Friday, September 2, 2011



VATICAN CITY, 2 SEP 2011 (VIS REPORT) - Benedict XVI has written a message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, for the twelfth Inter-Christian Symposium, which is being held in the Greek city of Thessaloniki from 30 August to 2 September on the theme: "The witness of the Church in the modern world". The event has been promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the "Antonianum" Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome and by the Orthodox Theological Faculty at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

Commenting on the choice of theme, the Pope writes: "Over the course of the centuries the Church has never ceased to proclaim the salvific mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet today that announcement needs to be renewed in many of the regions which first accepted it, and which are currently experiencing the effects of a secularisation capable of impoverishing the most profound aspects of man".

The Holy Father goes on: "In the modern world we are witnessing two contradictory phenomena. On the one hand there is a widespread disinterest, even a lack of sensibility, towards transcendence while, on the other, many signs suggest that a profound nostalgia for God persists in the hearts of many, expressing itself in various ways".

The current cultural, social and economic environment "presents the same challenges to both Catholics and Orthodox. The ideas that emerge from this symposium will, then, have an important ecumenical impact. ... Reciprocal understanding of one another's traditions and sincere friendship are, in themselves, a contribution to the cause of Christian unity".

Finally Benedict XVI, recalling how the city of Thessaloniki is indissolubly associated with the preaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles, expresses the hope that the evangelisers of the modern world will be moved by the same apostolic zeal as St. Paul.

MESS/ VIS 20110902 (320)


VATICAN CITY, 2 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences eight prelates of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Lourdes Daniel of Nashik.

- Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Valerian D'Souza.

- Archbishop-Bishop Felix Anthony Machado of Vasai.

- Bishop Edwin Colaco of Aurangabad.

- Bishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan of Ahmedabad.

- Bishop Godfrey de Rozario, S.J., of Baroda.

Yesterday afternoon he received in audience Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany.


CNS REPORT -- Faith groups in Malawi are calling for international support as they seek major reforms in the southern African country, a Catholic church official said.

"Malawians are desperate for a government that responds to their concerns," said Chris Chisoni, national secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.

Nineteen people died in Malawi in clashes with police during July 20-21 protests against government policies and a shortage of fuel and foreign currency.

The Public Affairs Committee, which includes Catholic bishops, Protestant and Muslim representatives, has called for a "proper investigation with the support" of the Southern African Development Community and the United Nations into the clashes and their causes, Chisoni said in an Aug. 26 telephone interview from the capital, Lilongwe.

The United States and Britain have cut aid to Malawi, which depends on donors for as much as 40 percent of its budget, because of disagreements with President Bingu wa Mutharika and the police response to protests.

"Urgent steps must be taken to ensure that solutions are found to the crisis," Chisoni said, noting that "human rights reforms and transparent governance" are needed "to ensure that diplomatic and bilateral relationships are restored."

Malawi's opposition parties are "too caught up in infighting to be an effectively organized opposition, and so it is left to civil society and the church to look out for the interests of ordinary citizens," he said.

Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza of Mzuzu, who chairs the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, invoked the president's ire when he told Mutharika that he should stop gagging Malawi's civil society, media and the faith community, noting that they have a role to play in safeguarding the rule of law.

Malawi's social, political and economic problems "are of our own making depending on our respective roles," Bishop Zuza said in a sermon at an Aug. 16 National Day of Prayer in Blantyre, the commercial capital.

Responding to the bishop's remarks in an Aug. 25 speech in Blantyre, Mutharika said he would "deal with the nongovernmental organizations which are leading people to protest against my leadership," adding that his "patience is wearing thin, let us fight."

In an Aug. 26 press statement, the Public Affairs Committee called Mutharika's comments "unacceptable" and "misplaced."


