Wednesday, November 28, 2012

VATICAN : POPE : SPEAKING ABOUT GOD IN OUR TIMES

SPEAKING ABOUT GOD IN OUR TIMES
(IMAGE SOURCE FACEBOOK) Vatican City, 28 November 2012 (VIS) - "How do we speak to God in our times? How can we communicate the Gospel to open the way to its salvific truth?" The Holy Father offered an answer to these questions in his catechesis during today's general audience, held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
"In Jesus of Nazareth", the Pope said, "we encounter the face of God, descended from Heaven to immerse Himself in the world of mankind and to teach 'the art of living', the road to happiness; to free us from sin and to make us true children of God".
He continued, "speaking about God means, first and foremost, being clear about what we must bring to the men and women of our time. God has spoken to us, … not an abstract or hypothetical God, but a real God, a God Who exists, Who entered history and remains present in history: the God of Jesus Christ ... as a response to the fundamental question of why and how to live. Therefore, speaking about God requires a continual growth in faith, familiarity with Jesus and His Gospel, a profound knowledge of God and strong passion for His plan for salvation, without giving in to the temptations of success. … We must not fear the humility of taking small steps, trusting in the leaven that makes the dough rise slowly and mysteriously. In speaking about God, in the work of evangelisation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must return to the simplicity and essential nature of proclamation: the concrete Good News of God Who cares about us, the love of God which Jesus Christ brought close to us, even unto the Cross, and which in the Resurrection opens us to life without end, to eternal life".
The Pope explained that for St. Paul, communicating the faith did not mean "showing himself, but rather saying openly and publicly what he had seen and heard in his encounter with Christ, and how much his life had been transformed by that encounter. … The Apostle was not satisfied with merely proclaiming the words, but committed his entire existence to the great work of faith. … To speak about God, we must make space for Him, confident that He acts upon our weakness. We must make space for Him without fear, with simplicity and joy, in the profound conviction that the more we place Him - and not ourselves - at the centre of our lives, the more fruitful our communication will be. ... This also holds true for Christian communities. They are called to communicate the transforming action of God's grace, overcoming individualism, closure, selfishness and indifference, bringing the love of God to daily relationships. We must must act to ensure ... we always announce Christ, not ourselves".
"At this point", the Holy Father continued, we must ask ourselves "how Jesus Christ Himself communicated. Jesus … spoke about His Father (Whom He called 'Abba') and about the Kingdom of God, looking with compassion on the discomforts and difficulties of human existence. … From the Gospel we see how Jesus was interested in every human situation He encountered, He immersed Himself in the lives of the men and women of His time, with complete trust in the help of the Father. … In Him, proclamation and life were entwined: Jesus acted and taught, always taking as a starting point His intimate relationship with God the Father. This approach gives fundamental indications to Christians: living in faith and charity is a way of speaking about God in our times, because it demonstrates the credibility of what we say in words through a life lived in Christ. We must take care to grasp the signs of our times, and thereby to identify the potential, the desires and the obstacles we encounter in contemporary culture, in particular the desire for authenticity, the yearning for transcendence, the sensibility for protecting creation. And we must communicate without fear the answer offered by faith in God".
"Speaking about God, therefore, means enabling others to understand through words and acts that God is not a competitor in our existence but rather its true guarantor, the guarantor of the greatness of the human person. Thus we return to the beginning: speaking about God means communicating, with power and simplicity, through words and the life we lead, that which is essential: the God of Jesus Christ, the God Who showed us a love so great that He took on human flesh, died and rose again for us; the God Who asks us to follow Him and to allow ourselves to be transformed by His immense love in order to renew our lives and our relationships; the God Who gave us the Church, to allow us to journey together and, through the Word and the Sacraments, to renew the entire City of Man so that it might become the City of God", concluded the Pope.

ASIA : BANGLADESH : RIP FR. CORBA = PIME MISSIONARY

ASIA NEWS REPORT
He died last night of respiratory complications. The funeral will be tomorrow, in the cathedral of Dinajpur. Animated by great missionary zeal, Fr. Corba was described as a leader, but shy at the same time. Three times regional superior, in 1997 he founded a training center for catechists and lay people.


Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Fr. Enzo Corba died last night, a PIME missionary (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) of 81 years, more than 50 of which were spent in Bangladesh. As a result of respiratory complications, he was hospitalized yesterday afternoon at St. Vincent's diocesan hospital in Dinajpur. A few hours later, at 1:20 a.m., he died. The funeral will be held tomorrow at 10:30 (local time) in the Cathedral of Dinajpur. The body will be buried next to the church of Singra, near the center of formation for catechists and lay people which he founded in 1997 and directed until his death.

Described as a born animator of enormous moral stature, Fr. Corba was considered a "guru" and a leader among his brethren, for the great missionary zeal that animated him. Attentive to pastoral work, serving the poor and interreligious dialogue, the priest devoted himself primarily to the evangelization of unbelievers. A shy man and sometimes critical of the Church and of the PIME, he always made his presence constructive, never opting out and remaining supportive and involved in the mission.

Born March 5, 1931 in Montefiascone (Viterbo), Fr. Corba was ordained a PIME priest in 1956. In 1958, he departed for Dinajpur (then East Pakistan). His first experiences were at Ruhea, with Fr. Luigi Alvigini and brother Massimo Teruzzi, in Bonpara, with Fr. Luigi Pinos, at Beneedwar, with Fr. Giuseppe Cavagna, and among the Santal tribes. Thrice elected Regional Superior, it was during his second term that the War of Independence broke out. At the end of 1971 Bangladesh was created, and to remain with his people and his community, Fr. Corba renounced participating in the Chapter Update. Upon his third re-election - in 1972 - the missionary declined the office. Called by the Bishop of Chittagong (in the southern part of the country), for 17 years he lived in the village of Rajarapur. Here, living at the level of the people, he was able to establish relationships of dialogue and cooperation between Muslims, Hindus and Christians, helping them to overcome their mutual closure. From 1991 to 1997 he was in the Philippines: along with Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra and Fr. Salvatore Carzedda (killed in 1992), he founded the Euntes Asian Centre. Back in Bangladesh, Fr. Corba returned to the north of the country. In Singra (about 40km from Dinajpur) he opened a training center for catechists of the village and lay people in general, which he directed until his death.

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AUSTRALIA : YOUTH RETREAT - STRONGER - CATHOLIC FAITH

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT
Searching for something stronger


Tuesday 27 November 2012

By Lauren Hill

CANDLES flicker in a dimly lit meeting room. A light reflects onto the rugged wood of a large cross, which is mounted before a backdrop of deep red satin. A silent peace permeates through the space, as 80 young people gather in reflection.
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All at once, they are standing. Guitar strings are gently strummed and keyboard notes are played as a familiar refrain emerges. The atmosphere transforms. Kneeling, some bow their heads in reverence. Voices slowly unite, reciting the eminent lyrics. Some shed a tear, their attention never departing from the focus of their devotion.

While the majority of their contemporaries enjoy a wild Saturday night out on the town, gathering in trendy clubs across the country, a cluster of young people aged 16 to 26, has chosen a different gathering—the annual Stronger Retreat hosted by the Sandhurst Diocese. They have travelled to Harrietville, in Victoria’s Alpine country, from country towns and bustling cities, from local dioceses and interstate parishes. They have travelled by air and by road, journeyed with friends and even alone.

Each person has answered a call to be present and the evening is reassurance for that response. It is a culmination of grace. It is a gift for their swimming against the tide of expectation, encountered each day as young Catholics in the world. It is reward for their belief in something more. Every young person kneeling in adoration in the room is hopeful. They desire something greater. They are searching for it. And their search has bought them here.

Melissa Mewburn, 21, is a beautiful young woman from Bendigo. The opportunity to gather with other young Catholics is one reason for her having made the journey to the retreat. “I wanted to find a community who wanted to be involved, to be faith-filled, and live a life that is Christ-like,” she said. “To know that those people going are wanting that as well—that community and relationship. There are not many of us out there who express their faith. So you want to connect with people who do.”

Initiated in 2008 by Maltese-born priests Fr Robert Galea, who was a seminarian at the time, and former Bishop of Sandhurst, Joseph Grech, who died suddenly in 2010, the retreat provides an opportunity for teenagers and young adults from across the Victorian diocese of Sandhurst, and across Australia, to join together for a weekend of dynamic speakers, prayer, sacraments, music and more.

Unlike large Catholic events such as World Youth Day, which is held every few years, Fr Rob highlighted that the retreat, along with other Stronger-related events held throughout the year, offers young Catholics continual direction for their faith journey.

