Wednesday, March 31, 2010




(VIS) - The Easter Triduum was the central theme of Benedict XVI 's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square. "We are", the Pope began, "living through the holy days that invite us to meditate upon the central events of our Redemption, the essential nucleus of our faith". In this context, he encouraged everyone "to experience this period intensely, that it may decisively guide everyone's life to a generous and strong adherence to Christ, Who died and rose again for us". At the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, apart from the blessing of the oil used for catechumens, the sick and those being confirmed, priests will renew their vows. "This year the gesture has particular significance because it takes place in the context of the Year for Priests, which I called to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the holy 'Cure of Ars'. To all priests I would like to reiterate the hope I expressed at the end of my Letter inaugurating the Year: 'In the footsteps of the Cure of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by Christ. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!'". On the evening of Holy Thursday "we will celebrate the moment of the institution of the Eucharist" when Christ, "in the species of the bread and the wine, makes Himself truly present with the Body He gave and the Blood He split as a sacrifice of the New Covenant. At the same time He made the Apostles and their successors ministers of this Sacrament, which He consigned to His Church as the supreme proof of His love". On Good Friday, in memory of the passion and death of the Lord, we will recall how "Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for the remission of the sins of humankind, choosing the most cruel and humiliating death: crucifixion. There exists an indissoluble link between the Last Supper and the death of Jesus", said Pope Benedict , explaining how in the Upper Room "Jesus offered His Body and Blood (that is, his earthly existence, Himself), anticipating His own death and transforming it into an act of love. And so death, which by its nature is the end, the destruction of all relations, is made by Him an act of communication of Self, an instrument of salvation and a proclamation of the victory of love". Easter Saturday "is characterised by a great silence. ... At this time of expectation and hope, believers are invited to prayer, reflection and conversion, also through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that, intimately renewed, they may participate in the celebration of Easter", said the Holy Father. On the night of Easter Saturday, "that silence will be broken by the cry of Alleluia, which announces the resurrection of Christ and proclaims he victory of light over darkness, of life over death. The Church will joy in the meeting with her Lord, entering the day of Easter which the Lord inaugurated by rising from the dead", the Pope concluded.AG/EASTER TRIDUUM/... VIS 100331 (530)

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS: BEAR WITNESS TO CHRIST IN ALL PLACES VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Among his greetings at the end of today's general audience, the Pope addressed a group of 4,000 university students from thirty countries who are participating in an international congress promoted annually by the Prelature of Opus Dei. The theme of this year's gathering is: "Can Christianity inspire a global culture?" "Dear friends, you have come to Rome in Holy Week for an experience of faith, friendship and spiritual enrichment", said the Holy Father. "I invite you to reflect on the importance of university study for the formation of that 'universal Catholic mentality' which St. Josemaria described in these terms: 'a breadth of vision and a vigorous endeavour to study more deeply the things that are permanently alive and unchanged in Catholic orthodoxy'. May there be, in each of you, a growing desire to meet Jesus Christ personally, so as to bear joyful witness to Him in all places".AG/GREETINGS/... VIS 100331 (170)

TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF BOMB ATTACKS IN MOSCOW VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was a telegram of condolence sent by the Pope to Dimitry Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation, for the victims of last Monday's bomb attacks on the Moscow underground. "Having learned the news of the attacks on the Moscow underground in which numerous people lost their lives, I wish to manifest my profound sorrow and firm condemnation for those barbaric acts of violence, and to send an expression of my solidarity, spiritual closeness and condolences to the families of the victims. With assurances of my fervent prayers for the lives so abruptly cut short, and while invoking heavenly consolation for those who mourn their tragic loss, I readily send my blessings and greetings, with a particular thought for the injured".TGR/BOMB ATTACK/MOSCOW VIS 100331 (140)

BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR APRIL VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April is: "That every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by constant respect, by tolerance and by dialogue among all believers". His mission intention is: "That Christians persecuted for the sake of the Gospel may persevere, sustained by the Holy Spirit, in faithfully witnessing to the love of God for the entire human race".BXVI-PRAYER INTENTIONS/APRIL/... VIS 100331 (80)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. William Hanna Shomali, chancellor of the patriarchal diocese of Jerusalem of the Latins, as auxiliary of the same diocese (Catholics 160,700, priests 271, permanent deacons 2, religious 1,432). The bishop-elect was born in Beit-Sahour, Palestine in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1972.NEA/.../SHOMALI VIS 100331 (60)

NOTICE VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - As previously advised, the VIS bulletin will be suspended from tomorrow Wednesday 1 April to Tuesday 6 April, the holy days of Easter and holidays in the Vatican. Service will resume on Wednesday 7 April..../.../... VIS 100331 (50)



CNA report: Today, the fifth anniversary of the death of Terry Schiavo, Priests for Life will celebrate an honorary Mass and a day of prayer and advocacy on behalf of the vulnerable.
“On March 31, five years ago, Terri Schiavo died a court mandated and government enforced death,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, on Wednesday. “I saw for myself, as I held her hand and prayed at her bedside, that this death was not ‘peaceful’ and ‘beautiful’ as euthanasia advocates want us to think.”
“Moreover,” he added, “as health care is placed more and more in the hands of the government, we have to be more vigilant than ever to protect the Terris of today and tomorrow.”
Schiavo, a victim of severe brain damage, died in 2005 when she was barred from receiving nutrition and hydration in by a Florida court order after a long legal fight between her husband and her family.
Two years ago Priests for Life and Terri’s Foundation established Terri’s Day, formally known as the “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters.”
The day is intended to encourage prayer, education and advocacy about discrimination against the disabled and about those in situations similar to Terri Schiavo’s last days.
Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, recently cited a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine which found that some people diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) are in fact responsive.
"What is worse is that persons with cognitive disabilities thought to be in this 'PVS' condition, like Terri, are routinely being denied food and hydration – their most basic rights,” Schindler commented in a Feb. 23 press release. He said the new findings underscore the importance of why the “dangerous and often mistaken” PVS diagnosis should not be used as “a standard to kill our most vulnerable.”


CNA report: Noted Italian exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, commented this week that the recent defamatory reporting on Pope Benedict XVI, especially by the New York Times, was “prompted by the devil.”
Speaking to News Mediaset in Italy, the 85-year-old exorcist noted that the devil is behind “the recent attacks on Pope Benedict XVI regarding some pedophilia cases.”
“There is no doubt about it. Because he is a marvelous Pope and worthy successor to John Paul II, it is clear that the devil wants to ‘grab hold’ of him.”
Father Amorth added that in instances of sexual abuse committed by some members of the clergy, the devil “uses” priests in order to cast blame upon the entire Church: “The devil wants the death of the Church because she is the mother of all the saints.”
“He combats the Church through the men of the Church, but he can do nothing to the Church.”
The exorcist went on to note that Satan tempts holy men, “and so we should not be surprised if priests too … fall into temptation. They also live in the world and can fall like men of the world.”


CISA report -Bishop Richard Domba Mady, has backed a report issued by the Human Rights Watch on the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), terming it “a serious investigation, conducted with interviews with victims and rescuers.” “The report is important because it demonstrates the level of the atrocities committed by the LRA,” the Bishop added. The diocese of Doruma-Dungu is located in the Eastern Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Ugandan LRA rebels have tormented the local population for several years. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report of 67 pages, entitled “Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in North Eastern Congo,” which documents the massacres committed by the LRA in North Eastern DRC between late 2009 and early 2010. "We know that HRW researchers have made a serious investigation, travelling in the area attacked by rebels and interviewing survivors and aid workers helping victims of violence. Among them are also operators of the local Caritas," says Bishop Domba Mady. According to the HRW report, the LRA fighters attacked 10 villages, killed and captured hundreds of civilians, including women and children. Most victims are men whom the fighters first tied to trees and then killed with machetes or crushed their heads using a hatchet and wooden clubs. Among the dead are 13 women and 23 children: the youngest, only 3 years old was burned alive. The guerrillas have also killed some prisoners thought to be too weak to punish them for trying to escape. Families of victims and local authorities later found their bodies along the route, 105 km from the village of Makombo, a path walked on foot by LRA guerrillas and prisoners. "The area most affected is that of Tapili, where more than 200 people were killed in mid-December, I hope that the Congolese authorities and the international community finally act to stop these killings. We cannot have entire populations living in fear because of this group." said Bishop Domba Mady. The Bishop does not hide, however, the difficulties of the operation to root out the LRA from Congolese territory. "The LRA is divided into small groups that are always moving in the most remote and uninhabited parts of the forest. They only emerge to attack villages, where they take food and basic necessities, and also abduct people. Their attacks are sudden and rapid. Once they have raided the village, they disappear again into the forest. But this should not be an excuse for not acting," concluded Bishop Domba Mady.

Asia News report: The gesture of "Visita Iglesia" retraces the pilgrimage to the seven Roman basilicas and was imported by Spanish missionaries in the early eighteenth century. It involves all Catholics during Holy Week in the Philippines and this year there is a special virtual tour for migrants living abroad in non-Catholic countries.
Manila (AsiaNews) - To participate in the sufferings of Christ and pray for the Church. This is the purpose of the traditional "visita Iglesia" or visit of the seven churches that involves all Filipino Catholics each year during Lent. The gesture was imported by Spanish missionaries in the XVIII century, and retraces the pilgrimage of the seven Roman basilicas established in the seventeenth century by St. Filippo Neri.
From this year, Filipinos at home and abroad have the opportunity to also make a virtual tour of the churches of Manila, available at the Philippine Bishops Conference website.
Mary Jane Puring, an elderly Catholic from Manila, said: "I was four years old when I made my first 'Visita Iglesia' with my parents and my brothers and still participate in the tradition which is deeply rooted in me and my family. " "The pilgrimage - she adds - helps me to be in communion with God and to participate in the sufferings of Christ on the Cross."
The 'Visit Iglesia' was introduced by Spanish missionaries in the early eighteenth century and has for centuries involved the entire Filipino people. Unlike the pilgrimage of the seven Roman basilicas (Saint John Lateran, St Mary Major, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, San Sebastian) which is dedicated to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, it focuses mainly on the Passion of Christ. The Filipino faithful may choose to visit places of worship in each of the seven churches to meditate on two of the 14 Stations of the Cross.
"This gesture - said Fr Restie de la Pena, a priest of the Archdiocese of Manila - is a way that helps to reflect the seriousness of our sins and spiritual renewal through a concrete gesture. " According to the priest undertaking the pilgrimage as a journey to Calvary helps individuals to understand the meaning of the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.
This year, the Philippine Bishops Conference has prepared on its website ( a virtual tour to places of worship in Manila to allow migrants abroad to also make the pilgrimage. The website offers for each church a series of photos and audio files with the steps of the Passion of Christ. The Filipino migrants are around 10 million and over two million living in Muslim countries where there are no churches and public expressions of their faith are prohibited.