Ten families in the province of Nghe An have written a letter to Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist leaders. They ask for help and prayer, to secure the release of their children "kidnapped" by police. Masses and vigils across the country for religious freedom in Vietnam. Reporters Without Borders and Redemptorists support the Catholic parents struggle.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Ten families of Nghe An province have sent a letter to the Vietnamese religious leaders, asking them to pray for the "seizure" of their children by the police. Among them are six young men, prisoners in the B14 prison in Thanh Tri district of the capital Hanoi. The authorities have jailed them on charges of attempting to "overthrow the government of the people" and their relatives have thus far received no reports on their health condition. In the last month 15 young Catholics have been arrested and imprisoned without trial. So far three have been released, but the other 12 remain in prison awaiting to appear before the judges.

The parents claim the innocence of their children, stressing that in the past they took part in charitable and social activities in the public interest promoted by the church and the parish. As evidence of their deep bond to Vietnam, the young people also attended short courses on how to better serve the motherland. However, the Hanoi authorities believe they conspired to topple the government and the Communist Party, through "non-violence" (see AsiaNews 29/08/2011Catholic activists and students to be put on trial very soon). In reality the young people demonstrated against the confiscation of the Church lands and the executive’s "subjection" to Beijing in the South China Sea border dispute.

Addressing Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist leaders, Vietnamese and international media, the relatives of imprisoned young people wrote: "We believe that your fervent prayers will reach God. Only God can save our children - add the authors of the letter - and lift them up from oppression and injustice". "Your prayers - continue the parents - are helping our children to accept their physical hardships and imprisonment, holding fast to their faith and ideals."

The Vietnamese Youth Network The Lên Đường joins the parents’ chorus of protest, denouncing "the arrests and violations of the communist government of Vietnam" and calling for "the unconditional release of the young patriots." Their call is joined by the Redemptorists in Vietnam and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who have urged the Government not to use "terrorist" methods to intimidate citizens.

Meanwhile, in many parishes and churches all over Vietnam, from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, and Nghe An province masses and vigils of prayer of the faithful are being held for the release of the young people arrested and religious freedom in the country.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - More than eight million between adults and young people who are part of the lay movements and organizations grouped in the Association for Episcopal Laity (DELAI), celebrated their first national meeting on 27 and 28 August, proposing as its central theme the defense of the family as basic social value, able to generate real wealth. With the aim of reflecting on the real participation in the construction of a freer, responsible and fair society, over 60 movements and associations of lay Catholics around the country gathered to confirm their willingness to work "Juntos por Mexico" (Together for Mexico).
During this meeting, the lay decided to commit themselves in order to propose the family as a custodian of values and virtues needed to build "healthy, happy, free, responsible and caring people, to continue to build the civilization of love". They also signed a manifesto stressing their commitment in the training, education, social and communication field, to build a better Mexico.
The meeting was attended by the presidents of the movement, businessmen, social leaders, university professors, married couples, priests and young people who expressed their point of view regarding the current situation of the country and underlined their commitment to "work together for Mexico ". For more than ten hours the auditorium of "Centro Universitario Mexico" was the scene of a major Catholic feast, in which testimonies, readings, thoughts, proposals, suggestions and actions were alternated, all proposals to try to create a positive change in Mexican society. At the end of the meeting Mgr. Javier Navarro Rodríguez, Bishop of Zamora and president of the Episcopal Commission for the Laity, presided the celebration of the Eucharist. (CE)


Invitation to Eucharistic Congress in Dublin  | International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin,
IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT: O Come let us adore Him - It could hardly have come at a more significant time for Ireland. Amid all the bad news – the long-running sore of sexual abuse and the financial perils the country is facing – comes a piece of thoroughly good news: an International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Dublin next summer.

These Congresses are usually held every four years in different parts of the world, and the Holy Father has often attended at least the closing liturgy in person, though for understandable reasons the Vatican will not confirm Pope Benedict’s attendance until a few months beforehand.

The aim of Eucharistic Congresses is twofold: to make us more aware of the centrality of the Eucharist in our life and mission, and to improve our understanding and celebration of the liturgy.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1324), quoting the Second Vatican Council, uses two memorable phrases to sum up the centrality of the Eucharist for Catholics: the Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life,” and "in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

No doubt we would all nod assent to that, but as Mgr Ronald Knox reminds us at the end of his classic work, Enthusiasm, “There is danger in her [the Church’s] position; where wealth abounds, it is easy to mistake shadow for substance; the fires of spirituality may burn low, and we go on unconscious, dazzled by the glare of tinsel suns.”

