Sunday, May 27, 2012

ASIA : SYRIA : 88 KILLED IN MASACRE - MANY WOMEN AND CHILDREN

ASIA NEWS REPORT:
Activists slam violence by Syrian government forces. Video of dead children are posted online, but independent verification is impossible. Thousands of people protested yesterday after Friday prayers. For UN's Ban Ki-moon, the situation is "extremely serious".


Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 88 people, including many children, have been killed in Syria's restive Homs province as government forces attacked rebel positions. Activists call the outcome of the attack a massacre. If confirmed, it would be one of the worst losses of life since a truce was agreed to in April. In a letter to the Security Council, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the opposition controlled "significant parts of some cities." The situation, he added, was "extremely serious," urging states not to arm either side in the conflict.

In addition to the violence in Houla (Homs), Friday saw at least 20 people killed elsewhere in the country, local sources reported, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets after prayers. In Houla itself, activists said some of those who died were butchered by government militia, others killed in shelling or summary executions. Pictures and videos have been posted online showing the slaughtered children.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) said at least 88 people had died, "most of them women and children". For the Syrian National Council, the UN Security Council must act urgently to stop the carnage. However, neither the reports nor the videos of the violence could be independently verified.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talked about recent attacks in a letter to the Security Council, especially earlier this month, when a bombing in Damascus left 55 dead.

For him, judging from the sophistication of the attacks, "established terrorist groups" could have been behind some of the recent bomb blasts in Syria.

Overall, UN efforts to end the conflict had seen only "small progress", he noted, and the «situation in Syria remains extremely serious".

AUSTRALIA : PENTECOST MASS IN ST. MARY'S SYDNEY

ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY RELEASE:
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
25 May 2012


Bishop Julian Porteous will confirm the
children and adults at this Sunday's
Pentecost Mass at the Cathedral
Between 24 and 30 adults and children will be confirmed by Bishop Julian Porteous, Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation and Renewal at St Mary's Cathedral on Pentecost, 27 May.
Of all ages and from many different parishes, the group will be confirmed, strengthening their bond with the Lord, during the 10.30 am Solemn Sung Mass at the Cathedral in a ceremony to confer them with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Also attending the Mass will be more than 50 members of Australia's Order of Malta including Fra' Matthew Festing, the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta which marks the first time a Grand Master of the Order has visited Australia.
The Grand Master will be accompanied by Jean-Pierre Mazery, Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Marquese Gian Luca Chiari, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Obedience, and Receiver of the Common Treasure who have flown in from Rome. Also there will be Anthony Macken AO, national President of the Australian Association of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhods and of Malta.
Australia's Order of Malta members attend Mass at the Cathedral each year in May and are particularly delighted that this year the Mass coincides with Pentecost, the third great feast of the Christian Year.

Pentecost 2012 marks start
of the Year of Grace
This year Pentecost will also mark the start of the Year of Grace and celebrates the Holy Spirit who through the Word and Sacraments gives Christians the power to believe and to trust in Christ our Saviour and is the reason why Pentecost is a time for rejoicing and thanksgiving.
Occurring on the Seventh Sunday after Easter, Pentecost is the third great festival of the Christian year. The first is Christmas which marks the birth of Christ. The second is Easter and the Resurrection. And the third which arrives 50 days later is Pentecost where Christians worldwide celebrate God's gift of the Holy Spirit and commemorate the birth of the Christian Church.
A time of hope, Pentecost is also a time for the faithful to renew their sense of purpose and mission, and to celebrate their calling as God's people.
Confirmation is strongly linked with Pentecost and at this time Catholics receive the Holy Spirit, just as the Apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit more than 2000 years ago.
Originally commemorated as a Harvest Festival by the Old Testament, Pentecost was calculated as the 50th day after Passover. The transformation to an important Christian festival occurred when 50 days after Christ's Resurrection and 10 days after His Ascension to Heaven, His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for what they believed would be the usual Harvest Festival celebrated by the Jewish calendar. But while they were indoors praying to the Lord, there was a sudden almighty rush of wind which filled the house. They knelt, and seconds later, great tongues of fire descended and rested on each of their heads.