Cath News report: Archbishop Philip Wilson, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, says Easter's message of hope is especially important given the devastating recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.
"While some people look at such shocking events and wonder how God can let them happen, our faith helps us to understand that Jesus is the answer to our suffering" he was quoted by an AAP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Archbishop Wilson called on Australians to remember the people of Haiti and Chile in their prayers.
Christian leaders urged the faithful to reach out to others this Easter to ease an epidemic of loneliness in the community, said the report.
"The Christian message is about restoring relationships," said the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen in his 2010 Easter message on Thursday.
"As a result of what Jesus did, we are meant to reach out to each other, to care, to love, to serve," Dr Jensen said.
"We are not meant to be alone.
"That is a major spiritual problem."
The Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACT, Reverend Niall Reid, said Easter was a time for Christians to be the bearers of hope and life.
"The cross, a brutal instrument of death, is also the tree which offers life - a way of life that stands with the poor and vulnerable against unjust power," he said in his Easter message."


St. Benjamin
Feast: March 31
Feast Day:
March 31
424 in Persia

Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.
The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: "The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations, no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels." We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c."


Matthew 26: 14 - 25
Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.
And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the passover?"
He said, "Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.'"
And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the passover.
When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples;
and as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?"
He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me.
The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."
Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."





(VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. yesterday, Benedict XVI presided at a Mass in commemoration of his predecessor, Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, who died on 2 April 2005. This year's Mass has been brought forward because 2 April coincides with Good Friday. The Holy Father addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow and former private secretary of John Paul II, and to the many other pilgrims from the late Pope's native country of Poland. In his homily Benedict XVI commented on the prophet Isaiah's parable of the servant whose faith is unshakeable and whose energy does not diminish until completing the task assigned him. "What the inspired prophet says of the servant", Pope Benedict explained, "we can apply to the beloved John Paul II. The Lord called him to His service and, entrusting him with tasks of ever greater responsibility, accompanied him with His grace and His continual assistance. During his long pontificate, he made prodigious efforts to proclaim the right firmly, without weakness or hesitation, especially when he had to face resistance, hostility and rejection. He knew the Lord had taken him by the hand, and this enabled him to exercise a fruitful ministry for which, once again, we give fervent thanks to God". Benedict XVI continued by referring to the Gospel episode in which, at the house of Lazarus, Mary of Bethany washed Christ's feet and anointed them with perfume, offering the most precious thing she had in a gesture of profound devotion, while the fragrance filled the house. "The meaning of Mary's gesture, which is a response to the infinite Love of God, spread among all the dinner guests", said the Pope. "Each gesture of charity and of authentic devotion to Christ does not remain a personal matter, it does not concern only the relationship between the individual and the Lord, but involves the entire body of the Church. It is contagious and infuses love, joy and light". "The whole life of the Venerable John Paul II passed under the sign of this charity, of the capacity to give himself generously, unreservedly, without measure or calculation. What moved him was the love for Christ to Whom he had consecrated his life, a superabundant and unconditional love. And it was precisely because he became increasingly close to the Lord in love, that he was able to be a travelling companion for modern man, spreading the perfume of the Love of God in the world. "Those who had the joy of knowing and frequenting him", the Holy Father added, "had palpable experience of his certainty of seeing 'the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living'. ... This certainty accompanied him throughout his existence, revealing itself in a particular way during the last period of his pilgrimage on this earth: his progressive physical weakness did not, in fact, affect his solid faith, his luminous hope or his fervent charity. He allowed himself to be consumed by Christ, for the Church and for the whole world. His was a suffering lived to the end for love and with love". In closing, Benedict XVI addressed some words to Polish pilgrims. "The life and work of John Paul II", he told them, "is something of which you can be proud. However, you must remember that it is also a great call to be faithful witnesses of the faith, hope and love which he uninterruptedly taught us".HML/JOHN PAUL II/... VIS 100330 (600)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland.AP/.../... VIS 100330 (30)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Holy Father appointed Bishop Luis Madrid Merlano of Cartago, Colombia, as metropolitan archbishop of Nueva Pamplona (area 6,751, population 211,700, Catholics 203,834, priests 81, religious 73), Colombia. The archbishop-elect was born in Cartagena, Colombia in 1946, he was ordained a priest in 1971 and consecrated a bishop in 1988.NER/.../MADRID VIS 100330 (60)



CNA report: In wake of the media blitz on the recent surfacing of clerical sexual abuse in Europe, the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) has released a statement encouraging Church officials to cooperate with secular authorities and police in investigating such cases. The CEI’s statement also expressed support for Pope Benedict and called for a careful selection of candidates for the priesthood to ensure full maturity at all levels.
The bishops refuted allegations made by victims’ associations and media reports that the bishops had opposed cooperation with police and investigators, and insisted that they “support those authorities through faithful cooperation.” The bishops' statement said that they agree that a “rigorous and transparent application of canonical procedural and criminal rules are the main path to search for the truth.”
The Italian prelates also “reaffirmed their support for the victims of abuse and their families, wounded and offended by the Church itself.”
Recent media reports have claimed that a 1962 canonical law, as well as a 2001 directive issued by then-Cardinal Ratzinger encourage secrecy and in-house investigations of clerical sexual abuse cases. Last week, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi strongly denied the New York Times’ claim that Vatican secrecy rules prohibited Church figures from reporting such cases to the police. Additionally, the CEI statement came to the Pope’s defense, arguing that Pope Benedict has displayed a “determined and enlightened” attitude in confronting sexual abuse.
The CEI also praised the Pontiff for leaving "no margins of uncertainty" and refusing to "indulge in downplaying" the scandals. "He invited the ecclesiastical community to ascertain the truth of what happened and take action where needed," they said. "He has the full and affectionate support of Italy's bishops."
The statement also emphasized “the need for a careful selection of candidates for the priesthood, valuing human and emotional maturity, as well as spiritual and pastoral maturity.”
The Italian bishops’ statement comes in wake of some calls by clergy to re-evaluate the priestly requirement of celibacy. “The value of celibacy, which is in no way an impediment or impairment of sexuality, represents, particularly in these days, an alternative and humanly enriching way to live one's humanity,” they affirmed.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, formerly the vicar of Rome and ex-chief of the CEI, noted that in recent weeks, various entities and persons had sought to “eradicate from people's hearts their faith in the Church and, I fear, their faith in Christ and in God.”


CNA report: Archbishop Louis Kebreau of Cap-Hatien and president of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference, made the announcement that following Holy Week, the Port-au-Prince seminary will resume its activities interrupted by the country's January 12 earthquake.
Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Kebreau said the seminarians from the various dioceses of Haiti will be housed in tents, along with the academic staff. "The new beginning is a sign of hope for our devastated and traumatized land," he stated.
“A great many Haitians are looking to their pastors for help and consolation, he said, noting that many continue to live in a state of shock after losing a spouse, children or other family members."
"The survivors have lost everything."
“The Church too, has lost a great many of her own pastoral workers, including laity, religious sisters, priests and bishops.” The prelate added that counted among those who have died are 30 of the 260 seminarians at the former seminary.”
Nevertheless, Archbishop Kebreau continued, “Things are now slowly returning to normal, but at the same time everyone knows there is still much work to be done. We are still at the very beginning."

CISA report: Kenyan Members of Parliament (MPs) have been called to reject any amendment that has the effect of deleting or negating the fact that life begins at conception in the country’s new draft constitution. In a press statement, issued on March 29, 2010 at St Paul’s University Chapel, Student Organisation of Nairobi University (SONU), together with the Universities and Colleges Chapter of Human Life International Kenya (HLI- Kenya) called upon all MPs to prioritise and support the minister for Public Health and Sanitation, Beth Mugo’s amendment. This follows a heated debate on the draft Constitution of Kenya on when life begins in the new proposed Bill of Rights. The two bodies expressed deep concern about the manner in which the provisions on the right to life have been handled by the committee of experts and parliamentarians. In their statement on the right to life they said, “It is plausible that the proposed constitution [26(4)] expressly prohibits abortion. We are, however, opposed to any exceptions to this provision that has the effect of legalizing abortion on demand.” The organisations said that the proposed constitution reduces the level of the personnel in whose opinion an abortion could be carried out from registered medical practitioner to any trained health professional. According to their statement, they acknowledged that the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR in US) working closely with Kenya Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) are deeply interested in the legalization of abortion in this country. They said they are aware that Mps are under a lot of external pressure by both inducement and coercion to adopt language in the constitution that is abortion friendly and called on the MPs to resist this pressure and witness to the truth. “We own neither the means nor the forum to coerce or induce our members of parliament but we can appeal to the voters, our sisters, our mothers and our daughters,” they said. They said that the people of Kenya are generally pro-life and it would be politically costly for any MP that supports the abortion lobby.


