Friday, December 31, 2010


Radio Vaticana report; During the course of a joint radio and television interview early in his reign, Benedict XVI made a remark to the effect that he would not likely do much travelling as Pope. Nevertheless, his Apostolic voyages were among the most important highlights of the year, 2010.

A visit to the island of Cyprus – part of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, to present the instrumentum laboris for the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which took place in Rome in October, where he spoke of the changeless mission of the Church:

We are called to overcome our differences, to bring peace and reconciliation where there is conflict, to offer the world a message of hope. We are called to reach out to those in need, generously sharing our earthly goods with those less fortunate than ourselves. And we are called to proclaim unceasingly the death and resurrection of the Lord, until he comes. Through him, with him and in him, in the unity that is the Holy Spirit’s gift to the Church, let us give honour and glory to God our heavenly Father in the company of all the angels and saints who sing his praises for ever.

The Pope made another to Malta, in the footsteps of St Paul, during which he returned to the fundamental truth of Christian living:

More than any of the cargo we might carry with us – in terms of our human accomplishments, our possessions, our technology – it is our relationship with the Lord that provides the key to our happiness and our human fulfilment. And he calls us to a relationship of love.

The Holy Father also made pilgrimage to Portugal to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of 2 of the visionary children of Fatima; the pilgrimage to Spain, with stops in Santiago de Compostela, to mark the Year of St. James, and to Barcelona to rededicate the basilica of la sagrada familia; each of these was a powerful moment of Apostolic witness and an important element in the Pope’s pastoral plan for the renewal and revitalization of the Church’s basic mission – to make the Gospel known to all the nations and peoples of the world.

It was, however, the historic state visit to the United Kingdom, that was the highlight of the Pope’s travels in 2010, and the high point of that Apostolic journey was the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman:

Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness.

Cardinal Newman was a model Christian, and also a model citizen – and the profound historical connection between Christian faith and responsible citizenship was a major theme of Pope Benedict’s historic address at Westminster Hall:

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.

The Holy Father went on frankly to discuss the damage that a distorted notion of religion, and mangled reason can and have done to society – citing the slave trade and 20th century totalitarianism as just two of the many disastrous effects of degenerate reason and warped religion.

This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

The good of our civilization: the civilization that has longest and most basically been shaped by the Gospel; the Pope’s plan for renewal and revitalization includes those areas of culture and civilization, which first received the Good News long ago – a plan, the implementation of which took a major step forward with the creation this year of a new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

The Holy Father also released his Post-synodal Exhortation on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. Titled Dei verbum, the three hundred-page document is the longest and most sustained Papal treatment of sacred scripture as a vessel of divine revelation in the post-Conciliar period.

Then, there was the impact of the Pope’s personal encounters with the faithful. During 2010, Pope Benedict met with 2,272,650 people through audiences, liturgies, Angelus and regina coeli prayers.

In scores of meetings with Catholic bishops come from around the world to make their ad limina visits, and with leaders of Churches and communities not yet in full communion with the Church, the Holy Father carried out his mission of strengthening the brethren and presiding in love.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: Yesterday in the capital, six bombs near Christian homes left two dead and 12 wounded. The exodus of the faithful to Kurdistan continues, in a hampered by winter. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, the martyrdom of Iraqi Christians is a gift for awakening the faith of Christians of the West. At the same time, their friendship and solidarity, helping the Iraqis to continue their faithful witness.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - "For us Christians of Iraq, martyrdom is the charism of our Church, in its 2000 year history. As a minority, we are constantly faced with difficulties and sacrifices, but we are aware that bearing witness to Christ can mean martyrdom. In the Arabic language they have the same root: Shahid wa shahiid!. "

These the words of the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, Msgr. Louis Sako, AsiaNews, summarizing what the past year for Iraqi Christians.Yesterday in Baghdad, six bomb explosions in front of Christian homes left two dead and 12 wounded. The bombs exploded in the Ghadir quarter, where there is a significant Christian presence in Yarmuk, Khadra, Dora, and Saidiya Karrada, near the church of Our Lady of Salvation, where last October 31 terrorists killed more than 50 Christians.

