the call to his German predecessor Joseph Ratzinger shortly after 5:00 pm Rome time Tuesday, once again expressed gratitude to the emeritus pope for his long time service to the Church. The two enjoyed a lengthy and cordial conversation. Since his resignation February 28, Emeritus Pope Benedict has been staying at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, in the Rome countryside until restoration work on his new residence in the Vatican is completed. Benedict has followed with "intense participation" the events of these days, particularly Tuesday morning's installation liturgy. He assured his Successor that he would continue to pray for him.
Source: 2013-03-20 Vatican Radio.Pope Francis
15th March 2013
Pope Gives 1st Impressions of Simplicity, Sense of Humour
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, today commented on the Pope's first public appearance on Wednesday evening, when Francis greeted the crowd gathered in St Peter's Square.
He noted a few significant gestures that characterised the simplicity and serenity of that encounter, beginning with the Pope's request that the faithful pray for him and his choice of vestments. "The new Pope wore neither the red 'mozzetta' (the elbow-length cape worn by high-ranking prelates) nor a stole, and his pectoral cross was the same simple one that he has worn as bishop and Cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The choice of his name Francis, after St Francis of Assisi, strongly recalls the saint's evangelical spirituality and radical poverty," Father Lombardi said.
The spokesman also clarified that his papal name is simply Francis, not Francis I, since he is the first pontiff to bear that name. If after him another pontiff chooses that name then he will be Francis I.
Another gesture made by the new Pope, Fr Lombardi continued, was that Wednesday after his election in the Sistine Chapel, when his cardinal brothers paid him homage, instead of sitting on the papal throne, he stood as he received them. As well, instead of taking the papal car that had been prepared for him to return to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, he took the same minibus he had arrived in along with the other cardinals.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York also mentioned this to reporters. They were expecting him to arrive in a limousine, which they saw parked in the Apostolic Palace. "And when the last bus stopped, guess who came out? Pope Francis. I imagine he said to the chauffeur: 'no problem, I'll go with the boys,'" explained Cardinal Dolan to journalists.
Pope Francis briefly addressed the cardinals at the festive supper, after thanking them, quipping, "May God forgive you [for what you have done]."
Cardinal Dolan again mentioned his humorous side, saying the Pontiff also said to the cardinals, "I'm going to sleep well tonight, and something tells me you will too."
Cardinal Dolan described the emotion in the Sistine Chapel when Cardinal Bergoglio got the two-thirds majority necessary to be elected.
"We began to applaud, but had to stop until the rest of the votes were counted and then we clapped again at the end," Cardinal Dolan said, "and again when he said that he accepted his election."
Source: Rome, March 14, 2013 (Zenit.org)Pope Francis' Official Biography
14th March 2013
Here is the official biography of Pope Francis, released by the Vatican.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite, was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires. He studied for a degree as a chemical technician, but then chose the priesthood and entered the seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he moved to the novitiate of the Company of Jesus where he finished studies in the humanities in Chile. In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he obtained a degree in philosophy at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel.
Between 1964 and 1965 he taught literature and psychology at the Immacolata College in Santa Fe and then in 1966 he taught the same subjects at the University of El Salvador, in Buenos Aires.
From 1967 to 1970 he studied theology at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel where he obtained a degree. On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest. From 1970 to 1971 he completed the third probation at Alcala de Henares, Spain, and on 22 April 1973, pronounced his perpetual vows.
He was novice master at Villa Varilari in San Miguel from 1972 to 1973, where he also taught theology. On 31 July 1973 he was elected as Provincial for Argentina, a role he served for six years.
From 1980 to 1986 he was rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel as well as pastor of the Patriarca San Jose parish in the Diocese of San Miguel. In March of 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis. The superiors then sent him to the University of El Salvador and then to Cordoba where he served as a confessor and spiritual director.
On 20 May 1992, John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires. He received episcopal consecration in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires from Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Apostolic Nuncio Ubaldo Calabresi, and Bishop Emilio Ognenovich of Mercedes-Lujan on 27 June of that year.
On 3 June 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998.
He was Adjunct Relator General of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2001.
He served as President of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011.
He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Blessed John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, of the Title of S. Roberto Bellarmino (St. Robert Bellarmine).
He was a member of:
• The Congregations for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Clergy; and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;
• the Pontifical Council for the Family; and
• the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
Source: Vatican City, March 14, 2013 (Zenit.org) Cardinal Sodano:
13th March 2013
'May the Lord Grant Us Another Good Shepherd' Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass Takes Place in St. Peters Basilica
Thousands gathered at St Peter's Basilica yesterday for the "Missa Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice" (Mass Before the Election of the Roman Pontiff). Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, presided over the Mass, which was concelebrated by the Cardinals, both electors and non-electors.
"'Forever I will sing the mercies of the Lord' is the hymn that resounds once again near the tomb of the Apostle Peter in this important hour of the history of the Holy Church of Christ," Cardinal Sodano said at the start of his homily.
Cardinal Sodano began thanking God and expressing his gratitude for the "brilliant Pontificate" of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The cardinal's statement was met with prolonged applause by all gathered.
Remembering the words of Christ, "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her", the Dean of the College of Cardinals prayed that God would grant another Good Shepherd to lead the Church.
Mission of Love and Mercy
Contemplating on the first reading from Isaiah, Cardinal Sodano said that the fulfillment of the prophecy in Jesus Christ of the coming of the Messiah was manifestation of God's love for his people. "It is a love", he said, "which is especially felt in contact with suffering, injustice, poverty and all human frailty, both physical and moral."
"This mission of mercy has been entrusted by Christ to the pastors of his Church. It is a mission that must be embraced by every priest and bishop, but is especially entrusted to the Bishop of Rome, Shepherd of the universal Church."
Cardinal Sodano also said that it is that same love that urges the Pastors of the Church to serve all people from those who do charitable work to the highest form of service: "of offering to every person the light of the Gospel and the strength of grace."
The Mission of the Roman Pontiff
The Gospel read during the Mass recalled Christ's commandment: "That you love one another as I have loved you", which, Cardinal Sodano said, reminds "us that the fundamental attitude of the Pastors of the Church is love."
"The basic attitude of every Shepherd is therefore to lay down one's life for his sheep. This also applies to the Successor of Peter, Pastor of the Universal Church," he said.
"As high and universal the pastoral office, so much greater must be the charity of the Shepherd. In the heart of every Successor of Peter, the words spoken one day by the Divine Master to the humble fisherman of Galilee have resounded: "Diligis me plus his? Pasce agnos meos... pasce oves meas"; "Do you love me more than these? Feed my lambs… feed my sheep!"
Recalling the words of the Benedict XVI in his encyclical "Deus Caritas Est", the Dean of the College of Cardinals stated that the service of charity is part of the "intimate nature of the Church", saying that the mission of charity is proper not only to the universal Church, but in a particular way to the Church in Rome.
Cardinal Sodano concluded his homily calling on those present to pray "that the Lord will grant us a Pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart."
Source: Vatican City, March 12, 2013 (Zenit.org)Conclave to begin Tuesday March 12th
11th March 2013
The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals meeting in the Vatican Synod Hall Friday has decided that the Conclave for the election of the Pope will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013.
A "pro eligendo Romano Pontifice" Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning. Then on Tuesday afternoon the 115 Cardinal Electors will gather in the Pauline Chapel for a moment of collection and prayer and from there they will process in order of precedence through the Sala Regia to the Sistine Chapel invoking the Holy Spirit.
There they will take their seats, again observing the order of precedence, to elect the 265th Successor to St Peter. Once they have taken their seats they will hear the second meditation established by the Apostolic Constitution governing the papal transitions. It will be given by the Maltese Augustinian, Cardinal Prospero Grech.
Following the mediation, the 115 cardinals will swear an oath to observe the rules of Conclave which include to maintain fidelity to the election of the Pope, to maintain secrecy, never to support or favor interference. The Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano, reads aloud the formula of the oath, the Cardinal electors respond: I do so promise, pledge and swear.
After all the Cardinals have taken the oath, the Master of the Papal Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini orders all individuals other than the Cardinal Electors and conclave participants to leave the Sistine Chapel. He stands at the great wooden doors and pronounces the phrase: "Extra omnes!" (i.e. "All persons out!"). He then closes the door.
According to the Apostolic Constitution, on the afternoon of the first day, one ballot may be held. If a ballot takes place on the afternoon of the first day and no-one is elected, four ballots are held on each successive day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. If no result is obtained after three voting days of balloting, the process is suspended for a maximum of one day for prayer, meditation and reflection. A two thirds majority is required for the election of a Pope.
Of the 115 Cardinal Electors, more than half are European with the largest single nationality represented by the 28 Italian Cardinal Electors. In a geographical breakdown: 60 come from Europe, 19 from Latin America, 14 from North America, 11 from Africa, 10 from Asia and 1 from Oceania.
The average age of the Cardinal Electors is 71 while 67 of the Cardinals who will enter in the Conclave on Tuesday were appointed by Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI.
There were eight Conclaves in the 20th century, only three of which lasted longer than three days. The longest Conclave in the last two hundred years was 1830-1831. It lasted 50 days for a total of 83 ballots resulting in the election of Gregory XVI, the last religious elected to the papacy. The shortest Conclave in the 20th century took place in 1939. Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pius XII after just three ballots.
Source: 2013-03-08 Vatican Radio Benedict XVI: The end of a long goodbye
1st March 2013
"Thank you, thank you from my heart. I am happy to be here with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your friendship that does me so much good, thank you for your friendship, for caring.
You know that today is different from others… as of eight pm I will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. I will simply be a pilgrim who is beginning the last part of his pilgrimage on earth.
But with my heart, my love, my prayer, with all my inner strength, I will work for the common good and the good of the Church and all humanity.
And I feel greatly supported by your affection. Let us move forward together with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world.
I will now impart upon you all my Apostolic Blessing
Thank you and good night. Thank you all"
This was how Benedict XVI brought to an end the long goodbye that has accompanied the final weeks of his Pontificate.
As the bells of Rome continued to peal in salute to the 264th Successor of St Peter and the sun set behind the tiny hill-top town of Castel Gandolfo, the figure of Benedict XVI slipped behind the curtains of the central balcony of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo. It was his last public appearance as Pope.
The crowds below continued to cheer as further north, in St Peter's Square, thousands more huddled around the giant screens, many shaking their heads, with tears in their eyes.
"Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives", read his last tweet, sent moments before he lifted off from the Vatican heliport for the Papal Summer Residence, high in the Vatican Gardens. Vatican officials and lay staff from his chauffeur, to the squadron of gardeners struggling to contain their emotion as they bid him farewell.
As of 20:00, the See of Peter will be vacant. Benedict XVI will now retire into a secluded life of prayer and meditation, at first remaining in Castel Gandolfo before retiring to a monastery in the Vatican gardens.
Source: 2013-02-28 Vatican Radio Benedict XVI: A supremely liturgical Pope
28th Feb 2013
One of the lasting legacies of Benedict XVI's pontificate will be the mark he has left on the Liturgy as it is celebrated today. In short, he has re-focused our attention on how we, as Catholics, celebrate our faith in the light of tradition.
From his highly discussed 2007 Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, to his approval of the equally debated New English Language translation of the Roman Missal; from his elimination of all rites and gestures that are not specifically sacramental in nature from Papal liturgies to his recent changes to rites for the beginning of a pontificate, the "Ordo Rituum pro Ministerii Petrini Initio Romae Episcopi", Benedict XVI has brought the Universal Churches' focus back to prayer and the Eucharist, the source and summit of what makes us Church. In a way Benedict XVI has been a supremely liturgical Pope.
"I think we will be unpacking the significance of his impact on the liturgy for many years to come", says Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the Secretariat for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.
Mons. Wadsworth, who was deeply involved in the New English Language translation of the Roman Missal, dropped by Vatican Radio to speak to Emer McCarthy about the liturgical mark Benedict XVI has left on the English speaking Church.
"When the Holy Father spoke to his own clergy, the priest of the diocese of Rome for the last time, he said two very significant things about the Liturgy: Firstly he said that the Second Vatican Council was very right to treat of the Liturgy first, because it thereby showed that God has primacy. And in the Liturgy the most important consideration is adoration. He linked this to the fact that he has desired that in the celebration of our Mass there should be a Crucifix on the altar. So that the priest looks at the Cross and remembers that it's the sacrifice of Calvary that's being represented in the celebration of the Mass and that the people should look at the Cross rather than at the priest".
"The Motu Proprio really is a very important moment in which the Holy Father puts two forms of the Roman Rite which potentially have been at loggerheads which each other since the Second Vatican Council in a creative dynamic relationship with each other. The Holy Father really is reminding us that the light of tradition should fall on all of our liturgical experience".
"In relation to the New English Translation of the Missal…it was the Holy Father who judged on the whole question of pro multis for many, chalice rather than cup, those are his particular judgements and his prerogative as the Pope. He showed a great interest in the process as it was unfolding …over ten years in the making".
Source: 2013-02-26 Vatican Radio More News >>> Benedict pledges obedience to his successor
26th Feb 2013
"Among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom, here today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience."
Those were Pope Benedict's words on Thursday morning to his closest advisors, gathered in the Vatican's Clementine Hall for a final greeting, just hours ahead of his retirement and the end of his pontificate at 8pm, Rome time.
For his last meeting in the Vatican, the outgoing pontiff greeted 144 cardinals individually, together with the presidents and officials of the different Vatican offices.
He also responded to a greeting from the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, saying that together they have sought to serve Christ and His Church throughout this past pontificate. He urged them all to pray so that the College of Cardinals is "like an orchestra" where diversity, as an expression of the Universal Church, always contributes to a higher sense of harmony.The Church, Pope Benedict stressed, is a living body, as was so clearly seen through the crowds gathered in St Peter's Square for the last Wednesday general audience. Through the Church, he said, the mystery of the Incarnation remains forever present. Christ continues to walk through all times and in all places.
Before exchanging a few words with each man individually, the Pope said he would continue to be close to them all through prayer, especially in the coming days leading up to the election of a new pope. Noting that the next leader of the Catholic Church would be among men standing in front of him, Benedict pledged his "unconditional reverence and obedience." As Fr Federico Lombardi noted at a press briefing following the event, Benedict will be in Castel Gandolfo so will not be part of the next papal election: thus these final words simply underline his attitude of complete service and obedience to God and to the 265th Successor of St Peter.
Source: 2013-02-28 Vatican Radio THE CHURCH IS REAWAKENED IN SOULS
1st March 2013
Venerable and Dear Brothers,
"I welcome you with great joy and I offer each one of you my most cordial greeting. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano who, as always, has been able to interpret the sentiments of the entire College: Cor ad orloquitur [heart speaks to heart]. I warmly thank you, Your Eminence. And I would like to say – taking up your reference to the disciples of Emmaus – that for me too it has been a joy to walk with you in these years, in the light of the Risen Lord's presence.
"As I said yesterday to the thousands of the faithful who filled St Peter's Square, your closeness and your advice has been of great help to me in my ministry. In these eight years we have lived with faith the most beautiful moments of radiant light on the Church's journey, alongside moments when several clouds had gathered in the sky. We sought to serve Christ and his Church with profound and total love, which is the heart and soul of our ministry. We gave hope, the hope that comes to us from Christ, which alone can light us on our way. Together we can thank the Lord who has enabled us to grow in communion, and at the same time pray to him to help us to grow even more in this deep unity, so that the College of Cardinals may be like an orchestra where differences – an expression of the universal Church – never fail to contribute to superior and harmonious concord. I would like to leave you a simple thought which I have very much at heart: a thought about the Church, about her mystery, which constitutes for us all – we can say – the reason and passion for life.
"I have let a phrase of Romano Guardini help me. It was written in the very same year that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium. In his last book, Guardini says, the Church "is not an institution conceived and built in theory... but a living reality.... She lives through the course of time, in becoming, like every living being, in changing.... And yet in her nature she remains ever the same and her heart is Christ". It seems to me that this was our experience yesterday, in the Square: seeing that the Church is a living body, enlivened by the Holy Spirit and which is really brought to life by God's power. She is in the world but not of the world: she is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit. We saw this yesterday. That is why Guardini's other famous saying is both true and eloquent: "The Church reawakens in souls". The Church is alive, she grows and is reawakened in souls who – like the Virgin Mary – welcome the Word of God and conceive it through the action of the Holy Spirit; they offer to God their own flesh. It is precisely in their poverty and humility that they become capable of begetting Christ in the world today. Through the Church, the Mystery of the Incarnation lives on forever. Christ continues to walk through the epochs and in all places.
"Let us stay united, dear Brothers, in this Mystery: in prayer, especially in the daily Eucharist, and in this way we shall serve the Church and the whole of humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.
"Before I say 'goodbye' to you personally, I would like to tell you that I shall continue to be close to you with prayers, especially in these coming days, so that you may be completely docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope. May the Lord show you the one whom he wants. And among you, in the College of Cardinals, there is also the future pope to whom today I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For this reason, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart to you the Apostolic Blessing."
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 28-02-2013 SEDE VACANTE: THE SEE OF ROME IS VACANT
As of 8 p.m. Rome Time, Thursday, 28 February 2013, the See of Rome is vacant. The Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, is temporarily residing at Castel Gandolfo, in the palace used by Popes as a summer retreat. When renovations on the monastery inside the walls of Vatican City are complete, Benedict XVI will take up residence there. Though he has renounced the office of Bishop of Rome, along with all its powers and responsibilities, the Pope emeritus keeps the name he took at the beginning of his reign: Benedict XVI. He also continues to be styled, His Holiness.
Fr. James J Conn, SJ, who is Professor of Canon Law at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, spoke with Vatican Radio about a series of issues relating to the laws governing the transition, including what happens when the See of Peter becomes vacant: the so-called period sede vacante: This Latin ablative absolute, which is exactly equivalent in Italian, means, literally, "the chair being empty". In the Church and its canon law, it describes the vacancy of an episcopal chair or "see" occasioned by a bishop's death, transfer, or accepted resignation. The law makes provision for the ordinary administration of a vacant local church or diocese through the appointment by the Holy See of an apostolic administrator or the election by the diocesan consultors of a diocesan administrator. There is an age-old principle that governs the sede vacante. It says: sede vacante nihil innovetur, which means, "when the see is vacant, let no innovations be made." In other words, nothing extraordinary should be done that would prejudice the next incumbent's freedom.
What is special about a vacancy of the See of Peter?
First of all, as in the case of Pope Benedict, a Pope's resignation from office must be accepted by no other authority. Second, the administration of the Apostolic See is entrusted not to a single administrator, but to the College of Cardinals. Nevertheless, the same principle of "no innovations" holds.
Fr. Conn, SJ's remarks are part of the first interview segment to air in that series. In subsequent episodes, we also discuss the whys and wherefores of the official secrecy under which the Papal election takes place. We shall be bringing you all this in short features, each dealing with one or two specific questions. The next episode will deal with questions of Church governance during the sede vacante.
Source: 2013-02-28 Vatican Radio What happens to Pope Benedict's twitter account after his resignation?
26th Feb 2013
In response to numerous queries as to whether the Holy Father's twitter account will be permanently shut down following his resignation, Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications issued the following statement:
The Twitter account @pontifex was created for the exclusive use of the Pope. @pontifex will be inactive during the interim period between the renouncement of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of his successor (sede vacante). @pontifex will be available for use by the next Pope as he may wish.
Source: 2013-02-23 Vatican Radio POPE BENEDICT: TRUTH AND BEAUTY GO TOGETHER
25th Feb 2013
Pope Benedict on Saturday, 23 February, concluded the "spiritual exercises" which mark the beginning of Lent at the Vatican. "The art of believing, the art of praying" was the theme
of their reflections given by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Pope Benedict reflected on the relationship of beauty to the truth. "Truth and beauty," he said, "go together: beauty is the seal of truth."
"At the end of this very spiritually intense week, only one word remains: Thank you! Thank you for this community of prayerful listening that has accompanied me. Thank you, above all, to your Eminence for these beautiful "walks," in the world of faith, the world of the Psalms. We were amazed by the richness, the depth, the beauty of this universe of faith and we are grateful for the Word of God that you have spoken to us in a new way, with new strength. I was reminded of the fact that the medieval theologians translated the word "Logos" not only as "Verbum", but also as "ars": "Verbum" and "ars" are interchangeable. For the medieval theologians, it was only with the two words together that the whole meaning of the word "Logos" appeared. The "Logos" is not just a mathematical reason: the "Logos" has a heart; the "Logos" is also love. The truth is beautiful and the true and beautiful go together: beauty is the seal of truth.
"And yet, starting from the Psalms and from our everyday experience, you have also strongly emphasised that the "very good" of the sixth day - expressed by the Creator - is permanently contradicted by the evil of this world, by suffering, by corruption. It's almost as if wickedness wills permanently to spoil creation, to contradict God and make its truth and its beauty unrecognisable. In a world so marked even by evil, the "Logos," the eternal beauty and the eternal "art", must appear as a "caput cruentatum." The incarnate Son, the incarnate "Logos" is crowned with a crown of thorns and nevertheless is just that: in this suffering figure of the Son of God we begin to see the deepest beauty of our Creator and Redeemer; in the silence of the "dark night" we can, nevertheless, hear the Word. And believing is nothing other than, in the darkness of the world, touching the hand of God, and in this way, in silence, hearing the Word, seeing love.
"Your Eminence, thank you for everything and let us continue to "walk" even further in this mysterious world of faith, to be increasingly able to pray, to ask, to proclaim, to be witnesses to the truth, that is beauty, that is love.
"Finally, dear friends, I would like to thank you all, not only for this week, but for the past eight years, in which you have borne with me, with great skill, affection, love, faith, the weight of the Petrine ministry. This gratitude remains within me and even if this visible exterior communion is now ending - as Cardinal Ravasi has said - the spiritual closeness, a deep communion in prayer, remains. In this certainty let us go forward, confident in the victory of God, sure of the truth, of beauty, and of love. Thank you all."
Pope Benedict XVI
Source: Vatican Radio, 23-02-2013 Thousands flocking to Rome to bid Benedict XVI farewell on Feb. 27th
19th Feb 2013
Vatican: Thousands flocking to Rome to bid Benedict XVI farewell on Feb. 27th
To date, 35 thousand people have registered with the Pontifical Household to attend Pope Benedict XVI's "last great appointment with the People of God", said Holy See Press Office director Fr. Federico Lombardi in his daily briefing with journalists Saturday.
Fr. Lombardi told the press that the gathering on Wednesday February 27th will not follow the normal praxis of a general audience; there will be no catechesis but rather a Liturgy of the Word and a celebration of the pontificate.
He also revealed that the Vatican Television Centre will be broadcasting live Benedict XVI's departure from the Apostolic Palace on Thursday 28th, following his final farewell to the College of Cardinals. Lombardi confirmed that Pope Benedict is expected to remain in Castel Gandolfo for a period of at least two months.
Until then it's business as usual. In fact the Vatican Press Office director revealed the Pope's calm and serenity as he carries out the final public appointments of his pontificate. On Saturday these included a meeting with the President of Guatemala, Italian bishops on their Ad Limina pilgrimage and later in the evening with out-going Italian premier Mario Monti.
And the Holy Father is pushing ahead with issues of governance, such as his renewal of the Cardinals Commission charged with overseeing the IOR, or Institute of Religious Works for another 5 year term.
As of sundown this Sunday, the entire Roman Curia withdraws for a week-long Lenten retreat, led this year by Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture.
During this period all papal appointments are suspended. But, Fr. Lombardi noted, the Pope will still sign documents pertinent to the life of the Church, brought to his attention by his secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein.
Then looking ahead, Fr. Lombardi informed press that the Camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is already at work with experts to clarify the steps to be taken during the Sede Vacante in preparation for the papal election, according the governing constitution Universi Dominici Gregis.
He said that the possibility of bringing the date of the conclave forward, before the statutory 15-20 days after the beginning of the Vacant See (March 1st) remained 'open'. He said it was a decision for the Camerlegno, the Dean on the College of Cardinals and the college itself and very much depended on how quickly all 209 men arrived in Rome.
Source: 2013-02-16 Vatican Radio A period of silence
19th Feb 2013
Retreat time of silence is beginning in the Vatican. After the Sunday Angelus, that, as usual Benedict XVI prayed at noon in St Peter's Square attended by a very large number of people, the Lenten Spiritual Exercises began and will last until Saturday 23.
During this period there is no the General Audience on Wednesday, and the Private and Special Audiences are also suspended.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will preach the Retreat in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace, on the theme Ars orandi, ars credendi. The face of God and the face of man in the prayers of the Psalms. During the week the Cardinal will suggest an itinerary for meditation in the Psalter to the Pope and the members of the Roman Curia. The Cardinal will explain the Exercises which will be published in interview form in our newspaper. In addition the Cardinal is expected to speak about Joseph Ratzinger's possible future role, since he has resigned from the Papacy. He stands out as "a figure who will continue the service of intercession that is so important for the Church".
The comments and news regarding Benedict's decision are increasing. In the Autumn of 2001 the German journalist and writer Peter Seewald … began to collect relevant material with a biography of the Pontiff in mind. He should finish writing it by 2014. This is why in the second half of 2012 he met Mons. Georg Ratzinger and several of the Pope's students, as well as Benedict XVI in the summer and in the month of December of last year. Peter Seewald has authored and published three books containing two interviews with Cardinal Ratzinger and one with Benedict XVI.
Seewald has spoken about these meetings with a German weekly "Focus", which made an announcement in advance on the 16 February of the article published on Sunday 17th. In answer to the question, "What more can be expected of your Pontificate?", the Pope replied that he is well on in years and feels that what he has achieved already is enough. These words hint at his failing strength and energy which Benedict XVI admitted were the reason for his resignation from the papacy on 11 February.
The Pope's decision has in no way been influenced by the theft of private documents from his flat. According to the German journalist and writer that episode did not upset the Pope, nor make him feel his ministry a burden. Nevertheless Benedict XVI cannot explain that action. In settling the case the Pontiff strongly feels it was important that the Vatican issued an independent judicial verdict and that it was not an intervention by a ruler.
