Tuesday, January 26, 2010



(VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during the general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall, to St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226), a "true 'giant' of sanctity who continues to enthral many people of all ages and religious beliefs". Francis, the Pope explained, was born into a rich family and passed a carefree youth. At the age of twenty he took part in a military campaign and was taken prisoner. On his return to Assisi he began a process of spiritual conversion that gradually led him to abandon worldly life. In the hermitage of St. Damian, Francis had a vision of Christ, Who spoke to him from the crucifix inviting him to repair His Church. This call "contains a profound symbolism", said the Holy Father, because the ruinous condition of the hermitage also represented "the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church at that time, with her superficial faith that neither formed nor transformed life, her clergy little committed to its duties, ... and the interior decay of her unity due to the rise of heretical movements. Yet nonetheless, at the middle of that Church in ruins was the Crucifix, which spoke and called for renewal, which called Francis". Pope Benedict also remarked upon the coincidence between that event in Francis' life and the dream of Pope Innocent III in the same year of 1207. The Pope had dreamt that the basilica of St. John Lateran was about to collapse, and a "small and insignificant" friar held it up to prevent its fall. Pope Innocent recognised the friar in Francis, who came to see him in Rome two years later. "Innocent III", said Benedict XVI, "was a powerful Pontiff, who possessed profound theological culture as well as great political power, but it was not he who renewed the Church. It was the 'small and insignificant' friar, it was Francis, called by God. Yet it is important to recall that Francis did not renew the Church without the Pope or against the Pope, but in communion with him. The two things went together: Peter's Successor, the bishops and the Church founded on apostolic succession, and the new charism that the Spirit had created at that moment to renew the Church". Having renounced his paternal inheritance in 1208, the saint elected to live in poverty and dedicate himself to preaching. A year later, accompanied by his first followers, he travelled to Rome to present his project for a new form of Christian life to Pope Innocent III. Referring then to the philosophical debate concerning, on the one hand, the Francis of tradition and, on the other, the Francis some scholars define as historical, the Pope explained that the saint "wished to follow the Word of Christ ... in all its radical truth", but at the same time "he was aware that Christ is never 'mine' but 'ours', that 'I' can never possess Him, that 'I' can never rebuild against the Church, her will and her teaching". It is also true that at first Francis "did not wish to create a new order" with all the due canonical procedures. However, not without disappointment, he came to understand "that everything must have its order and that the law of the Church is necessary to give form to renewal. Thus he entered ... with all his heart into communion with the Church, with the Pope and the bishops". The Holy Father recalled how St. Clare also joined the school of St. Francis, and he praised the fruits that the Second Order of St. Francis, the Poor Clares, has brought to the Church. He then went on to speak of Francis' 1219 voyage to Egypt, where he met the Sultan Melek-el-Kamel and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "In an age marked by an ongoing conflict between Christianity and Islam, Francis, armed only with the faith and his personal gentleness, effectively followed the path of dialogue. ... His is a model which even today must inspire relations between Christian and Muslims: promote dialogue in truth, in reciprocal respect and mutual understanding". The Pope also referred to the possibility that Francis might have visited the Holy Land and pointed out that the saint's spiritual children have made the Holy Places a privileged place for their mission. "I think with gratitude", he said, "of the great merits of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land". Francis, who died in 1226, "lying on the bare earth" of the Porziuncola, "represents an 'alter Christus'", and this "was, in fact, his ideal, ... to imitate Christ's virtues. In particular, he wished to give fundamental value to interior and exterior poverty, also teaching this to his spiritual children. ... The witness of Francis, who loved poverty in order to follow Christ with complete devotion and freedom, continues to be, also for us today, an invitation to cultivate interior poverty so as to develop our trust in God, with a sober lifestyle and a detachment from material goods. "In Francis", the Pope added, "love for Christ was expressed in a special way in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist". He also mentioned the saint's great admiration for priests "because they have received the gift of consecrating the Eucharist. ... Let us never forget", he said, "that the sanctity of the Eucharist requires us to be pure, to live in a manner coherent with the Mystery we celebrate". Another characteristic of the saint's spirituality was "the sense of universal fraternity and love for nature which inspired him to write the 'Laudes Creaturarum'. This is a very relevant message because ... the only form of sustainable development is that which respects creation and does not harm the environment", and "even the construction of lasting peace is linked to respect for the environment. Francis reminds us that that the creation reflects the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator". The Holy Father concluded by describing Francis as "a great saint and a joyful man. ... There exists, in fact, an intimate and indissoluble bond between sanctity and joy. A French author once wrote that only one sadness exists in the world: that of not being saints".AG/FRANCIS OF ASSISI/... VIS 100127 (1040)
POPE REMEMBERS THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope recalled how "sixty-five years ago, on 27 January 1945, the gates of the Nazi concentration campo near the Polish city of Oswiecim, better known by its German name of Auschwitz, were opened and the few survivors freed. "That event, and the testimony of those who survived, revealed to the world the horror of the crimes of unprecedented cruelty committed in the extermination camps created by Nazi Germany", he added. "Today we celebrate 'Holocaust Remembrance Day', to recall all the victims of those crimes, and especially the planned annihilation of the Jews, and to honour those who, at the risk of their own lives, protected the persecuted and sought to oppose the murderous insanity. Deeply moved, our thoughts go to the countless victims of that blind racial and religious hatred, who suffered deportation, imprisonment and death in those abhorrent and inhuman places. "May the memory of those events", he concluded, "and in particular the drama of the Shoah which struck the Jewish people, arouse ever greater respect for the dignity of each person, so that all mankind may feel itself to be one large family. May omnipotent God illuminate hearts and minds, that such tragedies never happen again".AG/HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE/... VIS 100127 (230)
SPECIAL ISSUE OF POSTAGE STAMPS IN FAVOUR OF HAITI VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City State has issued a special stamp, the sales of which will be used for the benefit of the people of Haiti, victims of the recent earthquake. A communique made public yesterday afternoon explains that the stamp is dedicated to the 1500th anniversary of the shrine of Our Lady of Grace, better known as the shrine of Mentorella, located in the Italian region of Lazio. The series of 900,000 stamps, each with a face value of 0.65 euros, will be sold for 0.85 euros, though their postal value will remain 0.65 euros. The 0.20 euros surplus will be used to aid victims of the earthquake. According to estimates of the Governorate of Vatican City State, if almost the entire series is sold some 150,000 euros will be collected.OP/SPECIAL STAMP/HAITI VIS 100127 (160)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Antonio Lanfranchi of Cesena-Sarsina, Italy, as archbishop-abbot of Modena-Nonantola (area 2,089, population 488,400, Catholics 476,900, priests 264, permanent deacons 56, religious 403), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in Grondone di Ferriere, Italy in 1946, he was ordained a priest in 1971 and consecrated a bishop in 2004. He succeeds Archbishop Benito Cocchi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.NER:RE/LANFRANCHI:COCCHI VIS 100127 (90)


