Sunday, September 16, 2012


St. Robert Bellarmine
Feast: September 17
Feast Day:
September 17
October 4, 1542, Montepulciano, Italy
September 17, 1621, Rome, Italy
June 29, 1930, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Major Shrine:
Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio, Rome, Italy
Patron of:
Preparatory; canonists; canon lawyers; catechists; catechumens

A distinguished Jesuit theologian, writer, and cardinal, born at Montepulciano, 4 October, 1542; died 17 September, 1621. His father was Vincenzo Bellarmino, his mother Cinthia Cervini, sister of Cardinal Marcello Cervini, afterwards Pope Marcellus II. He was brought up at the newly founded Jesuit college in his native town, and entered the Society of Jesus on 20 September, 1560, being admitted to his first vows on the following day. The next three years he spent in studying philosophy at the Roman College, after which he taught the humanities first at Florence, then at Mondovì. In 1567 he began his theology at Padua, but in 1569 was sent to finish it at Louvain, where he could obtain a fuller acquaintance with the prevailing heresies. Having been ordained there, he quickly obtained a reputation both as a professor and a preacher, in the latter capacity drawing to his pulpit both Catholics and Protestants, even from distant parts. In 1576 he was recalled to Italy, and entrusted with the chair of Controversies recently founded at the Roman College. He proved himself equal to the arduous task, and the lectures thus delivered grew into the work "De Controversiis" which, amidst so much else of excellence, forms the chief title to his greatness. This monumental work was the earliest attempt to systematize the various controversies of thetime, and made an immense impression throughout Europe, the blow it dealt to Protestantism being so acutely felt in Germany and England that special chairs were founded in order to provide replies to it. Nor has it even yet been superseded as the classical book on its subject-matter, though, as was to be expected, the progress ofcriticism has impaired the value of some of its historical arguments.
In 1588 Bellarmine was made Spiritual Father to the Roman College, but in 1590 he went with Cardinal Gaetano as theologian to the embassy Sixtus V was then sending into France to protect the interests of the Church amidst the troubles of the civil wars. Whilst he was there news reached him that Sixtus, who had warmly accepted the dedication of his "De Controversiis", was now proposing to put its first volume on the Index. This was because he had discovered that it assigned to the Holy See not a direct but only an indirect power over temporals. Bellarmine, whose loyalty to the Holy See was intense, took this greatly to heart; it was, however, averted by the death of Sixtus, and the new pope, Gregory XIV, even granted to Bellarmine's work the distinction of a special approbation. Gaetano's mission now terminating, Bellarmine resumed his work as Spiritual Father, and had the consolation of guiding the last years of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who died in the Roman College in 1591. Many years later he had the further consolation of successfully promoting the beatification of the saintly youth. Likewise at this time he sat on the final commission for the revision of the Vulgate text. This revision had been desired by the Council of Trent, and subsequent popes had laboured over the task and had almost brought it to completion. But Sixtus V, though unskilled in this branch of criticism, had introduced alterations of his own, all for the worse. He had even gone so far as to have an impression of this vitiated edition printed and partially distributed, together with the proposed Bull enforcing its use. He died, however, before the actual promulgation, and his immediate successors at once proceeded to remove the blunders and call in the defective impression. The difficulty was how to substitute a more correct edition without affixing a stigma to the name of Sixtus, and Bellarmine proposed that the new edition should continue in the name of Sixtus, with a prefatory explanation that, on account of aliqua vitia vel typographorum vel aliorum which had crept in, Sixtus had himself resolved that a new impression should be undertaken. The suggestion was accepted, and Bellarmine himself wrote the preface, still prefixed to the Clementine edition ever since in use. On the other hand, he has been accused of untruthfulness in stating that Sixtus had resolved on a new impression. But his testimony, as there is no evidence to the contrary, should be accepted as decisive, seeing howconscientious a man he was in the estimation of his contemporaries; and the more so since it cannot be impugned without casting a slur on thecharacter of his fellow-commissioners who accepted his suggestion, and of Clement VIII who with full knowledge of the facts gave his sanction to Bellarmine's preface being prefixed to the new edition. Besides, Angelo Rocca, the Secretary of the revisory commissions of Sixtus V and the succeeding pontiffs, himself wrote a draft preface for the new edition in which he makes the same statement: (Sixtus) "dum errores ex typographiâ ortos, et mutationes omnes, atque varias hominum opiniones recognoscere cœpit, ut postea de toto negotio deliberare atque Vulgatam editionem, prout debebat, publicare posset, morte præventus quod cœperat perficere non potuit". This draft preface, to which Bellarmine's was preferred, is still extant, attached to the copy of the Sixtine edition in which the Clementine corrections are marked, and may be seen in the Biblioteca Angelica at Rome.
In 1592 Bellarmine was made Rector of the Roman College, and in 1595 Provincial of Naples. In 1597 Clement VIII recalled him to Rome and made him his own theologian and likewise Examiner of Bishops and Consultor of the Holy Office. Further, in 1599 he made him Cardinal-Priest of the title of Santa Maria in viâ, alleging as his reason for this promotion that "the Church of God had not his equal in learning". He was now appointed, along with the Dominican Cardinal d'Ascoli, an assessor to Cardinal Madruzzi, the President of the Congregation de Auxiliis, which had been instituted shortly before to settle the controversy which had recently arisen between the Thomists and the Molinists concerning the nature of the concord between efficacious grace and human liberty. Bellarmine's advice was from the first that the doctrinal question should not be decided authoritatively, but left over for further discussion in the schools, the disputants on either side being strictly forbidden to indulge in censures or condemnations of their adversaries. Clement VIII at first inclined to this view, but afterwards changed completely and determined on a doctrinal definition. Bellarmine's presence then became embarrassing, and he appointed him to the Archbishopric of Capua just then vacant. This is sometimes spoken of as the cardinal's disgrace, but Clement consecrated him with his own hands--an honour which the popes usually accord as a mark of special regard. The new archbishop departed at once for his see, and during the next three years set a bright example of pastoral zeal in its administration.
In 1605 Clement VIII died, and was succeeded by Leo XI who reigned only twenty-six days, and then by Paul V. In both conclaves, especially that latter, the name of Bellarmine was much before the electors, greatly to his own distress, but his quality as a Jesuit stood against him in the judgment of many of the cardinals. The new pope insisted on keeping him at Rome, and the cardinal, obediently complying, demanded that at least he should be released from an episcopal charge the duties of which he could no longer fulfil. He was now made a member of the Holy Office and of other congregations, and thenceforth was the chief advisor of the Holy See in the theological department of its administration. Of the particular transactions with which his name is most generally associated the following were the most important: The inquiry de Auxiliis, which after all Clement had not seen his way to decide, was now terminated with a settlement on the lines of Bellarmine's original suggestion. 1606 marked the beginning of the quarrel between the Holy See and the Republic of Venice which, without even consulting the pope, had presumed to abrogate the law of clerical exemption from civil jurisdiction and to withdraw the Church's right to hold real property. The quarrel led to a war of pamphlets in which the part of the Republic was sustained by John Marsiglio and an apostate monk named Paolo Sarpi, and that of the Holy See by Bellarmine and Baronius. Contemporaneous with the Venetian episode was that of the English Oath of Alliance. In 1606, in addition to the grave disabilities which already weighed them down, the English Catholics were required under pain of prœmunire to take an oath of allegiance craftily worded in such wise that a Catholic in refusing to take it might appear to be disavowing an undoubted civl obligation, whilst if he should take it he would be not merely rejecting but even condemning as "impious and heretical" the doctrine of the deposing power, that is to say, of a power, which, whether rightly or wrongly, the Holy See had claimed and exercised for centuries with the full approval of Christendom, and which even in that age the mass of the theologians of Europe defended. The Holy See having forbidden Catholics to take this oath, King James himself came forward as its defender, in a book entitled "Tripoli nodo triplex cuneus", to which Bellarmine replied in his "Responsio Matthfi Torti". Other treatises followed on either side, and the result of one, written in denial of the deposing power by William Barclay, an English jurist resident in France, was that Bellarmine's reply to it was branded by the Regalist Parlement of Paris. Thus it came to pass that, for following the via media of the indirect power, he was condemned in 1590 as too much of a Regalist and in 1605 as too much of a Papalist.
Bellarmine did not live to deal with the later and more serious stage of the Galileo case, but in 1615 he took part in its earlier stage. He had always shown great interest in the discoveries of that investigator, and was on terms of friendly correspondence with him. He took up too--as is witnessed by his letter to Galileo's friend Foscarini--exactly the right attitude towards scientific theories in seeming contradiction with Scripture. If, as was undoubtedly the case then with Galileo's heliocentric theory, a scientific theory is insufficiently proved, it should be advanced only as an hypothesis; but if, as is the case with this theory now, it is solidly demonstrated, care must be taken to interpretScripture only in accordance with it. When the Holy Office condemned the heliocentric theory, by an excess in the opposite direction, it becameBellarmine's official duty to signify the condemnation to Galileo, and receive his submission. Bellarmine lived to see one more conclave, that which elected Gregory XV (February, 1621). His health was now failing, and in the summer of the same year he was permitted to retire to Sant' Andrea and prepare for the end. His death was most edifying and was a fitting termination to a life which had been no less remarkable for its virtues than for its achievements.
His spirit of prayer, his singular delicacy of conscience and freedom from sin, his spirit of humility and poverty, together with the disinterestedness which he displayed as much under the cardinal's robes as under the Jesuit's gown, his lavish charity to the poor, and his devotedness to work, had combined to impress those who knew him intimately with the feeling that he was of the number of the saints. Accordingly, when he died there was a general expectation that his cause would be promptly introduced. And so it was, under Urban VIII in 1627, when he became entitled to the appellation of Venerable. But a technical obstacle, arising out of Urban VIII's own general legislation in regard to beatifications, required its prorogation at that time. Though it was reintroduced on several occasions (1675, 1714, 1752, and 1832), and though on each occasion the great preponderance of votes was in favour of the beatification, a successful issue came only after many years. This was partly because of the influential character of some of those who recorded adverse votes, Barbarigo, Casante, and Azzolino in 1675, and Passionei in 1752, but still more for reasons of political expediency, Bellarmine's name being closely associated with a doctrine of papal authority most obnoxious to the Regalist politicians of the French Court. "We have said", wrote Benedict XIV to Cardinal de Tencin, "in confidence to the General of the Jesuits that the delay of the Cause has come not from the petty matters laid to his charge by Cardinal Passionei, but from the sad circumstances of the times" (Études Religieuses, 15 April, 1896).
[Note: St. Robert Bellarmine was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930, and declared a Doctor of the Universal Church in 1931. He is the patron saint of catechists.]


Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - At midday yesterday, before having lunch with patriarchs and bishops of Lebanon, and the members of the Special Council for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, in the headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate at Bzommar, the Pope expressed his thanks for the invitation to His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, and to the superior of the Institute of the Patriarchal Clergy.
"Divine Providence has allowed our meeting to take place here in this convent of Bzommar, which is so emblematic for the Armenian Catholic Church. Its founder, the monk Hagop, more commonly known as Meghabarde - the sinner - is an example for us of prayer, of detachment from material things and of faithfulness to Christ the Redeemer. Five hundred years ago, he promoted the printing of the Friday Book, thus establishing a bridge between Christians of East and West. From his example, we can learn the meaning of mission, the courage of truth and the value of fraternity in unity. As we prepare to replenish our strength with this meal which has been lovingly prepared and generously offered, the monk Hagop also reminds us that the spiritual thirst and the quest for higher things must remain always alive in our hearts, for “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'".
"Dear friends", the Pope added, "through the intercession of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, and of St. Gregory the Illuminator, let us ask the Lord to bless the Armenian community, so sorely tried down through the ages, and to send to its harvest numerous saintly workers who, because of Christ, are enabled to change the face of our societies, to heal hearts that are broken and to offer courage, strength and hope to those who despair. Thank you!"

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father paid a visit to the Maronite Patriarchate at Bkerke. Since 1832, Bkerke has been the winter residence of the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, while his summer residence is located at Dimane in northern Lebanon, The current Patriarch is His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M.
At Bkerke, which stands on the hillside of Harissa and is dominated by the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, the Holy Father met with young people of the Middle East.
"You are living today in this part of the world which witnessed the birth of Jesus and the growth of Christianity", the Holy Father told his youthful audience. "It is a great honour! It is also a summons to fidelity, to love of this region and, above all, to your calling to be witnesses and messengers of the joy of Christ. ... Many of the Apostles and saints lived in troubled times and their faith was the source of their courage and their witness. Find in their example and intercession the inspiration and support that you need!
"I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins. In a constantly changing world you are faced with many serious challenges. But not even unemployment and uncertainty should lead you to taste the bitter sweetness of emigration, which involves an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future. You are meant to be protagonists of your country’s future and to take your place in society and in the Church.
"You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you, ... (she) needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. ... Seek beauty and strive for goodness! ... Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ! ... Christ says to you: My peace I give to you! This is the true revolution brought by Christ: that of love.
"The frustrations of the present moment must not lead you to take refuge in parallel worlds like those, for example, of the various narcotics or the bleak world of pornography. As for social networks, they are interesting but they can quite easily lead to addiction and confusion between the real and the virtual. Look for relationships of genuine, uplifting friendship. Find ways to give meaning and depth to your lives; fight superficiality and mindless consumption! ... Seek out good teachers, spiritual masters, who will be able to guide you along the path to maturity, leaving behind all that is illusory, garish and deceptive".
"Meditate on God’s word! Discover how relevant and real the Gospel can be. Pray! Prayer and the Sacraments are the sure and effective means to be a Christian and to live rooted and built up in Christ. ... In Him, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. The universal brotherhood which He inaugurated on the cross lights up in a resplendent and challenging way the revolution of love. “Love one another as I have loved you”. This is the legacy of Jesus and the sign of the Christian".
"Christ asks you, then, to do as He did: to be completely open to others, even if they belong to a different cultural, religious or national group. Making space for them, respecting them, being good to them, making them ever more rich in humanity and firm in the peace of the Lord. ... Experiencing together moments of friendship and joy enables us to resist the onset of division, which must always be rejected! ... Be heralds of the Gospel of life and life’s authentic values. Courageously resist everything opposed to life: abortion, violence, rejection of and contempt for others, injustice and war. In this way you will spread peace all around you. Are not “peacemakers” those whom in the end we admire the most? Is it not a world of peace that, deep down, we want for ourselves and for others? ... Truly discovering God’s forgiveness and mercy always enables us to begin a new life. It is not easy to forgive. But God’s forgivenessgrants the power of conversion, and the joy of being able to forgive in turn. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the paths of peace; they open up a future".
"Young people of Lebanon, you are the hope and the future of your country. You are Lebanon, a land of welcome, of openness, with a remarkable power of adaptation. At this moment, we cannot forget those millions of individuals who make up the Lebanese diaspora and maintain solid bonds with their land of origin. Young people of Lebanon, be welcoming and open, as Christ asks you and as your country teaches you.
"I should like now to greet the young Muslims who are with us this evening. I thank you for your presence, which is so important. Together with the young Christians, you are the future of this fine country and of the Middle East in general. Seek to build it up together! And when you are older, continue to live in unity and harmony with Christians. For the beauty of Lebanon is found in this fine symbiosis.
It is vital that the Middle East in general, looking at you, should understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society.
"I understand, too, that present among us there are some young people from Syria. I want to say how much I admire your courage. Tell your families and friends back home that the Pope has not forgotten you. Tell those around you that the Pope is saddened by your sufferings and your griefs. He does not forget Syria in his prayers and concerns, he does not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. It is time for Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence and war".
At the conclusion of his meeting with the young people, the Pope greeted Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon in chapel of the Assumption inside the Patriarchal Palace.