Source: 2013-02-18 L'Osservatore Romano More News >>> POPE: 11th Feb 2013 POPE TO ORDER OF MALTA: WORKS A SIGN OF CHRISTIAN HOPE
Pope Benedict XVI received a group of Knights and Dames of Malta, on Saturday, 9 February, marking the 900th Anniversary of the Sovereign Military Order under Papal protection. It was on 15th February, 1113 that Pope Paschal II issued the Papal Bull "Pie Postulatio Voluntatis", by which he placed the newly created "Hospitaller Fraternity" of Jerusalem under the protection of the Church and gave it sovereign status, constituting it as an Order in Church law, with the faculty freely to elect its superiors without interference from other lay or religious authorities.
The Order is a Sovereign and Independent reality. It does not depend on any state or on the Holy See; it has its own diplomatic corps accredited to the various governments. "Wherever we operate, we are builders of peace" in a kind of "singular humanitarian diplomacy" says Jean-Pierre Mazery, Head of the Executive and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Sovereign Order of Malta. "We do not depend on anyone, we do not defend territories, we do not take part in conflicts, we act only to help people, regardless of nationality, race or religion". The religious chivalric order was originally founded in the 12th century to assist poor pilgrims in need of care in the Holy Land and still today the Order is involved in many initiatives in the Middle East. The Knights of Malta run the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, located in the territories subjected to the Palestinian Authority and it is the only safeguard for the maternity department of the region equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit. Since 1990, at the hospital in Bethlehem, more than 57,000 children were born; while the mobile clinic of the Hospital provides the essential maternal and pediatric care to women and infants in the remotest corners of the surrounding villages in the desert of Judea.
In his remarks to the Knights and Dames, Pope Benedict tied the Anniversary to the Year of Faith, during which, he said, "The Church is called to renew the joy and the commitment of believing in Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the world." Pope Benedict went on to praise the Order of Malta for its nine centuries' history of faithfulness to the Church. "Continue to walk along this path," he said, "bearing concrete witness to the transforming power of faith." Since its founding, the Order of Malta has been dedicated to the care of the sick, to solidarity and to human promotion, all inspired by Christian commitment to living the Gospel.
Grand Hospitaller Albrecht Boeselager says the Order has intensified its actions to help those affected by the conflict, and in particular over a million and a half refugees. At present, the Order of Malta is active in over 120 countries, supported by the diplomatic relations it currently has with 104 nations. The Order runs hospitals, medical centres, day hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled, and special centres for the terminally ill. In many countries the Order's volunteer corps provide first aid, social services, emergency and humanitarian interventions. The Pope called on the Knights and Dames of today and tomorrow to preserve and cultivate this qualifying characteristic and work with renewed apostolic ardour, maintaining an attitude of profound harmony with the Magisterium of the Church. "Dear friends," said Pope Benedict, "Continue working in society and in the world along the elevated paths indicated by the Gospel – faith and charity, for the renewal of hope."
Source: Vatican Radio, 09-02-2013 POPE'S LENTEN MESSAGE 2013 6th Feb 2013 BELIEVING IN CHARITY CALLS FORTH CHARITY
On Friday, 1st February, Pope Benedict XVI's message for Lent 2013 with its theme: "Believing in charity calls forth charity", was published at the Vatican. The document is divided into four sections focusing on: Faith as a response to the love of God, Charity as life in faith, The indissoluble interrelation of faith and Charity, and The priority of faith, primacy of charity.
1. Faith as a response to the love of God
In my first Encyclical, I offered some thoughts on the close relationship between the theological virtues of faith and charity. Setting out from Saint John's fundamental assertion of the Christian life: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us", I observed that "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Since God has first loved us, love is no longer a mere 'command'; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us."
Faith is needed for all Christians, especially for health care workers so "that encounter with God in Christ will awaken their love and open their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for a commandment imposed, but a faith which becomes active through love." Christians have been conquered by Christ's love, and they are profoundly open to love their neighbour in concrete ways. This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God's love. "Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! Love is the light – the only light that always illuminates a world grown dim and gives us the courage needed to keep living and working". "Love grounded in and shaped by faith," is the principal distinguishing mark of Christians.
2. Charity as life in faith
The entire Christian life is a response to God's love. The "yes" of faith begins the radiant story of our friendship with the Lord, which fills and gives full meaning to our whole life. Accepting his gratuitous love, God wants to transform us profoundly that we may be able to say with Saint Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me". Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it as we enter into friendship with the Lord; charity is "walking" in the truth, where this friendship is lived and cultivated. Faith enables us to recognise the gifts that the good and generous God has entrusted to us; charity makes them fruitful.
3. The indissoluble interrelation of faith and charity
Faith and charity are two theological virtues which are intimately linked. Christian life consists in continuously climbing the mountain to meet God, and then coming back down; they bear the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve their brothers and sisters with God's own love. The relationship with God must always be the priority, and any true sharing of goods, in the spirit of the Gospel, must be rooted in faith. Sometimes we tend to reduce the term "charity" to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelisation, which is the "ministry of the Word". There is no action more beneficial towards one's neighbour than to break the bread of the Word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, and to introduce him to a relationship with God. Evangelisation is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person. The Servant of God, Pope Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, "The proclamation of Christ is the first and principal contributor to development."
Essentially, everything proceeds from Love and tends towards Love. God's gratuitous love is made known to us through the proclamation of the Gospel. Faith without works is like a tree without fruit: the two virtues imply one another. Lent invites us, through the traditional practices of the Christian life, to nourish our faith by careful and extended listening to the Word of God and by receiving the sacraments, and at the same time to grow in charity and in love for God and neighbour, not least through the specific practices of fasting, penance and almsgiving.
4. Priority of faith, primacy of charity
Like any gift of God, faith and charity have their origin in the action of one and the same Holy Spirit, the Spirit within us that cries out "Abba, Father", and makes us say: "Jesus is Lord!" and "Maranatha!".
Faith, as gift and response, causes us to know the truth of Christ as Love incarnate and crucified, as full and perfect obedience to the Father's will, and infinite divine mercy towards our neighbour. Faith implants in hearts and minds the firm conviction that only this Love is able to conquer evil and death. Faith invites us to look towards the future with the virtue of hope, in the confident expectation that the victory of Christ's love will come to its fullness. The relationship between faith and love resembles the two fundamental sacraments of the Church: Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism precedes the Eucharist, the Eucharist being the fullness of the Christian journey. In a similar way, faith precedes charity, but faith is genuine only if crowned by charity. Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith, but has to arrive at the truth of charity, "knowing how to love God and neighbour", which remains forever, as the fulfilment of all the virtues.
Dear brothers and sisters, in this season of Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection – in which the love of God redeemed the world and shone its light upon history – I express my wish that all of you may spend this precious time rekindling your faith in Jesus Christ, so as to enter with him into the dynamic of love for the Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives.
For this intention, I raise my prayer to God, and I invoke the Lord's blessing upon each individual and upon every community!
Excerpts from Vatican Radio, 01-02-2013
***Note: For full text click the Link below >>> Source: vatican.va EMERGING YOUTH CULTURES: 1st Feb 2013 THEME OF PLENARY OF PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE
The annual Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture was presented in a conference on 31 January in the Press Office of the Holy See. The theme for this year's Assembly will be "Emerging Youth Cultures" which will take place from 6 to 9 February. Present during the conference were: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, President and Delegate of that Dicastery, respectively; along with Fr. Enzo Fortunato, O.F.M., Director of the Sacred Convent of Saint Francis Press Office in Assisi and two youth representatives: Alessio Antonielli of Italy and Farasoa Mihaja Bemahazaka of Madagascar.
During the press conference, Bishop Avezedo laid out the Plenary's program, clarifying that its objective is "to objectively enquire into the new, complex, and fragmented phenomenon of youth cultures with the help of experts and listening to the thoughts of the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Only the opening ceremony will be open to the public.
Cardinal Ravasi in his recent address said that its main area of interest would be Youth Culture. He also said that these youth, walking down the streets with earphones listening to their music, give signs of being disconnected from the unbearable, a social, political and religious complexities that we adults have created. They excluded themselves because "we excluded them with our corruption and inconsistency, unemployment and marginalisation." Cardinal Ravasi said, "We parents, teachers, and priests, the ruling class, we must examine our conscience. The 'diversity' of youth, is not only negative, but also contains surprising seeds of fruitfulness and authenticity. We need only to think of the choice to volunteer made by many young persons or their passion for music, sports, and friendship, which is their ways of telling us that "man does not live by bread alone"; and of their spirituality, which is so original in its sincerity, or their freedom, which is hidden under a blanket of seeming indifference."
Cardinal Ravasi, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture said, "I am interested in the youth, who are the present (not only the future) of humanity. Of the five billion people living in developing countries, more than half are under the age of 25 (representing 85% of all the youth in the world). That is why, leaving aside the ever-necessary objective socio-psychological analysis of faith on the young, that is, the meaning of religious presence to them, we would rather focus on their faith, trusting in their possibilities, even if they are buried underneath those differences that, at first glance, cause such an striking impression."
Other topics will be the "emotional alphabet" of the youth, the value of the body, friendship networks, and the delay in attaining self-sufficiency. The next topic will be that of "generating the faith, which we have called the 'cultural battle', which means that creating conditions that make meeting Christ possible must have a cultural, pastoral and theological focus. The rates of being born into the faith are low. Adult generations either do not know how or do not have time to deal with their own faith or to generate the faith in their children."
"The audience with the Holy Father at the beginning of the plenary meeting will be a major incentive for the assembly. For 2,000 years, the Church has not had a predetermined artistic style or a predefined language. She looks to the person and the message of Jesus to communicate in these totally 'multi-verse' times. Emerging youth cultures reveal the vulnerability, the insecurity, and the fragility of repetitive formulas. The Pontifical Council for Culture's promising assembly frees us from superficiality and apathy and is unafraid of confronting the truth of cultural situations."
Source: Vatican Information Service, 31-01-2013 WORLD DAY FOR CONSECRATED LIFE 30th Jan 2013
On Saturday, 2nd February will be the 16th World Day for Consecrated life. It is a day of prayer for men and women who have consecrated their lives to God by the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, living the life of Jesus witnessing the Gospel. This celebration is connected to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on 2nd February and on this same day, candles are blessed which symbolises Christ who is the light of the world. As Christ is the light of the world, consecrated men and women by virtue of their calling must reflect the light of Christ to all people.
"The Church and society itself need people capable of devoting themselves totally to God and to others for the love of God. In the consecrated life, the proclamation of the Gospel to the whole world finds fresh enthusiasm and power.
"All the faithful are asked to pray constantly for consecrated persons, that their fervour and their capacity to love may grow continually and thus contribute to spreading in today's society the fragrance of Christ."
Pope John Paul II Source: The Consecrated Life, Paulines Publications Africa, Third Reprint 2010 POPE BENEDICT XVI: 30th Jan 2013 INDULGENCES FOR THE WORLD DAY OF THE SICK
According to a Decree published on 28th January and signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, Penitentiary Major and Regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary respectively, the Holy Father will grant Plenary Indulgence to those who will participate in the 21st World Day of the Sick to be celebrated on 7 to 11 February, in Altotting, Germany.
The Decree states that persons following the example of the Good Samaritan, who "with a spirit of faith and a merciful soul, put themselves at the service of their brothers and sisters who are suffering, or if sick, endure the pains and hardships of life - bearing witness to the faith through the path of the Gospel of suffering" will obtain the Plenary Indulgence, once a day, under the usual conditions that they receive Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father, applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful:
"A) each time from 7 to 11 February, in the Marian Shrine of Altotting, or at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, that they participate in a ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick, praying the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"Faithful in public hospitals or any private house who, like the Good Samaritan, charitably assist the ill and who, because of such service, cannot attend the aforementioned celebrations, will obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence if, for at least a few hours on that day, they generously provide their charitable assistance to the sick as if they were tending to Christ the Lord Himself and pray the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible that which is necessary to obtain the plenary indulgence.
"The faithful who because of illness, advanced age, or other similar reasons cannot take part in the aforementioned celebrations will obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible the usual conditions, spiritually participating in the sacred events of the determined days, particularly through liturgical celebrations and the Supreme Pontiff's message broadcast by television or radio, they pray for all the sick and offer their physical and spiritual suffering to God through the Virgin Mary, 'Salus Infirmorum' (Health of the Sick).
"B) Partial Indulgence will be conceded to all the faithful who, between the indicated days, with a contrite heart raise devout prayers to the merciful Lord beseeching assistance for the sick in spirit during this Year of Faith."
Source: (VIS) Vatican Information Service, 28-01-2013 POPE BENEDICT XVI: 29th Jan 2013 A CARAVAN OF PEACE FOR EGYPT'S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN
The children of Catholic Action Rome, about two thousand young boys and girls from Rome's sprawling parishes marched on St Peter's Square on Sunday, 27 January, to the sound of drums, trumpets and songs for their annual appointment with Pope Benedict XVI. The last Sunday of January marks their annual 'Caravan of Peace' which culminates in the release of two white doves from the Papal apartments shortly after the Angelus prayer.
This year, the young boy and girl chosen to release the doves together with Pope Benedict told the Holy Father that the funds collected by the children of Rome will be donated to the forgotten children of Egypt. Proceeds from their pastoral and charity initiatives will be sent to the Jesuit Community of Alexandria, in particular to Brother Atef, who heads a theatre group for street children titled 'Art and Life'.
Earlier, Pope Benedict XVI had encouraged prayers for peace across the entire Middle East. He expressed his spiritual closeness to all those participating in the initiative supported by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In fact the last Sunday of January also marks World Day of Prayer for Peace in the Holy Land. The global event, now in its fifth year, is a 24 hour continuum of prayer in more than three thousand cities for peace in the region.
The Pope said: "I thank those who are promoting this in many parts of the world and I greet in particular those present here today".
Source: Vatican Radio, 27-10-2013 POPE MARKS WORLD LEPROSY DAY 28th Jan 2013
On Sunday, 27 January, following the Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI said: "Today we are celebrating the 60th World Leprosy Day. I express my closeness to those who suffer from this disease and encourage researchers, health professionals and volunteers, particularly those who are part of Catholic organisations and the Association of Friends of Raoul Follereau. I invoke the spiritual support of St. Damien de Veuster and St. Marianna Cope, who gave their lives for those suffering from leprosy".
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, The President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, describes Hansen's Disease, another name for Leprosy, as an "ancient evil" characterised by suffering, social exclusion and poverty. In his message, he calls on all Christians and people of good will to increase their efforts to reintegrate into society those suffering from Leprosy and their families.
The World Health Organization reported some 220,000 men, women and children contracted Hansen's disease in 2011 alone, and many are in advanced stages. Archbishop Zygmunt said that despite the international and non-governmental efforts to curb the disease, access to diagnostic facilities, training and prevention in at-risk communities is still lacking. The Archbishop reminds us, that leprosy is just one of many "scourges" such as dengue fever, sleeping sickness, and other deadly diseases which in developing nations cause hundreds of thousands to die or remain severely disabled each year. Proper sanitation and healthcare are necessary measures to keep from spreading much the diseases.
The Archbishop said that this Year of Faith offers a new favourable opportunity to enhance the service of charity…to each be the Good Samaritan, bringing aid and comfort to the sick, for children and most marginalized. He noted, "An equally important role should also be played by all those people who are victims of leprosy, who are called to cooperate in the establishment of a more inclusive and just society that will allow the integration of those people who have been cured of leprosy; in spreading and promoting its forms of diagnosis and treatment; in stressing the need to receive therapies so as to be cured, thereby contributing to a weakening of the disease; and in distributing those medico-hygienic criteria that are indispensable to hindering its further propagation in the contexts to which they belong."
Recalling Saints Damian and Marianna from the leper community on the island of Molokai, Archbishop Zimowski says victims are also called to become advocates of the prevention and spread of the disease and the social reintegration of others.
Source: Vatican News, 27-01-2013 POPE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: 25th Jan 2013 Pope Benedict calls for strong Christian presence in social media
Pope Benedict XVI encourages an active and distinctively Christian involvement in the social media, in his message for the 47th World Communications Day.
The social media, the Pope writes, is "helping to create a new 'agora,' an open public square in which people share ideas, information, and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being." In his message he offers some cautions about the use of the social media, but also some suggestions on how Christians can use this new means of communication most effectively.
Pope Benedict, who has written frequently on the importance of a strong Christian presence on the internet, recognizes the immense influence of the new social media. "The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world," he writes, "but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young." In this new environment, he says, "people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how." Consequently the social media offers many different sorts of opportunities for evangelization, for building Christian communities, and for providing help to others.
Pope Benedict is candid in addressing some of the problems of the social media. He notices that this media appears to be ruled by popularity rather than the intrinsic value of messages. "At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information," he also observes. To counteract these tendencies, the Pope calls upon the faithful who are active in the social media to "cultivate forms of discourse and expression that appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process."
The new media calls for new methods of communication, the Pope acknowledges. He urges Christians to be creative in finding new approaches. "Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination," he says. Offering one strong suggestion on how this might be done, the Pope reminds the faithful that the "Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols." Just as Catholic artists and musicians have expressed their faith through their creative work, the Pope says, Catholics can find ways to convey the faith through digital communications.
Along with the content of messages, the Pope also remarks on the importance of the style of participation in the social media. He suggests that users can bear witness through "a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence."
The Pope also observes that the social media has allowed for new ways to bring together communities of the faithful. "The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith," he writes.
The Pope's message, entitled "Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization," was released on January 24. (The papal message for the World Communications Day is traditionally issued on that date: the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists.) The Pope's message was introduced to the media at a press conference chaired by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The Pope's general verdict on the social media is "a positive assessment, although not a naive one," said Archbishop Celli. He called attention in particular to the Pope's appeal that internet communications should be marked "with concern for privacy, with responsibility and dedication to the truth, and with authenticity."
Msgr. Paul Tighe, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, added that the Pope has a keen appreciation for the influence of the internet, especially in the lives of young people. "It is a 'continent' where the Church must be present," he said. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Msgr. Tighe said that the Pope's message should be an encouragement to recognize the greater potential of the new media. "People often talk about 'user-generated content," he said, "but I think the Pope is guiding us to a 'user-generated culture.'"
Source: CWN - January 24, 2013 POPE BENEDICT XVI: 22nd Jan 2013 THE DIVISIONS AMONG CHRISTIANS DISFIGURE THE FACE OF THE CHURCH
One of the gravest sins "that disfigure the Church's face" is the sin "against her visible unity", and, in particular, "the historical divisions which separated Christians and which have not yet been surmounted", the Holy Father said at the Angelus on Sunday, 20 January, in St Peter's Square, as he spoke of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme, "What does the Lord require of us?"
The Pope said that the annual ecumenical meeting is much appreciated by believers and communities which reawaken their spiritual communion to its fullest. He also mentioned the "very important" experience of the prayer vigil, which was celebrated last 29 December, in St Peter's Square, where thousands of young people from across Europe and with the ecumenical community of Taizé: "a moment of grace in which we experienced the beauty of forming one in Christ".
Pope Benedict XVI encouraged everyone to pray together in order to achieve the theme, 'what the Lord requires of us', as he re-launched the theme of the Week of Prayer. He also explained that the theme had been suggested by several Christian communities in India, who invited the faithful, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to overcome every type of unjust discrimination.
The Pope invited all the faithful to join him on Friday, 25 January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle, when he will preside at Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls, in the presence of representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. He concluded his message, greeting all those present at the Marian prayer, when once again he appealed for peace, asking the faithful to pray "so that in the various wars that are, unfortunately, still going on, the vile massacre of defenceless civilians may cease, an end be put to every form of violence and the courage be found for dialogue and negotiation".
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 22-01-2013 POPE'S MESSAGE: 17th Dec 2012 'BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS'
On Friday, 14 December, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Justice and Peace Council, together with the secretary and undersecretary of the same Council, presented to journalists the message of the Holy Father: "Blessed are the Peacemakers", the title chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for the 46th World Day of Peace, celebrated every year on 1 January.
In his reflection, Pope Benedict XVI insists, "Peace is not a naïve, utopian dream, but rather it reflects the deepest longing of the human heart. While we must work hard to build a new world order based on truth, freedom, love and justice, as Pope John XXIII wrote in 'Pacem in Terris' half a century ago, we must also recognise that true peace is a gift from God."
The message spells out many practical concerns including a food crisis, the need for new models of development and financial practise based on people, not just profits; and the right to work as a fundamental good for individuals, families and societies. There is also a strong focus on defending the right to life, upholding traditional family values and the need for religious freedom - including conscientious objection to laws or practices which undermine the Church's teaching and beliefs. Cardinal Turkson emphasised, "So I would encourage people to move away from the tendency to divide Social Doctrine or social engagement from faith, as if the two do not belong together - but what is faith if it is not the transformation of the here and now?"
The Pope said that, from defence of human life to food insecurity, from religious freedom to economic development, the message for this year's World Day of Peace, is a far reaching reflection on the need to establish right relationships between people and recognise that, in God, 'we are one human family'.
Pope Benedict concludes his message with a call for 'a pedagogy of peace' based on pardon and reconciliation. Quoting the prayer, often attributed to St Francis of Assisi, the Pope asks God to make us instruments of His peace, bringing love, mercy and peace wherever there is hatred, hurt or doubt. Source: Vatican News (VIS), 14-12012 2012 NATIVITY: 14th Dec 2012 SCENE BRINGS TASTE OF SOUTHERN ITALY TO ST PETER'S SQUARE
Every year the Nativity scene in St Peter's Square is always closely guarded secret with pilgrims and tourists alike speculating what the finished work will look like. This Christmas, the birthplace of Jesus has been offered by the Basilicata region of Southern Italy and will feature the Holy Family in a re-creation of Matera's famed sassi. The city of ancient cave dwellings is a UN World Heritage site and has been the location for numerous films.
Vatican workers will take charge of the construction of the scene but the task of decorating the scenery and the terracotta figures has fallen to Italian artist Francesco Artese. Artese is no stranger to this kind of work, his Nativity scenes or "Presepi" have taken pride of place in cities such as New York and Washington D.C.
Speaking at the presentation of this year's scene at the Holy See Press Office on Thursday, the Secretary General of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca said at least two aims had been realised in choosing this year's Nativity Scene; firstly it was giving visibility to a small but beautiful region of Italy and secondly the Vatican was saving money.
The Nativity scene will be unveiled in St Peter's Square on Christmas Eve.
Source: Vatican Radio, 13-12-2012 THE POPE'S FIRST THREE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON TWITTER 14th Dec 2012
Pope Benedict XVI's Twitter account attracted over a million and a half followers on its first day of existence. The Pope, after his first tweet at the end of the usual Wednesday general audience, responded during the course of the day to three questions posed by members of the public from three different continents.
The first was: "How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?" The Holy Father's answer was, "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need". Shortly afterwards a second question was added, "How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?" "We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful", the Pope responded.
The final tweet, posted around 6 in the evening was, "Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you", in response to: "Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?"
Source: Vatican City (VIS), 13-12-2012 MOTU PROPRIO: ON THE SERVICE OF CHARITY 4th Dec 2012
"The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the Word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the Sacraments (leitourgia) and exercising the Ministry of Charity (diakonia). These duties are inseparable."
Pope BenedictXVI on 1st December said that the service of charity is at the heart of the Church's identity and mission. In a new Apostolic Letter – issued "Motu Proprio," that is, on his own initiative – the Holy Father spoke about the work of charity in and by the Church, and issued new regulations to better organise the Church's charitable activity.
The Pope said, "With the present Motu Proprio, I intend to provide an organic legislative framework for the better overall ordering of the various organised ecclesial forms of the service of charity, which are closely related to the diaconal [ministerial] nature of the Church and the Episcopal ministry. The Church's concern for those in need is expressed in many different charitable initiatives around the world. These works should always be welcomed by the Church's Pastors, "as a sign of the sharing of all the faithful in the mission of the Church." The diversity of those initiatives is a "manifestation of the freedom of the baptised," who use their own unique gifts to respond to call of charity."
He said that, insofar as those charitable works are promoted and supported by the Church, they must conform to the teachings of the Church and the intentions of the faithful, and must respect legitimate civil regulation. It is the responsibility of the Bishops, in the first place, to ensure that they do so. Above all, it is important to remember that practical actions are never enough; charity must express a genuine love for people, a love animated by a personal encounter with Christ.
"In carrying out their charitable works," Pope Benedict XVI said, the Catholic organisations should not limit themselves merely to collecting and distributing funds, but should show special concern for individuals in need and exercise a valuable educational function within the Christian community, helping people to appreciate the importance of sharing, respect and love in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ."
Source: Vatican Radio, 01-12-2012
VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE: A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE 4th Dec 2012
On Saturday, 1st December 2012, the Venerable English College in Rome remembered in a special way the martyrs of England and Wales. Present during the celebration were: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop emeritus of Westminster; Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, Mons. Nicholas Hudson, Rector of the College; and British Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Marcus Baker. Other bishops are expected to concelebrate – coming from England and Wales and from the Vatican.
Venerable English College was founded in 1362 and it is the oldest English institution outside of England; although the English presence in Rome preceded this with the establishment of the Schola Saxonum alongside the Vatican Hill in the 8th century, five centuries ahead. However with the split between Rome and Elizabeth I, to train priests in England became impossible. The Hospice became a seminary to prepare young men for the "Mission to England and Wales".
The occasion was honoured by the presence of Their Royal Highnesses 'The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester' representing 'Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II' at this celebration marking the close of the anniversary year. After the Mass the Duke of Gloucester read the message sent by Queen Elizabeth II in honour of the occasion. The following is message of Her Majesty.
"In 1362, English residents in Rome established a "Hospice of the English" to care for English pilgrims. The Royal Arms of King Henry IV still adorn your walls to mark the 50th anniversary of that foundation and the close relationship with the Crown. The English Hospice was the origin of what has now become the Venerable English College, following its re-foundation by Pope Gregory XIII in 1579.
The presence of The Duke of Gloucester at your Martyrs' Day Feast in this 650th anniversary year is a sign of the strength of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. It is also recognition of the high esteem in which the Venerable English College is held as a training ground for pastors, priests and future leaders of the Catholic Church of England and Wales. You have always served as a generous and hospitable home away from home for generations of visitors to Rome, even in the most difficult times.
My good wishes go to you all, alumni, staff and students of the Venerable English College, past, present and future, for your continuing prosperity." A reminder of the significant contribution made by the Hospice to the British heritage over several centuries; and in particular of the Royal patronage enjoyed by this house in Tudor times."
