Monday, October 31, 2011



VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received a group of prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

Benedict XVI began his address by referring to the visit he had made to Luandain March 2009 during which, he said, "I had the chance to meet you and celebrate Jesus Christ in the midst of a people who never cease to seek, love and serve Him, generously and joyfully".

The Holy Father also made mention of the fact that he is due to return to Africa in November, when he will travel to Benin to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Quoting from the final message of that synodal meeting, he said: "As Church, the first and most specific contribution we must make to the people of Africa is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because announcing Christ is the primary and most important factor of development. Development arises from transformation of heart and transformation of heart comes from conversion to the Gospel".

The Pope then turned his attention to three of the most important difficulties currently facing Angolan Christians, "who undergo the pressure of the customs of the societies in which they live. Yet, by the grace of Baptism, they are called to renounce harmful practices, and to swim against the tide guided by the spirit of the Beatitudes".

The first problem the Pope identified was that of concubinage, "which goes against God's plan for procreation and the human family. The low number of Catholic marriages in your communities is the sign of a grave burden on families which, we well know, are vitally important for the stability of society. ... Help married couples to acquire the human and spiritual maturity they need to accept their mission as Christian spouses and parents with responsibility, reminding them that their spousal love must be unique and indissoluble like the bond between Christ and His Church".

Another difficulty lies in the fact that "the hearts of the baptised are torn between Christianity and traditional African religions. Faced with life's problems, they do not hesitate to turn to practices that are incompatible with adherence to Christ. One particularly abominable consequence is the marginalisation and even murder of children and elderly people, condemned by the false diktats of witchcraft. Dear bishops, continue to raise your voice in support of the victims, in the certainty that human life is sacred at all moments and in all situations". Ecclesial communities must strive, together with governments and civil society, to "find a way that leads to the definitive eradication" of this scourge.

The third problem facing Angolan Christians lies in "the remnants of ethnic tribalism, evident in the attitude of communities that tend to close in on themselves, rejecting people from other parts of the country. ... In the Church, the new family of all who believe in Christ, there is no space for division of any kind", the Pope said. "Men and women of different tribes, languages and nations gather round the altar where, sharing the one Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, they become true brothers and sisters. This bond of fraternity is stronger than that our earthly families or tribes".

In conclusion, the Pope reiterated a phrase he had pronounced during his 2009 visit to Luanda: "God has enabled human beings to fly, over and above their natural tendencies, on the wings of reason and faith. If you let these wings bear you aloft, you will easily recognise your neighbour as a brother or sister, born with the same fundamental human rights".

AL/ VIS 20111031 (630)


VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope commented on today's reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, in which the Apostle invites us to accept the Gospel "not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word". By doing so "we can faithfully accept the admonitions Jesus addresses to our conscience, and behave accordingly. In today's reading He reproaches the scribes and Pharisees, who had the role of leaders in the community, because their behaviour was in open contrast with the teachings they rigorously sought to impose upon others. ... Good doctrine must be welcomed, but it risks being invalidated by incoherent behaviour. ... Jesus' approach is the exact opposite: He is the first to practise the commandment of love, which He teaches to everyone. And His is but a light burden because He helps us to carry it with Him.

"Referring to leaders who oppress the freedom of others in the name of their own authority, St. Bonaventure identified the true leader, saying that 'no one can teach or even practise, nor arrive at knowledge of the truth unless the Son of God is present'. ... We are, then, called to follow the Son of God, the Word incarnate, Who expressed the truth of His teachings through His own faithfulness to the will of the Father, through His gift of self. ... Jesus also firmly condemned vanity, noting that those who act 'to be seen by others' place themselves at the mercy of human approval, undermining the values that support the authenticity of the individual".

The Holy Father called for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, particularly for "those in the Christian community who are called to the ministry of teaching, that through their actions they may always bear witness to the truth they transmit in words".

Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father expressed his closeness "to the people of Thailand who have suffered serious floods, and for the people of the Italian regions of Liguria and Tuscany, which have also been badly affected by torrential rain. I give them assurances of my prayers".

ANG/ VIS 20111031 (390)


VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Almir Franco de Sa Barbuda, the new ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See. The Pope began his remarks to the diplomat by expressing his gratitude for the readiness of the Brazilian authorities to host the next World Youth Day, due to take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

He then went on to consider the long history of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Brazil, which were established shortly after the country's independence, also highlighting the fruitful influence of the Catholic Church which dates back to the first Mass celebrated there on 26 April 1500. Proof of this is to be found, the Holy Father said, in "the many cities named after saints, and the numerous religious monuments, some of which symbolise the country throughout the world, such as the statue of the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro".