"These acts - points out one faithful - have created a climate of panic and disappointment among us The government is not doing anything. Attacking Christians has become a normal phenomenon in Iraq. We are a convenient target.Christians continue to flee to Kurdistan, and every day brings new families. 700 families have arrived in Erbil; 116 families in Soulaymaniyia. What future awaits them this winter? Where are our religious authorities, while they kill us for our faith?We Christians have not celebrated Christmas, we will not even celebrate the New Year. "

Archbishop Sako, who has welcomed many refugee families to his diocese, underlines their faith. "Here in Iraq we understand that faith is not an ideological or theological speculation, but a mystical reality. Faith is a personal encounter with someone who knows us, loves us and to whom we give ourselves totally. For faith, one must always be willing to go beyond, even to sacrifice. Martyrdom is an expression of loyalty to that love. On 31 October, Fr Wassim, the young priest from the Syriac Catholic cathedral turned to the terrorists and cried: Kill me and free the faithful. He knew what he was saying, this was his commitment of love for Christ and for his flock. "

"Christians around the world - continues Bishop. Sako - can renew their faith and their commitment to being in contact with Iraq's persecuted Christians. At the same time, the friendship, solidarity and support of our brothers and sisters of the West gives us the courage to resist and remain in our land and in our churches, continuing our presence and Christian witness. Knowing that you stand by us, urges us to cultivate a common life, in peace and harmony with our Muslim brothers. ",-the-gift-of-the-Iraqi-Church-to-the-world.-More-blood-in-Baghdad-20396.html


Queensland floods

Police officers load up equipment onto an Army Blackhawk helicopter / AFP


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A MASSIVE logistical operation is under way across Queensland to evacuate thousands of people and deliver emergency supplies to communities and properties isolated by the worst flooding in the state's recorded history.

Rising floodwaters have now hit an area bigger than France and Germany combined, with forced evacuations in the central Queensland towns of Emerald, Condamine, Theodore and the regional city of Rockhampton, which is expected to be cut off over the weekend.

More than 1000 people are already staying in 17 evacuation centres. The Queensland Emergency Service said more than 4000 people could be forced to seek sanctuary in the refuges over the next few days.

The military yesterday stepped up its involvement in the crisis, with a RAAF Hercules flying to flood-devastated Emerald - where 1200 people have already abandoned their homes - to set up an emergency shelter as Premier Anna Bligh warned the town was facing a "very serious, dire" situation.

Authorities were also predicting that more 40 per cent of Rockhampton, in eastern Queensland, would be affected by the floods as massive volumes of water flow across the plains and are expected to peak at 9m or higher by tomorrow, The Weekend Australian said.

Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter said experts could not rule out a flood to rival the 10.11m experienced in 1918. "This is a very serious situation," he said.

Emergency services set up an evacuation centre to house 1500 people at Central Queensland University, but plan to expand the capacity to 2200 later today with other refuges.

A convoy of trucks yesterday delivered 250 tonnes of food and supplies to Rockhampton while the roads were still clear, with two supermarkets flooded.

Residents had already stripped the shelves of essentials. Plans are being devised to use alternative methods of transport - including barges and military airdrops - to deliver supplies if the city and surrounding region remain cut off for up to a week, as some local authorities fear.

A further 1500 tonnes of supplies were being trucked north late yesterday and today to surrounding townships and the major centres of Townsville, Mackay and Cairns.

Authorities said it was still unclear how many people were homeless, but there are predictions that up to 200,000 people have been affected by the disaster.

Many of the evacuees could remain homeless for weeks



ALL AFRICA REPORT: MEMBERS of an Islamic sect, Boko Haram, in utter contempt for the authorities defiantly continued their killing spree, yesterday, in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital killing seven persons. They attacked a police vehicle, the latest in a string of attacks by the group and wounded eight people.

A military spokesman said the vehicle was "burnt to ashes" in an attack by the Boko Haram group at a bus station in the Dala area of Maiduguri, one of two cities where churches were bombed on Christmas Eve that claimed six lives.Only last Tuesday, members of the sect fired shots into a teaching hospital in Maiduguri killing a police officer and two others.

Boko Haram, which wants strict Islamic law imposed throughout Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the Christmas Eve bombings of churches in Maiduguri and Jos, and has been blamed for other attacks over the past week.

Plans to attack churches on New Year Eve uncovered

Meanwhile, Commander of the Special Task Force maintaining security in Plateau State, Brigadier General Hassan Umoru, said they have uncovered plans by some people to launch mass attack on churches on New Year Eve.

He, however, said the Task Force was battle ready to contain the situation adding that his men had been ordered to get down anyone trying to burn down or attack any place of worship.