Source: Vatican Radio, 01-12-2012 POPE: APPEAL FOR HELP IN FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS30th Nov 2012
On Wednesday, 28 November, Pope Benedict XVI issued an appeal on behalf of efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and looked forward to the UN-sponsored World Day against AIDS, which will be on Saturday, 1st December. The call came at the end of his weekly General Audience in Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father spoke of the millions of deaths and the tragic human suffering that the disease has caused. He said that suffering is particularly great in the poorest regions of the world, where people have great difficulty in accessing effective drugs. "My thoughts turn in particular to the large number of children who contract the virus from their mothers each year, despite the treatments which exist to prevent its transmission. I encourage the many initiatives that, within the scope of the ecclesial mission, have been taken in order to eradicate this scourge", the Pope noted. Concluding his appeal, Pope Benedict offered his encouragement to the many initiatives that the Church, in her missionary work, promotes and carries out in order to eradicate the disease.
During the catechetical portion of his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI continued his reflections for the Year of Faith. He said, "The first step, is to listen to what God has told us." "Communicating the faith" he added, "means bearing quiet and humble witness each day to the core of the Gospel message," He also spoke of the privileged role that families play, saying that in families, "The life of faith is lived daily in joy, dialogue, forgiveness and love."
"Jesus," he said, "gave us an example: by his loving concern for people's questions, struggles and needs, he led them to the Father. The God of Jesus Christ has revealed our grandeur as persons redeemed by love and called, in the Church, to renew the city of man, so that it can become the city of God."
Source: Vatican Radio, 28-11-2012 Poor people's testimony: Living on a dollar a day in Zimbabwe29th Nov 2012
Zimbabwe is the third most impoverished country in the world with three quarters of its population
living in poverty. Average life expectancy in the nation stands at just 51 years. So, when you are living on just over one dollar a day, what kind of food can you afford to put on the table for your family? And what do poor people say is the worst thing about their status?
Ms Susy Hodges of Vatican Radio had spoken to just two among the hundreds of poor people and an official who works for Progressio, an International Development Charity ,that was set up to translate Catholic Social Teaching into practical action.
Kelvin is a 25 year old man who is unemployed like the vast majority of Zimbabwe's population.
He managed to acquire an education although his impoverished family often required outside help to help pay for the school fees. He also said how throughout his youth he carried out odd jobs, both to help pay for his education and to support himself owing to the lack of regular employment.
Kelvin believes that one of the most difficult and demeaning things about being poor is that people do not have voice in society: "One of the worst things" he said is, "you're not involved in any key decision-making in life." He added that poverty is everywhere in Zimbabwe and some poor people in his local community are resorting to extreme measures in order to get money to buy food. Children are forced to go into prostitution, or they forced to contract "early marriages at the age of 10 and 11."
Vimba is a 44 year old Zimbabwean woman with four children who is also unemployed. She is one among those who could hardly let both ends meet, as she said that life in her family is a constant struggle, not having enough money, not enough food to eat. Their typical meal is maize and vegetables. "Eggs are a luxury and out of reach.
Like Kevin, Vimba said that lack of power and being excluded from the decision-making process is one of the worst things about being poor. Amidst her poverty, she hopes for a better life for her children in the future.
Philimon Handinahama, who works for Progressio, said that HIV/Aids epidemic in Zimbabwe has significantly "increased poverty" in the nation. Philimon is one among those working for Progressio to help those living in poverty like Kelvin and Vimba.
Source: Vatican Radio, 28-11-2012 NO JUSTICE WITHOUT LIFE 29th Nov 2012
The International Day of Cities for Life was inaugurated on Tuesday, 27 November during the International Congress of Justice Ministers taking place on the theme "For a world without the death penalty"Organised by the Rome-based Sant' Egidio Community. The Conference, now at its 7thedition, plays a major role in efforts to achieve abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
Justice Ministers from 20 countries around the world, European authorities and anti-death penalty activists are bearing witness to their own experiences, penning proposals and lending their support for the U.N. 1,500 cities have so far joined this planetary mobilisation to stop the death penalty.
Mario Marazziti, the spokesperson of the Sant' Egidio Community and Vice President of the Worldwide Coalition Against the Death Penalty explains that the conference represents a precious moment of dialogue in the ongoing battle against capital punishment.
Mario Marazziti said that the community of Sant'Egidio started the method by not just
Lobbying, but it is putting together people from civil societies, NGOs, Statesmen and women and people who can make decisions to make a synergy and to cross-impollinate the good things that each one can give to the other one. So we listen with great respect to the difficulties of the Ministers of Justice that come from retentionist countries, and we can accompany them to overcome the difficulties they face in their nations, by abolishing the death penalty.
Marazziti explains that the presence of the Minister of Justice of Zimbabwe, a country which practices the death penalty, is part of Sant'Egidio's wish to not "demonise" a country, but to work with the people there and to help them take the courage to take the steps that are needed to change things. He says the death penalty never coincides with the identity to a country.
Marazziti also speaks of the significance of the Pope's voice in the battle to abolish the death penalty and illustrates the initiative to illuminate the Colosseum: "a symbol of death that becomes a symbol of hope and life".
Finally, he speaks of his joy at being able to celebrate the abolition of the death penalty in Connecticut, "a big message to the USA and to every country".
Source: Vatican Radio, 28-11-2012 CONSISTORY FOR THE CREATION OF CARDINALS:
26th Nov 2012 THE POPE EMPHASISES THE CATHOLICITY OF THE CHURCH
On Saturday, 24 November 2012, at 11 in the morning in St Peter's Basilica, The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an ordinary public consistory for the creation of six new cardinals: Archbishop James M. Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household; His Beatitude, Bechara Boutros Raï, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch in Lebanon; His Beatitude, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum in India and head of the Syro-Malankara Church; Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria; Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogotá, Colombia; and Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in the Philippines.
After the opening prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel, Pope Benedict XVI began his homily with the phrase: "'I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church'. These words, which the new Cardinals are soon to proclaim in the course of their solemn profession of faith, come from the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed, the synthesis of the Church's faith that each of us receives at baptism. Only by professing and preserving this rule of truth intact can we be authentic disciples of the Lord. In this consistory, I would like to reflect in particular on the meaning of the word 'Catholic', a word which indicates an essential feature of the Church and her mission. What makes the Church Catholic is the fact that Christ in His saving mission embraces all humanity. While during His earthly life , Jesus' mission was limited to the Jewish people, 'to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'; from the beginning it was meant to bring the light of the Gospel to all peoples and lead all nations into the kingdom of God".
Pope Benedict XVI continued, "Jesus sends His Church not to a single group, but to the whole human race, and thus He unites it in faith, in one people, in order to save it. This universal character emerges clearly on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fills the first Christian community with His presence, so that the Gospel may spread to all nations, causing the one People of God to grow in all peoples. From that day, by the 'power of the Holy Spirit', according to the promise of Jesus, the Church proclaims the dead and risen Lord 'in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth'. The Church's universal mission does not arise from below, but descends from above, from the Holy Spirit: from the beginning it seeks to express itself in every culture so as to form the one People of God.
The Holy Father added, "'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation'; 'make disciples of all nations'. With these words, Jesus sends the Apostles to all creation, so that God's saving action may reach everywhere and giving them both a promise and a task: He promises that they will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and He confers upon them the task of bearing witness to Him all over the world, transcending the cultural and religious confines within which they were accustomed to think and live, so as to open themselves to the universal Kingdom of God. At the beginning of the Church's journey, the Apostles and disciples set off without any human security, purely in the strength of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel and the faith. This is the yeast that spreads round the world, enters into different events and into a wide range of cultural and social contexts, while remaining a single Church. Around the Apostles, Christian communities spring up, but these are 'the' Church which is always the same, one and universal, whether in Jerusalem, Antioch, or Rome".
"Situated within the context and the perspective of the Church's unity and universality is the College of Cardinals: it presents a variety of faces, because it expresses the face of the universal Church. In this Consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the Church is the Church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents. She is the Church of Pentecost: amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God", the Pope added.
After the homily the Holy Father solemnly pronounced the formula of creation of the new cardinals, their names and the diaconate or presbyteral order to which they have been assigned. The new cardinals then recited the Creed and swore their faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors.
Each new cardinal then knelt before the Pope to receive his biretta. The Pope said "you must be ready to conduct yourselves with fortitude, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and well-being of the people of God". He then also consigned to them a ring saying, "Know that with the love of the Prince of the Apostles your love for the Church is reinforced", and he assigned to each one a titular or diaconate Church in Rome as a sign of their participation in the Holy Father's pastoral care of Rome. The Pope then handed over the Bull of Creation as cardinal, assigned the title or diaconate and exchanged an embrace of peace with the new members of the College of Cardinals. The cardinals also exchanged an embrace of peace among themselves. The rite concluded with the Prayer of the Faithful, the recitation of the Our Father and the final blessing.
Below are the names of the six new and the titular or diaconate Churches assigned to each:
Cardinal James Michael Harvey, diaconate of San Pio V a Villa Carpegna.
Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai O.M.M.
Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, title of San Gregorio VII.
Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, title of San Saturnino.
Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, title of San Gerardo Maiella.
Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, title of San Felice da Cantalice a Centocelle.
Source: Vatican Information Service, 24 November 2012 POPE BENEDICT CELEBRATES MASS FOR THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING 26th Nov 2012
Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in St Peter's Basilica on Sunday morning, 25 November, the final Sunday of the liturgical year - the solemnity of Christ the King. Concelebrating with the Pope were the six new cardinals who received their red hats at the Consistory on Saturday. Before his homily he cordially greeted everyone, in particular the six new members of the College of Cardinals. He began his homily refle168.144cting on the theme of the liturgical year, where the Church invites everyone to celebrate the Lord Jesus as King of the Universe. "She calls us", the Pope said, "to look to the future, or more properly into the depths, to the ultimate goal of history, which will be the definitive and eternal kingdom of Christ. He was with the Father in the beginning, when the world was created, and he will fully manifest his lordship at the end of time, when he will judge all mankind."
Reflecting on the readings today, Pope Benedict XVI said, "In the Gospel passage which we have just heard, drawn from the account of Saint John, Jesus appears in humiliating circumstances – he stands accused – before the might of Rome. He had been arrested, insulted, mocked, and now his enemies hope to obtain his condemnation to death by crucifixion. Jesus clarifies the nature of his kingship and his Messiahship itself, which is no worldly power but a love which serves. He states that his kingdom is in no way to be confused with a political reign: "My kingship is not of this world … is not from the world". Jesus knows that God's kingdom is of a completely different kind; it is not built on arms and violence. The multiplication of the loaves itself becomes both the sign that he is the Messiah and a watershed in his activity: henceforth the path to the Cross becomes ever clearer; there, in the supreme act of love, the promised kingdom, the kingdom of God, will shine forth. But the crowd does not understand this; they are disappointed, and Jesus retires to the mountain to pray in solitude. In the Passion narrative even the disciples, though they had shared Jesus' life and listened to his words, were still thinking of a political kingdom. In Gethsemane, Peter took his sword and began to fight, but Jesus stopped him. He does not wish to be defended by arms, but to accomplish the Father's Will to the end, to establish his kingdom not by armed conflict, but by the apparent weakness of life-giving love."
The Pope emphasised that the kingdom of God is a kingdom utterly different from earthly kingdoms; that is why, faced with a defenseless, weak and humiliated man, as Jesus was, a man of power like Pilate was taken aback, because he heard of a kingdom and servants. A power which does not respond to the logic of domination and force. Jesus came to reveal and bring a new kingship, that of God; he came to bear witness to the truth of a God who is love, who wants to establish a kingdom of justice, love and peace. Whoever is open to love hears this testimony and accepts it with faith, to enter the kingdom of God.
We find this same perspective in the first reading where Pope Benedict XVI also emphasised that the vision of the prophet Daniel is a messianic vision, and is made clear and brought to fulfilment in Christ: the power of the true Messiah, the power which will never pass away or be destroyed, is not the power of the kingdoms of the earth which rise and fall, but the power of truth and love. The Pope said, "By his sacrifice, Jesus has opened for us the path to a profound relationship with God: in him we have become true adopted children and thus sharers in his kingship over the world. To be disciples of Jesus means not letting ourselves be allured by the worldly logic of power, but bringing into the world the light of truth and God's love. The author of the Book of Revelation reminds us that conversion, as a response to God's grace, is the condition for the establishment of this kingdom. It is a pressing invitation addressed to each and all: to be converted ever anew to the kingdom of God, to the lordship of God, of Truth, in our lives. We invoke the kingdom daily in the prayer of the "Our Father" with the words "Thy kingdom come"; in effect we say to Jesus: Lord, make us yours, live in us, and gather together a scattered and suffering humanity, so that in you all may be subjected to the Father of mercy and love."
Addressing the Cardinals, particularly the new Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI exhorted them on the demanding responsibility entrusted to them: "to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth." This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers. To become imitators of Jesus, who, before Pilate, in the humiliating scene described by the Gospel, manifested his glory: that of loving to the utmost, giving his own life for those whom he loves. He said, "This is the revelation of the kingdom of Jesus. And for this reason, with one heart and one soul, let us pray: Adveniat regnum tuum – Thy kingdom come. Amen."
Source: Vatican Radio, 25-11-2012 ASIA/SYRIA: 23rd Nov 2012
CHURCH DESECRATED BY BANDITS, THEN RETURNED AND CEREMONY OF RECONCILIATION
AN ACT OF VANDALISM, THEN APOLOGY AND RECONCILIATION
On 19 November 2012, in Qara, in the Diocese of Homs (Western Syria), the ancient Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, of the sixth century, was desecrated by vandals who forced the door. They stole over twenty icons (of the eighteenth and nineteenth century), ancient manuscripts and vestments. They desecrated the altar and tried to steal a famous fresco of the twelfth century, the "Madonna del Latte". While they were removing it, the fresco was ruined, causing two cuts to the figure of the Virgin.
When the news spread in Qara, a strong solidarity movement in all communities was formed. Heads of families, tribal leaders, Muslim leaders and other denominations came to visit the Church to show bitterness to the vandals; and solidarity towards the Greek Catholic priest Fr Georges Luis who, with a Greek-Orthodox priest, continues to celebrate Mass for the few Christian families in Qara, keeping alight the flame of faith. The Greek-Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim and Greek-Catholic Patriarch Gregarious III Laham were warned, and urged both the government and the opposition to ensure security in the country that, they said, "is sinking into chaos", because of acts of banditry, kidnappings, assaults, massacres, and bombings of residential areas.
The faithful Christian and Muslim in Qara gathered in prayer vigils. On 21 November the feast of the Presentation of Mary, a "miracle" as the local community called it, happened.
In the morning a truck of men in masked came to the Church. The men asked to meet Fr Georges, and told him, "We do not appreciate what our companions have done. Please forgive us. We are one community, one people, and one nation. Your safety is ours. You are under our responsibility." Most of the stolen items - otherwise destined for the market of smuggling - were returned, with great joy and relief on behalf of everyone. With grateful gesture, Fr. Georges served Arabic coffee to the guests, and many other people in the town joined the convivial moment. The locals celebrated by offering cakes in the street, and ending in the name of reconciliation that the local movement "Mussalaha" blessed and favoured.
Source: Homs Fides News Agency, 22-11-2012 FOR A JUSTICE THAT REHABILITATES AND RECOVERS FOR SOCIETY 23rd Nov 2012
On Thursday morning, 22 November in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, the Holy Father received in audience the participants of the 17th Council of Europe Conference of Directors of Prison Administrations. The role of the prison sentence in re-education and rehabilitation was reaffirmed by the Holy Father in his Discourse to those taking part in the Conference.
In Pope Benedict XVI's opinion the re-educational purpose of the sentence is not "an ancillary or secondary aspect of the penal system" but it is "culminating and defining feature". The need for the prisoner to experience in prison "a process of rehabilitation and maturation" should in fact be seen as a "need of society itself, both because it stands to regain someone who can make a useful contribution to the common good and also because such a process makes the prisoner less likely to re-offend and thus endanger society".
"In order to 'practise justice' it is not enough that those found guilty of crimes be identified and punished. "Everything possible must be done to correct and improve them", with a view to their reinsertion in society. "When this does not happen", the Pope remarked, "justice is not done in an integral sense": consequently "imprisonment that fails in its re-educational role" becomes "counter-educational and paradoxically reinforces rather than overcomes the tendency to commit crime and the threat posed to society by the individual". The Pope underlined how prison directors and their collaborators in the judicial and social fields can make "a significant contribution, together with all those responsible for the administration of justice in society, towards promoting this 'more genuine' justice that is 'open to the liberating power of love' and is tied to human dignity.
A priority, according to the Pope, is "to make the prison environment more dignified and to ensure more effective means of support and paths of formation for prisoners". To this end "releasing sufficient financial resources" is not enough; "a change in mentality is also needed, so as to link the debate regarding respect for the human rights of prisoners with the broader debate concerning the actual implementation of criminal justice".
"Particularly important in this regard is the promotion of forms of evangelisation and spiritual care, capable of drawing out the most noble and profound side of the prisoner, awakening his enthusiasm for life and his desire for beauty, so characteristic of people who discover anew that they bear within them the indelible image of God", the Holy Father concluded.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 22-11-20112 THIRD BOOK IN JOSEPH RATZINGER'S TRILOGY: 21st Nov 2012"THE INFANCY NARRATIVES"
"L'infanzia di Gesu" ("The Infancy Narratives"), the third volume of Benedict XVI's trilogy dedicated to Jesus of Nazareth, will be available in Italian bookshops tomorrow, 21 November. The book, published in Italy by Rizzoli and the Vatican Publishing House, will be released simultaneously in several languages (Italian, German, Croatian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish) and in fifty countries; the worldwide print run of the first edition will be more than a million copies. In the coming months, the book will be translated into twenty languages for publication in seventy-two countries.
This morning, in the Vatican's Sala Pio X, the book was presented to the press. The speakers were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Maria Clara Bingemer, professor of theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro; Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House; Paolo Mieli, president of Rizzoli (RCS) Publications, and Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office.
The book, defined by its author as a "small antechamber" to the trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, is 176 pages long and comprises four chapters, an Epilogue and a brief Foreword. A summary of the book is given below:
"The first chapter is dedicated to the genealogies of the Saviour in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which are very different, although both have the same theological and symbolic meaning: the placing of Jesus in history and his true origin as a new beginning of world history.
"The theme of chapter two is the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist and that of Jesus. Rereading the dialogue between Mary and the Archangel Gabriel in the Gospel of Luke, Joseph Ratzinger explains that, through a woman, God 'seeks to enter the world anew'. In order to liberate man from sin, he writes, quoting Bernard of Clairvaux, God needs 'free obedience' to his will. 'In creating freedom, he made himself in a certain sense dependent upon man. His power is tied to the unenforceable yes of a human being'. Thus, only thanks to Mary's assent can the history of salvation begin.
"Chapter three is centred on the event in Bethlehem and the historical context of the birth of Jesus, the Roman Empire under Augustus, which extends from East to West and whose universal dimension allows for the entry into the world of 'a universal Saviour'; 'it is indeed the fullness of time'. The single elements of the story of the birth are dense with meaning: the poverty in which 'he who is truly the first-born of all that is' chooses to reveal himself, and therefore 'the cosmic glory' that envelopes the manger; God's special love for the poor, which manifests itself in the annunciation to the shepherds; and the words of the Gloria, whose translation is controversial.
"The fourth chapter is dedicated to the three Magi, who saw the star of the 'King of the Jews' and who had come to adore the child, and to the flight into Egypt. Here the figures of the 'magoi', reconstructed through a rich range of historical, linguistic and scientific information, are outlined as a fascinating emblem of the inner unrest and search for truth of the human spirit.
"Finally, the Epilogue, with the story - according to the Gospel of Luke - of the last episode in the childhood of Jesus, the last account we have of him before the beginning of his public ministry with his baptism in the Jordan. It is the episode of the three days during the Passover pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem, in which twelve-year-old Jesus leaves Mary and Joseph and stays in the Temple to discuss with the rabbis. Jesus, who was growing 'in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man', manifests himself in his nature as true God and, at the same time, true man, who 'thought and learned in human fashion'".
Source: Vatican City, (VIS) 21-11-2012 POPE RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF BENIN 20th Nov 2012
On Monday, 19 November 2012, The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, received the President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency Mr Thomas Boni Yayi, in audience at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Press Office of the Holy See said that the Pope and the President held cordial talks on a range of issues, including the value of local cultures in Africa and the importance of the Church in education for Peace and Reconciliation, with specific mention of the positive contribution of the Catholic Church to the development of Benin.
They also discussed some regional challenges that are currently affecting the continent, which are of particular concern to His Excellency Mr Boni Yayi, as he is also the current President of the African Union. The Pope and the President expressed a mutual appreciation for the good relations that exist between the Holy See and Benin, and recalled in particular the Apostolic Journey of the Holy Father in 2011. President Boni Yayi went on to meet with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and with the Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Bishop Ettore Balestrero.
Source: Vatican Radio, 19-11-2012 OPENING UP TO GOD DOES NOT DETACH US FROM THE WORLD 20th Nov 2012
The Portuguese held the Courtyard of Gentiles, in Guimaraes and Braga, Portugal, on 16 and 17 November 2012. The theme of their meeting was "The value of life".
Addressing the participants, Pope Benedict XVI said, "Awareness of the sacredness of life … is part of the moral heritage of humankind. We are not the product of evolution; rather, each of us is the fruit of God's will: He loves us. … God loves every person who, therefore, is unconditionally deserving of life. 'The blood of Christ, while it reveals the grandeur of the Father's love, shows how precious man is in God's eyes, and how priceless the value of his life is'".
"However, in the modern age, man has sought to subtract himself from the creating and redeeming gaze of the Father, looking only to himself and not to Divine Power. In a building without windows, it is man who has to provide air and light; yet even in such a self-constructed world, man seeks God's 'resources', which are thereby transformed into our own products. We must re-open the windows, look anew upon the vastness of the world, the sky and the earth, and learn to use them in the correct way. The value of life becomes evident only if God exists; therefore it would be good if non-believers could live 'as if God existed'. While they may not have 'the strength to believe', they should live on the basis of this hypothesis. … So many problems exist, but they will not be resolved unless God is placed at the centre … once more visible in the world and crucial to our lives".
"He who opens himself to God does not distance himself from the world and man, but instead finds brothers: in God, the walls that separate us are broken down, we all become brothers, each a part of the other", the Pope concludes.
Source: Vatican Radio, 20-11-2012 THE "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE OF SUFFERING" IN HOSPITALS 20th Nov 2012
The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care), held a Conference
On Monday morning, 19 November. The theme of the Conference was: "The Hospital, setting for evangelisation: a human and spiritual mission". The Holy Father, addressing the participants said, "The Church turns to those who experience pain with a spirit of brotherly participation, inspired by the Spirit of the One Who, through the power of love, restored meaning and dignity to the mystery of suffering. With the same sense of hope, the Church also reaches out to health care workers and volunteers."
The Pope continued, "Yours is a unique mission which requires study, sensitivity and experience. However, for those who choose to work in the world of suffering, experiencing their activity as a 'human and spiritual mission', an additional competence is required, beyond academic qualifications. This is the 'Christian science of suffering', described by the Council as 'the only truth capable of answering the mystery of suffering. Christ did not do away with suffering. He did not even wish to unveil to us entirely the mystery of suffering. He took suffering upon Himself and this is enough to make you understand all its value'.
Be experts in this 'Christian science of suffering!' The fact that you are Catholics gives you greater responsibility in society and in the Church. … This is a commitment of new evangelisation also in times of economic crisis in which resources are withdrawn from health care. Precisely in this context, hospitals and health centres must rethink their role in order to ensure that healthcare remains a universal right to be guaranteed and defended, rather than becoming a mere commodity subject to market laws, and thus a privilege reserved to the few."
"We must never forget the special attention due to the dignity of the suffering, applying the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity also in the field of healthcare policy".
The Pope emphasised, "It is to be hoped that the language of the 'Christian science of suffering' - of which compassion, solidarity, sharing, abnegation, selflessness and self-giving are a part, becomes the universal lexicon of those who work in the field of healthcare." From this point of view, hospitals are to be considered as an important location for evangelisation; because where the 'Church is the bearer of the presence of God' she also becomes an 'instrument for the true humanisation of man and the world'. Only by clearly focusing medical and healthcare activities on the well-being of man at his most fragile and defenceless, of man who searches for meaning in the unfathomable mystery of pain, can we conceive of hospitals as a place in which care is a mission and not merely an occupation".
The Holy Father concluded by addressing the sick: "Your silent testimony is an effective sign and instrument of evangelisation for those who assist you and for your families, in the certainty that 'no tear, neither of those who are suffering nor of those who are close to them, is lost before God'".
Source: Vatican City, 19-11-2012 VATICAN CONGRESS OPENS ON APOSTLESHIP OF THE SEA 20th Nov 2012
On 19 November 2012, the XXIII World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea was opened by Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants. He joyfully welcomed the 400 delegates present from 70 countries. He was very glad to say, "This is the largest World Congress ever organised in the history of the Apostleship of the Sea. They bring with them social, cultural and national differences, but in this hall, gathered together in Christ' name, under the logo that depicts the anchor of love and hope, we are one great family: the family of the Apostleship of the Sea!" The Congress will run until Friday, 23 November.
Cardinal Vegliò said that to celebrate this XXIII World Congress, they chose to be in the Vatican Hall again because 'we wanted to return to our roots and commemorate the 90th anniversary when Pius XI approved and signed the first Constitutions of the Apostleship of the Sea, on 17 August 1922. The small mustard seed planted 92 years ago in Glasgow by a small group of lay persons has grown and fulfilled Pius XI's wish that this initiative would develop in the maritime areas of both hemispheres.
The Cardinal exhorted the bishops, priests, men and women religious and lay persons saying, "You are the multinational crew of this pastoral care to which the task of evangelising the maritime world is entrusted. You do this at the beginning of the Year of Faith and right after the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation, which took place in this same Hall, and in which I personally took part. The evangelisation of seafarers, fishermen and their families is not different from the evangelisation of those who belong to other social categories. In the Church's understanding, to evangelise means to bring the Good News to all human beings."
