Saturday, February 25, 2012


RADIO VATICANA REPORT: “The Church pays great attention to the suffering of couples with infertility, she cares for them and, precisely because of this, encourages medical research.”, said Pope Benedict XVI, in his address Saturday to members of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Over the past week the Academy has gathered together experts from the world of medicine, scientific research, theology and philosophy to the Vatican to discuss infertility, how it is diagnosed, how it can be treated and how it impacts couples.

Pope Benedict said : “The human and Christian dignity of procreation, consists not in a "product", but in its connection with the conjugal act, an expression of love of the spouses, their union which is not only biological but also spiritual”.

He said: “This approach is moved not only from the desire to gift the couple a child, but to restore fertility to couple and with it all the dignity of being responsible for their own reproductive choices, to be God's collaborators in the generation of a new human being. The search for a diagnosis and therapy is scientifically the correct approach to the issue of infertility, but it must also be respectful of the integral humanity of those involved. In fact, the union of man and woman in that community of love and life that is marriage, is the only "place" worthy for the call into existence of a new human being, which is always a gift”.

But what happens when even science cannot provide the answer to a couples desire for parenthood? Here the Pope warned against what he described as “the lure of the technology of artificial insemination” where “scientism and the logic of profit seem to dominate the field of infertility and human procreation, to the point of limiting many other areas of research”.

The Holy Father noted that “So I would like to remind the couples who are experiencing the condition of infertility, that their vocation to marriage is no less because of this. Spouses, for their own baptismal and marriage vocation, are called to cooperate with God in the creation of a new humanity. The vocation to love, in fact, is a vocation to the gift of self and this is a possibility that no organic condition can prevent. There, where science has not yet found an answer, the answer that gives light comes from Christ”.

Pope Benedict concluded: “I encourage all of you gathered here for these study days, and who sometimes work in a medical-scientific dimension where the truth is blurred: to continue on their journey of a science that is intellectually honest and fascinated by the constant research for the good of man", not forgetting in this intellectual journey, the dialogue with faith. Citing his appeal expressed in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Pope said that Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. "(n. 28). On the other hand, precisely the cultural matrix created by Christianity - rooted in the affirmation of the existence of truth and intelligibility of reality in the light of Supreme Truth - has made the development of in modern scientific knowledge possible in medieval Europe, a knowledge that in earlier cultures had remained but a seed".

“Distinguished scientists and all of you members of the Academy who undertake to promote the life and dignity of the human person, also keep in mind your important cultural role in society and carry out the influence you have in shaping public opinion…people trust in you, who serve life, they trust in your commitment to support those who need comfort and hope. Never succumb to the temptation to treat what’s best for people by reducing it to a mere technical problem! The indifference of conscience to what is true and good, represents a dangerous threat to genuine scientific progress”.


ASIA NEWS REPORT;Toll from unrest rises to 20 dead. Another protester killed in Logar province (eastern Turkey). Afghan workers at Bagram base: U.S. military burned the sacred books of ignoring our pleas.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - The toll from five-days of protests over the burning of the Koran has risen to 20 dead and hundreds injured. Today thousands of demonstrators surrounded the UN complex in Kunduz (Northern Afghanistan) trying to storm the building guarded by police and army. In Mehterlam, capital of the eastern province of Logar, a crowd of hundreds of people stormed the offices of the governor. In the clashes, police killed a protester.

Meanwhile, experts say the episode is putting into serious question the image of the U.S. Army and ten years of struggle against Islamic extremism.

In these days the authorities have collected the testimonies of workers employed in the military base in Bagram to shed light on the incident. From the accounts it emerges that the U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Koran while ignoring the pleas of Muslim workers.

Jamil Sayed, an Afghan of 22 years, said that last February 20 he was working with other Afghan colleagues in one of the waste disposal areas on the base, when three soldiers arrived on the site aboard a military truck full of books and religious material and have started to throw the contents into the incinerator. "When we realized that they were copies of the Koran - Jamil says - we alerted the driver asking why they wanted to burn the book. The soldier responded by saying that it was material of the prison and they were ordered to discard it". The men plunged their hands into the oven to try to save the texts, some burning their fingers and hands as they pulled eight Koran copies from the fire, he said. The reaction of the Afghan workers scared the soldiers who fled with the still carrying more than half of the box full of copies of the Koran.


