Wednesday, March 24, 2010








(VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates of the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Addressing them in English, the Holy Father recalled the fact that their flock "is small in number, and scattered over a wide area. Many have to travel great distances in order to find a Catholic community in which to worship. It is most important for them to realise that every time they gather around the altar for the Eucharistic sacrifice, they are participating in an act of the universal Church, in communion with all their fellow Catholics throughout the world". Referring then to the Congress on the Family, due to be held at Jonkoping, Sweden, in May, he told the prelates that "one of the most important messages that the people of the Nordic lands need to hear from you is a reminder of the centrality of the family for the life of a healthy society. Sadly, recent years have seen a weakening of the commitment to the institution of marriage and the Christian understanding of human sexuality that for so long served as the foundation of personal and social relations in European society. "Children have the right to be conceived, ... brought into the world and brought up within marriage", the Pope added. "In societies with a noble tradition of defending the rights of all their members, one would expect this fundamental right of children to be given priority over any supposed right of adults to impose on them alternative models of family life and certainly over any supposed right to abortion. Since the family is 'the first and indispensable teacher of peace', the most reliable promoter of social cohesion and the best school of the virtues of good citizenship, it is in the interests of all, and especially of governments, to defend and promote stable family life". "In the Nordic lands, religion has an important role in shaping public opinion and influencing decisions on matters concerning the common good. I urge you, therefore, to continue to convey to the people of your respective countries the Church's teaching on social and ethical questions", said Benedict XVI. He also urged the bishops to show particular pastoral concern for "the many who have experienced difficulties in the wake of the recent financial crisis" and for "married couples in which only one partner is Catholic". The Pope went on: "The immigrant component among the Catholic population ... has needs of its own, and it is important that your pastoral outreach to families should include them, with a view to assisting their integration into society". With specific reference to Middle Eastern refugees, many of whom are members of the Eastern Churches, he called on the prelates to encourage them "not to distance themselves from the most precious elements of their own culture, particularly their faith". The Holy Father paid tribute to "the new ecclesial movements, which bring fresh dynamism to the Church's mission" in Nordic countries and concluded by asking the bishops to commit their energies "to promoting a new evangelisation among the people. Part and parcel of this task is continued attention to ecumenical activity, and I am pleased to note the numerous tasks in which Christians from the Nordic lands come together to present a united witness before the world".AL/SCANDINAVIA/... VIS 100325 (570)

MEETING CONCERNING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHINA VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this morning: "The commission established by Benedict XVI in 2007 to study questions of importance concerning the life of the Catholic Church in China met in the Vatican from 22 to 24 March". "The participants examined the question of the human, spiritual and pastoral formation of seminarians and consecrated people, as well as the permanent formation of priests, focusing particularly on their spirituality. The difficulties that emerge in the field of formation and new pastoral requirements - connected with the task of evangelising Chinese society which is so dynamic and complex - represent considerable challenges. The bishops of the Catholic Church in China, who are recognised as having full dignity and the responsibility to guide their ecclesial communities, are personally committed to formative work and, in union with them, fraternal collaboration will continue to be offered". "In the light of Holy Father's Letter to Chinese Catholics of 27 May 2007, the commission reflected on the way to promote unity within the Catholic Church in China, and to overcome the difficulties she faces in her relationship with civil society. Progress made in response to the Pope's call for authentic ecclesial communion was noted with satisfaction, a communion which is not expressed without a personal commitment to searching for truth and spiritual reconciliation. In the awareness that the journey of forgiveness and reconciliation cannot be undertaken in a day, there emerged the certainty that the entire Church accompanies this journey and will raise insistent prayers to this end, especially on 24 May, liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, and the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The importance of taking tangible steps towards increasing and expressing spiritual ties between pastors and faithful was also emphasised. "At the same time, the participants expressed the unanimous hope that all bishops in China way become increasingly committed to favouring the growth of unity, faith and life among all Catholics, avoiding gestures (such as, for example, sacramental celebrations, episcopal ordinations and participation in meetings) that run counter to communion with the Pope who appointed them pastors, and create difficulties - sometimes severe difficulties - in the bosom of their respective ecclesial communities. "In keeping with the desire expressed by the Holy Father in the above-mentioned Letter, the commission reiterates its hope that, through respectful and open dialogue between the Holy See and the government authorities, the current difficulties may be overcome and a beneficial agreement be reached, of advantage to the Catholic community and to social coexistence. In this spirit, the participants join all Catholics in China in constant prayer that those bishops and priests who have long been deprived of their freedom may, as soon as possible, once again exercise their episcopal and priestly ministry in support of the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care. "In a meeting that took place at the end of the plenary assembly, His Holiness underlined the need of ensuring solid formation, based on friendship with Christ, for everyone preparing for the priesthood or consecrated life. This will be a guarantee of success in personal life and in pastoral work. The Holy Father reiterated the important role of played by those in charge of formation and recalled that this is a priority task of bishops. Finally, he thanked the participants for their commitment in favour of the Catholic Church in China".OP/MEETING/CHINA VIS 100325 (590)

PRESENTATION OF EXPOSITION OF SHROUD OF TURIN VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, Italy, presented the forthcoming exposition of the Shroud of Turin, due to take place in that city from 10 April to 23 May on the theme: "Passio Christi, passio hominis". Also participating in today's press conference were Fiorenzo Alfieri, Turin's local counsellor for culture and president of the committee for the exposition of the Shroud; Msgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the diocesan commission for the Shroud, and Maurizio Baradello, director general of the committee for the exposition. Cardinal Poletto explained that "this is the first exposition of the new millennium", and that the 1.3 million people from all over the world who have already booked a visit will be able to contemplate a Shroud which is "much improved thanks to the important restoration work of 2002". The 2010 exposition will also be marked by a visit from Benedict XVI, on Sunday 2 May. "The Pope will venerate the Shroud as his predecessor John Paul II did on 24 May 1998, then celebrate Mass in the city's Piazza San Carlo", said the cardinal. Referring to the theme of the exposition, the archbishop of Turin (who is also Pontifical Custodian of the Shroud), said it aims "to underline the strong bond that exists between the image on the cloth, a moving testimony of the Lord's Passion, and the great suffering of men and women today, that they may find in the Shroud an anchor for their faith, one that leads them to the mercy of God and the service of their neighbour". Turning to consider the practical aspects of the event, Cardinal Poletto explained that four thousand volunteers will be involved in helping the pilgrims during the course of their visit to the Shroud, and in welcoming them in the churches of the city's historic centre where liturgical celebrations and tours have been organised. Apart from cultural initiatives such as talks by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, there will also be a visit by representatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and from the Patriarchate of Moscow. Finally, the cardinal archbishop of Turin explained that, although the Internet is a vital resource for booking visits, "it must be remembered that the exposition of the Shroud remains a personal and physical experience, a 'coming to see' that cannot be substituted by any kind of 'virtual visit'". The website provides texts and information concerning all aspects of the organisation of the exposition.OP/EXPOSITION SHROUD/TURIN VIS 100325 (450)

DECLARATION ON "MURPHY CASE", STATEMENT OF BISHOP MAGEE VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of the English-language declaration made yesterday, 24 March, by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. to the New York Times: "The tragic case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy, a priest of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, involved particularly vulnerable victims who suffered terribly from what he did. By sexually abusing children who were hearing-impaired, Fr. Murphy violated the law and, more importantly, the sacred trust that his victims had placed in him. "During the mid-1970s, some of Fr. Murphy's victims reported his abuse to civil authorities, who investigated him at that time; however, according to news reports, that investigation was dropped. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not informed of the matter until some twenty years later. "It has been suggested that a relationship exists between the application of 'Crimen sollicitationis' and the non-reporting of child abuse to civil authorities in this case. In fact, there is no such relationship. Indeed, contrary to some statements that have circulated in the press, neither 'Crimen' nor the Code of Canon Law ever prohibited the reporting of child abuse to law enforcement authorities. "In the late 1990s, after over two decades had passed since the abuse had been reported to diocesan officials and the police, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was presented for the first time with the question of how to treat the Murphy case canonically. The Congregation was informed of the matter because it involved solicitation in the confessional, which is a violation of the Sacrament of Penance. It is important to note that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Fr. Murphy. "In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties, but recommends that a judgment be made not excluding even the greatest ecclesiastical penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. In light of the facts that Fr. Murphy was elderly and in very poor health, and that he was living in seclusion and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggested that the archbishop of Milwaukee give consideration to addressing the situation by, for example, restricting Fr. Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Fr. Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts. Fr. Murphy died approximately four months later, without further incident". Also on 24 March, Bishop John Magee S.P.S. of Cloyne, Ireland, released the following English-language statement following the Holy Father's acceptance of his resignation from the pastoral care of his diocese: "On 9 March 2010 I tendered my resignation as bishop of Cloyne to the Holy Father. I have been informed today that it has been accepted, and as I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time. To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon. As I said on Christmas Eve 2008 after the publication report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, I take full responsibility for the criticism of our management of issues contained in that report. "On 7 March 2009 the Holy See appointed Fr. Dermot Clifford as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Cloyne. This was in response to a request I had made to be relieved of the burden of administering the diocese so that I could concentrate on co-operating with the Government Commission of Investigation into child protection procedures in the diocese in my capacity as bishop of Cloyne. I will of course continue to be available to the Commission of Investigation at any time. "I also sincerely hope that the work and the findings of the Commission of Investigation will be of some help towards healing for those who have been abused. "I welcome the fact that my offer of resignation has been accepted, and I thank the priests, religious and faithful of the diocese for their support during my time as bishop of Cloyne, and assure them of a place in my prayers always".OP/MURPHY CASE MAGEE/LOMBARDI VIS 100325 (740)