"The New Evangelization and the Year of the Faith invite every chaplain and volunteer of the Apostleship of the Sea to deepen their faith, to believe in the Gospel message, and to go forward to proclaim the Gospel to those who do not know it and to rekindle in this way that "smouldering wick" through Christian witness. This Christian witness must be given through a ministry of on-going presence, service and solidarity. The constant service given with love to respond to the needs of all crews, regardless of creed and nationality, brings hope in the moments of discouragement. Solidarity for exploited and abandoned seafarers is an expression of Christ's love for all. Through your lives, often without saying a word, you are agents of evangelisation! The Church appreciates your work and is grateful to you for what you do", Cardinal Vegliò added.
His Eminence acknowledged the contributions and expressed his appreciation to all those who continuously supported the Organisation and particularly thanked those in the administrative work for their generous commitment to improving the welfare of seafarers, with the hope that they will continue to be connected with the Apostleship of the Sea.
He concluded his talk by invoking the light and protection of Mary, Star of the Sea, the prayer which Blessed John Paul II put at the end of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania, "O Stella Maris, light of every ocean and mistress of the deep, guide the peoples of Oceania across all dark and stormy seas, that they may reach the haven of peace and light prepared in him who calmed the sea. Keep all your children safe from harm for the waves are high and we are far from home. As we set forth upon the oceans of the world, and cross the deserts of our time, show us, O Mary, the fruit of your womb, for without your Son we are lost. Pray that we will never fail on life's journey, that in heart and mind, in word and deed, in days of turmoil and in days of calm, we will always look to Christ and say, 'Who is this that even wind and sea obey him?'".
"As I express my best wishes to all for a fruitful meeting, I declare open the XXIII World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea."
Source: Vatican Radio, 19-11-2012 POPE BENEDICT XVI: 19th Nov 2012 MESSAGE TO POPE TAWADROS II OF ALEXANDRIA
The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI sent a Message of congratulations to the new Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness Tawadros II, who was enthroned on Sunday, 18 November 2012, in the Basilica of St Mark, in Cairo, Egypt.
He entrusted the task of conveying his message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, with the assurance of his closeness in prayer "as you assume the high office of Chief Shepherd of the Coptic Orthodox Church".
"Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. It is with fraternal joy that I send greetings to Your Holiness on the happy occasion of your enthronement as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark. May the Almighty grant Your Holiness abundant spiritual gifts to strengthen you in your new ministry, as you guide the clergy and laity along the paths of holiness, for the good of your people and the peace and harmony of the whole of society."
Pope Benedict XVI continued, "My thoughts turn at this time to your venerable predecessor, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, whose long and devoted service to the Lord will surely continue to inspire you and all the faithful. His concern for improving relations with other Christian Churches reinforces our hope that one day all the followers of Christ will find themselves united in that love and reconciliation which the Lord so earnestly desires."
Pope Benedict added, "I pray too that relations between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church will continue to grow closer, not only in a fraternal spirit of collaboration, but also through a deepening of the theological dialogue that will enable us to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel. Conscious of the great challenges which accompany the spiritual and pastoral ministry that Your Holiness is about to undertake, I assure you of my prayers and personal good wishes. With fraternal esteem and affection I implore God's blessings upon you and upon all the faithful entrusted to your care."
Source: Vatican Radio, 18-11-2012 Pope: MISSIONARIES OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION19th Nov 2012
"Missionary commitment is an essential dimension of faith. We cannot be true believers if we do not evangelise." The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, wrote this in the Message for the 28th World Youth Day to be held in Rio in July 2013. In view of the upcoming Church meeting the Pope invites young Catholics to make themselves missionaries among their many peers that "no longer see any meaning in their lives", pointing out two areas where "missionary commitment is all the more necessary": that of communications especially the "digital continent" and that of human mobility.
The Pope is convinced that the Internet has the ability to help the Church reach the new generations and urges them to prepare themselves to understand the faith "with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer". Above all, Pope Benedict XVI suggested the introduction of "the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology" into the values of Christian life. The Pope encouraged the awareness of "the hidden dangers that the media contain, especially the risk of addiction, of confusing the real world with the virtual, and of replacing direct and personal encounters and dialogue with internet contacts".
Concerning this second area, the Pontiff underlined how nowadays "more and more young people travel, sometimes for their studies or work, and at other times for pleasure". But his thoughts also go to "the movements of migration which involve millions of people, very often young, who go to other regions or countries for financial or social reasons". According to Pope Benedict XVI, in this phenomenon "we can find providential opportunities for sharing the Gospel". It is up to young people to witness the faith in these settings.
The theme of the meeting in the Brazilian metropolis is "Go and make disciples of all nations!" (Mt 28:19). The Holy Father explained that the word 'nations' refers to "the different areas of our lives, such as our families, communities, places of study and work, groups of friends and places where we spend our free time". And renewing the invitation to participate in the July meeting next year, the Pope pointed out how the symbol of the WYD is "the celebrated statue of Christ the Redeemer" overlooking the Brazilian city: Christ's "open arms are a sign of his willingness to embrace all those who come to him".Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 17-11-2012Pope' message to the elderly:13th Nov 2012LIKE AN OPEN BOOK ON LIFE
On Monday morning, 12 November 2012, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI went to the Home-family of Sant'Egidio Community in Rome – "as an old man visiting his peers", addressing in spirit all the "elderly" in the world, on the occasion of the European Year of Active Ageing and of Solidarity Between Generations. "It is beautiful to be old!" is the message which Pope Benedict XVI left to the community.
It was a meeting full of warmth and familiarity, during which the Pope addressed a warning to society "dominated by the logic of efficiency and profit" that mortifies and marginalises elderly people, deemed non-productive, hence "useless". Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI said, recalling "the ancient proverb which says that a society, I mean, 'a civilization', is also judged by how it treats elderly people." Benedict XVI called for greater commitment on the part of families and institutions, to ensure that "the elderly be able stay in their own homes" and be seen as what they are, "bearers" of a "great wealth", thanks to the wisdom of life that has matured within them. Therefore, "those who make room for the elderly make room for life!"
Benedict XVI emphasised the value of longevity, which is a "blessing of God", and shared with his peers the vast opportunities that unfold in this particular stage of life, to be taken in the awareness that even among the difficulties and "a few aches and pains", each one is wanted and loved by God, each one is important and necessary.
To young people, the Pope recommended essentially the value of inter-generational solidarity. Being "supported and accompanied, feeling the affection of others" is important in every stage of life, because "no one can live alone and without help". Speaking of solidarity, the Pope in his Sunday Angelus said, commenting on the Gospel episode, "No one is so poor that he cannot give something". The spontaneity of the action of that poor woman illuminated by grace, attests to "the inseparable unity between faith and charity, as also between love for God and love for our neighbour".
The Holy Father then remembered Blessed Maria Luisa Prosperi, a nun and the Abbess of the Benedictine Monastery of Trevi, who lived in the first half of the sixth century and was beatified last Saturday in Spoleto. Lastly, he expressed a thought for farmers across Italy on the day of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a congratulatory greeting to Poles on Polish National Independence Day.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 13-11-2012 THE HEART DOES NOT STOP BEATING13th Nov 2012
A woman of frail health but of colossal will, who lived the burning love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, received the strength to realise great things. She was accompanied from Lodi to Columbus Hospital in Chicago in her last hours on earth. In that room in Columbus Hospital in Chicago, Mother Cabrini breathed her last on 22 December 1917, leaving 77 schools, hospitals and assistance projects across the United States, Latin America and Europe. Today the room — not only in a symbolic sense but also in a sacramental one, is a place that embodies Cabrinian identity and history — can be visited at the shrine which reopened on 30 September, after a decade of being closed.
The history of the Cabrini Shrine in Chicago is interwoven with that of the surrounding Columbus Hospital which began to be built in 1905. The shrine continued its mission until Columbus Hospital closed its doors in 2000.
At that point there was an attempt to sell the building, but it would prove to be extremely complicated, because the sisters placed a condition on buyers: to save the shrine located at the centre of the property. The shrine itself was placed there deliberately during construction, in order to be seen from the windows of the hospital rooms and the neighbouring convent. The shrine was to be a Noble Guardian around which all activities rotated. The Superior General at the time, Lina Colombini, felt the full weight of the decision: "their financial needs necessitated the sale of the buildings but at the same time their spiritual needs urged them to save the symbolic place of the Charism of Mother Cabrini." Providence came to their aid, as a new buyer came and agreed to forgo the land where the shrine stood.
Awaiting the complete demolition of the buildings of Columbus Hospital, the shrine was closed and wrapped in order to protect it. For a long time bulldozers worked around it until the moment for the renovation came, which was to be one of patience, all thanks to the sisters' patience, courage and boldness, who succeeded in securing the necessary documents for its renovation. Then finally after 10 years the shrine reopened its doors.
The solemn moment came on 30 September, celebrated by Cardinal Francis Eugene George, Archbishop of Chicago. Present were hundreds of people from all over the United States and from the communities of Mother Cabrini. The presence of the local Church testified to the friendship and collaboration that the sisters created within their surroundings.
The shrine in Chicago is a new-found stone set in a holy work that miraculously continues to bear tenacious and faithful fruits.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 13-11-2012 POPE: WHO GIVES ORDER TO THE UNIVERSE'S CHAOS12th Nov 2012
On Thursday morning, 8 November, in the Clementine Hall, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, received the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He said, "The universe is not chaos or the result of chaos, rather, it appears ever more clearly as an ordered complexity originating 'in God's creative Word.'"
I greet the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of this Plenary Assembly, and I express my gratitude to your President, Professor Werner Arber, for his kind words of greeting in your name. I am also pleased to salute Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, your Chancellor, and to thank him for his important work on your behalf.
The topic of this plenary session is, "Complexity and Analogy in Science: Theoretical, Methodological and Epistemological Aspects", which touches on an important subject which opens up a variety of perspectives pointing towards a new vision of the unity of the sciences. The complexity and greatness of contemporary science in all that it enables man to know about nature has direct repercussions for human beings. Only man can constantly expand his knowledge of truth and order for his good and that of his environment.
Pope Benedict XVI said, "In your discussions, you have sought to examine, on the one hand, the ongoing dialectic of the constant expansion of scientific research, methods and specializations and, on the other, the quest for a comprehensive vision of this universe in which human beings, endowed with intelligence and freedom, are called to understand, love, live and work. Such an interdisciplinary approach to complexity also shows that the sciences are not intellectual worlds disconnected from one another and from reality but rather that they are interconnected and directed to the study of nature as a unified, intelligible and harmonious reality in its undoubted complexity. Such a vision has fruitful points of contact with the view of the universe taken by Christian philosophy and theology, with its notion of participated being, in which each individual creature, possessed of its proper perfection, also shares in a specific nature and this within an ordered cosmos originating in God's creative Word. It is precisely this in built "logical" and "analogical" organization of nature that encourages scientific research and draws the human mind to discover the horizontal co-participation between beings and the transcendental participation by the First Being."
"The universe" the Pope added, "is not chaos or the result of chaos, rather, it appears ever more clearly as an ordered complexity which allows us to rise, through comparative analysis and analogy, from specialization towards a more universalizing viewpoint, and vice versa. While the very first moments of the cosmos and life still elude scientific observation, science nonetheless finds itself pondering a vast set of processes which reveals an order of evident constants and correspondences, and serves as essential components of permanent creation.
It is within this broader context that I would note how fruitful the use of analogy has proved for philosophy and theology, not simply as a tool of horizontal analysis of nature's realities, but also as a stimulus to creative thinking on a higher transcendental plane. In the great human enterprise of striving to unlock the mysteries of man and the universe, I am convinced of the urgent need for continued dialogue and cooperation between the worlds of science and of faith in the building of a culture of respect for man, for human dignity and freedom, for the future of our human family and for the long-term sustainable development of our planet. Without this necessary interplay, the great questions of humanity leave the domain of reason and truth, and are abandoned to the irrational, to myth, or to indifference, with great damage to humanity itself, to world peace and to our ultimate destiny."
"Dear friends, as I conclude these reflections" Pope Benedict said, "I would like to draw your attention to the Year of Faith which the Church is celebrating in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In thanking you for the Academy's specific contribution to strengthening the relationship between reason and faith, I assure you of my close interest in your activities and my prayers for you and your families. Upon all of you I invoke Almighty God's blessings of wisdom, joy and peace."
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 08-11-2012 CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES RETURN OF CHURCH PROPERTIES12th Nov 2012
The Czech Parliament has approved a plan to return billions of dollars in Church properties that were confiscated by the previous Communist regime. The Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has welcomed the deal, after years of negotiations.
Under the legislation, Churches will receive lands, properties and compensation worth some $7 billion over a period of 30 years. It includes about six percent of the country's forests and fields that once belonged to mostly Christian Churches. That land, which was confiscated by the previous Communist regime after 1948, could in future be developed, rented or sold to help pay for the Church's mission.
On the part of the Church, Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka said, "He is glad" that his words, "which painstakingly negotiated, compromised on religious restitution, was eventually approved" more than two decades after the collapse of Communism. The result was viewed as a victory for Prime Minister Peter Necas who fought hard for the return of the Church properties in what is seen as Europe's most atheistic nation.
Tibor Krebsz, the Executive Director of the Central-European Religious Freedom Institute in Budapest, told Vatican Radio that he is not surprised that it took years before the deal was finalised. "As the statistics say, Czech people are more atheistic than the Hungarians," he added. "I see that when this law was done in Hungary in the middle of the 1990s, I think there was a different spiritual background. Maybe the people were more open and supportive of religion.
Source: Vatican Radio, 09-11-2012 Cardinal Gracias talks about his favourite saints2nd Nov 2012
All Saints Day, the day on which we celebrate all the saints' known and unknown, is a much loved and ancient feast whose history dates back to at least the 4th century. Pope Gregory III instituted the current date of November 1st in the 8th century when he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and ordered an annual celebration.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, was in Vatican Radio on this year's All Saints feastday and spoke to Susy Hodges about this solemnity and his favourite saints to whom he prays most often.
Source: 2012-11-01 Vatican Radio Pope: Prayers and Support for Hurricane Sandy victims1st Nov 2012
Pope Benedict XVI has launched an appeal for prayer and concrete acts of solidarity for the people of the East Coast of the United States struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Following his weekly catechesis, in his greetings to English speaking pilgrims at the Wednesday General Audience, he said: "Conscious of the devastation caused by the hurricane which recently struck the East Coast of the United States of America, I offer my prayers for the victims and express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding."
Sandy, which has killed 40 people in the United States, pushed inland and dumped snow in the Appalachian Mountains. Its remains slowed over Pennsylvania, and it was expected to move
north towards western New York and Canada. Blizzard warnings and coastal flood warnings for the shores of the Great Lakes are in effect.
Battered by a record storm surge of nearly 14 feet (4.2 meters) of water, swaths of New York City remained submerged on Wednesday under several feet of water. In the city's borough of Staten
Island, police used helicopters to pluck stranded residents from rooftops.
More than 8.2 million homes and businesses remained without electricity across several states as trees toppled by fierce winds tore down power lines. In New Jersey, Christie said it could take seven to 10 days before power is restored statewide. Subway tracks and commuter tunnels under New York City, which carry several million people a day, were under several feet of water. In the lower half of Manhattan, quarter million residents remained without power after a transformer explosion at a Con Edison substation Monday night.
Source: Vatican Radio 2012-10-31 CARDINAL TONG: 31st Oct 2012 DIALOGUE BETWEEN HOLY SEE AND CHINA WOULD BE 'GREAT HOPE FOR THE FUTURE'
Archbishop of Hong Kong Applauds Proposal by Vatican Prelate
Cardinal John Tong, Archbishop of Hong Kong, called a recent proposal to establish a Commission that would open dialogue between the Holy See and mainland China "a great hope for the future." Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, made the proposal.
In an interview with Agenzia Fides, Cardinal Tong, who also served as President Delegate of the recent Synod of Bishops, expressed his hope that Chinese authorities would see this as a friendly gesture from the Holy See. Cardinal Filoni had made the proposal in a quarterly Catholic magazine linked to the Archdiocese of Hong Kong.
Cardinal Filoni cited examples of bilateral Commissions, such as the one between mainland China and Taiwan, that would facilitate a new form of dialogue between the two. "Dialogue is necessary because without it one cannot attempt to solve any of the problems still open, and through dialogue, misunderstandings and misconceptions can fall," Cardinal Tong told Agenzia Fides.
The Archbishop of Hong Kong regarded the illicit ordinations by the government-sanctioned Church in China as a major point of dialogue between the Holy See and China. "Our turmoil concerning these events arises from the fact that these ordinations hurt the Church in an essential point of her own nature. With dialogue one can make due to the fact that the Bishops are not officials of a political apparatus. Also to become priests one must have the appropriate doctrinal, moral, pastoral and human requirements. And this is even more true for the selection of Bishops," he explained.
Cardinal Tong also noted Cardinal Filoni's article highlighted the positive effects that religious freedom has in civil society. "There is a potential consonance between being a good Catholic and being a good citizen. Our old traditions based on Confucian thought push the individual to correct themselves to live in harmony and in respect towards one's own family, society and the entire world," he said.
"Now, the following of Jesus produces precisely these effects, freeing us from selfishness and materialism and leading us to love our neighbor. Even the government could recognize and appreciate this: if the Church is given to allow her faithful to grow in freedom, so that they can be really good Catholics, even society benefits."
Source: VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2012 (Zenit.org) Pope Benedict XVI: The light that opens the eyes of man31st Oct 2012
"The urgent need to proclaim Christ anew in places where the light of faith has been weakened, in places where the fire of God is more like smouldering cinders, crying out to be stirred up". The Pope underlined this in his Homily at the Mass concluding the Synod of Bishops in St Peter's Basilica on Sunday morning, 28 October.
The issues discussed during the three weeks of the 13th General Assembly resonated in Benedict XVI's Homily and centered on the figure of the blind Bartimaeus. Commenting on the last miraculous healing by Jesus before the Passion in Mark's Gospel, the Pope explained how it was not a coincidence that the passage speaks about someone "whose eyes have lost the light. We know", he said, "from other texts too that the state of blindness has great significance in the Gospels. It represents man who needs God's light, the light of faith, if he is to know reality truly and to walk the path of life". Then it becomes "essential to acknowledge one's blindness, one's need for this light, otherwise one could remain blind for ever". Thus Bartimaeus is a model who "represents man who has lost the light and knows it, but has not lost hope". So that "in the encounter with Christ, lived with faith", he "regains the light he had lost, and with it the fullness of his dignity". Thus for Benedict XVI, "it is significant that the liturgy puts the Gospel of Bartimaeus before us today, as we conclude the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization". Since "the new evangelization applies to the whole of the Church's life", the Holy Father proposed again the three pastoral themes which emerged from the Synod: appropriate catechesis accompanying preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist; arousing a mission where the proclamation has not arrived and in countries of antique Christian tradition; dialogue by way of new methods and new languages for baptized persons who have moved away from the Church. At the Angelus the Holy Father spoke of the Synod, defining it as a "moment of strong ecclesial communion". After the Marian prayer, the Pope also remembered the devastating hurricane hitting Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas, as well as the earthquake in Calabria and Basilicata.
Source: 2012-10-30 L'Osservatore Romano MISSION COUNTRIES 30th Oct 2012
It was the end of a tremendous summer of war when, on 12 September 1943, in Lyon, a little book came out. Its title La France, pays de mission? would become as famous as it was emblematic of the situation in which the Church found herself. The authors were perfectly aware of that situation: two chaplains of the Jeunesse Ouvrière Catholique commissioned by the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard, to write a report on the religious situation among Parisian workers: "Make no mistake: tomorrow it will not just be our country but the whole world that will be called 'mission country'; what we live today, the people will live in their time", wrote Henri Godin and Yvan Daniel.
It was that analysis, lucid and impassioned, that the Holy Father invoked, summarising with efficacy the sense of this Synod Assembly and underscoring the uninterrupted journey of the Church in the modern world. On the basis of that awareness and the convergence of different developments in Catholicism throughout the 20th Century, the intuition of Pope John XXIII arose to convene a Council long thought of, by his predecessors. And among the most fruitful outcomes of Vatican II – the 50th anniversary of which we have just celebrated – is without a doubt the institution, desired by Paul VI, of the Synod of Bishops, a real expression of that collegiality inherent in the Christian tradition.
Around the Successor of the Apostle Peter – assiduously present at the Synod's debates, where he "listened and gathered much food for reflection and many propositions", Pope Benedict XVI – the entire Catholic world was "represented and, thus, involved". One can never recall enough how the Greek term Sýnodos refers to the idea of a journey travelled together; this is a concept that the Pope made explicit speaking of "the beauty of being the Church, of being so precisely today, in this world just as it is, in the midst of this humanity with its labours and its hopes". Using language that meant to draw one back to the time of the Council, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that the journey of Christians is not only characterised and witnessed by their communion, but is actually completed in openness and friendship, together with the women and men of our time.
Nothing is closed, therefore, there is no pessimism in the words of Benedict XVI, but the awareness that humanity today is like the blind Bartimaeus of the Gospel, who, according to the Pope, "could represent those who live in regions that were evangelised long ago, where the light of faith has grown dim and people have drifted away from God", becoming in this way "beggars for the meaning of existence". This Synodal Assembly reflected and discussed the necessity of proclaiming the Gospel which needs new methods and a "new language attuned to the different world cultures" and "pastoral creativity". Pope Benedict XVI at the end prayed with the words of Clement of Alexandria, referring to that light that shone at once for all, "purer than the sun, sweeter than life on this earth".
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 30-10-2012 POPE: MIGRATION AS A PILGRIMAGE OF FAITH AND HOPE30th Oct 2012
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in the Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes recalled that "the Church goes forward together with humanity" therefore "the joys and the hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well." The Servant of God, Paul VI, echoed these words when he called the Church an "expert in humanity, as did Blessed John Paul II when he stated that the human person is "the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission... the way traced out by Christ himself". In the footsteps of my predecessors, I sought to emphasise in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate that "the whole Church, in all her being and acting, when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity, is engaged in promoting integral human development". I thought also of the millions of men and women who, for various reasons, have known the experience of migration. Migration is "a striking phenomenon because of the sheer numbers of people involved, and the dramatic challenges it poses to nations and the international community", for "every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance". For this reason, I have chosen to dedicate the 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the theme "Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope",in conjunction with the celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, Exsul Familia, and at a time when the whole Church is celebrating the Year of Faith, taking up with enthusiasm the challenge of the New Evangelisation.
Faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not to leave behind the "hopelessness" of an unpromising future. During their journey they are sustained by the deep trust that God never abandons his children. Faith and hope are often among the possessions which emigrants carry with them. The Church always offers a precious gift when she guides people to an encounter with Christ, which opens the way to a stable and trustworthy hope. Emigrants bring with them a sense of trust and hope which has inspired and sustained their search for better opportunities in life.
Where migrants and refugees are concerned, the Church and her various agencies ought to offer charitable services and promote real integration in a society where all active members are responsible for one another's welfare. It is true that the experience of migration often begins in fear, especially when persecutions arise, but suffering, great losses and a sense of disorientation enable them to build, with hope and courage, a new life in a new country. It is important to realise that "the reality of human solidarity, which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty" (Caritas in Veritate).
Dear brothers and sisters who yourselves are migrants, may this World Day help you renew your trust and hope in the Lord, who is always at our side! Take every opportunity to encounter him and to see his face in the acts of kindness you receive during your pilgrimage of migration. Rejoice, for the Lord is near, and with him you will be able to overcome obstacles and difficulties, treasuring the experiences of openness and acceptance that many people offer you. "Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by – people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way" (Spe Salvi).
I entrust each of you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, sign of sure hope and consolation, our "guiding star", who with her maternal presence is close to us at every moment of our life. To all I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Source: Vatican News, 29-10-2012 (From the Vatican, 12 October 2012 BENEDICTUS PP. XVI) POPE:29th Oct 2012 Homily at Mass concluding the XIII ordinary assembly of the synod of bishops
On Sunday, 28 October 2012, before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed the Bishops and all people at St Peter's square for the Mass of the closing of the Synod of Bishops on the Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.
Pope Benedict XVI began his homily on the miracle of the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus. By the side of the road was Bartimaeus, whose name means "son of Timaeus", sitting and begging as the evangelist tells us. Pope Benedict said, "The state of blindness has great significance in the Gospels and it represents man who needs God's light, the light of faith, if he is to know reality truly, and to walk the path of life. It is essential to acknowledge one's blindness; one's need for this light, otherwise one could remain blind forever. Bartimaeus is presented as a model. He was not blind from birth, but he lost his sight. He represents man who has lost the light and knows it, but has not lost hope; he knows how to seize the opportunity to encounter Jesus and he entrusts himself to him for healing. Indeed, when he hears that the Master is passing along the road, he cries out: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me", and he repeats it even louder. And when Jesus calls him and asks what he wants from him, he replies: "Master, let me receive my sight!" Bartimaeus represents man aware of his pain and crying out to the Lord, confident of being healed. His simple and sincere plea is exemplary. In the encounter with Christ, lived with faith, Bartimaeus regains the sight he had lost, and with it the fullness of his dignity, he gets back onto his feet and resumes the journey, which from that moment has a guide, Jesus, and a path, the same that Jesus is travelling. Bartimaeus shows us what discipleship is: following Jesus "along the way" in the light of faith.
The Pope, quoting from one of St Augustine's writings said, "Mark indicates not only the name of the person who is healed, but also the name of his father, and he saying that "Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, had fallen from some position of great prosperity, and was now regarded as an object of the most notorious and the most wretched, because, in addition to being blind, he had also to sit begging."