Fra Matthew Festing Prince
and Grand Master of the Order
of Malta will attend Mass
at St Mary's for Pentecost
The flames and rush of wind were recognised as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh which had been promised by Old Testament prophet, Joel (Joel 2:28-29). And it was through this miracle of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles were empowered to proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ and no matter where they preached throughout Europe and the Middle East, and all corners of the Roman Empire, they were understood by everyone, even by those who spoke no Hebrew or Latin.
Filled with the strength and might of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter, founder of the Catholic Church, seized the moment on that first Pentecost Sunday, and rushing outside addressed the masses, telling them of Jesus' death and about His Resurrection. Such was the power of what St Peter said - and the grace imbued on him by the Holy Spirit - that 3000 converts rushed forward to be baptized and become Christians.
While Pentecost for many remains less well known and less openly celebrated than the Christian festivals of Christmas or Easter, this is due not to the fact Pentecost is less important, but because of the secular commercialisation of Christmas and Easter. But Pentecost is nevertheless as important to Christians as Easter and Christmas and is an equally uplifting and joyous occasion, bringing with it an overwhelming sense of renewal along with the mission to evangelise and spread the Word.
Pentecost has given rise to several different customs. In Italy the Festival is celebrated by scattering scarlet rose petals, representing the tongues of fire which enveloped the Apostles. As well as Pentecost, in Italy the Festival is known as Pascha Rossa and refers to the scarlet vestments worn by clerics during the Festival. In France it was customary to blow trumpets during the Divine service at Pentecost to recall the sound of the mighty wind that overwhelmed thed Apostles. While in England, where Pentecost is popularly known as Whitsunday, Whitsun ales are produced as part of the celebrations.

Pentecost
Pentecost Sunday is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (16:8), while the story of the original Pentecost is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (Act 2) with descriptions of how Jews from all over had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Harvest Festival and how the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary had come together in the Upper Room where they had seen Christ after His Resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles then describes the sudden sound from heaven, "as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting; and there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak." (Acts 2:2-4).

AFRICA : EGYPT : RESULTS 1ST ROUND ELECTIONS

Agenzia Fides report - "The results of the first round of presidential elections will probably only be tomorrow or Sunday, for now those that are announced are the result of rumors, more or less consistent" say local sources from Cairo to Fides where, according to what was announced by the Muslim Brotherhood, a second ballot between their candidate Mohammed Mursi, and the former Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak, Ahmed Shafiq, considered close to the military leadership is expected.
"The thing certain is about the turnout at the polls" stress Fides sources. "Out of approximately 50 million entitled to vote, only half voted, about 25 million electors. These 25 million are not representative of a population of 86 million inhabitants. What impressed was to see that in the long lines of voters waiting to vote there were few young people, although Egypt is a young Country. "One thing to reflect on if one thinks that it was the young people who were the protagonists of the uprising last year that led to Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 25/5/2012)

EUROPE : 17 ORDAINED DEACONS IN ORDINARIATE

Westminster: 17 new Deacons ordained for Ordinariate | Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Alan Hopes, Deacons

Our Lady of Walsingham
IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT;
Seventeen men were ordained Deacon on Saturday, 26 May at Westminster Cathedral for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They were ordained by Bishop Alan Hopes, on behalf of Monsignor Keith Newton. In the coming days and weeks, they will be ordained to the Priesthood, usually in their local Diocese.

The large congregation included members of their respective Ordinariate Groups and former parishioners from their time as Anglicans. In the homily, Mgr Andrew Burnham pointed to the candidates' many years of priestly service and the energy, experience and wisdom which they bring to the Catholic Church.

The music included the Mass for five voices by Byrd and motets by Tallis and Victoria. The hymns 'Crown him with many crowns' and 'Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour' were sung with great zeal, as befits the Anglican patrimony, and Dubois' 'Toccata' for organ provided a joyous conclusion to the liturgy.
Mgr Newton thanked Canon Tuckwell, the Administrator, the staff, servers and choir of the cathedral for their help and support and Bishop Hopes for ordaining these new Deacons.