NEW "FUNDAMENTAL TEXTS" AVAILABLE ON VATICAN WEBPAGE VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - In a communique released today the Holy See Press Office announced the online publication of the official acts of the Holy See and of the collection of documents from the period of World War II. "Important texts that until now have only been available in hard copy in libraries are now accessible at the Official Site of the Holy See, in the "Resource Library" section. "Entire collections of the 'Actae Sanctae Sedis (A.S.S.)' and of the 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis (A.A.S.)' - i.e., the official Acts of the Holy See from 1865 to 2007 - are available in pdf format, as is the twelve-volume collection of the 'Actes et documents du Saint-Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale', published by order of Paul VI starting in 1965, and edited by a specialised group of four Jesuit historians. "These texts represent a documentary resource of inestimable value that is now at the disposal of scholars and all interested persons, free of charge. It is a great contribution to research and information on the history and activities of the Holy See".OP/PUBLICATION ACTS HOLY SEE/... VIS 100325 (200)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, accompanied by Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua, president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile. - Four prelates of the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit: - Bishop Markus Bernt Eidsvig C.R.S.A. of Oslo, Norway, apostolic administrator of the territorial prelature of Trondheim, Norway, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Gerhard Schwenzer SS.CC. - Bishop Berislav Grgic, prelate of the territorial prelature of Tromso. - Bishop Anders Arborelius O.C.D. of Stockholm, Sweden. Yesterday, 24 March, he received in audience Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy.AP:AL/.../... VIS 100325 (120)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Kwangju, Korea, presented by Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. he is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong. - Appointed Fr. Jean de Dieu Raoelison, processor of theology at the major regional seminary of Faliarivo and secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Antananarivo (area 12,500, population 3,100,000, Catholics 863,521, priests 345, religious 2,295), Madagascar. The bishop-elect was born in Arivonimamo, Madagascar in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1996.RE:NER/.../CHOI:KIM:RAOELISON VIS 100325 (120)



CNA report: During the upcoming Holy Week, pilgrims from multiple areas in England will walk 120 miles around the country carrying a life-sized wooden cross. The experience offers participants an opportunity to rejuvenate spiritually and is “intense and rewarding.”
The annual pilgrimage, called Student's Cross, is the oldest in the nation and will bring together more that 250 people. The pilgrims will set out on March 27 from 10 different parts of the country and convene at the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk on April 2, Good Friday. The 10 groups will remain in the area to celebrate the Easter Vigil.
“Pilgrimage is an intense and rewarding experience,” said Dave Stanley, Student's Cross 2010 director on Tuesday. “It is more relevant today than it has ever been for those prepared to face its challenges.”
Reflecting on the pressures and worries associated with modern life, Stanley noted that the event has spiritual benefits to it. “Going on pilgrimage is a fantastic way to strip back to the basics, examine the fundamental questions in life and consider what is really important,” Stanley said.
The pilgrimage can also offer a time for vocation discernment. According to Stanley, it “enables people to think deeply about the direction they are taking, how they can see their role in the world and how God can play a part in their lives. It also offers a unique way to celebrate Easter – both a chance to recharge your spiritual batteries and a crash course in community living.”
Though the title of the pilgrimage bears the word 'student,' it is intended for those of all ages and has been since its inception in 1948.
“We are an immensely varied group of people,” the director noted.“ From the very young to the very experienced. From people who feel secure in their faith as Christians, to people who have simply found that walking with friends restores them in some way. We are students, parents, teenagers and children, people with jobs and people without. Fit and unfit, wildly enthusiastic and apparently reluctant. What we have in common is that we find this pilgrimage an invaluable way of connecting with what is most important in our lives.”


CISA report: The Ugandan rebels have split into at least five groups that rage among the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa, and Southern Sudan; they have become a regional problem.They continue to sow death and destruction, but it is unclear what they want or what their political agenda is. This group should be classified as a terrorist organization," the bishop of Dorma-Dungu, Richard Domba Mady has said. During the night between March 20 and 21, Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacked the town Bamokandi, near the town of Dungu, 780 km north-east of Kisangani, the capital of the Eastern Province of the DRC."This time the army seems to have intervened in time and managed to foil the kidnapping of some people who had already been taken hostage by the rebels," said Bishop Mady. "In other cases, unfortunately, the population remained in the hands of guerrillas.On March 21, another group of the LRA had attacked the village of Agoumar in south-eastern Central African Republic, not far from the border with the DRC. In the Eastern Province, there are four dioceses affected by the LRA violence, both directly and indirectly, on account of the presence of many IDPs who have fled the terror sown by the guerrillas," says Bishop Mady. "It is the diocese of Dorma-Dungu, in Buta and Bondo, and Isiro-Niangara. In the latter diocese, between December 13 and 14 of 2009, the guerrillas had attacked a village near Tapili, killing a hundred people and abducting 40 people, young and old alike. Even Archbishop Etienne Ung'Eyowun of Bondo raised the alarm at the serious situation of insecurity in his diocese, after visiting five of the 10 parishes in the territory.According to the bishop of Bondo, the LRA is occupying three of four local administrative divisions (“chefferies”) and has forced thousands to flee. In addition to the Ugandan rebels, according to Bishop Ung'Eyowun, nomadic Mbororo herdsmen also contribute to the climate of insecurity, with their cows that devastate the fields of sedentary farmers. The worst situation is that of Ango, where the population is going hungry because the LRA fighters raided crops and food reserves.Ango, Dakwa, Banda, and Bondo are the places where the situation is more difficult, but according to Bishop Ung'Eyowun: “Despite this suffering, God's people live their faith in dignity and with hope for a more peaceful day.”



USCCB Communications Department Undergoing Reorganization
WASHINGTON—The Department of Communications of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will undergo reorganization, effective May 1. "These changes will allow us to tap the benefits of the rapidly changing media environment around us," said Helen Osman, secretary of the Communications Department. Under the new design, the department will include two new offices, the Office of Creative Services and Office of Customer and Client Relations, and a unit for Project Management in the Office of the Secretary for Communications. The Office for Media Relations and Catholic News Service (CNS), the largest English-language religion news-gathering service in the world, will continue as part of the Communications Department. Under the reorganization, services now within USCCB Publishing and Digital Media will be provided through the three new entities. The business and marketing efforts of Publishing and CNS will be merged into one Customer and Client Relations Office. In another change, the work of the Office of Film and Broadcasting (OFB) will be assumed into CNS, currently the major distributor of OFB reviews. With the work of the Publishing, Digital Media and OFB absorbed into other structures, Publishing and Digital Media, located in Washington, and OFB, in New York, will no longer exist as stand-alone offices. Under the reorganization the Office of Media Relation will increase in size and expand its outreach through social media, also known as Web 2.0. Another significant change in the Communications Department will be the addition of staff to oversee Spanish-language translations. Helen Osman announced the changes March 16. She noted that the reorganization followed a review of the media landscape of the Catholic Church in the United States, with its growing Hispanic population and exploding use of social media. “We are in a paradigm shift in how people receive information, as profound as when the printing press was invented,” she said. “It is important that the Church not only provide its wisdom regarding the primary dignity of the human person in this information evolution, but also take advantage of the opportunities this new media ecology provides.” “The new creative services office,” she said, “will produce material to be available in print and digital forms – video, audio, text, Web, mobile devices and other emerging technology.” Staff of the office will include members of the former Publishing office’s Development staff and USCCB Digital Media staff. Promoting, marketing, selling and distributing that material will be done by a Customer and Client Relations Office team, that includes staff from the former Publishing’s Marketing and Customer Service team and CNS’s Client Services. The Project Management team will oversee development of multi-media projects. This builds on a process already successfully used at the USCCB. With continued efforts to implement the activities of the bishops’ priorities and other collaborative projects, members of this team will be able to provide effective and cohesive communication support for all USCCB projects. The U.S. bishops have set five priority initiatives for the USCCB. They include: promotion of marriage; faith formation with an emphasis on sacramental practice; promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life; life and dignity of the human person; and cultural diversity, with a particular emphasis on Hispanics.--


UCAN) — The Catholic Church in Orissa has initiated a process to declare those who died for their faith during anti-Christian violence as martyrs.
“We are exploring the possibility of martyrdom for those who died for their faith. We need to collect adequate and unquestionable information,” Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, who heads the Church in the eastern Indian state, told UCA News March 26.
As a first step, the archdiocese set up a five-member committee on March 17 to collect information on those killed during the 2008 violence.
Father Joseph Kalathil, vicar general of the archdiocese, welcomed the move as a “good” gesture by the Church to remember those who preferred to die rather than give up their faith.
Paul Pradhan, a tribal Catholic leader who narrowly escaped being attacked by Hindu extremists, said people who died for their faith “will be a great source of inspiration for generations to come. They will be role models.”
Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur told UCA News the Church should not have “second thoughts” on the matter. “It should be done.” The process would be “quite challenging, but worth the effort,” he added.
The prelate, a canon law expert, said he wants the committee to gather information in a scientific way and keep Church authorities updated on its progress.
Montfort Brother Varghese Theckannath, who is assisting the archdiocese with a group of religious lawyers to get justice for the victims, said the entire Indian Church is proud of the Orissa “martyrs.”
The legal activist pointed out that martyrs contribute to the Church’s collective faith experience. “We cannot ignore their experience,” he added.
John Dayal, secretary of the ecumenical All India Christian Council, said victims of anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal in 2008 who died “terrible deaths for their faith” have not asked for martyrdom status, “but we need them as our martyrs”.
The lay leader pointed out that the victims were “among the poorest of the poor. They faced killer gangs, swords and fire, but did not renege on their faith. Even their killers must have been shamed.”
The violence began Aug. 24, 2008, the day after Maoists gunned down a Hindu religious leader, and lasted more than seven weeks. According to Church sources, some 90 people were killed.
Dayal says each death in Orissa “nurtures the Church in India, and strengthens our own commitment to a salvific Christ”.


