CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: FRI. FEB. 18, 2011: HEADLINES-
CHALLENGES AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE CHURCH IN PHILIPPINES
VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2011 (VIS REPORT) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Addressing them in English, the Pope recalled "the deep links which Catholics enjoy with the Successor of Peter", noting that this has "always been a significant characteristic of faith in your country, I pray that this communion will continue to grow and flourish as you consider the present challenges of your apostolate", he said.
"While the Philippines continues to face many challenges in the area of economic development, we must recognise that these obstacles to a life of happiness and fulfilment are not the only stumbling blocks that must be addressed by the Church. Filipino culture is also confronted with the more subtle questions inherent to the secularism, materialism, and consumerism of our times. When self-sufficiency and freedom are severed from their dependence upon and completion in God, the human person creates for himself a false destiny and loses sight of the eternal joy for which he has been made. The path to rediscovering humanity's true destiny can only be found in the re-establishment of the priority of God in the heart and mind of every person.
"Above all", the Holy Father added, "to keep God at the centre of the life of the faithful, the preaching of you and your clergy must be personal in its focus so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the life-transforming fact that God exists, that He loves us, and that in Christ He answers the deepest questions of our lives. Your great task in evangelisation is therefore to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfilment. ... At the same time, it must be recognised that new initiatives in evangelisation will only be fruitful if ... those proposing them are people who truly believe and live the message of the Gospel themselves".
The Pope then went on to remark on the positive impact basic ecclesial communities have had throughout the country, highlighting how the "the Church in the Philippines is fortunate to have a number of lay organisations which continue to draw people to the Lord. In order to confront the questions of our times", he explained, "the laity need to hear the Gospel message in its fullness, to understand its implications for their personal lives and for society in general, and thus be constantly converted to the Lord. I therefore urge you to take special care in shepherding such groups, so that the primacy of God may remain in the forefront".
In the Philippines, the Pope continued, faith "plays a very important role in the lives of many young people, a fact that is due in large part to the patient work of the local Church to reach out to youth at all levels. ... Care must also be given to showing young people the importance of the Sacraments as instruments of God's grace and assistance. This is particularly true of the Sacrament of Matrimony, which sanctifies married life from its very beginning, so that God's presence may sustain young couples in their struggles".
Finally the Pope noted how "the pastoral care of young people which aims to establish the primacy of God in their hearts, tends inherently to result not only in vocations to Christian marriage but also in plentiful callings of all kinds". However, "it appears that in many dioceses the number of priests and the corresponding number of parishes is not yet sufficient to meet the spiritual needs of the large and growing Catholic population. With you, I therefore pray that young Filipinos who feel called to the priesthood and the religious life will respond generously to the promptings of the Spirit".
VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today.
"The beatification of Servant of God Pope John Paul II will be a major ecclesial event divided into the following five stages:
"A preparatory vigil organised by the diocese of Rome will take place at the Circus Maximus on the evening of Saturday 30 April (preparation from 8.30 to 9 p.m., vigil from 9 to 10.30 p.m.), organised by the diocese of Rome which had the Venerable Servant of God as its bishop. The vigil will be led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome, while the Holy Father Benedict XVI will be spiritually present through video linkup.
"The beatification ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday 1 May in St. Peter's Square, presided by the Holy Father. Participation in the event does not require a ticket, although access to the Square and surrounding areas will be regulated by the police.
"The veneration of the remains of the new blessed will be possible for all faithful, beginning immediately after the beatification ceremony on Sunday 1 May. The remains of the new blessed will remain exposed for veneration in front of the Altar of the Confession in the Vatican Basilica for as long as the faithful continue to arrive.
"A Mass of thanksgiving is scheduled to take place in St. Peter's Square at 10.30 a.m. on Monday 2 May, presided by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.
"The interment of the remains of the new blessed in the Chapel of St. Sebastian in the Vatican Basilica will take place privately".
VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on their "ad limina" visit:
- Bishop Patricio A. Buzon S.D.B. of Kabankalan.
- Bishop Jose F. Advincula of San Carlos.
- Bishop Jose Romeo O. Lazo of San Jose de Antique.
- Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera of Daet.
- Bishop Joel Z. Baylon of Legazpi.
- Bishop Jose R. Rojas of Libmanan.
This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Fr. Stephen Dami Mamza of the clergy of Maiduguri, Nigeria, currently in Ireland where he is studying for a master's degree in human development, as bishop of Yola (area 34,850, population 3,445,000, Catholics 180,652, priests 37, religious 26), Nigeria. The bishop-elect was born in Bazza, Nigeria in 1969 and ordained a priest in 1996.