Asia News: The girl worked in the household of a rich local lawyer, where she was subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Her death has outraged the Christian community, which is calling for justice. A human rights activist says 99 per cent of female Christian domestics work for Muslims and are often subject to violence and abuse. Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A 12-year-old Christian girl died on Friday as a result of physical violence inflicted by her employer, a rich and powerful Muslim lawyer in Lahore. The case has led to protests by the Christian community, which demonstrated before the provincial assembly of Punjab in Lahore. The authorities are trying to appease people and have pledged that justice shall be done. Pakistani President Zardari has also promised to pay compensation to the family.
A Protestant NGO, Sharing Life Ministry Life (SLMP), reported the case of Shazia Bashir, 12, who was employed for the past eight months as a domestic worker in the household of Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, a lawyer and former president of the Lahore Bar Association.
Local Christians say that during that period the girl was the victim of constant harassment, and that she was raped and tortured before she was killed.
SLMP chief coordinator Sohail Johnson said the girl worked under constant stress and experienced emotional and psychological trauma. She was also denied the agreed salary (Rs 1,000 or about US$ 12 per month).
Shazia “would get insults whenever she raised the subject of payment,” the Christian activist said.
Three days before her death, her employer tortured her, he noted. Afterwards, he tried to have her treated at his home without informing the parents of her health situation. In the end, the medical care she did get proved inadequate and she had to go to Lahore’s Meo Hospital.
"Shazia's parents were not allowed to meet her. They did not know what she was going through," said Razia Bibi, the girl’s 44-year-old uncle.
Shazia died last Friday from her injuries.
Sohail Johnson said that her body showed signs of torture with at least 12 marks of injury. "Shazia was admitted to the hospital with a broken jaw," he said.
Initially, Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem’s family tried to pay off Shazia’s parents with Rs 20,000 (US$ 250) to stop them from filing a case against them. Eventually they fled, but were arrested yesterday under pressure from the federal government.
On Saturday, Christians demonstrated in front of the Punjab Provincial Assembly.
The Lahore Bar Association has instead sided with the powerful Muslim lawyer.
Local Christians have expressed scepticism about the impartiality and efficacy of the police investigation; however, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that outside interference would not be tolerated and that justice would be done.
Sohail Johnson (pictured with the girl’s body) said that 99 per cent of Christian girls from poor families are hired by wealthy Muslims, and are often physically, psychologically and sexually abused.
“In some cases, their employers marry them off to Muslim servants, and forcibly convert them to Islam,” he said.
“These vulnerable Christian girls do not have any state protection. We urge the government to ensure protection of these disadvantaged girls,” the SLMP coordinator said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has promised Rs 500,000 (US$ 6,000) in compensation to the girl’s family and urged the Punjab government to provide financial help as well. The money is expected to cover the cost of Shazia Bashir’s funeral, which is scheduled for today in Lahore.(source:

Cath News report:
The four original members of The Wiggles, who have made the St Vincent de Paul Society one of their special causes, were made Members of the Order of Australia this week, The Catholic Weekly reports.
Greg Page, Anthony Field, Murray Cook and Jeff Fatt, were honoured on Australia Day for their services to the arts through children's entertainment and charity work. Page retired from the Wiggles in 2006 due to ill-health.
The children's entertainment group has released more than 30 CDs, 27 videos and DVDs and 30 books and produced several TV series and a feature film.
The Wiggles have been the face of Vinnies campaigns for several years, including the annual Winter Appeal and promotions of Vinnies charity shops in which they called on Australians to "bring in your good stuff and help Vinnies' good works".

CNA report:
The Emmanuel Community hosted a symposium in Rome this week with the theme "Priests and Laity in the Mission," for which Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver gave the keynote address on Wednesday. Following his talk, CNA spoke with the archbishop about how culture is affected by modern technology, a theme that was recently touched on by Pope Benedict XVI.
In his talk, the archbishop analyzed the roots and direction of contemporary culture including the effects that mass media and a "knowledge economy" have on the way we perceive the world.
On Saturday, through his message for the World Day for Social Communications, the Pope called for priests to have more of a presence online while, more importantly, remaining grounded in the faith.
In response to a question from CNA on his views about the use modern technologies as tools for evangelization, Archbishop Chaput said, "You have to be very prudent in your use of new media and new communications," explaining that he hears confessions in which "people confessed sins that were the result of their access to media."
"We should use it to promote the Gospel, but we also need to guard ourselves from its dangers," he stated.
The archbishop also elaborated on a statement he made in his talk about addressing the "implications both for the Word of God and for the Church" that result from the effects of mass media and modern technology on culture, including its way of isolating people and attacking community.
The danger of spreading the Gospel through technological means rather than face-to-face, Archbishop Chaput said, is that "the Gospel becomes intellectual rather than interpersonal."
Sharing the experience of Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior with someone else is "not just a declaration of 'some' information," he said, adding, "and I don't know that the experience of the Lord Jesus can be shared electronically. I think it has to be shared personally.”
"We have great opportunities of entry into peoples' lives with the media, but we have to understand that it's not enough. There has to be, also, the personal relationship because the Gospel is essentially Trinitarian and, because of that, communitarian."
Summing up his thoughts, the archbishop said, "so I think that we've got to make good use of them but never presume that because we have an active presence in the technologies that it's ever enough.
"The old technology of personal witness and personal encounter and sharing faith is essential to the Gospel."
The archbishop added that using technology to extend an invitation to a community or describe it is useful, "but it can't be an experience of community in itself." Personal contact, he concluded, is "absolutely essential."(SOURCE:

CISA report:
Christians have been advised to ensure that denominational differences do not divide but unite them.Delivering a sermon at an ecumenical prayer service at St Andrews Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) in Nairobi on January 21 as part of the wider marking of the global Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25), Fr. Celestino Bundi, said, “There are more that should unite us than those that can divide.”He told the congregation, drawn from the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian and Anglican churches that as Christians, God expects us to dig more for that which can unite us and less or none at all, for those that can divide us as children of God.Fr Bundi, who is the National Director of Pontifical Missionary Society (PMS), said it was not by accident that we happen to belong to different denominations, but that it is for the glory of God.“While we remain sons and daughters of the same God, it is disturbing that we have allowed our human differences –colour, race and etc to divide rather than unite us, he stressed.”The service was animated by the Catholic Church lay Movement, Focolare.Introducing Fr Bundi to the congregation, Presbyterian Church Minister, Rev. Dr. Peter Kariuki welcomed the whole idea of ecumenism among the Christians and churches too.“This was the original idea of God; that we all be one irrespective of our denominational differences. I see this kind of seed being planted here,” he pointed out.The 2010 Christian Unity Week is global and this year is being marked under the theme: You are witnesses of these things, Luke 24:48.