Vacancy for position of Secretary-General of Pax Christi International | Pax Christi International, Secretary-General
Pax Christi International is in search of a new Secretary-General, who will be based at the Pax Christi International Secretariat in Brussels, Belgium.

The Secretary-General will inspire and lead Pax Christi as an international movement and ensure active engagement of the member organisations around the world.

This will require vision and enthusiasm, strategic leadership, effective management and professionalism, as well as a personal commitment to Christian values at the heart of peace and reconciliation, social and ecological justice, nonviolence and participation.

For additional information see:


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
22 Feb 2012

Christchurch residents comfort one another at today's
memorial service one year after a quake devastated the city
More than 20,000 survivors of Christchurch's earthquake gathered at the city's Hagley Park to mark the first anniversary of the devastating tremor that struck the city at 12.51 pm exactly one year ago today.
The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, the Most Rev Barry Jones led the final prayers after two minutes silence to remember the 182 who lost their lives.
Commending them to God's mercy, he also prayed for the many grieving and distraught families as well as the quake survivors whom he said "bear the wounds and scars and injuries both visible and invisible from the earthquakes which have continued to oppress us."
Although the first earthquake to hit Christchurch in September 2010 was a massive 7.0, there was no real damage until the 6.2 aftershock of February 22 last year. This was when the city, which until September had been unaware it was built on an active fault line, was devastated.

Catholic Bishop Barry Jones led the final
prayer at the memorial
of Chrsitchurch's devastating quake
Already weakened by the 7.0 quake, high rise buildings in the CBD pancaked and the domes and towers of the city's landmark Catholic cathedral and the city's imposing Anglican cathedral, after which Christchurch was named, toppled and collapsed into rubble.
Entire suburbs of New Zealand's third largest city suffered severe damage with houses destroyed, many suffering wide cracks and jolted off their foundations. Roads buckled and liquefaction triggered mud and slush throughout the city's eastern suburbs. Water mains were ripped apart and electricity and the rest of the city's infrastructure severely damaged.
The port of Lyttleton near the centre of the quake was also devastated with houses sliding down the steep cliffs bordering the harbour.
Since then the city has been wracked by continuing aftershocks and as recently as December 2011, Christchurch had to cope with one measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale which brought down more buildings, weakened others and along with liquefaction and oozing mud, triggered severe power outages and broken water mains.
According to counsellors and therapists, 12 months on from the February 22 quake, many of the 338,000 inhabitants of New Zealand's third largest city are severely traumatised, and with the continuing aftershocks and uncertainty about the future, suffering a combination of despair and depression.
With entire suburbs now condemned, many have been forced to walk away from homes that have been in their families for generations. Others have simply packed up and left to start new lives in other cities in New Zealand or across the Tasman, here in Australia.
But despite what many have gone through, today's memorial at Hagley Park was a time not only for reflection but one of hope.

Christchurch Cathedral's bell tower was
destroyed in the February earthquake
"Let us work together to rebuild a city fit for heroes," the Mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker urged those who attended the Memorial ceremony. "We've learned that when we work together, when we listen to each other, extraordinary things can happen."
He praised the way friends and neighbours had reach out to one another and said the city was now seeing a resurgence of strength and spirit.
"No city has ever been more strongly united in wanting to recover, rebuild, and once more be a great place to live and to work," he said.
The ceremony which was also attended by NZ Prime Minister John Key, the Governor General of NZ, Sir Jerry Mateparae, paid tribute to the bravery of residents in the aftermath of last year's earthquake and presented more than 140 awards for acts of heroism.
Then as a group of children released 182 monarch butterflies, the names of those who had lost their lives were read out. This was followed by two minute's silence after which the Catholic Bishop of Christchurch led a moving and heartfelt prayer.