Speaking with journalists, yesterday, he urged parents to warn their wards not to participate in any criminal act.

Vanguard learnt, however, that many churches had called off their "cross over" services as a result of the threat

Jonathan vows to fight terrorism

On his part, President Good luck Jonathan has assured that the nation would get over the problem of terrorism.


Destruction following the Christmas Eve bombing in Jos city.

Speaking against the backdrop of recent blasts in Abuja, Jos and Yenagoa, the President who addressed South South delegates of the Peoples Democratic Party in Port Harcourt said a special body would be set up to address the problem.

Lagos CP holds talk with religious leaders

As part of proactive measures to ensure sustainable and uninterrupted peace in Lagos State, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, yesterday held an integrative meeting with religious leaders of both the Christian and Muslim groups.

The meeting which took place at the command's headquarters, Ikeja had in attendance over 80 religious leaders.

While thanking the religious leaders for their collaborative effort in crime fighting and peace keeping in Lagos, Akpoyibo reminded them of the need to continue to discharge their individual and collective civic duties positively to ensure that th prevailing peace in the state is not undermined by criminal elements under any guise whatsoever.

Advising the religious leaders on measures that should be taken to ensure improved security in and around places of worship, Akpoyibo said that with effect from today until the festive period was over, there would be increased vigilance at churches, mosques and all religious gatherings

Borno Police Commissioner, Mohammed Abubakar, who confirmed the attacks, said: "Yes, we confirmed the serial and coordinated attacks and killings on the two churches. It is very unfortunate at this time of the Christmas season for the outlawed sect members to launch fresh attacks and killings on innocent citizens of this state without any cause."

He said the armed sect members could have been arrested, if the Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, had heeded his warnings on the planned attacks of the rampaging outlawed sect members that resurfaced two weeks after the Zinnari community attacks.

Similarly, reacting to the attacks and killings, Governor Ali Modu Sheriff, said in an interview in Maiduguri: "It is very unfortunate and sad for the Christian community to be attacked and killed without any genuine cause whatever. Prior to these attacks and killings, I alerted the police and other security agencies in the state to take no chances of any reprisals from the outlawed sect members," stating that yesterday's attacks and killings could have been prevented if the police had heeded his security advice.

Inrelated development, Plateau State Deputy Governor, Dame Pauline Tallen, fired back over allegations linking her with the Christmas Eve bombings in the state capital accusing the state government of playing politics with a serious matter involving the loss of lives and property.

She accused the "leadership of the state"of being more concerned about their ambition "than the lives of the ordinary Plateau man affected by the bomb blasts."

A group known as Movement for the Survival of Plateau People had in an advertorial published on Monday accused the deputy governor of master minding the blast since it came days after her declaration for the governorship race.

She said the claim of responsibility by an Islamic group for the bombings in Jos and Maduguri had vindicated her.

Tallen said: "A leadership that is always giving excuses in crises situation that it has no control of the security machinery leaves a lot of question marks. A state leadership with all the apparatus at its disposal is supposed to adequately protect her people.

"While others are busy apportioning blame, others are busy developing a blueprint that will ensure lasting socio_political and economic development for our state. That is why we need a change of leadership in our state. Plateau indigenes and may other Nigerians resident in the state have a high state in Plateau and with the prevailing failure of leadership in state, we definitely need a change of leadership".

The deputy governor promised to make a difference if she becomes governor by working with all stakeholders to pursue reconciliation, reconstruction and transformation.

She advised the news media to be wary of the things they publish as news or advertisement considering their influence in society.

Continuing, the President said by March next year there would be significant improvement in the power situation in the country, promising that Nigerians from that time would no longer depend largely on generators.

The President who got applause from the delegates as he spoke vowed never to let the region down as President, noting that his presidency would greatly affect the area either in negative or positive sense.He said he would partner with governors of the south south states to address challenges of underdevelopment in the area. "Those of us in the South South we have a common problem, from Ikpoba River down to Cross_river. We will work with your governors to change the developmental history of the region. We will no longer be weeping dogs".

"I will do my best as President because what I will do will rob on you positively or negatively. If I perform poorly we will be written off. I promise you I will not disappoint you."

He said his administration would continue to give education a major attention because without a sound educational system the peoples dream would be a mirage.

"One thing we believe is in the education, without sound education our hope and dreams will be a mirage ", he said.


