ALL AFRICA REPORT: President Obama said March 19 that U.S. Navy and coalition ships and submarines have launched missiles against Libyan military forces to support an international coalition to stop attacks on Libyan civilians.
Obama told reporters while on a five-day, three-nation trip to Latin America that he authorized "limited military action in Libya," and said that it has begun.
A senior U.S. military official told reporters at a March 19 Pentagon briefing that 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from U.S. Navy ships and submarines and a British ship at Libyan air defense targets in the capital city of Tripoli and the western city of Misrata from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. The senior official also said the strikes were against long-range air defense missiles and early-warning radar sites, and main command-and-control communication centers.The United States will contribute its "unique capabilities at the front end," he told reporters traveling with him in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19. Obama added that the use of force was not his first choice and "not a choice I make lightly."
In addition, the coalition was conducting aerial electronic jamming intended to protect coalition aircraft that have begun airstrikes against Libyan forces.
"In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition" that is committed to enforcing the U.N. Security Council resolution that called for protecting the Libyan people, Obama said. The coalition includes forces from Great Britain, Canada, France, Italy and the United States, a senior U.S. military official said.
Obama said he consulted with his international security team and the bipartisan leadership of Congress before acting, and he promised to "keep the American people fully informed."
The president reiterated that the United States will not send in ground troops. "Today, I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya," he began. "That action has now begun."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with European and Arab leaders in Paris March 19 to complete plans to enforce the U.N.-ordered actions. The U.N. resolution came after the Arab League voted March 12 for a no-fly zone over Libya to protect human lives.
"The international community came together to speak with one voice and to deliver a clear and consistent message: Colonel Qadhafi's campaign of violence against his own people must stop," Clinton said March 19 in Paris. "The strong votes in the United Nations Security Council underscored this unity."
"And now the Qadhafi forces face unambiguous terms: a cease-fire must be implemented immediately -- that means all attacks against civilians must stop; troops must stop advancing on Benghazi and pull back from Adjabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; water, electricity, and gas supplies must be turned on to all areas; humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya," Clinton added.
Clinton said the Qadhafi government had indicated there would be a cease-fire, but the reality on the ground is continued violence.
"Colonel Qadhafi continues to defy the world. His attacks on civilians go on," she added.
Sendai (AsiaNews) - Mgr Martin Tetsuo Hiraga, Bishop of Sendai has published a message to all Japanese to comfort the victims and thank everyone for the help that the diocese is receiving from abroad. Sendai is the diocese hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami and includes the province of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the closest to the epicentre. The message is dated March 17, the same day a centre for survivors and aid coordination for volunteers was set up in the cathedral of Sendai.
Two days ago, the Catholic weekly published a special issue on the disaster. It was only published on line, given the enormous difficulties in printing and distribution.
On March 24, at the request of the President of the Episcopal Conference, the Japanese bishops will gather for an extraordinary emergency meeting to discuss and plan their response to the disaster.
Meanwhile, the emergency at the nuclear plant in Fukushima continues. Soldiers and fire-fighters are trying to cool the plants with tons of water piped from tanker trucks. At the same time, engineers working on the electricity grid to restart the reactor cooling system. A security officer said that the reconnection of electricity to the reactors 1 and 2 at the plant is expected later today.
Below the complete text of Msgr. Hiraga’s message:
My dear fellow Japanese people, I am Bishop Tetsuo Hiraga of Catholic Sendai Diocese. At this tragic moment of unprecedented catastrophe caused by the great earthquake and its subsequent tsunami that struck northeast shore areas of this country, we have received a number of heartfelt messages and cordial condolences, donations from all over the country and abroad. We thank you very much for your thoughts and prayers, and for your kind assistance.
As you know, vast areas on the northeast coast are affected and our diocesan chancery office is yet to grasp the full details of the damage. Along with unforeseeable development of the crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, we will have much more information to come that may affect our life even more. To respond to the current adversities, we held a meeting with Caritas Japan president Bishop Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, members of Caritas Japan staff and Bishop Daiji Tani of Saitama, and decided to set up an emergency center to coordinate humanitarian aid operations in Sendai.
The center is called “Sendai Diocese Support Center” and is to do its best with the help of your prayers, encouragement and assistance. The center is also trying to give as much information and updates but, in its early stage of activities, it may fall short of your expectations. Please excuse us if this is the case.
Today’s Gospel reading includes a passage “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find”. We believe firmly in God who is love, even we have got stricken hard by this catastrophe. We are determined to do the best we can hand in hand, so that our relief activities for the people affected and suffering may witness the love of God.
Thank you very much.
Sendai, 17 March 2011
In a statement sent to Fides, Fr Morales writes: “The PMS came to our country in 1860, creating great enthusiasm in the community, in particular for the responsibility they took in mission Ad gentes, which means going into places where Christ is not known and organising pastoral care that promoted the work of our Church and that today bears great fruit in Mexico.”
According to the National Director, the greater part of the activities carried out by the PMS in Mexico regard the formation of pastoral care workers, especially through especially through missionary conferences, because it is in the meetings and programs for children, youth, adults and also for those who come to visit the sick, enrich the Church's mission in Mexico. Fr Morales adds: “The wealth of the Church lies in the laity, and perhaps we need to better organise their structures to facilitate their work and their organisation, valuing the gift of their work and their universal diversity, in order to share faith with others.”
“Aparecida currently provides us with a great challenge: the mission of new evangelisation,” concludes Fr Morales. It is a mission that all of need to assume regarding all those who are baptised and Catholics but who have distanced themselves from the Church and do not practice their faith. The laity have a first hand role, not excluding the mission Ad gentes, the mission to people who do not know Christ. The Church has much need of the laity and their work to share their faith with others.”
CATH NEWS REPORT: In 1994, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo showed a frail little Sudanese girl crouched, head bowed, struggling to make her way to a feeding centre with a large vulture behind her, ready to claim her body when she died, writes Rev Peter Ingham, the Bishop of Wollongong.
The photographer had waited some 20 minutes to catch the photo, after which he chased the vulture away and watched as the little girl resumed her struggle on her own.
Appearing first in the New York Times, the photo caused controversy. The photographer was castigated for being so absorbed in his work that he didn’t think to reach out and to help the little girl in such real trouble. Two months after the Prize was awarded, the photographer suicided.
This tragic story can be a parable about the Transfiguration. Can’t we all get so caught up in our work, our sporting or recreational life, or positioning ourselves for advancement, that we can become blind to the needs of people around us.
Lent wants us to be alert. To what do you and I give priority? Are we missing some transfiguring (aha) moments, when the penny drops, and we have a truly revealing moment, an important insight about our life, about our destiny, about how we should act.We overlook the everyday opportunities to interrupt whatever we are doing to pay attention to our spouse, hug our kids, assist our friends, and welcome a stranger. Such insights or transfigurations don’t impact because we are so focussed on what we are about that, like Peter, James and John, we are not alert enough to catch a glimpse of the Glory of God being revealed to us! Opportunities lost!
The Gospel of the Transfiguration celebrates what Peter, James and John saw on the mountain. St Peter never forgot the Transfiguration of Jesus in all his glory as the Son of God. Years later he referred to it in his second letter:
“We had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honoured and glorified by God, the Father, when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour.” We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
Why didn’t the Apostles tumble earlier to Jesus being the Son of God? St Luke says, “Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep but they kept awake and they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” (Lk 9:32-33)
So they were not fully awake. This can be a good image of why we often miss the transfiguring glory of God – our minds are in slumber mode!
The slumber of prejudice can cause us to be so set in our ideas that our minds are shut like a steel trap and nothing objective can get in.
Or our minds can be so overloaded from the incessant assault of images, commercials and chatter through modern technology, that we can live in constant distraction with our perceptions dulled, insensitive to the deeper realities of life.
When do we ever go apart, or take some solitude so we can reflect on our experiences in life? Then we won’t be so unalert to the people around us, indifferent to their struggles, their joys, their needs.
One “aha” transfiguring moment for me was when I visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I was so overawed at this natural wonder that I spontaneously said “How Great Thou Art!” St Paul wrote, “Ever since God created the world, his everlasting power and Deity however invisible, have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made.”(Rom 1:20)
In the Old Testament, we read: “Naturally stupid are all who have not known God and who, from the good things that are seen, have not been able to discover Him who is, or by studying the works, have failed to recognise the Artificer.” (Wis 13:1)
Another transfiguring “aha” moment for me was when my dear mum was dying. It hit me so clearly that this was the really critical and transfiguring time of her life as she was about to go through the gates of death to the fullness of life with God. Aided by my faith and her goodness, I saw life in its true perspective as a journey with the Lord whom, at death, we meet as a familiar friend whom we have cultivated our whole life through, not as a severe, remote or frightening judge!
The Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent focuses us on the humanity of Jesus as he is tempted in the wilderness, whereas the Gospel of the Second Lenten Sunday reveals the Divinity of Jesus. I think St Paul summed it up very well when he said “if we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will also share in his glory.” (Rom 8:17)
Peter W Ingham DD is the Bishop of Wollongong
Feast: March 20
Date of birth unknown; d. 20 March, 687; an anchorite of the seventh century, who dwelt for many years on the little island still known as St. Herbert's Isle, in the Lake of Derwentwater. He was for long the friend and disciple of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Little is known about him, save that it was his custom every year to visit St. Cuthbert for the purpose of receiving his direction in spiritual matters. In the year 686, hearing that his friend was visiting Carlisle for the purpose of giving the veil to Queen Eormenburg, he went to see him there, instead of at Lindisfarne as was usual. After they had spoken together, St. Cuthbert said, "Brother Herbert, tell to me now all that you have need to ask or speak, for never shall we see one another again in this world. For I know that the time of my decease is at hand." Then Herbert fell weeping at his feet and begged that St. Cuthbert would obtain for him the grace that they might both be admitted to praise God in heaven at the same time. And St. Cuthbert prayed and then made answer, "Rise, my brother, weep not, but rejoice that the mercy of God has granted our desire." And so it happened. For Herbert, returning to his hermitage, fell ill of a long sickness, and, purified of his imperfections, passed to God on the very day on which St. Cuthbert died on Holy Island. It is said that the remains of St. Herbert's chapel and cell may still be traced at the northern end of the island on which he lived. In 1374 Thomas Appleby, Bishop of Carlisle, granted an indulgence of forty days to all who, in honour of St. Herbert, visited the island in Derwentwater and were present at the Mass of St. Cuthbert to be sung annually by the Vicar of Crosthwaite.
|Genesis 12: 1 - 4|
|1||Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.|
|2||And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.|
|3||I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."|
|4||So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.|