Monday, January 21, 2013


(Vatican Radio REPORT) 
Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) - This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, the Pope was presented with two lambs that had been blessed earlier in the morning for today's feast of St. Agnes. The blessing took place in the basilica on Rome's Via Nomentana which bears the saint's name and where she is buried. The lamb's wool will be used to make the palliums that will be bestowed on the new metropolitan archbishops on 29 June, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.
The pallium, a white woollen band embroidered with six black silk crosses, is a sign of honour and liturgical jurisdiction that is worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops in their churches and those of their provinces. The Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome raise the lambs, the symbolic animal of St. Agnes who was martyred in Rome around the year 305. The sisters of St. Cecilia will make the palliums from the newly-shorn wool of the lambs.
Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) – Next Saturday, 2 February, at 5:30pm in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI will celebrate Holy Mass on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, marking the World Day for Consecrated Life.
Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, will concelebrate with the Holy Father, along with the sub-secretary of that dicastery and all those who have been invited by the Congregation. Members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life are especially invited to participate in the Mass.
Vatican City, 20 January 2013 (VIS) – Jesus' first miracle, turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, was the Pope's subject of reflection before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square this afternoon.
The Holy Father recalled that, at a wedding that Jesus and Mary had been invited to, there was not enough wine for the guests. Mary informed her son of the situation but he answered her that his hour had not yet come. In the end, however, he agrees to his mother's request and, after making the servers fill six jars with water, transformed it into the best wine of the banquet. "With this sign Jesus publicly reveals his glory, inspiring the faith of his disciples … and revealing himself as the messianic Bridegroom, come to establish the new and everlasting covenant with his people". In this story, "the wine is a symbol of joy and love, but it also alludes to the blood that Jesus will shed in the end, to seal his nuptial pact with humanity."
"The Church," Benedict XVI continued, "is the bride of Christ, made holy and beautiful through his grace. Nevertheless, this bride, formed by human beings, is always in need of purification. One of the most serious sins that disfigure the face of the Church is the one against her visible unity, particularly the historical divisions that have separated Christians and that still have not been overcome. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is taking place in these days, a very welcome time for believers and communities, which awakens the desire for and spiritual commitment to achieving full communion."
The theme of this year's Week is "What does the Lord require of us?". It was proposed by some Christian communities in India who "invite us to walk with decision toward the visible union between all Christians and to overcome, as brothers and sisters in Christ, all kinds of unjust discrimination."
"To the prayer for unity among Christians," the pontiff concluded, "I would like to add once more, a prayer for peace so that in, all the various ongoing conflicts, the slaughter of unarmed civilians might stop, that there may be an end to all violence, and that the value of dialogue and negotiation may be found."
Vatican City, 19 January 2013 (VIS) – This morning Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum including the council's president, Cardinal Robert Sarah. The theme of this year's meeting is “Charity, Christian Anthropology, and Global Ethics". Following are ample excerpts from the address given by the Holy Father.
"All of Christian ethics receives its meaning from faith as an 'encounter' with Christ's love, which offers a new horizon and a decisive orientation to life. … Trusting obedience to the Gospel gives charity its typically Christian expression and constitutes its principle of discernment. Christians, especially those who work for charitable organizations, should be guided by the principles of the faith in which we can abide by 'God's point of view', by His plan for us. This new view of the world and of humanity that faith offers provides the proper criteria for evaluating charitable expressions in the current situation."
"In every age that humanity did not seek God's plan it became the victim of cultural temptations that wound up enslaving it. In recent centuries, the ideologies that celebrated a cult of nationality, of race, or of social class have proven to be idolatries. The same can be said of unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, which has resulted in crises, inequality, and poverty. More and more today, we share a common feeling regarding the inalienable dignity of every human being and the reciprocal and interdependent responsibility toward one another and therefore to the benefit of true civilization, a civilization of love."
"On the other hand, unfortunately, our time knows shadows that obscure God's plan. I'm referring particularly to that tragic anthropological reduction that reproposes an ancient hedonistic materialism, to which, however, is added a 'technological Promethanism'. From the union between a materialistic view of humanity and the great development in technology emerges an anthropology that is atheistic at heart. It presupposes that human beings are reduced to autonomous functions: the mind to the brain, human history to a destiny of self-realization. All of this disregards God, disregards our properly spiritual dimension and our more-than-earthly horizon."