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - This morning in Beirut, Lebanon, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the City Centre Waterfront, a coastal area reclaimed from the sea using the debris of buildings in the old centre of Beirut, which were demolished at the end of the Civil War prior to the reconstruction.
The Holy Father travelled by car from the apostolic nunciature in Harissa, then covered the final stretch along the seafront from Jounieh in popemobile. He was greeted on arrival by the mayor of Beirut who presented him with the keys to the city. The Mass was attended by many thousands of faithful, the Lebanese authorities and 300 bishops from all over the Middle East. The liturgy was celebrated in Arabic, French and Latin.
In his homily the Pope commented on today's reading from the Gospel of St. Mark in which the true identity of Jesus is revealed. In Mark's narrative, Jesus is walking with His disciples along the road leading to the villages in the region of Caesarea Philippi when He asks them: "Who do people say that I am?"
"The moment He chose to ask this question is not insignificant", the Holy Father explained. "Jesus was facing a decisive turning-point in His life. He was going up to Jerusalem, to the place where the central events of our salvation would take place: His crucifixion and resurrection. In Jerusalem too, following these events, the Church would be born".
In the episode, after Peter has proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, Christ tells the disciples that He must suffer and be put to death before rising again. "He realises that people could use this answer to advance agendas which are not His, to raise false temporal hopes in His regard. He does not let Himself be confined to the attributes of the human saviour which many were expecting", the Pope said.
"Jesus wants to make them understand His true identity. He is a Messiah Who suffers, a Messiah Who serves, and not some triumphant political saviour. He is the Servant Who obeys His Father’s will, even to giving up His life. ... Jesus thus contradicts the expectations of many. What He says is shocking and disturbing. We can understand the reaction of Peter who rebukes Him, refusing to accept that his Master should suffer and die! Jesus is stern with Peter; He makes him realise that anyone who would be His disciple must become a servant, just as He became Servant".
Therefore, the Pope went on, "following Jesus means taking up one’s cross and walking in His footsteps, along a difficult path which leads not to earthly power or glory but, if necessary, to self-abandonment, to losing one’s life for Christ and the Gospel in order to save it. We are assured that this is the way to the resurrection, to true and definitive life with God". In this context, Benedict pointed out that the Year of Faith, due to begin on 11 October is an invitation to "each member of the faithful to renew his or her commitment to undertaking this path of sincere conversion. Throughout this Year, then, I strongly encourage you to reflect more deeply on the faith, to appropriate it ever more consciously and to grow in fidelity to Christ Jesus and His Gospel.
"Brothers and sisters, the path on which Jesus wishes to guide us is a path of hope for all. Jesus’ glory was revealed at the very time when, in His humanity, He seemed weakest, particularly through the incarnation and on the cross. This is how God shows His love; He becomes our servant and gives Himself to us".
Benedict XVI then turned his attention to the second reading, in which St. James states that, if our adherence to Jesus is to be authentic, it requires "concrete actions. ... It is an imperative task of the Church to serve and of Christians to be true servants in the image of Jesus", he said. "Consequently, in a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction, to serve justice and peace is urgently necessary for building a fraternal society, for building fellowship! ... I pray in particular that the Lord will grant to this region of the Middle East servants of peace and reconciliation, so that all people can live in peace and with dignity. This is an essential testimony which Christians must render here, in cooperation with all people of good will. I appeal to all of you to be peacemakers, wherever you find yourselves".
Likewise, the Pope went on, "service must also be at the heart of the life of the Christian community itself. Every ministry, every position of responsibility in the Church, is first and foremost a service to God and to our brothers and sisters. This is the spirit which should guide the baptised among themselves, and find particular expression in an effective commitment to serving the poor, the outcast and the suffering, so that the inalienable dignity of each person may be safeguarded.
"Dear brothers and sisters who are suffering physically or spiritually", the Holy Father added concluding his homily, "your sufferings are not in vain! Christ the Servant wished to be close to the suffering. ... Along your own path, may you always find brothers and sisters who are concrete signs of His loving presence which will never forsake you! Remain ever hopeful because of Christ!".
"May God bless Lebanon; may He bless all the peoples of this beloved region of the Middle East, and may He grant them the gift of His peace".

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - At the end of today's Eucharistic celebration, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, arose and invited the Holy Father to consign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" to Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East, presidents of the episcopal conferences of Turkey and Iran, and a number of lay faithful. The Exhortation is the final document of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in October 2010 on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and witness. 'The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul'".
Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the Exhortation would be "be a guide to follow the various and complex paths where Christ goes before you. May communion in faith, hope and charity be strengthened in your countries and in every community so as to make credible your witness to the Triune God, Who has drawn close to each one of us", he said.
"Dear Church in the Middle East, draw from the source of salvation which became a reality in this unique and beloved land! Follow in the footsteps of your fathers in faith, who by tenacity and fidelity opened up the way for humanity to respond to the revelation of God! Among the wonderful diversity of saints who flourished in your land, look for examples and intercessors who will inspire your response to the Lord's call to walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will wipe away every one of our tears! May fraternal communion be a support for you in your daily life and the sign of the universal brotherhood which Jesus, the first born of many, came to bring! Thus, in this region which saw His actions and heard His words, may the Gospel continue to resonate as it did 2000 years ago, and may it be lived today and forever!"

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - Having consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father pronounced some words in which he called on "Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon, around whom both Christians and Muslims gather", to intercede "for the people of Syria and the neighbouring countries, imploring the gift of peace".
Benedict XVI went on: "You know all too well the tragedy of the conflicts and the violence which generates so much suffering. Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children. Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to the international community! I appeal to the Arab countries that, as brothers, they might propose workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person! Those who wish to build peace must cease to see in the other an evil to be eliminated. It is not easy to see in the other a person to be respected and loved, and yet this is necessary if peace is to be built, if fraternity is desired.
"May God grant to your country, to Syria and to the Middle East the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence! May men understand that they are all brothers! Mary, our Mother, understands our concern and our needs. Together with the patriarchs and bishops present, I place the Middle East under her maternal protection. May we, with God’s help, be converted so as to work ardently to establish the peace that is necessary for harmonious coexistence among brothers, whatever their origins and religious convictions".


by Xin Yage
Young people participated in defiance of the typhoons that hit the island this week. The initiative entitled: "camp to the discover life" is now in its second edition. Its aim is to develop young people's creativity and help them share their experiences of daily life with each other in the light of the teachings of the Gospel.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - More than one hundred young people between the ages of 15 and 22 took part in a summer camp called "shen ming his tan ying" (生命 探索 营), "a camp to discover life", in its second edition. The initiative was proposed for the first time in August 2011. This year's experience was offered three times to different groups of young people. The first week, gathered about eighty people and coincided with the arrival of typhoons. But even the winds and torrential rain failed to stop activities. Heavy rainfall hit Tainan and Kaohsiung, but the weather remained stable on the Mount of Beatitudes "(" Zen was shan "真 福山), the place where the initiative was held.

The "Mount of Beatitudes" is a special place built by Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi, bishop emeritus of Kaohsiung who died on August 22 last.
Throughout his life as a priest and bishop, he was an experienced educator and promoter of many initiatives for young people in Taiwan and conceived the Mount of the Beatitudes as a meeting place where young and old could develop their creative activities. With this new structure, first the cardinal and now his colleagues hope to especially help the youth from the south of the island. Card. Shan was personally promoted participation in the camp in schools across the country. Courses include: communicating with others (人际关系 中 重要 的 沟通), trusting in others (信任), forgiveness (宽恕), empathy with people (体谅), working with one's neighbors (合作等 元素).

The 2011 edition was a great success eve among high profile Taiwanese personalities. One of his main sponsors Lian Chan (连战), former vice-president, supports the initiative with enthusiasm, helping many young people with financial difficulties to take part.



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
14 Sep 2012

Tent city set up on Nauru
The Gillard Government has created a recipe for disaster, warns Father Jim Carty as between 40 to 50 male asylum seekers landed in Nauru this morning, the first arrivals under the Gillard Government's version of off-shore processing.
Father Carty, Coordinator of Marist Asylum Seekers and Refugee Services says putting men who are already traumatised into crowded non-air conditioned tents on Nauru where they will sleep on a palliasse, or straw-filled mattress, on a duckboard floor enduring oppressive heat, tropical storms combined with the island's remote isolated location makes for a toxic cocktail.
Although the initial group that arrived in Nauru today numbers less than 50, within a few months more than 1500 asylum seekers will be detained on Nauru with a further 600 detained on the reopened detention facilities on Manus Island.
While women including those who are pregnant along with their children and unaccompanied minors are expected to be housed in another part of Nauru until permanent accommodation can be built, for at least six months male detainees sent to the Island will be housed in army-issue tents.

Fr Jim Carty has worked with refugees and asylum seekers for more than 35 years
Fr Carty describes tents as "incubators for disease" and predicts outbreaks of fungal infections and tropical diseases for those forced to live in tents with no air conditioning and subject to constant heat, humidity and muddy wet floors from the rains.
"The Government may think it is solving a problem by putting asylum seekers out of sight on a remote island, but it is also creating a multitude of other human-related issues as well as breaking United Nations Conventions on Refugees and the Rights of the Child."
With its stifling heat and tropical rain, Nauru which lies only one degree south of the equator combined with indefinite detention which may see many remaining on the Island for 10 or even 20 years under the Government's much-touted "No Advantage Policy," Fr Carty has no doubt that even in the first few months on the Island, detainees will suffer adverse long term effects to their physical, mental and emotional health.
"We know suicide, self-harm and long term damaged to mental health were issues for asylum seekers held on Nauru during the Howard era. Yet under the Gillard Government's policy asylum seekers have even fewer protections and far more uncertainty," he says.
The frustration, anger and despair felt by asylum seekers, particularly among young men who will comprise a large proportion of those held on Nauru, may well erupt into violence, he warns.

New accommodation for the asylum-seekers
"The Island only has a small population of around 9,000. But once the government's off-shore processing plan is fully implemented, asylum seekers will comprise more than 13% of the Island's population, and if conditions become so dire for many of these asylum seekers, it is difficult to see how the small isolated community will be able to cope."
While the Government is playing details of this morning's flight from Christmas Island to Nauru close to its chest, it is believed that as many as 90 APF were on board with the first load of asylum seekers and will remain on the Island for several weeks as more asylum seekers arrive.
But so far the Government has given no indication how long the police will remain on Nauru, or whether more AFP will be needed as the numbers of asylum seekers swell and the detention centre on the Island fills to capacity.
Fr Carty who has worked with refugees and asylum seekers for more than 32 years, says while there are many issues to be addressed, the Government's decision to house men in tents is rash.
Tents are totally inadequate as housing on a tropical island, he says and points to the riots on Christmas Island in February 2011 which were triggered when men were forced to live in overcrowded marquees.
Asylum seekers to be housed in tents until Nauru detention centre can be rebuilt
"The marquees were sodden each day by tropical rains. The floors were muddy and although the marquees had air conditioning, the roar of the generators gave those housed there, no peace and no respite from the noise," he says and recalls the explosion of misery and despair that had detainees setting the tents and buildings on Christmas Island ablaze with Molotov cocktails.
"The army issue tents on Nauru may be quieter as they are not equipped with air conditioning despite the Island being only a couple of hundred kilometres south of the equator," Fr Carty says and describes living in these tents "like living in a permanent sauna."
The priest is also concerned about unaccompanied minors being sent to Nauru.
"Under Australian law a minor is anyone under 18. At 17 some of accompanied minors who are asylum seekers are already physically mature and built like full-backs. But by age they are considered minors and will be housed with other minors some of whom will be as young as 7 or 8. Who is going to maintain a vigil for caring for this wide age range and to ensure they are well looked after?"
Despite Government assurances that children held in detention will be able to attend Nauru's schools, Fr Carty doubts this will be possible. Not only would the numbers overwhelm the Island's small number of schools but there is also the issue of language with teachers on Nauru ill-equipped or trained to educate asylum seeker children most of whom do not speak English.

Nauru has no regular water supply, little infrastructure and could expose detainees to malaria, dengue fever and other tropical diseases
"But bottom line is that the Government's new policy has failed. Just one month after it was legislated in Parliament it is dead in the water," he says. "Since 13 August when the Government announced its intention to reopen Nauru and Manus Island detention centres for off-shore processing, more than 2100 asylum seekers have landed on our shores. Still unfinished, Manus Island detention centre has the capacity for 600 while Nauru is planned to eventually hold 1500. So what happens to others who arrive here next week or the week after?" he asks.
Over the next 12 months he says rather than easing, the numbers of desperate displaced people trying to reach safety in countries like Australia is set to increase as Syrian Christians flee the bloody civil war in their homeland and US and Coalition troops pull out of Afghanistan.
"The Taliban will take its revenge on anyone who aided the US and Coalition and resume its terrible slaughter," he predicts.
For Fr Carty and many others involved with asylum seekers and refugees, the issue is becoming increasingly complex and more and more difficult to solve. Hopes for a regional solution which many, including Fr Carty believe is the only long term answer, were dealt a severe blow this week when five members of the Indonesian military charged with people smuggling, named a member of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's security staff as one of the master minds.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - This week, La Paz has become the home of three events organized by Caritas Latin America and the Caribbean. In the first case it is a meeting, with the participation of representatives of Caritas Bolivarian countries, to examine what affects the work of Caritas in the promotion and defense of human rights. This event, which takes place from September 10 to 16 at the headquarters of Pastoral Caritas Boliviana in La Paz, sees the participation of Mgr. José Luis Azuaje Ayala, President of the Latin American and Caribbean Secretariat for Pastoral Social Caritas, several experts in the field, as well as directors of Caritas in five Bolivarian countries (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia).
In a second meeting, on September 13, the Bishops Presidents and Directors of the Pastoral Social Caritas of the five countries will meet to discuss and define the institutional agenda of the Bolivarian area.
For the weekend (from Friday 14th to Sunday, September 16) a regional meeting on human rights involving experts and leaders of institutes for the promotion of human rights, and representatives of the Department of Justice and Solidarity of CELAM will take place.
From the note sent to Fides Agency by the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia, we learn that Juan Carlos Velasquez, Executive Secretary of Caritas Boliviana, recalled that the foundation of the love of God is the human person, created in His image and likeness, and clearly this reality involves human dignity. "The Church cannot ignore the field of human rights, because it is linked to the recognition of the centrality of human dignity," the statement concludes. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 14/09/2012)


NAIROBI, September 14, 2012 (CISA) –The Catholic church in Kenya has strongly condemned the recent killing of more than 30 people including nine policemen at an attack in the country’s Tana River Delta and have at the same time urged the Government to ensure that the badly needed humanitarian resources are provided to the victims of the attack.
In a statement issued on September 12, the Church also called on the Government to ensure that both sides of conflict (local communities of the Orma and Pokomo) were disarmed.
The statement, read and signed by John Cardinal Njue and entitled: A Call for peace and Harmony: Thou Shall not Kill also called on the Government to initiate peace and reconciliation programmes within the two communities.
“Politicians should stop pointing fingers at one another and should avoid issuing inflammatory statements,” emphasized the Cardinal.
The Church appealed to the Government to immediately act and ensure that the Constitutional rights of a person to human dignity, freedom and security of the human person and the inherent right to life are upheld.
The Cardinal also urged the Government to set up a commission to find the root cause of the clashes.
“We call upon the communities living in the region and across the country to embrace peace and live harmoniously with each other. As Kenyans, we should refrain from any acts of violence against our fellow brothers and sisters,” said the Cardinal on behalf of the Church.
The Church sent its deepest condolences to all the communities and families in the region who have lost their loved ones in the tragic attacks and wished a quick recovery to those who are still nursing injuries.
Meanwhile the country’s Parliament on Thursday, September 13 asked the police to act decisively and end clashes in the affected region of Tana Delta.
It also agreed to form a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the conflict that has so far claimed more than 100 lives.
The Parliament also approved the deployment of additional security officers to maintain peace and order.