“As the name suggests, Stronger events offer young people the opportunity to grow stronger in their Catholic faith. The purpose is to build disciples in the local parish. To give a decent and fair chance to young people to follow Jesus,” Fr Rob said.

For those unsure of what the Stronger events really have to offer them, Melissa assures hesitant youth that they will certainly “experience something amazing” at the retreat. “It’s not always talking about faith. It’s living life. That’s what’s fun,” she said.

Melissa observes that it is the Stronger Program’s ability to “meet people where they’re at” in discovering more about their faith, that is most unique. “Together we are stronger. We grow and develop together,” she said.

This year’s Stronger retreat will be held from 7-9 December in Harrietville, and will feature Pat Keady, Worship Director of the Catholic band ‘emmanuelworship’ who will travel from Brisbane to join Fr Rob as a motivating guest speaker.

For more information about the Stronger Program and to register for the 2012 Stronger Retreat, visit the website at
www.stronger.org.au. Registrations close at midnight on Friday 30 November 2012.

Photos by Fiona Basile
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EUROPE : ADVENT CALENDAR FREE IPHONE APP

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT
CAFOD introduces Advent calendar iPhone App
In the run-up to Christmas, Catholic aid agency CAFOD has launched its first iPhone and iPad App for young people.
The Advent Calendar App, which is available to download for free, brings the candles and cardboard calendar into the 21st century as well as giving a generation of smartphone users another way to engage with CAFOD’s work. The traditional Jesse Tree – a tree hung with Old Testament symbols that represent the different ways God prepared the world for the birth of Jesus – has been reinvented this Advent. App users can click on a numbered tag hanging from the tree, to reveal the story, reflection, prayer and action for that day.
The app also links users to CAFOD’s online activities on Facebook and Twitter and gives them an opportunity to engage with CAFOD’s ‘Hungry for Change’ campaign.
Kathleen O’Brien, CAFOD’s Secondary Writer and Materials Co-ordinator, said: “I love this app! The design is clean and fresh, and it’s great that people will be able to reflect with CAFOD while they’re on a bus or standing in a shop queue, rather than needing access to a computer or laptop. This is a wonderful way for young people to put their faith into action, learn about the work of CAFOD, and show their solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world this advent.”
Julia Anna Byrne, former school chaplain and Programme leader at St Vincent’s retreat centre, Whitstable, said: “I wish I’d had this app last year when I was still working in a school. It would have been great to carry the Advent calendar in my pocket as well as using the PowerPoint version in assemblies.”
Featuring inspiring stories, photos and reflections from CAFOD’s partners and projects around the world, CAFOD’s first app is a great alternative to the more commercial chocolate filled calendar.
In addition to the new app, the popular Advent Calendar PowerPoint’s for primary and secondary schools are available for download on the education page of CAFOD’s website.
Download the Advent Calendar app for free at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cafod-2012/id575482319
Download CAFOD’s PowerPoint advent calendars for Primary and Secondary students at: www.cafod.org.uk/Media/Files/Resources/Secondary/resource-pages/Young-people-s-Advent-calendar

AMERICA : PANAMA : GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF BISHOPS - CENTRAL AMERICA

Agenzia Fides REPORT – Since Monday, November 26, 60 Bishops of the Central American region have been in Panama for the 2012 General Assembly of the Bishops' Secretariat of Central America (SEDAC). The meeting is being held in the retreat house "Monte Alverna" of Panama City. The Bishops come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Outgoing President of the organism is Mgr. Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, waiting for the Bishops to elect the new President. Archbishop of Panama, Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa opened the meeting.
According to information sent to Fides Agency, today, November 28, the Bishops will attend the opening of the Jubilee Year 2012-2013 for the 500th anniversary of the first Diocese Santa Maria la Antigua. The agenda also includes the celebration of the Year of Faith and the exchange of pastoral experiences in the region. The meeting will conclude on Friday 30 November.
One of the recurring themes in the various meetings of the Bishops of the region, and that will be addressed during this meeting, concerns the exploitation of mineral resources in the various member countries. In 2010, in the conclusive document, the Bishops had said, "we raise our voices asking our MPs to create laws that prohibit the mining of metals through the use of cyanide ... As Pastors in our missionary work, we want to intensify the awareness of all the faithful, that the environmental dimension is an integral part of Christian spirituality." (CE) (Agenzia Fides 28/11/2012)