Pope Benedict XVI continued, "This interpretation, that Bartimaeus was a man who had fallen from a condition of "great prosperity", invites us to reflect on the fact that our lives contain precious riches that we can lose, and I am not speaking of material riches here. From this perspective, Bartimaeus could represent those who live in regions that were evangelised long ago, where the light of faith has grown dim and people have drifted away from God, no longer considering him relevant for their lives. These people have therefore lost a precious treasure, they have "fallen" from a lofty dignity – not financially or in terms of earthly power, but in a Christian sense – their lives have lost a secure and sound direction and they have become, often unconsciously, beggars for the meaning of existence. They are the many in need of a New Evangelisation, a new encounter with Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, who can open their eyes afresh and teach them the path. Today's liturgy is very significant as we conclude the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelisation. The New Evangelisation applies to the whole of the Church's life. It applies, in the first instance, to the ordinary pastoral ministry that must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord's Day to be nourished by his Word and by the Bread of eternal life. I would like here to highlight three pastoral themes that have emerged from the Synod:
The first concerns the sacraments of Christian initiation. It has been reaffirmed that appropriate catechesis must accompany preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The importance of Confession, the Sacrament of God's mercy, has also been emphasized. This sacramental journey is where we encounter the Lord's call to holiness, addressed to all Christians. In fact it has often been said that the real protagonists of the New Evangelisation are the saints: they speak a language intelligible to all through the example of their lives and their works of charity.
Secondly, the New Evangelisation is essentially linked to the Missio ad Gentes. The Church's task is to evangelise, to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ. During the Synod, it was emphasised that there are still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectation, sometimes without being fully aware of it, the first proclamation of the Gospel. So we must ask the Holy Spirit to arouse in the Church a new missionary dynamism, whose progatonists are, in particular, pastoral workers and the lay faithful. Globalization has led to a remarkable migration of peoples. So the first proclamation is needed even in countries that were evangelised long ago. All people have a right to know Jesus Christ and his Gospel: and Christians, all Christians – priests, religious and lay faithful – have a corresponding duty to proclaim the Good News.
A third aspect concerns the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism. During the Synod, it was emphasised that such people are found in all continents, especially in the most secularised countries. The Church is particularly concerned that they should encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful. Besides traditional and perennially valid pastoral methods, the Church seeks to adopt new ones, developing new language attuned to the different world cultures, proposing the truth of Christ with an attitude of dialogue and friendship rooted in God, who is Love.
Dear brothers and sisters, Bartimaeus, on regaining his sight from Jesus, joined the crowd of disciples, which must certainly have included others like him, who had been healed by the Master. New evangelizers are like that – people who have had the experience of being healed by God, through Jesus Christ. And characteristic of them all is a joyful heart that cries out with the Psalmist: "What marvels the Lord worked for us: indeed we were glad". Today, we too turn to the Lord Jesus, Redemptor Hominis and Lumen Gentium, with joyful gratitude, making our own a prayer of Saint Clement of Alexandria: "until now I wandered in the hope of finding God, but since you enlighten me, O Lord, I find God through you and I receive the Father from you, I become your co-heir, since you did not shrink from having me for your brother. Let us put away, then, all blindness to the truth, all ignorance: and removing the darkness that obscures our vision like fog before the eyes, let us contemplate the true God; since a light from heaven shone down upon us who were buried in darkness and imprisoned in the shadow of death, a light purer than the sun, sweeter than life on this earth". Amen.
Source: Vatican Radio, 28-10-2012 CARDINAL DOLAN:27th Oct 2012 SYNOD'S MESSAGE AIMS TO ENCOURAGE
The final message from the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelisation was released to the media on Friday, 26 October 2012, as the 3 week-long gathering drew to a close. The Synod's message said there was an urgent need to revive the faith and win back the "often distracted and confused hearts and minds" of people in today's world. Among those on the committee who helped draft the final message was Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York,
who spoke to Vatican Radio's Philippa Hitchen.
Asked for his assessment of the final message, Cardinal Dolan expressed "relief and satisfaction", saying he was happy with the final outcome. He compared the message to a symphony where "all the notes and melodies" that make it up are properly reflected. "We wanted it to be positive, uplifting and evangelical and we wanted it to be rooted in Sacred Scripture," he says.
Cardinal Dolan went on to speak about the reactions of other bishops to the first draft of the final message. Some bishops, he says pointed out "some areas that we had left out" and he described the "extraordinarily perceptive advice" how to talk about young people, saying "don't just speak about young people as the future, they're the now, this is the present life of the Church."
Cardinal Dolan said that they received other suggestions concerning the overall tone of the draft. It was suggested, he added, that "maybe, we were a little too optimistic about the challenges of secularisation and globalisation" ... because these are "real difficulties."Source: Vatican Radio, 26-10-2012 POPE ANNOUNCES CONSISTORY FOR CREATION OF CARDINALS26th Oct 2012
On Wednesday, 24 October 2012, the Holy Father announced a consistory for the creation of six new Cardinals, to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the weekly General Audience. He made this announcement at the end of his catechesis.
The new Cardinals come from three continents: America, Africa and Asia, and they are:
Archbishop James Michael Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household, who will be appointed Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls,
His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites (Lebanon),
His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro- Malankara (India),
Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria),
Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogota (Colombia),
Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila (Philippines).
Pope Benedict XVI said, "The Cardinals have the task of helping the Successor of Peter in the performance of his ministry, of confirming the brethren in the faith, and that of being the principle and foundation of unity, and communion of the Church." The new Cardinals" - he added - "fulfil their ministry in the service of the Holy See or as fathers and pastors of particular Churches in various parts of the world."
The Pope invited everyone to pray for the newly elected Cardinals, requesting the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom they will always love with courage and dedication to Christ and his Church."
This is the fifth consistory of Pope Benedict XVI, and with the consistory of November 24 he will have created 90 cardinals.
On that date, the College of Cardinals will be composed of 211 Cardinals: 120 are eligible to vote in conclave being under the required 80 years of age.
In a geographical breakdown of current Cardinal-electors Europe counts 62; Northern America 14, South America 21; Africa 11; Asia 11; Oceania 3.
Vatican News, 24-20-2012
Source: Fides News Agency, 23-10-2012 Card-designate Onaiyekan:24th Oct 2012 SIMPLICITY OF HEART, HUMILITY OF SPIRIT
"My first reaction is of gratitude to God", says Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, of Abuja Nigeria one of the six men – the only one from Africa – who will be created cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI during the November 24th Consistory, announced earlier Wednesday by the Pope himself.
He spoke to Vatican Radio's Helene Destombes just after the announcement on the side-lines of the Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelisation.
"I see it purely as God's grace, certainly not as any reward for any good action. I'm not the best archbishop in the world and God has chosen me. Also thanks to the Pope who has chosen to include me in this very special group of servants of the Church".
"It means of course that I have a greater responsibility not only for the Archdiocese of Abuja but also as a collaborator of His Holiness, to work with him in his universal responsibility. That is a major issue that I have to pray seriously about."
The Church leader has a wealth of experience in inter-religious dialogue, particularly in the African context. In fact his synod intervention on October 19th concentrated on the idea of evangelisation and religions working together for peace. Nigeria, he notes, is often the scene of violent clashes of both a religious and social origin. However he adds, there are also signs of concrete hope.
"Coming from a country like Nigeria we have been doing our best to promote dialogue and an apostolate of peace making and peace building with Muslims. This is because I personally believe, not only do I believe but it is my experience that the vast majority of Nigerians want to live in peace. We are all citizens of the same country, with the same problems and difficulties but we also have a common ground in terms of spiritual values and even moral principals. So it should not be difficult for us to work together to tackle the problems of our nation. And I do intend to continue along those lines particularly as this is the line indicated by my Church, starting from Vatican II, right up to Ecclesia in Africa and it is the Magisterium of all the Popes right up to Benedict XVI. And I believe it is the will of God for us.
Below is the full text of Cardinal-designate Onaiyekan's intervention:
First of all, I wish to thank very sincerely the Holy Father and this august assembly for the concern about and prayers for our country Nigeria, so often in the news about religious and social clashes with considerable loss of lives and property. We continue to count on your prayers for us.
Despite the impression often given by the world media, I want to stress that Christians in Nigeria do not see themselves as being under any massive persecution by Muslims. Our population of about 160 million is made up of Christians and Muslims in equal number and influence. We have not done too badly in living peacefully together in the same nation. We believe we have learnt some lessons which may be useful for the rest of the world on Christian-Muslim relations. In this regard, I wish to draw the attention of this synod to the following points:
The irreversible process of "globalisation" mentioned in the IL 47 means that our New Evangelization will need to take note of the arrival of Islam on the world stage. Since our two religions now embrace a major portion of humanity, we have a shared responsibility to work for peace and harmony with ourselves and in our world of today.
The differences between Islam and Christianity are not negligible. But there are also broad areas of common grounds about which Vat. II in Nostrae Aetate 3, reminds us. The New Evangelisation will entail working together for the promotion of commonly shared values, in a world that is very much in need of such values.
Our two religions claim to have a divine mission to embrace all humanity. As we find ourselves in the same "global village", we have to find ways of reconciling our sense of world mission with our God-given duty to live in peace with our fellow human beings. We must continue to insist on freedom of conscience as a fundamental human right of every citizen of every nation.
Our Nigerian experience teaches us that there are many kinds of Muslims. In the New Evangelization, we need to know our Muslim neighbours and keep an open mind to those who are friendly, and they are in the majority. We have to work together to make sure that the fanatics do not dictate the agenda of our mutual relations, pushing us to be enemies of one another.
There is an ecumenical dimension to interfaith relations. Drawing from the solid principles of our magisterium, we must try to forge a common approach in dealing with our Muslim counterparts. Most of our problems are caused by the reckless utterances and activities of extremist fringe groups on both sides of the divide.
Source: Vatican Radio, 24-10-2012 THREE ASSUMPTIONIST PRIESTS KIDNAPPED IN CONGO 24th Oct 2012 MBAU BISHOP APPEALS FOR THEIR RELEASE
On Friday, 19 October 2012, at around 9 pm, three Assumptionist Fathers (Augustinians of the Assumption), Jean-Pierre Ndulani, Anselme Wasikundi and Edmond Bamutute, of Congolese nationality, were kidnapped while they were in the parish of Notre-Dame des Pauvres in Mbau, a small parish located in the north-eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Kivu region has been the scene of frequent clashes between the rebel groups and the government forces since 2004. It is believed that many of those responsible for the Rwandan genocide, both the Hutu and the Tutsi, had taken refuge in the area while avoiding prosecution and maintaining the rebel organisations. Since 2009, conflicts with both Hutu and Tutsi factions effectively ended either by absorption of the groups into government as political parties or through armed conflict, But these factions have periodically broken their peaceful resolutions and returned to banditry in the area. Although Bishop Paluku did not explicitly refer to these connections nor indicated what he believed to be the motivations behind the abduction, he confirmed that "the parish where the religious were kidnapped is located in an area where there are several armed groups who commit acts of banditry of this kind."
Yesterday, 23 October, His Excellency Mgr Melchisedec Sikuli Paluku, Bishop of Butembo-Beni, called on the kidnappers to release the three priests and in an interview with Fides News Agency, he assured that, "different lines of investigation are being followed for the three Assumptionists fathers, and we must understand which the right one is."
Mgr Sikuli Paluku added, "We have appealed to the general mobilisation not only of the police and other security forces, but also to the population of the area to provide us with information on the kidnappers' movements."
"We have asked the faithful to pray so that God touches the hearts of the kidnappers to release our fathers", the Bishop concluded.
Source: Fides News Agency, 23-10-2012 FAITH AND EVANGELISATION:24th Oct 2012 MISSION DAY OF THE DIOCESE OF JING XIAN – ASIA/CHINA
On Sunday, 21 October 2012, in Fu Cheng Parish of the Diocese of Heng Shui, in He Bei province, His Excellency Mgr Peter Feng Xin Mao, Bishop of Heng Shui, opened the celebration of World Mission Day with the participation of all parishes of the Diocese and the Universal Church. The theme was: "In the Year of Faith one has to put into practice Charity for Evangelisation and Faith and the spread of Hope".
Bishop Feng Xin Mao wrote his Pastoral Letter for the Year of Faith - from the Letter of St Paul to the Romans - "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". After reading, he explained to the faithful the close link between faith, evangelism, prayer and works of charity, in order to be eloquent witnesses of the faith by carrying out the Christian mission. The faithful organised a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine to celebrate World Mission Sunday because "with our journey, faith is transmitted and also the Gospel of Love in the Year of Faith", the Bishop added.
Mgr Peter Feng visited several parishes to celebrate together with his faithful this Missionary Day in the Year of Faith, encouraging them with two keywords, "Faith and Evangelisation" to live the Year of Faith and life as a true Christian.
Source: Fides News Agency, 23-10-2012 ASIA/CHINA :24th Oct 2012 The Diocese oh HAI MEN opens the YEAR OF FAITH administering 445 confirmations
The Year of Faith was officially opened on 14 October 2012, by His Excellency Mgr Joseph Shen Bin, Bishop of Hai Men Diocese, in Jiang Su province, in mainland China. Bishop Shen Bin presided at the Mass with the participation of more than a thousand faithful in the Diocese's oldest Church, dedicated to St Paul. It was also a very significant event when 445 faithful adults from the Diocese received the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Bishop said in the homily, "we made this choice in order to remember our Journey of Faith and the continuity of faith, which manifests itself in words, also in gestures and concrete evidence, guided by the Word of God.
With the "Year of Faith we need to strengthen our faith, to be salt and light." In addition, the Bishop explained the meaning and purpose of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, the historical impact of the Second Vatican Council, and the Mission of Evangelisation of the faithful today.
The Diocese of Hai Men with now more than 400 years of history of evangelisation, is one of the six Dioceses in China, whose Bishop, of Chinese origin, was consecrated by Pope Pius XI in 1926 in St Peter's in the Vatican. In his long journey of faith, the Catholic community has contributed substantially to the religious, cultural, educational, health and charitable development of local society. Today the Diocese has more than 30,000 faithful, 10 priests, and about twenty nuns of the Congregation of St Therese, in 22 parishes.
Source: Fides News Agency, (Bejing), 22-10-2012 "WE'RE BETTER CITIZENS WHEN WE'RE MORE FAITHFUL CATHOLICS" 23rd Oct 2012
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput: Guidelines for True Catholic Citizenship
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, in his column on Sunday, 21 October 2012 called on his faithful to reflect on the implications of being Catholic in politics, insightfully affirming the legitimacy of bringing faith into the public square and offering five clear guidelines to his faithful for the upcoming Presidential elections.
The Archbishop said, "Catholic citizenship implies that we have a commitment to the common good and to the dignity of each human person." He urged Catholics to exercise their voting power, reminding them that it is "not just a religious duty but also a democratic duty." When he clarified the meaning of the separation between Church and State, he affirmed that "it is the job of the Church to guide Catholics to think and act in accord with their faith."
The first point warned against personal interpretations of the word catholic. Archbishop Charles explained, "We don't control or invent that meaning as individuals. We inherit it from the Gospel and the experience of the Church". In the second point, likening being Catholic to marriage, he underlined how God wants to see evidence of our love "by our love for the Church and our fidelity to what she teaches and believes".
Thirdly, he specified that "the Church is not a political organism," and so it eludes all kinds of partisanship which only damage its mission. This does not mean that Scripture and Catholic teaching do not have public consequences, is his fourth point. These are their "natural byproduct," so that one cannot be indifferent to the situation of immigrants, the poor and the killing of unborn children. His last point is the need to follow conscience, made healthy only by submitting to the will of God which is found by "listening to the counsel of the Church and honestly live in accord with her guidance."
"We're better citizens when we're more faithful Catholics. The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, choices, actions and convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation," he concluded.
Source: Zenit News , 19-10-2010 CHINA: THE MISSING PIECE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS 23rd Oct 2012
On 19 October 2012, five Church leaders from different parts of the world gave their impressions and shared insights with journalists about the main issues on the agenda for the three – week meeting and there was an appeal made on behalf of some bishops who were not able to go to the Synod.
262 Bishops from all five continents attended, the largest number ever invited to a Synod: From the Holy Land, where it all began two thousand years ago, to the newest nation, South Sudan, which only gained independence last year. The sense of being a truly Universal Church is one aspect of this meeting which most participants find really rewarding. Yet there is one country where the Catholic Church is growing, where Bishops are regularly invited to Rome, but where their government does not give them permission to travel. It is truly touching and heart-breaking that this country could not participate in any event of the Universal Church. That country is China. The Archbishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong, appealed to the government in Beijing to grant greater religious freedom for all….. "I think it's a pity that no Chinese bishop is allowed out to attend the Synod….we must all pray that one day they will enjoy full religious freedom and the government would enjoy a greater reputation worldwide; so more dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese government is needed."
Cardinal John Tong said that the Catholic Church in Hong Kong is thriving with over 3,000 adult baptisms each year. Speaking of the importance of lay people and especially the family, which is emerging as a key theme at this Synod, the Cardinal said, "The family is an important part of traditional Chinese culture and customs. Our ancestors taught us that we must first convert our own hearts, then care for our families, and from there reach out to bring peace and harmony to our society and to the wider world. That's what the Church in mainland China is trying to do: how long will it be before its leaders can take their rightful place here at the heart of the Universal Church?
Source: Vatican Radio, 19-10-2012 A WINDOW ON THE WORLD 23rd Oct 2012
The New Evangelisation succeeds to the extent in which faith lived in the Church as a personal experience of Jesus of Nazareth is revitalised. This is the widespread conviction among the Synod Fathers who conveyed it in various ways. As the Synod Fathers started the second week of the work of the Assembly, they particularly defined what the New Evangelisation is, and how it can be undertaken in the cultural plurality, and faith of the one Christian proclamation, in situations of religious minority, in contexts of peace and war, of economic crisis or of well-being, poverty and sickness. The Synod offered a vast panorama, both in countries of ancient Christianity and in those in which the mission ad gentes is still being carried out; without neglecting the challenges to the Christian faith in the lively, vibrant context that characterises the international panorama in our day. Indeed one can say that the Synod is taking place wide open to the most sensitive crisis points for peace and for the lives of people in different parts of the world.
In a week, three indicators have contributed to spreading a lively and watchful image of the Synod that has highlighted the importance of the primacy of faith and that of charity, expressed in a concrete sign of closeness to all who are suffering.
A message of an extraordinary witness of faith, and of support for the Year of Faith, from a 90-year old, Bishop Lucas Ly Jingfeng of Fengxiang, China, who was released in 1979, after twenty years in prison during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. On that same day Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone announced the delegation that the Pope wished to send to Syria as a sign of closeness and solidarity with the entire population, harshly tried by the war. And the following day the Secretary of State communicated another important project of the Pope at the service of Evangelisation: all the Holy See's Nuncios, Apostolic Delegates and Permanent Observers are summoned to Rome next June to deepen the sense of mission of Papal Representatives in the circumstances of today. Benedict XVI, considering the priority of proclamation and witness above everything else, asks for this sign of consistence between words and action at all the levels of the Church.
The whole sphere of the New Evangelisation was investigated and described by the many interventions of the Synod Fathers, of the Fraternal Delegates, and of the religious and lay people invited. The features of the New Evangelisation will be explained in the final propositions, as well as the trust to be given especially to women and young people. Due attention will be paid to the Ecumenical dimension of the New Evangelisation, the pastoral care of health as a vast context in which to spread it, and to the innovation that the proclamation of the Gospel represents in the epoch of the new media. They are now the habitat in which people are ever more frequently living and breathing.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 22-10-2012 POPE CANONISED SEVEN NEW SAINTS 22nd Oct 2012
On Sunday, 21 October 2012, in Saint Peter's Square, during the celebration of World Mission Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI canonised seven new Saints in the presence of thousands of pilgrims around the world who participated in the great event.
During the Mass, in the homily, the Holy Father noted that the canonisation was taking place as Bishops from around the world are gathered in Rome to take part in the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: "The coincidence between this ecclesiastical meeting and World Mission Sunday is a happy one; and the Word of God that we have listened to sheds light on both subjects. It shows us how to be evangelisers, called to bear witness and to proclaim the Christian message, configuring ourselves to Christ and following his very path. This is true both for the mission ad Gentes and for the new evangelisation."
Pope Benedict gave a brief reflection on the life and works of each of the new saints. Among them was Pedro Calungsod, born around the year 1654, in the Philippines. As a catechist Pedro "displayed deep faith and charity and gave witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to faith." He could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego Luis de San Vitores' side. Saint Pedro was martyred on 2 April 1672. Fr Diego was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!
Marianne Cope was born in 1838 in Heppenheim, Germany, but moved to the United States at a young age. She joined the Franciscan order and became Superior General of her congregation and eventually answered the call to serve the lepers in the Hawaiian island of Molokai. "She showed the highest love, courage, and enthusiasm for those suffering from this terrible disease."
Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint from North America, led a simple life, faithful to her prayer, and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. Speaking in French, Pope Benedict prayed, "Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and first Native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of faith in the First Nations and in all of North America! May God bless the First Nations!"
Jacques Berthieu was born in 1838 in France. As a Jesuit, he was a tireless pastor on the island of Sainte Marie, and then in Madagascar, where he struggled against injustice while bringing succour to the poor and sick. He drew his strength from prayer and his love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with human and priestly force to face martyrdom in 1896. He chose death rather than renounce his faith". The Pope prayed, "May the life of this evangelizer be an encouragement and a model for priests, may his intercession in this Year of Faith bring forth many fruits for Madagascar and the African Continent! May God bless the Malagasy people!"
Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people. Animated by unshakable faith in divine providence and by a profound spirit of sacrifice, he faced difficulties and fatigue to breathe life into various apostolic works, by his intense long hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, meditating upon the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, to gain spiritual fortitude and people's hearts, especially the youth, to bring them back to the sources of life with fresh pastoral initiatives.
María Carmen Sallés y Barangueras, a religious, was born in Vic in Spain in 1848. She founded the Congregation of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching, in 1892. Filled with hope, despite the many trials she praised the Lord singing with Mary, the Mother of God, "His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation". She entrusted to Mary her educational work, and continued to bear abundant fruit by entrusting themselves to God for whom all is possible.
Anna Schaeffer, a young woman from Mindelstetten, wished to enter a missionary order. Coming from a poor family, she worked as a maid in order raise the money she needed for her dowry for acceptance into the monastery. A terrible accident with incurable burns on her legs forced her to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. She struggled to accept her fate, but later she understood her situation as a loving call from the crucified One to follow him. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God's love for the many who sought her counsel. May her apostolate of prayer and suffering, of sacrifice and expiation, be a shining example for believers in her homeland, and may her intercession strengthen the Christian hospice movement in its beneficial activity.
At the end of the Solemn Mass, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the faithful concluding his remarks with greetings in several languages to all the pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square: "On the happy occasion of the canonisations today, I greet the official delegations and all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America. May the holiness and witness of these saints inspire us to draw closer to the Son of God who, for such great love, came to serve and offer his life for our salvation. God bless you all!"
Source: Vatican News, 21-10-2012 CARDINAL NAPIER: 19th Oct 2012
NEW EVANGELIZATION NEEDS
NEW APPROACHES AND NEW FERVOUR
Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban in South Africa, is one of the participants at the ongoing Synod of Bishops of the New Evangelization.
As he reflected on some of the main issues that surfaced at the Synod's interventions, what deeply impressed him was the issue regarding the need to minister to God's flock with more humility, which took him by surprise. He said that in his experience, most people do their work in ministry, relying on the Lord's grace to do so. However he agreed that the issue regarding the need for humility has come across so strongly in the Synod, indicating that perhaps, one of the failures in the Church in the past has been the perception that the Church is proud; that the Church's leaders are not in contact with the people on the ground. However, it is good to know about this and expressed his hope that it will be reflected in the final document, Archbishop Napier added.
As regards the issue brought up at the Synod regarding a possible distance and discrepancy between the Church and the reality of modern families, Cardinal Napier said that in Southern Africa, in general, the Bishops have a fairly close working relationship with ordinary folk. "Necessity in fact" he explained, "has led priests to rely on laity and catechists, so they are really in touch with them and with what happens on the ground". So, he concluded that distinctions have to be made as regards different parts of the world.
In South Africa, Cardinal Napier revealed, "We are entering a new process of consultation with the laity to make sure that communication is taking place between the leadership and the membership of the Catholic Church."
Source: Vatican Radio, 18-10-2012 YEAR OF FAITH: TAIWAN (ASIA) 19th Oct 2012
THE YEAR OF FAITH IN THE DIOCESE OF TAI NAN BEGINS
On Saturday, 13 October 2012, in a public park, the Catholic Diocese of Tai Nan officially opened the Year of Faith on the island of Taiwan. At 10:00 in the morning, His Excellency Mgr Bosco Lin Ji Nan, Diocesan Bishop, presided at the Mass. More than three thousands faithful participated in the initiative, which lasted for the entire weekend. Parishes, Missionary Institutes, Associations, Schools, and the Publishing House of the Diocese, set up about thirty stands to present the Catholic Faith and the Service of the Church.
Civil authorities attended the event, publicly acknowledging the contribution of the Church to society, especially in the service to the elderly, the poor, disabled children, confirming that the Church "not only loves Tai Nan, but all of Taiwan." On this occasion Mgr Lin awarded a prize to the volunteers and religious who have served the Church with special devotion. In the afternoon, the visit of His Excellency Mgr Peter Liu, Archbishop of Kaohsiung, added colour to the joyful celebration of the event. Mgr Liu said he came to bring "the friendship of the Sister Diocese ", and also "to experience this wonderful initiative."
Source: Fides News Agency – Taipei, 18-10-2012 YEAR OF FAITH: TAHITI (OCEANIA) 19th Oct 2012
"PEOPLE ARE READY TO PUBLICLY DISPLAY THEIR BELIEF IN GOD"
Catholics of Tahiti mobilised for the Year of Faith, expressed "full communion" with the initiative launched by Pope Benedict XVI and wished to offer a "public witness of faith."
On 11 October 2012, more than five hundred faithful gathered in the Archdiocese Cathedral of Papeete for the opening celebration of the Year of Faith. On Saturday, 13 October, the local Church organised a large gathering, participated by more than a thousand, among children and young people who packed the Church of St. Paul in Mahina.