CNN REPORT: The oldest African-American church in DeKalb County no longer has a church.

Flat Rock Community Church originated 150 years ago. Now, one of its fifth-generation members says, "we're in limbo."

In November, the church broke away from the United Methodist denomination over a dispute over their property. In December, dealing with a dwindling membership, the church could no longer afford its $6500 mortgage.

As a result, the building on Evans Mill Road went into foreclosure.

"That led to another decline in membership," said senior pastor Binita Miles. "People are so hurt that they're giving up."

But congregation members and leaders are most discouraged because they are facing issues that have to do with politics and finance, not religious prayer.

Generation after generation have built this community since slavery," said archive president Johnny Waits, "and for us to lose it now, it's kinda hard."

For now, the congregation continues to find a way. They have been praying at the Flat Rock archive building for the past month. Starting in January, they move to nearby Flat Rock Elementary School.

Says Miles, "God wants us to continue to glorify him, no matter what we're going through."


Bishops Conf. Ireland: New Year 2011 message by Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down & Connor

"In an increasingly fragmented and diverse world, parishes can be key prophetic voices" - Bishop McKeown

At the start of 2011, there is a lot of anger and fear around. In some quarters there is more talk of revolutions than of resolutions.

As we step into the second decade of the 21st century, all Christian churches face huge challenges. In Ireland religious practice is less than it used to be. For most young people, the choice is whether to opt into active involvement with religious bodies, not whether to opt out of them. Across modern Ireland, not having any real connection with church is the assumed default position. That clear need for a new proclamation of the Gospel is one of the reasons behind "Share the Good News - National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland" which will be published next week by Cardinal Seán Brady.

So, in the context of this new publication by the Catholic Church in Ireland, where might churches find some guidance for priorities in 2011?

Could I suggest going back exactly 10 years to a Papal document – "Novo Millennio Ineunte" (NMI) - issued by the late Pope John Paul II immediately after the Jubilee Year of 2000. I will take just two phrases from that compact letter.

Firstly, he says that, since the first call of all believers is to be holy, all Christian bodies have to be ‘schools of prayer’. What might that mean and imply?
a. If parishes, schools or church organisations are not actively places where can people grow in holiness, then maybe they are a waste of time. In the 21st century, they risk becoming mere holy huddles, gatherings of the pious, cosy coteries of the spiritually childish. If groups which bear the name of Christian are not places where spiritual and human maturing is actively and consciously promoted, then it is not surprising that people are walking away from them. Being a ‘school
of prayer’ is a risky business as it means being open to discerning God’s way forward and not just in seeking divine support for our little plans. Those movements and groups thrive which nourish the human hunger to worship the Father ‘in Spirit and in truth’.

b. Jesus engaged with the head and hearts of his listeners. He practiced long periods of prayer and taught his disciples by word and example. He told stories to help people engage with, and learn from, their own personal story. Merely ritualistic prayer or cold dogma alone will do little to promote healing and growth for members of the pilgrim People of God. Indeed, they may encourage precisely the form of religiosity that gets religion a bad name.

c. The weekly celebration of the Liturgy is meant to be the high point of a community that prays. A Mass with little sense of prayerfulness and either a shallow or a rambling sermon nourishes neither the head nor the heart. It does justice neither to God nor to his people.

