Thursday, November 17, 2011


RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Benin’s Ambassador to the Holy See said Pope Benedict’s visit to the African nation this week is a “very big encouragement” for the people of Benin and the whole of Africa. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio, Ambassador Loko notes that the papal visit to Benin coincides with celebrations there marking the 150th anniversary of the start of Christian evangelisation.

Asked about the importance of Pope Benedict’s visit, the Ambassador says great emphasis should be put on the contents of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of the Second Synod of Bishops for Africa that will be signed and handed over by Pope Benedict during his stay in Benin.

Another key moment will be the Pope’s visit to the tomb of the Beninese Cardinal Bernardin Gantin who died in 2008. Ambassador Loko said Pope Benedict had told him that the late cardinal was “an African who gave a lot to the world” and added that he is the subject of much pride and is seen in his native Benin as “a model of service.”


VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was the following communique from the Secretariat of State concerning a commercial advertising campaign which makes inappropriate use of an image of the Holy Father.

"The Secretariat of State has authorised its lawyers to initiate actions, in Italy and elsewhere, to prevent the circulation, via the mass media and in other ways, of a photomontage used in a Benetton advertising campaign in which the Holy Father appears in a way considered to be harmful, not only to the dignity of the Pope and the Catholic Church, but also to the sensibility of believers".

On the same subject, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration yesterday afternoon.

"We cannot but express a resolute protest at the entirely unacceptable use of a manipulated image of the Holy Father, used as part of a publicity campaign which has commercial ends.

"It is a serious lack of respect for the Pope, an affront to the feelings of the faithful and an evident demonstration of how, in the field of advertising, the most elemental rules of respect for others can be broken in order to attract attention by provocation.

"The Secretariat of State is examining the steps that may be taken with the competent authorities in order to guarantee adequate protection for the figure of the Holy Father".

OP/ VIS 20111117 (240)


VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has visited Minsk, the capital of Belarus, at the invitation of Filaret, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk and head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church which is dependant upon the Patriarchate of Moscow.

While in Minsk, Cardinal Koch participated in an international conference on the theme: "Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue: the ethical values of Christianity as a contribution to social life in Europe". The event was organised by the Institute for Inter-religious Dialogue and Inter-confessional Communication of the Synod of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, and by the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Christian Education Centre, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

According to a communique made public today, the conference "served to underline the desire to continue dialogue on matters of mutual interest, and to develop concrete collaboration in promoting and defending Christian values in Europe".

On Monday 14 November, Cardinal Koch and Metropolitan Filaret were received by Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, who expressed his satisfaction at the good relations that exist between the two confessions in the country".

"The visit to Belarus by the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity", the communique continues, "has highlighted certain specific elements of great importance: the fact that the Catholic Church has been able to restructure and reorganise herself following the fall of the Soviet Union, and that this has happened in harmony with, and often with the support of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, and the civil authorities.

"The spirit of ecumenical fraternity - in a country which among the States of the former Soviet Union is second only to Lithuania in number of Catholics - has consolidated itself over time, becoming a fact of everyday life and a model of reference".



WASHINGTON—Father John William Crossin, a member of the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales, has been named executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The appointment becomes effective December 5. Father Crossin succeeds Father James Massa, who returned to his home diocese in Brooklyn, New York, in July.

Msgr. Jenkins, USCCB general secretary, thanked the Oblates for agreeing to the appointment.

“Father Crossin has extraordinary background and expertise in the world of ecumenism and interfaith relations,” Msgr. Jenkins said. “He also has strong administrative experience honed in service to his religious congregation. I am delighted to welcome him to the USCCB.”

The Secretariat supports the work of the bishops in the areas of ecumenical, interreligious and Jewish dialogues and works with theologians and other experts in these areas. Work is both national and international in scope. Current religious groups in formal dialogue with the U.S. bishops include Orthodox, Anglicans, Polish National Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, United Methodists, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs.

Father Crossin served most recently as executive director of the Washington Theological Consortium, 1998-2011. Previously he was a visiting fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, 1997-1998; president, De Sales School of Theology, 1987-1997; and academic dean, De Sales School of Theology, 1986-1987. He also has served on weekends for the past 20 years at Annunciation Parish, Washington, where he currently is parochial vicar.