"From the perspective of a humanity deprived of its soul and therefore deprived of a personal relationship with the Creator, what is technologically possible becomes morally licit, every experiment is acceptable, every population policy is permitted, every manipulation is legitimized. The most dangerous pitfall of this line of thought is, in fact, humanity's absolutization: human beings want to be 'ab-solutus', released from every tie and every natural constitution."
“Faith and healthy Christian discernment lead us, therefore, to pay prophetic attention to this ethical problematic and to the mentality underlying it. The proper collaboration with international bodies in the areas of human development and promotion shouldn’t close our eyes to these serious ideologies. The pastors of the Church … have the duty of warning faithful Catholics, as well as every person of good will and right reason, against these tendencies.”
“It is, in fact, a negative tendency for humanity, even if disguised with good intentions, as a teaching of alleged progress, or alleged rights, or an alleged humanism. In the face of this anthropological reduction, what duty falls to each Christian, and particularly to you, who are engaged in charitable activity and thus have a direct relationship with many other social actors? Certainly we must exercise a critical vigilance and at times refuse funding and collaborations that, directly or indirectly, favour actions or projects that are at odds with Christian anthropology.”
“Positively, however, the Church has always been committed to promoting humanity according to God’s plan, in its full dignity, in respect of its both vertical and horizontal dimension. This is also what ecclesial organizations work to develop. The Christian vision of humanity, in fact, is a great ‘yes’ to the dignity of the person, who is called to an intimate communion with God, a filial, humble, and confident communion. The human being is neither an isolated individual nor an anonymous element of a collective but rather a singular and unique person, intrinsically ordered to relationship and socialness. The Church, therefore, reaffirms its great ‘yes’ to the dignity and beauty of marriage as the expression of faithful and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman, and its ‘no’ to philosophies such as gender philosophies is based on the fact that the reciprocity between male and female is an expression of the beauty of nature willed by the Creator.”
"Faced with these critical challenges, we know that the answer is the encounter with Christ. In Him, human beings can fully realize their personal good and the common good."
Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a message to the new Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, in which he writes that his election to the patriarchal throne is "an important event for the entire Church". In the same letter he grants the "Ecclesiastica Communio", "in conformity with the custom and the desire of the Catholic Church".
"I am sure," continues the pontiff, "that, with the power of Christ, victor over evil and death by His resurrection, and with the cooperation of the fathers of your patriarchal synod, in communion with the college of bishops, you will have the courage to guide the Coptic Church. … May the Lord help you in your ministry as 'Father and Head', to proclaim the Word of God, so that it may be lived and celebrated with piety according to the ancient spiritual and liturgical traditions of the Coptic Church and may all the faithful find comfort in the paternal care of their new patriarch."
Vatican City, 21 January 2013 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and
six prelates from the Calabria region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Salvatore Nunnari of Cosenza-Bisignano,
- Archbishop Domenico Graziani of Crotone-Santa Severina,
- Archbishop Vincenzo Bertolone, S.d.P., of Catanzaro-Squillace,
- Bishop Luigi Antonio Cantafora of Lamezia Terme,
- Bishop Leonardo Antonio Paolo Bonanno of San Marco Argentano-Scalea, and
- Bishop Donato Oliverio of Lungro of the Italo-Albanians of continental Italy.
On Saturday, 19 January, the Holy Father received Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in audience.
Vatican City, 19 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:
- elevated the apostolic exarchate for Ukrainian faithful of the Byzantine rite resident in France, to the rank of eparchy with the title "Saint Wladimir-Le-Grand de Paris des Byzantins-Ukrainiens". He appointed Bishop Borys Andrij Gudziak, previously apostolic exarch of France (Ukrainian) and titular of Carcabia, as first bishop of the new eparchy. Bishop Gudziak was born in 1960 in Syracuse, New York, USA, was ordained to the priesthood in 1998, and received episcopal ordination in 2012.
- appointed Msgr. Piotr Sawczuk as auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Siedlce (area 11,440, population 736,800, Catholics 725,800, priests 666, religious 385), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in 1962 in Puczyce, Poland and was ordained a priest in 1987. Bishop-elect Sawczuk, previously vicar general and chancellor of the curia of that same diocese, was assigned the titular see of Ottana.
- appointed Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan as bishop of Mouila (area 59,035, population 124,000, Catholics 48,500, priests 16, religious 26), Gabon. Bishop Madega Lebouakehan was born in 1960 in Mbigou, Gabon, was ordained to the priesthood in 1991, and received episcopal ordination in 2000. Previously bishop of Port-Gentil, Gabon since 2003, Bishop Madega Lebouakehan was also named apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of that diocese. He succeeds Bishop Dominique Bonnet, C.S.Sp., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Moiula the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.




By Colin Wood

PATHOLOGY services in East Timor have been given a major boost thanks to the implementation of a new, automated laboratory information system, replacing hand written diagnostic results in the country’s National Laboratory and National Hospital in Dili.
A key component of St John of God Health Care’s Pathology Development Program, operated in partnership with the Timorese Ministry of Health, the LabTRAK system went live in November and has brought immediate improvements for medical staff at the Hospital Nacional Guido Valadares (HNGV).
A team of six Pathology caregivers from Victoria and Western Australia were travelled to Dili for up to six weeks to support the organisation’s two Timor-based scientists. During their time in Dili their role was to ensure the system went live with minimal disruption and also provide training for Timorese pathology scientists.
Dili-based scientist, Nick Hayes, said: “The Pathology Development Program has achieved a monumental goal as it continues to work with the laboratory staff of East Timor in making permanent improvements to the provision of pathology services across the country.

“The Timorese lab staff we work with have also achieved a greater level of proficiency – the LabTRAK system was a foreign idea to them, having previously relied on pen and paper for recording diagnostic results, but they have adapted to the new system very quickly and we are now able to develop its use as an educational tool in the future.”
LabTRAK will help improve the quality of results due to the reduction in manual programming and transcription. Timorese pathology workers have also responded with greater enthusiasm for laboratory processing tasks.
Building the capacity of Timorese operators through skill development and mentoring will have a lasting impact on improving health outcomes in one of Asia’s least developed nations.
“The next step is to assist our Timorese colleagues, progressing from producing quality results to also understanding what the results mean and the direct effect the laboratory can have on improving patient outcomes by providing an efficient, effective and safe service,” Nick said.
St John of God Health Care first committed to establishing the Pathology Development Program in East Timor in 2004. Since then numerous caregivers from Victoria and Western Australia have supported the efforts of scientists living in the country on a permanent basis.
The organisation committed to a second phase of the PDP in 2011 which will further develop pathology capabilities, focussing on training Timorese scientists in scientific and pathological understanding to ensure sustainable long-term improvements in diagnosis of diseases for the whole population.

Photos courtesy of St John of God Health Care




Bishops launch campaign to 'Speak Out For Marriage' |  Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales,‘Speak Out for Marriage’, Postcards .
The  British government will soon publish the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which, if passed, will fundamentally alter the meaning of marriage.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales are launching a postcard campaign entitled ‘Speak Out for Marriage’. Postcards for parishioners to send to their local MPS, which should be available in every Catholic Church in England and Wales by next Saturday 26 January.
The Bishops are also encouraging people to write personally to their MPs voicing opposition to the Bill.

The text of the postcard reads:

'Dear Member of Parliament,
As a concerned constituent I urge you to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
Marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of the family and provides the best circumstances in which to raise the next generation. This is why society has recognised marriage as having an identity distinct from any other relationship, however much love or commitment may be involved; marriage is about the common good.
No mainstream political party promised such a radical change in its last election manifesto. There is therefore no mandate for it. Please vote against it and let me know your views.'
The Bishops point out that the law helps shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage.
They write: 
"The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will:
-Change the meaning of marriage for everyone;
-Break the fundamental connection between marriage and child-bearing;
-Disregard the importance of male and female complementarity and creativity;
-Reduce the meaning of marriage solely to the commitment of the two people involved; Impact religious freedom;
-Have numerous unintended consequences, for example for schools, in the workplace, in one’s personal life, for inter-faith relations, and many other areas."

The Bishops write: "British public, as a whole, did not seek this change. None of the mainstream political parties promised it in their last election manifestos. Nor when the government launched its consultation did it ask whether the law should be changed; instead it asked how the law should be changed.
"In publishing this Bill the Government has ignored the views of over 626,000 people who signed a petition opposing the change, and the submissions of many others to the consultation. In its response to the consultation, the Government even chose to ignore many of the findings therein.
"There is no mandate for this change and the government appears to be rushing the Bill through Parliament against the strongly held views of the public, and without pausing to properly think about the consequences of such a change.
"This is a major constitutional change and the British public should and must be consulted. We must make our views known to our MPs and ‘Speak Out for Marriage’."
Finally the Bishops appeal for prayers and say: "Please act now. Please help preserve the meaning of marriage for future generations."
Source: Bishops Conference of England and Wales


The Algerian government to present official toll this afternoon. Among those killed: British, American, Colombian, Japanese, Filipino, Malaysian, Norwegian, Romanian. The leader of the Islamist group claimed responsibility for the attack to fight French "aggression" in Mali and the imprisonment of militants by "Crusaders." Hostages forced to keep explosives around their necks, killed without mercy.

Algiers (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 48 hostages and 32 kidnappers were killed in the Algerian army raid on the gas plant in In Amenas. A more accurate toll will be given by the authorities in Algiers this afternoon. For now, there are rumours of the discovery of the bodies of 25 hostages, while another 20 remain missing. The Army is raking in every corner of the huge plant in the Sahara desert to search for other victims and other militants. Of these 32 were killed and five were arrested, but three are on the run.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the mastermind behind the attack and the kidnapping, has released a video (perhaps previously recorded) which states that the terrorist act was carried out by 40 militants from the Islamic world and Europe. The group, linked to al Qaeda, acted to free the Muslims of Mali from the French invasion. He also says that he wanted to negotiate with the Algerian authorities for "an immediate end to the aggression against Muslims in Mali and for the liberation of our brothers held captive by the Crusaders."
Among the hostages are British, American, Colombian, Japanese, Filipino, Malaysian, Norwegian, Romanian.

The army put an end to kidnapping two days ago, after a two day siege, freeing 685 Algerians and 107 foreigners.

The stories of the freed hostages reveal the militants as ruthless killers. To coax the foreigners from hiding, they declared they were only searching for Americans. But then they killed and imprisoned them all without any distinction. For days, they held several hostages with explosives strapped around their necks, ready to detonate them. Three Japanese, who tried to escape were killed. The Algerian workers were kept separate from foreigners and were "treated with kindness", many of them were allowed to escape.

IntelCenter, an anti-terrorism intelligence group, said that the operation of In Amenas is the largest since the Mumbai attacks in 2008, and the worst since the massacre in the Moscow theater in 2002 and the Beslan school massacre in 2004.