Secondly, the late Papa Wojtyla was clear that a healthy Christianity would not proclaim Christ by having just any form of spirituality or prayer. True Christian prayer, he said, needs to promote a ‘spirituality of communion’. An excessively pietistic ‘me-and-Jesus’ relationship, a smug sense of self-righteousness or a vague espousal
of ‘the spiritual’ should not be confused with Christianity. The one who went to the Cross invites people to take a spiritual journey that is not a comfortable road to walk.
a. Communion with God and communion with one another are two sides of the one great commandment. Unless faith activities build bridges and break down barriers, then they may be merely self-indulgent. A faith community with lonely members is a contradiction in terms. In an increasingly fragmented and diverse world, parishes can be key prophetic voices, generating a disinterested welcome and openness, support and patience, especially for those limp along strange roads or who come looking for even a stable on a cold night.
b. But in a world where the emphasis is on self-fulfilment, a community open to self transcendence will not happen by accident. It comes from prayer, conversion and a generous heart. In an alien cultural environment that tends to prioritise having rather than being, a spirituality of communion needs conscious nourishment.
c. A ‘spirituality of communion’ implies journeying with people. That involves learning from the early New Testament community, which was faithful to ‘the teaching of the apostles, the community, the breaking of the bread and the prayers.’ (Acts 2:42) Semi-detached Christianity is not an option in the Body of Christ.
d. The service of leadership is essential if church renewal is to take place. But unless Church structures reflect that communion spirituality, high flown ideas will not ring true. Community-building is deeply humanising - but it calls for a dying to self, if it is to be a service to human growth and not just self-serving.
e. Ireland remains a very generous country, especially when responding to the needs of developing countries and communities. But that sort of generosity is not a substitute for local action. A spirituality of communion involves not just putting your hand in your pocket but also getting your hands dirty nearer home. A parish may get a great buzz out of raising money for a project in Africa - but that concern needs to be matched with action with the local struggling inner-city parish.
It may be easier for a school community to support a school in Latin America than to share facilities with a neighbouring school in a deprived area of Dublin, Limerick or Belfast. And a passionate defence of life before birth will be heard most clearly where it is accompanied by an equally clear passion for life after birth.
f. Catholic dioceses have begun the catechetical preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Dublin (June 10-17 2012). Its theme "The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another"reflects that necessary harmony between the horizontal and vertical dimensions of Christianity. Indeed, Pope Benedict, when speaking to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and members of the IEC Organizing Committee in November, mirrored the words of NMI when he referred to that part
of evangelisation “which takes place in the school of the Church in prayer and through the liturgy.” The IEC offers an opportunity for a clear focus on renewal of all relationships in Christ.

All religious bodies face huge challenges to their development and their message in a culture where secularism has developed a strident voice. The Catholic Church in Ireland has a particularly big mountain to climb in order to develop its credibility as a humble and self-sacrificing proclaimer of God’s dream for the world.

As the National Catechetical Directory is launched next week, a helpful New Year’s resolution for us could be to focus on these two NMI phrases – and to be prepared for the sometimes painful and grace-filled evolution (or even revolution) that this might entail!

May 2011 be a blessed year for everyone.



St. Sylvester


Feast: December 31


Feast Day:December 31
Died:31 December 335 at Rome, Italy
Patron of:Feroleto Antico, Italy

St Sylvester, whom God appointed to govern his holy church in the first years of her temporal prosperity and triumph over her persecuting enemies, was a native of Rome and son to Rufinus and Justa. According to the general rule with those who are saints from their cradle, he received early and in his infancy the strongest sentiments of Christian piety from the example, instructions, and care of a virtuous mother, who for his education in the sound maxims and practice of religion, and in sacred literature, put him young into the hands of Charitius, or Carinus, a priest of an unexceptionable character and great abilities. Being formed under an excellent master, he entered among the clergy of Rome and was ordained priest by Pope Marcellinus, before the peace of the church was disturbed by Diocletian and his associate in the empire. His behaviour in those turbulent and dangerous times recommended him to the public esteem, and he saw the triumph of the cross by the victory which Constantine gained over Maxentius within sight of the city of Rome, on the 28th of October 312. Pope Melchiades dying in January 314, St. Sylvester was exalted to the pontificate, and the same year commissioned four legates, two priests, and two deacons to represent him at the great council of the Western church, held at Arles in August, in which the schism of the Donatists, which had then subsisted seven years, and the heresy of the Quartodecimans were condemned, and many important points of discipline regulated in twenty-two canons. These decisions were sent by the council before it broke up, with an honourable letter, to Pope Sylvester, and were confirmed by him and published to the whole church. The general council of Nice was assembled against Arianism in 325. Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret say that Pope Sylvester was not able to come to it in person on account of his great age, but that he sent his legates. Gelasius of Cyzicus mentions that in it "Osius held the place of the Bishop of Rome, together with the Roman priests Vito and Vincentius." These three are named the first in subscriptions of the bishops in the editions of the acts of that council and in Socrates, who expressly places them before Alexander, patriarch of Alexandria, and Eustathius, patriarch of Antioch. St. Sylvester greatly advanced religion by a punctual discharge of all the duties of his exalted station during the space of twenty-one years and eleven months; and died on the 31st of December 335. He was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla. Pope Sergius II translated his body and deposited it under the altar in a church dedicated to God in his memory. Mention is made of an altar consecrated to God in his honour at Verona, about the year 500; and his name occurs in the ancient Martyrology called St. Jerome's, published by Florentinius, and in those of Bede, Ado, Usuard, &c. Pope Gregory IX, in 1227, made his festival general in the Latin church; the Greeks keep it on the 10th January.

After a prodigious effusion of Christian blood almost all the world over, during the space of three hundred years, the persecuting kingdoms at length laid down their arms and submitted to the faith and worship of God crucified for us. This ought to be to us a subject of thanksgiving. But do our lives express this faith? Does it triumph in our hearts? It is one of its first precepts that in all our actions we make God our beginning and end, and have only his divine honour and his holy law in view. We ought, therefore, so to live that the days, hours, and moments of the year may form a crown made up of good works, which we may offer to God. Our forgetfulness of him who is our last end, in almost all that we -do, calls for a sacrifice of compunction at the close of the year; but this cannot be perfect or acceptable to God unless we sincerely devote our whole hearts and lives to his holy love for the time to come. Let us therefore examine into the sources of former omissions, failures, and transgressions, and take effectual measures for our amendment and for the perfect regulation of all our affections and actions for the future, or that part of our life which may remain.

TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 31: JOHN: 1: 1-18

John 1: 1 - 18
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was in the beginning with God;
3all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
8He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
9The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
11He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;
13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
15(John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'")
16And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.
17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

Thursday, December 30, 2010



VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2010 (VIS reports) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in an international congress of the International Federation of "Pueri Cantores", currently being held in Rome.

The Pope addressed the group in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Polish and Ukrainian. "As you use your talents and your faith to sing God's praises, you give voice to the natural desire of every human being to glorify Him, with songs of love", he said. "Yet beautiful music is able to express something of the mystery of God's love for us and ours for Him, as we are reminded by the theme chosen for your Congress: 'Deus Caritas Est'".

"Always remember that your singing is a service. Firstly, it is a service to God, a way of giving Him the praise that is due. It is also a service to your fellow worshippers, helping them to raise their hearts and minds to the Lord in prayer. And it is a service to the whole Church, offering a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy that is the goal of all true worship, when the choirs of angels and saints unite in one unending song of love and praise".



VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of the Pope's Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" on the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the financial and monetary sectors:

The Apostolic See has always raised its voice to exhort all men and women of good will, and especially the leaders of nations, to commit themselves to building - also through just and lasting peace in all parts of the world - the universal city of God, towards which the history of peoples and nations progresses [Benedict XVI, Enc. Let. 'Caritas in veritate' (29 June 2009), 7: AAS 101/2009, 645]. Unfortunately, peace in our time and in an increasingly globalised society is threatened by various causes, among them the inappropriate use of the market and the economy, as well as the terrible destruction of terrorist violence, which causes death, suffering, hatred and social instability.

Quite rightly, the international community is increasingly equipping itself with juridical principles and instruments that enable it to prevent and contrast the phenomena of money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The Holy See approves this commitment and intends to adopt these rules in its own use of the material resources it needs to carry out its mission, and to carry out the tasks of Vatican City State.

In this context, also in implementation of the Monetary Convention of 17 December 2009 between Vatican City State and the European Union, I have approved for Vatican City State the publication of the Law of 30 December 2010 concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism, which is being promulgated today.

With this Apostolic Letter in the form of "Motu Proprio":

(a) I decree that the abovementioned Law of Vatican City State, and its future modifications, is also valid for the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and for all Institutions and Entities dependent on the Holy See, when they undertake the activities defined in article 2 of the said Law.

(b) I establish the "Autorita di Informazione Finanziaria" (AIF), as indicated in article 33 of the Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism, as an Institution connected with the Holy See in accordance with articles 186 and 190-191 of the Apostolic Constitution "Pastor Bonus", conferring thereon public juridical canonical status and Vatican civil status, and approving its Statute which is attached to this Motu Proprio.

(c) I decree that the "Autorita di Informazione Finanziaria" (AIF) is to exercise its functions in relation to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and in relation to all the Institutions and Entities mentioned in paragraph (a) above.

(d) I delegate the competent judicial bodies of Vatican City State to exercise their penal jurisdiction - only as concerns the crimes conjectured in the abovementioned Law - in relation to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and in relation to all the Institutions and Entities mentioned in paragraph (a) above.

I order that what has thus been established is to have full and stable validity as of today's date, notwithstanding any dispositions to the contrary, though worthy of special mention.

I decree that this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio is to be published in the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis".

Published in Rome, from the Apostolic Palace, 30 December of the year 2010, sixth of the Pontificate.

MP/ VIS 20101230 (590)


VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the English-language text of a communique issued by the Secretariat of State regarding the new legislation for the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the financial and monetary sectors:

(1) Today, in implementation of the Monetary Convention of 17 December 2009 (2010/C 28/05) between Vatican City State and the European Union, four new Laws were adopted:

- the "Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism";

- the "Law on fraud and counterfeiting of Euro banknotes and coins";

- the "Law concerning the size, specifications, reproductions, substitutions of and withdrawals from use of Euro banknotes and concerning the implementation of measures to be taken against the irregular reproduction of Euro banknotes and the substitution of and withdrawal from use of Euro banknotes";

- the "Law regarding the face, unitary value and technical specifications, as well as the copyright of the designs of the national faces of the Euro coins destined for circulation".

The process of drafting the above-mentioned Laws was conducted with the assistance of the Mixed Committee, established in Art.11 of the Monetary Convention, composed of representatives of Vatican City State and of the European Union. The European Union delegation is composed of representatives of the Commission and of the Republic of Italy as well as representatives of the Central European Bank.

The Law concerning the prevention and countering of money laundering and of the financing of terrorism is published together with this communique, while the others will be published on the website of Vatican City State, at

(2) The Law concerning the prevention of money laundering and of the financing of terrorism contains the following in a single piece of legislation:

- specification of criminal activities which comprise the laundering of money, self money-laundering, and the so-called "predicate crimes" (that is, the criminal activities which generate incomes, that are subsequently laundered), for which penal fines are foreseen;

- specification of activities with a more administrative content related to international co-operation, but also to prevention, for which pecuniary administrative fines are foreseen.

The above Law is based on the following main obligations:

- "adequate verification" of the counterpart;

- registration and conservation of data concerning ongoing relations and operations;

- reporting of suspicious transactions.

The structure of this Law, while taking into account the specificity of the Vatican legal system into which it is inserted, conforms to the principles and rules in force throughout the European Union and is therefore in conformity with the norms of other nations which have more developed rules in this regard. This is seen in the provisions concerning, among other things, self money-laundering, the controls on cash entering or leaving Vatican City State, the obligations regarding the transfer of funds, and the heavy administrative sanctions that are applicable not only to legal persons and entities but also to the physical persons who act on their behalf, by means of the binding recourse action.

(3) In conformity with what is found in the most recent norms of the European Union, the Law on fraud and counterfeiting responds to the need to adopt a solid network of legal protection of Euro banknotes and coins from counterfeiting. This requires procedures of withdrawal from circulation of counterfeited banknotes and coins, the reinforcing of penal sanctions, as well as various forms of European and international cooperation.

(4) The Laws concerning the Euro banknotes and coins contain the following for those Banknotes and coins:

- norms for the protection of the copyright of the designs;

- rules regarding size, technical characteristics, circulation and substitution;

- the prospective application of administrative pecuniary fines for violation of any of these Laws.

(5) The drafting of the Laws that are adopted today does not involve Vatican City State alone. The Holy See, which is legally distinct from Vatican City State and which directs entities and institutions active in various areas, has adopted as its own the "Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism". The adoption of this Law was accomplished by means of the "Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio for the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the area of monetary and financial dealings".

With that Apostolic Letter, which is also published today and signed by the Supreme Pontiff Pope Benedict XVI:

- it is also established that the Law of Vatican City State and its future modifications apply as well to the "Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and for each and every institution or entity dependent on the Holy See", among which the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) is included, so as to confirm the latter's firm intention to operate according to principles and criteria which are internationally recognised;

- the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF) is established, an autonomous and independent body with the specific task of preventing and countering the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism with respect to each subject, both legal and physical, entity and institution of whatever nature, of Vatican City State, of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of all the other institutions and entities dependent on the Holy See;

- the competent judicial authorities of Vatican City State are henceforth delegated to exercise penal jurisdiction in regard to the above-mentioned institutions, in the case of crimes related to money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The Apostolic Letter is published on the Holy See's website, at

(6) The AIF, whose President and members of the Governing Council are appointed by the Pope, is charged with the task of adopting the complex and delicate norms of implementation which are indispensable in ensuring that the subjects of the Holy See and of Vatican City State - from 1 April 2011 - will respect these new and important obligations aimed at countering the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism. On 1 April 2011, the "Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism" will enter into force.

(7) Experience will help to refine and integrate the new norms concerning the prevention and countering of money-laundering and the financing of terrorism in accordance with the principles and the standards in force in the international community; such need might derive from the Holy See's and Vatican City State's openness to deal with competent international instances in countering both money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

(8) These new Laws are part of the Apostolic See's efforts to build a just and honest social order. At no time may the great principles of social ethics like transparency, honesty and responsibility be neglected or weakened (cf. Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 36).

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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a note written by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. on the Pope's Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" on the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the financial and monetary sectors. Fr. Lombardi's note is entitled "Transparency , honesty and responsibility".

Today's publication of new laws for Vatican City State, for the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and for the Institutions and Entities dependent on the Holy See, is an important normative development, but also has far-reaching moral and pastoral significance.

As of today, all organisations associated with the government of the Catholic Church - and with the Church's "support": Vatican City State - have, in a spirit of sincere collaboration, become part of that system of juridical principles and instruments which the international community is creating with the aim of guaranteeing just and honest coexistence in an increasingly globalised world; a world in which, unfortunately, economy and finance is not infrequently a field for illegal activities, such as the recycling of the profits of crime and the financing of terrorism, true threats to justice and peace in the world.

Speaking plainly, the Pope affirms that the "Holy See approves such a commitment" on the part of the international community, "and intends to adopt the rules" the community uses "to prevent and combat" these terrible phenomena.

Illegal activities have always shown an extraordinary ability to infiltrate and contaminate the world of economy and finance, but their growth at the international level, and the use of new technology, have made them increasingly insidious and capable of concealment. Thus, by way of protection, it has become vital to create mutual control and information networks among the authorities charged with contrasting such activities.

It would be ingenuous to imagine that the perverse intelligence of the people who control illegal activities would not seek to exploit certain weak spots which sometimes exist in the international systems that defend and oversee legality, in order to penetrate and violate them. For this reason international solidarity is of vital importance in order to safeguard those systems, and it is right and understandable that national watchdogs and the competent international organisations (the Council of Europe and, in particular, FATF the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering) should look favourably upon the States and organisations which offer the requested guarantees, and impose greater limitations on those which fail to conform.

Naturally, this also holds true for Vatican City and for those ecclesiastical organisations which undertake economic and financial activities.

Thus the new norms respond both to the need to conserve the effectiveness of the organisations that work in the economic and financial sector at the service of the Catholic Church in the world and, - more importantly - to the moral requirement of "transparency, honesty and responsibility", which must always be observed in the social and economic field (Caritas in Veritate, 36).

The implementation of the new norms will certainly require great commitment. A new Financial Information Authority must be set up, new obligations must be respected, new functions exercised. But this cannot but be of benefit to the Church. Vatican organisations will be less vulnerable in the face of the continuous risks that inevitably arise in the handling of money. Those errors which so quickly become the cause of "scandal" for public opinion and the faithful will be avoided. In the final analysis the Church will be more "credible" before the members of the international community, and this is of vital importance for her evangelical mission. Today, 30 December 2010, the Pope has signed a document of a type a little unusual for him, but one of great courage and of great moral and spiritual significance. This is a good way to conclude the year: with a step towards transparency and credibility!

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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for January 2011 is: "That young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society".

His mission intention is: "That every believer in Christ may be conscious that unity among all Christians is a condition for more effective proclamation of the Gospel".



BBC REPORT: A 13th-Century Belgian abbey famous for its brewery has been damaged by fire but the monks escaped unhurt and the vats survived intact.

The Trappist (Cistercian) monks were dining when fire broke out at the abbey at St Remy-Rochefort, famous for its Rochefort beer.

The building was evacuated and it took 70 firefighters to put out the blaze.

It seems the blaze began near a generator being used temporarily after problems with the power supply.

Francois Bellot, mayor of Rochefort, said he was confident that it would be possible to resume beer production within a few days. Rochefort is one of only five breweries making Trappist beer, which is seen as a gold standard for connoisseurs of the drink.

Archives show the abbey has been producing beer since 1595 and it is known today for producing one of the strongest brews, with 12% alcohol.

The abbey has been destroyed on two previous occasions: by the troops of Lorraine in 1650 and again during the French revolution. IMAGE SOURCE: