Thursday, December 6, 2012


(Vatican Radio IMAGE/SHARE)
Vatican City, 6 December 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Joachim Gauck, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., accompanied by Msgr. Ettore Balastrero, under secretary for Relations with States.
The discussions highlighted the cordial nature of bilateral relations; attention was given to the Christian view of the person, as well as to the challenges currently posed by globalisation and the secularisation of society.
This was followed by a fruitful exchange of opinions on the international situation and the current economic crisis, especially in relation to its consequences in Europe, and the contribution that the Catholic Church may offer.
Vatican City, 6 December 2012 (VIS) - On 11 December at the "Augustinianum" Patristic Institute the Vatican Publishing House will present a book by the Russian artist Natalia Tsarkova, "Il mistero di un piccolo stagno" ("The mystery of a little pond").
Msgr. Georg Ganswein, personal secretary to the Holy Father Benedict XVI, Professor Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas at Castelgandolfo, and Fr. Giuseppe Costa S.D.B., director of the Vatican Publishing House, will participate in the presentation.
The author is the official portrait artist to the pontiff, and her book was inspired by a visit to the gardens of the apostolic palace at Castelgandolfo. According to a communique from the Vatican Publishing House, it is "a fairy tale which offers a message of love, faith and hope, especially to children".
In "Il mistero del piccolo stagno" is the author's first work in which she communicates using words as well as images.
Vatican City, 6 December 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain.
- Archbishop Diego Causero, apostolic nuncio in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
Vatican City, 6 December 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Fr. Rudolf Voderholzer of the clergy of Munich and Freising, Germany, as bishop of Regensburg (area 12,081, population 3,588,232, Catholics 1,772,434, priests 1,244, permanent deacons 243, religious 2,878), Germany.
The bishop-elect was born in Munich, Germany in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1987. He obtained his doctorate in dogmatic theology from the University of Munich in 1997, and in 2004 became president of the Department of Faith and Science of Religions and Philosophy of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Since 2005 he has been professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Trier, Germany, and since 2008, director of the "Pope Benedict XVI" Institute at Regensburg.
- Bishop Murray Chatlain of Mackenzie-Fort Smith as archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas (area 430,000, population 123,900, Catholics 46,490, priests 14, religious 18), Canada, and as apostolic administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the diocese of Mackenzie Fort-Smith.
Vatican City, 6 December 2012 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:
- Bishop Pedro N. Bantigue, emeritus of San Pablo, Philippines on 20 November at the age of 92.
- Bishop Jose Song Sui-Wan S.D.B., emeritus of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, Brazil on 13 November at the age of 71.



Agenzia Fides REPORT- About 500 people attended the vigil of prayer at the Shrine of Jasna Góra, in Poland, for the evangelization of the world (see Fides 30/11/2012), which was held on December 1. Thousands of people, including the sick, were able to join in this prayer through radio and television.
According to information sent to Fides Agency, during the appeal of Jasna Góra, Mgr. Tomas Atlas, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Poland, in response to the Holy Father's request for an intense prayer for the mission during the Year of Faith, prayed in order to obtain renewed zeal and a greater commitment in the Christian proclamation of the Good News in the contemporary world. He also underlined the need to support, materially and spiritually, our brothers and sisters in mission countries, so that they can get to know Jesus Christ, strengthen their faith and develop a local Church.
His Exc. Mgr. Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for the Health Pastoral Care, presided at the midnight Mass. In his homily he stressed the value of suffering in the life of the Church, especially for missionary service: "I was happy to learn that the sick and disabled were invited to participate in the vigil." He also noted that they constitute a particularly creative missionary activity of the Church.
The prayer for the evangelization of the world was accompanied by the testimonies of missionaries from different continents. The Vigil ended with the solemn act of entrustment of the missionary work of the Church to Our Lady of Jasna Góra. The Prayer Vigil in Jasna Gora, organized by the Pontifical Missionary Union on the occasion of the feast of St. Francis Xavier, started 22 years ago. For the first time group members of the Living Rosary and the sick participated in this year's event. (SL)


