CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: FRI. JAN. 7, 2011: HEADLINES-
BENEDICT XVI VISITS SICK CHILDREN IN ROME'S GEMELLI HOSPITAL
VATICAN CITY, 5 JAN 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - This afternoon, to mark tomorrow's Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Holy Father travelled to the Agostino Gemelli hospital in Rome where he visited the department for children afflicted with spina bifida.
Having greeted the young patients, he went on to visit the post-natal intensive care unit and the Paul VI International Scientific Institute for research, diagnosis and therapy of marital sterility.
Addressing the medical staff, the sick children and their parents the Holy Father explained that he had cone to the Gemelli hospital to tell the young ones "that I love you and remain at your side with my prayers and affection, also to give you the strength to face your sickness. ... I bless the personnel, their commitment and these places in which they give concrete expression of love for the weakest and those most in need", he said.
"Dear children and young people, one reason I wanted to come here to visit you was to be like the Magi, whom we celebrate on this Feast of the Epiphany. They brought Jesus gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh as an expression of their adoration and affection. Today I too have brought you some gifts so that, through this small sign, you may feel the closeness and affection of the Pope. Yet I would like everyone, adults and children alike, at this Christmastime, to recall the greatest gift which God gave to each one of us".
In conclusion Benedict XVI encouraged "the various charitable and voluntary initiatives, as well as those institutions which bring their expertise to the service of life. In this context I am thinking in particular of the Paul VI International Scientific Institute, which aims to promote responsible procreation. Once again, thank you all! The Pope loves you!"
VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2011 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. today, the Pope presided at Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.
In his homily Benedict XVI explained that the Magi "were probably wise men who studied the skies, but not in an attempt to read the future in the stars; ... rather, they were men who sought something greater, who sought the true light, the light capable of indicating the path to follow in life. They were individuals who were certain that the creation contains what we could describe as God's signature, a signature that man can and must seek to discover and decipher".
Referring to King Herod, the Pope described him as a "a man of power", to whom "even God appeared as a rival; indeed, a particularly dangerous rival Who sought to deprive men of their living space, of their autonomy, of their power. ... Herod is a unsympathetic figure to us, one we instinctively judge negatively because of his brutality. Yet we should ask ourselves whether there is not perhaps something of Herod in us too. Perhaps we too, at times, see God as a kind of rival. Perhaps we too are blind to His signs, deaf to His words, because we believe that He puts limitations on our lives and does not allow us to dispose of our existence as we wish".
"When we see God in this way", the Holy Father continued, "we end up feeling dissatisfied and discontented, because we do not allow ourselves to be guided by the One Who is the foundation of all things, We must remove all idea of rivalry from our minds and hearts, the idea that giving space to God is a limit to the self. We must open ourselves to the certainty that God is omnipotent love which takes away nothing, which threatens nothing. Quite the contrary, He is the only One capable of offering us the chance to live a full life and to experience true joy".
The Magi, the Pope went on, "being wise men, also knew that it is not with a mere telescope but with the eyes of profound reason which searches for the ultimate meaning of reality, with the desire for God moved by the faith, that it is possible to meet Him. Or rather, this is what makes it possible for God to approach us. The universe is not the result of chance, as some people would have us believe, and contemplating it we are called to read something more profound therein: the wisdom of the Creator, God's endless imagination, His infinite love for us.
"We must not", Benedict XVI added, "allow our minds to be constrained by theories which are always limited and which - if we study them well - are not in any way in competition with the faith as they cannot explain the ultimate meaning of reality. In the beauty of the world, in its mystery, its greatness and its rationality we cannot fail to read the eternal rationality. And we cannot but allow ourselves to be guided by the world to the One God, Creator of heaven and earth. If we see things in this way, we will see that the One Who created the world, and the One Who was born in a grotto in Bethlehem and continues to live among us in the Eucharist, are the same living God Who calls us, Who invites us, Who wants to lead us to eternal life".
For the Magi "it seemed logical to seek the new king in the royal palace". Yet "the star guided them to Bethlehem, a small town; it guided them among the poor, among the humble, to find the King of the world. God's criteria are different to those of mankind. God does not show Himself among the powerful of this world, but in the humility of His love, the love which asks us to welcome it in our freedom, in order to transform us and enable us to reach the One Who is Love".