Full details of forthcoming ordinations are to be found in the Calendar: http://46117.bbnc.bbcust.com/page.aspx?pid=299&srctid=1&erid=3873&trid=67539190-6e90-4e39-a33c-01cda9ac5118 on the website which will be updated as more dates are fixed.

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : PENTECOST SUNDAY MAY 27, 2012



Acts 2: 1 - 11
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7 And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
9 Par'thians and Medes and E'lamites and residents of Mesopota'mia, Judea and Cappado'cia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phryg'ia and Pamphyl'ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre'ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."
Psalms 104: 1, 24, 29 - 31, 34
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honor and majesty,
24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures.
29 When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure for ever, may the LORD rejoice in his works,
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
1 Corinthians 12: 3 - 7, 12 - 13
3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;
6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
John 20: 19 - 23
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

TODAY'S SAINT : MAY 27 : ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY

St. Augustine of Canterbury
APOSTLE OF ENGLAND, ARCHBISHOP
Feast: May 27


Information:
Feast Day:May 27
Born: early 6th century, Rome, Italy
Died: 26 May 604, Canterbury, Kent, England
Patron of:England
When Pope Gregory began to plan for the evangelization of England, the land was still largely pagan, although in the southwest there were remnants of earlier missionary efforts. To lead this important mission, Gregory chose Augustine, prior of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome, of which Gregory had been the founder. Nothing is known of Augustine's life until the year 596, when, with a party of Benedictine monks, he set out northwards from Rome. He carried letters of commendation to various Gallic bishops. On reaching Provence, the monks accompanying Augustine grew fearful of the dangers that lay ahead. Alarming stories were told of the ferocity of the pagans and the hazards of the Channel crossing. They persuaded Augustine to return to Rome to ask the Pope's permission to abandon the whole enterprise. Meanwhile the Pope had received word that the common people of England and also some of their chieftains and kings were ready to welcome Christian missionaries. After Pope Gregory had told Augustine this news and had discussed the situation with him further, Augustine rejoined his companions and inspired them with his own courage. Taking with them several Franks to act as interpreters, the party crossed safely over to the Isle of Thanet, in the domain of Ethelbert, King of Kent, whom they formally notified of their arrival and of their purpose in coming.

Ethelbert was still a pagan, but his wife Bertha, daughter of King Charibert of the Franks, had been converted to Christianity. Sitting under a spreading oak, Ethelbert received the missionaries. After listening carefully to their words, he gave them permission to preach to his subjects. He also made over to them a house in Canterbury, with the use of the little stone church of St. Martin, which had stood there since the period of Roman occupation. This had formerly been the oratory of Queen Bertha and her confessor Liud hard. Ethelbert was converted and baptized at Pentecost, 597. After this promising start, Augustine went back to Provence to be consecrated bishop by Vergilius, metropolitan of Arles and papal legate for Gaul. On his return some ten thousand of Ethelbert's subjects were baptized in the Swale River.

Augustine, greatly heartened by the success of his mission, now sent two of his monks to Rome to report to the Pope, and to ask for more helpers. Also he wished to have the Pope's counsel on various problems. When the monks came back to England with a fresh band of missionaries, they brought the pallium for Augustine. Among the new group were Mellitus, Justus, and Paulinus, who was afterwards archbishop of York. With these "ministers of the Word," wrote the Venerable Bede, "the holy Pope sent all things needed in general for divine worship and the service of the Church, viz. sacred vessels, altar cloths, ornaments for churches, and vestments for priests and clerks, and also many books." The latter item was especially important, for the books helped to inspire the great love of learning which characterized the English Church.