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TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. NOV. 28, 2012


Luke 21: 12 - 19
12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake.
13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony.
14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer;
15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.
16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death;
17 you will be hated by all for my name's sake.
18 But not a hair of your head will perish.
19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

TODAY'S SAINT: NOV. 28: ST. JAMES OF THE MARCHES

St. James of the Marches
FRANCISCAN FRIAR AND MISSIONARY
Feast: November 28


Information:
Feast Day:November 28
Born:1391, Monteprandone, Marche of Ancona, Italy
Died:November 28, 1476
Canonized:10 December 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Major Shrine:Franciscan church of St. Maria la Nuova
Patron of:Patron of the city of Naples, Italy

Franciscan, b. of a poor family named Gangala, at Monteprandone, March of Ancona, Italy, 1391; d. at Naples, 28 Nov., 1476. He is generally represented holding in his right hand a chalice, out of which a snake is escaping --an allusion to some endeavours of heretics to poison him or, less likely, to the controversy about the Precious Blood.
He began his studies at Offida under the guidance of his uncle, a priest, who soon afterwards put him to school at Ascoli. At the University of Perugia he took the degree of Doctor in Civil Law. After a short stay at Florence as tutor in a noble family, and as judge of sorcerers, James was received into the Order of the Friars Minor, in the chapel of the Portiuncula, Assisi, 26 July, 1416. Having finished his novitiate at the hermitage of the Carceri, near Assisi, he studied theology at Fiesole, near Florence, under St. Bernardine of Siena. On 13 June, 1420, be was ordained priest, and soon began to preach in Tuscany, in the Marches, and Umbria; for half a century he carried on his spiritual labours, remarkable for the miracles he performed and the numerous conversions he wrought. From 1427 James preached penance, combated heretic, and was on legations in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and Bosnia. In the last-mentioned country he was also commissary of the Friars Minor. At the time of the Council of Basle he promoted the union of the moderate Hussites with the Church, and that of the Greeks it the Council of Ferrara-Florence. Against the Turk, he preached several crusades, and at the death of St. John Capistran, in 1456, James was sent to Hungary as his successor. In Italy he fought the Fraticelli, instituted several montes pietatis, and preached in all the greater cities; Milan offered him the bishopric in 1460, which he declined. St. James belonged to the Observant branch of the Friars Minor, then rapidly spreading and exciting much envy. How much he suffered on this account is shown in a letter written by him to St. John Capistran, published by Nic. Dal-Gal, O.F.M., in "Archivum Franciscanum Historicum", I (1908), 94-97. Under Callistus III, in 1455, he was appointed an arbiter on the questions at issue between Conventuals and Observants. His decision was published 2 Feb., 1456, in a papal Bull, which pleased neither part . A few years later, on Easter Monday, 1462, St. James, preaching at Brescia, uttered the opinion of some theologians, that the Precious Blood shed during the Passion was not united with the Divinity of Christ during the three days of His burial. The Dominican James of Brescia, inquisitor, immediately cited him to his tribunal. James refused to appear, and after some troubles appealed to the Holy See. The question was discussed at Rome, Christmas, 1462 (not 1463, as some have it), before Pius II and the cardinals, but no decision was given. James spent the last three years of his life at Naples, and was buried there in the Franciscan church of S. Maria la Nuova, where his body is still to be seen. Beatified by Urban VIII, 1624, he was canonized by Benedict XIII, 1726. Naples venerates him as one of its patron saints (feast, 28 Nov.).
The works of St. James of the Marches have not as yet been collected. His library and autographs are preserved in part at the Municipio of Monteprandone (see Crivellucci, "I codici della libreria raccolta da S. Giacomo della Marca nel convento di S. Maria delle Grazie presso Monteprandone", Leghorn, 1889). He wrote "Dialogus contra Fraticellos" printed in Baluze-Mansi, "Miscellanea", II, Lucca, 1761, 595-610 (cf. Ehrle in "Archiv für Litt. u. Kirchengeschichte", IV, Freiburg im Br., 1888, 107-10). His numerous sermons are not edited. For some of them, and for his treatise on the "Miracles of the Name of Jesus", see Candido Mariotti, O.F.M., "Nome di Gesù ed i Francescani", Fano, 1909, 125-34. On his notebook, or "Itinerarium", See Luigi Tasso, O.F.M., in "Miscellanea Francescana", I (1886), 125-26: "Regula confitendi peccata" was several times edited in Latin and Italian during the fifteenth century. "De Sanguine Christi effuse" and some other treatises remained in manuscript.

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VATICAN : POPE : WORLD AIDS DAY APPEAL AND OTHER NEWS


(VATICAN RADIO REPORT) APPEAL FOR WORLD AIDS DAY 2012
Vatican City, 28 November 2012 (VIS) - "World AIDS Day, a United Nations initiative intended to draw attention to a disease that has caused millions of deaths and tragic human suffering, will fall on 1 December", said the Pope following his catechesis at this morning's general audience. "HIV/AIDS particularly affects the poorest regions of the world, where there is very limited access to effective medicines. My thoughts turn in particular to the large number of children who contract the virus from their mothers each year, despite the treatments which exist to prevent its transmission. I encourage the many initiatives that, within the scope of the ecclesial mission, have been taken in order to eradicate this scourge".
CARDINAL TAURAN AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE KAICIID
Vatican City, 27 November 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, gave an address at the inaugural ceremony of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna, Austria, yesterday. The centre is an independent organisation, recognised by the United Nations and founded by Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain, to which the Holy See adheres in the role of Founding Observer.
"It is my privilege to bring to this assembly the greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, as well as his prayerful wishes for the success of the activity of this Dialogue Centre", said Cardinal Tauran.
"We are being watched", he continued. "Everyone is expecting from the initiative of His Majesty King Abdullah, supported by the governments of Austria and Spain, with the assistance of the Holy See as founding observer, honesty, vision and credibility.
"This Centre presents another opportunity for open dialogue on many issues, including those related to fundamental human rights, in particular religious freedom in all its aspects, for everybody, for every community, everywhere. In this regard, you will understand that the Holy See is particularly attentive to the fate of Christian communities in countries where such a freedom is not adequately guaranteed. Information, new initiatives, aspirations, and perhaps also failures will be brought to our attention. It then will be the task of the centre - and when possible with the cooperation of other organisations - to verify their authenticity and to act consequently, in order that our contemporaries not be deprived of the light and the resources that religion offers for the happiness of every human being.
"Believers have to work for and to support all that favours the human person in his material, moral and religious aspirations. So three attitudes are required: respect of the other in his/her specificity; mutual objective knowledge of the religious tradition of each other, particularly through education; and collaboration in order that our pilgrimage towards the Truth be realised in freedom and serenity.
"Concluding and quoting Pope Benedict XVI, I would like to assure you of the cooperation of the Catholic Church: 'By her presence, her prayer and her various works of mercy, especially in education and health care, she wishes to give her best to everyone. She wants to be close to those who are in need, near to those who search for God'.
"It is in this spirit of brotherhood and friendship that we have to work!", the cardinal concluded.
 
IN MEMORIAM
Vatican City, 27 November 2012 (VIS) - The following prelates died recently:
- Bishop Aloysius Balina of Shinyanga, Tanzania, on 6 November at the age of 67.
- Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers S.V.D., emeritus of Saint John's-Basseterre, Antigua, on 6 November at the age of 102.
- Bishop Alfons Demming, auxiliary of Munster, Germany, on 31 October at the age of 84.
- Bishop Michel Hrynchyshyn C.SS.R., apostolic exarch for Ukrainian faithful of Byzantine rite resident in France, on 12 November at the age of 83.
- Bishop Luiz Eugenio Perez, emeritus of Jaboticabal, Brazil, on 14 November at the age of 84.
- Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, apostolic nuncio, on 31 October at the age of 75.
- Bishop Patrick Francis Sheehan O.S.A., emeritus of Kano, Nigeria, on 8 November at the age of 80.
- Bishop Patrick Ronald Cooney, emeritus of Gaylord, U.S.A., on 15 October at the age of 78.
- Bishop Rene-Marie Ehouzou C.I.M., of Porto Novo, Benin, on 17 October at the age of 68.
- Bishop Eduardo Herrera Riera, emeritus of Carora, Venezuela, on 27 October at the age of 85.
- Archbishop Henry Ernest Karlen C.M.M., emeritus of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on 28 October at the age of 90.
- Bishop Felix Eugenio Mkhori, emeritus of Lilongwe, Malawi, on 27 October at the age of 81.
- Archbishop George Riashi, emeritus of Tripoli of Lebanon of the Greek-Melkites, Lebanon, on 28 October at the age of 78.
- Bishop Odorico Leovigildo O.F.M., apostolic vicar of Requena, Peru, on 14 October at the age of 100.
- Bishop Jose Agostinhi Sartori O.F.M., emeritus of Palmas-Francisco Beltrao, Brazil, on 6 June at the age of 83.
- Bishop Jean-Pierre Urkia M.E.P., apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos, on 21 December 2011, at the age of 92.
- Bishop Joseph B. Willigers M.H.M., emeritus of Jinja, Uganda, on 30 September at the age of 81.