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iBreviary now on Kindle | Father Paolo Padrini, iBreviary, Kindle

Fr Padrini with mobile iBreviary
The iBreviary, which is already available on most mobile phones and tablets: among them iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, and Android, is now also on Kindle Fire and the new Kindle Fire HD.
Developed by Father Paolo Padrini, a parish priest in Tortona, north Italy and consultant with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the free application is available in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Latin.
The application contains the complete Missal, all prayers and readings of the Daily Office, Mass readings and all prayers said and sung during Mass throughout the liturgical year. Future upgrades are expected to feature audio as well as commentaries and suggestions for homilies as well as musical accompaniment, Fr Paolo explained.
The application can be downloaded from Android Kindle Store at this link:
For more information on all the iBreiviary resources, see:



23rd Sun Ordinary Time
Isaiah 50: 5 - 9
5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward.
6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
7 For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.
9 Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.
Psalms 116: 1 - 6, 8 - 9
1 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I beseech thee, save my life!"
5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.
6 The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;
9 I walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
James 2: 14 - 18
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
Mark 8: 27 - 35
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesare'a Philip'pi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?"
28 And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Eli'jah; and others one of the prophets."
29 And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ."
30 And he charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men."
34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.


St. Cyprian
Feast: September 16
Feast Day:
September 16
3rd century AD, North Africa
September 14, 258, Carthage, Africa Province, Roman Empire
Patron of:
Algeria, North Africa

CYPRIAN was an African of noble birth, but of evil life, a pagan, and a teacher of rhetoric. In middle life he was converted to Christianity, and shortly after his baptism was ordained priest, and made Bishop of Carthage, notwithstanding his resistance. When the persecution of Decius broke out, he fled from his episcopal city, that he might be the better able to minister to the wants of his flock, but returned on occasion of a pestilence. Later on he was banished, and saw in a vision his future martyrdom. Being recalled from exile, sentence of death was pronounced against him, which he received with the words "Thanks be to God." His great desire was to die whilst in the act of preaching the faith of Christ, and he had the consolation of being surrounded at his martyrdom by crowds of his faithful children. He was beheaded on the 14th of September, 258, and was buried with great solemnity. Even the pagans respected his memory.


Vatican City, 15 September 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Greek-Melkite Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa, Lebanon, Benedict XVI signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente". The basilica forms part of a complex which includes a major seminary and a "house for writers" who study the sacred texts and translate documents of the Magisterium into Arabic. Since 1909 it has also been the headquarters of the Missionaries of St. Paul.
The Holy Father was received by His Beatitude Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites. Following the entrance chant in the Byzantine rite, the Pope paused to venerate the icons conserved inside the basilica. Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, then pronounced some words after which the ceremony continued with the initial chants in the Maronite rite.
Following the readings Benedict XVI delivered greetings to the patriarchs and a group of Oriental and Latin bishops, to Orthodox, Muslim and Druze delegations, as well as to representatives of the world of culture and civil society, and the Greek-Melkite community.
"The happy coexistence of Islam and Christianity, two religions that have helped to shape great cultures", he said, "is what makes for the originality of social, political and religious life in Lebanon. One can only rejoice in this circumstance, which must absolutely be encouraged. I entrust this wish to the religious leaders of your country".
"Providentially, this event takes place on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a celebration originating in the East in 335, following the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection built over Golgotha and our Lord’s tomb by the Emperor Constantine the Great, whom you venerate as saint. A month from now we will celebrate the seventeen-hundredth anniversary of the appearance to Constantine of the 'Chi-Rho', radiant in the symbolic night of his unbelief and accompanied by the words: 'In this sign you will conquer!'"
"There is an inseparable bond between the cross and the resurrection which Christians must never forget. Without this bond, to exalt the cross would mean to justify suffering and death, seeing them merely as our inevitable fate. For Christians, to exalt the cross means to be united to the totality of God’s unconditional love for mankind. It means making an act of faith! To exalt the cross, against the backdrop of the resurrection, means to desire to experience and to show the totality of this love. It means making an act of love! To exalt the cross means to be a committed herald of fraternal and ecclesial communion, the source of authentic Christian witness. It means making an act of hope!
"In examining the present situation of the Church in the Middle East, the Synod Fathers reflected on the joys and struggles, the fears and hopes of Christ’s disciples in these lands. In this way, the entire Church was able to hear the troubled cry and see the desperate faces of many men and women who experience grave human and material difficulties, who live amid powerful tensions in fear and uncertainty, who desire to follow Christ - the One Who gives meaning to their existence - yet often find themselves prevented from doing so".
"At the same time, the Church was able to admire all that is beautiful and noble in the Churches in these lands. How can we fail to thank God at every moment for all of you, dear Christians of the Middle East! How can we fail to praise Him for your courage and faith? How can we fail to thank Him for the flame of His infinite love which you continue to keep alive and burning in these places which were the first to welcome His incarnate Son? How can we fail to praise and thank Him for your efforts to build ecclesial and fraternal communion, and for the human solidarity which you constantly show to all God’s children?
"'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente' makes it possible to rethink the present in order to look to the future with the eyes of Christ. By its biblical and pastoral orientation, its invitation to deeper spiritual and ecclesiological reflection, its call for liturgical and catechetical renewal, and its summons to dialogue, the Exhortation points out a path for rediscovering what is essential: being a follower of Christ even in difficult and sometimes painful situations which may lead to the temptation to ignore or to forget the exaltation of the cross. It is here and now that we are called to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge, service over domination, humility over pride, and unity over division. In the light of today’s Feast, and in view of a fruitful application of the Exhortation, I urge all of you to fear not, to stand firm in truth and in purity of faith. This is the language of the cross, exalted and glorious ...capable of changing our sufferings into a declaration of love for God and mercy for our neighbour, ... of transforming those who suffer because of their faith and identity into vessels of clay ready to be filled to overflowing by divine gifts more precious than gold. This is more than simply picturesque language: it is a pressing appeal to act concretely in a way which configures us ever more fully to Christ, in a way which helps the different Churches to reflect the beauty of the first community of believers".
"'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente' provides some elements that are helpful for a personal and communal examination of conscience, and an objective evaluation of the commitment and desire for holiness of each one of Christ’s disciples. The Exhortation shows openness to authentic inter-religious dialogue based on faith in the one God, the Creator. It also seeks to contribute to an ecumenism full of human, spiritual and charitable fervour, in evangelical truth and love".
"The Exhortation as a whole is meant to help each of the Lord’s disciples to live fully and to pass on faithfully to others what he or she has become by Baptism: a child of light, sharing in God’s own light, a lamp newly lit amid the troubled darkness of this world, so that the light may shine in the darkness. The document seeks to help purify the faith from all that disfigures it, from everything that can obscure the splendour of Christ’s light. For communion is true fidelity to Christ, and Christian witness is the radiance of the paschal mystery which gives full meaning to the cross, exalted and glorious".
"'Fear not, little flock', and remember the promise made to Constantine: 'In this sign you will conquer!” Churches of the Middle East, fear not, for the Lord is truly with you, to the close of the age! Fear not, because the universal Church walks at your side and is humanly and spiritually close to you! It is with this hope and this word of encouragement to be active heralds of the faith by your communion and witness. ... God grant that all the peoples of the Middle East may live in peace, fraternity and religious freedom! May God bless all of you!"