One important chapter of this "shared fertile history" was the agreement the Holy See and the Brazilian government signed in 2008, which "officially and juridically sealed the independence and collaboration of the two parties". In this context, the Pope also expressed the hope that the State would recognise that "healthy secularism must not consider religion as a mere individual sentiment, relegated to the private sphere, but as a reality which, being organised into visible structures, requires public recognition of its presence".

"It is therefore up to the State to ensure that all religious confessions enjoy freedom of worship, and the right to practice their cultural, educational and charitable activities, when these do not contrast with morality or public order", he said. "The Church does not limit her own contribution to concrete humanitarian or educational assistance; rather, she pursues above all the ethical development of society. Encouraged by the numerous expressions of openness to transcendence, she seeks to form consciences and to show solidarity".

Benedict XVI identified a number of fields of mutual cooperation, including that of education in which the Church has "many institutions which enjoy prestigious recognition in society. The role of education cannot, in fact, be reduced to the mere transmission of knowledge and abilities for professional formation", he explained. "Rather it must comprehend all facets of the individual, from social factors to the longing for transcendence. We must, therefore, reiterate that the teaching of a particular religion in State schools, ... far from indicating that the State assumes or imposes a certain religious belief, is recognition of the fact that religion is an important value in the formation of the individual. ... Not only does this not prejudice the secularism of the State, it guarantees parents' rights to chose the education of their children, thus helping to promote the common good".

Finally, on the subject of social justice, the Pope concluded by saying that "the Brazilian government knows that it can rely on the Church as a partner in all initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger and want, ... and helping those most in need to escape poverty ... and marginalisation".

CD/ VIS 20111031 (530)


VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for November is: "That the terminally ill may be supported by their faith in God and the love of their brothers and sisters".

His mission intention is: "That the celebration of World Mission Day may foster in the People of God a passion for evangelisation with the willingness to support the missions with prayer and economic aid for the poorest Churches".



VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Ubaldo Ramon Santana Sequera F.M.I. of Maracaibo, Venezuela, president of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, accompanied by Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida, first vice president; Bishop Jesus Gonzalez de Zarate Salas, auxiliary of Caracas, secretary general, and Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, president "ad honorem".

- Ten prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Almeida Kanda of Ndalatando.

- Archbishop Jose Manuel Imbamba of Saurimo.

- Bishop Benedito Roberto C.S.Sp. of Sumbe.

- Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of Uije, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Jose Francisco Moreira dos Santos O.F.M. Cap.

- Bishop Joaquim Ferreira Lopes O.F.M. Cap. of Viana.

- Bishop Mario Lukunde of Menongwe.

- Bishop Dionisio Hisiilenapo of Namibe.

- Bishop Fernando GuimarĂ£es Kevanu of Ondjiva.

- Bishop Manuel Antonio Mendes dos Santos C.M.F. of Sao Tome and Principe.

On Saturday 29 October he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church.

- Nine prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Eugenio Dal Corso P.S.D.P. of Benguela, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Oscar Lino Lopes Fernandes Braga.

- Bishop Jose Nambi of Kwito-Bie.

- Bishop Jesus Tirso Blanco S.D.B. of Lwena.

- Bishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda.

- Bishop Antonio Francisco Jaca S.V.D. of Caxito.

- Msgr. Colm Reidy, diocesan administrator of Dundo.

- Bishop Luis Maria Perez de Onraita Aguirre of Malanje.

- Bishop Vicente Carlos Kiaziku, O.F.M. Cap. of Mbanza Congo.

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

AP:AL/ VIS 20111031 (290)


VATICAN CITY, 31 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Kalisz, Poland, presented by Bishop Teofil Wilski, upon having reached the age limit.

On Saturday 29 October it was made public that he:

- Appointed Bishop Wiktor Pawel Skworc of Tarnow, Poland, as metropolitan archbishop of Katowice (area 2,400, population 1,498,123, Catholics 1,454,328, priests 1,085, religious 1,093), Poland. He succeeds Archbishop Damian Zimon, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Sebastain Tudu of the clergy of Dinajpur, Bangladesh, vice rector of the major seminary of the Holy Spirit in Dhaka and diocesan director of the Pontifical Missionary Works, as bishop of Dinajpur (area 17,500, population 16,529,090, Catholics 46,578, priests 56, religious 148). The bishop-elect was born in Changura, Bangladesh in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1999. He has worked as parochial vicar in a number of parishes in Bangladesh and attained a doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Urban University.