Cath News report: An Equal Opportunity Bill debated in the Victorian State Parliament could force religious institutions and schools to secularise or disband, some religious groups fear.
"This sets up the (Equal Opportunity Commission) to be judge, jury and executioner with unparalleled powers," Australian Christian Lobby state director Rob Ward was cited saying in a report in The Age.
Debate will continue today on the bill, which would allow the Equal Opportunity Commission to investigate at will and to require religious employers to show why they need to discriminate.
Islamic Schools Association of Australia president Abdul Karim Galea said he hated to think paranoia about Muslim schools might lead authorities to suppose there was a problem where there was none.
"If there are no complaints and an authority takes it on itself to conduct a witch-hunt to see if there are breaches, I think that's wrong," Mr Galea said.
Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke said the proposed legislation did not give her unfettered power, and that any investigation would be launched only with evidence and in consultation with the commission's board, the report said.
Shadow attorney-general Robert Clark said some aspects of the bill would cause enormous disruption and create disputes, but Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the Catholic Church and many faith groups agreed that the government had struck the right balance, the report added.

The Annunciation
Feast: March 25
Feast Day:
March 25

This great festival takes its name from the happy tidings brought by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, concerning the incarnation of the Son of God. It commemorates the most important embassy that was ever known: an embassy sent by the King of kings, performed by one of the chief princes of his heavenly court; directed, not to the kings or emperors of the earth, but to a poor, unknown, retired virgin, who, being endowed with the most angelic purity of soul and body, being withal perfectly humble and devoted to God, was greater in his eyes than all the sceptres in the world could make a universal monarch. Indeed God, by the choice which he is pleased to make of a poor virgin, for the accomplishment of the greatest of all mysteries and graces, clearly demonstrates that earthly diadems, dignities, and treasures are of no consideration with him; and that perfect humility and sanctity alone constitute true greatness. God, who is almighty, can do all things by himself, without making use of the concurrence of creatures. Nevertheless he vouchsafes. in his exterior works, most frequently to use their co-operation. If he reveals his will and speaks to men, it is by the intervention of his prophets, and these he often enlightens by the ministry of angels. Many of the ancient patriarchs were honored by him with the most sublime commissions. By Moses he delivered his people from the Egyptian slavery, by him he gave them his law, and he appointed him mediator in his alliance with them. When the Son of God became man, he could have taken upon him our nature without the co-operation of any creature; but was pleased to be born of a woman. In the choice of her whom he raised to this most sublime of all dignities to which any pure creature could be exalted, he pitched upon her who, by the riches of his grace and virtues, was of all others the most holy and the most perfect. The design of this embassy of the archangel is as extraordinary as the persons concerned in it. It is to give a Saviour to the world, a victim of propitiation to the sinner, a model to the just, a son to this Virgin, remaining still a virgin, and a new nature to the Son of God, the nature of man, capable of suffering pain and anguish in order to the satisfaction of God's justice for our transgressions. And the Son of God being to take a human body formed of her substance, the Holy Ghost, who, by a power all-divine, was to her in place of a spouse, was not content to render her body capable of giving life to a Man-God, but likewise enriched her soul with a fulness of grace, that there might be a sort of proportion between the cause and the effect, and she the better qualified to co-operate towards this mystery of sanctity.
The angel begins his address to her with This is not the first time that angels appeared to women: but we find not that they were ever treated with that respect which the angel Gabriel shows to Mary. Sarah and Agar were visited by these celestial spirits, but not with an honour like that wherewith the angel on this occasion addresses the Blessed Virgin, saying, He considers her as the greatest object among creatures of God's favour, affection, and complacency. He admires in her those wonderful effects of the divine liberality, those magnificent gifts and graces, those exalted virtues, which have placed the very foundation of her spiritual edifice on the holy mountains, in a degree of perfection surpassing that of all pure creatures He admires that perfect gratitude with which she always received God's grace, and her perfect fidelity in corresponding with it, and advancing in sanctity, by the help thereof, with a solicitude answerable to her love and gratitude, for the preservation and increase of so inestimable a treasure. The first encomium which St. John gives us of the glory of the is, that he was God forbid that we should say that Mary was full of grace in the same manner as her Son; for he is the very source and origin of it, the saints, Mary not excepted, whatever degree they possess of grace and sanctity. St. Luke assures us also that St. Stephen was full of grace and the Holy Ghost, but it was a fullness in regard to a less capacity, and in relation to a lower function. Moreover, to St. Stephen and other saints, who have received large portions of heavenly grace, we may say, in those other words of the angel, : but those very favours, though very great in themselves, were not to be compared with that which from all eternity was reserved for Mary. God made the saints the object of his gratuitous election, and he qualified them with his graces to be the messengers of his Son, the preachers and witnesses of his gospel; but Mary was his choice, and was furnished with his graces to bear the most illustrious, the most exalted title of honour that heaven could bestow on a pure creature, to conceive of her proper substance the divine Word made man. If then the grace of God so raises a person in worth and merit that there is not any prince on earth who deserves to be compared with a soul that is dignified with the lowest degree of sanctifying grace; what shall we say or think of Mary, in whom the fullness of grace was only a preparation to her maternity? What shall we think of ourselves, (but in an opposite light,) who wilfully expose this greatest of all treasures on so many occasions to be lost, whereas we ought wilfully to forego and renounce all the advantages and pleasures of this world, rather than hazard the loss of the least degree of it, and be most fervent in our supplications to God for the gaining, preserving, and increasing so great a treasure: forasmuch as it is a pledge of God's love, a participation of his Spirit, and a title to the possession of his heavenly kingdom. But who can be surprised at those inestimable treasures which God, on this occasion, with so liberal a hand, bestows on Mary, if he considers the purport of the following words of the angel: . He is with her in a manner more intimate, more perfect, and more divine than he ever was or will be with any other creature. He is with her, not only by his essence, by his presence, by his power; for he is thus with all his creatures: He is with her, not only by his grace touching her heart and enlightening her understanding; he is thus many times with the sinner: He is with her, not only with his sanctifying grace, making her agreeable in his sight, and placing her in the number of his children; he is present in this manner with all the just: He is with her, not only by a special protection guiding her in his ways, and leading her securely to the term of salvation; this he does for the elect: but he is also with her by a substantial and corporeal presence, residing personally and really in her. In her, and of her substance, is this day formed his adorable body; in her he reposes for nine months, with his whole divinity and humanity. It is in this ineffable manner that he is with Mary, and with none but Mary. O glorious Virgin, thrice happy Mother, from this source and ocean of all grace what heavenly blessings in so long a space of time must have flowed upon you! and what honors must be due to one so nearly allied to our great Creator! What intercession so prevalent as that of the
The angel concludes his address with these words: ., as being chosen preferably to all of her sex, to be the glorious instrument, in the hand of God, for removing the maledictions laid on mankind in punishment of their sins, and in communicating to them the source of all good. And on this account it was that succeeding , as she foretold of herself, regarding her as the centre in which all the blessings of the Old and New Testament are drawn together.