Gregory sent to Augustine a plan for developing an ecclesiastical hierarchy and establishing a working organization for the whole country-a plan which was not fully carried out in Augustine's lifetime. There was to be a northern and a southern province, with twelve suffragan bishops in each. In a letter to Mellitus, which is presented earlier, following the life of <St. Gregory>, he gave instruction on other points, showing his administrative ability as well as considerable psychological insight. Pagan temples were, as far as possible, to be Christianized and retained. Consecration rites and feasts of martyrs were to replace the heathen festivals, for, Gregory wisely writes, "he who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps."
In 603 Augustine rebuilt and reconsecrated the Canterbury church and the house given him by King Ethelbert. These structures formed the nucleus for his metropolitan cathedral. They were destroyed by fire in 1067, and the present cathedral, begun by the great Lanfranc in 1070, stands on their site. A converted temple outside the walls of Canterbury was made into another religious house, which Augustine dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. After his death this abbey became known as St. Augustine's.

With the King's support, the Christianization of Kent proceeded rapidly, but Gregory's charge had stated, "All the bishops of Britain we commend to your Fraternity." The survivors of the ancient British or Celtic Church and their bishops had been driven westward and southward into Wales and Cornwall by the Saxon conquerors of the fifth century. Here they had persisted as Christian communities, cut off from the outside world. Although they were sound in fundamental doctrine, some of their usages were at variance with those of Rome. Now, in virtue of his archiepiscopal jurisdiction, Augustine invited the Celtic bishops to meet with him at a spot outside the confines of Wessex, which has since come to be known as Augustine's Oak. In long conferences with the representatives of the Celtic Church Augustine urged them to comply with the customs of the rest of Western Christendom, in particular in the method of determining the date of Easter, and to aid him in converting the pagans. Loyalty to their own local traditions, however, and bitterness against their Saxon conquerors, made them unwilling to agree, even though Augustine performed a miracle of healing in their presence to prove the supernatural source of his authority. They consented to attend a second conference, held in Flintshire, but it too proved a failure. Augustine did not rise to greet his Celtic brothers when they arrived and they felt that he lacked Christian humility. They refused either to listen to him or acknowledge him as their archbishop. It was not until 664, at the Synod of Whitby, that their differences were resolved and ecclesiastical uniformity was established.

Augustine's last years were spent in spreading and consolidating the faith in Ethelbert's realm, which comprised large sections of eastern England south of Northumbria. Sees were established in London and Rochester, with Mellitus appointed bishop over one and Justus over the other. Seven years after his arrival Augustine died, leaving the continuation of his work to others.



SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/staugustineofcanterbury.asp#ixzz1w7Jh5FGe

VATICAN : POPE : 30000 AT HOLY SPIRIT RENEWAL MASS

RADIO VATICANA REPORT:



About thirty thousand people attended Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Square Saturday morning to commemorate forty years since the founding of the Holy Spirit Renewal in Italy. The Archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, was the main celebrant. The celebration was immediately followed by a special audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who addressed the representatives of the Holy Spirit Renewal.

“In your pilgrimage,” the Holy Father said, “where you have the opportunity to spend time in prayer before the tomb of Saint Peter, may you reinvigorate your faith, grow in the Christian witness, and confront without fear, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the challenging tasks of the new evangelization.”

“Dear friends of the Holy Spirit Renewal! Never tire of turning towards heaven: the world is in need of prayer. Be of service to those men and women who feel drawn towards Heaven in their lives, giving praise to the Lord through a new way of life. And may you be joyful Christians!

“I entrust each and every one of you,” he concluded, “to the most Holy Mary, who was present at the Last Supper and the event of Pentecost. Persevere with her in prayer, go forward guided by the light of the Holy Spirit, living and proclaiming the announcement of Christ.”

The Holy Father concluded by imparting his Apostolic Blessing upon those who were present and their families.

AMERICA : NEW FILM FOR GREATER GLORY ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FIGHT - WATCH DOCUMENTARY NOW


FOR GREATER GLORY is a new movie about the Cristeros War (1926-1929). It involves the Mexican government's involvement in removing religion from the country.

