Sunday, January 1, 2012


RADIO VATICANA REPORT- On the first day of the New Year, the Church turns to Our Lady, dedicating January 1st to Mary the Mother of God. It’s also the day on which the Pope invites us to reflect on the theme of Peace. January 1st 2012 marks the 45th World Day of Peace and so both Mary and Peace were at the heart of the Pope’s homily during the solemn Mass celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday morning.

“Mary”, said Pope Benedict XVI, “is the Mother and model of the Church, who receives the divine Word in faith and offers herself to God…Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it in bearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world of itself cannot give and which it needs at least as much as bread.”

The Holy Father also reflected on the theme for this year’s World Day of Peace message: “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace”. “In the present age, so strongly marked by a technological mentality”, he said, “the desire to educate and not merely to instruct cannot be taken for granted. In the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today’s world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtue, is to look to the future with hope. And in this commitment to a holistic education, formation in justice and peace has a place.”

Benedict XVI concluded his reflection by quoting Psalm 84 and inviting us all to “hear what God has to say…God who has spoken to us in His Son Jesus…a voice that speaks of Peace”.

Below is the English translation of Pope Benedict's Homily on the Solemity of Mary the Mother of God and the World Day of Peace.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On the first day of the year, the liturgy resounds in the Church throughout the world with the ancient priestly blessing that we heard during today’s first reading: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26). This blessing was entrusted by God, through Moses, to Aaron and his sons, that is, to the priests of the people of Israel. It is a triple blessing filled with light, radiating from the repetition of the name of God, the Lord, and from the image of his face. In fact, in order to be blessed, we have to stand in God’s presence, take his Name upon us and remain in the cone of light that issues from his Face, in a space lit up by his gaze, diffusing grace and peace.

This was the very experience that the shepherds of Bethlehem had, who reappear in today’s Gospel. They had the experience of standing in God’s presence, they received his blessing not in the hall of a majestic palace, in the presence of a great sovereign, but in a stable, before a “babe lying in a manger” (Lk 2:16). From this child, a new light issues forth, shining in the darkness of the night, as we can see in so many paintings depicting Christ’s Nativity. Henceforth, it is from him that blessing comes, from his name – Jesus, meaning “God saves” – and from his human face, in which God, the almighty Lord of heaven and earth, chose to become incarnate, concealing his glory under the veil of our flesh, so as to reveal fully to us his goodness (cf. Tit 3:4).

The first to be swept up by this blessing was Mary the virgin, the spouse of Joseph, chosen by God from the first moment of her existence to be the mother of his incarnate Son. She is the “blessed among women” (Lk 1:42) – in the words of Saint Elizabeth’s greeting. Her whole life was spent in the light of the Lord, within the radius of his name and of the face of God incarnate in Jesus, the “blessed fruit of her womb”. This is how Luke’s Gospel presents her to us: fully intent upon guarding and meditating in her heart upon everything concerning her son Jesus (cf. Lk 2:19, 51). The mystery of her divine motherhood that we celebrate today contains in superabundant measure the gift of grace that all human motherhood bears within it, so much so that the fruitfulness of the womb has always been associated with God’s blessing. The Mother of God is the first of the blessed, and it is she who bears the blessing; she is the woman who received Jesus into herself and brought him forth for the whole human family. In the words of the liturgy: “without losing the glory of virginity, [she] brought forth into the world the eternal light, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Preface I of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Mary is the mother and model of the Church, who receives the divine Word in faith and offers herself to God as the “good soil” in which he can continue to accomplish his mystery of salvation. The Church also participates in the mystery of divine motherhood, through preaching, which sows the seed of the Gospel throughout the world, and through the sacraments, which communicate grace and divine life to men. The Church exercises her motherhood especially in the sacrament of Baptism, when she generates God’s children from water and the Holy Spirit, who cries out in each of them: “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6). Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it in bearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world, of itself, cannot give, and which it needs always, at least as much as bread.

Dear friends, peace, in the fullest and highest sense, is the sum and synthesis of all blessings. So when two friends meet, they greet one another, wishing each other peace. The Church too, on the first day of the year, invokes this supreme good in a special way; she does so, like the Virgin Mary, by revealing Jesus to all, for as Saint Paul says, “He is our peace” (Eph 2:14), and at the same time the “way” by which individuals and peoples can reach this goal to which we all aspire. With this deep desire in my heart, I am glad to welcome and greet all of you who have come to Saint Peter’s Basilica on this 45th World Day of Peace: Cardinals, Ambassadors from so many friendly countries, who more than ever on this happy occasion share with me and with the Holy See the desire for renewed commitment to the promotion of peace in the world; the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who with the Secretary and the officials of the Dicastery work in a particular way towards this goal; the other Bishops and Authorities present; the representatives of ecclesial Associations and Movements and all of you, brothers and sisters, especially those among you who work in the field of educating the young. Indeed – as you know – the role of education is what I highlighted in my Message for this year.

“Educating Young People in Justice and Peace” is a task for every generation, and thanks be to God, after the tragedies of the two great world wars, the human family has shown increasing awareness of it, as we can witness, on the one hand, from international statements and initiatives, and on the other, from the emergence among young people themselves, in recent decades, of many different forms of social commitment in this field. For the ecclesial community, educating men and women in peace is part of the mission received from Christ, it is an integral part of evangelization, because the Gospel of Christ is also the Gospel of justice and peace. But the Church, in recent times, has articulated a demand that affects everyone with a sensitive and responsible conscience regarding humanity’s future; the demand to respond to a decisive challenge that consists precisely in education. Why is this a “challenge”? For at least two reasons: in the first place, because in the present age, so strongly marked by a technological mentality, the desire to educate and not merely to instruct cannot be taken for granted, it is a choice; in the second place, because the culture of relativism raises a radical question: does it still make sense to educate? And then, to educate for what?

