Friday, December 9, 2011



VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Late Wednesday afternoon, 7 December, thanks to a "tablet" connected to the power grid, Benedict XVI lit the largest Christmas tree in the world from the papal apartments. This electronic "tree" is located in the Italian town of Gubbio. Before flipping the switch he addressed a few words - by television - to those attending the ceremony. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

"Before lighting the tree", he said, "I would like to express three wishes. This Christmas tree is formed on the slopes of Mt. Ingino at whose summit is found the basilica of Gubbio's patron saint, St. Ubaldo. When we look at it our eyes are lifted up, raised toward the sky, toward the world of God".

"My first wish, therefore, is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, not rest only on the horizon of this world, on its material things, but that it in some way, like this tree that tends upward, be directed toward God. God never forgets us but He also asks that we don't forget Him".

"The Gospel recounts that, on the holy night of Christ's birth, a light enveloped the shepherds, announcing a great joy to them: the birth of Jesus, the one who brings us light, or better, the One who is the true light that illuminates all. The great tree that I will light up shortly overlooks the city of Gubbio and will illuminate the darkness of the night with its light".

"My second wish is that we recall that we also need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded in a veil of darkness. But what light can truly illuminate our hearts and give us a firm and sure hope? It is the Child whom we contemplate on Christmas, in a poor and humble manger, because He is the Lord who draws near to each of us and asks that we reeceive Him anew in our lives, asks us to want Him, to trust in Him, to feel His presence, that He is accompanying us, sustaining us, and helping us".

"But this great tree is formed of many lights. My final wish is that each of us contribute something of that light to the spheres in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighbourhoods, towns, and cities. That each of us be a light for those who are at our sides; that we leave aside the selfishness that, so often, closes our hearts and leads us to think only of ourselves; that we may pay greater attention to others, that we may love them more. Any small gesture of goodness is like one of the lights of this great tree: together with other lights it illuminates the darkness of the night, even of the darkest night".

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VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2011 (VIS) - On midday on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Before the Marian prayer the Pope recalled that blessed Pope Pius IX, in his Apostolic LetterIneffabilis Deus of 1854, affirmed that Maria "'by the special grace and privilege of omnipotent God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ as the saviour of mankind, remained immune from any stain of original sin'. This truth of faith is found in the Archangel Gabriel's words to her: "Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you."' The phrase "full of grace" indicates the glorious work of the love of God, which restores to us our life and liberty, lost in sin, through his only Son incarnate, dead and resurrected".

"Therefore, since the 2nd century in the East and in the West", continued the Holy Father, "the Church has invoked and celebrated the Virgin whose acceptance brought heaven closer to earth, generating God and nourishing our lives".

"We too are recipients of this 'fullness of grace', which it is our duty to enable to flourish in our lives, since 'the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ', writes St. Paul, 'has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless ... He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ'. We receive this gift through the Church, on the day of our Baptism. In this regard, St. Hildegard of Bingen writes, 'The Church is, therefore, the virgin mother of all Christians. It is the secret strength of the Holy Spirit that conceives and gives birth to them, offering them to God so they might be called children of God'", concluded the Pope.

Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI greeted the members of Italian Catholic Action who, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception renew their adherence to this association, and stated that Catholic Action is "a school of sanctity and evangelisation: I wish it every success in its educative and apostolic commitment".

He also greeted the Spanish-speaking pilgrims present, urging them to entrust to "the Mother of Redemption ... the intentions and wishes inspired in us during Advent, remembering the needs and suffering of those who are deprived of their freedom, are without work, or are experiencing moments of difficulty or pain".

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VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI made his way to Piazza di Spagna in Rome for the traditional act of veneration of the image of the Virgin Mary on the column situated in front of the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See.

During his journey, the Holy Father stopped briefly at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, where he greeted the members of the Via Condotti Storeowners Association. Once in the square, the Pope began by offering a prayer, followed by a reading from the Revelation of St. John, a homily and the offering of a floral tribute to the image of the Virgin.

In his homily, the Pope explained that the text from the Revelation, which speaks of a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet and a garland of twelve stars upon her head, refers both to the Virgin and to the Church. In part, "the woman of the Apocalypse is Mary ... the symbol of the luminous robe clearly expressed a condition referring to Mary in all her being: She is 'full of grace', filled with the love of God".

The moon beneath her feet symbolises death: "Mary is fully linked to the victory of Jesus Christ, her Son, over sin and death... just as death has no power over Christ resurrected, so by the grace and singular privilege of omnipotent God, Mary overcomes death. This is made manifest in the two great mysteries of her existence: at the beginning, the conception without original sin, the mystery we celebrate today; and at the end, her assumption in body and soul in Heaven".

The garland of twelve stars "represents the twelve tribes of Israel, and indicates that Mary is at the centre among the people of God, in full communion with the saints. And thus, this image ... brings us to the second grand interpretation of the celestial sign of the "woman clothed with the sun": as well as representing the Virgin, this sign indicates the Church. She is with child, in the sense that she carries Christ in her womb and will give birth to him on earth ... and it is precisely for this reason, that She carries Christ, that the Church meets the opposition of a fierce adversary, represented by a dragon which seeks to destroy the son, but in vain as Jesus, through death and resurrection, ascends to God. Therefore the dragon, defeated once and for all in heaven, turns to attack the woman - the Church - in the desert of earth. But in every age the light and strength of God have supported the Church ... and thus, through all the trials She encounters over time and all over the world, the Church suffers persecution but is always victorious".

The only evil that the Church must fear is that sin of Her members. While indeed Mary was Immaculate, free of any stain of sin, the Church is holy but at the same time marked by our sins. Therefore the People of God, as pilgrims throughout time, turn to their celestial Mother and seek Her help; they ask that She might accompany them on their path of faith, that She might encourage them in their commitment to Christian life and sustain their hopes. We need this support, especially in this difficult moment for Italy, for Europe, and for many parts of the world. Mary helps us to see that there is light beyond the mantle of fog that appears to obscure reality.

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VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Secretariat of State today published a communique regarding the signing of an agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Mozambique, which took place on 7 December at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the latter African country.

The communique states that "the agreement, the first of its type signed by a southern African country, consolidates the existing links of friendship and collaboration between the two Parties. It is composed of a Preamble and twenty-three Articles, which regulate various aspects, including the juridical status of the Catholic church in Mozambique, the recognition of academic qualifications and canonical marriage, and the fiscal regime".

The Accord was signed on the part of the Holy See by Archbishop Antonio Arcari, Apostolic Nuncio in Mozambique, and on the part of the Republic of Mozambique, by Dr Oldemiro Julio Marques Baloi, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

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VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. Nunzio Galantino, as bishop of the diocese of Cassano all'Jonio (area 1,311, population 107,600, Catholics 106,000, priests 87, permanent deacons 3, religious 77), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Cerignola, Italy in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1972. From 1972 to 1977 he was Vice-Rector of the Seminary of Foggia and Assistant of Catholic Action (Youth); from 1974 to 1977 he was a Professor at the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Benevento; from 1977 he was a Priest in San Francesco d'Assisi in Cerignola; Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Care; Episcopal Vicar for Culture and Continuing Education; from 1977 he was Professor of Anthropology at the Faculty of Theology for Southern Italy; from 2004 he was Head of National Service for the Higher Study of Theology and Religious Science at the C.E.I. He has until now served as Priest of the parish of San Francesco d'Assisi in Cerignola, and Episcopal Vicar for Culture and Continuing Education.

- Appointed Msgr. Jeremiah Madimetja Masela, Apostolic Administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, as bishop of the diocese of Polokwane (area 69,533, population 2,624,000, Catholics 93,500, priests 28, permanent deacons 7, religious 52), South Africa. He succeeds Bishop Mogale Paul Nkumishe, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Appointed Bishop Benedito Araujo, Co-adjutor of the diocese of Guajara-Mirim, Brazil, as bishop of the same diocese (area 89,700, population 233,000, Catholics 140,000, priests 21, permanent deacons 1, religious 63). He succeeds Bishop Geraldo Verdier, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para.2 of the Code of Canon Law.

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Campaign calls for cancellation of European debt | Jubilee Debt Campaign, Tim Jones,European debtIND. CATH NEWS REPORT: Jubilee Debt Campaign, the successor organisation to Jubilee 2000, today called for a cancellation of many of the debts owed between European countries. They urged Europe's leaders to combine this with market regulation to prevent debt crises in the future.

Tim Jones, the Jubilee Debt Campaign's economist, said: "Binding governments to balanced budgets is shutting the wrong stable door after the horse has bolted. Unregulated financial markets caused this debt crisis, not government borrowing. It is trade surpluses and deficits which need to be balanced to prevent debt crises, not government budgets.

"The debts between European countries are simply too big and austerity is making them bigger. Debts have to be cancelled to allow countries to break free from cycles of debt and austerity. We also need to regulate financial markets to prevent the trade imbalances which cause a debt crisis.

"Deregulated global finance has been causing debt crises in developing countries for the last thirty years. Countries need to act together to regulate finance and prevent debt crises, which increase poverty across the world."

Jubilee Debt Campaign is the UK coalition campaigning for cancellation of unjust and unpayable debts. for more information see:


A 3D Movie about the Eucharist makes it to the big screen

MOVIE PRESS RELEASE: The Greatest Miracle is an inspiring story which illustrates hope and faith.

The story revolves around the lives of three characters who are in crisis:
Monica, a widow and the mother of a nine year old child, doing everything she can to keep her house;
Don Chema, a public transport driver who receives the news of a disease which can eventually lead to the death of his son;
Doña Cata, an adult woman who feels her mission in life has already concluded.

The stories intertwine as they feel a great feeling of being in the Church.

The Guardian Angels help them witness the true meaning Mass and the struggle between good and evil and the triumph of faith.

This 3D animinated story is being released on theater screens in 14 states on Friday, December 9. A listing of theaters can be located here.
The Great Miracle is a tale of religion and redemption. The composer Mark McKenzie has grabbed people's attention. The Great Miracle provides a beautiful music score.
The film is directed by Bruce M. Morris of Disney, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on 2009's The Princess and the Frog.
"The Greatest Miracle" opens Dec. 9.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
9 Dec 2011

The spectacular Lights of Christmas display on the western facade of St Mary's Cathedral was launched last night by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and the NSW Attorney General, Hon Greg Smith to the applause of many who watched the projections tell the story of Peace through beautiful and symbolic reflections and Renaissance artwork.

This is the second year laser projections have coloured the Cathedral in the run-up to Christmas and many hope it will become a Sydney tradition.

Creative Director, Anthony Bastic, was relieved the rain stayed away for the launch which also featured the Australian Girls Choir.

"Christmas is often a time of personal growth and with growth often comes wisdom," Anthony said.

"So this year we have followed that pathway beginning with the first scene when we see the universal symbol of peace, the Dove.

"We then move into the Growth segment where we see familiar plants and flowers growing over the facade of the Cathedral such as Jasmine, Wisteria and Jacaranda.

"An owl appears in the tree as we see reflections of foliage in the pond below, the owl takes flight as a feather falls - imparting his wisdom. We follow the feather as it drops into a pond below, sending out ripples which signify the affect our wisdom can have on others.

"Entering the water we can see above and below, a metaphor for seeing things from a different perspective which provides the wisdom required to bring about peace.

"Light rays appear from the colourful stained glass windows and the dawning of a new beginning in turn brings us hope."

In the final scene of the story the projections return to the traditional Christmas imagery of a tree growing from a seedling. The tree is an iconic Sydney fig tree and it is decorated with colourful baubles which places everyone back to the present.

A bonus for the display this year then follows with a series of Madonna and Child artworks now on display in Canberra at the National Gallery.

These Renaissance works, 15th and 16th century Italian paintings, are by masters such as Bellini, Botticelli, Titian and Raphael which are normally on display at the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, Italy.

While families, friends and tourists marvel at the moving laser projections, the symbolism is certainly not lost on many.

For example the beautiful blue images are representative of the Blessed Mary, the images of three leaves represent the Holy Trinity and the spreading tree, the Tree of Life.

The Lights of Christmas, which is sponsored by the NSW Government, can been seen every night from the Cathedral forecourt from now until and including Christmas Eve from 8.30pm until midnight. There will be live choirs performing Thursday through to Sunday from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

On Monday 19 December the projections will also be streamed live on the Archdiocese of Sydney's social network so people around the world will have the chance to see the very unusual and skilful creative expression of Christmas 2011, Sydney style.


UCAN REPORT: Course trains counselors to tackle users' addiction to sex on the internet reporter, Ho Chi Minh City
December 9, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of Church steps up pornography fight
Father Antoine Nguyen Ngoc Son speaking at the course

The Church is training counselors to try and help a growing number of people who say they are addicted to internet pornography.

Around 50 Catholic social workers, educators and volunteers were attending a five-day course, which ends today, to help porn addicts try and overcome their addiction.

The course, run by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, was being held at the Pastoral Center in Ho Chi Minh City.

“The aim is for pornography addicts to realize that this is not a normal activity and that what they are doing can be damaging to them and others,” said Father Antoine Nguyen Ngoc Son, secretary general of the episcopal commission.

Father Son said participants on the course are learning about the negative impacts of pornography and the best way to offer advice and spiritual guidance.

He said out of around 25 million regular Internet users in the country, about 10 million of them regularly visit porn sites.

Salesian Father Francis Xavier Nguyen Minh Thieu, one of six trainers on the course, said more and more teenagers are visiting porn sites or playing sex games on computers, which has led to an increase in the number of rape case and reports of sexual abuse within families.

Father Thieu also noted an increase in the number of marriage breakdowns as partners of porn addicts are either ignored or forced to play out sexual fantasies which might often be violent in nature.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - A delegation of faithful from Parma – who have just celebrated with joy and solemnity the canonization of their fellow and Bishop for almost 25 years, Monsignor Guido Maria Conforti – are on their way to Makeni, in Sierra Leone to participate in the feast of the dedication of a church, just completed, entitled to the new Saint of the universal Church. On October 23, World Mission Day, Pope Benedict XVI declared Mgr. Guido M. Conforti a Saint (1865-1931). This new church was solemnly dedicated to San Guido M. Conforti - formerly Bishop of Ravenna and Parma, as well as Founder of the Xaverian Missionaries - and will pastorally serve a large parish in the dynamic city of Makeni in the Northern Province.
The Xaverian Missionaries have been working in those lands in West Africa since July 8, 1950. About 50 years ago, in 1962, another Parmesan, Mgr. Augustus F. Azzolini – also a Xaverian, member of the missionary society founded by Mgr. Guido M. Conforti - became the first Bishop of the diocese of Makeni. It was Pope John XXIII who chose him to give life to this new African Church, in an area never touched before by the Christian proclamation and predominantly inhabited by Temne and Limba ethnic groups.
A few days after the canonization of Saint Guido M. Conforti, the people of Sierra Leone wishes thereby to express their gratitude to the Founder of the Xaverian Missionaries and their capacity for the gift of faith in those lands with a mission that is due precisely to the city of Parma and whose initial components, famous as the "Four Pioneers", all come from the territories surrounding this land of Emilia: A.F. Azzolini from Roccabianca (Parma, diocese of Parma); C: Oliviani from Cicognara of Viadana (Mantova, diocese of Cremona); S.P. Calza from Croce S. Spirito (Piacenza, Diocese of Fidenza); A. Stephen da Fontanalucia from Frassinoro (Modena, diocese of Reggio Emilia). These four pioneers of the mission in Sierra Leone belong to the first and second hundred missionaries who joined Conforti’s daring project, the man who was called to the mission by a special encounter with the Crucified Christ and that, being unable to follow him because of health reasons, made sure that many others became missionaries in the Institute he founded.
May this Church of Africa - which has just received the Apostolic Exhortation "Africae Munus" by Pope Benedict XVI – have St. Conforti’s missionary spirit, and so revive their land thanks to the richness of the mission passed on by their legions of missionaries who have often spent their entire life on earth to transmit them the light of the Gospel. (P. Gerard Caglioni sx) (Agenzia Fides 09/12/2011)

TODAY'S GOSPEL AND MASS ONLINE: DEC. 9: Matthew 11: 16 - 19

Matthew 11: 16 - 19
16"But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates,
17`We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.'
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon';
19the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."