Asia News report: The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India gives AsiaNews his personal Easter reflection. He invites the faithful and the clergy to promote with love and courage the Church’s mission rather than fear conversions. Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The “third millennium belongs to the Church in Asia.” It should not fear the governments of men, but should focus instead on the light of Christ, which Easter renews and strengthens. This is why, especially in India, we should not fear to carry out our mission in broad daylight. We are a living reality, and live to serve the country and its people. This is the essence of Card Oswald Gracias’ reflection for Easter. The archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) spoke to AsiaNews on the occasion of Holy Week in order to send a message to India’s 18 million Catholics and their brothers and sisters across the Asian continent.
Your Eminence, in our country are people still suffering because of their faith?
In a few parts of India, our people are going through Good Friday. It is regrettable because this is not India. India is regarded as the cradle of great civilisations; unfortunately, our country’s pluralistic traditions are being challenged. Most often, these challenges are politically motivated. This does not bode well for our country, for its development, and for our image on the international stage. However, from a spiritual point of view, it is our turn to carry the cross and after the cross comes the glorious resurrection.
As leader of the Indian Church, what are your concerns for the Church in these times? What are the challenges?
In the mind of the average Hindu, a number of events have created a negative image of Christians, one in which we are seen as indulging in aggressive conversion. This is not only wrong but it generates a grossly distorted image of the Church. For me, it is important to correct such views. We want to proclaim Jesus. We want to make Christ known through our lives and our work. We work selflessly to make his Kingdom of God present. We only want to serve, do what Jesus told us to do, living out the Beatitudes, loving and serving everyone, making the world a better place. The Church is not a political party and is definitely not seeking power and prestige, or increase the number of the faithful in order to exert more influence.
How can we change this negative attitude towards the Church?
The Church in India makes a renewed commitment to mission and service. We will carry on our mission to serve selflessly, through our educational, health and welfare ministries, and build the nation. We shall do so without discrimination based on caste or creed, working especially for the marginalised, our country’s vulnerable brothers and sisters, the poorest of the poor. Let our strongest and biggest argument be our lives and our work.
I am so proud of our people, who are carrying the cross with such fortitude and fidelity. They are bringing many, many graces to our beloved country. The Church in India does not respond to accusations with anger, but with love and service. The Church is ever more committed to serving the country.
Your Eminence, I have been trying to get stories of catechumens baptised at the Easter vigil. However, most clergymen answer saying, “You know the political climate, we do not want to publicise baptisms”. What do you tell people who act like that?
Keeping a low profile on the baptisms of catechumens causes me much sadness primarily because it is a wrong image and this is bad for our country. It is an absolute shame. We, who are so proud of India’s glorious past and spiritual heritage, have to do things as if in hiding— this has been created in the minds of people and represents a limit on our religious freedom,. It goes against our constitution and human rights. It is unfortunate but it is happening.
I have emphatically stated that no government can enter my soul or imprison my conscience, telling me: “You cannot change religion!” Whenever catechumens have been baptised, it was their free choice, following a long process of preparation. Freedom of conversion is a right. As CBCI president, I make a renewed call to the government to ensure and guarantee the religious freedom our Founding Fathers enshrined in the constitution.
Forced conversions are meaningless and invalid for the Church, not only because the documents of Vatican Council speak clearly against them, but mainly because for Christians, conversion is primarily a transformation of the heart.
The Church imposes a long period of catechumenate to test the sincerity of those seeking baptism. The anti-conversion laws that exist in some states, whilst they may seem okay on paper, are most often used to harass and intimidate people who want to convert of their own free will.
Freedom of religion and freedom of conversion are human rights; they are a sacred right enshrined in our constitution. No civil authority has the right to enter the shrine that is the conscience of every person, let alone decide what his or her conscience should say. No government can come into my soul, stop my conscience, and tell me, “You cannot change your religion".
Given this scenario, what can we look forward to at Easter?
The Resurrection always infuses us with hope that Good will triumph over the forces of evil. The rays of light of Christ shine forth for us in India and for the Church, whose one desire is to serve and do good. We can never be discouraged. Good Friday is always followed by Easter and at Easter, new life breaks into our world and everything overflows with everlasting light. Every year, we are renewed by the Lord’s victory.
For the Church in India and Asia, Easter is a time to rejoice for the goodness, culture and religious vitality of our people. We are making an immense contribution to the Universal Church thanks to our members, our theological reflections and in many other ways. The Church in Asia is comparatively small, yet the light of Christ shines brightly and with renewed vigour upon it. The Church in Asia is unstinting in its joyful efforts to make Jesus known and loved. It does so by bearing witness through our lives and our service. This is the sign that the Resurrected Lord is with us, filling us with hope. In a certain way, the third millennium belongs to the Church in Asia where we look for the vitality of Christian life. God bless India!,-a-right-and-the-life-of-the-Church,-Card-Gracias-says-18029.html



Cath News report: Hundreds of faithful gathered for at the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn's annual Chrism Mass in St Christopher's Cathedral this week for the blessing of the sacred oils.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge blessed the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, which is used to anoint candidates before Baptism, and to consecrate the sacred Oil of Chrism, which is given in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, the archdiocese's website said in a report.
The Chrism Mass was also a time for the priests of the Archdiocese to renew their commitment to priestly service.
During his homily the Archbishop said that the priesthood needed, "to return to the basics to strengthen faith and clarify vision. What better time than the Chrism Mass?"
"(Jesus) calls us to become the blessing - not just to speak the Good News but to be it."


St. John Climacus
Feast: March 30
Feast Day:
March 30
525, Syria
30 March 606, Mount Sinai