Though we are obliged to consider the eminent quality of Mother of God as the source of all other graces bestowed on the Blessed Virgin, it must yet be owned it is not the greatest, and that she was happier in loving Jesus Christ than in having conceived him and brought him forth. She is and above the rest of creatures, not precisely on account of her maternity, but because she received a fulness of grace proportioned to the dignity to which she was chosen. So the" according to the remark of the holy fathers, she was happier for her sanctity than for her dignity: for her virtues than for her privileges. Among her virtues, that of purity seems particularly deserving of notice on this solemnity, as the epistle for this festival records that memorable prophecy of Isaias, ;8 the most remarkable of the signs God had promised the world for making known the accomplishment of the mystery of man's redemption. And indeed right reason seemed to require that she, who was to be the mother of God, should be of an integrity above reproach, and incapable of yielding to any solicitation: it was highly fit her virginity should be perfectly pure, and removed as far as possible from the least suspicion of blemish. For this reason, the moment God had chosen her to be his mother, he exacted from her the most authentic proofs of an inviolable attachment to purity. Thus, it is not in a crowd, or in idle conversation, but in a retreat, that the angel finds her. It is not from the distraction of diversions and entertainments that he calls her aside to deliver his message: no; she is alone in her house, with the door shut; "and," as St. Ambrose says, "he must be an angel that gets entrance there." a Hence, according to the same holy father, it was not the angel's appearance that gave her trouble, for he will not have it to be doubted but heavenly visions and a commerce with the blessed spirits had been familiar to her. But what alarmed her, he says, was the angel's appearing in human form, in the shape of a young man. What might add to her fright on the occasion was his addressing her in the strain of praise, which kind of words flattery often puts in the mouths of ill-designing men. And how few, alas, are able to withstand such dangers! But Mary, guarded by her modesty, is in confusion at expressions of this sort, and dreads the least appearance of deluding flattery. Such high commendations make her cautious how she answers, till in silence she has more fully considered of the matter: , says St. Luke, Ah, what numbers of innocent souls have been corrupted for want of using the like precautions! Mary is retired, but how seldom now-a-days are young virgins content to stay at home! Mary is silent when commended, and answered not a word till she had well considered what she ought to say: but now it is to be feared that young women never think so little as when they ale entertained with flattery. Every soothing word is but too apt to slide from the ear to the heart; and who can tell what multitudes, by their unwary methods, suffer shipwreck of their modesty, and then of their purity. For how can this be long-lived after having lost all its guardians? No, it cannot be. Unless a virgin be assiduous in prayer and spiritual reading, modest in her dress, prudent and wary in her choice of company, and extremely careful in the government of her eyes and tongue when she happens to be in conversation with the other sex, there is but too much reason to apprehend that either her heart is already betrayed, or in danger of being vanquished by the next assault of her spiritual enemy. A dread of, and a speedy flight from all dangerous occasions is the only security of virtue and innocence. Presumption wants no other tempter. Even Mary, though confirmed in grace, was only secure by this fear and distrust in herself. A second cause why Mary was disturbed at the words of the angel was because they contained her praises. Humble souls always tremble and sink with confusion in their own minds when they hear themselves commended; because they are deeply penetrated with a sense of their own weakness and insufficiency, and they consider contempt as their due. They know that the glory of all gifts belongs solely to God, and they justly fear lest the poison of praise should insinuate itself into their minds; being sensible how infinitely dangerous honors and flattery are to humility. Are these our sentiments? Do we never speak of ourselves to our own advantage? Do we never artfully praise ourselves, or willingly lend an ear to what flatterers say to applaud us? Are we troubled when we hear ourselves praised? What gives trouble but to too many is, that men give them not what they take to be their right; and that their praises equal not the notion they have framed of their merits. The high eulogiums bestowed on Mary by the angel she answers no otherwise than by a profound silence, by a saintly trouble of mind, which, with a modest blush, appears in her countenance. The angel, to calm her disquiets, says to her, He then informs her that she is to conceive and bring forth a son whose name shall be Jesus, who shall be great, and the son of the Most High, and possessed of the throne of David, her illustrious ancestor. Mary, who according to St. Austin had consecrated her virginity to God by a vow, is not at all weakened by the prospect of such a dignity in her resolution of living a virgin; but, on the contrary, out of a just concern to know how she may comply with the will of God without prejudice to her vow, neither moved by curiosity, nor doubting of the miracle or its possibility, she inquires, Nor does she give her consent till the heavenly messenger acquaints her that it is to be a work of the Holy Ghost, who, in making her fruitful, will not entrench in the least upon her virginal purity, but cause her to be a mother, still remaining, as she desires, a pure virgin.
Moreover, had not Mary been deep-rooted in humility, what impression must not these great promises have made in her heart, at a time especially when the first transports are so apt to overflow the soul on the sudden news of an unexpected glory. The world knows, from too frequent experience, how strongly the promise and expectation of new dignities raise the spirits, and alter the words, the looks, and the whole carriage of proud men. But Mary is still the same, or rather much more lowly and meek in spirit upon the accession of this unparalleled dignity. She sees no cause to pride herself in her virtues, graces, and privileges, knowing that the glory of all these are due only to the divine Author and Bestower of them. In submission, therefore, to God's will, without any further inquiries, she expresses her assent in these humble but powerful words: What faith and confidence does her answer express! What profound humility and perfect obedience! She was saluted Mother of God, yet uses no word of dignity, but styles herself nothing more than his handmaid, to be commanded and employed by him as he shall think fittest. The world, as heaven had decreed, was not to have a Saviour till she had given her consent to the angel's proposal; she gives it, and behold the power and efficacy of her submissive fiat! That moment, the mystery of love and mercy promised to mankind four thousand years before, foretold by so many prophets, desired by so many saints, is wrought on earth. That moment, the Word of God is for ever united to humanity; the soul of Jesus Christ, produced from nothing, begins to enjoy God, and to know all things past, present, and to come: that moment, God begins to have an adorer who is infinite, and the world a mediator who is omnipotent; and, to the working of this great mystery, Mary alone is chosen to co-operate by her free assent. The prophets represent the earth as moved out of its place, and the mountains as melting away before the very countenance of God looking down upon the world. Now that he descends in person, who would not expect that the whole heavens should be moved? But another kind of appearance best suited his coming on this occasion, which was with the view of curing our pride by his wonderful humiliations, and thereby repair the injury the Godhead had suffered from our unjust usurpation; and not to show forth his grandeur, and display his all-glorious majesty. How far are the ways of God above those of men! how greatly does divine wisdom differ from human folly! how does every circumstance in this mystery confound the pride, the pomp, and the vain titles of worldly grandeur, and recommend to us the love of silence and sincere humility!
From the example of the Virgin Mary in this mystery, how ardent a love ought we to conceive of purity and humility! According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Jerome, she would rather be the spouse of God in spirit, by spotless virginity, than his mother in the flesh; and so acceptable was this her disposition to God, that she deserved immediately to hear, that she should bring forth the Son of the Most High, still remaining a most pure virgin: nor would God have otherwise raised her to this astonishing honor. The Holy Ghost is invited by purity to dwell in souls, but is chased away by the filth of the contrary vice. The dreadful havoc which it now-a-days makes among Christian souls, calls for torrents of tears, and is the source of the infidelity and universal desolation which spreads on every side. Humility is the foundation of a spiritual life. By it Mary was prepared for the extraordinary graces. and all virtues with which she was enriched, and for the eminent dignity of Mother of God. St. Austin says that, according to an ancient tradition, this mystery was completed on the 25th of March. Both eastern and western churches celebrate it on this day, and have done so at least ever since the fifth century. This festival is mentioned by Pope Gelasius I, in 492. The council of Constantinople, in 692, orders the , as on Good Friday, to be said on all days in Lent, except Saturdays, Sundays, and the feast of the Annunciation. The tenth council of Toledo, in 656, calls this solemnity "the festival of the Mother of God," by way of excellence. To praise the divine goodness for this incomprehensible mystery of the incarnation, Urban II, in the council of Clermont, in 1095, ordered the bell to be rung every day for the triple Angelical Salutation, called Angelus Domini, at morning, noon, and night; which practice of devotion several popes have recommended by indulgences, as John XXII, Calixtus III, Paul III, Alexander VII and Clement X. The late Benedict XIII has augmented them to those who, at the aforesaid hours, shall devoutly recite this prayer kneeling



Luke 1: 26 - 38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!"
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"
And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
For with God nothing will be impossible."
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.


(VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned his attention to St. Albert the Great, whom he described as "one of the greatest masters of scholastic theology". The saint, who was born in Germany at the beginning of the thirteenth century, "studied what were known as the 'liberal arts': grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music; in other words, general culture, and he diplayed that typical interest for the natural sciences which would soon become his chosen field of specialisation". He entered the Order of Preachers and, following his ordination as a priest, had the opportunity to complete his theological studies at the most famous university of his age, Paris. From there he went to Cologne, taking Thomas Aquinas with him, his own "outstanding student". Pope Alexander IV made use of Albert's theological counsel, and subsequently appointed him as bishop of Regensburg. Albert, recalled the Holy Father, "contributed to the 1274 Council of Lyon, called by Pope Gregory X to favour the unification of the Latin and Greek Churches following their separation in the great Eastern Schism of 1054. He clarified the ideas of Thomas Aquinas, who had been the subject of entirely unjustified objections and even condemnations". The German saint died in Cologne in the year 1280, and was canonised and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931, "undoubtedly an appropriate recognition for this great man of God" who was also "an outstanding scholar, not only of the truth of faith but in many other fields of knowledge". For this reason too, "Pope Pius XII named him as patron of the natural sciences, also giving him the title of 'Doctor universalis' because of the vastness of his interests and knowledge". "Above all, St. Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science. ... He reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity", said the Holy Father. "St. Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance of the thought of Aristotle into the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, an acceptance that was later definitively elaborated by St. Thomas Aquinas. This acceptance of what we may call pagan or pre-Christian philosophy was an authentic cultural revolution for the time. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle's philosophy", especially as it had been interpreted in such a was as to appear "entire irreconcilable with Christian faith. Thus a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in contrast with one another or not? "Here lies one of the great merits of St. Albert: he rigorously studied the works of Aristotle, convinced that anything that is truly reasonable is compatible with faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture", the Pope added. "St. Albert was able to communicate these concepts in a simple and understandable way. A true son of St. Dominic, he readily preached to the people of God who were won over by his words and the example of his life". The Pope concluded his catechesis by asking God "that the holy Church may never lack learned, pious and wise theologians like St. Albert the Great, and that He may help each of us to accept the 'formula for sanctity' which Albert followed in his own life: 'Wanting everything I want for the glory of God just as, for His glory, God wants everything He wants'. In other words, we must always conform ourselves to the will of God in order to want and do everything always and only for His glory".AG/ALBERT THE GREAT/... VIS 100324 (620)
PROTECTING LIFE FROM CONCEPTION UNTIL NATURAL DEATH VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, and to Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua, president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, who are currently visiting Rome with a delegation to receive an image of Our Lady of Carmel. The Holy Father spoke of his "affection towards the citizens of that country, which is celebrating its bi-centenary", and gave assurances that he "will continue to accompany them during these difficult moments following the recent earthquake". Turning then to address Polish pilgrims, the Holy Father recalled the fact that tomorrow marks the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. "In Poland", he remarked, "it is also celebrated as the Day of the Sacredness of Life. The mystery of the Incarnation reveals the specific value of the dignity of human life. God gave us this gift and sanctified it when the Son became man and was born of Mary. It is a gift that must be protected, from conception until natural death. With all my heart I join people involved in various initiatives aimed at respecting life and promoting a new social awareness".AG/CHILE LIFE/... VIS 100324 (220)
LEARNING TO LOVE IS CENTRAL TO CHRISTIAN LIFE VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has written a Message to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery responsible for organising the International Youth Forum currently being attended by around three hundred young people in the Italian town of Rocca di Papa. In his Message the Pope highlights how the theme chosen for the forum - "Learning to Love" - is "central to faith and Christian life" because, he writes, "the starting point for any kind of reflection about love is the mystery of God Himself. ... The heart of Christian revelation is this: 'Deus caritas est'. In His Passion, in His total gift of Self, He revealed the face of God which is Love". "From the very fact that God is love, and that man is His image, we understand the profound identity of the person and his vocation to love. Man is made to love, and his life is completely fulfilled only if it is lived in love", the Pope writes. He then goes on to observe that love takes on different forms in different states of life. In this context, with reference to the priesthood, he quotes words of St. John Mary Vianney to the effect that "the priesthood is love of the heart of Jesus". And he continues: "People consecrated in celibacy are also an eloquent sign of God's love for the world and of the vocation to love God above all things". Benedict XVI exhorts the young people to "discover the greatness and beauty of marriage. ... Through the Sacrament of Marriage spouses are united to God, and with their relationship they express the love of Christ Who gave His life for the salvation of the world. In a cultural context in which many people consider matrimony as a temporary contract that can be broken, it is vitally important to understand that true love is faithful, a definitive gift of self. Because Christ consecrates the love of Christian spouses and commits Himself with them, such faithfulness is not only possible but is the way to enter into ever greater charity". In closing his Message, Pope Benedict expresses the hope that the forum may stimulate young people "to become witnesses to their peers of what they have seen and heard. This", he concludes, "is a vital responsibility for which the Church is relying on them. They have an important role to play in evangelising the young in their own countries, that they may joyfully and faithfully respond to Christ's commandment to 'love one another as I have loved you'".MESS/INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FORUM/RYLKO VIS 100324 (450)
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Cloyne, Ireland presented by Bishop John Magee, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. - Appointed Fr. Francisco Lerma Martinez I.M.C., provincial superior of the Mozambican Region of the Consolata Missionary Institute, as bishop of Gurue (area 42,451, population 1,150,000, Catholics 259,500, priests 46, religious 13), Mozambique. The bishop-elect was born in El Palmar, Spain in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1969.RE:NER/.../MAGEE:LERMA VIS 100324 (100)



UCAN report:

Attacks by Muslim extremists on tribal Catholic villagers in a northwestern parish have left about 50 people injured, with 10 in a serious condition.
The attacks in Boldipukur, in Rangpur district, have raised tensions and created panic in the area, according to a local parish priest. Some of the victims were women and children, he added.
“They [Muslims] said they will kill some of our people. We’re in a panic and are afraid to go out,” said Father Leo Desai, pastor of Christ the Savior Church which is in Dinajpur diocese, about 440 kilometers northwest of Dhaka.
Father Desai, who is also secretary of the diocesan Catechetical-Liturgical Commission, spoke to UCA News on March 22 following the attacks on his parishioners on March 20.
According to Father Desai, Muslims armed with sticks, bricks and knives attacked villagers who had gathered around noon to watch construction work on a piece of land the parish owns.
“We were watching construction work on Church land when they attacked us. I ran for safety but 10-12 men beat me up,” said Nirod Bakla, 40, who is in charge of the parish hostel.
“I have cuts all over my body. All the parishioners are afraid to leave their homes, even though they have to go to work,” he told UCA News.
It is believed the attack is a result of a seven-year land dispute in which a local court recently sided with the parish. Part of the Church land had previously been occupied by a Muslim-run high school.
But some disgruntled Muslims allegedly led by the school management committee instigated the attack in response to the court verdict.
Father Desai said he has already filed complaints against 17 of the attackers with help from a lawyer sent by Holy Cross Bishop Moses M. Costa of Dinajpur.
“Local authorities and the police asked me not to file any complaints. They said the dispute can be settled, but we doubt that because the Muslims became so violent,” the priest said.
Another tribal Catholic, Sushil Ekka, 35 recounted his terrifying ordeal. “I went to the market to buy betel-leaves when five to six Muslims attacked me and beat me with sticks,” he told UCA News.
“I saved myself by running away,” the farmer said.
“About five out of a total of 14 parishes in the diocese have land-related problems,” Father Anthony Sen, secretary of the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission that deals with Church land issues, told UCA News.
“Most tribal people are illiterate and have no land documents for their ancestral lands. Local Muslims occupy their lands and land disputes arise,” he said.


Irish Catholic Conference of Bishops:
Statement from Bishop John Magee on his resignationOn March 9th 2010 I tendered my resignation as Bishop of Cloyne to the Holy Father. I have been informed today that it has been accepted, and as I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the Diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time. To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon. As I said on Christmas Eve 2008 after the publication report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, I take full responsibility for the criticism of our management of issues contained in that report. On March 7th 2009 the Holy See appointed Most Rev. Dermot Clifford as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne. This was in response to a request I had made to be relieved of the burden of administering the Diocese so that I could concentrate on co-operating with the Government Commission of Investigation into child protection procedures in the Diocese in my capacity as Bishop of Cloyne. I will of course continue to be available to the Commission of Investigation at any time. I also sincerely hope that the work and the findings of the Commission of Investigation will be of some help towards healing for those who have been abused.
I welcome the fact that my offer of resignation has been accepted, and I thank the priests, religious and faithful of the Diocese for their support during my time as Bishop of Cloyne, and assure them of a place in my prayers always.


USCCB report: Bishops Encourage Vigilance that Health Care Legislation Protects Conscience, does not Fund Abortion
Applaud efforts to expand health care to allEmphasize need to guarantee federal money does not go to abortionNeed to address flaws in health reform plan just passed
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops called on Congress and people in the Catholic community to make sure promises are kept that new health care legislation will not expand abortions in the United States.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the call March 23, moments after president Barack Obama signed the Senate version of health care reform legislation approved by the House of Representatives by a slim margin, March 21. The statement was approved unanimously by the 32-member Administrative Committee of the USCCB.
“We applaud the effort to expand health care to all,” Cardinal George said.
He noted concerns about the legislation, including that “the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other people’s abortions with their own funds.”
Cardinal George pointed to President Obama’s executive order that said “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.”
The need for such an order underscores deficiencies in the bill, Cardinal George said.
“We do not understand how an Executive order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions,” he said also.
President Obama and others claimed the bill does not expand abortion, Cardinal George noted.
“We and many others will accompany the government’s implementation of the health care reform and will work to ensure that Congress and the Administration live up to the claims that have contributed to its passage. We believe, finally, that new legislation to address its deficiencies will almost certainly be required,” he said.
The statement follows.
For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity. Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity” (United States Catechism for Adults, page 454). Included among those elements is the provision of necessary and appropriate health care.
For too long, this question has gone unaddressed in our country. Often, while many had access to excellent medical treatment, millions of others including expectant mothers, struggling families or those with serious medical or physical problems were left unable to afford the care they needed. As Catholic bishops, we have expressed our support for efforts to address this national and societal shortcoming. We have spoken for the poorest and most defenseless among us. Many elements of the health care reform measure signed into law by the President address these concerns and so help to fulfill the duty that we have to each other for the common good. We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.
Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.
We share fully the admirable intention of President Obama expressed in his pending Executive Order, where he states, “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.” However, the fact that an Executive Order is necessary to clarify the legislation points to deficiencies in the statute itself. We do not understand how an Executive Order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions.
The statute is also profoundly flawed because it has failed to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context). As well, many immigrant workers and their families could be left worse off since they will not be allowed to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges to be created, even if they use their own money.
Many in Congress and the Administration, as well as individuals and groups in the Catholic community, have repeatedly insisted that there is no federal funding for abortion in this statute and that strong conscience protection has been assured. Analyses that are being published separately show this not to be the case, which is why we oppose it in its current form. We and many others will follow the government’s implementation of health care reform and will work to ensure that Congress and the Administration live up to the claims that have contributed to its passage. We believe, finally, that new legislation to address its deficiencies will almost certainly be required.
As bishops, we wish to recognize the principled actions of the pro-life Members of Congress from both parties, in the House and the Senate, who have worked courageously to create legislation that respects the principles outlined above. They have often been vilified and have worked against great odds.
As bishops of the Catholic Church, we speak in the name of the Church and for the Catholic faith itself. The Catholic faith is not a partisan agenda, and we take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to working for health care which truly and fully safeguards the life, dignity, conscience and health of all, from the child in the womb to those in their last days on earth.