Within his religious order he has served as a superior, a member of the provincial council and assistant general treasurer of the congregation.

He holds a Ph.D. in moral theology and master’s degrees in psychology and theology from The Catholic University of America. He is past president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists and the Thomas More Society of Washington. He has taught at several theological schools including Catholic University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary and De Sales School of Theology.

He is widely published in theological journals and is author of the following books:Everyday Virtues, Walking in Virtue: Moral Decisions and Spiritual Growth in Daily Life, Friendship: The Key to Spiritual Growth and What Are They Saying About Virtue.


ARCHDIOCESE OF CANBERRA REPORT: About 420 people gathered in St Peter Chanel's Church, Yarralumla, for the opening of the assembly.

More than 400 Catholics from across the Archdiocese who attended last weekend's assembly heard a call to "try new things".

In his closing remarks, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Church needed more imagination and energy, which he recognised in the gathering, and a sense of generosity.

"We must take risks and try new things," he said, even if they did not always work out.

He cautioned that people should bear in mind what was possible according to the parameters and doctrines of the Church.

Certain things were not possible, and he recognised that this sometimes created anger and angst. "A spirit of realism needs to engage with a spirit of imagination and energy," he said.

The assembly, which had the theme The Changing Face of Sunday, looked at issues such as how many Sunday Masses are needed, diminishing numbers attending, challenges and opportunities in the liturgy, how the Church can engage with young people, the concept of Sabbath rest, and approaches to giving.


UCAN REPORT: Thousands gather in holy town to pray in annual show of interfaith harmony
Ajesh Biju, Varanasi
November 17, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of People of all faiths attend Bible meet
Some of the audience at the prayer meeting

More than 10,000 people from several faiths have attended a charismatic Bible convention and inter-religious prayer meeting in Varanasi in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Hindu sages, a Muslim and a Sikh priest and a Jain teacher prayed along with Christians.

Most of the estimated 10,500 people who attended the 15th annual prayer meet were Hindus from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states.

There were also over 400 Catholics at the Matridham Ashram in the Hindu holy town, for the November 11-13 prayer meeting.

Opening the event, Bishop Raphy Manjaly of Varanasi said “to attain Godly experience, we must renounce worldly attractions and become the temple of God.”

Father Anil Dev, leader of the event, later led the heads of the different faiths in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “Lord make me an instrument of peace.”

The Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain and Christian leaders all spoke about the need to eradicate falsehood, greed, selfishness and corruption in India.


Book: Betjeman's Best British Churches
Sir John Betjeman is best known for his poetry, but he loved churches, and his book Best British Churches, first published in 1958, and updated this year by Richard Surman, must be the definitive guide. There is a fascinating, detailed introduction, with some poems on the history and architecture of churches. Then about 2,500 churches are described county by county with beautiful colour photographs, drawings, diagrams and detailed maps. Richard Surman has added a new section on Scotland.

When I find a book like this I end up spending hours looking for favourite places, and I wasn't disappointed here. The book includes many small out of the way ones, and in each short entry touches on the essence of the building, whether it's in the description itself, a bit of historical information or personal comment. Betjeman has a poet's eye, and notices details a casual visitor might miss.

He points out that Dr Johnson used to worship at St Peter and St Paul's in Langton, in Lincolnshire when he visited his friend Bennet Langton at the manor. Apparantly one day Johnson took took off his coat and rolled down a hill there.

The 11th-century monastic church of St Mary at Lastingham, with its fragments of Anglo-Saxon sculpture, its groined stone vaults, its apse and crypt is, he says “unforgettable, one of the most moving places in England.”

St Peter at Hackness, near Scarborough, is a "romantically set church in a deep wooded valley, with two great treasures; a carved Saxon cross and a pearwood Oberammergau carving against the 15th century font cover.”

Of the tiny 15th century church of St Mary in Honeychurch, Devon, he says: "the blackest-heart pagan would smile at Honeychurch as he pushed open the door and saw this touching little interior."

