Tuesday, August 28, 2012


(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has sent a Message of Condolence to the those affected by the recent accident at the Amuay Refinery in Falcon state, Venezuela. The accident occurred Saturday. It killed 48 people, injured dozens of others and damaged 200 nearby homes. Firefighters have extinguished the blaze at one of three burning oil tanks in what is the country's biggest refinery. Conveyed via telegram addressed to the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Diego Rafael Padrón Sánchez of Cumaná, and signed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the telegram expresses the Holy Father’s prayerful spiritual closeness to the victims and their families. Below, please find the full text of Vatican Radio's translation of the telegram.


POPE BENEDICT XVI, deeply saddened by the news of the serious accident in AMUAY REFINERY, Falcon state, which caused many casualties and much property damage, prays the Lord for the eternal rest of the deceased, while expressing fatherly spiritual closeness to the injured and to all the victims and their families.

The Pope also encourages the whole civil and ecclesial community of Venezuela to a spirit of charity Christian solidarity in giving all necessary assistance to those who have lost their homes or their personal property. With these sentiments, the Holy Father imparts his Apostolic Blessing to those affected and to those who are working to relieve them, as a sign of affection to the beloved people of Venezuela.



Matthew 23: 23 - 26
23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity.
26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.


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Dr_Margaret_OGaraDr. Margaret O’Gara, Professor of Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, died on August 16 at the age of 65. Dr. O’Gara generously assisted the Bishops of Canada over the course of her career, most particularly in the area of ecumenical relations.
She served as theological advisor for the delegates of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to the 2001 Synod of Bishops on "The Bishop: The Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World"; participated as a CCCB delegate in a number of consultations, including the 2004 Reformed - Roman Catholic Consultation on Baptism and Eucharist; had been appointed by the Conference as a member of the Canadian Anglican –Catholic Dialogue, 1976 to 1993; and at the time of her death was a member of the Canadian Catholic – Evangelical Dialogue, to which she had been appointed by the CCCB in 2008. In addition to her work with the CCCB, she was also invited on a number of occasions to assist the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Dr. O’Gara worked tirelessly to foster Christian unity through her teaching, research, writing and public lectures. She also served as President of the North American Academy of Ecumenists as well of of the Catholic Theological Society of America.
Visitation will be at Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home, 467 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, Wednesday, August 22, 2:00 to 9:00 pm, with a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. The funeral Mass will be at St. Basil’s Church, Thursday, August 23, at 10:30 a.m.


by Paul Dakiki
Archbishop Mario Zenari comments on the Daraya massacre in to AsiaNews, with rebels and government trading accusations of responsibility. The Melkite bishop of Aleppo flees to Lebanon. Many Christians in Syria saved because of their religion. The conflict in Syria is not an "Arab Spring", but far more complex, with "tragic and unimaginable" consequences.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - Each Syrian dawn brings with it a fresh list of deaths (real or imagined) and proclamations of victories (real or imagined). Yesterday the rebels celebrated their downing of a military helicopter in the district of Jobar in Damascus.

The government, for its part, claims to have brought Daraya under control. The rebels accuse the regular troops of having massacred at least 320 people, including women and children. Video footage - unverified - shows bloodied and burned bodies. The government accuses the terrorists of having carries out the massacre. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an independent inquiry into the slaughter. And as the Free Syrian Army seeks more support from the West, Assad continues to proclaim war against a "foreign conspiracy" which aims to change the balance of power in the region. Meanwhile, mounting evidence confirms the presence of al Qaeda fighters in Syria, who have carried out "66 operations", half of them in Damascus alone, in the period since June.

In this distressing situation, comes the news that the offices of the Greek-catholic bishop in Aleppo, Msgr. Jean-Clement Jeanbart, were looted. The bishop has fled to Lebanon. On all this, AsiaNews asked the opinion of Msgr. Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus.

Your Excellency, what can you tell us of the reports of killings and massacres?
In Syria things are bad, very bad. I used to think of this situation as a tunnel, at the end of which we would eventually see some light. But now I say that Syria is descending into hell and when you go that way, all hope of light can be lost. Of course, history is always in the hands of God and anything can happen and this descent can be slowed down.

My invitation to the Christian communities in Syria and abroad is this: the weapons are causing destruction and casualties. We must use the weapon of prayer. Just yesterday I spoke to a pastor who lives in Aleppo, alongside his faithful. And he said: I suggested to my faithful not to lose time in the evening watching television, but to meet and say the rosary for Syria.