Shelling continues days after president's decree
By John Zaw, Mandalay
Catholic Church News Image of
Buddhist monks and activists in Yangon march to protest over fighting in the ethnic area (AFP photo/Ye Aung Thu)
Artillery shelling and ground fighting by military troops continues today in Hka Ya, near La Ja Yang, despite a presidential ceasefire order on Friday.
Kachin Independence Army (KIA) spokesperson La Nan said: “the president ordered a ceasefire but that announcement has yet to reach to the military troops. They are still attacking the KIA." 
At Mai Ja Yang, near the Chinese border, artillery shelling and bombing can still be heard, according to a Kachin aid worker in the area.
Father Stephen Nanzing confirmed to that he has seen fighting today near La Ja Yang and he also heard artillery shelling by military troops.
According to Fr Nanzing, injured soldiers from the KIA said yesterday that hundreds of military troops are moving forward.
On Saturday, the government offered to engage in peace talks with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), but the KIO said yesterday that negotiations cannot begin until fighting stops, La Nan said.
San Awng, a peace mediator in Myitkyina, agreed that the military must stop the ongoing attacks so that peace talks can begin.
“It’s a challenge to build trust, as the words of the government and the actions of the military troops on the ground are different,” Saw Awng said today.
A 17-year ceasefire between the government and the KIA broke down in June 2011.
Twenty months of fighting has displaced an estimated more than 100,000 Kachins and raised concern from the international community. 
United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon yesterday welcomed the government’s ceasefire announcement.
“He calls upon both sides to make serious effort to create conditions for sustained peace in Kachin through enhanced confidence building measures and political dialogue,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.


Agenzia Fides report - Radio Veritas, a Catholic radio station in San Cristobal de las Casas, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, was able to obtain legal authorization of the Federal Commission of Telecommunications (COFETEL) for the installation and operation. It is not easy to have such a permit, even if since December 19, 2012 there are 23 broadcasters throughout Mexico which have received permission to transmit in frequency modulation (FM).
According to the letter received by Fides Agency, Radio Veritas intends to convey " humanist, art content, music, voices and new thoughts of the highest level." The station's signal will be transmitted via the Internet. Its headquarters is located in the heart of the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. In November 2012, when the new headquarters of the radio was inaugurated, the Bishop of the city, His Exc. Mgr. Felipe Arizmendi, urged the members and employees of the station to "be faithful communicators of the truth which is Christ, because the truth will make us free." In this area of Mexico the radio has always been a very effective tool to reach a widespread population. (CE) 


Mark 2:
 18 - 22

18Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
19And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
20The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.
21No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.
22And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins."


St. Agnes
Feast: January 21

Feast Day:January 21
Major Shrine::Church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura and the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, both in Rome
Patron of:Betrothed couples; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; gardeners; Girl Scouts; girls; rape victims; virgins
Few legends of saints have been more cherished than that of the virgin martyr Agnes. She was held in high regard by the primitive  Christian Church, and her name has remained a symbol of maidenly purity through the ages. According to tradition, Agnes was a Christian girl of Rome, perhaps twelve or thirteen years old, when Diocletian began his persecutions. Like St. Lucy, she was sentenced by a judge to a house of ill fame, but a young man who looked upon her lustfully was stricken blind. Thereafter she was taken out to be burned, but whether she met her death by fire or sword we cannot know with any certainty. Although we have no contemporary sources for the facts of her life and martyrdom, there is little reason to doubt the main outline of the story. References to this young saint appear in many Church writings of later date. St. Ambrose, St. Damasus, and Prudentius all praise her purity and heroism. Her name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Agnes' crypt was in the Via Nomentana, and the stone covering her remains was carven with the words, <Agna sanctissima> (most holy lamb). A church in her honor is presumed to have been built at Rome in the time of Constantine the Great. In the apse of this basilica, which was  rebuilt in the seventh century by Pope Honorius, there is still to be seen the large and beautiful mosaic depicting the saint. St. Agnes is the patroness of young girls and her symbol is, naturally, a lamb. On the anniversary of her martyrdom, the Pope, after high pontifical Mass in her church at Rome, blesses two lambs, and their wool is later woven into the <pallia> worn by archbishops.