Naturally now is not the time to address these fundamental questions, which I have tried to answer on other occasions. Instead I would like to underline the fact that, in the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today’s world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope. And in this commitment to a holistic education, formation in justice and peace has a place. Boys and girls today are growing up in a world that has, so to speak, become smaller, where contacts between different cultures and traditions, even if not always direct, are constant. For them, now more than ever, it is indispensable to learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent. Only a solid education of their consciences can protect them from these risks and make them capable of carrying on the fight, depending always and solely on the power of truth and good. This education begins in the family and is developed at school and in other formative experiences. It is essentially about helping infants, children and adolescents to develop a personality that combines a profound sense of justice with respect for their neighbour, with a capacity to address conflicts without arrogance, with the inner strength to bear witness to good, even when it involves sacrifice, with forgiveness and reconciliation. Thus they will be able to become people of peace and builders of peace.

In this task of educating young generations, a particular responsibility lies with religious communities. Every pathway of authentic religious formation guides the person, from the most tender age, to know God, to love him and to do his will. God is love, he is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honour him must first of all act like a child following his father’s example. One of the Psalms says: “The Lord does deeds of justice, gives judgment for all who are oppressed ... The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy” (Ps 102:6,8). In God, justice and mercy come together perfectly, as Jesus showed us through the testimony of his life. In Jesus, “love and truth” have met, “justice and peace” have embraced (cf. Ps 84:11). In these days, the Church is celebrating the great mystery of the Incarnation: God’s truth has sprung from the earth and justice looks down from heaven, the earth has yielded its fruit (cf. Ps 84:12,13). God has spoken to us in his Son Jesus. Let us hear what God has to say: “a voice that speaks of peace” (Ps 84:9). Jesus is a way that can be travelled, open to everyone. He is the path of peace. Today the Virgin Mary points him out to us, she shows us the Way: let us walk in it! And you, Holy Mother of God, accompany us with your protection. Amen.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Once again this year, Fides publishes an annual document of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months. According to information in our possession, during 2011, 26 pastoral care workers were killed: one more than the previous year: 18 priests, 4 religious sisters, 4 lay people.
For the third consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral workers killed is AMERICA, bathed with the blood of 13 priests and 2 lay persons. Following is AFRICA, where 6 pastoral workers were killed: 2 priests, 3 religious sisters,1 lay person. ASIA, where 2 priests, 1 religious sister, 1 lay person were killed. The least affected was EUROPE, where one priest was killed.


CBN REPORT; By Lorie Johnson
Unforgiveness can not only be destructive to a person's spiritual health, but also his or her physical well-being.
As doctors learn more about these effects, many are beginning to integrate "forgiveness therapy" into certain treatments.
Jayne Valseca said if she hadn't learned to forgive, she may not even be alive today.
She and her husband Eduardo were in Mexico when he was kidnapped and tortured. Valseca eventually negotiated his release, yet she had trouble moving on from the ordeal. She describes the experience in her book, We Have Your Husband.
"I knew that the stress was taking a toll on my immune system," Valseca recalled.
The Physical Toll
After eight months, her husband was released, but she soon found out she had another battle to fight.
"I was almost not surprised, yet completely devastated to hear the words, 'You have stage four breast cancer,'" she said.
Valseca prayed for healing even though doctors gave her a death sentence.
"I did collect more information, and in one of the books I read, I heard about Cancer Treatment Centers of America and I thought, 'Wow, this sounds like a fantastic place,'" she said.
Valseca added "forgiveness therapy" to her cancer treatment with Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and author of the book The Forgiveness Project.
"Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety," Barry explained.
"Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells which is your body's foot soldier in the fight against cancer," he said.
Power of Forgiveness
Barry's research on cancer patients revealed about 61 percent had trouble forgiving. More than half had a severe problem. Valseca said she had been consumed with revenge against her husband's kidnappers.
Forgiveness therapy begins with putting to rest three myths -- forgiveness is not reconciliation, forgiveness doesn't condone bad behavior, and forgiveness doesn't stop the pursuit of justice.
Valseca's path to forgiveness included writing a letter to her enemies, praying for them, and finding empathy for them.
"I saw the kidnappers as babies. And I took them one by one... in an imaginary scenario that I had created, going through things that I thought they could probably have gone through in order to get to where they got to do the things that they do, and to do what they did to me and to my family," she explained.
"And it was then that I felt this huge sense of relief," she said. "It was as if this huge ton of bricks, this weight of the world, was instantly lifted from my shoulders."
"When a person forgives from the heart, which is the gold standard we see in Matthew 18, we find that they are able to find a sense of peacefulness," Barry added.
"Quite often our patients refer to that as a feeling of lightness," he said. "We don't realize what a burden anger and hatred is until we let it go."
Fighting the 'Disease'
In medical literature, unforgiveness is classified as a disease, which is defined as "some process that overwhelms normal function."
"It's important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone's reactions to the treatments -- even someone's willingness to pursue treatment," said Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
The Valsecas have moved on from their trauma and unforgiveness and are keeping a positive outlook.
"There is nothing I can do with my mind thinking of negativity or thinking all the bad things they did," Eduardo said.
The couple, along with Dr. Barry, were honored by President Barack Obama at the Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this year for their living testimony of the power of forgiveness.


The number of elderly poor is rapidly growing in Vietnam. The Sisters of Vương-Mẫu Tâm host about 100 sick and elderly women at the Thiên Ân Warm Shelter. “I am deeply touched by the way they love each other,” one witness says. “Despite living in hardship, they still try to work and produce handicrafts to help other poor people.”

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Research shows that Vietnam’s elderly population is growing fast. Gender is an important related factor since the number of elderly women is much higher than that of men. This has led to what some have dubbed the “feminisation of the elderly population”. Elderly women face aging with more risk factors such as lower income, disabilities, discrimination and diseases. “In the next phrase (from 2011 to 2020), the number of elderly will continually increase. Vietnam needs social policies to take care of the elderly,” said Dr Dương Quốc Trọng in his research.

Vietnam is stepping into the time of the aged quickly. To meet the needs in health care and social services, Vietnam needs to have practical and suitable strategies to care for the elderly at present, said Bruce Campbell, United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) representative in Vietnam. However, the country’s social policies and programmes for the elderly have been inadequate so far.

For this reason, the Catholic Sisters of the Congregation of Vương-Mẫu Tâm set up in 1993 the Thiên Ân Warm Shelter in Thủ Đức District, Ho Chi Minh City, to take care of elderly women’s spiritual and psychological needs. Both Catholic and Buddhist residents live at the shelter, including some elderly Buddhist nuns.

“I see them sick, lying in their beds, waiting for time to go by . . .,” some volunteer students and social workers told AsiaNews. “Yet, they are friendly, hoping to have someone talk to them. We have seen many elderly in the city without a place to live, looking for some rice in the streets.”

“I admire the nuns and the volunteers who work with the elderly,” said Hương, a woman from the neighbourhood. “They built a shelter that has warmly welcomed about 100 elderly women. Ms Út, 104, still goes to the chapel to pray with the group twice a day. Catholic and Buddhist elderly live in spiritual friendship with the Catholic nuns.”

“I am deeply touched by the way they love each other,” Ms Nguyet told AsiaNews. “Despite living in hardship, they still try to work and produce handicrafts to help other poor people."


Nigeria: Archbishop speaks on Christmas bombings | Archbishop of Abuja, Mgr John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan,Boko Haram

Archbishop John Onaiyekan
IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT: Dozens of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria were killed on Christmas day when a series of bomb attacks took place on churches around the country. The extreme Islamic Boko Haram sect orchestrated the attacks. At least 35 people died in a suicide bombing on the church of Santa Teresa, in Madalla district in Abuja, the federal capital. Other bombs exploded elsewhere, including a Pentecostal church in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

The Archbishop of Abuja, Mgr John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan said: "I hope that these people have not died in vain, the Nigerians are realizing that terrorism threatens us all, Christians and Muslims."

"The day after Christmas, when I went to the site of the attack along with the Nuncio, in the presence of the Minister of the Interior, I took the opportunity to launch a strong appeal through the local press to the Islamic leadership of Nigeria to do something " the Archbishop said.

"Even if the Muslim religious leaders continue to assert that members of Boko Haram do not belong to true Islam, they must recognize that these are Muslims, and that they have the greatest opportunity to identify them.

"A number of leading Islamic groups have condemned the attacks. I just received a call from a Muslim group who visited the injured in hospital and asked me to visit the church of Santa Teresa.

"It is no time to say whether we are Muslims or Christians, we all live under the threat of these people. Among the dead there were also Muslims. The bomb exploded in the street, opposite the church, and affected not only the faithful who came out of the Mass but also passers-by. I personally prayed and blessed a Moslem man who was seriously injured, " said the Archbishop.

Mgr Onaiyekan said a security service had been organised by parishioners and the police to protect churches in Abuja. Young men had set up check posts at the two entrances of the road leading to the church of Santa Teresa. However, he explained, a suicide bomber had driven through the cordon and detonated a bomb, killing himself, one of the young men and at least three policemen, some of whom were Muslim.

"This is terrorism, which spares no one," underlined the Archbishop. "When these people say they want an Islamic State, it is not a State that gives more freedom to the Muslims. We know what they mean by Islamic State, we have the example of the Somalia of the Shabab. I believe that we have finally managed to make it clear to the vast majority of our fellow Muslims that terrorism carried out by the Boko Haram is not only against Christians. Only together, Christians and Muslims, we can go far, " concluded Mgr Onaiyekan.

Source: Fides


Article and Photographs by Fr R Cross
The Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences of Notre Dame University in Fremantle, Associate Professor Dylan Korczynskyj, together with Associate Professor Deborah Gare and Dr Shane Burke, hosted a morning tea for the presentation by Mr Odhran O'Brien of his Masters Thesis on Bishop Martin Griver (1814-1886), Perth's second Catholic Bishop.

 Left to Right: Fr David Barry, Assoc Prof Deborah Gare, Mr Odhran O'Brien, Bishop Donald Sproxton, Dr Shane Burke and Mgr Brian O'Loughlin
Copies of the thesis were presented by Mr O'Brien to Bishop Donald Sproxton, Auxiliary Bishop of Perth, Monsignor Brian O'Loughlin, Chairman of the Archdiocesan Historical Commission and Fr David Barry, Prior of New Norcia.
Also present at the presentation were Mr O'Brien's mother, Mrs Geraldine O'Brien, Dr Marc Fellman, Head of Notre Dame's Research Office, Fr Robert Cross, Executive Assistant to Archbishop Hickey and other staff from the School of Arts and Sciences.
Mr O'Brien will spend the next few months editing the thesis for publication later in 2012.

Above: Mr O'Brien introducing his thesis


Jan 01, 2012 - Mary, Mother of God

  • Numbers 6: 22 - 27
    22 The LORD said to Moses,
    23 "Say to Aaron and his sons, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
    24 The LORD bless you and keep you:
    25 The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
    26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
    27 "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."
    Psalms 67: 2 - 3, 5 - 6, 8
    2 that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations.
    3 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!
    5 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!
    6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
    Galatians 4: 4 - 7
    4 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
    5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
    6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
    7 So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.
    Luke 2: 16 - 21
    16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
    17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child;
    18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
    19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
    20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
    21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Feast: January 1

Feast Day:January 1
The solemnity of the Mother of God, which now coincides with the octave-day of Christmas and the beginning of the new year, was probably assigned this day because of the influence of the Byzantine Church, which celebrates the synapsis of the most holy Theotokos on December 26. This is in accordance with the Eastern practice of honoring secondary persons on the day after the feast of the principal personage (in this case, the birth of Christ). The Coptic Church celebrates this feast on January 16, but in the West, as early as the fifth century, the feast was celebrated on the Sunday before Christmas, although in France it was celebrated on January 18 and in Spain on December 18. Even before Pope Sergius introduced four Marian feasts in the seventh century (the Birth of Mary, the Annunciation, the Purification and the Assumption), the octave day of Christmas was celebrated in Rome in honor of the Maternity of Mary. Later, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the feast of the Circumcision was added, although it had been introduced into Spain and France at the end of the sixth century and was later included in the Missal of Pope St. Pius V. The recent liturgical reform has restored the original Roman practice, which replaced the pagan feast of the New Year, dedicated to the god Janus, with this feast honoring the Mother of God.

A popular movement began in Portugal in the eighteenth century for a feast honoring Mary's maternity, and in 1914 the date of the feast was fixed at October 11. It was extended to the entire Latin Church in 1931, the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus. The restoration of the feast to January 1, which falls in the Christmas season and has an ecumenical significance, coincides with other anniversaries; for example, the octave day of Christmas, the circumcision of the Infant Jesus (assigned to the first Sunday of January); the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (which dates back to 1721); and the day for peace, introduced by Pope Paul VI.

In the encyclical Marialis Cultus (1974) Pope Paul VI states: "This celebration, assigned to January 1 in conformity with the ancient liturgy of the city of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the 'holy Mother . . . through whom we were found worthy . . . to receive the Author of life.' It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewed adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels, and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. For this reason . . . we have instituted the World Day of Peace, an observance that is gaining increasing support and is already bringing forth fruits of peace in the hearts of many" (no. 5).



RADIO VATICANA REPORT: n the eve of a new year and to mark the 45th World Day of Peace, a vigil will take place tonight in St Peter’s Square. People are being invited to pray for peace between nations and in families. The event is being organised by the Italian association Family of the Small Church.

“Every hour there is a particular community that prays during the night, in particular prays to Mary. The intention of this is to pray for peace in families and in the world”, says Cesare Bini, one of the movement’s members.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President Emeritus of the Governatorate of Vatican City State will begin the vigil at 11.15 pm .

It concludes at 7am Sunday morning 1st January. (SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)


Father Jeffrey N. Steenson, pictured here when he was a bishop in the Episcopal Church, has been named to head a new U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to become Catholics. (CNS file photo)
By Nancy Frazier O'Brien

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has established a U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to become Catholics and named a married former Episcopal bishop to head it.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter -- functionally equivalent to a diocese, but national in scope -- will be based at a parish in Houston. It will be led by Father Jeffrey N. Steenson, the former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande who was ordained a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., in February 2009.

The establishment of the ordinariate and the naming of its first leader were announced by the Vatican Jan. 1.

More than 100 former Anglican priests have applied to become Catholic priests in the ordinariate and 1,400 individuals from 22 communities have expressed interest in joining. In fall 2011, the members of St. Luke's in Bladensburg, Md., and St. Peter of the Rock Community in Fort Worth, Texas, were received into the Catholic Church with the intent of joining the ordinariate.

It is the second such jurisdiction established under the provisions of Pope Benedict's 2009 apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus." The first was the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, created for England and Wales in January 2011; others are under consideration in Canada and Australia.

The parishes and communities accepted into the ordinariate will be fully Catholic but retain elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions, particularly in the liturgy.

Father Steenson and his wife, Debra, have three grown children -- a daughter and two sons -- and a grandson.

Because he is married, the 59-year-old Father Steenson will not be ordained a bishop and will not be able to ordain priests. He will, however, otherwise function as a bishop and will be a voting member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After working briefly in a New Mexico parish following his ordination, Father Steenson has been teaching theology at the University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture and at St. Mary's Seminary, both in Houston, since August 2009. He also is an assisting priest at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Houston.

Educated at Harvard Divinity School and at Oxford, he is an expert in patristics, the study of the early church fathers. Born in Camp Rucker, Ala., he was raised on a farm in Hillsboro, N.D., that has been in his family since the 1880s.

In a 2009 interview with Catholic News Service, Father Steenson said he had been "attracted to Catholicism all of my life."

"It's not negative things that turned me to the Catholic Church," he said. "I just felt God saying, 'It's time.'"

The time came, he said, in 2007 when he felt the bishops of the Episcopal Church had decided to give priority to their autonomy rather than to unity with the larger Anglican Communion.

Father Steenson said that for him, gay people were not the issue. "It was the way the decisions were made and the way they were defended," placing the local church and modern cultural sensitivities ahead of the universal church and fidelity to tradition, he said.

The priest said that while the Episcopal Church spoke of the importance of Christian unity, it continued to approve practices -- ordaining women priests and bishops, ordaining homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions -- that everyone knew would be an obstacle to Christian unity.

"The frustration with being a Protestant is that every morning you get up and have to reinvent the church all over again," Father Steenson said.

The new ordinariate has been in the works since September 2010, when the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington to be its delegate for the implementation of "Anglicanorum coetibus" in the United States.

Cardinal Wuerl welcomed the announcement, saying it was "the fulfillment of the hopes of many Anglicans in the United States who have longed and prayed for reconciliation with the Catholic Church while retaining cherished elements of the Anglican patrimony."

He said Father Steenson "brings to the position of ordinary great pastoral and administrative experience, along with his gifts as a theologian."

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, in whose archdiocese the ordinariate's headquarters will be located, called Father Steenson "not only an outstanding patristic scholar, but a priest with a strong pastoral sense and an abiding respect for all people."

"He will surely be an effective, kind and joyful leader who will love and guide God's people with the attitude of Christ," he added.

Father Scott Hurd, who was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1993, joined the Catholic Church in 1996 and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 2000, will be on loan to the ordinariate for three years to serve as vicar general.

Father Hurd, who has been assisting Cardinal Wuerl in the U.S. implementation of "Anglicanorum coetibus," will continue to be based in Washington.


Der Leiter der Bruderschaft, Frere Alois, kritisierte am Samstagabend eine "zunehmende Ungleichheit selbst innerhalb reicher Gesellschaften".
The head of the brotherhood, frère Alois, criticized a "growing inequality even within richer societies" on Saturday night.

30,000 young Christians participate at Taizé, Berlin

Berlin - above all the silence has "charmed" Julia. As it has been quiet with thousands of young people at the Abendgebeten in the Berlin exhibition halls. "This is so special about Taizé", is the Ukrainian woman. In particular, it has come to the 34th annual European youth meeting of Ecumenical brotherhood to the turn of the year on the river Spree. 30,000 young Christians from 70 countries.
Five days prayers, songs, discussions. A theme has always accompanied them: "Ways of faith", the motto of the meeting. One tricky thing may be to take, as established in the French Taizé community, frère Alois Löser, leader acknowledges. "Confidence is a risk," he says in one of his evening speech. However, no society without confidence could live such as the successor of Taizé founder Roger Schutz (1915-2005) emphasized. Thus he alludes to the financial crisis and other challenges.
The German punctuality
Those who understand no English or German, which can follow the speeches by frère Alois using a small radio. On different frequencies, there are translations into over a dozen languages on the fairgrounds. Many do not need it. 10,000 Young people from Germany are the largest group among the participants, followed by 6,000 young people from Poland, and 2,000 from France, Italy, Croatia and the Ukraine.
Most host families have stayed. After several appeals by politicians, many Berlin have still their apartments for guests with mat and sleeping bag opened and given them confidence. "Very important" that finds the Taizé helper Johannes: "Our meeting lives on the personal encounter". Julia and also Ukrainian friend Oleana see as well. You know now more accurately, which means hospitality on German. "If it means ' eight breakfast ', then it means eight o'clock also point", they tell laughing.
"Energy boost for democracy"
The participants in its over 160 guest communities spend the mornings, but also detour to important sites of the metropolis are part of the program. As the Vice-President of the Bundestag receives under different leaders, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, just several hundred Taize pilgrims. "I hope your meeting an energy boost for democracy", gives them with on the way.
Others have opted for a meeting with Muslims. Close to densely they are seated in Berlin's best-known Islamic Church, the Sehitlik mosque at the former airport of Tempelhof. Khalid Durham Shockwave through the mosque in the fast pass explained architecture and story of Islam, as little space is free on the carpet. Also the evangelical pastor Elisabeth Kruse from the neighborhood of the mosque is involved in this meeting. Interreligious dialogue can cut off "at least three slices of the Taizé community", they praised the commitment of the ecumenical community.
Berlin and participants donate to North Korea
An appeal of the some 100 Taizé brothers of solidarity has not in vain. Before the meeting, they have called the participants and the Berlin to donate medicines and medical equipment for North Korea. Her desire is been granted. Now, they can send respiratory equipment, sterilizers, surgical, blood pressure monitors, infusion devices and bandages in the destitute country.
"Jubilate Deo omnis terra" sounds on Latin even at the last evening prayer a few hours before the new year from the exhibition halls. "Sing before God all countries of the world". Orange scarves hide the otherwise bare walls, flickering candles. Once again, silence comes a before young people seeking their guest communities and start the new year after a "prayer for peace". With a "Festival of peoples', without alcohol, but with much dance and music. "By next year in Rome", can be heard after the new year's service on Sunday. The next European meeting Pope Benedict XVI has invited them.
by: Benedict Angermeier
Close to densely they are seated in Berlin's best-known Islamic Church, the Sehitlik mosque at the former airport of Tempelhof.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: by André Azzam
The persecution against Christians mingled with violence against the Arab revolution. In a year more than 1000 dead, thousands injured, 1200 have lost one or both eyes, because the police shoot at eye level. The interim government has not kept its many promises of equality between Christians and Muslims, but here and there are signs of growing alliances, mutual respect and friendship.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - One year has passed since the terrible massacre in the Church of the Two Saints, in Alexandria on New Year’s eve last year, which left more than twenty dead and a hundred wounded. One year later the facts regarding those responsible for committing this horrible crime are no clearer. There have been rumours which assert that it was the ministry of internal affairs who ordered the attack, but no investigation results have so far been published. Yesterday, the last Friday of the year, the protestant church called for a peaceful demonstration in Tahrir square to commemorate this anniversary, asking people to come with armed only with candles and no other religious symbol. A large demonstration led by Shaykh Mazhar Shaheen processed from Omar Makram mosque in Midan al Tahrir up to the Evangelical Church of Qasr al Doubara, one street behind Midan al Tahrir to celebrate the Chrismas and New Year’eve feasts.

Three weeks after last New Year’s eve attack the January 25 revolution exploded, and since then many difficult events have succeeded each other making it a hard time for the population, and mainly for Egyptian Christians. In fact, the Alexandria massacre took place less than a year after the violent attack at Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt on the eve of the Coptic Christmas celebrations, on the 7th of January 2010, which left seven dead and many wounded. And less than two months after clashes over a church construction in the suburb of Giza, next to Cairo, that left two dead and many wounded.

Early in March 2011, the Church of the Two Martyrs in Sol, next to Helwan, in the southern suburb of Cairo, was set on fire killing two people died. The motive for the arson attack was a forbidden love affaire between a Christian young man and a Muslim girl. The two fathers died in a quarrel, then the Muslim population burned the church. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) decided to rebuild the church which was ready for Easter one month later.

During March the awful virginity test was imposed on young women arrested by the authorities.

On Saturday, March 7, two churches in Imbaba, in a western suburb of Cairo, were attacked by fundamentalist mobs, with the result of a dozen Christians killed and the burning of the two churches. This suburb had once been termed ‘the Islamic Republic of Imbaba’.

In June 2011 a long awaited draft bill on building permits for places of worship both for Islam and Christianity was brought before parliament. But still today, this law has not been implemented.

On June 29, a vast confrontation between demonstrators and police forces left more than one thousand wounded. Again, on July 23, another confrontation resulted in more than two hundred wounded.

On September 30th, a church in Marinab village, in Asswan governorate was raised by Muslim fundamentalists who had decided to eradicate the village church by first pretending it was a new construction, than demanding it remove its crosses and the domes and finally burning the church, and many households belonging to the Christian population, without any protection from the civil authorities, rather, on the contrary with the obvious blessing of Asswan governor.

On Sunday October 9, a Christian demonstration began in Cairo to demand equal rights for Christians and justice for the Marinab village church. Numerous Muslim demonstrators were joined their Christian compatriots. What took place was a veritable slaughter which has now become known as the ‘Maspero massacre’ : The army attacked demonstrators resulting in 25 people dead and 350 wounded, many of them crushed under the wheels of advancing armoured vehicles. The state television located on Maspero Avenue launched
an appeal that verged on a call to civil war appealing to the population to come and protect the armed forces ‘savagely attacked by Christian demonstrators’. Three soldiers were reported dead, but in the end revealed to be only lightly wounded.

On October 10, the culprit of Nag Hamadi attack of January 7, 2010, who had been sentenced to death, was executed.

Then came the protests of Mohammad Mahmoud Street on November 19 (see 21/11/2011
Egypt, toll rises from Tahrir Square clashes: 30 dead and thousands injured), and later in mid December, the demonstrations and sit-in around the Parliament and the Ministers Council buildings (see 17/12/2011 Egypt: clashes between the army and demonstrators continue in front of the Houses of Parliament), with a heavey toll of dead and wounded.

In just one year, more than one thousand people have died, thousands of more wounded, an estimated one thousand two hundred people lost one or both eyes, and probably twelve thousand demonstrators were arrested and judged by military courts. Many political personnalities and well-known journalists have also been summoned and mistreated.

It is reported that since last March, one hundred thousand Christian Egyptians have left the country emigrating to different destinations. Many people among the Christian community, and among the poorest of them, would now like to apply for religious asylum in countries like the USA, Canada, or Australia.

Recently many bishops reported to have received threatening letters to prevent them from celebrating the New Year and Christmas. Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church replied two days ago that ‘we do not fear any threats and we shall celebrate the feasts’, though everybody knows that the celebrations will be restricted inside churches and earlier than the usual midnight masses. The Catholic Church, which celebrates Christmas in Cairo, Alexandria and Lower Egypt on the December 25, had all the masses between 7 and 9p.m. All the churches were surrounded by police forces, which will be the same for the Orthodox Christmas on the eve of January 7.

‘Christmas is celebrated this year in Egypt in a state of ‘sad joy’ because of the general situation: sadness, because the year that passed has been a severe one not only for Christians but also for Muslims. From the massacre of the Two Saints’ church in Alexandria last year to the battle at the Ministers Council, through the Maspero massacre and the hard economic situation, all of this has left a wounded and suffering Egyptian society as Fr Rafic Greiche, official spokesman of the Catholic Church in Egypt, stated yesterday.

‘On the other hand, added Fr Greiche, we must preserve some joy, because every Egyptian is still full of hope that the difficulties and obstacles will be resolved little by little in building a new democratic state in this land that once sheltered Jesus and the Holy Family, where dignity, justice and equality should prevail for everyone’.

On this point, many political experts consider that the parliamentary elections have really attracted the majority of the population who felt for the first time they were really participating in their political duty and right. But many of them are still critical feeling that it was more a religious election than a democratic one, since no-one stopped the parties from using religious slogans when it was strictly forbidden.

An anecdotal gag was bandied about during the election campaign which went: ‘Women electors and men electors, whatever your religion, please vote for the salafist islamic party al-Noor. If you are Muslim, you shall go to Paradise. If you are Christian, you shall go [flee] to Canada!’

But there were also many positive reactions, mainly from the well known slogan of the 1919 revolution of the famous leader Saad Zaghloul, founder of the Wafd party that says ‘Religion is for God, and Homeland is for all’. The design of the Cross and the Crescent intertwined is more and more obviously brandished. Let us recall that in mid October the SCAF adopted a draft law incriminating discrimination and violence, which is usually aimed at Christians and women. But still, we have to see if this law is really being implemented in the daily life. On the other hand many people are reacting to Muslim preachers on Fridays correcting what they feel is an open attack against Christians, among whom, mainly Nawwara Negm, daughter of the famous anarchist poet Ahmad Fouad Negm, and strong activist since the beginning of the January revolution.

A young Christian student in the end of primary course, Myriam Armanios (11-12 years old) wrote two days ago on Facebook : ‘Like you, I have the right to celebrate my feasts’. More than 3 thousand pupils sustained her as well as the Maspero Youth Federation. A demonstration was organized in front of the ministry of education to protest against the fixed dates for midyear exams on the 1st and the 8th of January [the Coptic Christmas period]. The minister of education decided immediately to postpone the examinations for a couple of days later.

After the Lotus or Jasmin or Spring revolution, many promises were made by the government but none were achieved : like putting the minimum salary up to 750 Egyptian Pounds (a little less than 100 euros per month); offering a pension to the ‘martyrs’ of the revolution and the ‘martyrs’ of Maspero massacre; offering free medical care and treatment for all the wounded of the revolution and of Maspero massacre; an end to bringing civilians before military courts; adjusting the price of petrol to the standard prices in Spain, Turkey, Israel and Jordan; organizing impartial investigations into the Maspero, Mohammad Mahmoud street and Council of Minister massacres, as well as many other economic promises: until now none of these have been kept, provoking a general state of disillusionment.

Another point is the looming anniversary of the January 25th revolution: is the SCAF ready to let demonstrators gather? is the official press and media, as well as the interim government ready to stop accusing demonstrators of being agents and agitators manipulated by foreign powers? These last two days about twenty NGOs involved in human rights were raided, their computers seized and they were accused of being illegally financed by abroad.

Faced with this old approach to this important juncture, many observers express that the old regime is still active. As expressed by Pr Ezzeddine Shukry, professor of political science: ‘A regime that is not yet over, in front of a revolution that is not yet broken’.

We have to point out finally that the blogger Alaa Abd al Fattah, arrested in November and accused of criminal acts during Maspero massacre, has finally been released on probation in his flat, until a further judgement. Another positive act was the administrative court that stopped the virginity test imposed on young women arrested by the armed forces.

Pr Shukry perfecttly expresses the feeling among the general population when he says, ‘the situation is confused for the moment, but we must keep hope for the future, because the revolution movement has not been overcome, it is still active and will never be defeated’. He considers the many martyrs as a source of positive inspiration for the movement, and he brings as a symbol of hope of the dentist Ahmad Sharara, who lost one eye on the 28th of January and the second eye on 19th of November and who states : ‘Better to live blind with honour and dignity than to live with my sight despondent and blinkered’.

Demonstrators in Tahrir square yesterday refused to join an anti-protest march led by the army and the officials, thus refusing to join hands with the people hailing the expelled former president Mubarak. And still leaders of the political and youth movements have called for a huge gathering on this New Year's eve in Tahrir square from 8p.m. until 2 a.m. to respond to the appeal first launched by the woman journalist Gamila Ismaïl to celebrate the Christian New Year by candle light with Coptic Hymns and Muslim Soufi prayers animated by famous singers like male singer Ali al Haggar and the beautiful Azza Balbaa.,-Egypt-seeks-a-way-forward-23577.html


UCAN REPORT: Prayers and fasting planned for priest and seminarians killed earlier this month reporter, Shijiazhuang
December 30, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of Catholic day of mourning for crash victims
The six seminarians who died in the road accident
An online Catholic website has called for prayers for a priest and six seminarians killed in a road accident earlier this month.
The appeal was issued by popular mainland site Tianzhujiao Zaixian (Catholic Church online), and suggested that Catholics offer a requiem Mass, prayers for the deceased and their families, fasting or a silent tribute at 10am tomorrow – the approximate time of the deadly accident.
Tomorrow marks the seventh day of the third week since the accident, a day that holds special significance for the deceased in Chinese tradition.
About 2,000 people have visited the Tianzhujiao Zaixian website to light an online candle for the deceased.
Meanwhile the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong diocese has asked Catholics to observe a one-minute silent tribute tomorrow, also at 10am.
“We were very shocked and sad to hear about the accident. Despite geographical distance, we try to do something to express the concern and consolation from the universal Church,” said JPC project officer Or Yan-yan.
Father Joseph Shi Liming of Baoding and six seminarians were killed on December 11 when the minivan they were driving in collided head-on with a truck and overturned, before being struck by another truck.
One seminarian, Gabriel Gao, survived the accident after being thrown from the vehicle during the initial collision.
He is recovering in neurosurgery ward at a hospital in Shijiazhuang city, according to a report by a Catholic blogger using the name Mengshou zhufuzhe, which means “the one who is blessed,” who visited Gao.
Though he was able to open his eyes and look around and respond to people’s words, his condition is still far from full consciousness,” the blogger wrote.
Mainland Church sources have said that families of the deceased have received some compensation and that the Jinzhou city government has promised to provide them with pensions.
The JPC also called for prayers for Fr Liu Qijin of Anguo, who fractured his leg in a separate road accident on December 12, in which another passenger in the car was killed.


Bishop Anthony
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
DD BA LlB BTheol DPhil
Third Bishop of Parramatta

ARCHDIOCESE OF PARRAMATTA REPORT: The Homilies of Bishop Anthony Fisher
Homily - Funeral Mass for Father John Smith, St Canice’s Church, Katoomba, Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2011
Funeral Mass for Father John Smith, St Canice’s Church, Katoomba, Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2011
Catholic parties are longer than anyone else’s and so today is Christmas day still, a day that lasts for an octave of eight calendar days, and then another week as we await the last party guests, the three star-gazers from the Orient. That’s why we usually prepare enough food at Christmas to feed us for many days. Our extended Christmas day reminds us that the Baby we have been celebrating is truly one of us – hence the birthday party – and yet not just ‘another one’ of us – hence the length of His nativity celebration.
As no Sunday intervenes between Christmas and New Year this year, we miss our ordinary Sunday celebration of the Boy’s Holy Family. Instead we celebrate it today, along with the Funeral Mass of John Smith. It is not such a strange coincidence of celebrations, however, when we consider the beautiful Third Preface for the Nativity of the Lord which we will pray today. It thanks God for that “holy exchange that restores our life” that “has shone forth today in splendour”. What is this ‘holy exchange’? “When our frailty is assumed by your Word,” the prayer explains “not only does human mortality receive unending honour but by this wondrous union we, too, are made eternal.” Already at Christmas, and long before Easter, there is a glimmer of hope that we might have eternal life.
Fr John Smith moved to Australia in pursuit of a warmer climate, but by the strange providence of God and even stranger workings of bishops he ended up Parish Priest of our coldest parish, in Katoomba. Born within sound of the Bow Bells he had heard from very young the ringing proclamation of our Christmas Lord. When only 12 or 13 years old he shocked his family by his decision to enter a pre-seminary for those preparing for ministry in the Church of England. He was trained there in the Christian faith, music and classical languages, and went on to read in Cambridge. He brought that learning and culture to his priestly life, both in the Anglican communion and ultimately in the Catholic Church.
In today’s Gospel (Lk 2:22-40) Jesus makes the first of many trips to church – to the Temple in Jerusalem – so His parents can make thanksgiving to God and consecrate their newborn to Him. There they meet old Father Simeon, who has prayed all his life to see the Messiah and now, having done so, sings his Nunc Dimitis, the Church’s bedtime lullaby. “Now my eyes have seen the salvation ... the light ... the glory” he thrills. The Christmas Gospels are suffused with this light. The Word, John’s Gospel tells us, is “a light come into the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome”. Matthew tells us He was heralded by comet-light and glow of angels. Luke records Zechariah announcing the Boy as “the tender mercy of God’s dawn, giving light to those who dwell in darkness and death”. And, as Simeon sang, that dawn is not for Israel only, but for all humanity, even Englishmen, even Australians.
What is this Christmas light that is told each year in evermore elaborate displays of Christmas lights around our suburbs? We say someone is enlightened when he has the gift of seeing deeply, of grasping reality wisely. We say someone is bright when he is happy, cheery, hopeful. Fr John Smith was bright in both senses. In our Cathedral presbytery, where he was recuperating for some months after surgery, he brought to our table words – he was never short of words – both of erudition and humour. Priests are, of course, wordsmiths, as they mediate the Light of Christ to others by proclamation and preaching, by liturgical words and sacramental formulae, by words of counsel and consolation. Fr John’s words were learned but never patronising, and he would always reach out to others with compassion, with a Pastor’s love.
Fr John Smith devoted his life to the Light of Christ. That light can take you in some unexpected directions! It took John into the Anglican ministry and Naval chaplaincy, then out of both and into the Catholic Church and priesthood, “from the RN to the RC” as he used to put it; into the Diocese of Leeds and several parishes and prison ministry; then out of Leeds and England and into Quakers Hill in the Diocese of Parramatta and finally up to the Upper Blue Mountains where the presbytery and parish needed his attentions. Though he long planned retirement in Spain – and had even bought his air ticket – he has now been called to a different beach. God often has different plans for us.
In the coming year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, what Blessed John Paul II called “the greatest grace given the Church in the 20th Century”. On reading its Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, John realised he must become a Catholic. It was unexpected. It was a great risk. But by Christ’s light we dare walk in such darkness. We dare also to be bearers of that light to the world, relaying the light of Christmas and Easter. So we must have the courage to speak openly, in broad daylight, not always worrying what people will think of us. Nor is it enough to talk of it: our very lives must radiate with the light of Christ; we must have in us a burning heart, fire in our belly, a shining enthusiasm. Like the bushfires that Mountains people know all too well, we must desire to share our fervour, our brightness, to spread it abroad.
Today we give thanks to God for a priest who answered the call to run like a bearer of the Olympic torch – more recently he walked – to relay Christ’s enlightening truth, burning compassion, shining hope, a light for those experiencing darkness and death. We offer for Fr John that Holy Sacrifice which he taught us to revere above all else, source of our joy and worthy of all praise. As he passed on the light of Christ to us so we pray now for perpetual light for him. We pray for him with that bedtime prayer of old Father Simeon: “Now, All-powerful Master, let your servant go in peace, according to Your promise, for his eyes have seen Your salvation, the Light to enlighten all peoples.”