The UN Security Council is divided. Yesterday France criticized Russia and China for their defense of Assad ... The international community seems to be just standing by and watching, while fundamentalists gain ground and the Arab countries of the South make their moves...
The history of this conflict is full of gaffes and contradictions, made both by Syria and the international community. Even the ambassadors here in Damascus are beginning to realize that the analysis made before have all gone up in smoke: it is difficult to define the conflict, and all hypotheses are null and void.

In the beginning, the international community viewed the riots in Syria as another chapter in the Arab Spring, as something akin to what happened in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya. Instead Syria is something unique and they are playing with fire, in a complex conflict, with many delicate components. And there is the fear that the consequences will become even more tragic and unimaginable.

Excellence, are Christians seen as a target in this conflict? Many people wonder about the fate of Christians, but it is difficult to distinguish their fate from the collective fate of all Syrians.
We must not exploit easy sympathies and feelings, or talk about religious conflicts. The Christian community here suffers the same as everyone else. Indeed, I must say that in some cases, here and there, you'll find that some violence - too easily branded as "confessional" - has its roots in family hatreds, past injustices, etc. ....

What about the thousands and thousands of cases in which precisely those who are Christian are saved? I tell people the facts and Christians stopped at checkpoints, by rebels or soldiers, are allowed to pass because they show their identity card on which their religion is registered. And maybe, in this same place these rebels or soldiers have killed other groups. The impression is that the media in the West are exploiting clichés. Caution should be exercised. What is important is that Christians work in Syria, along with other denominations, through our identity, by being committed to non-violence, human rights. The future will be what God wants, but it depends on us to build it.



Agenzia Fides report  - The second day of clashes in Mombasa, Kenya, between police and protesters demanding the killing of an Islamic preacher, Aboud Rogo Mohammed, accused of recruiting young people to be sent to fight in the ranks of the Shabaab in Somalia.
"Yesterday, August 27, four churches of Christian denominations not Catholic were burned or looted, but if the fighting were to continue, Catholic places of worship may also be affected," says to Fides His Exc. Mgr. Boniface Lele, Archbishop of Mombasa. According to sources of the local press, the four structures assaulted are the Jesus Celebration Centre, the Neno Evangelism Centre, the Ziwani SDA and the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church.
Aboud Rogo Mohammed was killed on August 27 by unknown persons who shot him while he was in the car with his family. The demonstrators accused the police of killing him in a real extrajudicial execution. "I do not think these incidents, however regrettable, will put the crisis the relations between Muslims and Christians in Kenya," said Mgr. Lele. "The people involved in the riots are in fact a minority." (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/08/2012


RADIO V. REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI received Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Monti, for about 45 minutes on Monday afternoon at the Apostolic Summer retreat of Castel Gandolfo. A communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See says the Pope and the Prime Minister held a cordial round of talks during which they touched in particular on the European situation, on the main challenges facing the European Union. They specially focused on the contribution that citizens, and especially the young generations can make to the human and spiritual growth of Europe. The two men have met several times since Monti was last November asked by President Giorgio Napolitano to form a new technocratic government in the wake of the Italian debt crisis.

Following his meeting with the Pope, Prime Minister Monti will on Wednesday hold discussions on the Eurozone crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The Italian Prime Minister will then meet with French President Francois Hollande in Rome on September 4th.


Leaders Urge Govt to Increase Dole by $50 pw
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
27 Aug 2012

Many unemployed don't have the resources to fund their search for work
Australian households where unemployed benefits are the only income are being forced into poverty with single mothers and those living alone suffering the greatest financial hardship, a report commissioned by Catholic Social Services (CSS) and other major church providers, has found.
Entitled "Going Without: Financial Hardship in Australia" the report prepared by Ben Philips, Principal Research Fellow and Dr Binod Nepal, Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) was released at Parliament House and urges the Government to increase unemployment benefits by a minimum of $50 per week.
The Newstart Allowance has not been increased by the Government since 1994 and today represents just 40% of Australia's minimum wage.
The 2009 Henry Review recommended job seeker allowances be raised. There have also been frequent recommendations and submissions from church welfare agencies such as CSS, the Salvation Army, the Uniting Church and Anglicare, for unemployment benefits for Newstart and job seeker Youth Allowances to be urgently increased. All of the agencies came together to commission today's NATSEM Report. However the Government has refused to increase these benefits, arguing that low payments are a powerful incentive for people to get a job and get back into the workforce.
But for many of those struggling to survive it is not that simple or that easy.