All Africa report: The bishops of Angola Sao Tome, and Principe (CEAST) have issued a pastoral message for the Year of Priests stating that priests must pursue holiness which is the goal of every baptized person.
Their message, issued after their first plenary assembly said, "It is an easily verifiable fact that most of the men of our time form an idea of Christ and His Church, first and foremost through His consecrated ministers. Therefore, this makes the need for genuine evangelical witness that is a living and transparent image of Christ the Priest, all the more urgent."
"This is a specific vocation to holiness, which is marked by dedication and the mission to be a sign and instrument of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church, through priestly ministry," the bishops said.
The message further said, "The ministry is a dynamic of personal identification of the priest, a minister of Christ, in configuration with Him, the One who came to serve and not to be served."
The ministry, far from being an obstacle, is the path of sanctification for the priest," as shown in the example of the Curé of Ars.
The statement also said, "The priest, even when engaged in other activities, such as education, cannot forget that he is always a priest, and therefore that such activities must also be at the service of his pastoral mission."
"The Angolan people, thirsting for God, fervently hope that their priests be men of God." And yet, "the priest will not become a man of God unless he is a man of prayer. As the Holy Father said: "Being a priest means being a man of prayer." "Prayer, study, and apostolic zeal, this is the path of sanctification for the priest," the bishops said.
On the occasion of this Year for Priests, the bishops recommend adoration "for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity," as indicated by the Congregation for the Clergy and the mobilization of the Apostolic Union of the Clergy, in order to strengthen the brotherhood of priests."
A prayer for priests is the best gift you can offer them and the logical consequence of true love," the bishops concluded.


Cath News report: The federal Labor MP for Macquarie, Bob Debus, says he supports a proposal to develop a new private hospital in Bathurst to replace St Vincent's which is set to close.
A group of doctors, from an organisation called Day Procedures Australia, wants to rent facilities at St Vincent's to maintain the facility's surgery department ahead of the planned closure in September, the ABC reports.
Mr Debus said the plan to continue surgery at St Vincent's and then develop an alternative centre will help to maintain local staff, and that he will back an application by Catholic Healthcare for Commonwealth funding to upgrade its surgical equipment so the hospital can be used by doctors while a new facility is established.
"Certainly, the main support that I can give at the present time is to press the Minister for Health to take proper account of an application for capital funding that has just been submitted by Catholic Healthcare," he said.
"It's appropriate that there should be a functioning and effective private service available in a city of this size and if we didn't have that then we'd have altogether too much pressure on the public system," he said.


St. Catherine of Sweden
Feast: March 24
Feast Day:
March 24
1331 at Sweden
24 March 1381
1484 (cultus confirmed) by Pope Innocent VIII
Patron of:
against abortion, against miscarriages

The fourth child of St. Bridget and her husband, Ulf Gudmarsson, born 1331 or 1332; died 24 March, 1381. At the time of her death St. Catherine was head of the convent of Wadstena, founded by her mother; hence the name, Catherine Vastanensis, by which she is occasionally called. At the age of seven she was sent to the abbess of the convent of Riseberg to be educated and soon showed, like her mother, a desire for a life of self-mortification and devotion to spiritual things. At the command of her father, when about thirteen or fourteen years, she married a noble of German descent, Eggart von Kürnen. She at once persuaded her husband, who was a very religious man, to join her in a vow of chastity. Both lived in a state of virginity and devoted themselves to the exercise of Christian perfection and active charity. In spite of her deep love for her husband, Catherine accompanied her mother to Rome, where St. Bridget went in 1349. Soon after her arrival in that city Catherine received news of the death of her husband in Sweden. She now lived constantly with her mother, took an active part in St. Bridget's fruitful labours, and zealously imitated her mother's ascetic life. Although the distinguished and beautiful young widow was surrounded by suitors, she steadily refused all offers of marriage. In 1372 St. Catherine and her brother, Birger, accompanied their mother on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; after their return to Rome St. Catherine was with her mother in the latter's last illness and death.
In 1374, in obedience to St. Bridget's wish, Catherine brought back her mother's body to Sweden for burial at Wadstena, of which foundation she now became the head. It was the motherhouse of the Brigittine Order, also called the Order of St. Saviour. Catherine managed the convent with great skill and made the life there one in harmony with the principles laid down by its founder. The following hear she went again to Rome in order to promote the canonization of St. Bridget, and to obtain a new papal confirmation of the order. She secured another confirmation both from Gregory XI (1377) and from Urban VI (1379) but was unable to gain at the time the canonization of her mother, as the confusion caused by the Schism delayed the process. When this sorrowful division appeared she showed herself, like St. Catherine of Siena, a steadfast adherent of the part of the Roman Pope, Urban VI, in whose favour she testified before a judicial commission. Catherine stayed five years in Italy and then returned home, bearing a special letter of commendation from the pope. Not long after her arrival in Sweden she was taken ill and died. In 1484 Innocent VIII gave permission for her veneration as a saint and her feast was assigned to 22 March in the Roman martyrology. Catherine wrote a devotional work entitled "Consolation of the Soul" (Sielinna Troëst), largely composed of citations from the Scriptures and from early religious books; no copy is known to exist. Generally she is represented with a hind at her side, which is said to have come to her aid when unchaste youths sought to ensnare her.


John 8: 31 - 42
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.
The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever.
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you.
I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did,
but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did.
You do what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.





(VIS) - At 6 p.m. on Monday 29 March, the Monday of Holy Week, Benedict XVI will preside at a celebration of the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (2 April 2005).OCL/MASS JOHN PAUL II/... VIS 100323 (70)

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FORUM TO BEGIN TOMORROW VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2010 (VIS) - As it does every three years, the Pontifical Council for the Laity has organised an International Youth Forum, to be held from 24 to 28 March at Rocca di Papa near Rome. The event is due to be attended by around three hundred young people delegated by episcopal conferences and the main international movements and associations. The theme chosen for this forum, the tenth in the series, is "Learning to Love" and its aim, according to a communique, is to reflect on human love in its various aspects: vocation, marriage, family, consecrated life and priesthood. The meeting is due to include lectures, round table discussions, witness and work groups. On Thursday 25 March, the delegates will participate in the Pope's meeting with young people of Rome and Lazio for the commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first World Youth Day. The work of the forum will conclude with the Mass Benedict XVI is due to celebrate in St. Peter's Square on Palm Sunday 28 March, which is traditionally attended by thousands of young people from all over the world.CON-L/INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FORUM/... VIS 100323 (200)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Charles Kasonde of the clergy of Ndola, Zambia, director of the national office for pastoral care and vice secretary general of the Zambia Episcopal Conference, as bishop of Solwezi (area 88,300, population 750,000, Catholics 80,000, priests 40, religious 51), Zambia. The bishop-elect was born in Kalulushi, Zambia in 1968 and ordained a priest in 2001.NER/.../KASONDE VIS 100323 (70)

IN MEMORIAM VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks: - Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 9 January at the age of 84. - Bishop Christopher Shaman Abba of Yola, Nigeria, on 10 January at the age of 74. - Bishop Roger-Emile Aubry C.SS.R., former apostolic vicar of Reyes, Bolivia, on 17 February at the age of 86. - Bishop Juan Angel Belda Dardina, emeritus of Leon, Spain, on 22 February at the age of 83. - Archbishop Lawrence Aloysius Burke S.J., emeritus of Kingston in Jamaica, on 24 January at the age of 77. - Bishop Jose Eugenio Correa, emeritus of Caratinga, Brazil, on 28 January at the age of 95. - Bishop Alfredo Mario Esposito Castro C.M.F., emeritus of Zarate-Campana, Argentina, on 1 January at the age of 82. - Bishop Ignatius O. Lobo, emeritus of Belgaum, India, on 17 February at the age of 90. - Bishop John Bernard McDowell, former auxiliary of Pittsburgh, U.S.A., on 25 February at the age of 88. - Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 12 January at the age of 63. - Bishop John Francis Moore S.M.A. of Bauchi, Nigeria, on 20 January at the age of 68. - Bishop Rafael Munoz Nunez, emeritus of Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 19 February at the age of 85. - Bishop Donald Edmond Pelotte S.S.S., emeritus of Gallup, U.S.A., on 7 January at the age of 64. - Archbishop Ivan Prendja of Zadar, Croatia, on 25 January at the age of 70. - Bishop Joseph Ignace Randrianasolo, emeritus of Mahjanga, Madagascar, on 4 February at the age of 62. - Bishop Josephus Tethool M.S.C., former auxiliary of Amboina, Indonesia on 18 January at the age of 75. - Archbishop Paul Verdzekov, emeritus of Bamenda, Cameroon, on 26 January at the age of 79. - Bishop Antonio Vilaplana Molina, emeritus of Leon, Spain, on 14 January at the age of 83..../DEATHS/... VIS 100323 (330)