"In the end, for the Magi, it was vital to listen to the voice of Holy Scripture; only that could show them the way. The Word of God is the true star which, in the uncertainty of human discourse, offers us the immense splendour of divine truth", said the Pope.
And he concluded: "Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the star, which is the Word of God, let us follow it in our lives, walking with the Church where the Word has pitched its tent. Our path will always be illuminated by a light which no other sign can give us. And we too will be able to act as stars for other people, a reflection of that light which Christ caused to shine upon us".
VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass in the Vatican Basilica, at midday the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered below.
On the subject of today's feast, the Holy Father explained how "Epiphany means the manifestation of Jesus to all people, today represented by the Magi who came to Bethlehem from the East to pay homage to the King of the Jews, of Whose birth they had learned by the appearance of a star in the sky".
"Epiphany", he went on, "announced the universal openness of the Church, her call to evangelise all people. But the Epiphany also tells us how the Church accomplishes this mission: by reflecting the light of Christ and announcing His Word. Christians are called to imitate the service the star offered to the Magi. We must shine like children of light to attract everyone to the beauty of the Kingdom of God".
After the Angelus Benedict XVI expressed his congratulations "to our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who will celebrate Christmas tomorrow. May the goodness of God, Who appeared in Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate, strengthen everyone in faith, hope and charity, and bring comfort to communities suffering trials".
The Pope also recalled how "the Epiphany is the Day of Missionary Children, promulgated by the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood. Children and young people, organised in their parishes and schools, form a network of spirituality and solidarity to help their peers in difficulties. It is very beautiful and important that children should grow up with their minds open to the world, with feelings of love and fraternity, overcoming selfishness and consumerism, Dear children and young people, with your prayers and your commitment you help in the Church's mission. For this I thank you and bless you!"
VATICAN CITY, 7 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Msgr. Leonardo Bonanno of the clergy of the archdiocese of Cosenza-Bisignano, Italy, vicar general, moderator of the archdiocesan Curia and judge of the regional ecclesiastical tribunal, as bishop of San Marco Argentano-Scalea (area 1,142, population 113,672, Catholics 111,000, priests 88, permanent deacons 3, religious 91), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in San Giovanni in Fiore, Italy in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Bishop Domenico Crusco, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Hector Luis Morales Sanchez, prelate of Huautla, Mexico, as bishop of Netzahualcoyotl (area 513, population 3,637,000, Catholics 3,314,000, priests 136, religious 133), Mexico.
UCAN REPORT: Hundreds of thousands of people attended this week’s closing ceremonies for Vietnam’s just completed Jubilee Year at the Our Lady of La Vang National Shrine.
In spite of rain and a temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius over 500,000 pilgrims gathered for the Jan. 6 closing Mass.
The event also coincided with the 29th Marian Congress of La Vang held every three years at the 213-year-old shrine in Quang Tri province, central Vietnam.
Marie Nguyen Thi Ngat, 60, from Dong Nai province, told ucanews.com that it was the first time she had visited the shrine.
She prayed for local Catholics to bravely practice their faith and to evangelize after the Jubilee Year.
“I also pray for my son who left me 10 years ago,” she added.
A Sedang ethnic man from Kon Tum said he saved two million dong (US$100) over six months to pay for his family’s trip to the shrine. He, his wife and one-year-old son stayed at the shrine Jan. 4-6.
“We come here to express our deep gratitude to Mother Mary who blesses us,” the 20-year-old farmer said.
He added that 3,000 ethnic people from Central Highlands came to the shrine.
Papal special envoy Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Vatican-based Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, presided at the closing Mass concelebrated by 42 bishops including seven ones from Australia, Cambodia, France, Laos and the U.S. The ceremony was also joined by 1,200 priests.
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Dias blessed the foundation stone for a 5,000-seat basilica on the shrine.
Novena, prayer intentions, reflection materials offered
WASHINGTON (January 6, 2011)—As the first anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti last year approaches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invites U.S. Catholics to stand in prayerful solidarity with the people of Haiti.
“Haiti and its people still very much need our prayers and solidarity,” said Archbishop Wenski, chairman of the Special Advisory Group for Haiti at the USCCB. “As we approach the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, we join together with parishes, Catholic schools, youth groups, colleges and universities from across the country to remember the tragic events of that fateful afternoon and to respond in a faith-filled way.”