ASIA : SYRIA : 10 CHILDREN KILLED - PRAY FOR PEACE

ASIA NEWS REPORT
For Msgr. Mario Zenari, the conflict is likely to fall into oblivion. The dead are no longer news. Yesterday 10 children were killed in a neighborhood south of the capital. The Church is the only remaining institution offering hope and help to the people affected by the bombings, starvation and kidnappings. The invitation to say a prayer for the Syrians in view of Christmas.


Damascus (AsiaNews) - "The violence in Syria is in danger of becoming a forgotten conflict. At first the dead were news. Now the victims are increasing day by day, there is talk of even hundreds killed, but no one says anything, it has become routine. Like all wars, forgetfulness will envelop the Syrian war, too." With this dramatic confession, Msgr. Mario Zenari, the Papal Nuncio in Syria, told AsiaNews of the plight of the people of Damascus, the last town to officially enter the war. "Because of the embargo", he explains, "it is difficult to get humanitarian aid, but in the upcoming season of Advent I invite you all to pray for Syria, to devote a moment of the day to the suffering of these people. Do not let the suffering endured by the Syrians be forgotten."
The prelate said that from the beginning of November, "the humanitarian situation is hell; it has also involved the capital, now transformed into an armored city." The drama is especially acute in the suburbs: Darayya, Qudssaya, Irbin. Here they fight day and night, the bombs have pulverized even the few houses left standing. Yesterday, 76 people died in bombings. Among these were also 10 children struck by a cluster bomb while playing in a soccer field located in a southern district of the capital.
"Several of my employees", said Msgr. Zenari, "have been living in the Nunciature, because they cannot return to their homes, others no longer have a roof and spend the night in basements or in makeshift shelters. The parishes have turned into dormitories. The convents try to offer hospitality to everyone, even in the garden." "But now", continues the nuncio, "with the arrival of displaced people, they are in danger of dying of starvation and the cold. Every day I receive calls from religious and priests who ask me: What can we do for these people?. The Church has made all its spaces available, from the office rooms, to the storerooms, to the very places of worship. However, without external aid and the possibility of a ceasefire, even these efforts are likely to be a small drop in the bucket."
Bishop Zenari confesses that the most common question among the Syrians is: "How long will this war last?".  Since the last attempts in June by Kofi Annan to obtain a ceasefire, the conflict is no longer a temporary emergency, but has become a daily reality that seems endless. "This uncertainty", said the nuncio, "is killing the hope of returning to normality, which adds to the pain for their loved ones killed."
Having recently returned from a trip to Italy, in a short time the prelate witnessed the war's deterioration: "Now the population lives in even more dramatic conditions than a few months ago. To the pain for the bombings, and the vendettas among political and religious groups, there has also been added local crime, which sides with no one. There are hundreds of kidnappings in the country that are wiping out families, not just rich ones, but now even those of the poorest. These criminals by their own admission do not support any political or military faction. They are exploiting the climate of instability for their own interests. The media, unfortunately, does not talk about it, but many families, even here in Damascus, are affected by this scourge, which has made their lives even more painful."
The diplomat explained that there are two types of kidnappings. The first is political and is used by groups on both sides to demand the release of prisoners. The second is motivated by ransom.
This is very common and is forcing the population even to take up public collections to free their loved ones, who often risk of being killed anyway in the general indifference. The Nuncio said that the Church is active also in this field and in all the parishes where there are these cases, committees have been set up to negotiate with the kidnappers. "The Church", he affirms, "is the only real institution that has remained intact in the country, where every State and private body is breaking apart. Everyone turns to her: Christians, Muslims, Alawites and Sunnis. Clergymen, priests, religious men and women often attempt, at the risk of their lives, to bring reconciliation and forgiveness even where it seems impossible."
According to the prelate, we must prevent this war from falling into oblivion.  The West has a duty to inform itself, to try to understand this situation, even if the media and governments are prone to easy answers. Msgr. Zenari clarifies that there is no Arab Spring occurring in Syria, as it has in other Middle Eastern countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya. After a year of riots and demonstrations, too many external factors have entered into this war. The population has no voice and has only one desire: to go back to living. (SC)

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AUSTRALIA : CHRISTMAS ART SHOW - 90 PAINTINGS


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 Nov 2012
Budding artists at opening of last year's children's Christmas Story Exhibition
Judging winners and runners up from among more than 1000 artworks created by Year 5 and Year 6 Catholic school students for the Archdiocese of Sydney's annual children's Christmas Story Art Exhibition was no easy task, says John Charadia, Creative Arts Advisor with the Catholic Education Office (CEO).
"Once we would have had about a dozen real standouts among the 90 paintings and artworks chosen to be part of The Christmas Story Exhibition in the Crypt. But this year each one in the exhibition is a standout," he says.
This year's entries included impressively imagined and well executed artworks using charcoal or acrylics on canvas. Some children showed off their artistic talents with water colours, pastels or coloured pencils while others tried their hand with oils or created rich collage tapestries.
"Because the standard overall is now so high, we introduced a new criteria this year which is possibly best summed up as 'balance'.
"While it is hard to define exactly what this is in words, but both symmetry and asymmetry are key along with the way the child uses his or her imagination, the depth and skill of illustration and the visual impact of the work," John says.
For the judges other equally important criteria include the title chosen for the artwork along with the student's accompanying personal reflection and description of the work and what it means. Although brief, this is a way for the judges to chart the young artist's insight and understanding of their faith, the Scriptures and the true meaning of Christmas.
"As with the artworks, some of these written explanations were outstanding. In fact some were inspiring and so beautiful, they read like prayers," says John who says the children's Christmas Story Exhibition and Competition continues surprise and delight him.
Choosing 93 paintings from 800 entries is no easy task
For the past 10 days, John and fellow judges: artist-teacher and veteran of Sydney's annual Archibald Prize, Les Quick of James Sheehan Catholic High School, Orange; artist-tutor Amanda McPaul-Browne; and Wanda Grein of the Anise Art Consultancy have been surrounded by entries for this year's exhibition and deciding not only on the winners and runners up, but those that deserve highly commended stickers.
They have also had the almost impossible task of choosing just 93 artworks from more than 1000 entries received.
"Each year it seems to become more and more difficult," John says but admits he and the other three judges were all were tremendously excited by the calibre and overall standard of this year's entries both in terms of art and creativity as well as in written expression.
Entries from Year 5 students and Year 6 students are divided into separate categories with each having its own winner, runner up and third-place getter. Each of the two winners receives $400 in high quality art supplies and a lavishly illustrated book on faith and art. The runners up receive $200 of top quality art supplies with third place getters receiving $100 in supplies.
In addition to these awards, there are also three special trophies for the Year 5 and Year 6 budding artists. One is the Spirit of Christmas Award sponsored and judged by Sally McDowell, a leading graphic designer and artist. The second is the Executive Director's Acquisitive Award which is chosen by CEO's Director of Schools, Dr Dan White. The artwork of whichever youngster is awarded this important trophy is "acquired" and for the next five years will be part of the CEO's art collection and on display at the CEO's Lidcombe offices.
The third and most coveted award of all and open to all entrants is the Cardinal's Choice Trophy.
Judges face a difficult task this year from so many outstanding entries
Well-known for his love and knowledge of art, the annual Christmas Story Exhibition was the brainchild of the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell as a way to encourage Catholic youngsters to celebrate Christmas and their faith using their visual as well as written skills.
As he does each year, His Eminence personally decides which entry should receive the Cardinal's Choice Trophy and for several weeks before the Exhibition opens at the St Mary's Cathedral's Crypt on the first Sunday in Advent, he has a selection of the children's artworks displayed at Cathedral House. This way he has time to carefully study and assess each one before making his choice.
Open to students at Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Diocese of Bathurst, the Diocese of Broken Bay and the Diocese of Wollongong, as well as to youngsters in Year 5 and Year 6  Catholic Religious Education Classes at public schools, the Christmas Story Exhibition has become a much-loved tradition.
Trophy winners, finalists, those who are highly commended and all 93 of the artworks that will be on display at the Crypt at St Mary's Cathedral will be announced on Sunday, 2 December, the first day of Advent. This is when every child, their parents, family and friends will gather in the Crypt for the official opening of the exhibition which runs each year from the first Sunday in Advent until Epiphany or Sunday 6 January 2013.
"We believe every child is a winner and on Sunday every child whose artwork is hanging in the Crypt will receive a special certificate signed by His Eminence Cardinal Pell and Dr Dan White," John says.

AFRICA : SIERRA LEONE : ELECTION RESULTS KOROMA RE-ELECTED - PROTESTS

Agenzia Fides REPORT - "With these elections, conducted in a peaceful and exemplary manner, the people of Sierra Leone confirms the outgoing President. The announcement of the results was not too peaceful and there have been difficulties and protests on behalf of the supporters of the defeated candidate, but the President of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Christiana A.M. Thorpe, gave official publication of the results on November 23," says to Fides Agency Fr. Gerardo Caglioni, Xaverian missionary, commenting on the outcome of the presidential elections in Sierra Leone held on November 17 (see Fides 17/11/2012).
Ernest Bai Koroma was re-elected for a second term of five years, beating in the first round (with 58.7%, that is to say 1,314,881 votes) Julius Maada Bio, 48, of the SLPP (Sierra Leone People's Party ), who obtained 37.4% of the vote. The required majority was 55%. Otherwise a ballot with a second round would have been required.
"In the program of the election campaign of both major candidates, there were promises to build a better Sierra Leone. The APC (All People's Congress) pointed out the improvement carried out compared to the past government and was committed to infrastructure, agriculture, in expectation of life, in international relations and development. The SLPP instead highlighted the good things it had achieved in the past, when it consolidated peace and reaffirmed the authority of the state – immediately after the war between 2002 and 2007 - as well as development, infrastructure, economy and good governance," recalls the missionary.
Fr. Caglione emphasizes, however, "no one has been able to state precisely how they intended to find the resources to fully realize the good programs presented. This applies in particular to the party that has just won the election. One consideration that could weigh heavily on the future of the Country, if we consider that many promises are not always fully maintained or perhaps often circumvented. "
"I remember - adds Fr. Caglioni - that in the past, Sierra Leone was called the Athens of West Africa, which is now one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. It occupies the 180th place out of 187 in the scale of developed countries. Poverty covers 78% of the population and its residents have a per capita income of $ 1.25 per day. As regards to infant mortality it occupies the 12th place among the highest in the world. One in eight women dies in childbirth and the last cholera epidemic claimed 259 victims."
On the other hand, education does not improve as expected, public transport and electricity do not cover much of the national territory. Drinking water is not always available. The extraction of precious minerals (such as rutile, diamonds and precious stones, bauxite, gold and iron) and the recent oil exploration – of good quality – do not promise to greatly improve the quality of life of population.
"The global economy leaves some doubt on the future cooperation (with the West or the Chinese?) And new partners do not always convince the people of Sierra Leone. Not always their interest and placement in the international market corresponds for the good and the desire for progress in Sierra Leone," concludes Fr. Caglioni. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 26/11/2012)

EUROPE : WORLD AIDS DAY MASS

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT

 
London: World AIDS Day Mass | Catholics living with HIV, HIV prevention and care, World AIDS Day,Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Fr John Creagh, Mill Hill Missionaries,

Panels from UK AIDS Memorial Quilt, at Warwick Street in 2011
Catholics living with HIV, those working in HIV prevention and care in local agencies, and volunteers, will celebrate the annual Mass to mark World AIDS Day on Sunday, 2 December 2012, 5pm, at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho, London W1B 5NB. The Mass will be celebrated by Fr John Creagh, a priest member of the Mill Hill Missionaries, a religious community working predominantly in African countries. Fr Creagh worked in Kenya for some time and is now an NHS mental health chaplain, also offering pastoral support at London's Mildmay Hospital, in Shoreditch.
CAPS, a national registered charity, offers peer support to people living with HIV who wish to integrate their faith with this experience through its Positive Catholics ministry. It draws people from a variety of backgrounds to a range of activities including monthly meetings and weekend retreats.
For more information about CAPS see:  www.caps-uk.org
SHARED FROM IND. CATH. NEWS