- Erected the new diocese of Kabwe (area 63,574, population 1,078,334, Catholics 138,810, priests 43, religious 95) Zambia, with territory taken from the diocese of Mpika and the archdiocese of Lusaka, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Lusaka. He appointed Fr. Clement Mulenga S.D.B, director of the office for the pastoral care of young people in the archdiocese of Lusaka, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Dimashi, in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1998. He studied at the Pontifical Salesian University and has worked in Salesian communities in Zambia and Tanzania.

- Appointed Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, apostolic nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, as apostolic nuncio to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica,Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines,Suriname, Guyana, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles.



The Feast of All saints is our family Feast day when we honor all those who have died, marked with the sign of faith, and gone on before us to be with the Lord

'Halloween' comes from 'All Hallows Eve', the Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of 'All Saints'. All saints is our family Feast day when we honor all those who have died, marked with the sign of faith, and gone on before us to be with the Lord. They now beckon all of us into the fullness of the communion of love.

The Feast of All Saints is our celebration

The Feast of All Saints is our celebration

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Now in my late fifties, I became almost as excited as when I was a child on All Hallows Eve this year. Why? Because my grandson's excitement was contagious. His anticipation of visiting neighbors and receiving candy became the subject of numerous conversations.

He ran around the house for a week dressed up like "Iron Man" and rescued us! He even tried to persuade me to dress up like "The Hulk" and canvass the neighborhood with him. He calls Me "Poppi" and I have had the joy of listening to him share his excitement about Halloween for weeks.

He and his mom, our daughter, live with us. I really should say we all live with him, given his ability to "occupy the turf" so to speak, with the amazing little world he has built. It ever reminds me of the gift of childhood. He has completely transformed our home.

He will soon be five years old and is a continual invitation to my wife and me to keep it simple. We raised five children of our own and have six grandchildren. Family truly is a way of life and, when lived as a domestic church, it is a source of real grace and conversion.

The term "Halloween" comes from "All Hallows Eve", the Christian Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of "All Saints". I contend that what it is becoming, with its undue influence on gablins,ghosts and the demonic, simply reflects the waning influence of the Christian vision in the West. It also presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture.

The Church has always recognized that cultural practices can be "mixed", containing those aspects which elevate the human person and those which do not. However, members of the Church are invited to transform such cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been the missionary model of the Church for two millennia.

Many of the dates which were "Christianized" and now host Christian "Holy-Days" were originally utilized for "Pre-Christian" ("Pagan") celebrations. This process reflects the wisdom of the Church and a missionary approach. She "baptized" them, recognizing the seeds of what was good within them. By immersing them in the beauty of the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the fullness of truth and the source of all goodness, she transforms them into vehicles for transforming culture.

The Church is His Body. She is meant to be the home of the whole human race. As the early fathers were fond of proclaiming, the Church is the world reconciled - the world in the process of transfiguration. We who live our lives in the Church do so for the sake of the world. We should not be afraid of human culture; we are called to continue the redemptive mission of our Lord by transforming it from within as leaven in a loaf.

The early Christians always honored the dead and had a special devotion and affection for the martyrs. We have wonderful accounts like the Martyrdom of Polycarp from the middle of the second century which set forth the practices:

"Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more pure than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, so that when being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps ".

The Liturgy was often celebrated over the bones of the "holy ones", the saints, who gave their lives in love for Love Himself, Jesus Christ the Savior.This is one of the origins of our practice of embedding relics in the altar to this day. Christians do not fear death. We view it with the eyes of faith as a change of habitation.

The dates of commemorating those who witnessed to the faith by their heroic lives and deaths varied as local communities honored local saints and martyrs. Over time, those Feast days became more universally accepted as the rhythm of the Church Year became more uniform.

The first account we have of honoring all the saints is from St Ephrem the Syrian (d. AD 373). The great Bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom (d. AD 407), set aside the first Sunday after Pentecost for this commemoration. The Church of the East still celebrates the Feast on that day. In the Western Church the date may have originally been on that date but was moved to May 13th. There is some evidence that the move to November 1 came with Pope Gregory III (d. AD 741), and was likely first observed on November 1st in Germany.

The Feast of All saints is our family Feast day when we honor all those who have died, marked with the sign of faith, and gone on before us to be with the Lord. They now beckon all of us .

into the fullness of the communion of love. In a special way we commemorate all who have been honored by "canonization", the process wherein the Church has acknowledged their extraordinary lives of holiness and holds them up as models and intercessors. This wonderful celebration is grounded in the most ancient of Church teaching concerning the Communion of Saints.