Furthermore, on Sunday, October 14, a crowd of more than three thousand faithful gave birth to a march of prayers and songs on the streets of Papeete, carrying banners with slogans praising faith. As reported to Fides News Agency, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Fr Dominique Soupé said, "It is clear that people are more than ever ready to publicly display their belief in God." For young people, in particular, noted the Chancellor "a traditional procession turned into a festive procession, which offered a testimony of their spiritual vitality." And the Eucharist celebration, in accordance with the liturgy of the Church, became "a time when music is fully involved and helps the intimate relationship between the believer and Christ." "The Church of Tahiti", he continued "keeps in mind the objectives set by the Holy Father for the Year of Faith: to deepen the Christian faith and to promote the new evangelization." With young people new specific paths of faith will be opened, while one of the difficulties is "to achieve coherence between everyday life and the spiritual ideals that are claimed, singing in parades." The Chancellor concluded that the local Catholic community "trusts in the Holy Spirit and in a new Pentecost for the Church."
Source: Fides News Agency - Papeete 18-10-2012 INSIDE THE SYNOD:18th Oct 2012
EVANGELISATION AND ECUMENISM
On Wednesday afternoon, 17 October 2012, the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, gave his speech to the Bishops gathered from all corners of the globe to discuss ways of revitalising the faith and bringing people back to the Church. The 'Presentation after the Discussion' as it is officially called, was given in Latin and drew many themes that emerged from the first week – and – a – half of speeches by bishops, religious and lay experts, plus representatives of other Christian Churches and communities. Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian Orthodox Department for external Church relations, was among six so – called 'fraternal delegates' who addressed the Synod on Tuesday, sharing the experiences of evangelisation from their Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist and Anglican traditions.
Alongside the themes of inculturation, formation of the laity, the family, interfaith challenges and the witness of the martyrs, the urgency of ecumenism has been a constant refrain from bishops in different parts of the world. "Half a century on, from the Second Vatican Council, which so profoundly affected the Catholic Church's relations with people of other Christian traditions, these 'Siamese twins' of Ecumenism and Evangelisation must remain a priority as we seek to be credible witnesses of Christ to the world" said Cardinal Kurt Koch the Vatican's top ecumenical spokesman, who heads of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Source: Vatican Radio, 17-10-2012 SYNOD: POPE CALLS NUNCIOS TO ROME 17th Oct 2012
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in his intervention to the Synod of Bishops on Wednesday morning, 17 October 2012, announced that Pope Benedict XVI will be calling his diplomatic representatives across the globe – known as Apostolic Nuncios – to Rome for a special meeting. Cardinal Bertone said, "The transmission of faith is a very fundamental task of the Church in being able to represent a description of her very own essence: she is in fact a community, always composed of the double movement of receiving and transmitting the precious treasure of the faith. This task has declined in a different way according to the situations and historical eras, and today has taken on the profile of new evangelisation in an ever – growing way, with the Christian message, using the images of an evangelical parable, like the rocky terrain, or the one infested by briars, or even like the road, where evil steals the good seed of the Word.
This specific service, which is watching over and protecting the Libertas Ecclesiae, is necessary for the mission of the Church, where 'the legal or social order is inspired by philosophical and political systems which call for strict control, if not a monopoly, of the state over society', in countries where religion is increasingly being marginalised. In these contexts, the action of the Pontifical Representatives, through the instruments of diplomatic dialogue with civic authorities and in accord with the Episcopacy, aims to guarantee to the Church, that freedom in the internal government and practice of one's mission is reflected benefiting other religious traditions, and nurtures the harmony of all society.
The Pontifical Representatives, as members of the Episcopal College, are also directly responsible for the proclamation of the Gospel, and the promotion of New Evangelisation. This responsibility is aimed at favouring communion between the members of the Episcopal College and the Roman Pontiff. The solicitude, proper to the Successor of Peter, for the whole Church, her representatives, are by nature called to be the builders of communion, which is a powerful factor of evangelisation. First of all, this is a gift that comes from above, that appeals to our collaboration, and is translated into a committed and daily task, which allows our different sensibilities to be translated into wealth and not into antagonism.
I would like to assure, before this qualified assembly, the commitment that the Nuncios and the Apostolic Delegates mean to activate to favour, on the one hand, the welcome at the Episcopacies of the Pontifical Magisterium and the indications from the organisms of the Holy See, and on the other hand, in helping the Pope and his collaborators to always better know and understand the reality of the local Churches, their riches and their difficulties. Furtheremore, we must not forget the more direct work of the service of evangelisation performed by the Pontifical Representatives, when they are called to the various Dioceses for Episcopal consecration, special occasions, or pastoral visits. Through this form of ministry they make present in a very special way, among the People of God, the person of the Pope, his care and solicitude for Christ's whole flock, a presence that is especially felt by the faithful, and which contributes to making the Church's Catholicity more visible.
For this reason, the Holy Father decided to call all the Nuncios, the Apostolic Delegates and the Permanent Observers to a meeting for reflection in Rome next June, following on from the one held over ten years ago on the occasion of the Great Jubilee 2000. It will be an opportunity for an exchange of experiences and to deepen the feeling of mission for the Pontifical Representatives in today's circumstances. I am certain that I can count on your prayers for this.
Source: Vatican Radio, 17-10-2012
"AGGIORNAMENTO" DOES NOT BREAK WITH TRADITION BUT EXTENDS ITS VITALITY 16th Oct 2012
In the morning of 16 October 2012, in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father received a group of Council Fathers of Vatican II who were accompanied by Presidents of Episcopal Conferences from around the world, who came to Rome for the inauguration of the Year of Faith. The Pope, who himself participated in Vatican Council II as an expert, noted that "many memories came to mind, memories inscribed in each of our hearts, of the period of the Council which was so lively, so rich and so fruitful. However, I do not wish to dwell upon this for too long ... I would merely like to recall how a word launched by Blessed John XXIII, almost as if to establish a programme, resurfaced continually during the course of the conciliar sessions: the word 'aggiornamento', and that word was, and remains, correct. Christianity must not be considered as 'something that has passed', nor must we live with our gaze always turned back, because Jesus Christ is yesterday, today, and forever. Christianity is marked by the presence of the eternal God, Who entered into time and is present in all times, because all times are brought forth of His creative power, of His eternal 'today'."
The Holy Father went on, "Christianity is always new. We must never see it as a fully mature tree sprung from the mustard seed of the Gospel; a tree which has grown, given its fruits and one day grows old as the suns sets on its life energy. Christianity is, so to speak, a tree ... that is ever young. This constantly updated vitality, this 'aggiornamento', does not mean breaking with tradition; rather, it is an expression of that tradition's ongoing vitality. It does not mean reducing the faith, debasing it to the fashion of the times using the yardstick of what we like and what appeals to public opinion. Quite the contrary, just as the Council Fathers did, we must mould the 'today' in which we live to the measure of Christianity. We must bring the 'today' of our times into line with the 'today' of God."
Source: Vatican News, 16-10-2012 STARTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT 16th Oct 2012
At the solemn opening of the Thirteenth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Synod Fathers who, saying that the only approach for succeeding in their work was to fix their gaze on the Lord Jesus. He repeated with disarming clarity that the Crucified One is par excellence the badge of those who proclaim the Gospel.
The predominant frame of mind of the Synod Fathers and of the other participants, confirmed that the Synod has started off on the right foot for the task that the Holy Father entrusted to them: "the New Evangelization as addressed mainly to baptized people who have drifted away from the Church and who no longer refer to Christian practices in their life."
The many interventions showed no trace of triumphalism, but of perception of the limitations in every area of pastoral action, of the Church's cultural and social involvement, a People of God made up of clerics and lay people.
The talks recorded in the first week of the Synod put emphasis on the urgent need to recognise that Jesus Christ has first place in the ordinary life of Christian communities, at the same time, expressing regret for the omissions and for the individual and collective sins that have contributed to levelling out the Christian faith.
Some of the images used in the Synod Hall portrayed Faith as a lifestyle that attracts others; changing the mentality that sees faith belonging to a militant and violent sociological faction; starting afresh from Jerusalem, where the first Christian community was anchored to Christ.
Paul VI, in the Second Vatican Council, asked: "Church what do you have to say for yourself? What do you say of Christ? To give meaning to evangelization these questions are still relevant today.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 16-10-2012 Pope Benedict XVI: 15th Oct 2012
Holy Father calls for re-evangelisation in the spiritual desert of the contemporary world
(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI presided at a solemn mass in front of St Peter's Basilica, marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and Thursday's launch of the Year of Faith. The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, and the Primate of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, together with over 400 cardinals and bishops, were among those attending.
Pope Benedict told those present that the reason the Church was proposing a new Year of Faith and the new evangelisation was not to honour an anniversary but because there is an even greater need than there was 50 years ago. He said that in these past decades a "spiritual desertification" had advanced and this "void has spread around." At the time of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope said, it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like. Unfortunately, he added, we now see it every day, all around us.
However, Pope Benedict said, it is by using this desert as a our starting point that we can once again re-discover the joy of believing and the value of what is essential for life. In our contemporary world "there are numerous signs of that thirst for God" and the ultimate meaning of life.
Referring to the Year of Faith, the Pope described it as "a pilgrimage in the desert of the contemporary world" in which the only essential thing to carry is the Gospel and the faith of the Church of which the documents of the Second Vatican Council are a shining expression, along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He went on to say that during the Council there was a dynamic effort regarding the common task of making the truth and the beauty of our faith shine again in our times, without sacrificing it to the needs of the present or holding it tied to the past.
It is for this reason, the Pope continued, that "I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the letter of the Council, that is, its documents, to find its authentic spirit. By referring to the documents, we avoid the extremes of anachronistic nostalgia or racing ahead and are able to pick the novelty within the continuity. The Council", the Pope said, "did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change."
But as the Pope reminded those present, the Council Fathers were able to do that because they were sure of their faith and the solid rock on which it was based. Instead, he added, in the years following the Council many people blindly followed the prevailing mentality, putting into question the very pillars of the depository of the faith.
Pope Benedict concluded his homily by entrusting the Year of the Faith to the Mother of God who, he said, shines like a star on the path of the new evangelisation.
Source: Vatican News, 2012-10-11 WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE: 11th Oct 2012 POPE'S MEMORIES OF VATICAN 11
On 10 October 2012, the eve of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II and the beginning of the Year of Faith, the Holy Father dedicated his Wednesday General Audience catechesis to his memories of that "Great Gathering", which were a visible sign of the Universal Church and a moment of extraordinary grace.
He began his reflection on the great Ecclesial event that was the Council, an event of which he was a direct witness. He said that, it appeared like a giant fresco, painted in its great diversity and variety of elements, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And just like before a great work of art, still today we continue to grasp that moment of grace, that extraordinary richness, to rediscover particular passages, fragments, pieces.
As a young professor of Fundamental Theology, he was taken by the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Frings, as his consultant theologian and later was appointed as a Council expert. Pope Benedict XVI said, "It was a unique experience for me, after all the fervour and enthusiasm of preparation, I could see a living Church - almost three thousand Council Fathers from all parts of the world gathered under the guidance of the Successor of the Apostle Peter - at the school of the Holy Spirit, the true driving force of the Council. Rarely in history have we been able, to almost concretely "touch" the universality of the Church at a time of great accomplishment of its mission to bring the Gospel to all ages and to the ends of the earth. These days, if you see once again the images of the opening of this great Gathering, on television or other media, you too will be able to feel the joy, hope and encouragement taking part in this event of light given to all of us, a light which radiates still today."
He also said that, in the history of the Church, various Councils have preceded the Second Vatican Council, where large Ecclesial Assemblies were convened to define key elements of the faith, especially to correct errors ,that put her in danger.
Pope Benedict XVI said, "If we look at the Second Vatican Council, we can see that, at that moment in the journey of the Church there were no particular errors of faith to correct or condemn, nor were there specific issues of Doctrine or discipline to be clarified." He added "Thus we can understand the surprise of the small group of Cardinals in the chapter house of the Benedictine monastery of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where, on January 25, 1959, Blessed John XXIII announced the diocesan Synod for Rome and the Council for the Universal Church. The first question Pope John XXIII asked himself in preparing for this great event was how to start it, what specific task to assign to it? Blessed John XXIII, in his opening speech, on II October, fifty years ago, gave a general indication: faith had to speak in a "renewed", more incisive way - because the world was rapidly changing – while keeping its perennial contents, without giving in or compromise", Pope Benedict said. Blessed John XXIII wanted the Church to reflect on her faith, on the truths that guide her. Pope Benedict XVI also said that this reflection on faith, had to outline the relationship between the Church and the modern age in a new way, between Christianity and some essential elements of modern thought, not to conform Itself to it, but to present to our world, which tends to move away from God, the need of the Gospel in all its grandeur and in all its purity. He added that on 7 December 1965, at the end of the last session of the Council, The Servant of God Pope Paul VI emphasised in his homily that in order to properly asses this event, and he quoted, "It is necessary to remember the time in which it was realised. In fact, the Pope says, it took place at a time in which, everyone admits man is orientated toward the conquest of the kingdom of earth rather than of that of heaven; a time in which forgetfulness of God has become habitual, and seems, quite wrongly, to be prompted by the progress of science; a time in which the fundamental act of the human person, more conscious now of himself and of his liberty, tends to pronounce in favour of his own absolute autonomy, in emancipation from every transcendent law; a time in which secularism seems the legitimate consequence of modern thought and the highest wisdom in the temporal ordering of society; it was at such a time as this that our Council was held to the honour of God, in the name of Christ and under the impulse of the Spirit". Thus Paul VI said.
Pope Benedict XVI said that we can see how the time in which we live continues to be marked by forgetfulness and deafness towards God. We must learn the simplest and most basic lesson of the Council, that is Christianity in faith in God, which is love of the Trinity, and in the encounter, both personal and community, with Christ who directs and guides life: from which everything else follows. The important thing today, is to revive the faith that God is present, he takes care of us, and he answers us. Where there is no faith in God, what is essential will collapse. The Council reminds us that the Church has the duty, the mandate to transmit the Word of God that saves, so that the Divine call, which contains our eternal blessing, can be heard and welcomed.
The Holy Father concluded his reflections saying, "The Second Vatican Council is a strong call for us to rediscover the beauty of our faith every day, to know nourish a deeper understanding of it, a more intense relationship with the Lord, to truly live our Christian vocation. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the whole Church, help us to realise and to fulfil all that the Council Fathers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, guarded in their heart: the desire that all may know the Gospel and meet the Lord Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thank you."
Source: Vatican News, 10-10-2012 SILENCE, HUMILITY, SIMPLICITY: THE FILIPINO EXPERIENCE 10th Oct 2012
On Tuesday, 9 October 2012, the second day of the Synod on New Evangelisation, Bishops from all over the world shared their ideas on how the Church can and should respond to the challenges of the modern world. Speakers were given five minutes each. Those who had fewer and clearer ideas were most striking. Three words were striking and seemed to have captured the talks: Silence, Humility, Simplicity.
The Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle, said, "To be an effective evangeliser, the Church cannot and must not pretend to have easy answers to the dilemmas facing men and women today. Instead, it must be an attentive and listening Church – only that way will people believe that God listens to them too. Secondly, the Church must be a humble Church, modeling herself more on Jesus and being less preoccupied by her power, prestige and position in society.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas echoed the striking call for a new humility of heart and simplicity of life. He shared that the Gospel cannot thrive in pride, and our evangelisation has been harmed by the arrogance of its messengers. "Just in case anyone had not been listening attentively," he reiterated "we, the hierarchy, must shun arrogance, hypocrisy, bigotry, punishing the errant instead of covering up our own mistakes".
Silence, humility, simplicity. This was how the two prelates of the Philippines echoed the life expectations of the Filipino people today. There is the saying, 'You cannot preach to people with empty stomachs'. Not so, the experience of the Philippines has shown: "The Gospel can be preached to empty stomachs, but only if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as that of his parishioners."
Source: Vatican News, 09-10-2012 POPE: HOMILY FOR SYNOD OPENING 8th Oct 2012
On Sunday morning, 7 October 2012, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and lay people throughout the Universal Church gathered around the Holy Father, as he officially proclaimed the opening of the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme THE NEW EVANGELISATION FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. The theme reflects a direction for the life of the Church, its members, families, communities and institutions.
Pope Benedict XVI greeted and welcomed all those who came to be part of the Synodal Assembly, the delegates of the other Churches and ecclesial communities, and all those present and invited them to accompany in daily prayer the members and the deliberations that will take place in the next three weeks.
The Pope said that the readings of the Liturgy of the Word proposed two points for reflection: the first is on matrimony and the second is on Jesus Christ. He added that the Word of God places us before the glorious One who was crucified, so that our whole lives, and in particular the commitment of this Synodal session will take place in Jesus' sight and in the light of his mystery. In his homily he said, "In every time and place, evangelization always has as its starting and finishing points Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and the Crucifix is the supremely distinctive sign of him who announces the Gospel: a sign of love and peace, a call to conversion and reconciliation". He added that this call should take into account those who do not yet know Jesus Christ and his message of salvation; and those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church.
Looking out at the vast number of people gathered in St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI said that marriage "is a Gospel in itself" and "Good News" for today's de-Christianised world. He added, "The union of a man and a woman, their becoming "one flesh" in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God with a force and an eloquence which in our days has become greater because unfortunately, for various reasons, marriage, in precisely the oldest regions evangelised, is going through a profound crisis." Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who, in Christ, loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross, that man of today no longer recognises. The Pope pointed to a link between the current crisis of faith and the crisis in marriage. To overcome these crises, any crisis, we need to be newly reconciled with God. As the Church has witnessed for a long time now, marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelisation.
Pope Benedict invited everyone present to pause some moments to consider and appreciate the two saints who had been added to the number of Doctors of the Church: Saint John of Avila who lived in the sixteenth century, an expert on the Sacred Scriptures, and was gifted with an ardent missionary spirit. A man of God, he united constant prayer to apostolic action. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the more frequent practice of the sacraments, concentrating his commitment on improving the formation of candidates for the priesthood, of religious and of lay people, with a view to a fruitful reform of the Church. Saint Hildegard of Bingen, a figure of the twelfth century, offered her precious contribution to the growth of the Church of her time, employing the gifts received from God and showing herself to be a woman of brilliant intelligence, deep sensitivity, and recognised spiritual authority. The Lord granted her a prophetic spirit and fervent capacity to discern the signs of the times. Hildegard nurtured an evident love of creation, and was learned in medicine, poetry and music. Above all, she maintained a great and faithful love for Christ and the Church.
The Pope said that ideal Christian life expressed in the call to holiness, draws everyone to look with humility at the fragility, even sin, of many Christians, as individuals and communities, which is a great obstacle to evangelisation and to recognising the force of God that, in faith, meets human weakness. He added that we cannot speak about the 'new evangelisation' without a sincere desire for conversion. The best path to the new evangelisation is to let ourselves be reconciled with God and with each other.
The Holy Father said, "Let us entrust the work of the Synod meeting to God, and sustained by the communion of saints, invoking in particular the intercession of great evangelizers, among whom, with much affection, we ought to number Blessed John Paul II, whose long Pontificate was an example of the new evangelisation. Let us place ourselves under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelisation. With her let us invoke a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that from on high he may illumine the Synodal Assembly and make it fruitful for the Church's way ahead.
Source: Vatican News, 07-10-2012 RECORD NUMBERS AT THE SYNOD TO LAUNCH THE NEW EVANGELIZATION 8th Oct 2012
According to Archbishop Nikola Eterović, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, the record of attendance at this 13th Ordinary General Assembly is 262, the highest number of participants in the history of all the Assemblies, the last which took place in 2008. Archbishop Eterovic said that "the increase in number of participants acknowledges the commitment of all those who contribute to the mission of The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith". To outline the profile of the Assembly, the Secretary General met with journalists for a briefing in the Holy See Press Office on Friday morning, 5 October. Presenting the Synodal Fathers, he noted that 103 are from Europe, 63 from the Americas, 50 from Africa, 39 from Asia and 7 from Oceania.
During the briefing, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, noted that there are 69 Council Fathers still living and at least "a dozen will be present at the Mass on 11 October in St Peter's Square for the opening of the Year of Faith." In addition, "on Friday morning, 12 October, the Council Fathers will concelebrate Mass at the Tomb of St Peter," he explained. "Then at 12:30 p.m. they will have an audience with the Pope." Fr Lombardi stated that some will not be able to be present for reasons of age (the three eldest are 102 years-old) and of health. At the moment, the Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed the presence of 12 Council Fathers: Cardinal Francis Arinze, Cardinal Serafim Fernandes de Araújo, Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, Bishop José Mauro Ramalho de Alarcón Santiago, Bishop Yves-Georges-René Ramousse, Bishop Georges-Hilarie Dupont, Bishop Felice Leonardo, Bishop Luigi Bettazzi, Bishop José de Jesús Sahagún de la Parra, Bishop Robert-Casimir Tonyui Messan Dosseh-Anyron, Bishop William John McNaughton and Bishop Roberto Cáceres.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano 06-10-2012 Social Networks: 2nd Oct 2012 Portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelisation The theme for the next World Communications Day has been announced. Below is the text of the statement, released on Saturday, by the Pontifical Council of Social Communications.
One of the most important challenges facing the task of evangelisation today is that which is emerging from the digital environment. Pope Benedict XVI calls attention to this particular topic, in the context of the Year of Faith, in his choice of the theme for the 47th World Communications Day, "Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization".
The theme suggests a series of important points for reflection. During a time in which technology has emerged as part of the fabric of connectivity of human experiences, such as relationships and knowledge, we need to ask: "Can it help men and women meet Christ in faith?" It is not enough to find an adequate language, but rather, it is necessary to learn how to present the Gospel as the answer to that basic human yearning for meaning and faith, which has already found expression online.
Such an approach, which will serve to create a more dynamic and humane digital world, requires a new way of thinking. It is not simply a question of how to use the internet as a means of evangelisation, but instead of how to evangelise in a context where the lives of people find expression also in the digital arena.
In particular, we need to be attentive to the emergence and enormous popularity of the social networks, which privilege dialogical and interactive forms of communication and relationships.
World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council (Inter Mirifica, 1963), is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (May 12th in 2013). The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24).
Source: 2012-09-29 Vatican Radio – News.va Stepping back in time: Pope John Paul II in Nairobi, Kenya 2nd Oct 2012
This week, we look back at Pope John Paul II's visit to Nairobi, Kenya, the third and final leg of his three-nation pastoral visit to Africa during the celebration phase of the first African Synod. The first stop of that visit in September 1995 was Cameroon. From there, John Paul II flew to post-apartheid South Africa and from there to Nairobi on the Eastern part of the continent. The late pope had just written the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesiae in Africa or the Church in Africa and was there to present it to representatives of the Church in mainland Africa and the Island nation of Madagascar.
After greeting the Church leaders present, John Paul II stressed the urgency to proclaim the good news of salvation which comes through Christ. He urged for greater unity in the church, saying "If Africa is fragmented and divided, the Church as the Family of God must be a model of unity for society."
Pope Benedict's predecessor then went on to entrust the final document from the first African synod to each segment of the people of God including, the lay men and women, the youth, men and women religious and the catechists.
Source: radiovaticana.va 2-10-2012 Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Uganda, Awarded Prize for Promoting Peace2nd Oct 2012
World Vision International has awarded a prize to the Archbishop of Gulu in Uganda, His Grace John Baptist Odama, in recognition of his efforts to promote peace in Northern Uganda. A statement released by World Vision International said Archbishop Odama is a strong advocate of peaceful and non-violent methods including amnesty, dialogue and promoting the welfare of children. He has also continuously advocated for a non-military option in ending the civil war in Northern Uganda. The Archbishop demonstrated this when on July 14th 2004, he met with the Lord's Resistance Army rebels in a bid to convince them to renounce the rebellion and return home. At the height of the war in Northern Uganda, the statement continues, he also supported the displaced night commuter children by sleeping on cold verandas with them. Currently, Archbishop Odama is the President of the Uganda Catholic Bishops Conference and the chairman of the Committee for Justice, Peace and Governance of the Inter-religious Council of Uganda which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Churches and Moslems.
Source: radiovaticana.va 2-10-2012 The Third Anniversary of the Opening of the Second African Synod2nd Oct 2012
This Thursday the 4th October will mark the third anniversary of the opening of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops commonly known as the Second African Synod. As we shall see this coming Sunday, when Pope Benedict XVI officially opens the Synod on the New Evangelization, bishops representing the various episcopal conferences of Africa met in Rome from the 4-25 of October in 2009 to discuss the theme: "The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation Justice and Peace. You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world". During his apostolic visit to Benin in November last year, the pope presented the final document of that synod Africae Munus or Africa's Commitment. The pastoral guidelines and recommendations contained therein are being implemented presently on the continent. The second synod for Africa followed the first one held in 1994 on the theme: "The evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa towards the third millennium. You shall be my witnesses". One of the sub-themes discussed in that synod was dialogue with other religions and Christian denominations, a theme that is very relevant to the continent today. The then pope, Blessed John Paul II travelled to three nations in Africa to present the post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in Africa or the Church in Africa.
Source: radiovaticana.va Lombardi editorial: The Pilgrim Church is Marian2nd Oct 2012
Benedict XVI goes to Loreto on the 4th of October, the 50th anniversary of the famous pilgrimage of Pope John XXIII a week before the solemn opening of the Second Vatican Council. The idea is to recommend to the Mother of God the great prayer intentions of the Church at this time — in particular the upcoming Year of Faith and the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation.
This is not the first time that Pope Benedict has gone on pilgrimage to Loreto. He has visited at least seven times as a Cardinal, and already once before as Pope. To the devotion of the Christian people, the Holy House of Loretto is the humble home of Mary and the Holy Family, a source of living memory of the Annunciation and the mystery of the Incarnation. Spiritually and symbolically, it is a very appropriate place to prepare oneself to live out a time of renewal in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the world today.
The Second Vatican Council – which was opened and closed on the two Marian feasts of the Immaculate Conception and the Divine Motherhood – devotes the final chapter of the great document on the Church, Lumen gentium, to Mary, "a sign of sure hope and solace to the people of God during its sojourn on earth." The Church, the Pilgrim People of God, is Marian.
Beginning our journey with Pope Benedict, we, like Blessed John XXIII, humbly strive to relive the mystery and the joy of the Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God, so that we can live the month of the Synod and a Year of Grace accompanied and encouraged by Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother.
Source: 2012-09-29 Vatican Radio – News.va Archbishop Richard Smith: IT IS BEAUTIFUL TO BE A CATHOLIC! 1st Oct 2012
The Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Bishops' Conference concluded in Sainte-Adele, Quebec, on 27 September 2012. In their assembly the Bishops discussed the issue on the New Evangelisation; the Canonisation of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American Saint; Social Justice initiatives; and concerns about Freedom of Conscience and Religion.
Archbishop Richard Smith talked about the Bishops' message for Catholics saying, "It is beautiful to be a Catholic! Our Faith is a wondrous gift that has been handed down to us through the ages." He also noted the Bishops' appreciation for the upcoming Year of Faith, and said that, "A common theme among the bishops was the recognition that the initiative of the Holy Father to establish the Year of Faith is a great help to us embracing the New Evangelisation." He added that at the heart of the New Evanelisation, is the announcement of Jesus Christ, as Person; Jesus Christ as Word Made Flesh; Jesus Christ as Saviour; Jesus Christ as the revealer of God the Father; but also Jesus Christ as the one who came to reveal God's truth.
Archbishop Richard Smith exhorted the Canadian Catholics to embrace the faith anew, saying that the involvement of each one is necessary to make the mission of the New Evangelisation alive and active. He said, "Our message is: Receive the faith, love the faith, be engaged anew by the faith, and find ever new ways to share that faith with others." Source: Vatican Radio, 29-09-2012 CHURCH IN MIDDLE EAST: Making 2% Count 27th Sept 2012
On 25 September 2012, the Holy Father opened his special road map for the future of the Church in the Middle East saying, "How can we fail to thank God at every moment for all of you, dear Christians of the Middle East!" he thanked the Lord for the estimated 180 thousand Christian men, women and children who count for only 2% of the Holy Land's entire population.
In his exhortation, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the importance of Christians remaining in the Middle East. He said, "Now we are 5% in all the Middle East, but 2% in the Holy Land.
However, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, William Shomali, said that what matters is making that 2% count, and the estimated 180 thousand Christian men, women and children are the 2% of the Holy Land's entire population that matters. A little over a week has passed since the Pope handed this Post-Synodal Document over to the Church leaders in the region, but already it has become a point of discussion and animation among the Christian communities there. According to Bishop Shomali, the Document confirms the Christians in their primary mission: "To remain in the Holy Land".
The Pope said, "I don't believe that one day the Holy Land will be emptied of Christians. Although the percentage is dropping each year, I believe that some Christians will remain in the Holy Land. But we have to work on that on three different levels. The first level is to give them a spiritual and theological motivation. Remaining in the Holy Land is the will of the Lord; it is a vocation and a call. It is not only fatalism. This reason is very important, more than the two other levels. The second level is the moral motivation and incentive to remain. The pilgrims who come to the Holy Land and meet Christians and Christian communities, are a great support to us. We feel we are not abandoned and alone. And the third level is financial. The Knights of the Holy Sepulcher and the Good Friday collections support all the projects of the different dioceses such as education, healthcare, and construction of houses for Christians".
He ended his exhortation saying, "I am sure that the Lord would never allow the disappearance of the Christian presence from the Holy Land. The Lord will always support us. And I have a paradox to tell while we were 10% in the Holy Land 150 years ago we were only 21 thousand Christians. Now that we are only 2% between Israel and the Palestinian territories we are 180 thousand. You can understand that the Lord is really working in our favor".
Source: Vatican News, 25-09-2012 NEW EVANGELISATION and GREATER PROTECTION of the WEAK 27th Sept 2012
The Canadian Bishops began their Plenary Assembly, (25 September to 28 September) in view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation in Rome, in October. About eighty (80) Bishops are participating, six of them for the first time since their ordination. The Assembly is being held at Sainte-Adèle, in the Diocese of Saint-Jérôme.
One of the central themes of the Assembly is, "The challenge of the transmission of the faith in light of the rapid and profound societal changes". They will examine their pastoral activity in the Archdioceses and Dioceses of the country, and share their experiences in order to establish concrete proposals for a draft.
Above all, the Canadian Bishops will be able to examine the annual reports presented by various National and Sectoral Commissions of the Bishops' Conference, including the reports by organisations, among which is Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, a body established by the Episcopate in 1984 with the main task of protecting the rights of Aboriginal peoples, and of promoting relations, and dialogue within the Catholic community and all of society.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 26-09- 2012 THE COURTYARD OF THE GENTILES CALLS AT ASSISI 27th Sept 2012
The Pontifical Council for Culture, with the Holy Convent of Assisi and the "Oicos Riflessioni" Association, organized another COURTYARD OF THE GENTILES meeting. "God, the unknown" is to be the theme of the "Atrium of St. Francis". On 26 September, a press conference on the event was held in the Holy See Press Office.
This "Courtyard of the Gentiles" project, a structure for permanent dialogue between believers and non believers was created by the Pontifical Council for Culture under the Presidency of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. The "Courtyard of the Gentiles" has already organised events in several European capitals. The meeting is due to take place in Assisi from 5 to 6 October 2012. It is a part of The Assisi Meeting, in which more than forty speakers are due to participate, and it will be opened by Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Republic of Italy.
The programme involves nine meetings in nine "atria" at different locations around the city of St Francis, and will cover the following themes:
• "Work, business and responsibility"
• "Contemplation and meditation"
• "Inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for peace"
• "Young people, between faith and nihilism"
• "The cry of the earth"
• "Art and faith"
• "The cry of the poor, the world economic crisis and sustainable development"
Among the participants will be figures from the worlds of culture, science, art and economics, such as film-maker Ermanno Olmi, architect Massimiliano Fuksas, and trade union leader Susanna Camusso.
Fr Giuseppe Piemontese, Custodian of the Holy Convent of Assisi noted, "In a second edition of his letter to the faithful St Francis addressed himself to 'all Christians, religious, clergy and laity, to men and women, to all inhabitants of the entire world. We are opening the 'Atrium of St Francis' with great humility, and under the sign of that evangelical openness to others. Our hope is that the Courtyard of the Gentiles, in its call at Assisi, will be able to demonstrate the 'pure heart' and 'pure mind' to which St Francis called us".
Source: Vatican News, 26-09-2012 Cardinal Leonardo Sandri: 19th Sept 2012 A CONVICTION IN FAITH
As Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, returned from Lebanon where he had "had the joy of being beside the Pope", in an interview he said, "A Church is not like a museum but alive and creative: this is the face of the Catholic community in the Middle East". He said that he saw the image of a flock never frightened by howling wolves, rediscovering the full force and courage that it receives from the dependable closeness of a caring Pastor who did not hesitate to set out on the journey, when the threat draws closer. He then expressed the hope that the Church in Lebanon "might have the real and concrete possibility of continuing to bear her important witness in communion".
When he was asked the danger of Christianity disappearing in the Middle East, he said that it is 'a real risk'; although it is not only for the Catholics, but also for the Orthodox. He also said that there is a strong force of the Muslim majority. Yet, he also expressed his confidence and added, "True Islam has always been distinguished for its respect for and tolerance towards others. Perhaps something more is required, something that goes even further and allows the Church a more active presence in daily life. Moreover, the actual history of the Middle Eastern countries would be incomprehensible were the presence of the Catholic Church, of Christian Churches, be lacking.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 19-09-2012 THE SURPRISE OF THE GENTILES IN SWEDEN19th Sept 2012
The Court of the Gentiles held its Conference in the Swedish capital Stockholm on 13-14 September 2012. The Conference was a collaboration of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Embassy of Sweden to the Holy See, and two local institutions in Stockholm: the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Youth Organisation Fryshuset. The Conference had the overall theme "The world with and without God".
The Conference developed a respectful and rewarding dialogue between believers and non-believers. All participants freely expressed their own views and critical remarks of different kinds, but not in an aggressive manner. They were respectful with each other. The participants expressed their unforgettable experiences where no one left the Conference offended, but glad, and surely with a number of interesting pronouncements and impressive personal testimonies to reflect further. And those who had so far experienced the Church mainly as a teaching institution could now experience her also, as an attentively listening Church to others.
Swedish mass media, such as the largest Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the Swedish State Radio Company and the Swedish State Television Company have been positive in their comments on the conference. A few days after the Conference took place, the Swedish State Television Company broadcasted the complete panel discussions of the Conference, a marathon of almost six hours of broadcasting time.
On leaving Fryshuset on Friday afternoon after the Conference had finished, Ulf Jonsson SJ, Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Newman Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, thanked Ambassador Ulla Gudmundson, the primus motor of the Conference, and congratulated her on its very successful accomplishment. "Ambassador Gudmundson actually looked a little bit tired, but very contented. She has a good reason for both", Fr Jonsson said.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano , 19-09-2012 A PAUSE FOR PRAYER17th Sept 2012
In London, on 14 September 2012, the Bishops of England and Wales launched a new idea in view of the upcoming Year of Faith. A brief pause in work and activities was proposed to remember Jesus and his love for humanity, a short interlude, even if it is preceded by the ringing or vibration of a cell phone, to reflect on what gives meaning to the many daily tasks.
Going back to the ancient practice of the first Friday of the month, and making the most of the opportunities provided by the new technologies, is part of the magnificent projects that intend to give a mark of Missionary Spirit to the Catholic community, with a view to the New Evangelization. The invitation, is to pause for a moment at 3:00 p.m. on every first Friday of the month in order to pray and to thank God in public, meditating on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross out of love for each one of us.
Bishop Kieran Thomas Conry of Arundel and Brighton, in charge of the Department for Evangelization and Catechesis of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, is promoting the initiative. The proposal came on the eve of Home Mission Sunday, the Sunday dedicated to missions within the society, which was celebrated yesterday, 16 September 2012.
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 15-09-2012
POPE ARRIVED IN LEBANON...15th Sept 2012
POPE ARRIVED IN LEBANON: AS A FRIEND OF ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST
On Friday, 14 September 2012, before 2 p.m., Pope Benedict XVI arrived at the International Airport of Beirut, which is named after Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon who was killed in a bomb attack in 2005. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites; Nabih Berri, Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, and Naguib Miqati, Prime Minister of Lebanon, warmly welcomed the Holy Father.
During the ceremony, the Pope recalled when President Sleiman went to visit the Vatican in February 2011; a ceremony had taken place to bless the statue of St Maron which stands in a niche on the outside wall of the Vatican Basilica. The Pope said that the presence of the statue is a constant reminder of Lebanon in the very place where the Apostle Peter was laid to rest. It also confirmed the veneration of the Lebanese people for the first of the Apostles and for his successors. He also expressed the excellent relations that have existed between Lebanon and the Holy See, and the ecclesial importance of one of the reasons for his trip, which is "the signature and the consigning of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente'", (The Church in the Middle East).
He also thanked the Catholic Patriarchs for their presence, particularly Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and his successor Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, the Lebanese Bishops and, through them, "all the Christians of the Middle East". Pope Benedict XVI was happy to be able to meet many representatives from the Catholic communities of the country, so as to celebrate and pray together. Their presence, commitment and witness are a valued contribution and are highly appreciated in the daily life of all the inhabitants of Lebanon. He also expressed his warm greetings to the Orthodox Patriarchs and Bishops who had come to welcome him, as well as representatives of the other religious communities in Lebanon.
The Pope said, "Your presence shows the esteem and the cooperation which, in mutual respect, you wish to promote among everyone. I thank you for your efforts and I am certain that you will continue to seek out the paths of unity and concord. I cannot forget the sad and painful events which had affected your beautiful country along the years. The successful way all Lebanese live together, surely demonstrates to the whole Middle East and to the rest of the world that, within a nation, there can exist cooperation between the various Churches, all members of the one Catholic Church in a fraternal spirit of communion with other Christians, and at the same time coexistence and respectful dialogue between Christians and their brethren of other religions. Like me, you know that this equilibrium, which is presented everywhere as an example, is extremely delicate. Sometimes it seems about to snap like a bow which is overstretched or submitted to pressures which are too often partisan, even selfish, contrary and extraneous to Lebanese harmony and gentleness. This is where real moderation and great wisdom are tested; and reason must overcome one-sided passion in order to promote the greater good of all".
The Pope continued, "I have also come to say how important the presence of God is, in the life of everyone and how the manner of coexistence, this conviviality to which your country wishes to bear witness, will run deep only, if it is founded upon a welcoming regard for the other, and upon an attitude of benevolence, and if it is rooted in God who wishes all men to be brothers. The celebrated Lebanese equilibrium which wishes to continue to be a reality will continue through the good will, and commitment of all Lebanese. Only then will it serve as a model to the inhabitants of the whole region and of the entire world. This is not just a human task, but a gift of God which should be sought with insistence, preserved at all costs, and consolidated with determination".
The Holy Father concluded his message saying, "I have come to Lebanon, also symbolically to all the countries of the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of men and all the inhabitants of all the countries of the region, whatever their origins and beliefs. Your joys and your sorrows are constantly present in the Pope's prayers and I ask God to accompany you and to comfort you. Let me assure you that I pray especially for the many people who suffer in this region. The statue of St. Maron reminds me of what you lived and endured".
After the brief welcome ceremony, the Holy Father travelled to the Apostolic Nunciature in Harissa.
Source: Vatican news, 14-09-2012 LEBANON:13th Sept 2012CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIMS HOLD VIGIL FOR POPE
On Wednesday evening, 12 September 2012, in Beirut's "Garden of Mary" thousands of Christians and Muslims held a vigil to invoke the protection of Our Lady of Lebanon for the upcoming visit Pope Benedict XVI to their country.
In Beirut, an atmosphere of warm welcome is felt everywhere especially at the international airport where posters with close ups of the smiling Pope, and messages welcoming him in various languages like: Arabic, French, English and Italian; messages like "Pax vobis" the Latin for "Peace be with you". That is the message that Pope Benedict will be bringing with him to this region, so full of hope and desire for change from the Arab Spring yet, so troubled by conflict and strife , mistrust and misunderstanding between people of different ethnic groups, and religious faiths.
Lebanon experienced great tensions due to civil war from 1975 – 1990, yet she offered a different picture. The country has eighteen different sects, but they respect each other and enjoy similar civil rights and freedoms. This unity among them was manifested that Wednesday night when turned out for another kind of demonstration: "One of love and hope, as Muslims joined Christians to pray and entrust to Our Lady, the safety of Pope Benedict's weekend visit. Crossing the war period's Green Line, the site of bitter and bloody battles between them, Christians and Muslims found themselves together, praying and calling for a different future where barriers such as these will remain only vague memories.
Source: Vatican news,13-09-2012 POPE: PEACE WITH RESPECT FOR DIFFERENCES13th Sept 2012
At the General Audience on Wednesday, 12 September 2012, two days before departing for Lebanon, the Holy Father launched a new appeal for peace in the "land of the cedars" and throughout the Middle East. In his appeal, the Pope recalled that the richness of the heterogeneous society of Lebanon will only be able to continue to exist, "if it lives in peace and in enduring reconciliation".
Speaking in French, the Pope addressed all the Christians of the Middle East, whether they are old stock or they have just arrived, asking them "to be builders of peace and architects of reconciliation". The Pope offered gratitude and encouragement to the Church in the hope that she may "continue to witness to Christ in these Blessed lands, seeking Communion in Unity". He recalled that the history of the Middle East, in particular, "shows us the important and often primordial role, that is played by the different Christian communities in Interreligious and Intercultural dialogue. Let us ask God to give this region of the world, the peace it longs for, with respect for the legitimate differences".
Benedict XVI repeated this invitation to the Italian faithful, whom he asked "to accompany with prayer" his imminent journey. "May this visit" encourage Christians and promote peace and brotherhood throughout the Region".
Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 12-09-2012
POPE: WEEKLY GENERAL AUDIENCE12th Sept 2012
On Wednesday, 12 September 2012, the Holy Father in his weekly General Audience continued his catechetical reflections on prayer in the Book of Revelation, inviting those present to turn to its teachings on the importance of prayer in the Church's pilgrimage through history. The Pope said, "Prayer enables us to discern the events of history in the light of God's plan for the spread of his Kingdom. That plan is symbolised by the book closed with seven seals that only the Lamb, the crucified and risen Lord, can open. In prayer, we see that Christ's final victory over sin and death is the key to all history. While giving thanks for this victory, we continue to beg God's grace for our earthly journey". He added that amid life's evils, the Lord hears our prayers, strengthens our weakness, and enables us to trust in his sovereign power. The Book of Revelation concludes with Jesus' promise that he will soon come, and the Church's ardent prayer "Come, Lord Jesus!" Pope Benedict exhorted all the audience present saying that in our own prayer, and especially in our celebration of the Eucharist, may we grow in the hope of Christ's coming in glory, experience the transforming power of his grace, and learn to discern all things in the light of faith.
After his reflections on prayer, he warmly greeted the participants in the Communications Seminar sponsored by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. He also welcomed the priests taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College. The Pope said, "Upon all the English-speaking visitors, including those from England, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Malta, India, Korea, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America, I invoked God's blessings!"
Source: 12-19-2012, Vatican RadioPOPE BENEDICT XVI:12th Sept 2012 CARE ESPECIALLY for WOMEN AND CHILDREN on the STREETS
The Vatican Secretariat of State had released the Message of Pope Benedict XVI, signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, for the First Integrated Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road for the Continent of Africa and Madagascar, taking place from 11 to 15 September2012. The five-day meeting, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, aims to promote pastoral initiatives and programmes in local Churches for the benefit of people who live on, or from the road/street. This includes street women and children, people of no fixed abode, transport workers, and those responsible for road safety.
In his message, the Holy Father conveyed his greetings and prayerful wishes to all the participants, who will be guided by the theme: Jesus Himself came up and walked by their side. The pastoral care of the Road-street: a walk together.
The Pope added: "The theme evokes the consoling presence of the Risen Lord as he accompanied the disciples along the way to Emmaus. Today too, the Saviour continues to accompany his Church, and through her, all mankind on the paths of life and history, opening minds and hearts to the saving truth of the Gospel, and offering encouragement and peace to all who find themselves bewildered, lost or hurt in the midst of their earthly journey."
As the Synod Fathers at the two Special Assemblies for Africa, the Synod of Bishops prophetically acknowledged, the Church's concern for the development of every person, and the whole person, especially the poorest and most neglected, is at the heart of her Mission of Evangelization in Africa.
His Holiness expressed the hope that the meeting would lead to "greater cooperation and coordinated efforts among the particular Churches for the sake of safeguarding every life at risk on African streets and roads. Pope Benedict XVI asked that special attention be paid to the pastoral needs of those women and children who find themselves on the streets, whether as a result of concrete social, economic and political factors, or as victims of organised national and international exploiters." The Pope is likewise confident that the meeting in Tanzania due to end on Saturday "will address situations affecting the lives of those who travel in their work and, not the least, the road insecurity which threatens the lives of millions on African soil."
With these sentiments, the Holy Father offers fervent prayers that the Meeting will confirm the Church in Africa and Madagascar in its witness to the Gospel and its contribution to the building up of civil society and to the forging of a new Africa. The Holy Father concluded his message commending all the participants to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in Jesus her Divine Son.
Source: 11-09-2012, Vatican newsPOPE: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS - OUR PATH TO GOD11th Sept 2012
On Saturday, 8 September 2012, the Renewal in the Spirit Movement organisation launched the "Ten Squares for the Ten Commandments", at their gathering in Piazza del Popolo with its theme: "I am the Lord your God". The event was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and this will run throughout the Year of Faith from 2012 to 2013 involving Ten Italian Cities: Naples, Verona, Turin, Palermo, Bari, Cagliari, Florence, Genoa, Milan and Bologna. Each of these cities will host an evening of reflection, through poetry, songs and interventions, from well-known public figures, believers and non-believers, and theologians, centered on one of the Ten Commandments and their relevance in everyday life.
The Holy Father cordially greeted all those taking part in this catechesis in various Italian cities on the Ten Commandments and adhered to the initiative "When Love gives meaning to your life ...". He said, "In particular I greet and thank the members of the Ecclesial Movement "Renewal in the Holy Spirit", who organised this laudable initiative, with the support of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and the Italian Episcopal Conference". As he continued his message he also added, "The Decalogue" brings us back to Mount Sinai, when God enters into the history of the Jewish people, and through them, the history of all humanity, gave them the "Ten Words" that expressed His will, and which were a kind of "Ethical Code " to build a society in which the relationship of covenant with God, Holy and Just, enlightened and guided the relationships between peoples. And Jesus came to fulfil these words, raising them and summarising them in the double commandment of love: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 22:37-39).
Addressing the participants, the Pope said, "Let us ask ourselves: what meaning do these Ten Commandments have for us, in the cultural context in which secularism, and relativism risk becoming the criteria of every choice, and this society of ours seems to live as if God did not exist? We answer that God gave us the Commandments to educate us to true freedom, and true love, so that we can be truly happy." He also said that they are signs of the love of God, his desire to teach us the correct discernment of good from evil, truth from falsehood, of right from wrong. By putting these into practice man can walk the path of true freedom, safe on the path that leads to life and happiness. On the other hand, when man ignores the commandments, he does not only alienate himself from God, and abandon his alliance with him, but he also distances himself from life and lasting happiness. A man left to himself, polluting the relationship with himself, and with others, eventually ends up taking paths that do not lead to life, but death. "The sad experience of history, especially of the last century, is a warning to all humanity", he said.
Pope Benedict XVI added, "When love gives meaning to your life ..., Jesus brings to fulfillment the path of the Commandments with his Cross and Resurrection; he radically overcomes selfishness, sin, and death, with the gift of Himself for love. Only by welcoming the infinite love of God, by trusting Him, by following the path that he laid down, can we give deeper meaning to life and open up a future of hope."
He concluded his message with a high hope that this initiative will inspire a renewed commitment to witness the path of love laid down by the Commandments, and perfected by Christ, that can make their lives, and the lives of others, a fuller, better and happier. He entrusted them to the Virgin Mary as he gave his Blessing.
Source: 09-09-2012, Vatican RadioPOPE to NEW BISHOPS:10th Sept 2012TRUST IN THE GOSPEL
On Friday, 7 September 2012, Pope Benedict XVI received a group of newly appointed Bishops to serve in mission territories. They have been participating in a conference organised by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Holy Father encouraged them to place their confidence in the Gospel, to its renewing power, its ability to reawaken consciences, encourage reconciliation, and the building of brotherhood. Referring to young Church communities, especially those in Asia, Oceania, Africa and Latin America, the Pope said that, despite difficulties, there are positive signs such as the growth of the Diocesan and Religious Clergy that serve as a counterweight to the reduction in the number of missionaries serving. The Holy Father noted the growth in the number of priests who left their land of birth to serve outside their own Churches. Pope Benedict XVI said, "The young Churches constitute a sign of hope for the future of the universal Church."
Source: 07-09-2012, Vatican NewsBlessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta7th Sept 2012
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Shedding New Light on Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, born on 26 August 1910, was one of the world's best known and loved religious figures, revered for her holiness and her compassion towards the poorest of the poor throughout her life. She was known as the Saint of the Gutters. She received numerous awards for her work including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
On 5 September 2012, the 15th anniversary of her death, Father Brian Kolodiejchiuk, a Missionary of Charity priest, who worked closely with Mother Teresa for 20 years, shed new light on her. Father Brian is the editor of the two books about her letters and teachings; the first of which revealed how she spent many decades struggling with doubts about her faith and the existence of God. He is also the postulator for her sainthood cause. Father Brian was convinced that these revelations about Mother Teresa's spiritual darkness made her even more "saintly and heroic." He also said about how Mother Teresa's exceptional compassion for others extended far beyond the poorest of the poor in developing nations, to encompass the many lonely and unwanted people. He shared his memories about Mother Teresa's faith and her vocation, and how she was struck by the deep loneliness of the inmates when she visited an old people's home in London. Father Brian also shared his memories about her who was a "more complex figure" than many people assume.
Source: 05-09-2012, Vatican RadioHOLY SEE TO ADDRESS INTERNATIONAL INTERFAITH CONFERENCE IN STANBUL7th Sept 2012
An International Interfaith Conference is being held from 7 to 8 September 2012, in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme of this conference is: Muslim and Christian perspectives on the Arab Spring and peace in the Middle East.
The opening address of the Conference will be delivered by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, under the auspices of the Turkish Religious Foundation Center for Islamic Studies, and the Marmara University Institute, for Middle Eastern Studies. The Conference aims at "bringing together eminent regional figures such as scholars, intellectuals, community and religious leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa. It also aims at enhancing interfaith dialogue for the preservation of peaceful co-existence among all communities from various religious, sectarian and ethnic backgrounds, against the backdrop of the recent political developments in the region." The Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Professor Mahmet Gormez, President of the Directorate of Religious Affairs are also expected to attend the conference.
Fr Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, the new Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will address participants as the Holy See's representative. Fr Ayuso said that the aim of his participation was to "add the voice of the Holy See to those that support peaceful and orderly transition in the region as well as the legitimate aspirations of the people of the Middle East and in particular North Africa, for freedom, dignity and democracy."
Source: 07-09-2012, Vatican RadioThe Container goes off to Kampala6th Sept 2012
It is remarkable! Yes!
On Wednesday, 5 September 2012, the container came into the compound of the Paulines Publications NAIROBI to get the boxes of books to ship to Paulines Book and Media Centre in Kampala, Uganda. Four Hundred and Fifty Eight (458) big boxes were loaded on to the said container. This is truly remarkable! All the staff (men only) were mobilised to help each other in the loading. It has never happened in the history of Paulines Publications Africa, sending this huge number of consignments from Nairobi to Uganda.
Watch for the next movement from the Publications to other parts of Africa!
Source: 06-10-2012, PaulinesAfrica NewsPOPE'S FINAL SALUTE TO CARDINAL MARTINI:5th Sept 2012 HE WAS A MAN OF GOD.
On 3 September 2012, the Holy Father expressed his closeness in prayer and affection, to the entire Archdiocese of Milan, the Society of Jesus, relatives and all those who loved and esteemed Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and wished to accompany him on this last journey.
A great Jesuit scholar, teacher and pastor, Cardinal Martini led the Archdiocese of Milan for more than two decades, from 1980 until his retirement in 2002. On Monday, 3rd September, when the Cathedral of Milan doors opened before the funeral Mass, people had already queued in great numbers, waiting and hoping for a sight of him inside the Church – though large viewing screens had been set up in the square for those who could not get in.