One London church I couldn't find, was St Etheldreda's in Ely Place, London. I hope next time the book is updated it might be included. However, the book doesn't claim to include every old church in the country. There are many thousands. This beautiful, practical, up-to-date guide is a wonderful reference book for anyone who loves churches or is interested in historic buildings.

Betjeman’s Best British Churches, updated by Richard Surman, is published by Collins priced £35 and available from all the main bookshops.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The lives of Somali children are increasingly at risk due to the ongoing conflict. In the course of the fighting taking place throughout South and Central Somalia, attacks and assaults on children continue. In the past weeks the killings and serious injuries have increased. According to UN sources that monitor violations of children's rights, in the month of October 24 children and young people were killed, almost twice the average number of the other months of the year. In the same month there were 58 serious injuries carried out on children, more than in any other month this year. To date, it is certain that in 2011 about 300 children have been seriously injured and 100 killed, but it is likely that the real number is even greater if we consider the unreported or unconfirmed cases. Another warning is given by the recruitment and use of minors in the fighting, and sexual abuse of girls and women. In 2011, UN sources say that in Somalia over 600 enlistment of minors and more than 200 cases of rape, mostly to the detriment of girls were recorded. The escalation of violence also jeopardizes humanitarian assistance to those who need it. In fact many of the hundreds of thousands of children who already risk their lives because of hunger or disease, now run the risk of being deprived of even minimal assistance on which their lives depend. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 17/11/2011)

TODAY'S GOSPEL AND MASS ONLINE: NOV. 17: Matthew 25: 31 - 40

Matthew 25: 31 - 40
31"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
33and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
34Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
37Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
38And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
39And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'
40And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'


St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Feast: November 17
Feast Day:
November 17
1207 at Presburg, Hungary
17 November 1231, Marburg, Germany
1235, Perugia, Italy
Major Shrine:
Elisabeth Church (Marburg)
Patron of:
hospitals, nurses, bakers, brides, countesses, dying children, exiles, homeless people, lacemakers, tertiaries and widows

Also called St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, born in Hungary, probably at Pressburg, 1207; died at Marburg, Hesse, 17 November (not 19 November), 1231. She was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary (1205-35) and his wife Gertrude, a member of the family of the Counts of Andechs-Meran; Elizabeth's brother succeeded his father on the throne of Hungary as Bela IV; the sister of her mother, Gertrude, was St. Hedwig, wife of Duke Heinrich I, the Bearded, of Silesia, while another saint, St. Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal (d. 1336), the wife of the tyrannical King Diniz of that country, was her great-niece. In 1211 a formal embassy was sent by Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia to Hungary to arrange, as was customary in that age, a marriage between his eldest son Hermann and Elizabeth, who was then four years old. This plan of a marriage was the result of political considerations and was intended to be the ratification of a great alliance which in the political schemes of the time it was sought to form against the German Emperor Otto IV, a member of the house of Guelph, who had quarrelled with the Church. Not long after this the little girl was taken to the Thuringian court to be brought up with her future husband and, in the course of time, to be betrothed to him. The court of Thuringia was at this period famous for its magnificence. Its centre was the stately castle of the Wartburg, splendidly placed on a hill in the Thuringian Forest near Eisenach, where the Landgrave Hermann lived surrounded by poets and minnesingers, to whom he was a generous patron. Notwithstanding the turbulence and purely secular life of the court and the pomp of her surroundings, the little girl grew up a very religious child with an evident inclination to prayer and pious observances and small acts of self-mortification. These religious impulses were undoubtedly strengthened by the sorrowful experiences of her life. In 1213 Elizabeth's mother, Gertrude, was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of hatred of the Germans. On 31 December, 1216, the oldest son of the landgrave, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she was betrothed to Ludwig, the second son. It was probably in these years that Elizabeth had to suffer the hostility of the more frivolous members of the Thuringian court, to whom the contemplative and pious child was a constant rebuke. Ludwig, however, must have soon come to her protection against any ill-treatment. The legend that arose later is incorrect in making Elizabeth's mother-in-law, the Landgravine Sophia, a member of the reigning family of Bavaria, the leader of this court party. On the contrary, Sophia was a very religious and charitable woman and a kindly mother to the little Elizabeth. The political plans of the old Landgrave Hermann involved him in great difficulties and reverses; he was excommunicated, lost his mind towards the end of his life, and died, 25 April, 1217, unreconciled with the Church. He was succeeded by his son Ludwig IV, who, in 1221, was also made regent of Meissen and the East Mark. The same year (1221) Ludwig and Elizabeth were married, the groom being twenty-one years old and the bride fourteen. The marriage was in every regard a happy and exemplary one, and the couple were devotedly attached to each other. Ludwig proved himself worthy of his wife. He gave his protection to her acts of charity, penance, and her vigils and often held Elizabeth's hands as she knelt praying at night beside his bed. He was also a capable ruler and brave soldier. The Germans call him St. Ludwig, an appellation given to him as one of the best men of his age and the pious husband of St. Elizabeth. They had three children: Hermann II (1222-41), who died young; Sophia (1224-84), who married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse, as in the war of the Thuringian succession she won Hesse for her son Heinrich I, called the Child; Gertrude (1227-97), Elizabeth's third child, was born several weeks after the death of her father; in after-life she became abbess of the convent of Aldenburg near Wetzlar.
Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth and Ludwig made a journey to Hungary; Ludwig was often after this employed by the Emperor Frederick II, to whom he was much attached, in the affairs of the empire. In the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and the pest wrought havoc in Thuringia, Ludwig was in Italy attending the Diet at Cremona on behalf of the emperor and the empire. Under these circumstances Elizabeth assumed control of affairs, distributed alms in all parts of the territory of her husband, giving even state robes and ornaments to the poor. In order to care personally for the unfortunate she built below the Wartburg a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to their wants; at the same time she aided nine hundred poor daily. It is this period of her life that has preserved Elizabeth's fame to posterity as the gentle and charitable Cheatelaine of the Wartburg. Ludwig on his return confirmed all she had done. The next year (1227) he started with the Emperor Frederick II on a crusade to Palestine but died, 11 September of the same year at Otranto, from the pest. The news did not reach Elizabeth until October, just after she had given birth to her third child. On hearing the tidings Elizabeth, who was only twenty years old, cried out: "The world with all its joys is now dead to me."
The fact that in 1221 the followers of St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) made their first permanent settlement in Germany was one of great importance in the later career of Elizabeth. Brother Rodeger, one of the first Germans whom the provincial for Germany, Caesarius of Speier, received into the order, was for a time the spiritual instructor of Elizabeth at the Wartburg; in his teachings he unfolded to her the ideals of St. Francis, and these strongly appealed to her. With the aid of Elizabeth the Franciscans in 1225 founded a monastery in Eisenach; Brother Rodeger, as his fellow-companion in the order, Jordanus, reports, instructed Elizabeth, to observe, according to her state of life, chastity, humility, patience, the exercise of prayer, and charity. Her position prevented the attainment of the other ideal of St. Francis, voluntary and complete poverty. Various remarks of Elizabeth to her female attendants make it clear how ardently she desired the life of poverty. After a while the post Brother Rodeger had filled was assumed by Master Conrad of Marburg, who belonged to no order, but was a very ascetic and, it must be acknowledged, a somewhat rough and very severe man. He was well known as a preacher of the crusade and also as an inquisitor or judge in cases of heresy. On account of the latter activity he has been more severely judged than is just; at the present day, however, the estimate of him is a fairer one. Pope Gregory IX, who wrote at times to Elizabeth, recommended her himself to the God-fearing preacher. Conrad treated Elizabeth with inexorable severity, even using corporal means of correction; nevertheless, he brought her with a firm hand by the road of self-mortification to sanctity, and after her death was very active in her canonization. Although he forbade her to follow St. Francis in complete poverty as a beggar, yet, on the other hand, by the command to keep her dower she was enabled to perform works of charity and tenderness.
Up to 1888 it was believed, on account of the testimony of one of Elizabeth's servants in the process of canonization, that Elizabeth was driven from the Wartburg in the winter of 1227 by her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, who acted as regent for her son, then only five years old. About 1888 various investigators (Börner, Mielke, Wenck, E. Michael, etc.) asserted that Elizabeth left the Wartburg voluntarily, the only compulsion being a moral one. She was not able at the castle to follow Conrad's command to eat only food obtained in a way that was certainly right and proper. Lately, however, Huyskens (1907) tried to prove that Elizabeth was driven from the castle at Marburg in Hesse, which was hers by dower right. Consequently, the Te Deum that she directed the Franciscans to sing on the night of her expulsion would have been sung in the Franciscan monastery at Marburg. Accompanied by two female attendants, Elizabeth left the castle that stands on a height commanding Marburg. The next day her children were brought to her, but they were soon taken elsewhere to be cared for. Elizabeth's aunt, Matilda, Abbess of the Benedictine nunnery of Kitzingen near Würzburg, took charge of the unfortunate landgravine and sent her to her uncle Eckbert, Bishop of Bamberg. The bishop, however, was intent on arranging another marriage for her, although during the lifetime of her husband Elizabeth had made a vow of continence in case of his death; the same vow had also been taken by her attendants. While Elizabeth was maintaining her position against her uncle the remains of her husband were brought to Bamberg by his faithful followers who had carried them from Italy. Weeping bitterly, she buried the body in the family vault of the landgraves of Thuringia in the monastery of Reinhardsbrunn. With the aid of Conrad she now received the value of her dower in money, namely two thousand marks; of this sum she divided five hundred marks in one day among the poor. On Good Friday, 1228, in the Franciscan house at Eisenach Elizabeth formally renounced the world; then going to Master Conrad at Marburg, she and her maids received from him the dress of the Third Order of St. Francis, thus being among the first tertiaries of Germany. In the summer of 1228 she built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and on its completion devoted herself entirely to the care of the sick, especially to those afflicted with the most loathsome diseases. Conrad of Marburg still imposed many self-mortifications and spiritual renunciations, while at the same time he even took from Elizabeth her devoted domestics. Constant in her devotion to God, Elizabeth's strength was consumed by her charitable labours, and she passed away at the age of twenty-four, a time when life to most human beings is just opening.
Very soon after the death of Elizabeth miracles began to be worked at her grave in the church of the hospital, especially miracles of healing. Master Conrad showed great zeal in advancing the process of canonization. By papal command three examinations were held of those who had been healed: namely, in August, 1232, January, 1233, and January, 1235. Before the process reached its end, however, Conrad was murdered, 30 July, 1233. But the Teutonic Knights in 1233 founded a house at Marburg, and in November, 1234, Conrad, Landgrave of Thuringia, the brother-in-law of Elizabeth, entered the order. At Pentecost (28 May) of the year 1235, the solemn ceremony of canonization of the "greatest woman of the German Middle Ages" was celebrated by Gregory IX at Perugia, Landgrave Conrad being present. In August of the same year (1235) the corner-stone of the beautiful Gothic church of St. Elizabeth was laid at Marburg; on 1 May, 1236, Emperor Frederick II attended the taking-up of the body of the saint; in 1249 the remains were placed in the choir of the church of St. Elizabeth, which was not consecrated until 1283. Pilgrimages to the grave soon increased to such importance that at times they could be compared to those to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela. In 1539 Philip the Magnanimous, Landgrave of Hesse, who had become a Protestant, put an end to the pilgrimages by unjustifiable interference with the church that belonged to the Teutonic Order and by forcibly removing the relics and all that was sacred to Elizabeth. Nevertheless, the entire German people still honour the "dear St. Elizabeth" as she is called; in 1907 a new impulse was given to her veneration in Germany and Austria by the celebration of the seven hundredth anniversary of her birth. St. Elizabeth is generally represented as a princess graciously giving alms to the wretched poor or as holding roses in her lap; in the latter case she is portrayed either alone or as surprised by her husband, who, according to a legend, which is, however, related of other saints as well, met her unexpectedly as she went secretly on an errand of mercy, and, so the story runs, the bread she was trying to conceal was suddenly turned into roses.