Vatican City, 15 September 2012 (VIS) - Given below is a brief summary of the main points contained in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente".
The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortion "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" is the document elaborated by Benedict XVI based on the forty-four final propositions of the special Synod for the Middle East, which was held in Vatican City from 10 to 26 October 2010 on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and witness. 'The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul'". The text is subdivided into three parts, plus an introduction and a conclusion.
The Exhortation invites the Catholic Church in the Middle East to revive communion within the Church, looking to the "native faithful" who belong to the Eastern Catholic Churches "sui iuris", and opening up to dialogue with Jews and Muslims. This is a communion, a unity to be reached within the context of geographical, religious, cultural and socio-political diversity in the Middle East. Benedict XVI renews his call to conserve and promote the rites of the Eastern Churches, heritage of all Christ's Church.
The Context: Firstly, the Pope exhorts us not to forget the Christians who live in the Middle East and who bring a "noble and authentic" contribution to the construction of the Body of Christ. Then, in describing the situation of the region and the peoples who live there, Benedict XVI dramatically emphasises the deaths, the victims of "human blindness", fear and humiliation. Without entering into detail, the Exhortation briefly recalls that the position of the Holy See on the various conflicts in the region and on the status of Jerusalem and the Holy Places is well known. Finally, a call is made for conversion to peace - understood not only as the simple absence of conflict, but rather as interior peace and linked to justice - overriding all distinctions of race, sex and class, and to practice forgiveness in the realms of both private and community life.
The Christian and ecumenical life: This chapter is a call in favour of ecumenical unity which "does not mean uniformity of tradition and celebrations". In a difficult, unstable political context inclined towards violence such as the Middle East, in fact, the Church has developed in a truly multi-form fashion, encompassing Churches of ancient tradition and more recent ecclesiastical communities. It is a form of mosaic which requires significant effort in the reinforcement of Christian witness. In line with Vatican Council II the Pope encourages spiritual ecumenism, and a communion understood not as confusion, but rather as recognition and respect for others. At the same time, the Exhortation reasserts the importance of the work of theology and the various ecumenical commissions and ecclesial communities, in order that - in line with the doctrine of the Church - they speak with one voice on the most important moral questions (family, sexuality,bioethics, freedom, justice and peace). Diaconal ecumenism is also important, in both charitable and educational fields. Several concrete proposals for an ecumenical pastoral outreach are then listed: among these, the application of conciliary openness towards a certain "communicatio in sacris" (i.e., the possibility for Christians to access the Sacraments in a Church other than their own) for the Sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick. The Pope states his certainty of the possibility of reaching agreement on a common translation of the Lord's Prayer in the local languages of the region.
Inter-religious dialogue: Recalling the historical and spiritual links that Christians have with Jews and Muslims, the Exhortation reaffirms that inter-religious dialogue is not dictated by pragmatic considerations of a political or social order, but is based primarily upon the theological foundations of faith: Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in a single God and for this reason it is hoped that they may recognise in "the other believer" a brother to love and respect, avoiding the exploitation of religion for conflicts which are "unjustifiable for authentic believers". With particular regard to Christian-Jewish dialogue, the Pope recalls the common spiritual heritage, based on the Bible, which leads back to the "Jewish roots of Christianity"; at the same time he invites Christians to be aware of the mystery of the Incarnation of God and to condemn the unjustifiable persecutions of the past.
With regard to Muslims, Benedict XVI uses the word "esteem", "in fidelity to the teachings of Vatican Council II"; however, is is regrettable that doctrinal differences have been used as a pretext by both Christians and Muslims to justify, in the name of religion, acts of intolerance, discrimination, marginalisation and persecution. The Exhortation then shows how the presence of Christians in the Middle East is neither new, nor casual, but historical. An integral part of the region, they have given rise to "a particular form of symbiosis" with the surrounding culture, specific to the Middle East, and they have the right and the duty to participate fully in civil life, and should not be considered as second class citizens. The Pope affirms that religious liberty - the pinnacle of all freedoms, sacred and inalienable - includes the freedom to choose the religion one considers true and to publicly manifest one's belief and itssymbols, without putting one's own life or personal freedom in danger. Force and constriction are not admissible in religious matters. The Pope calls for the step to be taken from tolerance to religious freedom, which does not imply an open door to syncretism, but rather "a reconsideration of the relationship between man, religion and God".
Two new realities: The Exhortation considers at length the matter of secularisation, including its extreme forms, and the violent fundamentalism that claims to have a religious origin. A healthy secularity means distinction and collaboration between politics and religion, characterised by mutual respect. It requires the political sphere to operate without manipulating religion, and guarantees that religion may live without the encumbrance of political interests. Religious fundamentalism - which grows in a climate of socio-political uncertainty - seeks to take power for political ends, at times using violence, over the individual conscience and over religion. For this reason, the Pope issues a heartfelt appeal to all the religious leaders of the Middle East to endeavour, by their example and their teaching, to do everything possible to uproot this threat which indiscriminately and fatally affects believers of all religions.
Migrants: The Pope faces a crucial question, the exodus - indeed, a haemorrhage - of Christians who find themselves in a delicate position, at times without hope, and are subject to the negative consequences of conflicts, often feeling humiliated, despite having participated throughout the centuries in the construction of their respective countries. A Middle East without, or with few Christians, would no longer be the Middle East. The Pope therefore asks political and religious leaders to avoid policies and strategies tending towards a monochromatic Middle East which does not reflect its human and historical reality. Benedict XVI also invites the pastors of the Eastern Catholic Churches to help their priests and their faithful in exodus to remain in contact with their families and their Churches, and encourages the Pastors of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions who welcome the Eastern Catholics to allow them the possibility of worshipping according to their owntraditions. This chapter also considers the question of immigrant workers - often Catholics of Latin rite - from Africa, the Far East and the Indian sub-continent, who too often experience situations of discrimination and injustice.
Patriarchs: Leaders of the "sui iuris" Churches, in perfect union with the Bishop of Rome, render tangible the universality and unity of the Church and, as a sign of communion, are able to reinforce this union and solidarity within the framework of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East and the patriarchal Synods, always favouring consultation and collegial action on questions fundamental to the Church.
Bishops: A visible sign of the unity in diversity of the Church understood as a Body, of whom Christ is the head, the bishops are the first to be sent forth into all nations to make disciples. They must proclaim God's Word with courage and firmly defend the integrity and unity of the faith, in those difficult situations which are unfortunately common in the Middle East. The bishops are also required to ensure a wise, honest and transparent management of the temporal goods of the Church and to this end, the Pope recalls that the Synod Fathers have requested serious revision of finances and assets, to avoid confusion between personal property and that of the Church. The bishops, furthermore, must be vigilant in ensuring that priests receive appropriate remuneration, in order that they do not become distracted by material matters. The alienation of the goods of the Church must adhere strictly to canonical norms and the current papal legislation. Finally, thePope exhorts bishops to ensure the pastoral care of all Christian faithful, regardless of their nationality or ecclesial provenance.
Priests and seminarians: The Exhortation underlines that priests must educate the People of God in the construction of a civilisation of evangelical love and unity, and this requires an in-depth transmission of the Word of God, and of the tradition and the Doctrine of the Church, along with intellectual and spiritual renewal of the priests themselves. To this end, celibacy is important - a priceless gift of God to the Church - as is the ministry of married priests, an ancient component of the Eastern tradition. As servants of the communion, priests and seminarians must offer courageous and unambiguous testimony, must conduct themselves irreproachably, and must be open to the cultural diversity of their Churches (learning, for instance, their languages and cultures), along with ecclesial diversity and ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.
The consecrated life: Monasticism in its various forms was born in the Middle East and gave rise to several "sui iuris" Churches. Men and women religious must collaborate with the bishop in pastoral and missionary activities. They are invited to meditate upon at length and observe the evangelical counsels (chastity, poverty and obedience), as there cannot be spiritual regeneration - of the faithful, the community and the Church as a whole - without a clear and unequivocal return to the search for God.
The laity: Members of the Body of Christ through Baptism, and thus fully associated with the mission of the universal Church, to lay people the Pope entrusts the task of promoting - in temporal matters, their proper domain - the sound administration of public goods, religious freedom and respect for the dignity of each person. They are invited to be bold in the cause of Christ. In order that their witness be fruitful, however, lay people must overcome the divisions and all subjective interpretations of Christian life.
Family: A divine institution founded on the indissoluble Sacrament of Marriage between a man and a woman, today the family is exposed to many dangers. The Christian family must be supported in the problems and difficulties it faces, and must look to its own deepest identity, in order to become first and foremost a domestic Church which educates in prayer and in faith, a seedbed of vocations, the natural school of virtue and ethical values, and the primary cell of society. The Exhortation gives considerable consideration to the question of women in the Middle East and to the need for equality with men, in the face of the discriminations they suffer which gravely offend not only women themselves, but also and above all, God. The Pope emphasises that women must play a greater role in public and ecclesial life. With regard to judicial disputes in matrimonial matters, the voice of the woman must be heard with equal respect to that of the man, without injustice. Tothis end, the Pope encourages a sound and just application of the law, in order that the judicial differences regarding matrimonial matters do not lead to apostasy. Finally, the Christians of the Middle East must be able to apply their own law, both in marriage and elsewhere, without restrictions.
Young people and children: The Pope exhorts them not to be afraid or ashamed of being Christians, to respect other believers, Jews and Muslims, and to always cultivate, through prayer, a true friendship with Jesus, loving Christ and the Church. In this way, they may discern wisely the values of modern life that may be useful to their fulfilment, without allowing themselves to be seduced by materialism or certain social networks, the indiscriminate use of which may distort the true nature of human relations. With regard to children, in particular, the Exhortation calls upon parents, teachers, guides and public institutions to recognise the rights of minors from the moment of their conception.
The Word of God, soul and source of communion and witness: After expressing recognition of the exegetical schools (of Alexandria, Antioch, etc.) which have contributed to the dogmatic formulation of Christian mystery in the fourth and fifth centuries, the Exhortation recommends a genuine biblical apostolate, to help dissipate prejudice or mistaken ideas which may be the cause of needless and humiliating controversies. This leads to the suggestion of proclaiming a Year of the Bible, in accordance with the pastoral conditions of each country in the region, and to follow it, if appropriate, with an annual Bible Week. The Christian presence in the biblical countries of the Middle East - which is far more than a question of sociological belonging or simple economic and cultural success - by rediscovering its original inspiration and in following Christ's disciples, will take on new vitality.
Liturgy and sacramental life: For the faithful in the Middle East, the liturgy is an essential element of spiritual unity and communion. The renewal of celebrations and liturgical texts, where necessary, must be based on the Word of God and undertaken in collaboration with the Churches who share the same traditions. The importance of Baptism is a key issue, which enables those who receive this sacrament to live in communion and to develop true solidarity with other members of humankind, without discrimination on the grounds of race or religion. From this point of view, the Pope hopes for an ecumenical agreement between the Catholic Church and the Churches with whom it is in theological dialogue on the mutual recognition of Baptism, in order to restore full communion in apostolic faith. The Exhortation also expresses hope for more frequent practice of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and exhorts pastors and the faithful to promote initiatives forpeace, even amid persecution.
Prayer and pilgrimages: The Middle East is a privileged land of pilgrimage for many Christians who come to consolidate their faith and to seek a profoundly spiritual experience. The Pope asks that the faithful have free access, without restriction, to holy places. It is also essential that contemporary biblical pilgrimage returns to its original motivations of penitence and the search for God.
Evangelisation and charity; the Church's mission: The Exhortation underlines that the transmission of faith is an essential mission of the Church. The Pope therefore encourages the new evangelisation which, in a contemporary context, marked by change, makes the faithful aware of the testimony of their lives: this reinforces their word when they speak of God courageously and openly, to announce the Good News of salvation. In particular, in the Middle East, deepening of the theological and pastoral meaning of evangelisation should look to both the ecumenical and inter-religious dimensions. With regard to ecclesial movements and communities, the Pope encourages them to act in union with the bishop of the place and according to his pastoral directives, with due regard for the local history, liturgy, spirituality and culture, without confusion and proselytism. The Catholic Churches of the Middle East are therefore invited to renew their missionary spirit, achallenge more urgent than ever in a multicultural and pluri-religious context. A strong stimulus for this may be given by the Year of Faith. With regard to charity, the Exhortation recalls that the Church must follow the example of Christ Who drew close to those most in need: orphans, the poor, the disabled, the sick, etc. Finally, the Pope praises and and encourages all those who carry out impressive work in the educational centres, schools, higher institutes and Catholic universities of the Middle East. These tools for cultural formation, that should be supported by political authorities, demonstrate that it is possible to live in a spirit of respect and collaboration in the Middle East, through education in tolerance.
Catechesis and Christian formation: The papal document encourages the reading and teaching of the catechism of the Catholic Church and a solid initiation in the social doctrine of the Church. At the same time, the Pope invites the Synods and other episcopal organisms to enable the faithful to have access to the spiritual wealth of the Fathers of the Church, and to focus on patristic teaching, as a complement to scriptural formation.
Benedict XVI solemnly asks, in the name of God, that political and religious authorities not only alleviate the suffering of all those who live in the Middle East, but also eliminate the causes of this suffering, and do all in their power to enable peace to prevail. At the same time, the Catholic faithful are exhorted to consolidate and live together in communion, giving life to pastoral dynamism. "A lukewarm spirit is displeasing to God", and therefore the Christians of the Middle East, Catholics and others, are encouraged bear witness to Christ, courageously and as one - a difficult witness, but exhilarating.