Catholics are invited to pray and reflect for nine days using the Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas. The novena starts on the evening of the anniversary, January 12, and culminates with the celebration of Mass the weekend of January 22-23, official date for the National Collection for Latin America, including Haiti and all of the Caribbean.
In addition to the novena, other catechetical and reflection resources, including didactical materials from Catholic Relief Services, have been collected at a special website,http://www.usccb.org/haiti/one-year-later.shtml, under the title One Year Later: Pray and Walk With our Sisters and Brothers in Haiti.
Find the novena and other updates and information related to Haiti at http://www.usccb.org/haiti/.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Coptic Christmas is off without incidents thanks to massive police deployment around Egypt’s Coptic churches. At least 70,000 police and paramilitary forces, backed by armoured cars and special SWAT teams, are keeping Christian places of worship under a close watch. Roadblocks prevent vehicles from approaching churches and anyone entering a place of worship must show his or her identity papers.
Copts have defied the New Year Eve’s attack against one of their churches in Alexandria by going to church in great numbers. Even Alexandria’s al-Qiddissin (The Saints) Church, where 23 people were killed and 80 wounded, hundreds of worshippers gathered to pray.
In Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbassiya district, Patriarch Shenouda III presided over Mass last night. During the ceremony, he remembered “the martyrdom of a great many innocents” in Alexandria.
Various government officials and President Mubarak’s two sons attended the service.
In Alexandria, a group of Muslims gathered near the church that was attacked to express their solidarity with their Coptic compatriots, victims of terrorism. They shouted, “Long live the cross and the crescent!”
In the meantime, police released a facial composite of the alleged suicide bomber who set off a 10-15 kg explosive belt, which included nails and shards. The likeness is based on remains collected at the scene of the attack.
According to rumours, DNA evidence would suggest that the bomber was from Afghanistan or Pakistan, which would back the government’s claim that “foreign hands” were involved in the incident.
Appeals indicating more attacks against Coptic churches in Egypt and abroad appeared on some Islamist sites. Christmas and other days on the calendar were indicated as potential dates for attacks because of the presence of large numbers of worshippers.
The attack against Alexandria’s Coptic community highlights the fate of Egyptian Christians who have to cope with daily discrimination and the rapid rise of Islamic fundamentalism in a country that once claimed to be secular and tolerant.
Here is the analysis of the situation by Egyptian expert André Azzam.
A few days after the terrible bomb attack on New Year’s Eve, against St Paul and St George Church (the Saints Church) in Alexandria, the whole country is still moved and deeply distressed.
All over the country, everybody has been condemning this terrible attack, starting from the head of state, the ministers, the press, religious leaders from both sides and the common people, as well as foreign Embassies and expatriates working in Egypt.
Many demonstrations have been organized every day in many places. In several universities, students demonstrated against terrorism. The same took place in many sporting clubs. Discussing the matter is commonplace in all streets and public gatherings.
There is a general feeling, and hope, that this terrible incident should be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. It is not a mere incident, one more, in a long chain of attempts and discrimination against the Copts, Christian Egyptians, whose name actually means Egyptian. Many people on radio and TV expressed sympathy to Copts, since for ordinary Egyptians the attack is seen as an attempt to destroy Egypt from the inside.
For the first time, we can hear radio speakers inviting all the Muslims to go to churches on Eastern Christmas on the eve of 7 January, to share the event with their Christian brothers and sisters and express to them their condolences for the death of more than 20 of them in this despicable attack.
Pope Shenouda III decided to celebrate Midnight Mass on Christmas in spite of the great bereavement, so as not to play the game of the fundamentalists and give up in front of the threats and danger. As stated by Pastor Bayadi, head of the Protestant churches in Egypt, “We must not give up praying on Sundays and on Christmas”. The official spokesman of the Catholic Church in Egypt said, “We fear no one, and nothing will prevent us from going to our churches in this country of the martyrs ». (The Coptic Calendar is called the ‘Calendar of the Martyrs’ and is based on Roman Emperor Diocletian persecutions against Christians on 303 AD. The Calendar starts in 284 AD, the year when Diocletian’s reign began).
All Catholic churches that celebrated Christmas on 25 December and celebrated Epiphany on 6 January have decided to remain open on Thursday night to share the sorrow and sadness of the Coptic Orthodox Church and people on this Nativity.