The government tried to remove Catholicism. It chronicles the martyrdom of certain priests during the time including: Father José María Robles Hurtado. There were extreme methods undertaken to defend religious freedom. It paralells the current religious freedom intrusions in the USA and Canada now. This film involves graphic violence and is therefore, not suitable for young children.
The Knights of Columbus and many Bishops support the film:
“For many years, this period of history has been all but forgotten on both sides of the border,” said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson. “This year, with the release of For Greater Glory, the story of the struggle for religious freedom in Mexico will begin to be told. With religious freedom now an important issue of discussion here in the United States, every American who values faith and freedom should see this film. As we watch it, we should rejoice that we live in a country where we settle debates over religious liberty with ballots, not bullets, and in courtrooms rather than on battlefields. Seeing how Catholic Mexico remains today, this film also serves as a timely reminder that — from the earliest days of the Church’s history to the present era — persecution does not stifle the faith, but emboldens it.”
The 26 minute documentary of the film can be seen below:

EUROPE : POPE'S VALET ARRESTED IN LEAKED DOCUMENTS SCANDAL


The Vatican issued a statement that the valet of the Pope was involved in the leaked document scandal. This man, Paolo Gabriele, age 46 years (pictured), was in possession of confidential documents. He lived in a Vatican apartment. There have been formalised charges against the valet. He was arrested on Wednesday. He will have twon lawyers for representation when on trial with the Vatican Tribunal.

ASIA : CHINA : ACTIVIST CHEN 'S BROTHER ESCAPES

ASIA NEWS REPORT:
Guangfu, Guangcheng's elder brother, was under close monitoring since the blind dissident's escape. Now he is in Beijing looking for a lawyer to represent his son Kegui who has been charged with "intentional homicide" after he tried to defend himself (without killing anyone) when police stormed his home.


Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chen Guangfu has escaped from Dongshigu village in Shandong. The elder brother of Chen Guangcheng, he and his family have had to endure persecution by the authorities who have put them under tight police surveillance since the blind dissident's flight. The latter is currently in the United States to study law. Guangfu fled to the capital from his village to seek legal counsel for his son, Chen Kegui, who is in custody for "intentional homicide."

After Chen Guangcheng's spectacular escape from house arrest following four and half years in jail, his brother Guangfu did the same. As guards slept, he snuck out at night, crossed fields and got to the capital by car after a six-hour drive through side roads.

In Beijing, he met lawyer Ding Xikui to ask him to represent his son Kegui who is accused of "intentional homicide" because he grabbed kitchen knives to defend his family against local officials and thugs who had entered their home after his uncle's escape.

Ding Xikui is a well-known human rights lawyer. With colleague Si Weijiang, he had offered to defend Kegui, but Linyi authorities rejected the proposal and instead appointed two government lawyers.

Ding, who told the foreign press that Chen Guangfu does not want government lawyers to represent his son, said that they were negotiating with the authorities Kegui's case.

In any event, the homicide charge makes no sense since no one was killed.

AUSTRALIA : RAIDERS CHAPLAIN ADMINISTER OF ARCHDIOCESE

ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY REPORT:
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
25 May 2012


Msgr Woods ready to tackle new poisiton
Monsignor John Woods, long time chaplain for the Canberra Raiders has been appointed Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn.
For many years Vicar-General of the Archdiocese, the sports-loving priest became Administrator after former Archbishop Mark Coleridge was installed as Archbishop of Brisbane earlier this month.
As a young priest, Msgr Woods studied at Ottawa's St Paul's University in Canada and on his return to Australia in 1985 was appointed full-time Director of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn's Marriage Tribunal but took on an additional role as chaplain to the Raiders, ACT's beloved rugby league team.
"Back then only two NRL teams had chaplains. The first was the Penrith Panthers and the Raiders was the second," he says explaining the position is an ecumenical appointment under the auspices of Sports Chaplaincy Australia. "The Raiders' first chaplain was an Anglican priest, but after serving a year he was transferred and he asked me if I'd be interested in taking over."