More than 200,000 people affected by Typhoon Bopha  
Catholic Church News Image of
Rescuers carry a rubber boat on their way to help stranded residents in a village in Cagayan de Oro City
Five teams from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have gone to Mindanao to assess damage caused by Typhoon Bopha, which left at least 325 people dead and hundreds more missing as of today.
Rescuers continue to struggle to reach areas cut off by floods and mudslides brought about by heavy rains in the wake of the typhoon.
CRS will prioritize the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, which were among the areas worst hit by the disaster, the relief agency said in a statement.
"There is no electricity and poor communications in those provinces, and while some families have taken shelter in evacuation centers, others are sleeping outside," the organization said in an update today.
"Hardest hit were the coastal, farming and mining towns in the southern region of Mindanao, where Bopha caused severe flash flooding and landslides. Raging waters and mud from the mountains swept through school buildings, covered courts, town halls and health centers," it said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the typhoon affected 231,630 people in 513 villages in 25 provinces. Of these, 179,169 people have sought shelter in 417 evacuation centers.
The government has already called for donations for victims.
"Filipino solidarity is at its most potent amidst testing times. We call on our countrymen to give generously for the relief and well-being of our brethren in the Visayas and Mindanao," a statement from the presidential palace said.


Agenzia Fides REPORT- For more than a year there has been humanitarian emergency in South Sudan. War, epidemics, malnutrition are some of the scourges that the population faces every day. In July, an epidemiological survey conducted by the organization Doctors Without Borders (DWB) in the refugee camps near the border with Sudan, had highlighted a mortality rate twice the emergency threshold. Every day 5 children died. Today violence in Jonglei State also affect DWB structures impeding access to health care assistance to an already vulnerable population. In the report "South Sudan, a forgotten crisis. Violence against civilians is devastating communities and preventing access to life-saving treatment in Jonglei, " recently published, DWB operators highlight the devastating impact of violence on the lives and health of civilians in the State. Among the victims there are many women and children. Other clashes between a group of militia and south Sudanese armed forces have increased violence and caused a mass exodus during the peak of the malaria season. More than 50% of gunshot wounds treated by DWB after an attack in January 2012 had been inflicted on women and children. Entire communities have fled to save their lives in the woods. Without shelter, food or drinking water, they are vulnerable to malaria, pneumonia, malnutrition and diarrhea. (AP)


Matthew 7:
21, 24 - 27

21 "Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
24 "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;
25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand;
27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it."


St. Nicholas
Feast: December 6

Feast Day:December 6
Born:270, Patara, Lycia
Died:6 December 343, Myra, Lycia
Major Shrine:Basilica di San Nicola, Bari, Italy.
Patron of:Children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, prostitutes, repentant thieves, many cities.

The great veneration with which this saint has been honoured, both in the Greek and Latin churches for many ages, and the great number of altars and churches which have been everywhere erected in his memory, are proofs of his extraordinary sanctity and of the glory which he enjoys with God. The Emperor Justinian built a church in his honour at Constantinople, in the quarter called Blaquernae, about the year 430, and he was titular saint of four churches in Constantanople. All accounts agree that he was a native of Patara, in Lycia. We are told that in his infancy he observed the fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays, refusing to suck the breasts on those days. Happy are they who, from their infancy and innocent age, are inured to the exercises of devotion, penance, and perfect obedience. St. Nicholas increased his fervour in these and all other virtues with his years, especially when he had devoted himself to a religious life in the monastery of Holy Sion, near Myra, of which house he was made abbot by the archbishop, its founder. Charity in comforting and relieving the distressed seemed his characteristical virtue. Amongst many other instances, it is related that when three young virgins were exposed through distress to the danger of falling into vicious courses, he, for three successive nights, conveyed to them through the window a competent sum of money for a fortune for one of them, so that they were all portioned and afterwards happily married. Lycia was a large ancient province of Asia, in which St. Paul had planted the faith. Myra, the capital, three miles from Patara and from the sea, was an archiepiscopal see, founded by St. Nicander, of so great dignity that in later ages, thirty-six suffragan bishoprics were subject to it. This metropolitan church falling vacant, the holy abbot Nicholas was chosen archbishop, and in that exalted station became famous by his extraordinary piety and zeal, and an incredible number of stupendous miracles. The Greek histories of his life agree that he suffered imprisonment for the faith, and made a glorious confession in the latter part of the persecution raised by Diocletian: and that he was present at the great council of Nice, and there condemned Arianism. The silence of other authors make many justly suspect these circumstances.
The history of the translation of his relics place his death in 342. He died at Myra and was buried in his own cathedral. The relics of St. Nicholas were kept with great honour at Myra, till they were translated into Italy. Certain merchants of Bari, a seaport in the kingdom of Naples situated on the Adriatic Gulf, sailed in three ships to the coast of Lycia; and watching an opportunity when no Mohammedans were near the place, went to the church in which the relics of St. Nicholas were kept, which stood in a desert place three miles from the sea, and was guarded by a small community of monks. They broke open the marble coffin in which the sacred bones lay, and carried them off to their ships; the inhabitants, upon the alarm given, pursued them to the shore with horrible outcries, but the Europeans were got safe on board. They landed at Bari on the 9th of May 1087, and the sacred treasure was deposited by the archbishop in the Church of St. Stephen. On the first day, thirty persons were cured of various distempers, imploring the intercession of St. Nicholas, and from that time the tomb of St. Nicholas of Bari has been famous for pilgrimages. The authentic history of this translation, written by John, at that time archdeacon of Bari, by order of the archbishop, is extant in Surius.


Vatican City, 5 December 2012 (VIS) - God's "benevolent plan" for mankind, which begins St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, was the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis at today's general audience. The great hymn that the apostle Paul raised to God "introduces us to living in the time of Advent, in the context of the Year of Faith. The theme of this hymn of praise is God's plan for mankind, defined in terms of joy, stupefaction and thankfulness, ... of mercy and love", said the Pope.
The Apostle elevated this blessing to God because he "looked upon his actions throughout the history of salvation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, and contemplated how the celestial Father chose us, even before the foundation of the world, to become His adoptive children, in his only Son, Jesus Christ. ... God's 'benevolent plan', which the Apostle also describes as a 'plan of love', is defined as 'the mystery' of divine will, hidden and then disclosed in the Person and work of Christ. The initiative precedes any human response; it is the freely given gift of his love, which envelops and transforms us.
"What is the ultimate aim of this mysterious plan? It is to recapitulate all things in Christ; "this means that in the great design of creation and history, Christ is placed at the centre of the world's entire path, as the axis upon which everything turns, drawing all of reality to Him, in order to overcome dispersion and limits, and to lead all to fullness in God".
However, "this benevolent plan", explained Benedict XVI, "did not remain concealed in God's silence, in the heights of His Heaven; instead, He brought it to our knowledge by entering into a relationship with man, to whom He revealed His very being. He did not simply communicate a series of truths, but instead He communicated Himself to us, He showed Himself as one of us, to the extent of taking on human flesh. ... This communion in Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, offered by God to all mankind in the light of His self- revelation, does not merely correspond to our humanity, but is instead the fulfilment of its deepest aspirations, and introduces it to a joy which is neither temporal nor limited, but eternal".
"In view of this, what is, then, the act of faith? It is man's response to God's self-revelation, by which He shows His 'benevolent plan' for humanity. ... it is allowing oneself to be seized by God's Truth, a Truth that is Love. ... All this leads to a ... true 'conversion', a 'change of mentality', because the God Who has revealed Himself to us in Christ and has shown us His plan captures us and draws us to Him, becoming the meaning that sustains our life and the rock on which it finds stability".
The Holy Father concluded by recalling that Advent "places us before the luminous mystery of the coming of the Son of God and the great 'benevolent plan' by which He sought to draw us to Him, to allow us to live in full communion of joy and peace with Him. Advent invites us, in spite of the many difficulties we encounter, to renew our certainty of the presence of God: He came into the world, in human flesh like ours, to fully realise his plan of love. And God asks that we too become signs of His action in the world. Through our faith, hope and charity, He wishes us to make His light shine anew in our night".
Vatican City, 5 December 2012 (VIS) - Following this morning's catechesis the Holy Father launched an appeal to the international community for an end to the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Troubling news continues to arrive regarding the grave humanitarian crisis in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which for months now has been the scene of armed conflict and violence", said the Pope. "A large part of the population lacks even the most basic means of support and thousands have been forced to abandon their homes to seek refuge elsewhere. I therefore renew my appeal for dialogue and reconciliation, and invite the international community to take all action necessary to attend to the pressing needs of the population".
Vatican City, 5 December 2012 (VIS) - The traditional nativity scene mounted every Christmas in St. Peter's Square will this year be offered to the Holy Father by the Italian region of Basilicata.
The nativity scene, which includes one hundred terracotta figures, is the work of Francesco Artese, one of the most famous exponents of the southern school of traditional nativity sculpture. The most striking characteristic of Artese's work is his recreation of landscapes of the Stones of Matera and his reproduction of scenes of rural life. Indeed, the nativity of St. Peter's Square is reminiscent of locations in the Holy Land.
According to an informative note published today, "The Lucanian landscape has been enriched by the work of religious people who have chosen to live there, transforming these places into a human settlement rich in holiness, building 154 rupestrian churches, monasteries and sanctuaries which, from the high Middle Ages until the nineteenth century, have shaped the identity of a vast area which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
"The scenery of the nativity, therefore, while inspired by a traditional iconographic genre, is rendered unique by elements reproducing locations and architecture typical of the Lucanian landscape. The rupestrian churches of San Nicola dei Greci and Convicinio di Sant'Antonio are recognisable, and above, the bell tower of San Pietro Barisano stands tall amid the myriad rooftops. The human environment is that of ancient Lucanian rural civilisation ... and the statuettes, made entirely of terracotta, are dressed in clothing made of starched cloth and based on the typical Lucanian peasant costumes of the past. Artese has chosen to dress the Holy Family with costumes in the classic tradition".
"As in previous years, the installation of the nativity scene is entrusted to the Technical Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State".




ASIA NEWS REPORT: The official toll is about 100 dead, but some sources report 230 and say the number is set to rise. The greatest damage on the southern island of Mindanao. Army and volunteers involved in the rescue operations. Manila emphasizes prevention efforts. Typhoon heads towards the South China Sea.

Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Over one hundred dead - some sources speak of 230 - have been reported in the provisional toll following Typhoon Bopha, renamed Pablo in the Philippines, which yesterday struck the south of the country, in particular the island of Mindanao. The number is likely to rise, since only in the last few hours civil protection, military and volunteers have managed to reach the most remote areas. Almost 90 thousand displaced people are being accommodated in emergency centers set up by the government; Manila, meanwhile, is satisfied with prevention plans and early warning systems which has helped to limit the scope of the disaster. Bopha, in fact, is estimated to be even more devastating Typhoon Washi, which hit the archipelago in December 2011 causing an estimated 1,300 victims.

Yesterday, the typhoon hit the southern island of Mindanao, bringing rain and strong winds up to 210 km / h, forcing authorities to evacuate tens of thousands of inhabitants. Currently it is passing over the western island of Palawan and in the early morning of tomorrow, will arrive in the South China Sea. Experts have not excluded that it might even touch the coasts of China, carrying with it a burden of death and destruction.

Many areas in Mindanao are still without electricity, food or drinking water, roads are cut off due to the collapse of bridges. The army is struggling to bring relief to the displaced in remote and isolated areas. Dozens of domestic flights and ferry connections have been interrupted in the centre and south of the archipelago, even schools and offices remained closed.

Corazon Soliman, Minister of Social Welfare, said that among the most critical areas is the southern mountainous town of New Baatan in the region of Davao. "The bodies are left on the roadside, in the open air - said the politician - and we do not want to run the risk of spreading disease."

At the same time, the government is highlighting efforts made in recent days to limit the damage and victims of the typhoon, sending text alerts and ads on TV to prepare the population, which reacted better than in the past. There are in fact damage to homes, crops and infrastructure, but the work of prevention "has saved many lives."

Every year, the Philippine archipelago is hit by the passage of at least 20 typhoons, some of them of a devastating nature. Bopha is the 16th to affect the Philippines in 2012. In August there were a hundred deaths and a million displaced by a series of violent storms. In 2011 there were 19 typhoons, 10 of high intensity: the death toll reached 1,500 mostly caused by Typhoon Washi (see AsiaNews 20/12/2011
Typhoon Washi, Manila declares a national emergency. First burials en masse).


Parramatta Council Christmas Crib News Story

DIOCESE OF PARAMATTA RELEASE: With The Parramatta Advertiser
The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, has blessed the city's Christmas crib as part of Parramatta Council's Christmas 2012 program launch.
Held at Parramatta's Town Hall on Thursday 29 November, the festivities included a family-friendly concert and the official lighting of the city's Christmas tree.
In Lord Mayor John Chedid's Christmas message, he invited the whole community to take part in council's celebrations, which are taking place at various locations and times in the lead-up to 25
Read full story at The Parramatta Adveritser

Download audio version Download audio version
Brandenburg Choir Noël! Noël! Concert
Catholic Outlook November 2012 Letter
of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP

The secular year winds inexorably to its close, with longer and hotter days, endless Christmas parties, shopping and preparations and the rest. It’s the big slow-down towards the summer … yet suddenly the Church’s new year begins!
Just when we’re ready to wind down and take it easy, have a few drinks at the office parties, switch the mobile phone on to silent and take a snooze – at that very moment the Church’s liturgy says: ‘Wake up! Be on your guard! You do not know the hour.’
This can come as a bit of a slap in face. Why is Advent like that?
Well, one thing Advent teaches us is that God’s time is not man’s time. God exists in and as eternity, which means that there is no time really for Him or that all time is at once for Him, which is pretty mind-boggling for us. Advent suggests that we Christians, too, have to look beyond the here and now, the busyness and the leisure. Our personal diaries and our world’s calendars are not what ultimately matter.
The early Christians lived in daily expectation of Jesus’ return. We may smile fondly at their over-literal interpretation of Jesus’ words that they would be reunited soon, but maybe they were on to something.
We moderns tend to imagine the second coming as some infinitely distant event with little to do with us but, in fact, just like the 1st Century Christians, we live in a ‘middle ages’ – the space between Jesus’ resurrection and return – and the last judgement will not be arranged to fit neatly into our current work or holiday plans.
So Advent begins with ‘Stir Up Sunday’ which takes its name from the old Advent collect, but also from the practice of housewives stirring up Christmas pudding for the last time before the big day. It reminded people to stir themselves up, to be wary of complacency, not to slow down spiritually as the heat in Australia builds up, not to suspend the practice of their faith as the silly season begins.
We should keep our eyes on the new Jerusalem, for our long pilgrimage is almost over: the Lord’s unending day is dawning.
Perhaps this Advent message makes Christians sound like kill-joys to rest of the world each December. Why should we be tense when everyone else is trying to release the tension? Shouldn’t we be grateful we’ve made it safely – and perhaps successfully – through another year and are about to have a well-deserved break? Haven’t we earned a bit of a Christmas bonus, a bit of a break from God’s demands?
Isn’t Christmas supposed to be party time and if we start a bit early with office parties and finish a bit late with beach holidays, doesn’t that mean we are just stretching Christmas over two months, taking it more seriously as it were?
No, the Advent wisdom seems to be: we will not hear that Christmas message of joy and hope without appropriate preparation. Without a good Advent, Christmas will be reduced to hang-overs in paper crowns and indigestion wrapped in tinsel.
The great theologian St Anselm once asked ‘Why did God become man at Christmas?’ and he answered for the whole Church: ‘To redeem us; to save us from our sins.’
The Christmas message tells the whole world: we cannot go on just as before: everything changes because this divine babe is on His way. Christmas will offer us a new beginning and we can only grasp it if we convert now, if we stir ourselves up out of our slumber and smugness.
If we are spiritually asleep when the Christmas babe comes, He might just find there is no room at the inn of our homes, our lives, our hearts; they are locked and the householders asleep.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for prawns and champagne and Christmas puddings or whatever is your family’s equivalent. But if that (and indigestion and mounting credit-card debt) is all this season means for us, there’s not much sign that Christ’s first Advent changed anything ...
How do we stir ourselves up so that the pudding makers experience an expectancy like Mary did, and so we can prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming like the prophets did?
Advent is New Year’s Day for Catholics. A time, then, for resolutions. Not like the ones people make and break at the new calendar year, but the kind that come from an honest self-examination, calling ourselves to account, allowing the bright light of the Christmas star to spotlight the darker sides of our lives so we can spring clean them away for the summer ahead.
Advent says loud and clear: live NOW as if Christ will return at any moment with all the saints, all our loved ones. Show them an Advent we can be proud of!


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The inter-territorial Episcopal Conference of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, held from 26 November to 2 December, its first ordinary meeting of the pastoral year 2012-2013. For the first time the Bishops gathered in Cape Verde, in Rui Vaz, 22 km from the city of Praia, in the diocese of Santiago de Cabo Verde. According to information sent to Fides Agency by the Curia of Bissau, the opening session was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, His Exc. Mgr. Luis Mariano Montemayor, who focused on the service that the Church carries out in favor of the many people who live in the various countries that make up the Inter-territorial Catholic Episcopal Conference. He also stressed the invitation by the Church to all Christians to live with joy the Year of Faith. As is customary in the first meeting, the Bishops focused their attention on the exhortation for Lent 2013, which will have as its theme: "Some challenges of ecology in the light of Christian faith." Among the other topics covered in the meeting: the University Unity of Ziguinchor (UUZ) in Senegal, the Synod on the New Evangelization, the 11th International Meeting of the Teams of Nossa Senhora-in Brasilia, the meeting of Caritas Africa and the Year of Faith.
The Bishops had the opportunity to meet various authorities of Cape Verde, visited some historical sites of the island of Santiago, development projects and the new social center of the parish of St. Catherine. After the meeting, they thanked God for the moments of sharing and prayer experiences, for the kindness and hospitality of the people they met, for the commitment of all those who contributed to the smooth running of the meeting, invoking the Lord's abundant blessings for all. The celebration of Mass on the first Sunday of Advent, December 2, in the park of the Seminary of St. Joseph, in Praia was very emotional, with the ordination of two deacons. (SL)