Asia News report: Arshed Masih, a 38 year-old Pakistani Christian, died yesterday evening at 7.45 from his very serious injuries. The family requests that an autopsy is performed before the funeral. Christian associations and human rights activists demonstrate outside the hospital. Catholic leaders: the federal and provincial government do not punish the guilty.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Arshed Masih died last night in hospital from the serious injuries - burns covering 80% of his body – which the 38 year old Pakistani Christian suffered when he was set on fire because he refused to convert to Islam. The funeral of man, who died after three days of agony, should take place in the late afternoon, but the family has asked that "before an autopsy is performed." The Christian community of Pakistan condemns "with firmness" the latest episode of violence and denounces the "slowness" of the federal and provincial government to punish those responsible.
On March 19 a group of Islamic extremists burned alive Arshed Masih, a driver employed by a wealthy Muslim businessman in Rawalpindi. His wife worked as a maid in the same estate, situated in front of a police station. Recently disagreements had arisen between the employer, Sheikh Mohammad Sultan, and the couple because of their Christian faith. The couple had suffered threats and intimidation to force them to convert to Islam.
Arshed Masih (pictured) died last night at 7.45 local time after three days of agony and suffering at the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Punjab province. His wife Martha Arshed was raped by police en she sought to denounce the violence inflicted on her husband. The couple's three children - ages 7 to 12 years - were forced "to witness the torture inflicted on their parents.
Since 2005 Arshed Masih and his wife had worked and lived on the estate of the late Sheikh Mohammad Sultan. The pressure on them to renounce Christianity had lately become incessant. The owner had come so far as to threaten "dire consequences", to persuade them to embrace Islam. The couple were also accused of a recent theft by the owner who has promised to drop the complaint for their conversion.
Arshed Masih's funeral should be held in the late afternoon, although tension remains high in the area. Local witnesses tell AsiaNews that "the whole family is in shock and I s demanding an autopsy is carried out before burial." Several Christian associations and human rights activists - including Life for All, Christian Progressive Movement, Pakistan Christian Congress and Protect Foundation Pakistan - "protests are being stepped up outside the hospital."
Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church of Pakistan (NCJP), expresses to AsiaNews his "strongest condemnation" for the crime against the man and the rape of women perpetrated by police who should protect law and order . The Catholic organization has been active to ensure protection to the woman and children, of whom there are no immediate reports.
The Catholic activist notes with regret the silence of the Federal Minister for Minorities, the Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti, and denounces "the slow pace and the inaction of the federal and provincial government. "The executive - said Peter Jacob - has not yet taken concrete steps to prevent violence and abuse on minorities and punish the guilty."
The site adds that yesterday the provincial government of Punjab blocked a protest march of Christians, under the pretext of "terrorist threat". The local community wanted to demonstrate against the "refusal" of the police to arrest the perpetrators of the crime.,-Christian-community-calls-for-justice-17960.html



CNA report: The bishops of Antequera-Oaxaca in Mexico reminded political parties and candidates last week to improve upon the level of politics in the country because the Mexican people want representatives who are attentive to their needs.
“Citizens want parties and candidates who listen, who dialogue in the truth,” and “are always seeking the common good.” They added that it is necessary for political leaders to “propose real and feasible solutions to the challenges and fundamental necessities of our society, and to make commitments to fulfill their promises,” said the statement signed by Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca and Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Campos.
They added that continuous broken promises have led many Mexicans to become disillusioned, which has only caused greater deterioration of the social fabric.
The bishops encouraged voters to become organized and make their voices heard, as otherwise “our leaders and political parties will never straighten up, and improve the level of politics.” If citizens do not grow in social participation and responsibility, they added, “the achievements and advances will be superficial and fleeting.”
The bishops asked those in Oaxaca to reflect on the needs of their region. “What does Oaxaca need most for peaceful coexistence, for its cultural, economic, political and social development?” What are the candidates and different sectors of society proposing? How can we put together the proposed solutions to the huge challenges and needs with the various proposals and keep society informed? How can we promote greater unity in society?” the bishops asked.



CNA report: The leader of the Holy See’s delegation to the United Nations in Geneva has advocated a form of religious freedom that does not require “complete secularization” but sees religion as a “bridge” to human rights. He also criticized laws against “defamation” as vague and open to abuse targeting religious minorities.
Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, addressed the Human Rights Council on Monday. His remarks responded to the follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration.
“Increasing instances of ridiculing religion, of lack of respect for religious personalities and symbols, of discrimination and killings of followers of minority religions, and a generalized negative consideration of religion in the public arena damage peaceful coexistence and hurt the feelings of considerable segments of the human family,” he explained.
Religious freedom should protect the personal and collective exercise of faith and convictions, he continued. Furthermore, religious values are “a bridge for and to all human rights” by allowing a person to orient himself or herself to “what is true and real.”
Human dignity is “rooted in the unity of the spiritual and material components of the person,” Archbishop Tomasi added.
“The respect of everyone’s right to religious freedom does not require the complete secularization of the public sphere or the abandonment of all cultural traditions nor does the respect of freedom of expression authorize lack of respect for the values commonly shared by a particular society.”
He denied that the state can become “an arbiter of religious correctness” by deciding on theological or doctrinal issues, saying this itself would deny the right to religious freedom.
The prelate said the “vague concept of ‘defamation’” used to combat offensive attitudes towards religion moves way from the universality of humanity and is not a support for an effective and satisfactory solution.
“There is the additional real risk that the interpretation of what defamation entails may change according to the censor’s attitude towards religion or belief, often at the tragic expense of minorities,” he cautioned, stating that this is the unfortunate case in states that do not distinguish between civil and religious matters.
States that identify with a particular religion or a certain sect interpret defamation according to their own convictions and “inevitably” discriminate against citizens who do not share those convictions. The concept of “defamation of religion” will only lead to further oppression of religious minorities, he argued.
“The Holy See calls upon the member-countries of this respected Council to transform these unfortunate incidents of religious intolerance and the culture that underlies them into an opportunity for a new engagement to dialogue and for the reaffirmation of the right and value of belonging to a community of faith or belief,” Archbishop Tomasi concluded.


Cath News report: Only 43 of Queensland's 288 Catholic schools will be affected by a strike planned for today, according to the Queensland Catholic Education Commission.
News reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Nine News website said Catholic school teachers seeking better pay will strike at 85 schools across the state.
But QCEC Executive Director Mike Mr Byrne said that seven schools (five in the Cairns Diocese, one in the Toowoomba Diocese and one in Brisbane) would be closed, while a further 36 schools would operate with modified programs.
"I want to stress that it is only a small number of Catholic schools that will be affected by this action tomorrow.
"None of the 133 Catholic systemic schools in the Archdiocese of Brisbane or in the Dioceses of Rockhampton and Townsville will be affected," he added.
Mr Byrne detailed the pay offer that has been put in the table by Catholic school authorities, saying the salary and conditions package being offered is a responsible one.
"It needs to be understood that the resources we have available are limited," he said. Further details can be found in the statement, linked below.
The Queensland Independent Education Union (QIEU) called the package on offer "disappointing", said the AAP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The union claims that teachers working in Queensland's Catholic schools would be some of the lowest paid in Australia's non-government sector. A rally will be held in Brisbane's CBD from 10am, the report added.

All Africa report: Plans are underway to publish a book on the Second African Synod, held in Rome last October under the theme: The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.
A three-day conference on the book project, to be published by Orbis Books in North America and in both English and French in Africa, was held at Hekima College of Theology, Nairobi, Kenya between March 17 and 19.
Over 20 Catholic scholars (practicing theologians) drawn from various universities, colleges and centres in Africa who comprise clergy, religious and lay, met under the banner: Second African Synod Orbis Books Project.
They spent time scrutinizing and critiquing the already submitted manuscripts on the themes of the proposed book on the synod.
Father Joseph Healey, MM said the conference was jointly organized by the Africa Representative of Orbis Books and Hekima College.
It was coordinated by him and Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ, Provincial Superior for the Jesuits in the Eastern African Region.
Fr Healey indicated that Fr. Orobator will be the general editor of the proposed book that will comprise 26 chapters.
He added that the proposed book will consider topics on the challenges of reconciliation, justice and peace such as the ethics, theology and politics of reconciliation, justice and peace; the scourge of corruption; and restorative justice/conflict resolution.
Other topics for special consideration include: good governance; war and armed conflict; integrity of the earth; environment, ecology and climate change; Church/State relations and the Catholic Church in the public sphere.
Also included are gender justice in the Church and in African society; social ethics/justice in the internal life of the Church; and solidarity between the Catholic Church in the Global South and the Catholic Church in the Global North.
The Paulines Publications Africa, a project of the Daughters of St Paul operating from Nairobi, Kenya, will publish the African English edition of the proposed book.
Sister Teresa Marcazzan, DSP, the Directress of Paulines Africa Publication said her publishing house looks forward to actively participating in the project.