CNA report:
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Catholic Bishops' Conference (CEI), inaugurated the first meeting of the year of the CEI's Permanent Council with an opening speech on the state of the Catholic Church in Italy. One of the most prominent themes of the address was his call for a "new generation" of Catholics to provide for "the foundations of civilization."
The prelate touched on many subjects including the Pope's recent visit to the Synagogue of Rome, the extraordinary response by Italians in providing assistance to Haiti and papal addresses from the Pope. However, it was the end of the speech that drew the most attention.
In his conclusion, the cardinal spoke of a "dream" of his that a "new generation of Italians and Catholics might rise up" to public offices, where they can "give the best of their thoughts, projects and days" to "marking the destiny of all."
Cardinal Bagnasco said that he knows those who work in politics "need the abundant grace of God, but," he added, they also need to let that grace "invest and work" in them.
"We need a Christian community in which the lay faithful learn to live the mystery of God in life with intensity, exercising the fundamental goods of liberty, truth and conscience.
"There is a growing urgency for capable men and women, with the help of the Spirit, to incarnate these ideals and translate them into history not by the easier path of convenience ... but by the truer path, that better deploys the project of God on humanity, and therefore is able to stir, in time, the admiration of others," he stated.
"We would like values to constitute the foundations of civilization," concluded Cardinal Bagnasco, listing the Church's concerns in this arena for "any way human life presents itself and wherever it exists; the family formed of a man and a woman and founded on marriage; the educative responsibility; solidarity towards others, in particular the weakest; employment as a possibility for personal realization; the community as good destiny that associates men and brings them closer to the goal..."
The first issues on the agenda for the Permanent Council are the drafting of the third edition of the Roman Missal and reaching an agreement as to the territorial organization of the Italo-Albanian Church in Italy.(SOURCE:


St. Angela Merici
Feast: January 27
Feast Day:
January 27
21 March 1474, Desenzano del Garda, Province of Brescia, Lombardy, Italy
27 January 1540, Brescia, Lombardy, Italy
May 24, 1807, Rome by Pope Pius VII
Major Shrine:
The Merician Centre (including the now subterranean Church of St Afra, Brescia, Lombardy, Italy)
Patron of:
sickness, handicapped people, loss of parents

Angela Merici was born on March 21st, 1474, at Desenzano on Lake Garda; left an orphan at the age of ten she was brought up by her uncle and on his death went to live with her brothers. She was a devout girl and, having joined the Third Order of St. Francis, devoted herself to teaching children. As her work became known she was asked to go to Brescia where a house was put at her disposal and a number of women came to join her; she was thus enabled to establish a religious association of women, under the patronage of St. Ursula, who, remaining in the world, should devote themselves to every sort of corporal and spiritual work of mercy; but the particular emphasis was on education. Angela's methods were far removed from the modern idea of a convent school; she preferred to send her associates to teach girls in their own families, and one of her favorite sayings was, 'Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family'. It was by educating children in the milieu in which they lived that she strove to effect an improvement in social conditions. Angela Merici is known now as the foundress of the Ursuline nuns—and so she was, but despite her own inclinations. In reality she was in advance of her own times. Her plan of religious women without distinctive habit, without solemn vows and enclosure, was directly contrary to prevailing notions at her period, and under the influence of St. Charles Borromeo at Milan and subsequent papal legislation (under St. Pius V) the Ursulines were obliged to adopt the canonical safeguards then required of all nuns.
Angela Merici died in Brescia on January 27th, 1540.


Mark 4: 1 - 20
Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.
And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
"Listen! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil;
and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away.
Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."
And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables.
And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables;
so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven."
And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
The sower sows the word.
And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them.
And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word,
but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."






(VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of second Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The celebration marked the end of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which has been: "You are witnesses of these things". The event was attended by a number of cardinals and bishops, as well as by representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities present in Rome. In his homily Benedict XVI explained how the choice of the theme for this year's Week of Prayer - "that is, the invitation to a offer shared witness of the risen Christ in accordance with the mandate He entrusted to His disciples" - is linked "to the hundredth anniversary of the missionary conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, which many consider as a decisive event for the birth of the modern ecumenical movement". "It is precisely the desire to announce Christ to others and to carry His message of reconciliation to the world that makes us aware of the contradiction of division among Christians". he said. "The communion and unity of the disciples of Christ is, then, a particularly important prerequisite for a more credible and effective witness". The Holy Father explained how, "in a world characterised by religious indifference and even by a growing aversion towards the Christian faith, what is needed is new and intense evangelising activity, directed not only at peoples who have never known the Gospel, but also at those among whom Christianity is present and has become part of their history". After then referring to "questions that still separate us from each other, and that we hope may be overcome through prayer and dialogue", the Pope explained how there nonetheless exists "a core content of Christ's message that we can announce together: the paternity of God, Christ's victory over sin and death with His cross and resurrection, and trust in the transforming action of the Spirit. "As we journey towards full communion", he added, "we are called to present a joint witness in the face of the increasingly complex challenges of our time, such as secularisation and indifference, relativism and hedonism, delicate ethical questions concerning the beginning and end of life, the limits of science and technology, and dialogue with other religious traditions". Pope Benedict continued: "There are other fields in which we must already show our joint witness: protecting creation, promoting peace and the common good, defending the centrality of the human person, and the commitment to defeat the poverties of our time such as hunger, indigence, illiteracy and the unequal distribution of wealth". And he concluded: "Commitment to the unity of Christians is not just a task for the few, or an appendage to the life of the Church. Each is called to offer his or her contribution to help take those steps towards the full communion of all Christ's disciples, never forgetting that it is, above all, a gift constantly to be implored from God".HML/CONVERSION ST. PAUL/... VIS 100126 (520)

PONTIFICAL ACADEMIES: OPEN TO NEW KNOWLEDGE VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a conference was held to present "Pontifical Academies for a New Christian Humanism", an initiative that will include a special audience of the Holy Father with the pontifical academies on 28 January, and the public session of those academies on 27 January. Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Co-ordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, and Msgr. Pasquale Iacobone, official of the same pontifical council and delegate of the same co-ordinating council. The Co-ordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies was created by John Paul II in 1995 and is made up of the presidents of the following institutions: the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Theological Academy, the Academy of Mary Immaculate, the International Marian Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature "dei Virtuosi al Pantheon", the Roman Academy of Archaeology and the "Cultorum Martyrum" Academy. A joint public session of the Pontifical Academies is organised once a year to examine a theme of current importance. This year's meeting, the fourteenth, focuses on the "theological formation of the clergy" and has been organised by the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Theological Academy. The public session also includes the presentation of the Pontifical Academy Prize which is awarded by the Pope to institutions or to young researchers or artists who have distinguished themselves in promoting Christian humanism. The prize-winner this year is the American theologian John Mortensen who gained his doctorate in 2006 from Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross with a thesis on "Analogy in St. Thomas". In his remarks Archbishop Ravasi recalled how the activity of the Pontifical Academies focuses on three fields: theology, culture and the reappraisal of Christian heritage especially from Roman times. The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture likewise explained that one of the purposes of the session is to publicise the "often little known activity" of the academies, which he called "little worlds of very-high-quality research". The session will also help to ensure that the work undertaken in those academies leaves their confines and becomes more widespread, making them not just glorious vestiges of the past but institutions capable of confronting the modern world of knowledge. In this context, he noted that the granting of this year's prize to layman with a family is a sign of the openness of theological research which, he said, cannot be limited only to the clergy. For his part, Msgr. Iacobone pointed out that this will be Benedict XVI's first audience with the pontifical academies. He also recalled how the years 2009-2010 are very significant for some of these institutions, such as the Roman Academy of Archaeology which has celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of its foundation (1809), the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas which marked its 130 years, and the International Marian Academy which was made a pontifical academy fifty years ago.OP/PONTIFICAL ACADEMIES/RAVASI:IACOBONE VIS 100126 (510)