Damage to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
taken two weeks ago from the air
The prayer in full is printed below:
O God whose mercies are without number,
and whose treasure and goodness is infinite,
graciously increase the faith of your people
that all may grasp and rightly understand
by whose love they have been created.

Your Son Jesus has taught us
to open our hearts to you in sincere prayer,
today after one year,
we commend to your love and mercy
all those whose lives have been changed forever
by the earthquake of 22 February 2011.

We commend to your mercy
those who lost their lives in that terrible time.

We remember too,
those who were evacuated in great stress
from city rest homes
and who have since departed this life

Grieving and distraught families, friends and workmates
entered thereby into a time of sadness,
loneliness and heartbreak.

Have mercy on them all O God.
We commend also to you those living survivors
who bear wounds and scars and injuries
both visible and invisible
from the earthquakes which have continued to oppress us.

May their trust and confidence in you never fail,
but rather grow to be strong and life-giving
for themselves and for those close to them.

Your Son Jesus
showed himself to be the physician of souls.

May those burdened by fear, anxiety,
worry and hopelessness,
know your healing hand.

Many of our people Lord carry painful memories
of building and structures falling,
and persons being crushed and trapped.

Have mercy on them and grant them peace.
We pray in Jesus' name


CISA REPORT: BAMAKO, February 24, 2012 (CISA) -The Malian government must end bomb attacks against the civilian population in the north of the country, Amnesty International said on February 23 after a four year old girl was killed amid shelling.
Fata Walette Ahmedou was injured after an army helicopter shelled the Kel Essouck camp near the northern town of Kidal, some 1,600 km north-east of the capital Bamako. She died of her injuries on Thursday February 23 in the morning.
At least 12 other people were wounded in the attack, says Amnesty International.
“It’s the civilian population who is bearing the brunt of this indiscriminate bombing. In addition to human casualties, the attacks have killed dozens of cattle, camels and goats which the Nomad Tuareg population rely on,” said GaĆ«tan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s researcher on West Africa.
“These bombings violate international humanitarian law and the government must stop them immediately,” she added.
The Kidal area has been bombed by Malian army helicopters since February 11.
The Azawad National Liberation Movement (Mouvement national de liberation de l’Azawad, (MNLA), a Tuareg armed opposition group, launched a military uprising in the north of the country last month.
Since then dozens of people have been killed and thousands displaced by fighting between the MNLA and Mali’s military.
Thousands of people have fled across the border into neighbouring Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.


Agenzia Fides report – It is an initiative that should be rejected because it "has no reference to the defense of life, population health, environmental protection": this is the opinion expressed by Mgr. Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, S.J., Archbishop of Huancayo, who criticized the proposal to "bless", with government approval, a controversial mining project that is creating serious environmental problems and to public health. In Peru there is a "PAMA" ("Programa De Adecuacion Y Manejo Ambiental "), a sort of "certificate" that the government grants to industrial and mining projects, ensuring environmental sustainability and health care. The Parliamentary Huaire Casio proposed that the approval granted to a mining project, and its metallurgical complex is given to the Doe Run Company and active in the district of Junin. The mining project, according to the Environmental Commission established by the diocese, "creates shameful living conditions for local people, to the advantage of the Doe Run Company," said the Archbishop.
As reported to Fides by the "Coordination of National Radio in Peru," even Mar Perez, of the National Commission of Human Rights expressed his views on the issue. Perez said that the current government has a "mistaken view of human rights because it gives a misleading picture of development. It offers a false model development, focused only on revenues from the mines." "In the case of Doe Run – he continued - the state is failing in its obligation to protect fundamental human rights. The need for development cannot be an excuse for neglecting the protection of human rights. Protecting the right to health and environment is a way to ensure real development for the country".
According to observers, the Doe Run mining project generates poverty and suffering in society, because of the high rate of pollution: families will be forced to deal with diseases contracted due to contamination with toxic gases. The exposure of citizens to high levels of pollution - are warning local committees - involves high social costs, lives are destroyed and leads to a serious deterioration of public health. (CE)