St. Turibius de Mogrovejo
Feast: March 23
Feast Day:
March 23
16 November, 1538, Mayorga, Spain
23 March, 1606, Saña, Peru
Patron of:
Native rights; Latin American bishops; Peru

St Toribio, or Turibius Alphonsus Mogrobejo, was second son to the lord of Mogrobejo, and born in the kingdom of Leon, on the 16th of November, in 1538. From his infancy he discovered a strong inclination to piety; and in his childhood it was his delight, at times of recreation, to erect and adorn altars, and to serve the poor. He trembled at the very shadow of sin. One day, seeing a poor peddler woman angry because she had lost something out of her pack, he most movingly entreated and exhorted her that she would not offend God by passion; and, in order to appease her, gave her the value of her loss, which he had begged of his mother for that purpose. He was very devout to the Blessed Virgin, said every day her office and rosary, and fasted every Saturday in her honour. Whilst at school, he usually gave part of his slender dinner to the poor, and was so much addicted to fasting that his superiors were obliged, by strict commands, to compel him to moderate his austerities. He began his higher studies at Valladolid, but completed them at Salamanca. He was introduced early to the notice of King Philip II, honoured by him with several dignities, and made president or chief judge at Granada. This office he discharged during five years with so much integrity, prudence, and virtue that the eyes of the whole kingdom were fixed on him, and his life in the world was a holy noviceship to the pastoral charge. The pressing necessities of the infant church of Peru required a prelate who inherited, in a distinguished manner, the spirit of the apostles; and the archbishopric of Lima falling vacant, Turibius was unanimously judged the person of all others the best qualified to be an apostle of so large a country, and to remedy the scandals which obstructed the conversion of the infidels. The king readily nominated him to that dignity, and all parties concerned applauded the choice. Turibius was thunderstruck at this unexpected news, and had no sooner received the message but he cast himself on the ground at the foot of his crucifix, praying, with many tears, that God would deliver him from so heavy a burden, which he thought absolutely above his strength. He wrote the most urgent letters to the king's council, in which he pleaded his incapacity, and other impediments, and laid great stress on the canons, which forbid laymen to be promoted to such dignities in the church. This humility it was that obtained the succor of heaven by which he performed wonders in the service of souls. Being compelled by obedience to acquiesce, he at length testified his submission by falling on his knees and kissing the ground.
After a suitable preparation, he received the four minor orders on four successive Sundays, the better to dispose himself for the functions of each; and after passing through the other orders, he was consecrated bishop. Immediately after which he set out for Peru, and landed at Lima, in the year 1581, of his age the forty-third. That diocese is extended one hundred and thirty leagues along the coast, comprising three cities and many towns and villages, with innumerable cottages scattered over two ridges of the mountains of the Andes, esteemed the highest and the most rugged in the whole world. Some of the European generals, who first invaded that country were men who seemed to measure every thing by their insatiable avarice and ambition, and had so far lost all sentiments of humanity towards the poor savages, that they deserved the name rather of tyrants and plunderers than of conquerors. Civil wars and dissension completed the misfortune of that country; and covetousness, cruelty, treachery, fraud, and debauchery seemed triumphant. Nor were the repeated orders of the Spanish court able to redress these evils. The sight of these disorders moved the good pastor often to tears, but his prudence and zeal overcame all difficulties, extirpated public scandals, and made the kingdom a flourishing portion of the Christian church. Upon his arrival, he immediately began a visitation of his vast diocese- an undertaking of incredible fatigue, and attended with many dangers. He often crept over the steepest and most rugged mountains, covered with ice or snow, to visit some poor hut of Indians, and give them suitable comfort and instruction. He travelled often on foot, and sometimes barefoot, and by fasting and prayer never ceased to implore the divine mercy for the salvation of the souls committed to his charge. He placed everywhere able and zealous pastors, and took care that no one in the most remote corners of the rocks should be left destitute of the means of instruction and of the benefit of the sacraments. To settle and maintain discipline, he appointed diocesan synods to be held every two years, and provincial synods every seven; and was vigilant and severe in chastising the least scandal, especially of avarice, in the clergy. Without respect of persons, he reproved injustice and vice, and made use of all the means which his authority nut into his hands, to check the insolence of public sinners, and to protect the poor from oppression. Many of the first conquerors and governors of Peru, before the arrival of the most virtuous viceroy Francis of Toledo, were men who often sacrificed every thing to their passions, and for their private ends. From some of these the saint suffered many persecutions, and was often thwarted by them in the discharge of his duty. But by the arms of meekness and patience he overcame all affronts and injuries, and with an invincible constancy he maintained the rights of justice and truth. He showed that many sinners misconstrued the law of God to make it favour their passions; but that, as Tertullian observes, "Christ calls himself the truth, not custom," and will weigh our actions not in the false balance of the world, but in the true scales of the sanctuary. Thus he extirpated the most inveterate abuses, and established with so great fervour the pure maxims of the gospel, as to revive in many the primitive spirit of Christianity. To extend and perpetuate the advantages of religion, which by his zeal he had procured, he filled this country with seminaries, churches, and many hospitals; but would never suffer his own name to be recorded in any of his munificent charities or foundations. When he was at Lima, he every day visited several hospitals, comforted and exhorted the sick. and administered the sacraments. When a pestilence, though that calamity is seldom known in Peru, raged in some parts of his diocese, Turibius distributed his own necessaries in relieving the afflicted: he preached penance, because sins are the cause of chastisements, and infinitely the worst of evils. He walked in the processions, bathed in tears, with his eyes always fixed on a crucifix, and offering himself to God for his flock; fasted, watched, and prayed for them without intermission, till God was pleased to remove the scourge.
Nothing gave the saint so much pleasure as the greatest labours and dangers, to procure the least spiritual advantage to one soul. Burning with the most vehement desire of laying down his life for his flock, and of suffering all things for him who died for us, he feared no dangers. When he heard that poor Indians wandered in the mountains and deserts, he sought them out; and to comfort, instruct, or gain one of them he often suffered incredible fatigues and dangers in the wildernesses, and boldly travelled through the haunts of lions and tigers.1 He spent seven years in performing his first visitation; his second employed him four years, but the third was shorter. He converted innumerable infidels, and left everywhere monuments of his charity. In travelling, he either prayed or discoursed on heavenly things.. On his arrival at a place, it was his custom to repair first to the church to pray before the altar. To catechise the poor, he would sometimes stay two or three days in places where he had neither bed nor any kind of food. He visited every part of his vast diocese, and when others suggested to him the dangers that threatened him from rocks, precipices, marshes, rivers, robbers, and savages, his answer was that Christ came from heaven to save man, we ought not therefore to fear dangers for the sake of immortal glory. He preached and catechised without intermission, having for this purpose learned, in his old age, all the various languages of the barbarous nations of that country. Even on his journeys he said mass every day with wonderful fervour and devotion. He always made a long meditation before and after it, and usually went to confession every morning; though they who best knew his interior testified that they were persuaded he had never in his whole life forfeited his baptismal innocence by any mortal sin. He seemed to have God and the divine honor alone before his eyes in all his words and actions so as to give little or no attention to any thing else; by which means his prayer was perpetual. He retired in private to that exercise often in the day, and for a long time together. In it his countenance seemed often to shine with a divine light. The care with which he studied to disguise and conceal his great mortifications and works of piety, was the proof of his sincere humility. His munificence in relieving the poor of every class, especially those who were too bashful to make their necessities publicly known, always exhausted his revenues. The decrees of his provincial councils are monuments of his zeal, piety, learning, and discretion: they have been ever since esteemed, not only in the new world, but also in Europe, and at Rome itself, as oracles. The flourishing state of the church of Peru, the great numbers of saints and eminent pastors with which it abounded, and the establishment of innumerable seminaries of piety and learning, and hospitals for the poor, were the fruit of his zeal. If he did not originally plant the faith, he was at least the great propagator of it, and the chief instrument of God in removing scandals and advancing true piety in that vast country, which till then had been a land of abominations: whilst Francis of Toledo, the great viceroy, first settled the civil government in peace and tranquillity by salutary laws, which have procured him the title of the Legislator of Peru. St. Turibius, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, in 1606 during the visitation of his diocese, fell sick at Santa, a town one hundred and ten leagues distant from Lima. He foretold his death, and ordered him to be rewarded who should bring him the first account from his physician that his recovery was despaired of. The ardour of his faith, his hope, his love of his Creator and Redeemer, his resignation, and perfect sacrifice of himself, gathered strength in the fervent exercises and aspirations which he repeated almost without ceasing in his illness. By his last will he ordered what he had about him to be distributed among his servants, and whatever else he otherwise possessed to be given to the poor. He would be carried to the church, there to receive the holy Viaticum, but received extreme unction in his sick bed. He often repeated those words of St. Paul, ; and in his last moments he ordered to be sung by his bedside those of the Psalmist, He died on the 23rd of March, repeating those other words of the same prophet, His body being translated the year after to Lima, was found incorrupt, the joints flexible, and the skin soft. His historian, and the acts of the canonization, mention many sick restored to their health, and a girl raised to life by him whilst he was living; also many miracles wrought through his intercession after his death. He was beatified by Innocent XI in 1679,1 and solemnly canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. On the miracles wrought by his inter. cession, see Benedict XIV,2 and especially the acts of his canonization. SOURCE;


John 8: 31 - 42
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.
The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever.
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you.
I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did,
but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did.
You do what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.