COMMUNIQUE FROM PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity today published the following communique: The council, the communique reads, "has learned with disappointment that a media outlet has published a test currently being examined by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. "The document published is a draft text consisting of a list of themes to be studied and examined in greater depth, and has been only minimally discussed by the said commission. "In the last meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held in Paphos, Cyprus, last October, it was specifically established that the text would not be published until it had been fully and completely examined by the commission. "As yet there is no agreed document and, hence, the text published has no authority or official status".OP/TEXT/CON-UC VIS 100126 (160)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, auxiliary of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., as bishop of Austin (area 57,424, population 2,443,000, Catholics 437,000, priests 243, permanent deacons 198, religious 203), U.S.A.NER/.../VASQUEZ VIS 100126 (40)


CNA report:
Citing “confusing and conflicting messages” about the breast cancer risks of abortion and oral contraceptives, a coalition has sent a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders calling for an investigation of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the cessation of federal funding for abortion. The Jan. 20 letter was authored by the Coalition on Abortion / Breast Cancer (CABC) and was signed by several doctors and pro-life organizations.
The CABC letter cited the work of National Cancer Institute (NCI) researcher Dr. Louise Brinton. Brinton, the NCI’s Chief of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch, was a co-author of a 2009 study which reported a statistically significant 40 percent breast cancer risk increase for women who have had abortions.
According to the CABC, the study listed abortion among “known and suspected risk factors.”
The CABC has been critical of a 2003 NCI workshop organized by Brinton that said the non-existence of an abortion-breast cancer link was “well established.” The NCI has updated its web page on the workshop to say “the evidence overall still does not support early termination of pregnancy as a cause of breast cancer.”
The letter from the CABC reported that the web page had not been updated since 2003 until Jan. 12, 2010, soon after press inquiries began concerning the 2009 study. The Coalition questioned whether this change was coincidental.
In the Coalition’s view, the contrast between the results of the 2009 study and the information on the NCI’s web site appears “disingenuous.”
The authors of the 2009 study said their findings were “consistent with the effects observed in previous studies on younger women… induced abortion and oral contraceptive use were associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.”
Other NCI information on the evidence for a connection between breast cancer and oral contraceptives is also outdated, the CABC charged.
“We request that any public funding of abortion be removed entirely from all legislation being considered by this Congress and that Congress also exercise its proper oversight authority and investigate the role of the NCI in communicating information about breast cancer risks to the American public,” the CABC letter read.
Professor Joel Brind, a professor of biology and endocrinology at Baruch College, City University of New York, was a signer of the letter.
Speaking in a CABC press release, Brind said there was a “direct contradiction” between Brinton’s findings and the NCI website. He called on Brinton to respond to the news reports on the 2009 study.
Karen Malec, CABC president, charged that the NCI “puts politics ahead of women’s lives.”
"That's why we're putting both parties on notice of the NCI's misconduct. If they decide to watch women die, instead of cleaning house when we have prima facie evidence of a cover-up, then both parties will have to answer to angry women."(SOURCE:


Catholic Herald report:
The bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) are to give the Vatican their answer to the new Anglican provision.Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a group of Anglican churches which have broken away from the mainstream Anglican Communion, said the bishops would come together at Easter to formulate a response to the Pope's decree Anglicanorum coetibus.The Anglican provision allows groups of Anglicans who consider themselves Catholic to enter into full communion with Rome while maintaining aspects of their heritage and identity. The document provides a new canonical provision called a Personal Ordinariate which most resembles the structure of military dioceses.In 2007 the leaders of the TAC signed a petition to the Holy See asking for "corporate reunion with the Holy See" as well as "a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of Catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment".According to Archbishop Hepworth, the bishops and vicar generals have each received a letter from Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that the recent decree constituted "the definitive response of the Holy See" not only to the TAC's original request but also to "but also to the many others of a similar nature which have been submitted over the last years".Archbishop Hepworth said the letter from Cardinal Levada would allow the bishops belonging to TAC to move towards making a decision about taking up the Pope's offer of Personal Ordinariates. He said that he would produce a commentary on the decree for the TAC in the coming week and would release the full text of the original petition made by the members of the group in 2007. Emphasising that the process of discernment "concerns the primary command of Jesus to His Church", he said the process could not be hurried. But he also made it clear that a delay in making a "implementing the fullness of communion" that the traditionalist Anglicans had sought "would be in serious defiance of the will of Jesus for his Church". He outlined the steps the college of bishops and the traditionalist communion as a whole would have to take towards making a decision. TAC, he said, was already in talks with liaison bishops of bishops' conferences around the world.Archbishop Hepworth plans to meet with TAC members in Japan, Central America, the United States, Canada, Australia New Zealand and the Torres Strait in the coming weeks. Regional meetings of bishop, clergy and people are being organised to discuss Anglicanorum Coetibus.After the meeting of the full college of bishops at Easter, they will make a formal response to the Holy See, which will be followed by canonical steps in the churches belonging to TAC. The news came days after Pope Benedict XVI said the desire of the groups of Anglicans wishing to be in full communion with Rome revealed the ultimate aim of the ecumenical movement which was "the full and visible communion of the disciples the Lord". Pope Benedict was speaking to the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and thanked them for their work in "the full integration of groups and individuals of former Anglican faithful into the life of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus".He said: "The faithful adherence of these groups to the truth received from Christ and presented in the Magisterium of the Church is in no way contrary to the ecumenical movement... rather, it reveals the ultimate aim thereof, which is the realisation of the full and visible communion of the disciples of the Lord." (SOURCE:


CISA report:
Amnesty International has called for arms transfers to the Somali government to be suspended until there are adequate safeguards to prevent weapons from being used to commit war crimes and human rights abuses.In its latest briefing paper on the country, Amnesty International details US shipments of arms, including mortars, ammunition and cash for the purchase of weapons to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). These transfers were made despite substantial risks that such types of weapons could be used in indiscriminate attacks by TFG forces or diverted to armed groups opposed to the TFG, who also commit gross and widespread abuses. “International concern for the future of the Somali government has not been matched by an equal concern for the human rights of civilians,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International Deputy Director for Africa.Kagari said, “Mortar attacks continue to claim lives – it is time for international donors to apply tighter controls to their support for the government”Amnesty International’s briefing also details growing international programmes of military and police training for TFG forces, despite a lack of adequate oversight procedures.The training is delivered in Somalia itself and in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda. The European Union, France, Germany and Italy are involved, or have pledged funding for it.Amnesty International calls for all states providing finance, planning, military and police training for the TFG to also provide training in international humanitarian law and arms management and press for the establishment of oversight procedures for TFG forces. A UN arms embargo on Somalia has been in place since 1992 but states can apply to the UN Sanctions Committee for exemptions to supply security assistance to the Somali government. Fighting in Somalia displaced more than 60,000 in the first weeks of 2010The number of Somali casualties and displaced civilians continues to grow as fighting in central areas of Somalia rages on. Since the beginning of the year, fighting and general insecurity have displaced an estimated 63,000 people in Somalia.(SOURCE:


Asia News report:
High tension and security at a maximum. Among the 22 candidates, the most probable are the former President Rajapaksa and General Fonseka. People want the fruits of peace and greater development. 47% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - From 7 this morning all polling stations in the Sri Lankan presidential election are open, the first vote as a united country, after the war against Tamil rebels that lasted nearly 26 years.
Tension is very high. More than 68 thousand policemen have been deployed to ensure order. This morning, hours before the opening of the polls, the people of Jaffna, in area once under the Tamil guerrillas, heard 4 explosions. In recent months, 4 people were killed and there were at least 800 violent incidents related to the campaign. Approximately 250 thousand observers are monitoring the fairness of elections.
There are 22 candidates competing for President, but the most likely winners are the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa or former head of the Armed Forces, gen. Sarath Fonseka. The first seeks to exploit the notoriety and success of the war against the Tamils, the second proposes a fight against corruption, pervasive in the current government. The two, who were allies until a year ago (see photo) are now on opposing sides.
Instead the population is demanding peace and greater economic development for a country that - thanks to widespread corruption - is still suffering the consequences of the tsunami of 2004, as well as those of war.
At least 47% of Sri Lankans live on less than $ 2 per day. Inflation is high and in recent years has reached 20%.
Sri Lanka, with a population of 20 million, is 74% of Sinhalese, 12% Tamils. The problem of coexistence was the cause of the recent war. The governments treatment of 300 thousand Tamil refugees incarcerated in northern refugee camps weighs heavily on the outcome of the election.
Catholics are 6.7% of the population and are among the most prominent voices who have long sought reconciliation in the country.(source:

Cath News report:
World-renowned expert in liturgical study, Fr Anscar Chupungco, has challenged recent announcements on liturgical reform, identifying their inability to fuse together the two basic concepts of Vatican II's liturgical renewal.
His comments were made at the launch on Friday of a new course in Liturgical Studies to be offered by The Broken Bay Institute and University of Newcastle.
Chupungco noted that recent statements which called for a reform of Vatican II's reform were part of an agenda to turn the clock back 50 years.
This call “seems to conveniently forget that since Vatican II, the Church has been marching with the times, acknowledging the changes in social and religious culture, and adopting new pastoral strategies,” said Fr Chupungco, the first Filipino priest on the Pontifical Institute's Faculty.
Fr Chupungco urged students to become "equipped with a critical mind that allows them to weigh the value of new norms and directives, though always in the spirit of ecclesial obedience".(SOURCE:


St. Titus
Feast: January 26
Feast Day:
January 26
96 at Goryna, Crete
Patron of:

Then, as regards the figure of Titus, whose name is of Latin origin, we know that he was Greek by birth, that is, a pagan (cf. Gal 2:3). Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem for the so-called Apostolic Council, where the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles that freed them from the constraints of Mosaic Law was solemnly accepted.
In the Letter addressed to Titus, the Apostle praised him and described him as his "true child in a common faith" (Ti 1:4). After Timothy's departure from Corinth, Paul sent Titus there with the task of bringing that unmanageable community to obedience.
Titus restored peace between the Church of Corinth and the Apostle, who wrote to this Church in these terms: "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me.... And besides our own comfort we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his mind has been set at rest by you all" (II Cor 7:6-7, 13).
From Corinth, Titus was again sent out by Paul — who called him "my partner and fellow worker in your service" (II Cor 8:23) — to organize the final collections for the Christians of Jerusalem (cf. II Cor 8:6).
Further information from the Pastoral Letters describes him as Bishop of Crete (cf. Ti 1:5), from which, at Paul's invitation, he joined the Apostle at Nicopolis in Epirus (cf. Ti 3:12). Later, he also went to Dalmatia (cf. II Tm 4:10). We lack any further information on the subsequent movements of Titus or on his death.

St. Timothy
Feast: January 26
Feast Day:
January 26
80, Ephesus
Patron of:
intestinal disorders, stomach diseases

A native of Lystra, he was the son of a Jewish woman named Eunice and a Greek Gentile. Converted to the faith by St. Paul, Timothy willingly received circumcision in order to assuage the Jews to whom he and Paul would be preaching, especially as it was known that his father was a Gentile. Paul found Timothy a very valuable assistant and companion, using him on several missions, such as those to the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:17) and the Thessalonians (1 Thes 3:2-3). According to tradition, he was the first bishop of Ephesus, the basis for this being his journey to the city at the command of Paul to act as his representative (1 Tm 1:3). He is mentioned with St. Paul in the salutations of seven epistles in the New Testament and was teh addressee of two of three pastoral letters - 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. His martyrdom on January 22, 97 by a mob of angry pagans came about through his opposition to the celebration of the feast of Diana; it was recorded in the fourth-century Acta S. Timothei.(SOURCE:


Mark 3: 31 - 35
And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him.
And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you."
And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35
Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother."





(VIS) - Made public today were two telegrams sent by the Holy Father on 16 January to Rene Preval, president of the Republic of Haiti, and to Archbishop Louis Kebreau S.D.B. of Cap-Haitien and president of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, for the earthquake which devastated the country on 12 January, killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of people. Benedict XVI tells President Preval of his "profound sadness" at the tragic event and assures him of his "fervent prayers for all the people affected by this dreadful catastrophe. I also pray", the Pope continues, "that a spirit of solidarity may enter people's hearts and that calm may reign in the streets, so that the generous aid arriving from all countries may bring comfort to everyone, and that people who have today lost everything may be consoled by knowing that the international community is truly concerned about them". The Holy Father expresses his appreciation for "the commitment shown by both Haitians and foreigners, sometimes at risk of their own lives, to do everything in their power to search for and rescue survivors". And he assures the president that the Catholic Church, "through her institutions, will remain - and not only in these moments of great commotion - alongside the people who have been so sorely tried by this tragedy, and will, to the limit of her powers, help them regain the chance to build a better future". In his telegram to Archbishop Kebreau, the Pope mentions the tragic death in the earthquake of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, and of many faithful, priests and consecrated people. "At this sad hour", he writes, "I invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help that she may become 'Mother of tenderness', and that solidarity may triumph over isolation and individualism in people's hearts". The also Pope praises "the rapid mobilisation of the international community, collectively touched by the fate of Haitians", and reaffirms that, through her institutions, the Church "will not cease to make her contribution to the emergency efforts and to the patient reconstruction of devastated areas".TGR/HAITI EARTHQUAKE/PREVAL KEBREAU VIS 100125 (360)

MESSAGE TO NEW PATRIARCH OF SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to His Holiness Irinej, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, for his recent election to that office. In the English-language message he congratulates the new Patriarch and prays "that the Lord may grant you abundant gifts of grace and wisdom for the fulfilment of your high responsibilities in the service of the Church and the people entrusted to you. "You succeed Patriarch Pavle, our brother of happy memory, who was a pastor both fervent and esteemed, and who bequeathed to you a spiritual inheritance that is rich and profound", the Pope adds. "As a great pastor and spiritual father, he effectively guided the Church and maintained its unity in the face of many challenges. I feel bound to express my appreciation of his example of fidelity to the Lord and of his many gestures of openness towards the Catholic Church. "I therefore pray that the Lord will grant Your Holiness the inner strength to consolidate the unity and spiritual growth of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well to build up the fraternal bonds with other Churches and ecclesial communities. Let me assure you of the closeness of the Catholic Church and of her commitment to the promotion of fraternal relations and theological dialogue, in order that those obstacles which still impede full communion between us may be overcome. May the Lord bless our common efforts in this regard, so that the disciples of Christ may again be united witnesses before the whole world to His salvific love".MESS/ELECTION PATRIARCH/IRINEJ VIS 100125 (280)

MEETING OF SPECIAL COUNCIL FOR AFRICA OF SYNOD OF BISHOPS VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - A communique was released late this morning concerning the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which held its second meeting in the Vatican on 19 and 20 January. The communique explains that during the course of the meeting the members of the council discussed the problems they are facing, "observing how the Church in various African countries finds herself at the necessity of defending the people from injustice. The lack of peace stimulates the Church to make a strong commitment to mediation and to welcoming those who suffer the consequences of intestine wars. "Reconciliation continues to be a challenge for the African Church, which must be reconciled in herself in order to become credible in her preaching and social activities", the communique adds. On the subject of inter-religious dialogue, the participants in the meeting spoke of the "efforts being made to create bonds of understanding and collaboration, especially with Islam which is the continent's most widespread religion. It is to be hoped that the fundamentalist groups become increasingly disowned and marginalised by the official representatives of Islam", says the communique. The members of the council likewise studied the proposals that emerged from the Synod - held in the Vatican in October 2009 - "which will serve as a foundation for further study and as a contribution to the composition of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation". The next meeting of the Special Council for Africa will take place on 27 and 28 April.SE/SPECIAL COUNCIL/AFRICA SYNOD VIS 100125 (270)

A CHURCH UNITED IN THE MULTIPLICITY OF HER CHARISMS VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope quoted an excerpt of the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, from today's liturgy, in which the Apostle compares the Church to the human body. "The Church", the Holy Father explained, "is conceived like a body of which Christ is the Head, and it forms a united whole with Him. "However", he added, "what the Apostle is seeking to communicate is the idea of unity in the multiplicity of charisms, which are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to these charisms the Church is a rich and living non-uniform organism, fruit of the one Spirit Who leads everyone to profound unity, absorbing diversities without eradicating them and creating a harmonious whole". The Church "prolongs the presence of the risen Lord over history, especially through the Sacraments, the Word of God, the charisms and pastoral ministry in the community. Therefore, it is precisely in Christ and in the Spirit that the Church is one and holy; in other words, an intimate communion which transcends human capacities and supports them". In this context the Holy Father turned his attention to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which comes to an end tomorrow, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. To mark the occasion the Pope will preside at the celebration of Vespers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, with representatives of other Churches and Christian communities present in Rome. "We will", said Pope Benedict, "invoke from God the gift of the full unity of all Christ's disciples" because "the communion of Christians ... makes the announcement of the Gospel more credible and effective". Finally the Holy Father spoke of St. Francis of Sales, patron of journalists, whose feast falls today. And to that saint, who taught that "the call to sanctity is addressed to everyone, and that each has his or her place in the Church", he entrusted his own recent Message for the World Day of Social Communications.ANG/CHARISMS UNITY/... VIS 100125 (370)

MAY BLESSED SAMSO STIMULATE COURAGEOUS WITNESS OF FAITH VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2010 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus at midday today with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled how yesterday in the Spanish city of Mataro near Barcelona, the beatification took place of Servant of God Josep Samso i Elias, "a Catalan priest and martyr killed during the Spanish civil war. Like a true witness of Christ, he died forgiving his tormentors", said Benedict XVI. "For priests, and especially pastors, he represents a model of dedication to catechesis and charity towards the poor". Greeting Spanish-speaking pilgrims present at the Angelus, the Holy Father expressed the hope that, in this current Year for Priests, the example of Blessed Samso i Elias "may serve as a stimulus to priests in the diligent exercise of their pastoral ministry, and encourage the faithful always to give firm and courageous witness of their faith".ANG/BLESSED SAMSO I ELIAS/... VIS 100125 (160)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Nine prelates from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, on their "ad limina" visit: - Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops George Stack, Alan Stephen Hopes and John Arnold. - Bishop Declan Ronan Lang of Clifton. - Bishop Brian Michael Noble of Shrewsbury, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Mark Davies. - Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff. - Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns S.M. of Menevia. On Saturday 23 January he received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. - Cardinal Agostino Vallini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome. - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. - Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. - Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.AL:AP/.../... VIS 100125 (180)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Fr. Monfort Stima, vicar general of the archdiocese of Blantyre, Malawi, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 9,166, population 4,600,000, Catholics 1,133,850, priests 78, religious 287). The bishop-elect was born in Neno, Malawi in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1986. - Appointed as members of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Archbishop Velasio De Paolis C.S., president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava, Slovakia; Bishop Filippo Iannone O. Carm. of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo, Italy; Bishop Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimaraes C.SS.R. of Garanhuns, Brazil, and Bishop Ryszard Kasyna, auxiliary of Gdansk, Poland. - Appointed Msgr. Piero Pioppo, nunciature counsellor and prelate of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), as apostolic nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Savona, Italy in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1985. On Saturday 23 January it was made public that he appointed Fr. Vincenzo Pisanello of the clergy of the archdiocese of Otranto, Italy, episcopal vicar for administration and pastor of the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Galatina, as bishop of Oria (area 921, population 183,300, Catholics 180,000, priests 117, permanent deacons 6, religious 265), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Galatina, Italy in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1984.NEA:NA:NN:NER/.../... VIS 100125 (260)

ACTS OF THE ORIENTAL CHURCHES VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Church, having duty consulted with the Holy See, has adopted the following provisions and, with the prior assent of the Holy Father, has proceeded with the following episcopal elections: - Erected the new eparchy of Pathanamthitta, India, appointing Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom Kalloor of Marthandom, India, as first bishop of the new eparchy. - Appointed Fr. K. M. Vincent Kulapuravilai, professor at St. Mary's Malankara Major Seminary, as bishop of the eparchy of Marthandom (area 1,684, population 1,977,000, Catholics 63,988, priests 39, religious 190), India. The bishop-elect was born in Anakkarai, India in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1991. - Erected the new eparchy of Puthur, India, appointing Bishop Geevarghese Mar Divannasios Ottathengil of Battery, India, as first bishop of the new eparchy. - Appointed Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas Konnath, auxiliary of Trivandrum, India, and apostolic visitor for North America and Europe, as bishop of the eparchy of Battery (area 75,000, population 1,767,000, Catholics 27,675, priests 88, religious 284), India. - Appointed Fr. Samuel Kattuakallil, vicar of the archieparchy of Trivandrum, India, as auxiliary of the same archieparchy (area 4,636, population 5,935,000, Catholics 251,000, priests 257, religious 868). The bishop-elect was born in Kadamanitta, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1978. - Appointed Fr. Stephen Thottathil, professor of moral theology and dean of theology at Malankara Seminary, as auxiliary of the archieparchy of Tiruvalla (area 11,120, population 5,435,000, Catholics 37,648, priests 132, religious 344), India. The bishop-elect was born in Ranni, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1979. - Appointed Fr. Anthony Valiyavilayil O.I.C., chancellor of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Curia, as bishop of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Curia. The bishop-elect was born in Adoor, India in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1980.ECE:NER:NEA/.../... VIS 100125 (310)