St John, generally distinguished by the appellation of Climacus, from his excellent book entitled Climax, or the Ladder to Perfection, was born about the year 525, probably in Palestine. By his extraordinary progress in the arts and sciences he obtained very young the surname of the Scholastic. But at sixteen years of age he renounced all the advantages which the world promised him to dedicate himself to God in a religious state, in 547. He retired to Mount Sinai, which, from the time of the disciples of St. Anthony and St. Hilarion, had been always peopled by holy men, who, in imitation of Moses, when he received the law on that mountain, lived in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. Our novice, fearing the danger of dissipation and relaxation to which numerous communities are generally more exposed than others, chose not to live in the great monastery on the summit, but in an hermitage on the descent of the mountain, under the discipline of Martyrius, an holy ancient anchoret. By silence he curbed the insolent itch of talking about everything, an ordinary vice in learned men, but usually a mark of pride and self-sufficiency. By perfect humility and obedience he banished the dangerous desire of self-complacency in his actions. He never contradicted, never disputed with anyone. So perfect was his submission that he seemed to have no self-will. He undertook to sail through the deep sea of this mortal life securely, under the direction of a prudent guide, and shunned those rocks which he could not have escaped, had he presumed to steer alone, as he tells us. From the visible mountain he raised his heart, without interruption, in all his actions, to God, who is invisible; and, attentive to all the motions of his grace, studied only to do his will. Four years he spent in the trial of his own strength, and in learning the obligations of his state, before he made his religious profession, which was in the twentieth year of his age. In his writings he severely condemns engagements made by persons too young, or before a sufficient probation. By fervent prayer and fasting he prepared himself for the solemn consecration of himself to God, that the most intense fervour might make his holocaust the more perfect; and from that moment he seemed to be renewed in spirit; and his master admired the strides with which, like a mighty giant, the young disciple advanced daily more and more towards God, by self-denial, obedience, humility, and the uninterrupted exercises of divine love and prayer.
In the year 560, and the thirty-fifth of his age, he lost Martyrius by death; having then spent nineteen years in that place in penance and holy contemplation. By the advice of a prudent director, he then embraced an eremitical life in a plain called Thole, near the foot of Mount Sinai. His cell was five miles from the church, probably the same which had been built a little before, by order of the Emperor Justinian, for the use of the monks at the bottom of this mountain, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, as Procopius mentions. Thither he went every Saturday and Sunday to assist, with all the other anchorets and monks of that desert, at the holy office and at the celebration of the divine mysteries, when they all communicated. His diet was very sparing, though, to shun ostentation and the danger of vainglory, he ate of everything that was allowed among the monks of Egypt, who universally abstained from flesh, fish, &c. Prayer was his principal employment; and he practiced what he earnestly recommends to all Christians, that in all their actions, thoughts, and words they should keep themselves with great fervour in the presence of God, and direct all they do to his holy will. By habitual contemplation he acquired an extraordinary purity of heart, and such a facility of lovingly beholding God in all his works that this practice seemed in him a second nature. Thus he accompanied his studies with perpetual prayer. He assiduously read the holy scriptures and fathers, and was one of the most learned doctors of the church. But, to preserve the treasure of humility, he concealed, as much as possible, both his natural and acquired talents, and the extraordinary graces with which the Holy Ghost enriched his soul. By this secrecy he fled from the danger of vainglory, which, like a leech, sticks to our best actions and, sucking from them its nourishment, robs us of their fruit. As if this cell had not been sufficiently remote from the eyes of men, St. John frequently retired into a neighbouring cavern which he had made in the rock, where no one could come to disturb his devotions or interrupt his tears. So ardent were his charity and compunction, that his eyes seemed two fountains, which scarce ever ceased to flow; and his continual sighs and groans to heaven, under the weight of the miseries inseparable from his moral pilgrimage, were not to be equaled by the vehemency of the cries of those who suffer from knives and fire. Overcome by importunities, he admitted a holy anchoret named Moyses to live with him as his disciple.
God bestowed on St. John an extraordinary grace of healing the spiritual disorders of souls. Among others, a monk called Isaac was brought almost to the brink of despair by most violent temptations of the flesh. He addressed himself to St. John, who perceived by his tears how much he underwent from that conflict and struggle which he felt within himself. The servant of God commended his faith, and said, "My son, let us have recourse to God by prayer." They accordingly prostrated themselves together on the ground in fervent supplication for a deliverance, and from that time the infernal serpent left Isaac in peace. Many others resorted to St. John for spiritual advice; but the devil excited some to jealousy, who censured him as one who, out of vanity, lost much time in unprofitable discourse. The saint took this accusation, which was a mere calumny, in good part, and as a charitable admonition; he therefore imposed on himself a rigorous silence for near a twelvemonth. This, his humility and modesty, so much astonished his calumniators that they joined the rest of the monks in beseeching him to reassume his former function of giving charitable advice to all that resorted to him for it, and not to bury that talent of science which he had received for the benefit of many. He who knew not what it was to contradict others, with the same humility and deference again opened his mouth to instruct his neighbour in the rules of perfect virtue, in which office, such was the reputation of his wisdom and experience, that he was regarded as another Moses in that holy place.
St. John was now seventy-five years old, and had spent forty of them in his hermitage, when, in the year 600, he was unanimously chosen Abbot of Mount Sinai, and superior-general of all the monks and hermits in that country. Soon after he was raised to this dignity, the people of Palestine and Arabia, in the time of a great drought and famine, made their application to him as to another Elias, begging him to intercede with God in their behalf. The saint failed not, with great earnestness, to recommend their distress to the Father of mercies, and his prayer was immediately recompensed with abundant rains. St. Gregory the Great, who then sat in St. Peter's chair, wrote to our holy abbot, recommending himself to his prayers, and sent him beds, with other furniture and money, for his hospital, for the use of pilgrims near Mount Sinai. John, who had used his utmost endeavours to decline the pastoral charge when he saw it laid upon him, neglected no means which might promote the sanctification of all those who were entrusted to his care. That posterity might receive some share in the benefit of his holy instructions, John, the learned and virtuous Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situate towards the Red Sea, entreated him by that obedience he had ever practiced, even with regard to his inferiors, that he would draw up the most necessary rules by which fervent souls might arrive at Christian perfection. The saint answered him that nothing but extreme humility could have moved him to write to so miserable a sinner, destitute of every sort of virtue; but that he received his commands with respect, though far above his strength, never considering his own insufficiency. Wherefore, apprehensive of falling into death by disobedience, he took up his pen in haste, with great eagerness mixed with fear, and set himself to draw some imperfect outlines, as an unskillful painter, leaving them to receive from him, as a great master, the finishing strokes. This produced the excellent work which he called "Climax; or, the Ladder of religious Perfection." This book, being written in sentences, almost in the manner of aphorisms, abounds more in sense than words. A certain majestic simplicity- an inexpressible unction and spirit of humility, joined with conciseness and perspicuity-very much enhance the value of this performance; but its chief merit consists in the sublime sentiments and perfect description of all Christian virtues which it contains. The author confirms his precepts by several edifying examples, as of obedience and penance. In describing a monastery of three hundred and thirty monks which he had visited near Alexandria, in Egypt, he mentions one of the principal citizens of that city, named Isidore, who, petitioning to be admitted into the house, said to the abbot, "As iron is in the hands of the smith, so am I in your hands." The abbot ordered him to remain without the gate, and to prostrate himself at the feet of everyone that passed by, begging their prayers for his soul struck with a leprosy. Thus he passed seven years in profound humility and patience. He told St. John that, during the first year, he always considered himself as a slave condemned for his sins, and sustained violent conflicts; the second year he passed in tranquillity and confidence; and the third with relish and pleasure in his humiliations. So great was his virtue that the abbot determined to present him to the bishop in order to be promoted to the priesthood, but the humility of the holy penitent prevented the execution of that design; for, having begged at least a respite, he died within ten days. St. John could not help admiring the cook of this numerous community, who seemed always recollected, and generally bathed in tears amidst his continual occupation, and asked him by what means he nourished so perfect a spirit of compunction, in the midst of such a dissipating laborious employment. He said that serving the monks, he represented to himself that he was serving not men, but God in his servants; and that the fire he always had before his eyes reminded him of that fire which will burn souls for all eternity. The moving description which our author gives of the monastery of penitents called the Prison, above a mile from the former, hath been already abridged in our language. John the Sabaite told our saint, as of a third person, that seeing himself respected in his monastery, he considered that this was not the way to satisfy for his sins; wherefore, with the leave of his abbot, he repaired to a severe monastery in Pontus, and after three years saw in a dream a schedule of his debts, to the amount in appearance of one hundred pounds of gold, of which only ten were cancelled. He therefore repeated often to himself, "Poor Antiochus, thou hast still a great debt to satisfy." After passing other thirteen years in contempt and the most fervent practices of penance, he deserved to see in a vision his whole debt blotted out. Another monk, in a grievous fit of illness, fell into a trance, in which he lay as if he had been dead for the space of an hour; but, recovering, he shut himself up in a cell, and lived a recluse twelve years, almost continually weeping, in the perpetual meditation of death. When he was near death, his brethren could only extort from him these words of edification, "He who hath death always before his eyes will never sin." John, Abbot of Raithu, explained this book of our saint by judicious comments, which are also extant. We have likewise a letter of St. John Climacus to the same person concerning the duties of a pastor, in which he exhorts him in correcting others to temper severity with mildness, and encourages him zealously to fulfil the obligations of his charge; for nothing is greater or more acceptable to God than to offer him the sacrifice of rational souls sanctified by penance and charity.
St. John sighed continually under the weight of his dignity during the four years that he governed the monks of Mount Sinai; and as he had taken upon him that burden with fear and reluctance, he with joy found means to resign the same a little before his death. Heavenly contemplation, and the continual exercise of divine love and praise, were his delight and comfort in his earthly pilgrimage: and in this imitation of the functions of the blessed spirits in heaven he placeth the essence of the monastic state. In his excellent maxims concerning the gift of holy tears, the fruit of charity, we seem to behold a lively portraiture of his most pure soul. He died in his hermitage on the 30th day of March, in 605, being fourscore years old. His spiritual son, George, who had succeeded him in the abbacy, earnestly begged of God that he might not be separated from his dear master and guide; and followed him by a happy death within a few days. On several Greek commentaries on St. John Climacus's ladder, see Montfaucon, Biblioth. Coisliana, pp. 305, 306.
St. John Climacus, speaking of the excellence and the effects of charity, does it with a feeling and energy worthy of such a subject: "A mother," says he, "feels less pleasure when she folds within her arms the dear infant whom she nourishes with her own milk than the true child of charity does when united as he incessantly is, to his God, and folded as it were in the arms of his heavenly Father.—Charity operates in some persons so as to carry them almost entirely out of themselves. It illuminates others, and fills them with such sentiments of joy, that they cannot help crying out: The Lord is my helper and my protector: in him hath my heart confided, and I have been helped And my flesh hath flourished again, and with my will I will give praise to him. This joy which they feel in their hearts, is reflected on their countenances; and when once God has united, or, as we may say, incorporated them with his charity, he displays in their exterior, as in the reflection of a mirror, the brightness and serenity of their souls: even as Moses, being honored with a sight of God, was encompassed round by his glory." St. John Climacus composed the following prayer to obtain the gift of charity: "My God, I pretend to nothing upon this earth, except to be so firmly united to you by prayer that to be separated from you may be impossible; let others desire riches and glory; for my part, I desire but one thing, and that is, to be inseparably united to you, and to place in you alone all my hopes of happiness and repose."


John 13: 21 - 33, 36 - 38
When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus;
so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom he speaks."
So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, "Lord, who is it?"
Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly."
Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.
Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor.
So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified;
if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.'
Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward."
Peter said to him, "Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."
Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.


(VIS) - Today, during a private audience with Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pope authorised the congregation to promulgate the following decrees: MIRACLES - Blessed Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro, Spanish foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters, Servants of St. Joseph (1837-1905). - Servant of God Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Spanish bishop of Osma (1600-1659). - Servant of God Maria Barbara of the Blessed Trinity (nee Barbara Maix), Austrian foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1818-1873). - Servant of God Anna Maria Adorni, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Handmaidens of Blessed Mary Immaculate and of the Institute of the Good Shepherd of Parma (1805-1893). - Servant of God Mary of the Immaculate Conception (nee Maria Isabella Salvat y Romero), Spanish superior general of the Institute of Sisters of the Company of the Cross (1926-1998). - Servant of God Stephen Nehme (ne Joseph), Lebanese professed religious of the Order of Maronites (1889-1938). MARTYRDOM - Servant of God Szilard Bogdanffy, Romanian bishop of Oradea Mare of the Latins, died in prison in Nagyenyed, Romania (1911-1953). - Servant of God Gerhard Hirschfelder, German diocesan priest, died in Dachau concentration camp (1907-1942). - Servant of God Luigi Grozde, Slovenian layman and member of Catholic Action, killed at Mirna in hatred of the faith (1923-1943). HEROIC VIRTUES - Servant of God Francesco Antonio Marcucci, Italian archbishop-bishop of Montalto (1717-1798). - Servant of God Ivan Franjo Gnidovec, Slovenian bishop of Skopje-Prizren, (1873-1939). - Servant of God Luigi Novarese, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Silent Workers of the Cross (1914-1984). - Servant of God Henriette DeLille, American foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family (1813-1862). - Servant of God Maria Theresia (nee Regina Christine Wilhelmine Bonzel), German foundress of the Institute of Poor Franciscan Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration, of the Third Order of St. Francis (1830-1905). - Servant of God Maria Frances of the Cross (nee Franziska Amalia Streitel), German foundress of the Institute of Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows (1844-1911). - Servant of God Maria Felicia of Sacramental Jesus (nee Maria Felicia Guggiari Echevarria), Paraguayan professed sister of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. (1925-1959).CSS/DECREES/AMATO VIS 100329 (390)
FR. LOMBARDI: CHURCH COMMITMENT AGAINST CHILD ABUSE VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a note released by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., entitled "Vigil of Holy Week". "The question of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic clergy has continued to receive wide coverage in the communications media of many countries, especially in Europe and North America, coverage which has continued over recent days following the publication of the Pope's Letter to the Catholics of Ireland. "This is no surprise. The nature of the question is such as to attract the attention of the media, and the way in which the Church deals with it is crucial for her moral credibility. "The truth is that the cases that have come to public attention generally took place some time ago, even decades ago, although recognising them and making amends with the victims is the best way to restore justice and to achieve that 'purification of memory' which enables us to look to the future with renewed commitment, with humility and trust. "A contribution to this trust comes from the many positive signals emerging from various episcopal conferences, bishops and Catholic institutions in different countries on the various continents: directives for the correct handling and prevention of abuses, which have been reiterated, updated and renewed in Germany, Austria, Australia, Canada etc. "In particular, one piece of good news is the seventh annual report on the application of 'Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People' of the Church in the United States. Without indulging in misplaced congratulations, we cannot but recognise the extraordinary preventative efforts being undertaken, with numerous formational and training courses both for the young people and for pastoral and educational staff. And it must acknowledged that the number of accusations of abuse has dropped by more than 30 percent over the last year, and most of them concerned cases more than thirty years old. Without entering into further details, it must be recognised that the decisive measures currently being implemented are proving effective: the Church in the United States is on the right road to renewal. "This, we feel, is an important piece of news in the context of recent media attacks, which have undoubtedly proved harmful. But an impartial observer will not fail to notice that the authority of the Pope and the intense and coherent commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have not been weakened, rather they have been confirmed in their support and guidance to bishops to combat and root out the blight of abuse wherever it appears. The Pope's recent Letter to the Church in Ireland is powerful testimony of this, and contributes to preparing the future along the path of 'healing, renewal, reparation'. "With humility and trust, in a spirit of penance and hope, the Church now enters Holy Week asking the mercy and grace of the Lord, Who suffered and died for all".OP/NOTE CLERGY ABUSE/LOMBARDI VIS 100329 (510)
TO BE CHRISTIAN MEANS TO WALK WITH CHRIST VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Young people from all over the world this morning participated in the Palm Sunday Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square. Today also marks 25th World Youth Day, celebrated this year at a diocesan level on the theme : "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Before Mass, Benedict XVI blessed the palms and olive branches by the obelisk in the square then led the procession to the altar. In his homily the Holy Father explained that "to be Christian means to believe that the way of Jesus Christ is the right way to be human, the way that leads to the goal of a completely fulfilled and authentic humanity". Addressing himself in particular to the young he said that "to be Christian is a way, or rather it is a pilgrimage, a journey with Jesus Christ. It is to go in the direction He showed us, and continues to show us. "But", the Pope added, "what direction is that? How can we find it?". The Gospel, he said, "offers us two clues. In the first place it says that it is an ascent. ... Jesus walks before us, He climbs towards the heights. He leads us to what is great and pure, He leads us to the healthy air of the heights, to a life lived according to truth, to the courage that does not allow itself to be intimidated by the chatter of dominant opinion, to the patience that bears with and sustains others". Benedict XVI went on: "In the breadth of Jesus' ascent the dimensions of our own discipleship, the goal to which He wishes to lead us, become apparent: the heights of God, communion with God, being-with-God. This is the true goal, and communion with Him is the way. Communion with Christ is a journey, a permanent ascent towards the heights of our calling. To walk with Christ is at the same time to journey in the 'us' of those who want to follow Him". "We are then, so to say, on the same 'expedition' as Jesus Christ, we are with Him in the climb to the heights of God. He pulls us up and supports us. Part of the discipleship of Christ is allowing ourselves to join this expedition, to accept that we cannot manage alone". "Being together on expedition also involves not behaving as masters of the Word of God, not chasing after an erroneous idea of emancipation. The humility of 'being-with' is an essential part of the ascent", said Benedict XVI. "Another aspect thereof is allowing the Lord, in the Sacraments, to take us by the hand; allowing ourselves to be purified and corroborated by Him, and accepting the discipline of the ascent even if we are tired". "And part of the ascent to the heights of Jesus Christ, the ascent to the heights of God Himself, is the Cross. Just as in the things of this world we cannot achieve great results without sacrifice and hard work, just as joy for a great academic discovery or for an authentic practical skill is associated with discipline and with the effort of learning, so too the way to life itself, to fulfilling our humanity, is linked to communion with the One Who climbed to the heights of God through the Cross. In the final instance, the Cross is the expression of what love means: only he who loses himself can find himself". The Holy Father went on: "Our pilgrimage as disciples of Christ does not, then, lead to some earthly city, but towards the new City of God which arises in the midst of this world. And yet the pilgrimage to the earthly Jerusalem can also be, for us as Christians, a useful element for that greater journey". Recalling the greeting uttered by pilgrims as they enter the Holy City - "peace on earth and glory in the highest" - Benedict XVI concluded by asking the Lord "to bring us heaven: the glory of God and peace among men. We understand that greeting in the spirit of the request contained in the Lord's prayer: 'your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. We know that heaven is heaven, a place of glory and peace because there the will of God has complete reign. And we know the earth will not be heaven until the will of God is accomplished here".HML/PALM SUNDAY/... VIS 100329 (760)
ANGELUS: 25 YEARS SINCE FOUNDATION OF WORLD YOUTH DAYS VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's solemn Eucharistic celebration for Palm Sunday, the Pope prayed the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer the Pope recalled how in 1985, to coincide with the International Year for Young People called by the United Nations, John Paul II had instituted the World Youth Days, which are celebrated every year on Palm Sunday with an additional international gathering of young people every three years. "Twenty-five year ago my beloved predecessor invited young people to profess their faith in Christ", said Benedict XVI. "Today I renew this appeal to the new generations to bear witness, with the mild but luminous power of truth, that the men and women of the third millennium may not lack their most authentic model: Jesus Christ". After the Angelus prayer, the Pope addressed some remarks to young people: "Do not be afraid when following Christ leads to misunderstandings and affronts. Serve Him in the weakest and most disadvantaged people, especially your own peers in difficulties. In this contest, I wish to give assurances of my special prayers for World Autism Awareness Day, promoted by the UN, which falls on 2 April". The Holy Father then turned his attention to Jerusalem, "where the Paschal Mystery was fulfilled", saying: "I am deeply pained by the recent clashes and the tension that has again arisen in that city, which is the homeland of Christians, Jews and Muslims, a prophecy and promise of the universal reconciliation God desires for the entire human family. "Peace", he added in conclusion, "is a gift that God entrusts to human responsibility, to be cultivated through dialogue, respect for the rights of all, reconciliation and forgiveness. Let us pray, then, that those responsible for the fate of Jerusalem may courageously start down the road of peace and follow it with perseverance".ANG/WYD JERUSALEM/... VIS 100329 (330)
AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. - Cardinal Julian Herranz, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. - Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, rector of Rome's Pontifical Lateran University and president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. On Saturday 27 March he received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. - Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. - Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops. - Marius Gabriel Lazurca, ambassador of Romania, accompanied by his wife on a farewell visit.AP/.../... VIS 100329 (140)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Accepted the resignation from the archdiocese of Aix, France, presented by Archbishop Claude Feidt, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Christophe Dufour. - Appointed Bishop John 'Oke Afareha, auxiliary of Warri, Nigeria, as bishop of the same diocese (area 10,650, population 3,308,246, Catholics 217,894, priests 93, religious 72). - Appointed Fr. Jean Marie Vu Tat of the clergy of Hung Hoa, Vietnam, vice rector of the major seminary of Hanoi, Vietnam, as auxiliary of Hung Hoa (area 54,352, population 6,963,632, Catholics 222,647, priests 54, religious 191). The bishop-elect was born in Di Nau, Vietnam in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1987. On Saturday 27 March it was made public that he: - Appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, as pontifical legate to the tenth National Eucharistic Congress, due to be held in Toledo, Spain, from 27 to 30 May. - Appointed Archbishop Petar Rajic, apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, and apostolic delegate to the Arabian Peninsula, also as apostolic nuncio to Yemen. - Appointed Fr. Raymond Ahoua F.D.P., head of formation of seminarians for the Franciscans of Divine Providence, formerly a missionary in Kenya, as bishop of Grand-Bassam (area 8,354, population 1,650,250, Catholics 294,273, priests 114, religious 75), Ivory Coast. The bishop-elect was born in Bonoua, Ivory Coast in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1990. He succeeds Bishop Paul Dacoury-Tabley, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.RE:NEA:NA:NN:NER/.../... VIS 100329 (280)
CNA report: Eighty percent of religious sites in the Chilean regions hit by last month's earthquake are in desperate need of repair, according to a report prepared by the Office of Statistics for the bishops' conference of Chile. The prelates note that some $260 million will be needed for reconstruction efforts.
Twelve of the country’s 27 dioceses were affected by the earthquake, with 545 religious facilities reporting damage, 440 of which are churches.
The statistics indicate that nearly one million Chilean Catholics are currently unable to attend their regular parishes. For this reason, pastors and parish assistants have made extra efforts to ensure the continuity of liturgical services and pastoral ministry.
Due to the severity of the damage, the executive committee of the bishops' conference has established a Reconstruction Support Commission to collaborate with the prelates on restoration efforts across the country.
CNA report: The Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and the Latin Catholic Archbishop of Moscow have reacted to the Moscow Metro bombings with bewilderment and pain. Catholic Mass attendees missed the attacks by “a matter of minutes.”
Several dozen people were killed and more than 100 injured in the attacks, reportedly carried out by two female suicide bombers. Chechen rebels are suspected.
The first attack struck a station near the headquarters of the F.S.B., the security agency which succeeded the Soviet-era K.G.B. According to the New York Times, officials suspect that attack was intended as a message to the security services which helped lead the crackdown on Islamic extremism in Chechnya and other parts of the Caucasus region.
Moscow’s mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov said the attacks came when there would be “the maximum number of victims.”
Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow told SIR News that the bombs went off when Mass was being celebrated in two churches near the bombed areas. The archdiocese had feared the faithful were among the victims.
“Luckily though, we found everyone was there, it was a matter of minutes.”
Archbishop Pezzi said any further comments on the attack would be “uncalled for.”
He said “bewilderment” is strong because the attacks hit “innocent, simple people.”
The archbishop said the Catholic churches of Moscow and St. Petersburg will pray for the victims and for the good of the city and its residents, especially at the upcoming Chrism Mass.
Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia issued a statement saying his heart “pains” over the terrorist acts.
“I am praying for the rest of the victims’ souls, for consolation of their near and dear, and for the soonest recovery of the wounded. I beseech the Lord to help the rescuers, medical workers, and all who are trying to alleviate the consequences. I have instructed clergymen to visit the injured persons in hospitals.”
The attack is not the first in Russia in recent months, he noted.
“We see clearly that peril is lying in wait for all of us at any minute,” Patriarch Kirill continued. “However, we should not respond to it by fear, panic, or animosity. Let our response be the unity of our people, their strong will to stop the terrorists and those who support, finance, or justify them. God’s retribution will come to them. I believe that human justice will not be a long time coming, too.”
Asia News report: Rescuers try to drain flooded mineshafts to reach miners trapped for the past two days who could die from lack of oxygen or poisonous gases. The mine in question is presented as a first-class model of safety and efficiency. China leads the world in mining deaths. Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Rescuers have not yet reached 153 coal miners trapped two days ago in a flooded shaft in state-owned Wangjialing mine, Xiangning County, in Shanxi province. About a thousand rescue workers are working around the clock to pump out the water that rushed in on Sunday evening. There is no certainty that anyone is still alive and rescue operation officials believe it will take days to explore the various mineshafts, which extend for several kilometres.
The miners’ “situation until now is still unknown so that is making everyone very worried,” Liu Dezheng, a chief engineer with the Work Safety Bureau in Shanxi province, told the South China Morning Post.
The flood may have started on Sunday afternoon when workers dug into a network of old, water-filled shafts. According to the State Work Safety Administration, 261 workers were inside the mine when it flooded, and 108 were able to escape or were rescued.
State television said the workers were trapped in nine different locations in the mine, which filled up with 140,000 cubic metres of water. Unless they are taken out soon, they could die from the lack of oxygen or from hunger. Gases from abandoned shafts could have also flowed into the mine, bringing new dangers such as explosions or poisoning.
Most of those trapped in the shaft are migrant workers from Shanxi, Hebei, Hunan and Guizhou provinces. Dozens of their frustrated relatives, including women carrying small children, gathered near the mine office, demanding rescuers pick up the pace. A few amid the crowd shouted at police who were trying to keep them from rushing into the office.
“We just received one phone call from” the miners, miner Li Jianhong said, “and after that there was no more contact.”
Experts blame the mine administration for the disaster, noting that Shanxi has many old mines, extending over large areas, which are dangerous to operate.
China’s mining industry is the world's deadliest. Accidents killed “only” 2,631 coal miners last year, fewer than half the 6,995 deaths in 2002. However, many analysts doubt that the figures reflect reality, believing instead that many deaths simply go unreported.
Beijing has tried for many years to improve mine safety through awareness campaigns and by shutting down smaller mines whose owners try to impose unsafe working conditions on miners.
Despite these efforts, deadly mining accidents involving hundreds of miners are still commonplace, even in state-owned mines like the Wangjialing mine, presented as a first-class model of safety and efficiency on the company’s website. On average, it produces six million tonnes of coal a year.
Coal meets about 70 per cent of China’s energy needs and is increasingly in demand.
Earlier this month, rescue efforts for 31 miners trapped when a coalmine flooded in the Inner Mongolia region of China were halted after two weeks when no sign of life was found.
Also this month, 25 miners died in a coalmine fire in Henan province.
In November, 108 miners were killed when an explosion ripped through a coalmine belonging to another state-owned firm in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.
CISA report -A new Catholic University has been opened in Wau Diocese, about 150km from Rumbek. The University, headed by Fr Solomon Ewot AJ is going to offer among others, Agriculture, Research and Extension Programmes as a way to improve agricultural productivity and to develop rural communities. The new university, under the management of the Society of Jesus (SJ) opened with the agreement of the Minister of Education Science and Technology of the government of Southern Sudan in September 2008. The University has a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences based in Juba, while in Wau is the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Comboni College in Khartoum has the Faculty of Computer Sciences. Wau is a fast growing town with many investors and development projects building up. The facilities for the programme for the University sustained serious damage during the war and many buildings are without roofs and are in need of major repair. The new University has many challenges facing it including a shortage of qualified staff as well as the acquisition of equipment in addition to funding. Fr Michael Schutthe SJ is responsible for the development of the University. He is an experienced founder of Universities in Africa. He was in-charge founding of the Dar-es-Salaam University, the University of Maputo, Catholic University of Lusaka – Zambia and Accra – Ghana.
Cath News report: Australia's first papal ambassador to the Vatican City, Tim Fischer, made it to the Albury Gold Cup in NSW on Friday as part of a flying visit home. Part of his busy agenda on the job, he said, was related to Mary MacKillop's canonisation.
"It is hectic, far busier than I might have expected," he told The Border Mail.
"And of course we are expecting several thousand Australians in Rome for the canonisation of Mary Mackillop on October 17.
"She has close ties to the Border, having been barred from the Olive Street convent in 1881 at the end of a 16-hour train ride from Sydney.
"She ended up staying in a shanty pub in Wodonga before catching the train to Melbourne the next morning."
Mr Fischer, almost halfway into the three-year posting, said he was still adjusting to the Italian lifestyle.
Mr Fischer expects a busy week with Australians heading to Rome for Easter and has a warning for tourists.
"If Albury-Wodonga-ites are coming to the canonisation keep your eyes on your wallet and passport," Mr Fischer said.
"The main train from the airport to the Rome terminal is known as the pick pockets' express - so take care with your passports."

Sts. Barachisius and Jonas
Feast: March 29
Feast Day:
March 29
24 December 327

They were monks at a monastery in Perisa (modern Iran) and were arrested during the persecution conducted by Sassanid King Shapur II (r. 309-379). Barachisius and Jonas were giving spiritual support to other martyrs when they were taken into custody. Refusing to abjure the faith, Jonas was crushed to death, and his body cut to pieces. Barachisius had brimstone and boiling pitch poured down his throat. SOURCE:

John 12: 1 - 11
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz'arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Laz'arus was one of those at table with him.
Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said,
"Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"
This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.
Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial.
The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Laz'arus, whom he had raised from the dead.
So the chief priests planned to put Laz'arus also to death,
because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Sunday, March 28, 2010



Asia News report:
Benedict XVI invites the young people of World Youth Day to follow Jesus and discover "the heights" of humanity, accepting the gift of communion with Him and with the Church, without "conceit", bringing His peace to the world. A call to make pilgrimages to the Holy Land. At the Angelus a mandate to young people and a prayer for Jerusalem and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Blessed is he who comes, the king, in the name of the Lord": This acclamation of the faithful as Jesus enters Jerusalem, remembered on Palm Sunday, "is an expression of deep grief and, at the same time, and prayer of hope: He that comes in the name of the Lord brings upon the earth that which is in heaven. His kingship becomes the kingship of God, the presence of heaven on earth. "
With this invitation to follow Jesus, asking Him to "bring us heaven: the glory of God and peace to mankind," because "there is no peace on earth ', Benedict XVI ended his masterful homily marking Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, celebrated this morning in St Peter's Square. Along with tens of thousands of young people of the diocese of Rome, he also marked the 25th World Youth Day.
The Pope's speech took its cue primarily from the gospel of the blessing of the Palms, which in the liturgy precedes the entrance (the Gospel of the Mass is instead the story of the Passion).
The pope wanted to first comment on the fact that "Jesus was walking in front of everyone going up to Jerusalem" (Luke 19:28). "Being a Christian - said the pope - is a journey, or rather, a pilgrimage, a walk with Jesus Christ. A move in that direction that he has shown us and shows us.
This journey is an ascent, not only geographically (Jesus walked from Jericho to Jerusalem, with an ascent of almost 1000 meters), but "an ascent to the true height of being human. Man can choose a convenient way and avoiding any hardships. He can also descend, into the vulgar. He can sink into the morass of lies and dishonesty. Jesus walks ahead of us, and go upwards. He leads us towards what is great, pure, he leads us to the healthy air of the heights: towards life in truth, towards the courage not to be disturbed by the chatter of prevailing opinions; towards the patience that endures and supports' others. He leads us towards openness to the suffering, the abandoned, towards the loyalty that is on the side of the other even when the situation becomes difficult. He leads us to a willingness to bring help, towards a goodness that can not be disarmed not even by ingratitude. He leads us to love – he leads us to God. "
Benedict XVI explains then the symbol of Jerusalem "the city where the Temple of God stood, whose uniqueness alluded to the uniqueness of God himself. This site therefore primarily announces two things: on one hand it says that God is one in the world, who vastly exceeds all our places and times; He is the God to which all of creation belongs".
The second aspect is the fact that Jesus goes to the sacrifice of the Passover in which "he himself [is] the Lamb", "Jesus knows that his path will go further: it will not end on the cross. He knows that his path will tear away the veil between this world and the world of God that He will ascend to the throne of God to reconcile God and man in his body .... His path leads beyond the top of the Temple Mount to the heights of God himself: this is the great ascent to which he invites all of us. He is always with us on earth and is always already at the side of God, He guides us on earth and beyond earth ".
Walking with Jesus also means "a journey into the "us" of those who want to follow Him. It introduces us into this community. But because the journey to real life, to becoming men and women conformed to the model of the Son of God Jesus Christ is beyond our own strength, this walk is always also a being brought. We are, so to speak, bound by rope to Jesus Christ - with him in the ascent to the heights of God he draws us and sustains us. It is part of following Christ that we allow ourselves to be incorporated into this bond, we accept we can not do make it alone. It is part of this act of humility, to enter into the "we" of the Church, clinging to the rope, the responsibility of the community - not to tear the rope with the obstinacy and conceit. The humble believing with the Church, just like being bound by the rope in the ascent towards God, is an essential condition of discipleship. This being bound together by rope also entails not behaving like masters of the Word of God, not chasing after the wrong idea of emancipation. Humility of 'being-with "is essential to the ascent. Another part of it is that in the Sacraments we allow the Lord once again to take our hand; we let Him purify and invigorate us, we accept the discipline of the ascent, even though we are tired. "
"The cross is part of the ascent to the heights of Jesus Christ - adds the Pope – from the ascent until the height of God himself. As in the affairs of this world great results cannot be achieved without renunciation and hardships ... so the path to life itself, toward the realization of one's humanity is tied to communion with Him who rose up to God through the Cross. Ultimately, the Cross is an expression of what love means: only he who loses himself, finds himself ".
As if to draw conclusions about "pilgrimage" and "discipleship", Benedict XVI clarifies: "Our pilgrimage to follow Christ does not travel towards an earthly city, but the new City of God that is growing in the midst of this world."
To confirm this, the pope recalled his pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year and indeed, he almost seems to invite everyone to undertake one: "The pilgrimage to the earthly Jerusalem ... may be, particularly for we Christians a useful element for that far greater journey. I myself linked three meanings to my pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year. First I thought it could happen to us on this occasion what St. John says at the beginning of his First Letter: What we heard, we can, in some ways, see and touch with our hands (cf. 1 Jn 1:1 ). Faith in Jesus Christ is not an invention of legend. It is based on a story that really happened. This story we can, so to speak, contemplate and touch. It is moving to be close in Nazareth to where the angel appeared to Mary and transmitted to her the task of becoming the Mother of the Redeemer. It is moving to be in Bethlehem at the place where the Word made flesh, came to live among us, put our foot on holy ground where God chose to become man and child. It is moving to climb the steps to Calvary to the place where Jesus died for us on the Cross. And finally stand before the empty tomb, pray where his holy body was placed and where on the third day the resurrection took place. Following the exterior paths of Jesus must help us to walk with greater joy and with a new inner certainty about the path that He has shown us and that is himself. " And he adds: "When we go to the Holy Land as pilgrims, we also go - and this is the second aspect - as messengers of peace, with prayers for peace, with an invitation to everyone to there, whose name includes the word 'peace', everything possible to ensure it can really become a place of peace. So the pilgrimage is at the same time - as the third aspect - an encouragement to Christians to stay in the country of their origins and to engage intensively in it for peace. "
Hence the invitation to pray "in the spirit of the request of the Our Father, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!'. We know that heaven is heaven, a place of glory and peace, for there God's will reigns fully. And we know that earth is not heaven as long as God’s will is not realised on it. Let us therefore welcome Jesus who comes from heaven and pray to Him to help us know and carry out the will of God. That the kingship of God is manifested in the world and so it may be filled with the radiance of peace. Amen”.
During the Angelus, at the end of Mass, Benedict XVI recalled the 25 years of World Youth Day, established by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
"Today - added the pope - I renew that call for this generation, to give testimony with the gentle power and light of truth, so that men and women of the third millennium will not lack the most authentic model: Jesus Christ. I hand this mandate in particular to the 300 delegates International Youth Forum, who came from all over the world, convened by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. "
At the time of the greetings he again emphasized his concern for Jerusalem: "At this moment, our thoughts and our hearts are directed especially to Jerusalem, where the paschal mystery is accomplished. I am deeply saddened by the recent conflict and the tensions that have occurred again in that city, which is spiritual home to Christians, Jews and Muslims, a prophecy and promise of the universal reconciliation that God desires for the whole human family. Peace is a gift that God entrusts to human responsibility, to cultivate it through dialogue and respect for the rights of all, reconciliation and forgiveness. Pray then, so those responsible for the fate of Jerusalem engage with courage on the path of peace and follow it with perseverance. ",-Jesus-is-the-king-who-brings-heaven’s-peace-to-earth-18003.html


All Africa report: The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) killed at least 321 civilians and abducted 250 others, including at least 80 children, during a previously unreported four-day rampage in the Makombo area of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in December 2009, Human Rights "The Makombo massacre is one of the worst ever committed by the LRA in its bloody 23-year history, yet it has gone unreported for months," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The four-day rampage demonstrates that the LRA remains a serious threat to civilians and is not a spent force, as the Ugandan and Congolese governments claim."
The 67-page report, "Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo," is the first detailed documentation of the Makombo massacre and other atrocities by the LRA in Congo in 2009 and early 2010. The report, based on a Human Rights Watch fact-finding mission to the massacre area in February, documents the brutal killings during the well-planned LRA attack from December 14 to 17 in the remote Makombo area of Haute Uele district.
LRA forces attacked at least 10 villages, capturing, killing, and abducting hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The vast majority of those killed were adult men, whom LRA combatants first tied up and then hacked to death with machetes or crushed their skulls with axes and heavy wooden sticks. The dead include at least 13 women and 23 children, the youngest a 3-year-old girl who was burned to death. LRA combatants tied some of the victims to trees before crushing their skulls with axes.
The LRA also killed those they abducted who walked too slowly or tried to escape. Family members and local authorities later found bodies all along the LRA's 105-kilometer journey through the Makombo area and the small town of Tapili. Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that for days and weeks after the attack, this vast area was filled with the "stench of death."
Children and adults who managed to escape provided similar accounts of the group's extreme brutality. Many of the children captured by the LRA were forced to kill other children who had disobeyed the LRA's rules. In numerous cases documented by Human Rights Watch, children were ordered to surround the victim in a circle and take turns beating the child on the head with a large wooden stick until the child died.
The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Congo (MONUC) has some 1,000 peacekeeping troops in the LRA-affected areas of northeastern Congo - far too few to protect the population adequately, given the area's size. Yet instead of sending more troops, the peacekeeping force, under pressure from the Congolese government to withdraw from the country by July 2011, is considering removing some troops from the northeast by June in the first phase of its drawdown.
"The people of northeastern Congo are in desperate need of more protection, not less," said Van Woudenberg. "The UN Security Council should stop any drawdown of MONUC peacekeeping troops from areas where the LRA threatens to kill and abduct civilians."
In mid-April, the Security Council is due to visit Congo to discuss the peacekeeping force's plans for withdrawal and the protection of civilians.
The Makombo massacre is part of a longstanding history of atrocities and abuse by the LRA in Uganda, southern Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Congo. Pushed out of northern Uganda in 2005, the LRA now operates in the remote border area between southern Sudan, Congo, and CAR. In July 2005, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for the senior leaders of the LRA for crimes they committed in northern Uganda, but those indicted remain at large.
The Human Rights Watch research indicated that the Makombo massacre was perpetrated by two LRA commanders - Lt. Col. Binansio Okumu (also known as Binany) and a commander known as Obol. They report to Gen. Dominic Ongwen, a senior LRA leader who is believed to command the LRA's forces in Congo and who is among those sought by the International Criminal Court. Human Rights Watch urged investigations of these commanders' alleged participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In December 2008, the governments of the region, led by the Ugandan armed forces, with intelligence and logistical support from the United States, began a military campaign known as Operation Lightning Thunder against the LRA in northeastern Congo. A surprise aerial strike on the main LRA camp failed to neutralize the LRA leadership, which escaped. In retaliation, the LRA attacked villages and towns in northern Congo and southern Sudan, killing more than 865 civilians during the Christmas 2008 holiday season and in the weeks thereafter.
On March 15, 2009, Operation Lightning Thunder officially ended, following pressure from the Congolese government, which found it politically difficult to support a continued Ugandan army presence on Congolese territory. But a covert joint military campaign continued, with the quiet approval of the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila. Both governments publicly maintain that the LRA is no longer a serious threat in Congo and that the bulk of the rebel group has either moved to Central African Republic or has been killed or dispersed.
These public declarations might have contributed to burying information about ongoing LRA attacks, leaving many victims feeling abandoned. An 80-year-old traditional chief, whose son was killed during the Makombo massacre, told Human Rights Watch: "We have been forgotten. It's as if we don't exist. The government says the LRA are no longer a problem, but I know that's not true. I beg of you, please talk to others about what has happened to us."
While the Makombo massacre is the most deadly documented attack by the LRA since the Christmas massacres of 2008, dozens of attacks against civilians have also been carried out in other areas in recent months - near the towns of Bangadi and Ngilima in Haut Uele district, in Ango territory in Bas Uele district, as well as in the Central African Republic.
In the December 2009 attacks near Bangadi and Ngilima, LRA combatants horribly mutilated six civilians, cutting off each victim's lips and an ear with a razor. The LRA sent the victims back to their villages with a chilling warning to others that anyone who heard or spoke about the LRA would be similarly punished.
On March 11, 2010, the US Senate unanimously passed the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. If it becomes law, it will require President Barack Obama's administration to develop a regional strategy to protect civilians in central Africa from attacks by the LRA, to work to apprehend the LRA's leadership, and to support economic recovery for northern Uganda. The bill is currently before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"The people of northeastern Congo and other LRA-affected areas have suffered for far too long," said Van Woudenberg. "The US and other concerned governments should work with the UN and regional parties to develop and carry out a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians and apprehend abusive LRA leaders."


Arizona Senator John McCain has teamed up once again with former presidential running mate Sarah Palin in a bid to salvage his faltering political career. McCain has come under deep criticism from fellow conservatives for working with Democrats on controversial measures.

While Sarah Palin and John Mcain lost the 2008 presidential election, Palin benefitted from the exposure, becoming what many say a "conservative rock star." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – McCain chose Palin, a one-term governor of Alaska to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. While the two ultimately suffered defeat in the election, Palin benefitted from the exposure, becoming what many said as a "conservative rock star." She remains a very vocal opponent to President Obama's many policies and has been tapped to appear on her own TV series, "Sarah Palin's Alaska" on the Discovery Channel.
McCain has diminished in the eyes of many conservative politicians and is facing the toughest re-election campaign of his Senate career. Opponents point to McCain's congressional record, including his work with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on a bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Others claim that he's far too moderate for many Arizona Republicans, such as his work with Democrats on issues such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and restricting campaign donations.
McCain has since secured the endorsements of key conservative "tea party" figures such as the recently elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and Palin.
Palin will appear with McCain at rallies in Tucson and in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa this weekend. They plan to hold a fund-raiser at the same Phoenix hotel where they conceded the presidential election on Nov. 4, 2008.


Asia News report: Conditions of unemployment in the slums lead to violence against women at the hands of their husbands. Through job training and spiritual help a group of Dominican sisters from Davo offers an alternative to these women by helping them build and sell products made from recycled material and regain the respect of their husbands and sons.
Manila (AsiaNews) - In the slums of Davao City (Mindanao), 120 women have regained their dignity from handiwork made from rags: pillows, curtains and photo albums. This thanks to a group of Dominican nuns and Catholic volunteers of the Association for Awareness and Defence of Women (Asawa). The purpose of the organization is to protect women and children from family violence, making them self-sufficient.
Alice Doler, one of 120 women, says: "Becoming an Asawa member gave me a sense of dignity and made me different in the eyes of my family." Alice is the mother of 6 children and for years her family survived on the salary of her husband, a professional driver. After he was made unemployed the woman was subjected to abuse by her husband and also by her older children. "Before starting my work – she adds - my husband's salary was all we had to live on." Selling her products, the woman now earns about 6 euros hours a day, and together with her spouses salary is able to send their children to school.
"In the Philippines women and men have equal rights – says Sister Annabella V. del Castillo, a Dominican nun and director of Asawa - but this does not happen in poor families, where women suffer terrible violence by men". The religious has headed the organization since 2005 and has developed job training courses in recent years along with three sisters and 12 volunteers, offering psychological and spiritual support programs that help women, often little more than girls, to be self-sufficient and contribute to the upkeep of their family. Asawa, in addition to teaching these women helps in the sale of products, to manage household expenses and take care of younger children.
Sister Annabella says: "With our apostolate we want to help a small proportion of poor and unfortunate women of our society through the development of their people and communities." The nun adds that "thanks to the program, they experience the compassion and love of God and through faith in the Lord will be able to overcome the difficulties ahead."


Catholic Herald report:
In her latest film, Lourdes, Austrian film director Jessica Hausner paints the world as a place in which human beings grasp at scraps of meaning and hope.The film, which opens in cinemas in time for Palm Sunday, is a distinctly secular take on the Marian shrine. The lead character, Christine, played by Sylvie Testud, suffers from multiple sclerosis and in a wheelchair. She travels to Lourdes with an Order of Malta pilgrimage. Here we are privy to much suffering: Christine is not particularly religious, we learn, and primarily goes on pilgrimages in order to travel. She appears to be miraculously cured and can walk. The other characters are in turn perplexed, annoyed, infuriated and ambivalent about the miracle. The girl has to get the miracle authenticated. As one character asks, why has God chosen her and not someone else? Hausner's first experience of Lourdes came after she decided that she wanted to make a film about a miracle, "knowing that it was not the phenomenon of miracles I was interested in but the metaphor; what a miracle stands for. Human hope is this essential wish to escape from an unsatisfying situation."She adds: "I started my research and then I found Lourdes. I was really interested to learn that such a place existed, where people could come and be cured. It was like a fairytale."In her lilting Austrian accent she explains that she was shocked when she first visited Lourdes, because she had never come across so many sick people with awful illnesses, the palpable presence of death and the very strong hope of the pilgrims. It depressed her. "The people come there to find comfort whether it is physical healing or spiritual healing, whether it is psychological comfort or spiritual comfort. "They seek something that also shows how desperate they are. I was shocked because I found it depressing. I found that maybe they shouldn't hope so much and maybe they should try to make the best of it and maybe not put their trust in God because God does what he wants; and so I felt very pitiful for the people who go there hoping for so much."Like most Austrians, Hausner had a Catholic upbringing, attending a Catholic school even while her parents were not religious. A youthful 37-year-old, Hausner is a slim glamorous blond who challenges the stereotype of the old balding male director in baseball cap.She says: "When I grew up I very much thought that I cannot believe that God exists, because [His existence] is not very obvious. I thought that injustice and the bad things in the world were too strong for me to be able to believe in God. I think this is very typical of people who grow up. They lose their childish faith and as an adult it is something completely different to believe."Throughout the film, the crisp black, red and white uniforms of the Order of Malta offer a structured contrast to the sick pilgrims' clothes. The members of the Order offer a sub-plot, with the flirtations and frustrations of young people who are on the pilgrimage for a variety of reasons. Hausner says that she came across the Order while she was doing her research for the film. They were friendly, and she was invited to take part in a pilgrimage with them, which she says was an interesting experience for her because after her first visit to the shrine she was "a bit worried if this would be a film I could make at all because it was horrifying". The Order of Malta pilgrimage to Lourdes - often peopled with well-to-do youngsters - gave Hausner a glimpse of a separate society with its own rules, where people had their own lives."It made a strong contrast to the sick people because the people from the Order of Malta are wealthy," says Hausner. "They do this kind of charity work out of goodwill or education or social tradition, and this made an interesting contrast. It helped me to be able to draw a portrait of the society of lucky ones, and the ones who are not lucky."Hausner's characters are often in two minds about their faith. Is Hausner criticising religious people who seek to give answers? She says that no one knows the answers and the film is not about saying that those "who believe lie to themselves". "I think I offer another point of view which says that any kind of explanation or interpretation you try to find for what is happening in life will be half-hearted," she explains."There is a kind of mystery and non-understanding of why things happen in the way they do, and maybe there is no explanation and it is very human to try and find one. Everyone has this longing to explain and also to foresee. You want to know what is awaiting you and you will never know. Death will come and you will see what happens." ***Ambiguity and ambivalence are strong parts of Hausner's film. She says that the film sets out to show "the ambivalence of a miracle" where people have their wishes and longings but are subjected to "the ambiguity of fate". She says: "There is no such promise to be kept. You might be a good person but you might not achieve what you are longing for. There is no justice."During her research trips to Lourdes she was looking for different characters to show various perspectives and to be part of the ambiguity. "Each of them has a different point of view and expresses another aspect of what is happening. And still you find out that no one's right, that no one has the right answer for it but there is no one who finds a satisfying answer. This is what the film is really about. "Yes, it's possible that something truly miraculous is happening. But what next? What does this miracle tell us? Does it give us any hints or clues about what to expect next? And the ending of the film is this consciousness of decay. That even if you find your happiness you might not be able to keep it."In a previous interview Hausner said she disliked the fact the Church was "selling salvation". What did she mean by that? "The fact that in our society, and it's not only the Catholic Church, it's also in non-religious society, everything is oriented towards a sort of improvement," Hausner replies. "You always want to get it better than you have it and there is a strange dream behind that you can always have it better than the others, or more than the others, or a fulfilment of what you are longing for."Hausner cites the television shows, which offer makeovers and cosmetic surgery to women, as an example of this phenomenon and goes on to say the Church is guilty of this too. But the Church, she says, has a very strong influence on society "because it has been for so long the strongest ideology which says that one day you will be saved".For Hausner, the idea that Jesus came to save us is something "that always postpones things to a later time" and she doesn't like it. "I would prefer to accept that there is a strange, unsatisfying half-heartedness in life that you will have to accept now," she says.


Cath News report: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has told a Melbourne gay radio station he regrets his choice of words about feeling "a bit threatened" by homosexuals, adding that he would like to see same-sex relationships "celebrated, acknowledged and recognised".
"Yeah, look it was a poor choice of words," he said about the remarks made on television, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"Look, I think blokes of my generation and upbringing do sometimes find these things a bit confronting," he said on the Joy-FM radio station.
Asked if he would support a federal relationships recognition act for same-sex couples, Mr Abbott appeared to be sympathetic to the idea.
"I would like to see a way for gay relationships to be celebrated, acknowledged and recognised, but precisely how that is best done I think needs to be discussed widely," he said.
Mr Abbott said he was "happy to look at" civil union and domestic partner relationships in other countries.
He stopped short of endorsing gay marriage, describing matrimony as a between a man and a woman.
On air, Mr Abbott was quizzed in a wide-ranging and lengthy interview on gay adoption, gay marriage, discrimination laws and homophobia, ABC reports.


Pope St. Sixtus III
Feast: March 28
Feast Day:
March 28
18 August 440 in Rome, Italy

Consecrated 31 July, 432; d. 440. Previous to his accession he was prominent among the Roman clergy and in correspondence with St. Augustine. He reigned during the Nestorian and Pelagian controversies, and it was probably owing to his conciliatory disposition that he was falsely accused of leanings towards these heresies. As pope he approved the Acts of the Council of Ephesus and endeavoured to restore peace between Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch. In the Pelagian controversy he frustrated the attempt of Julian of Eclanum to be readmitted to communion with the Catholic Church. He defended the pope's right of supremacy over Illyricum against the local bishops and the ambitious designs of Proclus of Constantinople. At Rome he restored the Basilica of Liberius, now known as St. Mary Major, enlarged the Basilica of St. Lawrence-Without-the-Walls, and obtained precious gifts from the Emperor Valentinian III for St. Peter's and the Lateran Basilica. The work which asserts that the consul Bassus accused him of crime is a forgery. He is the author of eight letters (in P.L., L, 583 sqq.), but he did not write the works "On Riches", "On False Teachers", and "On Chastity" ("De divitiis", "De malis doctoribus", "De castitate") attributed to him. His feast is kept on 28 March. SOURCE:


Matthew 21: 1 - 11
And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth'phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.
If any one says anything to you, you shall say, `The Lord has need of them,' and he will send them immediately."
This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
"Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass."
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon.
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?"
And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee."

Isaiah 50: 4 - 7
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;

Psalms 22: 8 - 9, 17 - 20, 23 - 24
"He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
Yet thou art he who took me from the womb; thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts.
I can count all my bones -- they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.
But thou, O LORD, be not far off! O thou my help, hasten to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
You who fear the LORD, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

Philippians 2: 6 - 11
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 27: 11 - 54
Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You have said so."
But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?"
But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted.
And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barab'bas.
So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Barab'bas or Jesus who is called Christ?"
For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.
Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream."
Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barab'bas and destroy Jesus.
The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barab'bas."
Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified."
And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified."
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves."
And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!"
Then he released for them Barab'bas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.
And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him,
and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyre'ne, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.
And when they came to a place called Gol'gotha (which means the place of a skull),
they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.
And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews."
Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads
and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross."
So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,
"He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, `I am the Son of God.'"
And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Eli'jah."
And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink.
But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Eli'jah will come to save him."
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split;
the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,
and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"