Jobs increasingly part-time or casual
The Report found that households relying on unemployment benefits as their main or only source of income were five times more likely to be living in poverty. The researchers also found that once basic expenditure items such as shelter, food, electricity and health costs were taken into account, they are left with just $22 a day to cover travel, job hunting and other expenses such as suitable clothes for an interview.
"While it is important such payments provide an incentive to return to work, it is also important recipients have enough resources to fund their job search activities and to make a decent living," the Report said.
For many the struggle to keep their heads above water means cutting costs anyway they can, even if this means forgoing heating, letting their insurance payments lapse and when times are really tough, going without food.
As of June 2012, Australia had 663,000 people either on Newstart Allowances or job seeker Youth Allowances.

Collecting the dole is demoralising and many lose confidence and their self esteemand difficult
According to the Report, a single person without children on a Newstart Allowance receives a benefit of $244.95 per week which equates to $12,766 pa while an away from home Youth Allowance job seeker receives even less at $201.35 a week or $10,500 pa.
Both payments are considerably less than the single aged pension of $377.75 per week or the average weekly earnings for an Australian male which currently averages $1298 per week.
"There is an urgent need to increase the basic allowance by at least $50 per week and for realistic indexation," Paul O'Callaghan, Executive Director of CSS said today. "Far from providing an incentive to find work, the current inadequate level of payment prevents many people from seeking work and is adding to long term and intergenerational disadvantage."
While the Australian economy has prospered in recent years, the unemployed had fallen behind, he said.
At the launch of the NATSEM Report into Financial Hardship, Major Brad Halse of the Salvation Army pointed out that in an environment of close to full employment most of those who did not have jobs were living with long term and complex barriers to unemployment.
"There is a need for intensive support at a very basic level for long periods of time," he said.

CEO of Catholic Social Services Paul O'Callaghan
Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of United Care agreed, adding that today's unemployed were facing an environment that was inaccessible and even hostile.
"Work is increasingly part-time and causal, and employers are looking for skills and experience these people don't have."
However the four church groups at today's launch at Parliament House agreed that with the right support, along with commitment from Federal and State governments, business and communities, and individuals, employment was still an achievable goal.


The victims were at a party. "Immoral" dance and music are one possible motive for the execution-style murders; aiding and abetting NATO soldiers is another. Ten Afghan soldiers are also killed in the Taliban stronghold, where 75 per cent of the world's opium is produced, when their checkpoint is attacked.

Lashkargah (AsiaNews/Agencies) - An Afghan government official announced that the Taliban beheaded 17 civilians in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. Two of the victims were women. Government spokesman Daud Ahmadi said the victims were killed last night in Roshanabad, Musa Kala District. The men had gathered to listen to music and watch the women dance when they were attacked. Some of the dead showed signs of beatings or had gunshot wounds.

It is unclear why they were executed. In the past, the Taliban have killed people for playing or listening to music or dancing, activities considered immoral according to their extremist version of Islam. Recently, people thought to be spies or allied with foreign troops were also decapitated in the same province.

This morning, ten Afghan army soldiers were killed in a massive Taliban attack on their checkpoint in the southern part of Helmand. As many as 200 insurgents were involved in the assault, 11 of whom were killed. Also this morning in Laghman province, two US soldies were killed by an Afghan army soldier who was subsequently killed by NATO troops.

Helmand, where three quarters of the world's opium is produced, is considered a Taliban stronghold.

Currently, approximately 130,000 NATO troops are fighting insurgents in Afghanistan alongside 350,000 Afghans. Combat forces are due to withdraw by the end of 2014, with only training troops remaining. SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT



Agenzia Fides report- West Africa is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in recent years. In Sierra Leone, home to six million people assisted by one of the worst health care systems in the world, with only one doctor for 34,744 inhabitants, a state of national emergency has been declared. From January to August this year, more than 13,000 cases has been recorded in the country, with at least 300 deaths, twice the number compared to the last epidemic records dating back to 2007. According to the local Ministry of Health, 8 of the 13 districts have been infected, including the capital Freetown. The situation in the northern district of Port Loko and the southern Moyama is serious. The infection is mainly due to lack of clean water and adequate sanitation, also the torrential rains have worsened the situation further. The country lives with diseases and infections every day. In the area of Mabela children splash around in the river with pigs, rummaging through garbage looking for something to sell, unaware of the dangers they face, while the pigs look for something to eat. In addition to Sierra Leone also Guinea, Mali, Niger and Congo are dealing with small outbreaks of cholera which are likely to get worse, in an area where two thirds of the population does not have a sewer system. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 27/08/2012)