- Fr. Pio Goncalo Alves de Sousa, dean of the cathedral chapter of Braga, Portugal, as auxiliary of the diocese of Porto (area 3,010, population 2,100,000, Catholics 1,900,000, priests 506, permanent deacons 16, religious 1,348), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Lanheses, Portugal in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1968.
The Catholic Church in Bangladesh is mourning the death of retired Bishop Francis Anthony Gomes, former prelate of northeastern Mymensingh diocese who passed away at 9:30pm February 17.
Bishop Gomes was 80 and had been seriously ill since his retirement in 2006. He became paralyzed in 2008 after a massive stroke caused continuous brain hemorrhage.
“He was taken to Bangkok for treatment but doctors informed he wouldn’t improve any more,” said Salesian Sister Maria, one of the two nuns who constantly took care of the bishop.
He was born 30 April, 1931 at Rangamatia parish of Dhaka archdiocese.
He was ordained a diocesan priest in 20 December, 1959 by Pope John XXIII.
He pioneered evangelization among tribal people of the greater Mymensingh region and was the first local Bengali priest to work among tribals in the area.
He led Mymensingh to canonical erection as diocese in 1987 and he became the first bishop of the diocese. Earlier Mymensingh was a part of Dhaka archdiocese.
Father Simon Haccha, a tribal Garo priest and pastor of Ranikhong parish said: “Bishop Francis Gomes is the founder of Mymensingh diocese and he led tribal Catholics towards today’s better socio-economic, cultural and pastoral conditions from a challenging time.”
“He fostered spiritual, educational and infrastructural developments in the diocese with once most backward tribal people. He fought for their rights regarding land and political recognition,” added Father Haccha, secretary of diocesan dialogue commission.
He emphasized that tribal Catholics in Mymensingh will never forget his great contributions.
The Virgin is invoked in this land under different titles, and thus “the devotion to Mary is part of the reality of this peoples' Christian faith,” emphasised the Bishop.
The Diocese of São Tomé e Príncipe celebrated 478 years of its existence on 31 January, making it one of the oldest ecclesiastical districts south of the Sahara. “In celebration of this date,” Bishop Santos told Fides, “we thought it would be of great significance to take the image of Our Lady to all the parishes within the diocese, making the most of this opportunity for a public celebration of our faith with Mary, to renew the vital importance of our being Christians, to reassert our identity as Catholics, to deepen our Christian faith through the Word of God and the Sacraments, and to create a greater sense of family around our Mother in Heaven.”
According to the program set out, the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Fatima will leave from Lisbon (Portugal) accompanied by the Bishop emeritus of São Tomé e Príncipe, Bishop Ribas, and arrive at the airport of São Tomé on the morning of 30 April. From there it will travel in procession to the church of “Nossa Senhora da Conceição”. On Sunday, 1 May, a Solemn Mass will be celebrated with the renewal of the act of consecration of the Diocese of the Sacred Heart of Mary. It will then commence visiting parishes across the diocese. On 27 May, the pilgrim Virgin will leave São Tomé by plane for the island of Principe, where it will be for two days. 4 June will close the pilgrimage, and the image will return to Fatima where, on 5 June, the Bishop of São Tomé e Príncipe will preside at a solemn Eucharistic celebration. “We hope that this visit will truly be a moment of grace and blessing, leading to a renewal of Christian life within our diocese,” concluded Bishop Santos. (
WASHINGTON ( February 17, 2011)—The Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) welcomed the approval in committee of the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358). Sponsored by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and 123 co-sponsors, the Protect Life Act would apply longstanding federal policies on abortion funding, and conscience rights on abortion, to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) passed last March. On February 15, the full House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 358 in a bi-partisan vote (33 to 19), and rejected three amendments that would have weakened the bill.
“The committee’s action is an important step toward authentic health care reform that respects the dignity of all, from conception onward,” Deirdre McQuade, USCCB pro-life spokeswoman, said.
As Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said in his January 20 letter to Congress (www.usccb.org/healthcare/cardinal-dinardo-HR358-ltr.pdf), the Protect Life Act “will bring PPACA into line with policies on abortion and conscience rights that have long prevailed in other federal health programs.”
“I now urge all Representatives to support the Protect Life Act and oppose all weakening amendments when it comes before them,” McQuade said.
St. Simon of Jerusalem
Feast: February 18