Tuesday, April 17, 2012


HOLY FATHER'S HOMILY ON HIS BIRTHDAY Vatican City, 17 April 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated to mark two anniversaries the Pope is celebrating this week: his eighty-fifth birthday on 16 April, and the seventh anniversary of his election on 19 April. The Mass was attended by members of the College of Cardinals and by a group of bishops from the Pope's native region of Bavaria. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
In his homily the Pope recalled how on the day he was born and baptised the liturgy "erected three signposts showing me where the road led and helping me find it": the feast of St. Bernardette of Lourdes, the feast of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, and Easter Saturday which in the year of the Pope's birth fell on 16 April.
St. Bernardette grew up in "a poverty we find difficult to imagine", he said. But "she could see with a pure and genuine heart, and Mary showed her a source ... of pure, living uncontaminated water, water which is life, water which gives purity and health. ... I believe we can see this water as an image of the truth which comes to us in the faith; unsimulated and uncontaminated truth. ... This little saint has always been a sign for me, showing me where the living water we need comes from, the water which purifies and gives life. She has been a sign showing me how we should be. With all our knowledge and abilities, which are of course necessary, we must not lose ... the simple gaze of the heart, which is capable of discerning the essential. And we must always pray to the Lord to help us retain the humility which allows the heart ... to see the simple and essential beauty and goodness of God, and to find the source from which the life-givingpurifying water comes".
The Pope then turned his attention to St. Benedict Joseph Labre, who lived in the eighteenth century. "He was a rather particular saint who wandered as a mendicant from one shrine to another, wishing to do nothing but pray and so bear witness to what is important in this life: God. ... He shows us that, ... over and above what may exist in this world, over and above our needs and abilities, ... what is essential is to know God. He alone is enough". The life of the saint, who travelled to shrines all over Europe, "shows that the person who opens himself to God is not a stranger to the world of men, rather he finds brothers. ... Only God can eliminate frontiers, because thanks to Him we are all brothers".
"Finally there is the Paschal Mystery. On the day I was born, thanks to my parents, I was also reborn with the water of the Spirit. ... Biological life is in itself a gift, yet it begs an important question. It becomes a true gift only if, together with that life, we are given a promise stronger than any misfortune that may threaten us, if life is immersed in a power which guarantees that it is a good thing to be a man, and that the person is a benefit whatever the future may bring. In this way rebirth is associated with birth, the certainty that it is good to exist because the promise is greater than the threat. This is what it means to be reborn from water and from the Spirit. ... This rebirth is given to us in Baptism, but we must continually grow therein, we must ever and anew allow God to immerse us in His promise, in order to be truly reborn into the great new family of the Lord, which is stronger than all our weaknesses and all the negative powersthat threaten us. That is why today is a day of thanksgiving.
"The day I was baptised ... was Easter Saturday. At the time it was still customary to hold the Easter vigil in the morning, followed by the darkness of Easter Saturday without a Hallelujah. This singular paradox, this anticipation of light in a day of darkness, can almost be seen as an image of the history of our own times. On the one hand there is the silence of God and His absence, yet the resurrection of Christ contains an anticipation of God's 'yes'. We live in this anticipation, through the silence of God we hear His words, and through the darkness of His absence we glimpse His light. The anticipation of the resurrection in the midst of evolving history indicates the path we must follow and helps us to continue the journey".
"I am in the final stage of my life journey and I do not know what awaits me. However, I do know that the light of God exists, that He rose again, that His light is stronger than all darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than all the evil in this world. This helps me to continue with confidence. This helps us to continue, and I would like to thank everyone who, through their faith, continually makes me aware of God's 'yes'".

Vatican City, 17 April 2012 (VIS) - "Constantine the Great. The Roots of Europe" is the title of an international academic congress to be held in the Vatican from 18 to 21 April. The event has been organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences to mark the 1700th anniversary of the battle of the Milvian Bridge and the conversion of the Emperor Constantine.
The congress was presented this morning at a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office, by Fr. Bernard Ardura O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Claire Sotinel, professor of Roman history at the University of Paris-Creteil and a member of the Ecole Francaise in Rome, and Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper.
"The conference", Fr. Ardura explained, "is the outcome of effective academic cooperation with important cultural institutions such as the Vatican Secret Archives, the Vatican Apostolic Library, the Italian National Research Council, the Ambrosian Library and the Sacred Heart Catholic University in Milan". It is also taking place "with the cooperation and contribution of the European Union delegation to the Holy See, the Lazio Regional Council and the Pontifical Lateran University".
This congress is the first of two, the second of which will be held in Milan in 2013 for the 1700th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Milan, which established freedom of religion in the Roman empire and put an end to the persecution of certain religious groups, particularly Christians. While the 2013 congress will concern itself with what is known as the "Constantinian revolution", tomorrow's event will focus on the environment in which Constantine lived and on relations between Christians and the Roman empire prior to the year 313. Participants will "examine the relationship between religion and the State, the idea of religious freedom in the empire, and religion from the point of view of the emperor and the senate", Fr. Ardura said.
One key area will be the conversion and baptism of Constantine himself, and his attitude towards Christians following the battle of the Milvian Bridge, which took place on 28 October 312 and led to the death of his rival Maxentius. Contemporary and later Christian historians, influenced by the narrative of Eusebius of Cesarea, saw Constantine's victory as the result of divine intervention.
Fr. Ardura pointed out that "from a purely strategic-military viewpoint the battle was not very important, but it soon became the founding symbol of the new world which came into being when Constantine found Christianity. Indeed, ... the era of imperial persecution against Christians was about to come to an end, giving way to the evangelisation of the entire empire and moulding the profile of western Europe and the Balkans; a Europe which gave rise to the values of human dignity, distinction and cooperation between religion and the State, and freedom of conscience, religion and worship. Of course these things would need many centuries to come to maturity, but they all existed 'in nuce' in the 'Constantinian revolution' and therefore in the battle of the Milvian Bridge".
For her part, Claire Sotinel explained that attentive and critical historical analysis "facilitates our understanding of what happened following the victory at the Milvian Bridge, helping us in the twenty-first century to reflect on important issues such as the interaction between religions and political power, the creation of religious pluralism, and the possibility of coexistence among different religions".


Mission Titanic :
There were 3 priests on board Fr. Juozas Montevila, Fr.Joseph Peruschitz, and Fr. Thomas Byles.
1)The first priest, pictured, on the journey was Fr. Juozas Montevila of Lithuania. He studied at Seminary of Seinai now part of Poland. He was ordained on March 22, 1908. Due to his living in Russia his priestly ministry was persecuted so he had to flee. He had tried to minister to suppressed Catholics under the Czarist regime. He was 27 years old when the Titanic sank.
2) Father Joseph Peruschitz OSB of the Benedictine monastery of Bavaria, Germany was one of the passengers who died on the Titanic 100 years ago. He refused a place on the life boat for someone else and knelt and prayed the Rosary with 100 other people on deck.
Father Peruschitz was a teacher of math, music and sports.
On the Sunday the two priests, Fr. Peruschitz and Fr. Byles held a multi-lingual Church service. Then the passengers sang hymns together.
3) The third priest pictured is Fr. Thomas Byles was a convert from England. He was ordained in Rome in 1902. He was a teacher at his local Parish School. He heard the confessions of the passengers as the boat sank and gave up his place in the life boat. Titanic - A Tragic Destiny
(image source: and )


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Thousands of Chilean Catholics take to the streets of cities and small rural communities yesterday to "run with Christ" (Spanish expression used in Chile, which means "to accompany Christ-Eucharist") during the so-called " feast of Quasimodo, "which has taken place for 400 years in the central region of Chile. The event, which was presided by the Archbishop of Santiago, His Exc. Mgr. Ricardo Ezzati, has its origin in a recommendation of the Council of Trent , which exhorted the priests to give communion to the infirm and the elderly on the Sunday following Easter.
Mgr. Ezzati attended the ceremony which was held in the town of Colina, in the north of Santiago, where the caravan, consisting of about 4,500 men on horseback, is one of the largest in the country. Parades were also held in the cities of Quilicura, Renca, Quinta Normal, Puente Alto, Maipu and Penalolen, whose mayor, participated actively mounting a horse.
The note sent to Fides, which explains that the name "Quasimodo" derives from the Latin text of the antiphon entrance of the Second Sunday of Easter: "Quasi modo geniti infanti ..." (As new-born babies), is from the first letter of the apostle Peter. The tradition began in colonial times, when the priests, in their moves to give communion to the infirm, were often victims of bandits who robbed them also of the ciborium containing the Eucharist. So groups of men on horseback began to accompany them to protect them.
During his visit to Chile in 1997, Pope John Paul II called this holiday "a treasure of the people of God." Over the years, men on horseback have been joined by groups of faithful on small carts drawn by horses or bicycles, wearing colorful costumes. Even their vehicles are abundantly decorated with colored paper and flower garlands. In many towns and villages, the fraternities of "quasimodistas" were born who prepare themselves all year round for this occasion. The priest is led on a horse drawn carriage to visit the houses of all the sick of the parish. Participants do not wear hats and cover their heads only with white and yellow handkerchiefs, a sign of respect for the Eucharist. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 16/4/2012)


Cisa News Africa
ADDIS ABABA, April 13, 2012 (CISA) -The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) on April 12 expressed its concern over the current border clashes between South Sudan and the Sudan.
In a press statement, the AU Council urged a quick implementation of the tasks detailed in the 18 September 2011 Decision of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism and UN Security Council resolution 2024(2011).
“Council stressed that the failure to implement the signed Agreements is a denial of the profound aspirations of the people of Sudan and South Sudan, as well as of the trust placed on the Parties by the region and Africa, which spared no effort to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including the self‐determination referendum and subsequent independence of South Sudan,” emphasized the Council statement.
The Council strongly condemned the unfortunate and unwarranted actions that have characterized the conduct of both Parties over the past month, which run contrary to all AU and international principles governing relations among sovereign states.
“ The Council is dismayed by the illegal and inacceptable occupation by the South Sudanese army of Heglig, which lies north of the agreed borderline of 1/1/56,” emphasized the Council, adding ,”The Council demands immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the army of South Sudan from the area.
The Council also demands the Government of the Sudan put an end to its aerial bombardment in South Sudan. “Both sides should make every effort to protect all oil infrastructures,” emphasized the Council statement.
It requested that both Parties immediately comply with all the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Non‐Aggression and Cooperation signed by the Government of the Republic Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan in Addis Ababa, on 10 February 2012, including respect for their territorial integrity and the prohibition on either State from supporting opposition armed groups and movements within the other State.
Meanwhile the Government of South Sudan has set conditions to pull out troops from the contested Higlig oil field, including the withdrawal of Sudanese troops from Abyei.
Government spokesperson Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the SPLA forces would withdraw from Higlig if a guarantee could be provided that it would not be used for another attack against South Sudan, AFP reported.
He said all ground and air assaults by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) must end immediately.
Dr Marial added that SAF is still occupying Abyei and it must withdraw entirely.
He said once the pullout is completed international monitors would then have to ensure a demilitarized zone on either side of the border until it can be demarcated under international arbitration


by Wang Zhicheng
Bishop Shao Zhumin was arrested for four weeks, interrogated, brought on "vacation" away from his diocese, "recommended" to join the Patriotic Association. The model to follow: the excommunicated bishop Lei Shiyin. Bishop Jin Lugang detained for four days so he would not celebrate the Easter Triduum with the community. Dozens of underground priests are held for weeks and subjected to "political sessions". First the security of Communist Party's Congress and plan to eliminate the underground Church.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Two bishops of the underground community, not recognized by the Chinese government, were released after a period of "political sessions". But sources tell AsiaNews that every week dozens of unofficial priests of the communities are taken and forced to attend lectures on the government's religious policy and only released after week.

On Easter Sunday, Mgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, coadjutor bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) and Msgr. Peter Jin Lugang Nanyang (Henan) were able to return to their homes. The two were held, respectively, for four weeks and four days.

Msgr. Shao was arrested in March (see: 07/04/2012 Police pressure on underground community. Easter in the Church of Silence). His arrest was due mainly to gain information from him on the ordination of an underground bishop in Tianshui, in a clear "disobedience" to the politics of self-elections and self-ordinations wanted by the government (see: 24/08/2011 Tianshui: police arrest dozens of underground priests and lay faithful).

The bishop was also subjected to political sessions to subscribe to the Patriotic Association (PA), which promotes a national church independent from the Holy See. The prelate was also brought on a "vacation-visit" to the diocese of Leshan (Sichuan), led by bishop Lei Shiyin, ordained on July 14 without the permission of the pope and excommunicated. Bishop Lei showed the buildings under construction in his diocese, and government representatives "recommended" cooperation with the government. Local sources quoted by UCAN said that Bishop Shao he was in favour of collaboration, provided that it is not against "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic".

Msgr. Jin Lugang was arrested on April 4, Holy Thursday and freed on Easter. His detention prevented him from celebrating any of the Holy Triduum or Easter liturgies. The police and government officials took him "on holiday" and also "advised" him to join the PA.

AsiaNews sources confirm that this style of detention, political sessions, "advice" to join the Patriotic Association and release after a few weeks has become very common this year. "Dozens of priests are taken every week - sources say - and are released only after several days." In many areas, including Hebei, all underground communities are afraid of arrest and fear has stopped the activities of the faithful. "Even the controls are more avid: home visits, telephone, internet .. they don't miss anything."

According to some, the increase in arrests and controls is due to the attempt to provide security before the Communist Party Congress, to be held next October, during which the leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao will change hands. For others there is a clear pattern of wanting to hasten the demise of the underground community by absorbing them into the official church.,-but-many-priests-are-arrested-24522.html


Bishop Anthony
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
DD BA LlB BTheol DPhil
Third Bishop of Parramatta

The Homilies of Bishop Anthony Fisher
Homily - Easter Vigil of the Resurrection, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, 7 April 2012

Homily Easter Vigil 2012
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

Crisis in the Kingdom of God (A three-part Homily for the Triduum)
Part Three: Crisis of Love for All Humanity
Easter Vigil of the Resurrection, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, 7 April 2012
Download an audio version of this homily Download an audio version of this homily
Listen to this homily at Bishop Anthony's iTunes Podcasts
It’s the greatest story ever told: the story of God and man. It is above all a love story. God, as St Catherine of Siena put it, was pazzo d’amore, insane with love for us, from all eternity, even before we were made. Our First Reading tonight (Gen 1:1-2:2) recalls how He made us, in His own image, male and female, made for marriage, for fruitfulness and dominion, with Godlike reason, freedom, creativity and passion. He also made this universe for our sakes, for us to live and learn in, play and delight in, a universe in which to be lovers and beloved, God’s darlings. This same divine obsession holds us in being every moment of our existence. When we ourselves love, our hearts and minds expand, our communion with God deepens, our friendships grow warmer, the world is a better place. There is something divine in every act of love, in vows of marriage or religion, in acts of friendship, in kindness to colleagues and strangers, the poor and even enemies.
It’s the greatest love-story ever told – and yet also a story of broken hearts. The crisis in the Kingdom of God, a crisis of all humanity, is that we turned against the very love that creates and sustains us. This fall from grace, this ‘Original Sin’, has been a recurrent pattern ever since, so that there’s nothing original about it anymore. Pride, envy, lust, selfishness and grudges have dogged our history. Almost from the beginning the greatest romance was the greatest tragedy as well.
As human beings fell from grace they experienced a breakdown of relations with themselves, each other, creation and God. If anything this crisis of love is magnified today. In our culture, self-regard easily becomes self-obsession, self-serving and, when that fails, self-loathing. Loyalty is seen as weakness, other people as rivals. Alliances of convenience allow us to use each other’s bodies, minds and hearts, for pleasure or profit, without commitment. Our love for creation can be equally ambiguous. And there is much in contemporary culture that would dismiss our love of God altogether, reducing it to childish fantasy, ancient superstition, constraints imposed by a corrupt institution.
In this crisis of love we are both victims and perpetrators. Each of us has at some time hurt and been hurt. Each has loved not as well as we should and been loved not as well as we would. If we love well, we are at our most human and divine; but it costs, as God ‘learnt’ these three days past, when love cost Him His Son’s life.
The greatest love-story ever told is also the greatest tragedy: the story of God from the dawn of time, steadily holding out the hand of friendship, and of humanity muddling its way through, loving generously at times, middling well at others, not at all at others. God so loved us He made us, made us like Himself – and we rebelled against Him. God so loved us He gave His only Son, gave Him into our hands – and we nailed Him to a tree.
The Sacred Triduum plunges us into the Apostles’ Thursday crisis of faith, when they denied and fled. It immerses us in the Friday crisis of Jesus, our crisis of hope. Finally, on this Easter night, it confronts us with the crisis of all humanity: a crisis of love. Could God still love us even when we had killed His only Son? Could any love survive such unlove?
It’s the greatest romance and greatest tragedy, but there is comedy here as well. In St Mark’s Passion last Sunday there was a cameo role we only see every three years when we hear that particular account (Mk 14:51-52). It was a hot night in Gethsemane and a young fellow followed Christ into the garden wearing little more than the Ancient Near-Eastern equivalent of his underpants. The guards grabbed him but he fled away naked leaving his clothes in their hands. It was humiliating, no doubt, but a moment of comic relief for us onlookers amidst the bleakness of that Agonising Garden.

The Resurrection of faith, hope and love

Homily Easter Vigil 2012
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu
Well, St Mark tells us tonight, that on entering the tomb on Easter morning “They saw a young man dressed in a white robe and they were struck with amazement; but he said: Don’t worry; Jesus has risen, He is not here.” (Mk 16:1-7) Is this that same anonymous youth who only a few verses before was streaking away from the scene? Is this all humanity lost and confused, denuded of dignity and hope, sinful and sick, in all the rawness of need, now dressed in a glorious white alb, like our newly baptised soon will be?Fear not, he says, for love casts out fear. Go tell Peter and the lads Jesus is Risen. Go and tell Peter, in particular, for he who denied Christ three times must now tell Christ three times how much he loves Him. If the angels sing Holy, Holy, Holy, the Church built on Peter will sing Love, Love, Love. That love, tested in the crucible of infidelity, despair and denial these three days past, is reborn tonight in the Resurrection of faith, hope and love. On them Christ will build His Church and rebuild each of us.
In a few moments we will be privileged to celebrate the Baptisms of Nitesh (Chand Lal), Jing (Dai), Jessica and Gabriella (Mendoza), Nimisha (Murugathasan), Jamie (Nixon), Anna Marie (Phillips), Leela (Harindran) and Chen (Wen); the receptions of David (Hamilton), Shirlene (Lopez), Beverley and Chathurika (Wambeck) and the Confirmation and First Communion of Eunice (Toriola) and Ivan (Pearson). The Easter Vigil was from ancient times the preferred time for Christian Initiation because it is a celebration of new life in Christ. As St Paul said tonight: “When we were baptised in Christ Jesus, we were baptised into His death … so that as Christ was raised from the dead, we too might live a new life” (Rom 6:3-4). For our catechumens and candidates, as for the rest of us, Easter says that God loves each one of us so much, He has woven the romance, tragedy and comedy of every human life forever with His own story. God loves us so much, that whatever our own crises of faith, hope and love these can be faced and conquered by His grace. Come out of the tomb with me, He says to all mankind tonight, Rise up to everlasting life and love!


St. Stephen Harding
Feast: April 17

Feast Day: April 17
Born: Dorset, England
Died: 28 March 1134
Major Shrine: Church of St. Stephen Harding in Apátistvánfalva, Hungary, district of Szentgotthárd.
Confessor, the third Abbot of Citeaux, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England, about the middle of the eleventh century; died 28 March, 1134. He received his early education in the monastery of Sherborne and afterwards studied in Paris and Rome. On returning from the latter city he stopped at the monastery of Molesme and, being much impressed by the holiness of St. Robert, the abbot, joined that community. Here he practised great austerities, became one of St. Robert's chief supporters and was one of the band of twenty-one monks who, by authority of Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, retired to Citeaux to institute a reform in the new foundation there. When St. Robert was recalled to Molesme (1099), Stephen became prior of Citeaux under Alberic, the new abbot. On Alberic's death (1110) Stephen, who was absent from the monastery at the time, was elected abbot. The number of monks was now very reduced, as no new members had come to fill the places of those who had died. Stephen, however, insisted on retaining the strict observance originally instituted and, having offended the Duke of Burgundy, Citeau's great patron, by forbidding him or his family to enter the cloister, was even forced to beg alms from door to door. It seemed as if the foundation were doomed to die out when (1112) St. Bernard with thirty companions joined the community. This proved the beginning of extraordinary prosperity. The next year Stephen founded his first colony at La Ferte, and before is death he had established thirteen monasteries in all. His powers as an organizer were exceptional, he instituted the system of general chapters and regular visitations and, to ensure uniformity in all his foundations, drew up the famous "Charter of Charity" or collection of statues for the government of all monasteries united to Citeaux, which was approved by Pope Callistus II in 1119 (see CISTERCIANS). In 1133 Stephen, being now old, infirm, and almost blind, resigned the post of abbot, designating as his successor Robert de Monte, who was accordingly elected by the monks. The saint's choice, however, proved unfortunate and the new abbot only held office for two years. Stephen was buried in the tomb of Alberic, his predecessor, in the cloister of Citeaux. In the Roman calendar his feast is 17 April, but the Cistercians themselves keep it on 15 July, with an octave, regarding him as the true founder of the order. Besides the "Carta Caritatis" he is commonly credited with the authorship of the "Exordium Cisterciencis cenobii", which however may not be his. Two of his sermons are preserved and also two letters (Nos. 45 and 49) in the "Epp. S. Bernardi".



John 3: 7 - 15
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.'
8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can this be?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this?
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."




Vatican City, 16 April 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today celebrates his eighty-fifth birthday. He was born in the German village of Marktl am Inn on 16 April 1927. Later this week, on Thursday 19 April, he will also celebrate the seventh anniversary of his election to the Papacy. For these two occasions, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated this morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, in the presence of members of the College of Cardinals and a group of bishops from the Pope's native region of Bavaria. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Before the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, addressed some words to the Holy Father.
"Seven years ago", he said, "the Lord called you to a great gesture of love, asking you, as one day He did Peter: 'If you love me, feed my lambs, tend my sheep'. With the generosity you have always shown, you pronounced your 'yes' and thus began your Petrine ministry. Today, on the occasion of your birthday, we wish to thank you for the solicitude with which you carry out this service of love. It is no coincidence that your first Encyclical was a hymn to the Love that is God, the love which must always animate pastors, who are called to bring the light of God, the warmth of His love, into the world.
"Holy Father, may the Lord continue to remain at your side, accomplishing the promise announced by God to the just man in Psalm 90: 'With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation'".
After presiding at the Eucharist, Benedict XVI greeted the Bavarian bishops and received a delegation from the civil authorities of that region.

Vatican City, 15 April 2012 (VIS) - Before praying the Regina Coeli this morning, Benedict XVI reminded the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that today, the second Sunday of Easter, is known as Divine Mercy Sunday.
In His two apparitions to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, Jesus often repeated the greeting "peace be with you". Following the resurrection, the Pope explained, this traditional salute became "the gift of that peace which only Jesus can give, because it is the fruit of His victory over evil. The 'peace' which Jesus offered His friends is the fruit of the love of God, which led Him to die on the cross and to spill His blood as a mild and humble Lamb 'full of grace and truth'. This is why Blessed John Paul II chose to dedicate the Sunday after Easter to Divine Mercy".
From the risen and living Christ "come the Paschal Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Those who receive these Sacraments receive the gift of eternal life", said the Holy Father. He also noted how Christian worship is essentially "a meeting with the risen Lord, Who lives in the dimension of God, beyond time and space, yet at the same time is truly present in the community. He speaks to us of Sacred Scripture and breaks with us the Bread of eternal life. Through these signs we have the same experience as the disciples: to see Jesus and at the same time not to recognise Him".
In conclusion the Pope invited believers to welcome the gift offered by the risen Christ. "Let us allow our hearts to be filled by His Mercy", he said. "In this way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit which caused Jesus to arise from the dead, we too can take these Paschal gifts to others".
Following the Marian prayer, the Pope told the faithful: "On Thursday, the seventh anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter, I ask you to pray for me, that the Lord may give me the strength to carry out the mission with which He has entrusted me".

Vatican City, 14 April 2012 (VIS) - Thousands of pilgrims are currently converging on the cathedral of Trier, Germany, for the fifth centenary of the first public display of the "Heiliger Rock", said to be the Holy Robe which Jesus wore before His crucifixion and for which, according to the Gospel of St. John, the Roman soldiers cast lots.
According to tradition, part of this robe was found by Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who gave it to St. Agricius, archbishop of Trier. The faithful were able to see it for the first time in 1512 when the emperor Maximilian I asked Archbishop Richard von Greiffenklau of Trier to put it on public display.
For the inauguration of the pilgrimage, which will last until 13 May, Benedict XVI has sent a message to Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier. The document bears the date of 6 April, Good Friday.
The Holy Father recalls how St. John says that the tunic was a single seamless piece of cloth, for which reason the soldiers decided not to tear it but to cast lots. "The Church Fathers saw in this the unity of the Church, founded as one indivisible community by the love of Christ", the Pope says. "The Saviour's love brings together that which has been divided. ... Moreover, the Robe of Christ is 'woven in one piece from the top'. This too is an image of the Church, which lives not thanks to her own efforts but because of the action of God. As one indivisible community she is a work of God, not the result of man's abilities. At the same time, the Holy Robe is a monition to the Church to remain faithful to her origins, in the awareness that her unity, consensus, effectiveness and witness ... can only be a gift of God".
Finally, the Holy Father writes, "the Holy Robe is not a toga, an elegant garment expressing a social function; it is a modest habiliment which serves to cover and protect the person wearing it, to protect his propriety. It is the undivided gift of the Crucified Christ to the Church which He sanctified with His blood. For this reason the Holy Robe reminds the Church of her own dignity. ... We must be constantly open to conversion and humility, in order to be disciples of the Lord in love and truth. At the same time, the special dignity and integrity of the Church cannot be sold short and abandoned to the clamour and the summary judgement of public opinion".
Concluding his message the Pope notes that "the jubilee pilgrimage has taken as its motto an invocation of the Lord: 'Lead to unity that which is divided'. We do not want to be isolated. We want to ask the Lord to guide us on the shared path of faith, to make it live again for us. In this way - growing together as Christians in faith, prayer and witness, and amidst of the trials of our time - we will be able to proclaim His magnificence and His goodness".

Vatican City, 14 April 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued a note concerning news which has appeared recently in Italian media outlets about the Vatican and the Emanuela Orlandi case. Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of an employee of Vatican City State and herself a Vatican citizen, disappeared on 22 June 1983 at the age of 15. Her disappearance has given rise to much speculation over the last thirty years. Among other theories, it has been conjectured that the case was related to the assassination attempt against John Paul II in 1981, and that it involved secret services or groups active in the Roman underworld of the time. In 2008 an Italian television programme transmitted information suggesting that Emanuela Orlandi's remains may be buried in the same grave as the leader of one of those criminal gangs.
Extracts from Fr. Lombardi's note are given below.
"It should be recalled that Pope John Paul II demonstrated particular personal interest in this tragic abduction, intervening publicly on various occasions (no fewer than eight in less than a year) with appeals for the liberation of Emanuela. He also went in person to visit the family. ... This personal commitment of the Pope was naturally backed up by the commitment of his collaborators. Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, secretary of State and therefore the Pope's main collaborator, followed events personally, and made a special telephone available line for contact with the kidnappers.
"As has been stated in the past, and is still maintained by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re - then assessor of the Secretariat of State and today the main and most authoritative witness from that time - both the Secretariat of State and the Governorate did everything possible to deal with the painful situation by collaborating with the Italian authorities, who obviously had responsibility for the investigations as the abduction took place in Italy. The complete readiness to collaborate on the part of people holding positions of responsibility within the Vatican at the time is proven by the facts and the circumstances. ... All the letters and information which reached the Vatican were immediately passed on to Inspector Sica at the General Inspectorate for Public Security in the Vatican, and are presumably still held in the competent Italian judicial offices.
"Likewise in the second phase of the investigation, years later, the three rogatory letters send to the Vatican authorities by Italian investigators ... all received a response". At the request of the Italian judges numerous people were interrogated in the Vatican and their declarations sent to the authorities concerned. "The relevant files still exist and remain at the disposal of investigators. It should also be pointed out that at the time of Emanuela's abduction, the Vatican authorities granted Italian investigators of SISDE (the Italian secret service) authorisation to place the telephone line of the Orlandi family under surveillance, and gave them free access to the Vatican allowing them to go to the Orlandi home without mediation by Vatican functionaries. It is not, then, correct to accuse the Vatican of having refused to collaborate with the Italian investigative authorities".
"The main issue is that, unfortunately, no information useful for the solution of the case ... was found in the Vatican. At that time the Vatican authorities, on the basis of messages they received referring to Ali Agca - a period which effectively coincided with the investigation on the attack against the Pope - shared the prevailing opinion that the kidnapping was used by an obscure criminal organisation to send a message or to apply pressure in relation to the incarceration and interrogation of the Pope's attacker.
"There was no reason to imagine other possible motives for the kidnapping. Attributing knowledge of secrets related to the abduction, allegedly possessed by people belonging to Vatican institutions, but without giving any names, is neither a reliable nor well-founded way to proceed. At times it almost seems to be a pretext against the anguish and frustration of not being able to discover the truth.
"In conclusion, ... it has not emerged that there is anything hidden, nor that there are 'secrets' to be revealed in the Vatican. Continuing to affirm the contrary is completely unjustified".
"Finally, since the location of the grave of Enrico De Pedis in the basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Rome has given, and continues to give rise to questions and discussion, over and above any links he may have had with the Orlandi case, we reiterate that the Church has no objection to the opening of the tomb and the burial of the body elsewhere, in order to restore the serenity that is right and just for a holy place.
"To conclude, we would like to draw inspiration from John Paul II's own intense personal participation in this tragic event, and in the suffering of the family, ... a suffering unfortunately rekindled every time a new explanation of the case emerges. ... Alas, many people disappear in Italy every year, and are never heard from again despite searches and enquiries; yet the affair of this young and innocent Vatican citizen continues to come under the spotlight. This should not be a reason to attribute the Vatican with a guilt it does not have, but rather an occasion to gain greater awareness of terrible and often forgotten disappearances (especially of young people), and to make every effort to oppose all criminal activity from whatever source".

Vatican City, 16 April 2012 (VIS) - A note released today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff provides details concerning the taking of possession of the following titles and diaconates:
Cardinal Prosper Grech O.S.A., will take possession of the diaconate of Santa Maria Goretti in Via di Santa Maria Goretti 29, Rome, at 6 p.m. on Saturday 21 April.
Cardinal Karl Josef Becker S.J., will take possession of the diaconate of San Giuliano Martire in Via Cassia 1036, Rome, at 11 a.m. on Sunday 22 April.
Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, penitentiary major, will take possession of the diaconate of San Domenico di Guzman in Via Vincenzo Marmorale 25, Rome, at 11.15 a.m. on Sunday 22 April.
Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China, will take possession of the title of title of Regina Apostolorum in Via Antonino Pio 75, Rome, at 11.30 a.m. on Sunday 22 April.
Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, will take possession of the diaconate of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami in Clivo Argentario 1, Rome, at 5 p.m. on Thursday 26 April.

Vatican City, 16 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Horst Seehofer, minister-president of Bavaria, Germany.

Vatican City, 14 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Archbishop Marek Solczynski, apostolic nuncio to Georgia and Armenia, also as apostolic nuncio to Azerbaijan.
- As consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints: Msgr. Luis Manuel Cuna Ramos, Fr. Filippo Urso, Fr. Wojciech Giertych O.P., Fr. Antonio Escudero Cabello S.D.B., Fr. Marek Rostkowsi O.M.I., Fr. Alfonso Amarante C.SS.R., Sr. Albarosa Ines Bassani S.V.D.I., and Sr. Grazia Loparco F.M.A.


THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2012 :
Message of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family
on the occasion of the 2012 National March for Life:

The Urgent Need to Build a Culture of Life (VIDEO CAMPAIGN LIFE)We live in an age and in a country which place enormous importance on the concept of “rights” – rights which, regrettably, are very often understood completely apart from the obligations which they ought to entail. Surely my rights, your rights, stop where the rights of our neighbors begin! But “who”— asks the Gospel of St. Luke —“is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25). Every year in Canada, some 100 000 of our most vulnerable neighbors are sacrificed on the altar of “choice”—as the exercise of what some misguidedly consider a “right”. Among those aborted in the last year alone we might have counted a future prime minister or a ground-breaking scientist, a playmate for our children, or our future son or daughter-in-law. The unborn child is, in fact, my neighbor and must be respected as a person from the moment of conception. As science demonstrates, even at the earliest stage of development each child in the womb is a unique and completely irreplaceable human being. We should therefore work tirelessly to insure that our laws are reformed in order to reflect the humanity and the fundamental right to life of our tiniest neighbors. This is our obligation as free and responsible citizens. This is what we owe our neighbor! History has shown repeatedly that where the right to life of the unborn is not protected other rights are sooner or later mocked. One need only consider the recent claim by a number of medical ethicists associated with Oxford University (England)—that newborn babies have no “moral right to life”— to see where the logic of a pro-abortion culture leads: Infanticide becomes acceptable. Abortion Hurts us All
Those who falsely uphold the so-called “right” to abortion forget one simple fact: ultimately, abortion benefits no one! The most obvious and most appalling consequence of abortion is the squandering of innocent human life. But the destructive impact of abortion does not end there. For the woman who submits to abortion there are nearly always profoundly negative consequences. Every year, more and more cases of “post-abortion syndrome” attest to this truth. Ongoing research has shown that fathers of aborted children, too, often find themselves experiencing profound feelings of loss and isolation. The surviving siblings of aborted children often feel guilty for simply existing and frequently suffer from depression and crippling sadness; this phenomenon has come to be called “abortion survivors’ syndrome”. In other instances, the grandparents of aborted children are profoundly affected by a sense of betrayal and loss. What of our society as a whole? In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Blessed John Paul II warned that abortion poses “an immense threat to life: not only to the life of individuals but also to that of civilization itself.”1 In one way or another, every one of us is impoverished by the culture of death that surrounds and threatens to infect us. A society which tolerates abortion is a society which makes the human being a mere means to an end. A society which continues to tolerate the destruction of its weakest members is one which will inevitably tolerate the destruction of the relatively weak, the disabled, the sick, the marginalized and the inconvenient. Can anyone be safe and truly flourish in such a society? Choosing Life
The challenges which confront us are sometimes overwhelming. But we need to recall that change comes one person at a time. Being pro-life means respecting human life at every stage of development and in every circumstance. If our message is to be heard, we need to take account of our own attitudes and way of life. The most immediate way we change things for the better is by insuring that we are consistent in our own actions. We need to ask ourselves, “Does the way I live my daily life help to create a culture of life?” There are signs of hope that a genuine culture of life is beginning to flower around us. Earlier this year, in a comprehensive report entitled “Not to be Forgotten – Care of Vulnerable Canadians”, 55 Members of Parliament, representing all political parties, offered a comprehensive and reassuring pro-life look at palliative care and end of life issues. Recent polls have consistently shown that more than half of Canadians believe that human life should be protected before birth. 2Clearly, it is the time to bring pressure to bear on our legislators to reopen the public debate on abortion. Let’s begin by making it clear to our Members of Parliament that we support the efforts of MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre) to have Parliament revisit the scientific evidence regarding the humanity of the unborn. See you on Parliament Hill on May 10th! Together, let us march for life! May 10, 2012


16. Apr, 2012
In this video Fr Willie Purcell, National Coordinator for Diocesan Vocations talks about vocations in Ireland, his own vocation as a gift and about the plans of the vocations directors for this year’s 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
Background to Vocations Sunday:
Pope Paul VI instituted the World Day of Prayer for Vocations on the 11 April 1964 by saying:
“O Jesus, divine Shepherd of the spirit, you have called the Apostles in order to make them fishermen of men, you still attract to you burning spirits and generous young people, in order to render them your followers and ministers to us” (Pope Paul VI )
In the years since, successive pontiffs have called on the Church to focus and pray for vocations. Prayer and promotion of vocations takes place on a daily basis here in Ireland but in a particular way on Vocations Sunday which this year falls on Sunday 29 April, the Fourth Sunday of Easter.
The Pope issues a message for Vocations Sunday each year and the theme chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for this year’s celebration is: Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God. In his message Pope Benedict says: “It is in this soil of self-offering and openness to the love of God, and as the fruit of that love, that all vocations are born and grow. By drawing from this wellspring through prayer, constant recourse to God’s word and to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, it becomes possible to live a life of love for our neighbours, in whom we come to perceive the face of Christ the Lord (cf. Mt 25:31-46).”
Click here for the full text of the Pope’s message for Vocations Sunday 2012.
Vocation Prayer:
Lord Jesus,
you said to your disciples:
“The harvest indeed is great
but the labourers are few.”
We ask that we may know
and follow the vocation
to which you have called us.
We pray for those called to serve:
those whom you have called,
those you are calling now,
and those you will call in the future.
May they be open and responsive
to the call of serving your people.
Vocations Directors for Irish Dioceses:
Click here for the list of Diocesan Vocations Directors and their contact information
Diocesan Vocations Directors prepare for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012:
Preparations are well underway to have vocations to diocesan priesthood very much highlighted at the forthcoming 50th International Eucharistic Congress. Banners, flyers, posters, displays etc are being designed to draw attention to the need for more young people to give themselves in the service of Christ through the diocesan priesthood. Diocesan Priests are very much at the heart of the Church’s mission of Communion. Indeed without the priest there is no Mass, without Mass there is no Church! The Leadership theme have taken the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and have highlighted the fact the Diocesan Priesthood is very much ‘Prayer at the Heart of the Community’.
University Church, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, has been designated by the Eucharistic Congress as the Church set aside to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life. During the week of the Congress, Mass will be celebrated each day for vocations to the priesthood. There will be other events and prayer sessions taking place in this church. A full list will of events will be posted closer to the Congress in June.
Useful links:
Website of the National Diocesan Vocations Directors
Find and LIKE the Vocations Directors on Facebook as Diocesan Vocations Ireland
Follow the Diocesan Vocations Directors on Twitter @NVocations
General links and resources:
Interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan on priesthood and vocations - This interview was conducted in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in May 2010 as part of the Year for Priests initiative. Cardinal Dolan was an Archbishop at the time but he was made a Cardinal by Pope Benedict in February 2012. In this interview Cardinal Dolan says that it when it comes to promoting vocations and priesthood that ‘happiness attracts’. Click here to watch the full interview.
Pope Benedict’s 2010 Letter to Seminarians - Click here for Pope Benedict’s Letter to Seminarians from October 2010
In Praise of Priests - In five short videos, George Hook, Alice Taylor, Ashleigh O’Neill, Mickey Harte and David Begg share what particular priests have meant in their lives. Click here to view videos.
Documents on priesthood from the Congregation for the Clergy - Click here for documents on priesthood from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.
Books on priesthood from Veritas - Veritas has some interesting books available on vocations. Click here to see a range of what they have. Visit one of their stores nationwide to see their full range of books and publications on vocations and priesthood.
Website for Vocations Ireland – Vocations Ireland is an association of the Vocation Directors of the Catholic Religious Orders in Ireland. They work to present religious life, apostolic, missionary and contemplative, as a life choice that is one way of following Christ and bringing deeper meaning and purpose to life. Click here.


by Trung Tin
The raid took place shortly after midnight on April 14. Structure devastated, children beaten, Fr. Nguyen Van Binh, who spoke out in defense of the young guests seriously injured,. He was admitted unconscious, then taken to the archdiocesan curia. The faithful denounce the latest violation of religious freedom.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - A group of thugs, with the cooperation of the police, stormed a Christian orphanage in Hanoi, damaging the building and even beating the children who are guests of the center. The thugs seriously injured a priest, who spoke out in defense of innocent young victims. He was rushed to a hospital in the capital, unconscious from the blows received to the head during the raid. The local Catholic community have denounced the latest episode of persecution operated with the connivance of the communist authorities and appeal to the archdiocese and the Church hierarchy, to strongly denounce the violation of human rights and religious freedom in the country.

Witnesses told AsiaNews that on the morning of 14 April, the police of the town of Thuy Tien Xuân and local authorities in Chuong My district, Hanoi, sent a group of thugs to attack a Catholic orphanage in the capital, the Agape Family. The structure is supported by the work of Catholic volunteers and the active contribution of Fr. Nguyen Van Binh, vicar of the parish of Yên Kien, in the Archdiocese of Hanoi. The assailants have escaped unscathed, thanks to police cover.

According to reports, shortly after midnight the thugs cut the electricity of the center, then they started throwing stones and objects to scare the children. A neighbor, on condition of anonymity, said that "they hit the altar of the Madonna. A child was carried away" and when he tried to rebel "they took him repeatedly slapping him in the face". Later "at least 200 policemen arrived" to help the mob destroy the Agape Family centre.

After learning of the attack, Fr. Nguyen Van Binh immediately ran to the orphanage but was struck several times by police with batons. He suffered severe head injuries (pictured) and fell into a coma. At first he was transported to hospital in Chuong My, then transferred to a hospital Vietnamese-German structure in Đức Viet, in a life-threatening condition. Faithful were also wounded in the attack. In the early afternoon of April 14, the priest returned to the Hanoi Archbishop's Curia, to be treated "strictly in private".

A parishioner told AsiaNews that Fr. Nguyễn was very active in the care of disadvantaged children. "The government - he added - must respect and encourage these charitable activities. In contrast, the local communist authorities prevented him and destroyed the orphanage." Another faithful appeals to the leaders of the archdiocese of Hanoi and the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Vietnamese Church to denounce the latest episode of the violation of Christians' rights in the country.

(J.B. An Dang collaborated),-a-priest-in-a-coma-24506.html
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
17 Apr 2012

More than 120 delegates at the Seminar
were given a special welcome at Domus Australia in Rome
Domus Australia, Rome's home away from home for Aussie pilgrims, played host to international delegates attending the 8th Professional Seminar for Church Communication Offices at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
The staff of Domus Australia pulled out all the stops last night to welcome delegates from Church Communication offices from across Europe, Britain, Asia, Africa, South America and the USA at the end of the first day of the three day seminar currently being held in Rome.
Among the guests at Domus Australia was Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontificial Council for Social Communications who will visit Australia at the end of the month as one of the featured speakers at the Australian Catholic Media Congress to be held in Sydney from 30 April-2 May.
Yesterday, the first day of the three day Seminar in Rome, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications took the chair as moderator. Today, 17 April, Norberto Gonzalez Gaitano, Vicerector of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross will act as moderator.
Tomorrow, the third and final day, delegates will attend an audience with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI after which Media Spokesman for the Holy See, Father Federico Lombardi will lead those attending the Seminar on a tour of the Vatican Press Office.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli
Subtitled: People, Faces, Stories, the Seminar aims to cover all aspects of Catholic media from radio to television to print to the Internet, the use of live podcasts and videos. The seminar will also discuss strategies and opportunities using the Internet for Evangelisation, Vocations and Catechesis.
Social networking websites were also discussed with Katrina Lee, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Sydney presenting a report on the strategies used in the huge success of the fast-growing Catholic social networking site,
Launched by the Archdiocese in June 2008, shortly before World Youth Day in Sydney, now has more than 70,000 registered members with approximately 150,000 pageviews per month and more than 1,000,000 unique visitors from 216 countries across the world.
In the past four years, the website has not only become one of the most popular Catholic websites globally but has grown into a content-driven website, providing Catholic news, videos, podcasts, smartphone Apps and live webcasts of important events to young Catholics across the globe.

Mgsr Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council
for Social Communications
The average age of members is 26.8 with the largest user group coming from the 18-24 demographic.
Presenting the paper on Xt3, entitled: "Strategies for Improving the Impact of Church Websites: The Case of," Katrina Lee told delegates that despite being created in Australia, the site resonated with young Catholics worldwide with the largest user groups coming from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and Australia.
Named the Best Website for a Publication at the 2011 Australian Catholic Press Awards for Excellence, had been described by the judges as "an outstanding website that is not only a standout among entries or within the wider Catholic landscape, but was a winner within any web competition anywhere in the world," she said.
The Seminar was officially opened this morning, 16 April, with a welcoming address by Msgr Louis Romera, Rector of Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. This was followed by a series of presentations from leading Catholic experts in communication from universities, news services and communication offices worldwide.
Among the discussions and presentations given on today was a report by a team of journalists from Britain's Catholic Communications Network (CCN) on the success of the media training given to 70 young people throughout England and Wales to prepare them as media correspondents during Madrid's 2011 World Youth Day. A panel of journalists including representatives from the secular media such as the American Associated Press Television News was also a highlight.

Domus Australia the pilgrim centre
in the heart of Rome
Today 17 April, the Seminar will include discussions on the entry into the digital age by the Holy See with the news website: which launched in June last year, and how through the Internet, the Church is discovering increasing opportunities to widen its scope expanding faith education as well as fostering interaction and reaching large numbers of Catholics throughout the world.
Vocation webcasts and strategies will also be part of the tomorrow's agenda as well as Catholic education and opportunities for wider evangelisation and catechesis. There will also be a presentation on the Social Media Revolution taking place in Africa and its potential for the New Evangelisation.
On the final day of the conference tomorrow, among the important discussions will be an address by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura on Communication and Justice, subtitled "When Legal Cases Become News."
To find more about the seminar, presenters and the experts who will deliver papers at this all important conference, log on to or to the website of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross University at and click on English version.


Agenzia Fides REPORT – Even Radio Sol Mansi, the Catholic radio station in Guinea Bissau, is among the broadcasting stations blocked by the military junta that took power with the coup on April 13. The is reported to Fides sources by Radio Sol Mansi, which state: "The military had allowed the resumption of private radio stations broadcast only for a few hours, then they prohibited again."
There is a stiffening of the position of the military coup, in front of the international reaction. "Land, sea and air borders are closed again as a reaction to the decision of Portugal (the former colonial power) to send some warships in the area as a precautionary measure to evacuate their citizens," the sources told Fides.
Meanwhile, the coup junta has announced the dissolution of all the institutions and the creation of a National Transitional Council (NTC), for which formation is under way today, for talks with political parties. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 16/4/2012)


John 3: 1 - 8

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.'
8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."


St. Bernadette Soubirous
Feast: April 16

Feast Day: April 16
7 January 1844 at Lourdes, France
Died: 16 April 1879, Nevers, France
Canonized: December 8, 1933, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Patron of: Sick people, poverty, the family, Lourdes, shepherds
Bernadette's canonization in 1933 was the culmination of a process which had been started nearly three-quarters of a century earlier: she is, therefore, a saint of modern times, and the remarkable facts of her life are readily accessible to all. Her story even challenges the interest of those who do not share the Catholic faith. Christianity had its beginnings among humble people without influence or riches, such as Bernadette. Perhaps it is a natural human instinct to rejoice when the lowly are lifted up to the heights, and especially when a child, neglected and untaught, is chosen for special grace and favor, thus becoming an instrument for good.
Born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, Bernadette was the first child of Francois and Louise Soubirous. At the time of her birth, Francois was a miller, operating a mill which had belonged to his wife's people. He was a good-natured, easy-going man, with little ability for carrying on a business, and before many years the mill had been forfeited for debt. During most of Bernadette's childhood he was an odd job man, picking up a day's work as opportunity offered, and, from time to time, escaping from his problems and responsibilities by turning to the delusive comfort of alcohol. His wife and children, naturally, were the chief sufferers from his ineffectualness. Louise, whose family was of somewhat better economic status than her husband's, was a hard worker, a warm-hearted neighbor, and exemplary in her observance of Catholic rites. Within a short space of years many children were born to her, only five of whom survived infancy. After Bernadette, there was another girl, Toinette Marie, and three boys. To help feed and clothe them it was often necessary for their harassed mother to go out to work by the day, doing laundry and other rough tasks for the more prosperous citizens, and, on one occasion, at least, helping to harvest a crop of grain. A peasant woman of the region has told of seeing little Bernadette, then about twelve, carrying the youngest baby to Louise in the field, to be nursed during the noon-day rest period. As a child, Bernadette not only did more than might be expected in caring for the smaller children, but helped in their moral and religious training as well.
Bernadette was never strong, and from the age of six she showed symptoms of the respiratory ailment that later became a chronic affliction. It is not clear at this early stage whether she suffered from asthma or tuberculosis, but we know that her mother was anxious about her health and made an effort to provide special food for her. When Bernadette was thirteen she was sent to the neighboring mountain hamlet of Bartres, to the home of one Marie Arevant, her foster mother. It was here that Bernadette had been taken for a few months when she was still an infant, to be nursed by Madame Arevant, who had just lost a baby. The woman now had a large family and little Bernadette made herself useful in the house and in the fields. One of her duties was to tend a small flock of sheep that grazed on a hillside nearby; it is this brief phase of her girlhood that has inspired artists to picture her as a shepherdess. Her life was a lonely one, and we get the impression that she was overworked and homesick while she remained in this peasant home. At all events she sent word to her parents that she wished to leave Bartres. One thing seemed especially to disturb her at this time; although she was now fourteen, she had not made her First Communion. Her foster mother had tried half-heartedly to prepare her, but after one or two sessions had impatiently given it up, saying that Bernadette was too dull to learn.
When Bernadette went back to Lourdes, it made her very happy to be admitted to the day school conducted by the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction. This was a teaching and nursing order whose mother-house is at Nevers, in central France. A hospice, a day school, and a boarding school were maintained at Lourdes by these devout nuns, who were, as a group, unusually well trained. Thus Bernadette at last began her secular education, and, under Abbe Pomian, continued to prepare for First Communion. She was also learning a little French, for up to this time she spoke only the local dialect. The nuns discovered that beneath a quiet, modest exterior, Bernadette had a winning personality and a lively sense of humor. This might have been a happy and constructive time for the little girl had it not been for the ever-increasing shadows of poverty at home.
After moving from one poor location to another, the Soubirous family was now living in a single room of a dilapidated structure in the rue des Petits Fosses; this damp, unwholesome place had once served as a jail and was known as Le Cachot, the Dungeon. Above loomed an ancient fortress, and the narrow cobbled street had once been a part of the moat. The town of Lourdes, itself very old, is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of France, lying in the extreme southwest, near the Spanish frontier, where the Pyrenees mountains rise sharply above the plains. From the craggy, wooded heights, several valleys descend to converge at this site, and the little river Gave rushes through the town, its turbulent current turning the wheels of many mills. There are escarpments of rock in and around Lourdes, the most famous being the Massabeille, a great mound jutting out from the base of a plateau. On the side facing the river it had an arch-shaped opening which led into a sizeable grotto-a grotto that was soon destined to become famous in every part of the world. At this time the Massabeille had, if not exactly an aura of evil, a touch of the sinister. According to legend, it had been sacred to the pagans of prehistoric times; now it served as a shelter for fishermen or herdsmen caught by sudden storms.
It was very cold on February 11, 1858, the day that was to mark the beginning of such an extraordinary series of events at the rock of Massabeille. When Bernadette returned from school her mother gave her permission to go down by the river to pick up driftwood and fallen branches. Toinette Marie, aged nine, and Marie Abadie, aged twelve, a neighbor's child, went with her. When the three girls reached the Massabeille, the two younger ones took off their wooden shoes to wade across an icy mill-stream which here joined the river. Bernadette, more sensitive, hung behind. Standing alone beside the river, she had started to remove her stockings when she heard a noise like a sudden rush of wind. Looking up towards the grotto she saw some movement among the branches, then there floated out of the opening a golden cloud, and in the midst of it was the figure of a beautiful young girl who placed herself in a small niche in the rock, at one side of the opening and slightly above it. In the crannies around this niche grew stunted vines and shrubs, and in particular a white eglantine. Bernadette, staring in fascination, saw that the luminous apparition was dressed in a soft white robe, with a broad girdle of blue, and a long white veil that partially covered her hair. Her eyes were blue and gentle. Golden roses gleamed on her bare feet. When the vision smiled and beckoned to Bernadette, the girl's fear vanished and she came a few steps nearer, then sank reverently to her knees. She drew her rosary from her pocket, for, in moments of stress, she habitually said her beads. The mysterious being also had a rosary, of large white beads, and to quote Bernadette's own account: "The Lady let me pray alone; she passed the beads of the rosary between her fingers, but said nothing; only at the end of each decade did she say the Gloria with me." When the recitation was finished, the Lady vanished into the cave and the golden mist disappeared with her. This experience affected Bernadette so powerfully that, when the other girls turned back to look for her, she was still kneeling, a rapt, faraway look on her face. They chided her, thinking she had passed the time praying to escape the task of gathering fuel. Tying up their twigs and branches into faggots, they started for home. Too full of her vision to keep quiet about it, before they had gone far Bernadette burst out with the whole wondrous story; she asked the girls to say nothing at home. But Toinette told Madame Soubirous that same evening, and soon the news spread further. Bernadette wished to go back to the Massabeille the next day, but her mother, after talking the matter over with a sister, refused her permission.
Bernadette now showed the independence of spirit-some were to characterize it as obstinacy-that became one of her outstanding traits. When she told her confessor of the apparition, Abbe Pomian made light of it, thinking the girl suffered from hallucinations. Nevertheless, on the following Sunday Bernadette asked if she might go to the grotto and her father told her she might go if she took a flask of holy water with her, to exorcise the apparition should it prove to be a demon. Bernadette, advancing ahead of several little friends who accompanied her, knelt before the grotto and soon the vision appeared as before. On their return the excited girls, although they had seen nothing, naturally began to tell their versions of the affair, and soon the town buzzed with varying reports and rumors. On the next market day the peasants heard of these strange happenings. The story reached the Mother Superior of the convent, who took a firm stand: she announced to the class preparing for Communion, comprising Bernadette's friends and companions for the most part, that they must stop talking and thinking of this matter. Bernadette's teacher, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, was even hostile.
The apparition was manifest to Bernadette for the third time on Thursday, February 18, when she went to the grotto accompanied by two women of Lourdes who thought the "damiezelo," as Bernadette called her, was the returning spirit of a young woman, one of their dear friends, who had died a few months before. On this occasion the same little figure appeared to Bernadette, smiled warmly, and spoke, asking Bernadette to come every day for fifteen days. Bernadette promised to come, provided she was given permission to do so. Since neither her god-mother, who was her mother's sister, nor the priest actually forbade it, Bernadette's parents offered no objection. On the following day her mother and aunt went with her, and on subsequent visits great crowds of people gathered on the Massabeille, or down by the river, hoping to see or hear something miraculous. During these two weeks the excitement increased to such a pitch that the civil authorities felt obliged to take action. The police were not content to threaten the Soubirous family; they must take Bernadette to the local police office for questioning and try to make her admit that it was all an elaborate hoax. Bernadette emerged from this and many another ordeal somewhat shaken but obdurate. The authorities continued to try to discredit her. They even gave currency to the report that the whole thing had been thought up by Bernadette's poverty-stricken parents, so that they might derive some profit from it. Francois and Louise Soubirous, from being puzzled, worried, and uncertain at the outset, had now come to believe in the supernatural character of their daughter's experiences, and stood loyally by her. They did not dream of exploiting the affair in their own interest. As a matter of fact, pious, well-meaning people were bringing them gifts of money and food, sometimes asking for a token from Bernadette. These offerings were declined; even Bernadette's small brothers were cautioned to accept nothing. The girl herself was adamant in her determination to have no part in any kind of trafficking; the record of her complete honesty and disinterestedness is clear and unquestioned. However, she found the sudden notoriety unpleasant, and this sensitivity to being stared at and talked about and pointed out was to last throughout her life. People began to gather at the grotto in the middle of the night, awaiting her appearance. It was rumored that she had a miraculous, healing touch. Several cures were attributed to her.
On Sunday, February 21, a number of persons went with her to the grotto, including citizens who had been highly skeptical. On this occasion, Bernadette reported later, the apparition said to her: "You will pray to God for sinners." On February 26, while she was in the trance-like state which lasted as long as she saw the vision, Bernadette crawled inside the grotto, and, at the Lady's bidding, uncovered with her bare hands a little trickle of water from which she drank and with which she bathed her face, still at the Lady's direction. This tiny spring continued to well up and by the next day was flowing steadily down into the river: to this day it has never ceased to gush forth from the grotto. The people regarded its discovery by Bernadette as a miracle.
On March 2 Bernadette saw the apparition for the thirteenth time. It was on this day that the Lady bade Bernadette to tell the priests that "a chapel should be built and a procession formed." Bernadette had no thought but to obey, in spite of the open hostility of the cure of Lourdes. Dean Peyramale, an imposing man of excellent family and background, received Bernadette and reprimanded her harshly, asking her to inquire the name of her visitant, and to tell her she must perform a real miracle, such as making the eglantine bloom out of season, to prove herself. During the preceding weeks he had ordered the priests to have nothing to do with the grotto, for it was the general practice of the clergy to discourage or ignore religious visionaries. Very often such persons were ill-balanced or suffering from delusions. As a matter of fact, Bernadette's experiences were proving contagious, and before long many others, young and old, were claiming to have had supernatural visions at the grotto and elsewhere. Dean Peyramale's stand of determined opposition was based on the necessity of restoring order in the parish.
On March 25, Lady Day, Bernadette started for the grotto at dawn. When the vision appeared to her, Bernadette said: "Would you kindly tell me who you are?" When the girl had repeated the question twice more, the Lady replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception. I want a chapel here." This answer, when reported by Bernadette, caused the local excitement to rise to a still higher pitch and the feeling grew that Bernadette's visitor was the Blessed Virgin. Only four years before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been promulgated. The seventeenth apparition took place on April 7, and the final one, more than three months later, on July 16. By that time, the grotto, which the people were trying to make into a sanctuary and place of worship, had been barricaded by the town authorities to discourage worshipers and curiosity-seekers from congregating there. During the twenty-one years that she was to remain on earth, Bernadette never again saw the vision. The accounts of what she had seen and heard, which she was obliged to repeat so often, never varied in any significant detail.
Meanwhile the news of the phenomenal happenings at Lourdes had reached the very highest ecclesiastical and government circles: the bishop, the prefect, even Emperor Napoleon III and his pious wife Eugenie, became actors in the drama. On October 5, the mayor of Lourdes, on orders from above, had the grotto reopened. It was thought that the empress herself had had a voice in this decision. At all events, it seemed to be the only appropriate response to the overwhelming demand of the people for a shrine Bernadette's visions, the new spring, and the cures that were being reported, all had taken a profound hold on the popular imagination.
Due to a lucky turn, Bernadette's family was now more comfortably situated, and, to escape visitors, Bernadette went to live at the convent. Even there, intrusions upon her privacy were allowed; these she bore as patiently as she could. While her fame not only continued but steadily grew, Bernadette herself withdrew more and more. At the age of twenty she decided to take the veil. Since the state of her health precluded the more ascetic orders, it was considered best for her to join the Sisters who had taught and sheltered her. At twenty-two, therefore, she traveled to the motherhouse of the convent. Her novitiate was full of trials and sorrows. Acting under the quite unfounded notion that Bernadette's visions and all the attendant publicity might have made the young woman vain or self-important, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, now novice-mistress at Nevers, was very severe with her former pupil. Although she made life difficult for Bernadette, the little novice met all tests with perfect humility. She cheerfully performed the menial tasks assigned to her, at first in the convent kitchen, although this work must have taxed her strength. Later, when it was noted that her sympathetic manner made her a favorite with sick people, she was appointed assistant infirmarian. Her step and touch were light, and her very presence brought comfort. But during these years, Bernadette was suffering from the chronic disease which was slowly draining her life away. She was finally given work in the sacristy, where cleverness with the needle made her work admired and cherished. She displayed a real gift for design and color in embroidering the sacred vestments. To all tasks she brought a pure grace of spirit and an utter willingness to serve.
In September, 1878, Bernadette made her perpetual and final vows. Her strength was ebbing away, but even when she was confined to wheel chair or bed, she went on with the fine needlework. And now she had more time for prayer and meditation. There is little outward drama in the life of a nun, but in Bernadette's case there was steady activity, steady growth, in things of the spirit. She had been told by her vision that she would not attain happiness in this world. Her childhood had been sad, and maturity had brought no easing of the burden she must carry. During the last two years of life a tumor developed on one knee, which was followed by caries of the bone. She suffered excruciating pain. One day, when a Superior came to visit her and said, "What are you doing in bed, you lazy little thing?" Bernadette simply replied, "I am doing my stint. I must be a victim." She felt that such was the Divine plan for her.
The nuns, the novice mistress, and the Superior had all long since come to regard her as the vessel of Divine grace and to believe in the reality of those visitations of her youth. She still suffered from the curiosity of visiting strangers. Not only did nuns and priests come to Nevers but celebrities from Paris and other parts of France came to see for themselves the now famous Bernadette. Disliking publicity as she did, yet not wishing to remain isolated and aloof if a glimpse of her could help or inspire any other human soul, she met this test too-and sometimes with a native cleverness. Once a visitor stopped her as she was passing down a corridor and asked where she could get a glimpse of Sister Bernadette. The little nun said, "Just watch that doorway and presently you will see her go through." And she slipped away through the door. Such was the prestige her presence gave to the order that many young women now joined it.
On her death-bed, in a spasm of pain, Bernadette pressed the crucifix closer to her, and cried, "All this is good for Heaven!" That afternoon, as the nuns of the convent knelt round her bed to repeat the prayers for the dying, they heard her say in a low voice, "Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner-" She could not finish. The date was April 16, 1879. As soon as the news spread, people came streaming towards the convent, chanting, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" Bernadette's body was placed in a casket which was sealed, then buried near the chapel of St. Joseph in the convent grounds. When it was exhumed in 1908 by the commission formed to forward the examination of Bernadette's life and character, it was found to be intact and uncorrupted. In August, 1913, Pope Pius X conferred the title of Venerable upon her, and in June, 1925, the ceremony of beatification took place. Since then, her body, reposing in a handsome glass reliquary, lies in the convent chapel, guarded above by a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and by the nuns who keep vigil. In Rome, on December 8, 1933, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, amidst a brilliant setting and the fanfare of silver trumpets, Bernadette Soubirous was admitted to the company of saints. This little nun, humble, unlettered, honest, and obedient, is venerated by the great host of Catholic worshipers throughout the world. Tens of thousands of them journey annually to the glorious shrine at Lourdes.
The story of Lourdes as a pilgrimage place forms a strange contrast to Bernadette's retired life of prayer and service. Its growth from a sleepy country town to its present status as the most popular pilgrimage place in Christendom has been phenomenal. A railroad line from Pau was built, facilitating the influx of visitors who, from the very first year, were drawn to Lourdes. Dean Peyramale and his superior, the bishop of Pau, who at first had scoffed, came to believe most ardently; it was the aged dean who found the money for raising the great basilica to Our Lady, which was completed in 1876. Participating in the ceremony were thirty-five prelates, a cardinal, and three thousand priests. Sister Bernadette had no share in these rites. Another church at the base of the basilica was erected and consecrated in 1901. The entire district has been enhanced by architecture and landscaping to make it an impressive sanctuary, with a background of great natural beauty.
Of the cures at Lourdes it can be said that even non-believers have observed something here that medical science cannot explain. The commission of physicians, known as the Bureau of Constatations, who examine evidence and report on their findings, operate with great caution and circumspection. The alleged cure must be immediate and permanent to be regarded as a miracle. Medical records prior to the trip are studied, as well as the patient's subsequent medical history. The patient may himself be a witness, and it is most moving to hear the words, "I was sick and now I am well," which give such comfort and hope to others who are ailing. Only a few cures each year stand up against these rigid tests, but those few are enough. The thousands-the lame, the halt, the blind -continue to come, to be washed in the waters of the spring, to share in the processions, the singing, the prayers, the impressive rites, and breathe the pure air of faith. The Canticle of Bernadette hovers in that air, and even those well persons who go to Lourdes simply searching for a renewal of faith find themselves amply rewarded, for the spirit of the child Bernadette is still a potent inspiration.

Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)