St. Augustine
Feast Day:

August 28
November 13, 354, Tagaste, Numidia (now Souk Ahras, Algeria)
August 28, 430, Hippo Regius, Numidia (now modern-day Annaba, Algeria)

Major Shrine:
San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, Pavia, Italy
Patron of:
brewers; printers; theologians
Augustine was born at Tagaste on 13 November, 354. Tagaste, now Souk-Ahras, about 60 miles from Bona (ancient Hippo-Regius), was at that time a small free city of proconsular Numidia which had recently been converted from Donatism. His father, Patricius, one of the curiales of the city, was still a pagan. However, the admirable virtues that made Monica the ideal of Christian mothers at length brought her husband the grace of baptism and of a holy death, about the year 371. Augustine received a Christian education. His mother had him signed with the cross and enrolled among the catechumens. Once, when very ill, he asked for baptism, but, all danger being soon passed, he deferred receiving the sacrament, thus yielding to a deplorable custom of the times. "From my tenderest infancy, I had in a manner sucked with my mother's milk that name of my Saviour, Thy Son; I kept it in the recesses of my heart; and all that presented itself to me without that Divine Name, though it might be elegant, well written, and even replete with truth, did not altogether carry me away" (Confessions, I, iv).

Before long he was obliged to confess to Monica that he had formed a sinful liaison with the person who bore him a son (372), "the son of his sin" -- an entanglement from which he only delivered himself at Milan after fifteen years.In 373, Augustine and his friend Honoratus fell into the sect of the Manichæans.

But the religious crisis of this great soul was only to be resolved in Italy, under the influence of Ambrose. In 383 Augustine, at the age of twenty-nine, yielded to the irresistible attraction which Italy had for him At first he turned towards the philosophy of the Academics, with its pessimistic scepticism; then neo-Platonic philosophy inspired him with genuine enthusiasm. At Milan he had scarcely read certain works of Plato and, more especially, of Plotinus, before the hope of finding the truth dawned upon him. Monica, who had joined her son at Milan, prevailed upon him to become betrothed, but his affianced bride was too young, and although Augustine dismissed the mother of Adeodatus, her place was soon filled by another. Thus did he pass through one last period of struggle and anguish. Finally, through the reading of the Holy Scriptures light penetrated his mind. Soon he possessed the certainty that Jesus Christ is the only way to truth and salvation. After that resistance came only from the heart. An interview with Simplicianus, the future successor of St. Ambrose, who told Augustine the story of the conversion of the celebrated neo-Platonic rhetorician, Victorinus (Confessions, VIII, i, ii), prepared the way for the grand stroke of grace which, at the age of thirty-three, smote him to the ground in the garden at Milan (September, 386). A few days later Augustine, being ill, took advantage of the autumn holidays and, resigning his professorship, went with Monica, Adeodatus, and his friends to Cassisiacum, the country estate of Verecundus, there to devote himself to the pursuit of true philosophy which, for him, was now inseparable from Christianity.

It was this Divine grace that Augustine sought in Christian baptism. Towards the beginning of Lent, 387, he went to Milan and, with Adeodatus and Alypius, took his place among the competentes, being baptized by Ambrose on Easter Day, or at least during Eastertide. The Augustine remained several months in Rome, chiefly engaged in refuting Manichæism. He sailed for Africa after the death of the tyrant Maximus (August 388) and after a short sojourn in Carthage, returned to his native Tagaste. Immediately upon arriving there, he wished to carry out his idea of a perfect life, and began by selling all his goods and giving the proceeds to the poor. Then he and his friends withdrew to his estate, which had already been alienated, there to lead a common life in poverty, prayer, and the study of sacred letters.