Luke 5: 27 - 32
27 After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me."
28 And he left everything, and rose and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them.
30 And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
31 And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;
32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


St. Tarasius
Feast: February 25

Feast Day:February 25
750 at Constantinople
Died:25 February 806
Tarasius was born about the middle of the eighth century. His parents were both of patrician families. His father, George, was a judge, in great esteem for his well-known justice, and his mother, Eucratia, no less celebrated for her piety. She brought him up in the practice of the most eminent virtues. Above all things, she recommended to him to keep no company but that of the most virtuous. The young man, by his talents and virtue, gained the esteem of all, and was raised to the greatest honours of the empire, being made consul, and afterwards secretary of state to Emperor Constantine and the Empress Irene, his mother. In the midst of the court, and in its highest honours, surrounded by all that could flatter pride or gratify sensuality, he led a life like that of a religious man.
Leo, the Isaurian, his son, Constantine Copronymus, and his grandson, Leo, surnamed Chazarus, three successive emperors, had established, with all their power, the heresy of the Iconoclasts, or image-breakers, in the East. The Empress Irene, wife to the last, was always privately a Catholic, though an artful, ambitious woman. Her husband dying miserably, in 780, after a five years' reign, and having left his son Constantine, but ten years old, under her guardianship, she so managed the nobility in her favour as to get the regency and whole government of the state into her hands, and put a stop to the persecution of the Catholics. Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople, the third of that name, had been raised to that dignity by the late emperor. Though, contrary to the dictates of his own conscience, he had conformed in some respects to the then reigning heresy; he had, however, several good qualities, and was not only singularly beloved by the people for his charity to the poor, but highly esteemed by the empress and the whole court for his great prudence. Finding himself indisposed, and being touched with remorse for his condescension to the Iconoclasts in the former reign, without communicating his design to any one, he quitted the patriarchal see and put on a religious habit in the Monastery of Florus, in Constantinople. The empress was no sooner informed of it, but taking with her the young emperor, went to the monastery to dissuade a person so useful to her from persisting in such a resolution, but all in vain, for the patriarch assured them, with tears and bitter lamentations, that, in order to repair the scandal he had given, he had taken an unalterable resolution to end his days in that monastery, so desired them to provide the church of Constantinople with a worthy pastor in his room. Being asked whom he thought equal to the charge, he immediately named Tarasius, and dying soon after this declaration, Tarasius was accordingly chosen patriarch by the unanimous consent of the court, clergy, and people. Tarasius finding it in vain to oppose his election] declared, however, that he thought he could not in conscience accept of the government of a see which had been cut off from the catholic communion but upon condition that a general council should be called to compose the disputes which divided the church at that time in relation to holy images. This being agreed to, he was solemnly declared patriarch, and consecrated soon after, on Christmas-day. He was no sooner installed but he sent his synodal letters to Pope Adrian, to whom the empress also wrote in her own and her son's name on the subject of a general council, begging that he would either come in person, or at least send some venerable and learned men as his legates to Constantinople. Tarasius wrote likewise a letter to the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, wherein he desires them to send their respective legates to the intended council. His letter to the pope was to the same effect. The pope sent his legates, as desired, and wrote by them to the emperor, the empress, and the patriarch; applauded their zeal, showing at large the impiety of the Iconoclast heresy, insisting that the false council of the Iconoclasts, held under Copronymus for the establishment of Iconoclasm, should be first condemned in presence of his legates, and conjuring them before God to re-establish holy images at Constantinople, and in all Greece, on the footing they were before. He recommends to the emperor and empress his two legates to the council, who were Peter, archpriest of the Roman church, and Peter, priest and abbot of St. Sabas, in Rome. The eastern patriarchs being under the Saracen yoke, could not come for fear of giving offence to their jealous masters, who prohibited, under the strictest penalties, all commerce with the empire. However, with much difficulty and through many dangers, they sent their deputies.
The legates of the pope and the oriental patriarchs being arrived, as also the bishops under their jurisdiction, the council was opened on the 1st of August in the Church of the Apostles, at Constantinople, in 786. But the assembly being disturbed by the violences of the Iconoclasts, and desired by the empress to break up and withdraw for the present, the council met again the year following in the Church of St. Sophia, at Nice. The two legates from the pope are named first in the Acts, St. Tarasius next, and after him the legates of the oriental patriarchs-namely, John, priest and monk, for the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, and Thomas, priest and monk, for the Patriarch of Alexandria. The council consisted of three hundred and fifty bishops, besides many abbots and other holy priests and confessors, who having declared the sense of the present church in relation to the matter in debate, which was found to be the allowing to holy pictures and images a relative honour, the council was closed with the usual acclamations and prayers for the prosperity of the emperor and empress; after which synodal letters were sent to all the churches, and in particular to the pope, who approved the council.
The good patriarch, pursuant to the decrees of the synod, restored holy images throughout the extent of his jurisdiction. He also laboured zealously to abolish simony, and wrote a letter upon that subject to Pope Adrian, in which, by saying it was the glory of the Roman church to preserve the purity of the priesthood, he intimated that that church was free from this reproach. The life of this holy patriarch was a model of perfection to his clergy and people. His table had nothing of superfluity. He allowed himself very little time for sleep, being always up the first and last in his family. Reading and prayer filled all his leisure hours. It was his pleasure, in imitation of our blessed Redeemer, to serve others instead of being served by them; on which account he would scarce permit his own servants to do any thing for him. Loving humility in himself, he sought sweetly to induce all others to the love of that virtue. He banished the use of gold and scarlet from among the clergy, and labored to extirpate all the irregularities among the people. His charity and love for the poor seemed to surpass his other virtues. He often took the dishes of meat from his table to distribute among them with his own hands: and he assigned them a large fixed revenue. And that none might be overlooked, he visited all the houses and hospitals in Constantinople. In Lent, especially, his bounty to them was incredible. His discourses were powerful exhortations to the universal mortification of the senses, and he was particularly severe against all theatrical entertainments. Some time after, the emperor became enamored of Theodota, a maid of honor to his wife, the empress Mary, whom he had always hated; and forgetting what he owed to God, he was resolved to divorce her in 795, after seven years' cohabitation. He used all his efforts to gain the patriarch, and sent a principal officer to him for that purpose, accusing his wife of a plot to poison him. St. Tarasius answered the messenger, saying, "I know not how the emperor can bear the infamy of so scandalous an action in the sight of the universe, nor how he will be able to hinder or punish adulteries and debaucheries if he himself set such an example. Tell him that I will rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design." The emperor, hoping to prevail with him by flattery, sent for him to the palace, and said to him, I can conceal nothing from you, whom I regard as my father. No one can deny but I may divorce one who has attempted my life. She deserves death or perpetual penance." He then produced a vessel, as he pretended, full of the poison prepared for him. The patriarch, with good reason, judging the whole to be only an artful contrivance to impose upon him, answered that he was too well convinced that his passion for Theodota was at the bottom of all his complaints against the empress. He added that though she were guilty of the crime he laid to her charge, his second marriage during her life with any other would still be contrary to the law of God, and that he would draw upon himself the censures of the church by attempting it. The monk John, who had been legate of the eastern patriarchs in the seventh council, being present, spoke also very resolutely to the emperor on the subject, so that the pretors and patricians threatened to stab him on the spot: and the emperor, boiling with rage, drove them both from his presence. As soon as they were gone, he turned the Empress Mary out of his palace, and obliged her to put on a religious veil. Tarasius persisting in his refusal to marry him to Theodota, the ceremony was performed by Joseph, treasurer of the church of Constantinople. This scandalous example was the occasion of several governors and other powerful men divorcing their wives or taking more than one at the same time, and gave great encouragement to public lewdness. SS. Plato and Theodorus separated