The Liturgy was broadcast live nationwide, and was presided by the current Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola. The Pope sent the archpriest of St Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, as his special representative, with a very personal message for the people of Milan, believers and non-believers who had come to mourn Cardinal Martini. In his message Pope Benedict XVI said, "Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini was a man of God, who not only studied the Bible, but loved it intensely, he made it the light of his life, so that everything was 'for the greater glory of God'. And for this reason he was able to teach believers and those who were seeking the truth that the only Word worthy of being listened to, accepted and followed, is that of God, because it shows all, the path of truth and love. He did so with a great openness of heart, never refusing to encounter and dialogue with anyone, responding concretely to the Apostle's invitation to "always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope". And he added that as a pastor, he was uniquely capable of bringing this light to others, even those distant from the Church, and to the most difficult situations.
The Pope said and quoted that in one of the homilies of Cardinal Martini, in his long ministry at the service of this Ambrosian Archdiocese he prayed: "We ask you, Lord, make us spring water for others, bread broken for others, light to those who walk in darkness, life for those who grope in the shadows of death. Lord, be the life of the world, Lord, guide us towards your Easter, and together we will walk towards you, carrying your cross, we will taste communion with your resurrection. Together with you we will walk towards the Heavenly Jerusalem, towards the Father (Homily of March 29, 1980)".
The Holy Father closed his message with this prayer: "May the Lord, who guided Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini his whole life, receive this tireless servant of the Gospel and of the Church in the Heavenly Jerusalem. May my blessing comfort all those present and those who mourn his loss."
Source: 03-09-2012, Castel Gandolfo, Vatican Radio News archive>>>
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Cardinal Rylko: 5th Sept 2012 PAN-AFRICAN CONFERENCE EXPLORES CHALLENGES OF EVANGELISATION.
The Pan-African Conference of Catholic Laity, is being held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 4 to 9 September 2012. Gathered together under the sponsorship of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the participants are from every state of life within the Church, from all over the continent. The theme of this conference is: "Being Witnesses of Jesus in Africa today – salt of the earth … light of the world".
Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, led the proceedings and said, "First of all the Congress wants to awaken lay Catholics to the spirit of shared responsibility and commitment, which is essential to the mission of proclaiming Christ in the great African continent." He also said that, being missionaries and witnesses to our faith are both part of our identity as Christians, adding that the whole Church is missionary by her very nature.
The Cardinal continued, "The evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa in our times, is facing difficult challenges, is confronted with new, and in some ways, unprecedented scenarios in the religious, social, cultural, economic and political spheres." He identified those challenges and reflected on the responses that the Catholic African laity can give to them as "one of the main objectives," of the Congress. Source: 03-09-2012, Vatican RadioPOPE: 4th Sept 2012 Let the Truth shine through us anew
On Sunday morning Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at Castel Gandolfo with members of the "Ratzinger Schülerkreis" – a study group of former students of the Pontiff who have been meeting together for the past thirty years. The theme for this year's discussion was on the Dialogues of the Catholic Church with the Anglican and Lutheran communities.
Pope Benedict in his homily said that today, the concepts of truth and intolerance have almost fused together, so that to say that one has the truth becomes synonymous with intolerance. And we Christians do not dare to believe or to speak about the truth. The Pope said that in a certain sense, it is true that no one can say that he "possesses" the truth, precisely because "we belong to the truth which is a living thing." He said, "We must learn anew to allow ourselves to be lead by the truth. Then the truth will be able to shine through us anew, for the salvation of the world."
In recent years, not only former students of then-Professor Ratzinger had met, but also doctoral students who were studying the theology of the Pope, have been invited to participate in the study days. One of those students was Manuel Schlögl, who spoke about this year's theme and said, "We found out that the goal of the ecumenical development is to be united in Christ. So the Church has to be on the way to this unity in Christ in prayer, in dialogue. The main part of the Catholic Church, perhaps, is to be the instance of truth, of tradition, so we can discuss about this tradition which is reserved, which is transported in the Catholic Tradition." Source: 03-09-2012, Vatican RadioPRAYER INTENTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER.3rd Sept 2012 BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER.
Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for September is:
"That politicians may always act with honesty, integrity, and love for the truth". His mission intention is:
"That Christian communities may have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests, and lay people, along with concrete resources, to the poorest Churches".
Source: Vatican City, 1 September 2012 (VIS)Do not bend down to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word and the Truth 30th Aug 2012
On Wednesday, 29 August 2012, on the feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, Pope Benedict based his catechesis on the martyrdom of St John the Baptist. The Pope called on the faithful to follow the example of the saint by allowing Christ to penetrate every part of their lives so that they may boldly proclaim him to the world. The martyrdom of the saint, he said, "reminds us that we cannot stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word, the Truth."
Here is the Pope's address to the English-Speaking Pilgrims…
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Indonesia, Japan and Malta. Today, the Church celebrates the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. John, whose birth we celebrate on the twenty-fourth of June, gave himself totally to Christ, by preparing the way for him through the preaching of repentance, by leading others to him once he arrived, and by giving the ultimate sacrifice. Dear friends, may we follow John's example by allowing Christ to penetrate every part of our lives so that we may boldly proclaim him to the world. May God bless all of you! Source: Vatican Radio, AUG. 30, 2012RATZINGER STUDENTS TO FOCUS ON ECUMENISM29th Aug 2012Annual Meeting Starts This Week
The annual meeting between Benedict XVI and his former students begins this year on Thursday, 30th of August. The students, known as the Ratzinger Schulerkreis, gather each summer for several days of discussions on a particular theme. The theme of this year's encounter is ecumenism. Among those present will be Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It will be the 36th time that this annual encounter has taken place.
Ratzinger's first meeting with his former pupils took place in March of 1977, when Pope Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich-Freising. The annual appointment was kept thereafter, though students were surprised in 2005 to receive a letter from the new Pope a few months after his election, to call them to Castel Gandolfo to continue the custom. That year they reflected on Islam, in 2006 and 2007 on Evolution and Evolutionary Theories, in 2008 on the historical Jesus and his passion, in 2009 on The Mission and on Dialogue with Religions and Cultures, and in 2010 on the Appropriate Interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. Last year they considered The New Evangelisation Source: (VATICAN CITY, AUG. 27, 2012) Zenit.orgPreparations continue for Pope's visit to Lebanon29th Aug 2012 Print Preparations for the Pope's upcoming visit to the country continue. The visit is scheduled to take place from September 14 to 16 and the sense of anticipation among the Lebanese Christian community is strong. The General Treasurer of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Lebanon, Msgr. George Masri, told the Vatican Radio that the Holy Father's visit is an event of hope for the whole Church, especially for his community, which constitutes a small minority, which, he says, "live their witness with blood."
"We are a Church of martyrs, but at the same time we are a minority living through trust and hope in Jesus Christ," he added.
Asked about the impact the Pope's visit might have on dialogue among Christians and Muslims in the broader region, Msgr. Masri said that although "dogmatic" dialogue is difficult, "the Holy Father gives confidence and courage," that help Lebanese Christians to conduct what he calls a "living dialogue," with their Muslim neighbours. "We have great hopes for the visit of the Holy Father," he said, "and we are preparing Christians and Muslims for this great event. We hope that the dialogue between us and our Muslim brothers can remain a dialogue of true coexistence." Source: 2012-08-24 Vatican RadioWHAT MASS REALLY MEANS - Celebrating the Eucharist with Faith24th Aug 2012
On Saturday, 18 August 2012, Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe, Ireland, in his homily during the novena of Knock at County Mayo, encouraged his flock to celebrate the Eucharist with a lively faith in the Lord. He told them that each celebration must be an experience of God, of faith, and of prayer. Bishop Boyce said, "What the soul experiences, the body express in actions and postures". Our postures during the Mass reflect what is in our mind, heart and soul.
The Bishop encouraged his flock saying that at prayer one is in close communion with God and that with strong faith, Christ who is not physically seen at Mass, is truly present in it. He also said that during the Eucharistic celebration, prayer should lead into the presence of God, making one experience him in life. However, he warned that if, in everyday life, attention is not given to Christ; one cannot expect Christ to reveal himself at Mass. One remains the same as he or she was before the celebration. Another point he mentioned, was the importance of having a deep spirit of prayer and lively faith in order to avoid falling into daily routine. He also said that to break this monotony of repetition, it is necessary that we "make the Mass a living prayer that is sustained by an ardent faith."
There is no other greater prayer than that of the Mass, which is a profession of faith. "The holy Eucharist is the Church's greatest prayer and greatest treasure. We are not so much obliged as privileged to participate at Mass on the Lord's day", the Bishop said.
Zenit, 21 August 2012 Source: PaulinesAfrica NewsCatholic Theological Ethics in the World Church23rd Aug 2012
This week, a seminar is being held by the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church(CTEWC) in Nairobi. The seminar began on the 21st of this month (August) and it is scheduled to end today, the 23rd of August 2012. The theme of the seminar is: CTEWC in Africa after Trento: Engaging the African Synod. It has been taking place at Hekima College of Theology and Peace and International Relations. This was the first time that the seminar was held in Africa. It brought several African scholars together to "dialogue from and beyond local culture; and, to interconnect within a world church" around the themes of the second African Synod – Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.
The seminar was divided in three parts: The first consisted of presentations on the synodal themes followed by responses and discussions by participants. A unique feature of this part was the conversations with three foremost Catholic Church leaders in Africa – Archbishops John Onaiyekan, John Baptist Odama and Bishop Edward Hiibooro Kusala. This represents beginning steps towards bridging the gap between theological scholarship and ecclesiastical leadership on the continent. The second part of the seminar is a public lecture on Sustainability and Feminism in Africa and the World Church which takes place today at the campus of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. It will also be the occasion for launching the first in the book series of the CTEWC: James F. Keenan (ed.), Catholic Theological Ethics, Past, Present, and Future: The Trento Conference (Orbis, 2011). The third and final part will be a meeting of the CTEWC planning committee. Photo Gallery
Source: PaulinesAfrica NewsPope Sends Message to Rimini Meeting23rd Aug 2012"Longing for God cannot be silenced"
On the occasion of the 33rd Rimini Meeting for Friendship among Peoples, Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, the Bishop of Rimini. The theme of the meeting is "By nature, Man is related to the Infinite." In his message the Pope writes, "to speak of man and his desire to infinity" - means first acknowledging his constitutive relationship with the Creator, searching for the infinite, which is in line with its theme.
Man is a creature of God, yet Pope Benedict adds, "Today this word "creature" appears almost out of fashion: we prefer to think of man as self-fulfilled being, and master of its own destiny."
The Holy Father goes on to say that despite the fact that man is trying to escape this fundamental relationship with God, his heart is still in search of the infinite, but in the wrong direction. He "begins a frantic search for a false infinite that leads to dangerous places, to drugs, sexuality lived in a disorderly manner, success at any cost, and even deceptive forms of religiosity."
Pope Benedict XVI recommended that, "to truly find himself and his identity, man must return to recognize that he is a creature, dependent on God. Acknowledging man's dependence on God, he experiences the joyful discovery that he is a child of God linked to the possibility of a being truly free and full of life. He also added that every relationship, every joy as well as difficulty, finds its full meaning in our relationship with the Infinite, a voice of God that continually calls to us and invites us to find the complete fulfillment of our humanity in belonging to him." Source: Vatican Radio, 19-08-2012 PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL PEACE AWARD 17th Aug 2012
Pax Christi International announced that the Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, His Grace, Archbishop John Onaiyekan has been named Pax Christi International's 2012 Peace Laureate.
His Grace Archbishop Dr. John Onaiyekan will be honoured in Mechelen/Brussels on Wednesday 31 October 2012, for his efforts in promoting understanding between people of different faiths through dialogue in Africa, and particularly in his country, Nigeria. Archbishop Dr. John Onaiyekan's consistent and tireless efforts in advocating for justice, peace, inter-religious dialogue and action earned him the 2012 Pax Christi International Peace Prize. His work in Nigeria and other African countries, as the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, the Co-Chair for the African Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace (ACRL – RfP), and immediate former Co-Chair of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) immensely and conspicuously contributed to peace. Since 1994, John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan has been the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja.
The Co-Presidents of Pax Christi International Ms. Marie Dennis, USA, and Bishop of Rustenburg, South Africa, Bishop Kevin Dowling commended Archbishop Dr. Onaiyekan for the important role he has played in building bridges between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria and beyond.
Pax Christi International makes an annual peace award to a contemporary figure who is working against violence and injustice. Pax Christi International makes it a point to honour men and women who stand up for justice, peace and non-violence in different parts of the world.
In publications and posters, Pax Christi Member Organisations often tell the stories of well-known peace heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Franz Jägerstätter and the martyrs of El Salvador.
But we do not look only into the past for our heroes. Pax Christi International makes an annual peace award to a contemporary figure who is working against violence and injustice, usually at the grassroots level.
Vatican Radio,16-08-2012 Source: Vatican Radio, 16-08-2012 Pope marks Assumption with Mass and Angelus 16th Aug 2012 Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo at noon on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Holy Father explained that Mary's assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of the course of her earthly life – though only dogmatically defined in 1950 by Pope Pius XII – is something that Christians throughout the world have always believed, confessed and celebrated. The Pope called on all the faithful to ask Mary to be the star that guides them on their way to meet her Divine Son. After the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English:
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the groups from Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we may rejoice with her in the glory of the resurrection and the fulfilment of her Son's promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord's abundant blessings!
Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass of the Assumption at Castel Gandolfo's parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova. In his homily, the Holy Father prayed: "Let us entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession, that she might ask the Lord to strengthen our belief in eternal life, help us to live well and with hope the time that God gives to us". "A Christian hope," he said, "which is not just nostalgia for Heaven, but living and active desire for God here in the world, a desire that makes us indefatigable pilgrims, feeding in us the courage and strength of faith, a fortitude that is at once the power of love. Source: (L.M.) Agenzia Fides 10/8/2012 - Juba PASTORAL LETTER OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF KENYA 2nd Aug 2012"Kenya's Commitment to Peaceful General Elections"
The Catholic Bishops of Kenya, during their Conference issued a Pastoral letter, with great love and concern for the citizens, in the light of Justice, Forgiveness, Healing, Reconciliation and Peace.
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africa's Commitment", reminds us that as 'men and women we are shaped by our past, but we live and journey in the present and ought to look ahead to the future with courage and hope'. The Bishops said that "for the forthcoming General Elections to be free and fair, it is time to set up clear records and make the needed reform ". Our country suffered much in the recent elections characterised by great violence and discord; the loss of many lives and displacement of thousands of people.
The Bishops are calling us to look at the past and the present of our country; and to think in a way that peace and harmony will prevail. Peace is a divine gift and our future depends on how much peace is sown.
A call from the Bishops: "through the principle of common good, we urge all Kenyans to never again displace fellow Kenyans". Source: PaulinesAfrica NewsPOPE BENEDICT XVI 1st Aug 2012BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR AUGUST
Vatican City, (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for August is: "That prisoners may be treated with justice and respect for their human dignity".
His mission intention is: "That young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the ends of the earth". Source:Vatican NewsThe Official Prayer for World Youth Day 2013 24th July 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will host the next World Youth Day in 2013, the 14th International gathering of world youth. The World Youth Day focuses on faith and youth. The dates for the gathering are 23 July to 28 July 2013. The theme for the gathering is taken from the Gospel of Matthew: "Go and make disciples of all people" (Mt 28:19).
Below is the Official Prayer for World Youth Day 2013:
"Oh, Father, You sent Your Eternal Son to save the world and chose men and women through Him, with Him and in Him, to proclaim the Good News to all nations. Grant us the graces necessary so that joy may shine in the faces of all young people, the joy of being, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the evangelists the Church needs in the Third Millennium.
Oh, Christ, Redeemer of humanity, the image of Your open arms on the top of Corcovado welcomes all people. In Your paschal offering, You brought us by the Holy Spirit to an encounter of sonship with the Father. Young people, who are fed by Eucharist, hear You in Your Word and meet You as their brother, need your infinite mercy to run the paths of the world missionary disciples of the New Evangelisation.
Oh, Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son, with the splendour of Your Truth and the fire of Your Love, send Your Light to all young people so that, driven by their experience of World Youth Day, they may bring to the four corners of the world faith, hope and charity, becoming great builders of a culture of life and peace and catalysts of a new world. Amen! Source: Zenit.orgSouth African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier On Why Mandela Is So Revered 19th July 2012 "Nelson Mandela Day" on the occasion of his 94th birthday. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the country's leading Catholic Churchman, who has met Mandela many times, spoke enthusiastically about Mandela's greatest qualities as a man and as a leader in a radio interview.
Nelson Mandela by Josephine Death-deviantart.com
"One of Mandela's greatest qualities," said Cardinal Napier, "was that he gave himself for the cause of freedom... and was genuine about doing it for others ... He's a man very much concerned about others."
Despite his many admirable qualities, Mandela comes across as "a very, very humble man," continued Cardinal Napier. He also noted that Mandela "always kept in touch with his people, from the highest to the lowest."
Cardinal Napier recalled how Mandela tried for several days to get in touch with him after his appointment as a Cardinal and when they eventually spoke on the phone he told Cardinal Napier not to address him formally saying, "No, I am Madiba to you." He said that Mandela also expressed his surprise at the newly-appointed Cardinal phoning ordinary folks like himself (Mandela) in view of his recent elevation within the Church.
Commenting on Mandela's leadership qualities, Cardinal Napier said he had the courage "to go against the tide" when necessary, and was adept at using "symbolic gestures" such as when he organised to have tea with the wives of the former Prime Ministers and Presidents of South Africa, the leaders who had been the architects of his incarceration. "As a symbol of reconciliation," says Cardinal Napier, "this was a masterstroke on Mandela's part." Source: Vatican Radio
Jesuit: Congregation of Procurators
14th July 2012
Paulines Publications Africa, Book display at the 2012 Jesuit Congregation of Procurators
Jesuit delegates from around the world have arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, for the Congregation of Procurators of the Society of Jesus. The Congregation began with a pre-Congregation retreat which ended on the 7th of July. From 8th to 15th of July they are having their Congregation of Procurators meetings.
The current Congregation of Procurators is the first to be held outside Europe. There are 84 Procurators: 7 from Africa, 14 from Latin America, 18 from South Asia, 7 from Asia Pacific, 29 from South, Central-Eastern and Western Europe, and 9 from the United States.
On the 9th and 10th of July, the Daughters of St Paul were invited to host a display of Pauline Publications Africa productions for the participants of the Congregation. The response was very positive as most participants found appropriate reading and audio materials. Source: SJCuria News
Benefactors from Tonezza, Italy visit our Publishing House
14th July 2012
Our benefactors with the staff at the editorial department
Benefactors from Tonezza, Italy visit our Publishing House in Nairobi. They play a major role in funding the project of the African Bible and other projects of Paulines Publications Africa.
Our benefactors with a staff member (on the right)
2nd July 2012 "Peter and Paul, as much as they differ from one another in human terms and notwithstanding the conflicts that arose in their relationship, illustrate a new way of being brothers. They lived according to the Gospel, an authentic way made possible by the grace of Christ's Gospel working within them. Only by following Jesus does one arrive at this new brotherhood," Pope Benedict XVI commenting on the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul.
The Pope's focus on communion and brotherhood took on this emphasis this year given the presence of a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Westminster Abbey schola cantorum. Their plain chants – together with the Sistine Chapel choir – enriched the Liturgy which took place within the cool marble vaults of St Peter's basilica. This Liturgy also saw the Pope bestow the pallium upon 40 Metropolitan Archbishops.
In his homily the Holy Father drew attention to the two giant statues of Peter and Paul that hold vigil over St Peter's square. He said, "Christian tradition has always considered Saint Peter and Saint Paul to be inseparable: indeed, together, they represent the whole Gospel of Christ. In Rome, their bond as brothers in the faith came to acquire a particular significance."
"Only by following Jesus does one arrive at this new brotherhood: this is the first and fundamental message that today's solemnity presents to each one of us, the importance of which is mirrored in the pursuit of full communion, so earnestly desired by the ecumenical Patriarch and the Bishop of Rome, as indeed by all Christians. "
Drawing from the Gospel of the day (Matthew 16:13-19), Pope Benedict went on to reflect on the drama of Peter (and the papacy) " the acknowledgment of Jesus' identity" not "through flesh and blood," that is, through his human capacities, but through a particular revelation from God the Father."
Pope Benedict said, "Here we see the tension that exists between the gift that comes from the Lord and human capacities; and in this scene between Jesus and Simon Peter we see anticipated in some sense the drama of the history of the papacy itself, characterised by the joint presence of these two elements: on the one hand, because of the light and the strength that comes from on high, the papacy constitutes the foundation of the Church during its pilgrimage through history. On the other hand, across the centuries, human weakness is also evident, which can only be transformed through openness to God's action."
Finally, Pope Benedict spoke of "power of the keys" – symbol of the Petrine Ministry a key issue in the current phase of ecumenical dialogue - to "bind and loose. The two images – that of the keys and that of binding and loosing – express similar meanings which reinforce one another. The expression "binding and loosing" form part of rabbinical language and refers on the one hand to doctrinal decisions and on the other hand to disciplinary power, that is, the faculty to impose and to lift excommunication. The parallelism "on earth ... in the heavens" guarantees that Peter's decisions in the exercise of this ecclesial function are valid in the eyes of God." Source: Vatican News
Jesus Christ, the Lord of Our Lives
28th June 2012 In a world in which so many "masters" want to direct and guide us, we need a scale of values that gives primacy to God, and to realise that Jesus Christ is the only Lord of our lives. This was the message at the heart of Pope Benedict XVI's Wednesday's audience (27 June 2012). The Holy Father's appointment with pilgrims from across the world was moved indoors to the Paul VI audience hall, as summer temperatures continue to climb in the Eternal City.
Emer McCarthy reports:
In his catechesis Pope Benedict continued his series on Christian prayer in the letters of Saint Paul, focusing on the Christological hymn in the Letter to the Philippians. He spoke of how prayer is silence and speech, but also of how prayer involves the heart and body in gestures of adoration of the Lord; "as Jesus' exaltation took place through his abasement, so in our lives and in our prayer we discover that, by lowering ourselves in humility and love, we are lifted up to God."
He continued, "Human logic, however, often seeks self-realisation in power, in dominion, in powerful means. Man still wants to build the tower of Babel on his own to reach the heights of God, to be like God. The Incarnation and the Cross remind us that full realisation is found in conforming our human will to the Father; in the emptying of one's selfishness, to be filled with love, God's charity and thus truly be able to love others".
Following his catechesis in Italian he greeted English-speaking pilgrims present at the audience, "I offer a warm welcome to the ecumenical delegation of Christian leaders from Korea. I greet the pilgrimage groups from Nigeria, South Africa and Swaziland. My greeting also goes to the many student groups present. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, including those from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Norway, Australia, the Bahamas and the United States of America, I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!
Source: Vatican Radio
KENYA: Consolata Shrine's Prayer Garden Opened
21st June 2012
Inauguration of Prayer Garden - Consolata Shrine (from CISA News)
NAIROBI, 19 June 2012 Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo, IMC, of Isiolo Vicariate, on Sunday, June 17, presided over the blessing and official opening of the Prayer Garden at Consolata Shrine in Westlands. The Prayer Garden is comprised of the 14 Stations of the Cross, an open Chapel and a 2.8 metre statue of Mother Mary, Our Lady of Consolata.
Bishop Mukobo commended the parishioners for constructing the Prayer Garden and said the Prayer Garden will bring them closer to Jesus Christ through prayers and devotions. "The garden is an added value to the already existing spiritual riches in the locality," said Bishop Ireri. He urged Christians to fully utilise the garden for their spiritual benefits.
Mrs Phyllis Kimbo, Chairperson of the Pastoral Council, said, "Exactly one year today, we embarked on this project. We thank God that He has seen us through, and that the labour of our hands was not in vain."
The Consolata Prayer Garden has been built on self-reliance and donations from parishioners.
Father-in-Charge Rev. Fr James Lengarin said the garden is projected to cost Ksh 14 million when fully complete. "So far, over Ksh 12 million has been used. We hope the Christians will continue to donate generously until it is complete."
The ceremony was preceded by the Holy Mass, followed by a procession with the statue of Mary as the faithful said the Rosary and sang songs of praise. Taken from: CISA News
Pope: Reject a Culture Where Truth Does Not Matter
18th June 2012 When Pope Benedict XVI met with the people of his Diocese in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint John Lateran, he said, "Renouncing the glamour of Satan in today's age means rejecting a culture where truth does not matter," referring to a part of the Baptismal Rite.
The Holy Father began his remarks by reflecting on the fact the Baptismal formula is "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," as opposed to "on the behalf of."
He said with Baptism, we live now in the life of the Trinity: "uniquely united to God, with a new life that belongs to God, we are immersed in God Himself."
This being true, the Pope said this means God is not some distant reality, but "we are in God, and God is in us."
He said we also must keep in mind that this relationship begins with God.
"Yes, my decision is necessary, but ultimately, it is an act of God within me," he explained. "I do not decide to become a Christian. I am … chosen by God, and by saying 'yes' to this action of God, I become a Christian."
In the Baptismal Rite, the catechumen must reject Satan and all his works. Pope Benedict said this means rejecting a "culture that does not seek goodness, whose morality is only a mask, which covers confusion and destruction... that seeks only material wealth and denies God." He said the decision of Baptism lasts for the all our lives, with its rejection of evil, even if it means sacrifices.
The Pope then pointed out that becoming a Christian is not just saying "no", but also saying "yes" to the truths about Christ expressed in the Creed. Because of this, Christians are "in communion with the truth."
"We are grateful to God who gave us this gift [Baptism], and our challenge is to live out our post-baptismal renunciations and affirmations and always live in the great cause of God, and so live well," he concluded. Source: Vatican News
Cardinal Arinze comments on the new Roman MissalFrom Francis Card. ArinzeDear Sr Teresa, The beautiful Roman Missal prepared for countries of the English-speaking parts of Africa does great credit to Paulines Publications Africa. It is prepared in a very suitable altar format. The printing is clear and attractive. The texts are produced with total fidelity to the original. Propers are included for African countries, with details for some. And the price is attractive when compared to similar productions in other continents.
Please accept my hearty congratulations and gratitude and share the same with Father Rinaldo Ronzani and all others who in any way contributed to the production of this fine Missal. I wish all of you God’s abundant blessing.
7th November 2011