One day, having been summoned to Hippo by a friend whose soul's salvation was at stake, he was praying in a church when the people suddenly gathered about him, cheered him, and begged Valerius, the bishop, to raise him to the priesthood. In spite of his tears Augustine was obliged to yield to their entreaties, and was ordained in 391. The new priest looked upon his ordination as an additional reason for resuming religious life at Tagaste, and so fully did Valerius approve that he put some church property at Augustine's disposal, thus enabling him to establish a monastery the second that he had founded. Enfeebled by old age, Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, obtained the authorization of Aurelius, Primate of Africa, to associate Augustine with himself as coadjutor. Augustine had to resign himself to consecration at the hands of Megalius, Primate of Numidia. He was then forty two, and was to occupy the See of Hippo for thirty-four years.
of evil have a more zealous defender than this bishop." Nothing is more opposed to the facts. Augustine acknowledges that he had not yet understood how the first good inclination of the will is a gift of God (Retractions, I, xxiii, n, 3); but it should be remembered that he never retracted his leading theories on liberty, never modified his opinion upon what constitutes its essential condition, that is to say, the full power of choosing or of deciding. He was stricken with what he realized to be a fatal illness, and, after three months of admirable patience and fervent prayer, departed from this land of exile on 28 August, 430, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.
(Edited from: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/staugustine.asp


St. Moses the Black

Feast Day:
August 28
330; Ethiopian ancestry
Died: 405, Scetes, Egypt
Major Shrine:
Paromeos Monastery, Scetes, Egypt
Patron of:
Moses the Black, sometimes called the Ethiopian, was a slave of a government official in Egypt who dismissed him for theft and suspected murder. He became the leader of a gang of bandits who roamed the Nile Valley spreading terror and violence. He was a large, imposing figure. On one occasion, a barking dog prevented Moses from carrying out a robbery, so he swore vengeance on the owner. Weapons in his mouth, Moses swam the river toward the owner's hut. The owner, again alerted, hid, and the frustrated Moses took some of his sheep to slaughter. Attempting to hide from local authorities, he took shelter with some monks in a colony in the desert of Scete, near Alexandria. The dedication of their lives, as well as their peace and contentment, influenced Moses deeply. He soon gave up his old way of life and joined the monastic community at Scete.

Attacked by a group of robbers in his desert cell, Moses fought back, overpowered the intruders, and dragged them to the chapel where the other monks were at prayer. He told the brothers that he didn't think it Christian to hurt the robbers and asked what he should do with them. The overwhelmed robbers repented, were converted, and themselves joined the community.

Moses was zealous in all he did, but became discouraged when he concluded he was not perfect enough. Early one morning, St. Isidore, abbot of the community, took Brother Moses to the roof and together they watched the first rays of dawn come over the horizon. Isidore told Moses, "Only slowly do the rays of the sun drive away the night and usher in a new day, and thus, only slowly does one become a perfect contemplative."

Moses proved to be effective as a prophetic spiritual leader. The abbot ordered the brothers to fast during a particular week. Some brothers came to Moses, and he prepared a meal for them. Neighboring monks reported to the abbot that Moses was breaking the fast. When they came to confront Moses, they changed their minds, saying "You did not keep a human commandment, but it was so that you might keep the divine commandment of hospitality." Some see in this account one of the earliest allusions to the Paschal fast, which developed at this time.

When a brother committed a fault and Moses was invited to a meeting to discuss an appropriate penance, Moses refused to attend. When he was again called to the meeting, Moses took a leaking jug filled with water and carried it on his shoulder. Another version of the story has him carrying a basket filled with sand. When he arrived at the meeting place, the others asked why he was carrying the jug. He replied, "My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another." On hearing this, the assembled brothers forgave the erring monk.

Moses became the spiritual leader of a colony of hermits in the desert. At some time, he had been ordained priest. At about age 75, about the year 407, word came that a group of renegades planned to attack the colony. The brothers wanted to defend themselves, but Moses forbade it. He told them to retreat, rather than take up weapons. He and seven others remained behind and greeted the invaders with open arms, but all eight were martyred by the bandits. A modern interpretation honors St. Moses the Black as an apostle of non-violence.
The lives of St. Moses the Black and St. Norbert, contain some interesting parallels. Both lived rather dissolute lives in their younger years. Both had conversion experiences in which they heard and heeded the call of God. Both were leaders in their respective religious communities. Both are known as men of peace, having spent much of their ministry calling people to reconciliation and forgiveness by word and example.
(Edited from: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/M/stmosestheblack.asp


Matthew 23: 13 - 22
13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.
15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
16 "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, `If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.'
17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?
18 And you say, `If any one swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.'
19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
20 So he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it;
21 and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it;
22 and he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.