Still a lot of criticism has been expressed by many people. Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information consider that « the blood of tens of Christian is valuing the dismissal of the Home Minister ». Mohammad al Baradei, former director of International Atomic Energy Agency wrote on his blog, “A regime incapable of protecting its own citizens is a regime whose time is over.”
Mrs Georgette Qallini, a former Member of Parliament and a current member of the Coptic Church Council, stated that the official statements about the incident should have waited for an in-depth inquiry into all sides of the attack instead of immediately concluding that it was a bomb attack by a single person who died in the incident.
A leftwing party said that the crime has to be understood in terms of a crisis situation that concerns citizenship and human rights. It insisted that a law on religious buildings treat mosques and churches equally. A present, in order to build a new church, one has to get the written approbation of the head of state. Similarly, in order to repair or restore a church building or part of it, one needs the official permission of the local governor or a high rank official in charge of security.
For well-known thinker Tareq Higgy, “This attack marks a turning point in the process of fanaticism, which gave birth to violence and terrorism”. According to this philosopher, “there will be no human, efficient and final solution unless the people in charge of the country recognise the true reasons of the illness, which resides in a culture of fanaticism, hatred and rejection of the other, along with a rotten education system and religious institutions that put the seed of fire and conflagration by issuing fatwas like banning New Year’s Eve celebrations . . . .”
Recently, a fatwa was issued for the assassination of Mohammad al Baradei. The Sheikh of al-Azhar, the highest Muslim authority for Sunni Muslims, denounced this fatwa. But many people consider that al-Azhar is weak in controlling outbursts, which are daily occurrence.
Fundamentalism has reached a peak and allowed an ugly atmosphere of fanaticism to prevail in the country. Some incidents happen every now and then; for instance, in the subway, when veiled women directly attack unveiled women, considered immediately as Christian, and treated as impious. Unveiled Muslim women are highly criticised by others. These are examples of incidents that happen currently in the streets. Recently, a Muslim woman vehemently quarrelled with some youngsters who were throwing stones at crosses from outside the walls of a Christian cemetery surrounded by billboards praising the ‘union of religions’. The graveyard is located in Old Cairo, a suburb that is rich in Christian, Jewish and Muslim sites and monuments. They all went to a police station, where the woman called on the youngster’s families to educate their children to respect everybody.
To conclude, let us quote the communiqué released by Fr Rafic Greiche, head of the Press Office of the Catholic Church in Egypt and spokesman of the seven Catholic denominations that are present in the country. After denouncing the awful start of the New Year, and recalling the death of many Christians in a Nag Hammadi, Upped Egypt on 7 January 2010, it listed nine demands and one suggestion.
1. The immediate arrest of the criminals and their judgment in court.
2. Dealing severely with all agitators and agents provocateurs that directly or indirectly encourage fanatic actions through the newspapers, the media or preaching.
3. The immediate adoption of a law for all religious buildings.
4. The immediate adoption of a personal status law for Christians.
5. The adoption of a law that forbids religious discrimination and severely punishes anyone who breaks this law.
6. Reassertion of the civic foundations of the state, based on equal citizenship.
7. Complete restructuring of the educational programme and curricula to purge them of what is related to discrimination.
8. In-depth action against negative attitudes from religious leaders to prevent them from encouraging sectarianism.
9. Encouragement by the state of democratic life and protection of freedom of expression and belief.
Finally, the spokesman for the Catholic Church suggested setting up a committee headed by the head of state that includes sociologists and legal experts in order to study the phenomenon of terrorism, which is threatening not only Christians but Muslim as well, and represents a real danger for the nation.
Finally, all the people of good will in Egypt, on all sides, hope that this horrible slaughter will open the door to a drastic solution and a strong command of the situation to start on the path to control definitively the terrible social problem of fanaticism and fundamentalism.
BISHOP MANNING NEW ADMINISTRATOR FOR WILCANNIA-FORBES
|Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu.|
Most Reverend Terry Brady will thus return full-time to his duties as Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.
St. Raymond of Penyafort
Feast: January 7
|Luke 5: 12 - 16|
|12||While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean."|
|13||And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him.|
|14||And he charged him to tell no one; but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people."|
|15||But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities.|
|16||But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.|