ASIA: CHINA: CATHOLICS PRAY FOR IMPRISONED DISSIDENTS-
EUROPE: SPAIN: PRO-LIFERS DELIVER OVER 1 MILLION SIGNATURES-
AMERICA: USA: OVER 130,000 TO SUPPORT PERSONHOOD AMENDMENT-
POPE: LENT: CROSSING THE DESERT, ABANDONING OURSELVES TO GOD
(VIS) - Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI presided over the traditional penitential procession from the church of St. Anselm on the Aventine Hill to the Basilica of Santa Sabina where he celebrated Mass. The Pope received ashes from Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Titular of the basilica and then distributed ashes to the cardinals and bishops present as well as to various faithful. In his homily, the Pope stressed that the "absolute certainty" of God's love sustained Christ during the forty days he spent in the Judean desert. "That long time of silence and fasting for him was a complete abandonment to the Father and to His plan of love. (...) Going into the desert (...) meant voluntarily exposing himself to the enemy's attacks, to temptation" (...) and "entering into battle with him on the open field, defying him without any weapon other than his infinite trust in the Father's omnipotent love". "Adam was expelled from the earthly paradise, the symbol of communion with God", the pontiff said. "Now, in order to return to that communion and thus to eternal life we must pass through the desert, the test of faith. Not alone but with Jesus (...) who proceeds us and who has already conquered in the fight against the spirit of evil. This is the meaning of Lent, the liturgical time that, each year, invites us to renew our decision to follow Christ on the path of humility in order to participate in his victory over sin and death". It is from this perspective that we understand the penitential sign of the ashes, the Holy Father explained. "Essentially, they are a gesture of humility that means: I recognize myself for what I am, a fragile creature made of earth and destined to return to the earth, but also made in the image of God and destined to return to Him. Dust, yes, but dust that is loved and shaped by His love (...) capable of recognizing His voice and responding to Him; free and thus also capable of disobeying, of giving in to the temptation of pride and self-sufficiency". "Sin", Benedict XVI stated, "basically consists in disobeying God, in a lack of love. (...) The first act of justice is recognizing one's own iniquity (...) rooted at the heart of each person (...) An expression of penitence is only worthy in God's eyes if it is the sign of a sincerely repentant heart. (...) The true reward is not the admiration of others but friendship with God and the grace that derives from Him, the grace that gives peace and the strength to do good". "In Christ's heart, at the center of His human and divine person, the entire drama of freedom was wagered in decisive and definitive terms. God brought His plan of salvation to its ultimate consequences, remaining faithful in His love even at the expense of delivering His only Son to death. (...) Thanks to Christ's action we can enter in to the "greater" justice, which is the justice of love". "Lent enlarges our horizon, orients us toward eternal life (...) it makes us to understand the relativity of earthly goods and thus enables us to make the necessary renunciations, frees us to do good", the Holy Father concluded.HML/ASH WEDNESDAY/SANTA SABINA VIS 100218 (540)
POPE MEETS WITH THE PASTORS OF THE DIOCESE OF ROME VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Pope met with the priests and pastors of the diocese of Rome. With the motivation of the Year for Priests, the Holy Father presided over lectio divina, during which he commented on some chapters from the Letter to the Hebrews that make reference to the high priest..../MEETING ROMAN CLERGY/... VIS 100218 (60)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Bishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, O.S.A., as archbishop of Panama (area 13,275, population 1,615,000, Catholics 1,453,000, priests 211, permanent deacons 54, religious 402) in Panama. The archbishop-elect, previously auxiliary of the same archdiocese, succeeds Archbishop Jose Dimas Ceno Delgado, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. - Appointed Fr. Jose Araneta Cabantan as bishop of Malaybalay (area 8,293, population 1,446,314, Catholics 1,167,465, priests 80, religious 164) in the Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in 1957 in Lagonglong, Phillippines, was ordained to the priesthood in 1990, and until now was the pastor of the Miraculous Medal in Cagayan de Oro, Phillippines. He succeeds Bishop Honesto Pacana, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. - Accepted the resignation of Bishop Anthony Theodore Lobo from the pastoral care of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in conformity with canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. Bishop Rufin Anthony, previously coadjutor of the same diocese, succeeds him. - Appointed Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez, previously of Tarazona, Spain, as bishop of Cordoba (area 13,717, population 795,356, Catholics 791,098, priests 375, religious 1,047) in Spain.NER:RE/.../... VIS 100218 (210)
UCAN) — Catholics here have been urged to pray for imprisoned Chinese dissidents unable to join their families for Lunar New Year celebrations.
The Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of Hong Kong diocese has asked all Catholics to pray during Masses and prayer gatherings from Feb. 13-21 for people jailed because of their fight for democracy and for the socially vulnerable.
In its Feb. 11 circular, the JPC urged Catholics to pray for these prisoners to be freed and the social marginalized to be treated justly.
“They are really worthy of the respect of people,” JPC project officer Or Yan-yan told UCA News, referring to the cases of mainland dissidents Liu Xiaobo and Tan Zuoren.
On Feb. 11, Liu’s appeal against an 11-year sentence for subversion was rejected.
Liu and other human rights activists in mainland China published “Charter 08″ on Dec. 10 last year, the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The charter called for an end to one-party rule in China, greater democracy and respect for human rights.
The 11-year sentence was given out on Dec. 25
Tan, an environmentalist and writer, was sentenced to five-year imprisonment on the same charge on Feb. 9.
Tan had investigated alleged shoddy construction of Sichuan schools destroyed by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the province in 2008. He estimated at least 5,600 students were buried in the debris.
Some Catholics told UCA News they were aware of the prayer requests for Liu and Tan and said they hoped the activists could be released soon.
Or said the Chinese government has shown that people could be charged if they criticize the regime or challenge its vested interests.
She said the government has allowed media to report on the Sichuan quake, but it was apparently another story when Tan revealed the truth, she said.
She alleged that the heavy sentencing of a well-known person such as Liu was to intimidate other activists.
Lee Ling-hon from the Hong Kong Christian Institute said it is sad thing that Liu and Tan were given heavy sentences ahead of Christmas and the Lunar New Year.
“It is shameful” that the government suppresses dissidents’ voices using the law, while stressing at the same time that it governs by the law, he said.
The activists “not only should not be sentenced, they should not be tried in the first place, Lee said.http://www.ucanews.com/2010/02/18/catholics-pray-for-rights-activists-during-new-year
A total of 1,067,315 people signed the petition against “all laws allowing abortion.” After government officials Jose Bono and Teresa Cunillera refused to accept the signatures, they were delivered to the Deputy Speakers of Congress, Jorge Fernandez Diaz and Ana Pastor.
The signatures were gathered throughout Spain between April 2009 and January 2010. The petition in part reads:
“Abortion always constitutes the violent death of a human being and a terrible tragedy for the woman who experiences it, forced by their circumstances.
“The Spanish law abandons women in their time of need and pushes them to obtain abortions. All ‘abortion laws’ are a terrible hypocrisy against women, as well as an atrocious injustice to the children they leave unprotected.
“In Spain there is no information or social aid for women in troubled pregnancies, but there is financing to obtain abortions. Now the government seeks to establish the legal means for more abortions to occur, leaving women even more alone, despite the physical and psychological harm that abortions cause. More abortions mean less protection of life and more insecurity for women. For this reason, we demand that our laws protect the right to life and motherhood, protecting life in every stage and circumstance and helping pregnant women to overcome whatever problems the unplanned pregnancy may bring.
“At the same time, we oppose the new law on abortion, which will only bring more death and suffering to thousands of women.”http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/over_one_million_signatures_supporting_life_sent_to_spanish_government/
Personhood Mississippi, a non-profit group that seeks to “protect all life, regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction,” reported that this latest ballot initiative broke the state record and garnered more signatures than any other initiative in Mississippi's history. Volunteers have been collecting signatures since February 11, 2009.
“Despite the superfluous restrictions set before us, the people of Mississippi have spoken. With God’s blessing we have made history and exceeded the signature requirement by tens of thousands,” said Les Riley, sponsor of the Mississippi Personhood Amendment in a statement Wednesday.
“In the next few days, we fully expect Secretary of State Dilbert Hosemann to approve our amendment, as we have exceeded all requirements by the State of Mississippi,” Riley added.
Personhood Mississippi reported that Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant helped turn in boxed of completed petitions during yesterday's press conference. Over 2,000 volunteers and the use of more than 1,000 churches throughout the year made the signature collecting possible. The group also reported that once each district’s signatures are verified, the amendment will be placed on the November 2011 ballot.
“The overwhelming number of signatures proves that Mississippi citizens want to end baby-murder,” asserted Cal Zastrow, co-founder of Personhood USA. “God raised up the volunteers to complete this task, and Personhood USA is thrilled to be a part of that task force. Now we are looking forward to victory at the ballot box!”http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/mississippi_collects_over_130000_signatures_for_personhood_amendment/
The cook-off at Martin Place, Sydney, will involve the auction of four unique gourmet meals to the highest bidders. Seafood restaurant Peter Doyles @ The Quay will also prepare fish and rice meals for 1,000 people at the location until 2pm, Caritas said in a statement.
"By donating the same dollar value as the cost of a typical lunch, diners will stand in solidarity with the millions of people who survive on a staple diet of fish and rice, and support Caritas Australia's long-term development projects in 32 countries," the statement said.
"We're not asking a great deal of people. Leave your lunch at home on Friday and come down to Martin Place to share in a delicious lunch, be entertained by our celebrity chef cook-off, and learn how Caritas Australia is working to tackle poverty amongst the poorest communities in the world," said CEO Jack de Groot.
Caritas launched its annual Project Compassion across Australia yesterday.
Cardinal George Pell celebrated Ash Wednesday mass and the launch in Sydney, while the Governor of Queensland Ms Penelope Wensley, with Archbishop John Bathersby, launched the project in Brisbane. It was launched in Ballarat by Bishop Peter Connors, Caritas said.
Money raised from Project Compassion 2010 will support Caritas Australia's work in the poorest parts of the world and provide health, education, water and sustainable agriculture in communities that need it most.
Project Compassion 2010 aims to beat last year's fundraising effort, raising over $8.7million around Australia.
Feast: February 18
106 or 107 AD, Jerusalem
ST. SIMEON was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin to Our Saviour. We cannot doubt but that he was ail early follower of Christ, and that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. When the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser,his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66, in which Sts. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, the civil war began in Judea, by the seditions of the Jews against the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. They therefore departed out of it the same year,—before Vespasian, Nero's general, and afterwards emperor, entered Judea,—and retired beyond Jordan to a small city called Pella, having St. Simeon at their head. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned thither again, and settled themselves amidst its ruins, till Adrian afterwards entirely razed it. The Church here flourished, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in it.
Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David. St. Simeon had escaped their searches; but, Trajan having given the same order, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint, as being both of the race of David and a Christian, to Atticus, the Roman governor in Palestine. The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. After having undergone the usual tortures during several days, which, though one hundred and twenty years old, he suffered with so much patience that he drew on him a universal admiration, and that of Atticus in particular, he died in 107. He must have governed the Church of Jerusalem about forty-three years. SOURCE:
saying, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."
And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?