The Church proclaims that death does not separate us because it was defeated by Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:28) We affirm and celebrate our eternal communion in Him through the Holy Spirit - and with one another. We honor all of our brothers and sisters, known and unknown, who are a part of that great cloud of witnesses to which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews attests. (Heb. 12:1).

Just as we pray for one another, so those who have gone on before us pray for us and are joined to us forever in that communion of love. This ancient and firm belief is attested to in the earliest writings of the Christian tradition. For example, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 350) writes: "We mention those who have fallen asleep: first the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition... (Catechetical Lecture 23:9).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this communion in these words: "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness...They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us...So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself: We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples (CCC # 956, # 957)

The vigil of the Feast (the eve) has come, in the English speaking world, to be known as "All Hallows Eve" or Halloween. While some consider Halloween to be "pagan" in origin it is actually the eve of the great Christian Feast of All Saints. Many of the customs which surround it reflect the Christian confidence in our triumph over death in Christ and our bold rejection of the claim that evil has any more power over us.

When my grandson was done sorting through the candy and talking away about the events of the evening, I made the sign of the cross on his forehead and prayed a prayer which developed over all those years my wife and I raised our children "May the Lord bless you, fill you with His Holy Spirit, surround your bed with His Angels and give you peace." He looked at me as he does almost every night and ask me to repeat it again saying "surround your bed with His angels?" in a question format.

I cherish that question because it calls me to do all I can to help to form him in the Christian way of life. As for the growing pagan practices around us, I am not afraid. I will do all that I can to ensure that he will be a part of a new generation of those who, bearing the name Catholic Christian, do what Christians always do, bring about the conversion of Nations and cultures.

That is, after all, what it means to be a missionary Church. That is why I use the term "Pre-Christian" to describe the state of the West, not "Post Christian". This is a new missionary age and there is a lot of work to be done.Let's embrace what is good - and transform what is not - in the celebration of Halloween and use it as an invitation to Christian mission.



Ban on British monarch marrying a Catholic to be lifted

The Imperial State Crown, worn by the Queen during the state opening of Parliament (Photo: Mike Moore)

CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT: The law that bans a British monarch from marrying a Catholic is to be lifted after more than 300 years.

The reforms were announced following the unanimous agreement of the 16 nations that have the Queen as their constitutional head of state.

But they will not include the repeal of a Catholic becoming monarch because allegiance to the pope might conflict with the sovereign’s role as the supreme governor of the Church of England.

The changes will also see the end of the ancient tradition of male primogeniture, the rule under which boys take precedence in the line to the throne over elder sisters.

The reforms will be included in the next programme of parliamentary business to be unveiled in November, while New Zealand will lead a working group to coordinate their implementation in other Commonwealth countries.

The announcement, made on Friday at a summit of Commonwealth heads of government in Perth, was welcomed by Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

Archbishop Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “This will eliminate a point of unjust discrimination against Catholics and will be welcomed not only by Catholics but far more widely.

“At the same time I fully recognise the importance of the position of the Established church in protecting and fostering the role of faith in our society today,” he said.

Cardinal O’Brien, president of the Scottish bishops’ conference, said he was pleased to note the process had started to repeal aspects of the laws.

“I look forward to studying the detail of the proposed reforms and their implications in due course,” the cardinal said.

In recent years there have been 11 attempts to reform the laws on royal succession, but none has made any meaningful progress, partly because of the difficulty in reforming laws across 16 jurisdictions.

But David Cameron was able to announce the changes after he won the support of the leaders of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St Lucia and the Bahamas – who would also have to amend their laws.

Announcing the reforms, Mr Cameron said: “Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that church.

“But it is simply wrong they should be denied the chance to marry a Catholic if they wish to do so,” he said. “After all, they are already quite free to marry someone of any other faith.”

He said the idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he was a man was “at odds with the modern countries that we have become”.

The reforms may entail amendments to nine acts, including the 1689 Bill of Rights, the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1772 Royal Marriages Act.

The laws brought to a close centuries of religious turmoil that began in the 1530s when King Henry VIII took the English Catholic Church into schism so he could nullify his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, his mistress.

They were brought into force following the deposing of openly Catholic King James II, Britain’s last Catholic monarch, in the bloodless coup of 1688, which came to be known as “the Glorious Revolution”.

After James’s Protestant sister Anne, his successor, failed to produce an heir, the throne was given to Electress Sophia of Hanover, Germany, from whom the reigning House of Windsor is descended.

The abolition of the rule of male primogeniture will apply only to the descendants of Prince Charles, but it will mean that if the first-born child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – William and Kate – is a girl, then she will ascend the throne ahead of any younger brothers