themselves from the emperor's communion, to show their abhorrence of his crime. But Tarasius did not think it prudent to proceed to excommunication, as he had threatened, apprehensive that the violence of his temper, when further provoked, might carry him still greater lengths, and prompt him to re-establish the heresy which he had taken such effectual measures to suppress. Thus the patriarch, by his moderation, prevented the ruin of religion, but drew upon himself the emperor's resentment, who persecuted him many ways during the remainder of his reign. Not content to set spies and guards over him under the name of Syncelli, who watched all his actions and suffered no one to speak to him without their leave, he banished many of his domestics and relations. This confinement gave the saint the more leisure for contemplation, and he never ceased in it to recommend his flock to God. The ambitious Irene, finding that all her contrivances to render her son odious to his subjects had proved ineffectual to her design, which was to engross the whole power to herself, having gained over to her party the principal officers of the court and army, she made him prisoner, and caused his eyes to be plucked out: this was executed with so much violence that the unhappy prince died of it, in 797. After this she reigned alone five years, during which she recalled all the banished, but at length met with the deserved reward of her ambition and cruelty from Nicephorus, a patrician, and the treasurer-general, who, in 802, usurped the empire, and having deposed her, banished her into the Isle of Lesbos, where she soon after died with grief.
St. Tarasius, on the death of the late emperor, having interdicted and deposed the treasurer Joseph, who had married and crowned Theodota, St. Plato and others who had censured his lenity became thoroughly reconciled to him. The saint, under his successor, Nicephorus, a patrician, persevered peaceably in his practices of penance, and in the functions of his pastoral charge. In his last sickness he still continued to offer daily the holy sacrifice so long as he was able to move. A little before his death he fell into a kind of trance, as the author of his life, who was an eyewitness, relates, wherein he was heard to dispute and argue with a number of accusers, very busy in sifting his whole life, and objecting all they could to it. He seemed in a great fright and agitation on this account, and, defending himself, answered everything laid to his charge. This filled all present with fear, seeing the endeavors of the enemy of man to find something to condemn even in the life of so holy and so irreprehensible a bishop. But a great serenity succeeded, and the holy man gave up his soul to God in peace, on the 25th of February, in 806, having sat twenty-one years and two months. God honoured his memory with miracles, some of which are related by the author of his life. His festival began to be celebrated under his successor. The Latin and Greek churches both honour his memory on this day. Fourteen years after his decease, Leo the Armenian, the Iconoclast emperor, dreamt a little before his own death that he saw St. Tarasius highly incensed against him, and heard him command one Michael to stab him. Leo, judging this Michael to be a monk in the saint's monastery, ordered him the next morning to be sought for, and even tortured some of the religious to oblige them to a discovery of the person; but it happened there was none of that name among them, and Leo was killed six days after by Michael Balbus.
The virtue of St. Tarasius was truly great, because constant and crowned with perseverance, though exposed to continual dangers of illusion or seduction amidst the artifices of hypocrites and a wicked court. St. Chrysostom observes1 that the path of virtue is narrow, and lies between precipices, in which it is easier for the traveller to be seized with giddiness even near the end of his course, and fall. Hence this father most grievously laments the misfortune of king Ozias, who, after long practising the most heroic virtures, fell, and perished through pride; and he strenuously exhorts all who walk in the service of God, constantly to live in fear, watchfulness, humility, and compunction. "A soul," says he, "often wants not so much spurring in the beginning of her conversion; her own fervor and cheerfulness make her run vigorously. But this fervor, unless it be continually nourished, cools by degrees: then the devil assails her with all his might. Pirates wait for and principally attack ships when they are upon the return home laden with riches rather than empty vessels going out of the port. Just so the devil, when he sees that a soul has gathered great spiritual riches, by fasts, prayer, alms, chastity, and all other virtues, when he sees our vessel fraught with rich commodities, then he falls upon her, and seeks on all sides to break in. What exceedingly aggravates the evil is the extreme difficulty of ever rising again after such a fall. To err in the beginning may be in part a want of experience, but to fall after a long course is mere negligence, and can deserve no excuse or pardon."