Vatican City, 15 September 2012 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI began the second day of his apostolic trip to Lebanon by paying a courtesy visit to Michel Sleiman, president of the Lebanese Republic, at the presidential palace in Baabda. There he also met with Nabih Berri, speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, and Naguib Miqati, prime minister of Lebanon, before going on to encounter the heads of the Sunni, Shia, Druze and Alawite religious communities.
Accompanied by the President, the Holy Father then planted a cedar of Lebanon in the palace gardens. Having completed this symbolic act, he moved on to the palace's 25 May Hall where he pronounced an address before the authorities, the diplomatic corps, religious leaders and representative from the world of culture. Extensive excerpts from the Holy Father's words are given below.
"I have asked God to bless you, to bless Lebanon and all who dwell in these lands which saw the birth of great religions and noble cultures. Why did God choose these lands? Why is their life so turbulent? God chose these lands, I think, to be an example, to bear witness before the world that every man and woman has the possibility of concretely realising his or her longing for peace and reconciliation!".
"The energy needed to build and consolidate peace also demands that we constantly return to the wellsprings of our humanity. Our human dignity is inseparable from the sacredness of life as the gift of the Creator. ... To build peace, we need to look to the family, supporting it and facilitating its task, and in this way promoting an overall culture of life. The effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life. If we want peace, let us defend life! This approach leads us to reject not only war and terrorism, but every assault on innocent human life, on men and women as creatures willed by God. Wherever the truth of human nature is ignored or denied, it becomes impossible to respect that grammar which is the natural law inscribed in the human heart. ... We must combine our efforts, then, to develop a sound vision of man, respectful of the unity and integrity of the human person. Without this, it is impossible to build truepeace.
"While more evident in countries which are experiencing armed conflict, there are assaults on the integrity and the lives of individuals taking place in other countries too. Unemployment, poverty, corruption, a variety of addictions, exploitation, different forms of trafficking, and terrorism not only cause unacceptable suffering to their victims but also a great impoverishment of human potential. We run the risk of being enslaved by an economic and financial mindset which would subordinate “being” to “having”! The destruction of a single human life is a loss for humanity as a whole. ... By questioning, directly or indirectly, or even before the law, the inalienable value of each person and the natural foundation of the family, some ideologies undermine the foundations of society. ... Only effective solidarity can act as an antidote, solidarity that rejects whatever obstructs respect for each human being, solidarity that supportspolicies and initiatives aimed at bringing peoples together in an honest and just manner. ... A better quality of life and integral development are only possible when wealth and competences are shared in a spirit of respect for the identity of each individual. ... Nowadays, our cultural, social and religious differences should lead us to a new kind of fraternity wherein what rightly unites us is a shared sense of the greatness of each person and the gift which others are to themselves, to those around them and to all humanity. This is the path to peace! ... This is the approach which ought to guide political and economic decisions at every level and on a global scale!
"In order to make possible a future of peace for coming generations, our first task is to educate for peace in order to build a culture of peace. Education, whether it takes place in the family or at school, must be primarily an education in those spiritual values which give the wisdom and traditions of each culture their ultimate meaning and power. ... The goal of education is to guide and support the development of the freedom to make right decisions, which may run counter to widespread opinions, the fashions of the moment, or forms of political and religious ideology. This is the price of building a culture of peace! Evidently, verbal and physical violence must be rejected, for these are always an assault on human dignity, both of the perpetrator and the victim. Emphasising peacemaking and its positive effect for the common good also creates interest in peace. ... Thoughts of peace, words of peace and acts of peace create an atmosphere of respect,honesty and cordiality, where faults and offences can be truthfully acknowledged as a means of advancing together on the path of reconciliation. May political and religious leaders reflect on this!
"We need to be very conscious that evil is not some nameless, impersonal and deterministic force at work in the world. Evil, the devil, works in and through human freedom. ... It seeks an ally in man. Evil needs man in order to act. Having broken the first commandment, love of God, it then goes on to distort the second, love of neighbour. Love of neighbour disappears, yielding to falsehood, envy, hatred and death. But it is possible for us not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good. ... A profound transformation of mind and heart is needed to recover a degree of clarity of vision and impartiality, and the profound meaning of the concepts of justice and the common good. A new and freer way of looking at these realities will enable us to evaluate and challenge those human systems which lead to impasses, and to move forward with due care not to repeat past mistakes with their devastating consequences. The conversion demanded of us can also beexhilarating, ... (but) it is quite demanding: it involves rejecting revenge, acknowledging one’s faults, accepting apologies without demanding them, and, not least, forgiveness. Only forgiveness, given and received, can lay lasting foundations for reconciliation and universal peace.
"Only in this way can there be growth in understanding and harmony between cultures and religions, and in genuine mutual esteem and respect for the rights of all. In Lebanon, Christianity and Islam have lived side by side for centuries. It is not uncommon to see the two religions within the same family. If this is possible within the same family, why should it not be possible at the level of the whole of society? The particular character of the Middle East consists in the centuries-old mix of diverse elements. Admittedly, they have fought one another, sadly that is also true. A pluralistic society can only exist on the basis of mutual respect, the desire to know the other, and continuous dialogue. Such dialogue is only possible when the parties are conscious of the existence of values which are common to all great cultures because they are rooted in the nature of the human person. ... These values are inseparable from the rights of each and every humanbeing. By upholding their existence, the different religions make a decisive contribution. It cannot be forgotten that religious freedom is the basic right on which many other rights depend. The freedom to profess and practise one’s religion without danger to life and liberty must be possible to everyone. The loss or attenuation of this freedom deprives the person of his or her sacred right to a spiritually integrated life. ... Religious freedom has a social and political dimension which is indispensable for peace! It promotes a harmonious life for individuals and communities by a shared commitment to noble causes and by the pursuit of truth, which does not impose itself by violence but rather “by the force of its own truth”: the Truth which is in God. ... Authentic faith does not lead to death. The peacemaker is humble and just. Thus believers today have an essential role, that of bearing witness to the peace which comes from God and is a gift bestowed on a ll ofus in our personal, family, social, political and economic life. The failure of upright men and women to act must not permit evil to triumph. It is worse still to do nothing.
"These few reflections on peace, society, the dignity of the person, the values of family life, dialogue and solidarity, must not remain a simple statement of ideals. They can and must be lived out. We are in Lebanon, and it is here that they must be lived out. Lebanon is called, now more than ever, to be an example. And so I invite you, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, men and women of the world of culture, to testify with courage, in season and out of season, wherever you find yourselves, that God wants peace, that God entrusts peace to us".
Following the meeting at the presidential palace, the Pope travelled to the headquarters of the Catholic Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians where he was welcomed by the Patriarch, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni. There Benedict XVI blessed a statue of the monk Hagop who compiled the first book to be printed in Armenian, the "Book of Friday" published in Venice in 1512. Pope Benedict then had lunch in the community's refectory with patriarchs and bishops of Lebanon.