CNA report:
A Catholic bishop in Argentina has joined local evangelical leaders in opposition to same-sex “marriage.” The two groups have released a statement stressing that Christians in Tierra del Fuego, located in the southern part of Argentina, believe in “the value of every family constituted by one man and one woman.”
In their statement entitled “The United Declaration,” Bishop Juan Carlos Romanin of Rio Gallegos and the leaders of the Evangelical Church of Tierra del Fuego said that, as Christian leaders of different creeds grounded in the Word of God, they oppose “the attempt to make same-sex unions equal to marriage.”
The statement stressed that the group's intention was not simply to oppose the local government, since the “political identity of government” often changes, but rather to work and watch out “for the values that sustain a healthy society.”
Nevertheless, “the truth is clear and we shall preach it,” they said, noting that they will not shrink from “denouncing sin.”
The statement also expressed that the truth of marriage, understood as the union between one man and one woman, is non-negotiable because it is a truth that has existed “since the beginning of life on earth.”
The coalition warned that violating the laws given by God will only result in “debauchery and chaos” for society. It is “for this reason that we continue to underscore the value of every family constituted by one man and one woman, open to life, as a school of peace, love and fraternity,” the religious leaders concluded. (SOURCE:


CNA report: The cause for the beatification of Jesuit missionary and Servant of God Fr. Mateo Ricci will be re-launched on Sunday evening after a Mass at the Cathedral of San Giuliano in the diocese of Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino.
The first session of the Diocesan Tribunal for his cause of beatification will be held after the Mass. According to Fides, the ecclesiastical court will hear a number of witnesses to ascertain the missionary’s current fame and reputation for holiness.
An historical commission has also been established to collect all the writings and documents attributed to Fr. Ricci, as well as those documents referring to him.
The commission will conclude with a critical study of his writings and will deliver a judgment on the authenticity and value of the documents relating to him.
Also on Jan. 24, Father Matteo Ricci Hall at the Palazo Sarnari will be inaugurated and blessed. The hall will be used for the celebrations planned for 2010.
Fr. Ricci was born in 1552 in the Marche town of Macerata. He became a Jesuit priest and a scholar of mathematics and astronomy before leaving for the Far East at the age of 26.
Ricci spent four years in Goa on the west coast of India before traveling to China. There, he settled in Zhao Qing in the southernmost Guangdong Province and began studying Chinese. During his time there he produced his global Great Map of Ten Thousand Countries, which revolutionized the Chinese understanding of the rest of the world.
A copy of the map recently went on display at the Library of Congress in the United States.
In 1589 the Jesuit moved to Zhao Zhou and began sharing European mathematics discoveries with Chinese scholars. He became known as “Li Madou” and was renowned for his extraordinary memory and knowledge of astronomy. He eventually became a member of the court of Ming Emperor Wanli.
In 1601 he was allowed into the Forbidden City of Beijing, where he worked until his death in 1610.(SOURCE:


CISA report:
Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, chairman of the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) on January 20 made his first visit to the Muslim seat at Old Kampala where he advised Muslims to unite.Archbishop Lwanga was accompanied by over 150 Roman Catholic priests from Kampala Archdiocese and was received by Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje.The Archbishop said, “We are here to demonstrate our oneness in Christ because we are all ancestors of Abraham.”He called for unity among Catholics and Muslims if peace is to reign in the country.“We are brothers and sisters as seen from creation. This brotherhood should be maintained and we as religious leaders should carry it on to God’s subjects so that we live in peace and harmony,” Archbishop Lwanga said.“Concentrate on what builds us than what disunites us, because our goal is to achieve development which we cannot attain without unity,” said Sheikh Mubajje. The Sheikh added, “you handle your misunderstandings calmly, unlike us Muslims and I admire you for that. Conflicts are everywhere: among individuals, families, and groups; they seem normal although dangerous. However, if handled well, they can enhance development.” Sheikh Mubajje, also advised the church leaders to concentrate on peace as a form of promoting unity among Ugandans of different faiths to ensure future development.The visit, which was coordinated by the IRCU, was part of the activities of the Kampala Archdiocese Catholic Priests’ workshop that has been going on at Ggaba since Sunday. The five-day workshop is an annual activity organized by the Catholic Church to renew faith and educate its leaders.44 percent of Uganda’s 28.3 million people are Catholic; 42 percent are Protestant, and 12 percent are Muslim. (SOURCE:


Asia News report:
Hindu extremists are blamed for this morning’s attacks in the dioceses of Mysore and Karwar. The Holy Family Parish Church was attacked in Inkal (Mysore diocese); it had been also attacked by a group of 70 Hindus in 2002. Christians are increasingly worried. Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Indian State of Karnataka was the scene of new anti-Christian attacks when two churches were desecrated and damaged. The first incident occurred after midnight in the village of Thernamakki (diocese of Karwar). Unidentified people vandalised the grotto of the local church, and broke its windows. The second incident took place in Inkal, a village in Mysore diocese, where someone desecrated the statue of the Virgin located in the compound attached to the Holy Family Parish Church. Another attack occurred on 22 January when members of the Sri Rama Sene, a rightwing Hindu party, tried to desecrate the cross of a church in Mundalli (diocese of Karwar), but were chased away by members of the congregation. Police arrested eight of them the next day.
According to Mgr Derek Fernandes, bishop of Karwart, this morning’s attack was the work of Hindu activists. Recently, a local Hindu leader made threats against Christian buildings in retaliation for the mistreatment of Indians in Australia.
“Attacks against religious minorities are up,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christian (GCIC). “We are very concerned about the continued attacks against Christian communities in Karnataka.”
“The greatest tragedy caused by such attacks against innocent Christians is the lack of justice,” he said. “This happens in Orissa, Karnataka and other Indian States.”
So far, no Hindu leader has ever been jailed for the violence. In both Orissa and Karnataka, local authorities have refused to stop Hindu groups that continue to incite violence against Christians, George said.
The Holy Family Parish Church had suffered another attack, on 27 February 2002.
At that time, some 70 Hindu activists armed with blades, knives and iron rods stormed the building during Mass and attacked women and children. They accused the local Christian community of forcibly converting local people.
Police arrested the attackers but later released them on bail. (N.C.)( SOURCE:


Cath News report:
Catholic Health Australia says the Federal Government could cut 89,000 people from elective surgery waiting lists in a year by adopting a Queensland model which contracts private hospitals to treat public patients.
CHA said Queensland's Surgery Connect program had reduced the numbers of public elective surgery patients waiting longer than the medically acceptable times by 19 percent in 20 months, the Courier-Mail reports.
It had also reduced by 46.1 percent those waiting for surgery that needed to occur in 12 months.
"We've estimated that by utilising the spare capacity in private hospitals, you could treat 89,000 additional patients in year one," said CHA CEO Martin Laverty.
"We think this is the fastest way that the Commonwealth can contribute to improving the performance of public hospitals and making sure that people who've been waiting unreasonable times for their surgery get access to health care faster."
It would require an outlay of about $450 million in the 2010-2011 budget and an additional $5 million would be needed annually to fund a brokerage service, matching public patients with private hospital providers, but Mr Laverty said it is money "that would have to be spent at some point in time".
Queensland-based Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' president Ian Gough said, however, that Surgery Connect had problems which needed to be resolved before the scheme was taken on nationally. Australian Medical Association federal president Andrew Pesce said adopting Surgery Connect nationally would be a "short-term solution to a long-term problem".
Mr Laverty is also reported by the AAP as saying that CHA is opposed to Labor's plans to means test the 30 percent private health insurance rebate.
"We've said to the Government ... any measure that takes away incentives to take up private health insurance will see public hospitals deal with an increased workload," he said. (SOURCE:


Conversion of St. Paul
Feast: January 25
Feast Day:
January 25

This great apostle was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin. At his circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, he received the name of Saul. His father was by sect a Pharisee, and a denizen of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia: which city had shown a particular regard for the cause of the Caesars; on which account Cassius deprived it of its privileges and lands; but Augustus when conqueror, made it ample amends by honoring it with many new privileges, and with the freedom of Rome, as we read in the two Dions and Appian. Hence St. Paul, being born at Tarsus, was by privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the empire. His parents sent him young to Jerusalem, where he was educated and instructed in the strictest observance of the law of Moses, by Gamaliel, a learned and noble Jew, and probably a member of the Sanhedrin; and was a most scrupulous observer of it in every point. He appeals even to his enemies to bear evidence how conformable to it his life had been in every respect. He embraced the sect of the Pharisees, which was of all others the most severe, though by its pride the most opposite to the humility of the gospel. It was a rule among the Jews that all their children were to learn some trade with their studies, were it but to avoid idleness, and to exercise the body, as well as the mind, in something serious. It is therefore probable that Saul learned in his youth the trade which he exercised even after his apostleship, of making tents.
Saul, surpassing all his equals in zeal for the Jewish law and their traditions, which he thought the cause of God, became thereby a blasphemer, a persecutor, and the most outrageous enemy of Christ. He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and by keeping the garments of all who stoned that holy martyr, he is said by St. Austin to have stoned him by the hands of all the rest6 to whose prayers for his enemies he ascribes the conversion of St. Paul: "If Stephen," said he, "had not prayed, the church would never have had St. Paul."
After the martyrdom of the holy deacon, the priests and magistrates of the Jews raised a violent persecution against the church at Jerusalem, in which Saul signalized himself above others. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. He procured them to be scourged in the synagogues, and endeavored by torments to compel them to blaspheme the name of Christ. And as our Saviour had always been represented by the leading men of the Jews as a n enemy to their law, it was no wonder that this rigorous Pharisee fully persuaded himself that By the violences he committed, his name became everywhere a terror to the faithful. The persecutors not only raged against their persons, but also seized their estates and what they possessed in common, and left them in such extreme necessity, that the remotest churches afterwards thought it incumbent on them to join in charitable contributions to their relief. All this could not satisfy the fury of Saul; he breathed nothing but threats and the slaughter of the other disciples." Wherefore, in the fury of his zeal, he applied to the high priest and Sanhedrin for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as public examples for the terror of others. But God was pleased to show forth in him his patience and mercy: and, moved by the prayers of St. Stephen and his other persecuted servants. for their enemies, changed him,, in the very heat of his fury, into a vessel of election, and made him a greater mall in his church by the grace of the apostleship, than St. Stephen had ever been, and a more illustrious instrument of his glory. He was almost at the end of his journey to Damascus, when, about noon, he and his company were ml a sudden surrounded by a great light from heaven, brighter than the sun. They all saw the light, and being struck with amazement, fell to the ground.. Then Saul heard a voice, which to him was articulate and distinct; but not understood, though heard by the rest : ? Christ said not: Why cost thou persecute my disciples? but me: for it is he, their head, who is chiefly persecuted in his servants. Saul answered: ? Christ said: :—" to contend with one so much mightier than thyself. By persecuting my church you make it flourish, and only prick and hurt yourself." This mild expostulation of our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, strongly affecting his soul, cured his pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out: ? What to repair the past? What to promote your glory? I make a joyful oblation of myself to execute your will in every thing, and to suffer for your sake afflictions, disgraces, persecutions, torments, and every sort of death. The true convert expressed this, not in a bare form of words, nor with faint languid desires, nor with any exception lurking in the secret recesses of his heart; but with an entire sacrifice of himself, and au heroic victory over the world with its frowns and charms, over the devils with their snares and threats, and over himself and all inclinations of self-love; devoting himself totally to God. A perfect model of a true conversion, the greatest work of almighty grace! Christ ordered him to arise and proceed on his journey to the city, where he should be informed of what he expected from him. Christ would not instruct him immediately by himself, but St. Austin observes, sent him to the ministry which he had established in the church, to be directed in the way of salvation by those whom he had appointed for that purpose. He would not finish the conversion and instruction of this great apostle, whom he was pleased to call in so wonderful a manner, but by remitting him to the guidance of his ministers; showing us thereby that his holy providence has so ordered it, that all who desire to serve him, should seek his will by listening to those whom he has commanded us to hear, and whom he has sent in his own name and appointed to be our guides. So perfectly would he abolish in his servants all self-confidence and presumption, the source of error and illusion. The convert, rising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. Providence sent this corporal blindness to be an emblem of the spiritual blindness in which he had lived, and to signify to him that he was henceforward to die to the world, and learn to apply his mind totally to the contemplation of heavenly things.. He was led by the hand into Damascus, whither Christ seemed to conduct him in triumph. He was lodged in the house of a Jew named Judas, where he remained three days blind, and without eating or drinking. He doubtless spent his time in great bitterness of soul, not yet knowing what God required of him. With what anguish he bewailed his past blindness and false zeal against the church, we may conjecture both from his taking no nourishment during those three days, and from the manner in which he ever after remembered and spoke of his having been a blasphemer and a persecutor. Though the entire reformation of his heart was not gradual, as in ordinary conversions, but miraculous in the order of grace, and perfect in a moment; yet a time of probation and a severe interior trial (for such we cannot doubt but he went through on this occasion) was necessary to crucify the old man and all other earthly sentiments in his heart, and to prepare it to receive the extraordinary graces which God designed him. There was a Christian of distinction in Damascus, much respected by the Jews for his irreproachable life and great virtue; his name was Ananias. Christ appeared to this holy disciple, and commanded him to go to Saul, who was then in the house of Judas at prayer: Ananias trembled at the name of Saul, being no stranger to the mischief he had done in Jerusalem, or to the errand on which he was set out to Damascus. But our Redeemer overruled his fears, and charged him a second time to go to him, saying: For tribulation is the test and portion of all the true servants of Christ. Saul in the mean time saw in a vision a man entering, and laying his hands upon him, to restore his sight. Ananias, obeying the divine order, arose, went to Saul, and laying his hands upon him, said: Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he recovered his eyesight. Ananias added: Saul then arose, was baptized, and took some refreshment. He stayed some few days with the disci. pies at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues, that Jesus was the Son of God, to the great astonishment of all that heard him, who said: ? Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.(SOURCE:


Mark 1: 1 - 18
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight -- "
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.
And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."
And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.
And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men."
And immediately they left their nets and followed him.