Friday, December 2, 2011



VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2011 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, the Pope and the pontifical family attended the first sermon of Advent delivered by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, on the theme: "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

This year's sermons, which are taking place in the "Redemptoris Mater" chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, focus on the general topic of evangelisation, in view of next year's Synod of Bishops on the same subject. Particular attention will be given to four historical periods in which missionary efforts accelerated or resumed: (1) The second half of the third century when vast sectors of the Roman empire were converted thanks to the efforts of bishops. (2) The sixth to ninth centuries during which the monks worked for the re-evangelisation of Europe following the barbarian invasions. (3) The sixteenth century with the discovery and conversion of the peoples of the New World through the apostolate of the friars. (4) Our own day, when the Church is committed to re-evangelising a secularised West though the commitment of the lay faithful.

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VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Over recent days, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, which is presided by Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, has been holding its third World Congress for the Pastoral Care of International Students. The participants were received this morning by the Holy Father who remarked that the theme chosen for the congress, which focused on the meeting of cultures, is "a fundamental aspect of our age, and is vital for the future of humanity and of the Church".

"Today more than every the openness of cultures to one another is the most fertile terrain for dialogue among people committed to seeking authentic humanism. The meeting of cultures in universities must, then, be encouraged and supported. ... Thanks to their intellectual, cultural and spiritual formation, international students have, in fact, the potential to become architects and protagonists of a more human world".

The Pope noted that international students are an increasingly large group within the broader phenomenon of migration. This, he said, can be due to a lack of high-quality education and suitable structures in their countries of origin, the presence of social and political tensions, or the availability of economic support to study abroad. "It is important", he went on, "to offer them a healthy and well-balanced intellectual, cultural and spiritual formation, so that they do not get absorbed into the 'brain drain' but become a socially and culturally relevant group in view of their return as future leaders to their countries of origin" where they can "help to build cultural, social and spiritual 'bridges' with their host nations".

Universities are a vital field for the evangelisation of the Church, because "the spread of 'weak' ideologies in various sectors of society is a call to Christians to make fresh efforts in the academic world, to encourage the new generations in their search for and discovery of the truth about man and God". In this context, Benedict XVI used the example of Blessed John Henry Newman whose life, "so strongly associated with the world of academe, confirmed the importance and beauty of promoting an educational environment in which intellectual formation, ethics and religious commitment walk hand in hand".

"Young Christians, who come from different cultures but belong to the one Church of Christ, can show that the Gospel is the Word of hope and salvation for men and women of all peoples and cultures, of all ages and epochs", the Holy Father concluded.

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VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received participants in the annual plenary session of the International Theological Commission, which has just completed its work under the direction of its president, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Holy Father dedicated his remarks to three themes the Commission has been examining in recent years, turning first to consider the question of God and the understanding of monotheism. Benedict XVI recalled how "behind the Christian profession of faith in the one God lies the daily profession of faith of the People of Israel". However, with the incarnation of Jesus Christ, "the monotheism of the one God came to be illuminated with a completely new light: the light of the Trinity, a mystery which also illuminates brotherhood among men". For this reason theology "can help believers to become aware of and bear witness to the fact that Trinitarian monotheism shows us the true face of God, ... and is the source of personal and universal peace".

The Commission has also been studying the criteria whereby a particular form of theology may be considered as "Catholic". On this subject the Pope explained that "the starting point for all Christian theology lies in personal acceptance of divine revelation, of the Word made flesh", in "listening to the Word of God in Holy Scripture". Nevertheless, the history of the Church shows that "recognition of this starting point is not enough to achieve the unity of the faith. The Bible is always necessarily read in a certain context, and the only context in which the believer can be in full communion with Christ is the Church and her living Tradition".

Catholic theology, as it has always done over the course of its history, must continue to pay particular attention to the relationship between faith and reason. Today this is more important than ever, said Pope Benedict, "in order to avoid the violent consequences of a religiosity which opposes reason, and a reason which opposes religion".

Thirdly, the International Theological Commission has been examining the Church's Social Doctrine in the broader context of Christian doctrine. "The Church's social commitment is not a merely human activity", Benedict XVI explained, "nor is just a social theory. The transformation of society by Christians over the centuries has been a response to the coming of the Son of God into the world. ... The disciples of Christ the Redeemer know that no human community can live in peace without concern for others, forgiveness, and love even for one's enemies. ... In our indispensable collaboration for the common good, even with those who do not share our faith, we must explain the true and profound religious motivations for out social commitment. ... People who have understood the foundation of Christian social activity may also find therein a stimulus to consider faith in Jesus Christ".

In conclusion, the Pope highlighted the Church's great need for theologians' reflections "on the mystery of God in Jesus Christ and of His Church. Without healthy and vigorous theological activity the Church risks failing to give full expression to the harmony between faith and reason".

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VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2011 (VIS) - This Christmas, the nativity scene in St. Peter's Square will be dedicated Mary, the Mother of God, also in view of the beatification earlier this year of John Paul II, who was profoundly devoted to Our Lady.

Standing next to the manger in the nativity scene, which will be inaugurated on 24 December, are a number of buildings recreated in the architectural style of biblical Palestine, where the events of Mary's life took place, such as the Annunciation, the meeting with her cousin Elisabeth and the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The figures in the grotto itself come from the nativity scene created by St. Vincent Pallotti for the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1842.

The Christmas tree, which will be raised next to the obelisk, is a spruce from the Zakarpattia region in Ukraine, 30.5 metres high and with a trunk of 56 centimetres in diameter. Its more than 700 branches will be decorated with 2,500 silver- and gold-coloured baubles illuminated by white and yellow lights.

The tree, a gift from the Republic of Ukraine, will be raised on 5 December and inaugurated on 16 December in the presence of the bishops of that nation.

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VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

- Archbishop Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, Italy.

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USCCB REPORT: WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved funding for 51 projects, worth over $1.35 million in grants, to aid the pastoral work of the Church in 14 countries across the African continent. The decisions were made during the subcommittee’s meeting November 13, in Baltimore.

The subcommittee considers for grants projects that support pastoral and catechetical programs, seminaries and seminarians, the continuing education of clergy, communications and mass media as tools for evangelization, and Catholic education and schools. Funds come from parish collections through a USCCB effort called the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.

For example, in this most recent allocation the subcommittee granted $17,000 to support pastoral work among the Borana people in remote regions of southern Ethiopia. In this region, the Spiritan Fathers work to evangelize among the nomadic people. Seeds of faith have been sown resulting in men studying for the priesthood, women applying to religious communities, and large numbers of catechumens and baptisms. The funding will support ongoing religious education and essential training of volunteer catechists who come with great passion for the faith but, often, little formal education.

“As we reviewed over one hundred pages of applications, the vibrancy of the faith in Africa was apparent. What was also clear was the tremendous need of the Church there,” said Bishop John Ricard, chairman of the subcommittee. “It was wonderful to be able to match funds given so generously by Catholics in the United States to those needs. To be part of the growth of the faith of our sisters and brothers in Africa is a great blessing. We are so very grateful to parishioners who support the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.”

The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa oversees the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. In 2011 it granted $2.3 million for pastoral support. More information on the Solidarity Fund and the projects it funds can be found at


CATH NEWS REPORT: Hans-Dieter Udri, 70, is a little shy as he goes up to the man standing in the middle of the church, who has his hands in his pockets, a black hat on his head and a gas mask covering his face, reports Der Spiegel.

"Are you Stefan Strumbel?" asks Udri. Then he begins to talk of the past, when he was still a child, when everyone went to mass on Sundays, young or old. He is a Christian, and, speaking in his Allemannic German dialect, he insists that he is a believer. His gaze wanders up to the church roof. He hardly ever goes to mass anymore.

Udri is one of many Christians in the small town of Goldscheuer who had stayed away from the church for years. Yet he is also one of many who have regained their interest in their village church of late -- people who want to know just what Stumbel is up to here.

The cornerstone of the Mary, Help of Christians Church was laid 50 years ago. Udri was an altar boy when the church was dedicated. But it is remarkable that he can now enter the church this lunchtime at all. The door had been locked for years when there was no mass or other event taking place. But it is also remarkable because, in recent years, hardly anyone came even when the doors were open.

Hundreds of Catholic churches will be threatened by a similar fate over the next few years in Germany as increasing numbers of worshippers stay away, and as the popularity of going to mass falls steadily, even amongst the faithful.Of the approximately 2,200 inhabitants in Goldscheuer, 1,200 are Catholics. On recent Sundays, however, less than 3 percent of the faithful were turning up at mass. Attendance had fallen so low that the archdiocese in Freiburg considered closing the church.

A church in the German village of Goldscheuer was threatened with closure as worshippers stayed away in droves. But then the parish priest met a graffiti artist, and the story of a divine rescue plan began to unfold. (SPIEGEL)



wiggles-alma-nuns-350Leading Australian children's entertainers The Wiggles have come to the aid of impoverished children at an orphanage in Dili East Timor.

Supporting the Alma Nuns, who look after many of the disabled children in the former Portuguese colony, The Wiggles donated a huge supply of much needed shoes late last year.

This footwear is vital in the battle against tropical diseases in the area that arise due to a shortage of protective shoes in the long wet seasons.

The Wiggles gave the shoes to Paulie Stewart from Melbourne band The Dili Allstars, whose brother Tony was one of the five journalists killed at Balibo East Timor in 1975, to give to his friends the Nuns with whom he has worked for some time.

The work of the Alma Nuns whose mission has been dedicated to helping 'the lowest of the low' in the impoverished nation, has previously featured in the pages of Kairos. Readers helped purchase a much needed van to help the Sisters with their work in 2010.

With the support of Airnorth, Paulie and photographer and philanthropist Esra Ozege were able to deliver the brand new shoes to the Sisters whose home is located near the International School in Dili.

"The Wiggles have been long time supporters of East Timor and previously sponsored a project with UNICEF that supplied clean water and latrines for five schools villages up," Paulie said.

"Those boys really have big hearts and do a lot of work behind the scenes helping people.

"All power to them as they celebrate 20 years together.’’

"The Nuns are really amazing women who do great unacknowledged work helping the children with disabilities,’’ said Esra Ozege.

"It was a huge honor for me to spend time with the Sisters and Paulie as I traveled with them on their rounds in some of the poorest districts in Timor Leste.

"I will never forget the children’s faces as the Sisters handed each child a pair of shoes, a lifetime of memories in just a few short days.”

Paulie expressed his "huge gratitude’" to long time supporters of the ALMA NUNS amongst the Australia’s Catholic community.

"In the past our supporters in Australia helped us with the campaign to buy the Nuns a new van, as previously they only had one motor scooter to get around on," he said.

"The Sisters have been able to extend their work range outside of Dili and now visit many towns in the districts thanks to the new van."

The head of the ALMA NUNS in East Timor Sister Ely was grateful for the ongoing support from Australia.

"Paulie has shown us previous copies of Kairos in which have been featured which embarrass us a little," she laughed.

"Due to the involvement and support of the Australian media and the generosity of many Australians Catholics, we now offer higher quality services to a greater number of children with disabilities throughout Dili and the remote districts.’’

To support the Alma Nuns please send funds to:

Jesuit Mission,
PO Box 193
North Sydney 2059

Photos courtesy of Paulie Stewart.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Shafique Khokhar
Amariah Masih was murdered, shot to death because she resisted her attacker. The author a 28 year old Muslim named Arif Gujjar, drug addict and son of a wealthy landowner. Police arrests the man and collaborates with the family. The solidarity of the Muslim community that seeks "reconciliation".

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - 28 year old Muslim Arif Gujjar is under police custody for questioning for the murder of 18 year old Christian Amariah Masih shot to death Nov. 27. The girl was originally from the village of Tehsil Samundari, about 40 km from Faisalabad (Punjab), and was murdered because she resisted an attempted rape. Arif Gujjar is a "young drifter and drug addict," the son of a wealthy landowner in the area named Shafi Gujjar. The girl's father calls for justice, while the Muslim community gathers around the family overwhelmed by grief.

Razia Bibi, 50, mother of Amariah, tells AsiaNews that she and her daughter were on their way to the channel to collect drinking water, which is not available in the village. At first Arif Gujjar, in the company of a friend whose identity is still unknown, took possession the motorbike on which they were travelling, then grabbed the girl and, under the threat of a gun, trying to drag her away. The young Christian resisted, trying to escape the clutches of her attacker. The man opened fire and killed her instantly, and later tried to conceal the corpse.

The body was found by her father, Mansha Masih, 53, a father of five daughters and two sons. He denounced the suspect, who was near the area where he had tried to hides the corpse and erase the traces of the murder. The police was immediately put on the trail of Arif, stopping him shortly after. The girl's father thanked the police, who "have worked hard" to arrest the culprit.

At the end of the 18 year old Christian’s funeral, added her father (pictured), a Muslim delegation met with the family, to express solidarity and bring harmony and peace within the community. Mansha Masih, however, urged that justice is done and ensures that he "will fight to get it" because "they are the victim of a cruel act." Her funeral was celebrated by Father Zafal Iqbal, a native of Khushpur, who explains to AsiaNews: "wealthy and influential landowners often take aim at those who are marginalized and vulnerable, for their dirty interests."


Agenzia Fides REPORT - A number of women religious have been attacked in the Archdiocese of Kananga in relation to the tense atmosphere in which presidential elections were held (see Fides 30/11/2011). This was denounced by the Archbishop, His Exc. Mgr. Marcel Madila, in a statement sent to Fides. "Attacks and hostile acts against our women religious took place in Buena Mutu, Malole, at Katoka, in Bena Leka and other places", said Mgr.Madila.
According to the reconstruction of the Archbishop, "everything started in the school complex in Buena Muntu, where a nun of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, the school’s headmistress, had been accused of being complicit in an attempt to electoral fraud in favor of a presidential candidate. The nun was beaten and kidnapped, her life was saved only because the police intervened ".
This episode, yet to be clarified, caused a series of assaults on religious personnel in different areas of the Archdiocese. Episodes that seem related to the electoral tensions. In Katoka II (a town of Kananga), two diocesan sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Kananga, calmly waiting to vote, were attacked and hit, they were even ready to burn them alive, just because the polling station had not opened its doors at the scheduled time", reports Mgr.Madila, denouncing other serious attacks against the women religious of the Archdiocese.
"In town, there are threats and insults against the women religious and the Church's image is badly tarnished only on the basis of mere suspicion. At this stage of our investigations, there are no reasons why our women religious or Church are accused of complicity in attempted electoral fraud", said the Archbishop of Kananga. "At the same time, I declare with the same firmness that any, priest, man or woman religious, guilty of such crimes will be punished according to the canon law of the Church", says Mgr.Madila who underlines that the Church does not take an active part in political life.
The Archbishop concludes by calling on the population, in particular young people, not to give heed to the false news and free accusations and do not allow to be manipulated "by those who want to destroy your future". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 02/12/2011)

TODAY'S GOSPEL AND MASS ONLINE: DEC. 2: Matthew 9: 27 - 31

Matthew 9: 27 - 31
27And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David."
28When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord."
29Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you."
30And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, "See that no one knows it."
31But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.