The aim of a Eucharistic Congress is just that: to fan into a flame our enthusiasm for the Eucharist. Few people have spoken of this more eloquently than Bl Pope John Paul II. In writing his 2000 encyclical on the Eucharist, he stated that his aim was to “rekindle a sense of Eucharistic amazement,” that sense of awe that should fill our hearts whenever we approach the Eucharist, as we consider what is really happening in it.

The Curé of Ars, whom Pope Benedict XVI gave us as a model in the recent Year of Priests, was continually filled with this Eucharistic amazement and expressed it in surprising ways. He once said of Jesus: “Men were concocting the blackest plots against him, while He was planning nothing less than how to give them his most precious gift, himself.” The Eucharist, in other words, is Jesus’ audacious “plot” to remain with us till the end of time in physical form.

Sizeable numbers of people from England are expected to attend the Dublin Congress, which is being held from June 10-18, either for the whole week or for part of it. In Westminster diocese groups from parishes, prayer groups and other organisations will be attending, or individuals can make their own arrangements. No-one will be able to go without registering, and you will save considerably by registering in advance. Use the website, where you can also book accommodation with a credit card.

Archbishop Vincent hopes that a good-sized delegation will go from Westminster diocese, and he will be there himself for some events. Nearer the time it may be possible to organise the different parish groups into a kind of diocesan pilgrimage.

For further information, visit the website, speak to your parish priest, or contact the Westminster diocesan delegate, Mgr Keith Barltrop, 020 7229 0487;

Mgr Barltrop is Parish Priest at St Mary of the Angels in Bayswater, west London.


CATH NEWS REPORT: Sir Paul Reeves, who has died of cancer aged 78, touched hearts in New Zealand as have few public figures. As Primate and archbishop of New Zealand from 1980, he was a national figure at a time when the churches still counted for rather more than they do now.

He vowed not to speak naively on every conceivable issue, but speak he did, with knowledge and a cutting edge. He was not afraid to say what he believed and his faith put him firmly on the side of the marginalised.

Many wondered whether he had gone too far when he campaigned for the election of a Labour government. In 1983 he flew to South Africa in support of Desmond Tutu, then under investigation, testifying to the Eloff Commission.

In 1985, the prime minister David Lange invited Paul, controversially, to accept the office of governor general, in effect the ceremonial head of state as the Queen's representative. Was this compatible with being the head of a church?

Sir Paul Reeves and his wife, Beverley, brought fresh air to Government House in Wellington. They opened it to the people and as the first Maori incumbent, Paul felt free to turn the ballroom into a place where a hundred of his tribe could bed down for the night. His role, he declared, was still like that of a bishop: "To travel, to stand alongside people and to search for common ground."

Reeves partially solved that problem by resigning the archbishopric, but not his life's vocation as a bishop of the church.

Was he, as was expected, above politics? Not quite. When the government turned to the neo-conservative orthodoxy of the market, Reeves broke ranks and criticised what he saw as "an increasingly stratified society" in which "the spirit of the market steals life from the vulnerable but the spirit of God gives life to all". The prime minister who had appointed him was not amused.


St. Antoninus

Feast: September 2
Information: Feast Day: September 2
Antoninus is listed as a stonemason in Aribazus, Syria (or Pamiers, France). He denounced the pagan practices of his fellow townspeople and went to live as a hermit for two years. Antoninus then returned to his village and destroyed the pagan idols. He fled the town and built a church in Apamea, Syria, where he was murdered. Both Apamea and Pamiers claim this saint.


Luke 5: 33 - 39
33And they said to him, "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink."
34And Jesus said to them, "Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
35The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days."
36He told them a parable also: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.
37And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
38But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
39And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, `The old is good.'"