Raiders in action
Msgr Woods knew Raiders' (then) coach, Don Furner and his family from his time as assistant priest in the Queanbeayan parish back in 1978. "In fact, Don's sons, David who is the current coach of the Raiders and his brother, also Don who is the Club's present CEO, were among my altar servers," he says, adding that he was also keen to take up this new role as it offered him a chance to be a priest to the wider community.
"Being chaplain to the Raiders is not an official position, there's no pay involved and I have nothing to do with team selections. It's more about relationships and being someone who is a constant, someone who's always around and willing to listen and have a yarn," he says. "I'm, the 'go to person', the one players or support staff might turn to for a friendly chat or when something is bothering them and they need a bit of counselling and advice."
Msgr Woods says: "God comes to you disguised as your life" and is convinced openness to matters of faith and the yearning for "something more of life" can emerge from within the easy-going friendly setting established between himself and members of the Raiders.
An enthusiastic follower of the NRL, AFL as well as being a rugby union player in his youth, Msgr Woods laughs as he explains that where rugby was concerned his "build and ambition didn't coincide."

Msgr John Woods longtime chaplain
to the Canberra Raiders
This did not affect his passion for football in all its forms and in the almost three decades he has been Chaplain to the Raiders he has seldom missed a home game or weekly training session. Although these days he says he no longer joins the player workouts of laps and sprints.
Although still a keen jogger who keeps fit with a few runs each week, he insists that he can no longer keep up with players half his age at the training sessions and laughs as he remembers Sam Backo, one of the NRL greats and member of the Raiders, who glanced across at the priest running with the team and told him: "you must be bloody mad," pointing out that "at least we get paid to do this!"
Msgr Woods mightn't be on the field anymore but each week he is on the sidelines at Raiders' training sessions. While some of the support staff and team call him Father, to others he's affectionately called: "Rev" or "Woodsy."

Msgr John Woods seldom misses
Raiders' home game or training session
"I'm at ease with whatever they want to call me. This is their turf and whatever makes them comfortable is fine with me," he insists. "As chaplain to a football club, whether in the change room or on the field, you are in a completely different environment and the way you are viewed and any standing you might have, comes from who you are, what you stand for and the relationships you have built up."
While Msgr Woods might barrack for the team, he makes it very clear that being a chaplain never involves praying for a win. Instead any prayers offered are simply that the team will play to the best of their God-given talents and developed potential.
"If they do they will win more often than not. But I don't ask God to take sides," he insists.

AFRICA : MALI : 25 DIE INTER-COMMUNITY CLASH

Agenzia Fides report-There is a confusing situation in Mali, after the announcement by the Coordinating Committee of Patriotic Organizations of Mali (COPAM, an abbreviation that brings together supporters of the coup leaders) that want to "invest" as President, Captain Amadou Sanogo Haya, the head of the military junta that had seized power with the coup on 22 March (see Fides 24/05/2012).
In reality, the ceremony of "inauguration", scheduled on May 24, was not held. Haya Sanogo has not yet taken an official position on the announcement of COPAM. The head of the former military junta has been seen to recognize the prerogatives of the former Head of State of the May 20 agreement, signed by the military coup, by the interim authorities in Bamako and the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). The agreement provides for a transitional period of one year with Dioncounda Traore as President. He is currently in France for medical treatment after being attacked in the presidential palace by some COPAM supporters on May 21 (see Fides 22/05/2012). No one knows when he will return to Mali.
Meanwhile, a disturbing fact has occurred in a Malian village on the border with Burkina Faso. At least 25 farmers of ethnic Peuls originating from Burkina Faso, were killed in Sari (central Mali) during clashes with Malian farmers of Dogon ethnic group. The massacre, which originates in the atavistic clash between farmers and herders, however, is a warning on the weakness of the authorities of Mali, that, after losing control of the north (in the hands of various armed groups), does not seem to be able to ensure safety even in areas still under their power. Given the instability of the area, several hundred Peuls originating in Burkina Faso have returned home. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 25/5/2012)