Vatican City, 15 September 2012 (VIS) - As is traditional during the course of his apostolic trips, Benedict XVI granted a brief interview to the journalists accompanying him on his flight to Lebanon, in which he turned his attention to various issues associated with the situation in the Middle East.
Question: "Your Holiness, many terrible anniversaries are occurring at this time, for example that of the 11 September attacks, and the massacre at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps. On the borders of Lebanon a civil war is being fought, amid much bloodshed, and in other countries too we see an ever-present risk of violence. Holy Father, ... have you been tempted to cancel your trip for security reasons, or has anyone suggested that you should cancel it?"
Holy Father: "Dear friends, ... I can tell you that no one advised me to cancel this journey, and for my part I never considered doing so, because I know that as the situation becomes more complex, it is all the more necessary to offer this sign of fraternal encouragement and solidarity. That is the aim of my visit: to issue an invitation to dialogue, to peace and against violence, to go forward together to find solutions to the problems".
Q: "Many Catholics are expressing concern about increasing forms of fundamentalism in various parts of the world and about attacks that claim large numbers of Christians as victims. In this difficult and often violent context, how can the Church respond to the imperative of dialogue with Islam, on which you have often insisted?"
Holy Father: "Fundamentalism is always a falsification of religion. It goes against the essence of religion, which seeks to reconcile and to create God’s peace throughout the world. ... The essential message of religion must be against violence - which is a falsification of that message, like fundamentalism - and it must educate, illuminate and purify consciences so as to make them capable of dialogue, reconciliation and peace".
Q: "In the context of the surging clamour for democracy that has begun to spread in many countries of the Middle East through the so-called 'Arab Spring', and in view of the social conditions in most of these countries, where Christians are a minority, is there not a risk of an inevitable tension between the dominant majority and the survival of Christianity?"
Holy Father: "I would say that in itself, the Arab spring is a positive thing: it is a desire for greater democracy, greater freedom, greater cooperation and a revived Arab identity. This cry for freedom, which comes from a young generation with more cultural and professional formation, who seek greater participation in political and social life, is a mark of progress, a truly positive development that has been hailed by Christians too. Of course, bearing in mind the history of revolutions, we know that this important and positive cry for freedom is always in danger of overlooking one aspect - one fundamental dimension of freedom - namely tolerance of the other, the fact that human freedom is always a shared freedom, which can only grow through sharing, solidarity and living side by side according to certain rules. ... We must do all we can to ensure that the concept of freedom, the desire for freedom, goes in the right direction and does not overlooktolerance, the overall social fabric, and reconciliation, which are essential elements of freedom. Hence the renewed Arab identity seems to me to imply also a renewal of the centuries-old, millennia-old, coexistence of Christians and Arabs, who side by side, in mutual tolerance of majority and minority, built these lands and cannot do other than live side by side. I therefore think it important to recognise the positive elements in these movements and to do all we can to ensure that freedom is correctly conceived and corresponds to growth in dialogue rather than domination of one group over others".
Q: "In Syria today, as in Iraq a while ago, many Christians have felt obliged, reluctantly, to leave their homeland. What does the Catholic Church intend to do or say in order to help in this situation and to stem the flow of Christians from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries?"
Holy Father: "First of all I must say that it is not only Christians who are leaving, but also Muslims. Naturally, there is a great danger of Christians leaving these lands and their presence there being lost, and we must do all we can to help them to stay. The essential way to help would be to put an end to the war and violence which is causing this exodus. Therefore the first priority is to do all we can to halt the violence and to open up a real possibility of staying together for the future. What can we do against war? Of course we can always spread the message of peace, we can make it clear that violence never solves problems and we can build up the forces of peace. ... Christian gestures may also be of help: days of prayer for the Middle East, for Christians and Muslims, to demonstrate the possibilities for dialogue and for solutions. I also believe that there must be an end to the importation of arms: without which, war could not continue. Insteadof importing weapons, which is a grave sin, we should import ideas of peace and creativity, we should find ways of accepting each person in his otherness, we should therefore make visible before the world the respect that religions have for one another, respect for man as God’s creation and love of neighbour as fundamental to all religions. In this way, using all possible means, including material assistance, we must help to bring an end to war and violence so that all can help rebuild the country".
Q: "Besides prayer and sentiments of solidarity, do you see concrete steps that the Churches and the Catholics of the West, especially in Europe and America, can take in order to support their brethren in the Middle East?"
Holy Father: "I would say that we need to influence public opinion and politicians to make a real commitment, using all their resources, all their opportunities, with real creativity, in favour of peace and against violence. No one should hope to gain from violence, all must contribute positively. ... Moreover, our charitable organisations should offer material help and do everything they can. We have organisations like the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, specifically for the Holy Land, but other similar organisations could also provide material, political and human assistance in these lands. I would like to say once again that visible signs of solidarity, days of public prayer, and other such gestures can catch the attention of public opinion and produce concrete results".

Vatican City, 15 September 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Gniezno, Poland, presented by Bishop Bogdan Wojtus, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed as members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., regent emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary.