Thursday, January 31, 2013


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Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – Following the bilateral negotiations held in past years with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an official meeting took place in Ramallah, Palestine on 30 January 2013, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine.
The talks were headed by Dr. Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, and Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States.
The Parties exchanged views regarding the draft Agreement under discussion, especially the Preamble and Chapter I of the mentioned Agreement. The talks were held in an open and cordial atmosphere, the expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. The Delegations expressed the wish that negotiations be accelerated and brought to a speedy conclusion. It was thus agreed that a joint technical group will meet to follow-up.
Gratitude was expressed for the Holy See’s contribution of 100.000 euro towards the restoration of the roof of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – The annual Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture was presented in a conference this morning in the Press Office of the Holy See. This year's plenary will be dedicated to the theme "Emerging Youth Cultures" and will take place from 6 to 9 February. Participating in the conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, respectively president and delegate of that dicastery, along with Fr. Enzo Fortunato, O.F.M. Conv., director of the Sacred Convent of Saint Francis Press Office in Assisi and two youth representatives: Alessio Antonielli of Italy and Farasoa Mihaja Bemahazaka of Madagascar.
In an address presenting the event that was given a few days ago at the Convent of St. Francis in Assisi, Cardinal Ravasi said that its main area of interest would be "youth culture". "Walking down the streets with their ears blocked up with earphones, listening to their music, gives a sign that they are 'disconnected' from the unbearable social, political, and religious complexities that we adults have created. In a certain sense, they drop their gaze so as to exclude themselves because we have excluded them with our corruption and inconsistency, with uncertainty, unemployment, and marginalization. We parents, teachers, and priests, the ruling class, we must examine our conscience. The 'diversity' of youth, which in fact is not only negative, contains surprising seeds of fruitfulness and authenticity. We need only think of the choice to volunteer made by many young persons or their passion for music, sports, and friendship, which is their ways of telling us that man does not live by bread alone. We need only think of their spirituality, which is so original in its sincerity, or their freedom, which is hidden under a blanket of seeming indifference."
"For these and for many other reasons," concluded the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, "I am interested in the youth, who are the present (not only the future) of humanity. Of the five billion people living in developing countries, more than half are under the age of 25 (representing 85% of all the youth in the world). That is why, leaving aside the ever-necessary objective socio-psychological analysis of faith on the young, that is, the meaning of religious presence to them, we would rather focus on their faith, that is, trusting in their possibilities, even if they are buried underneath those differences that, at first glance, cause such an striking impression."
Bishop Avezedo, during his address at the press conference, laid out the plenary's program, clarifying that its objective is "to objectively enquire into the new, complex, and fragmented phenomenon of youth cultures with the help of experts and listening to the thoughts of the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Only the opening ceremony will be open to the public. It will be held in the Aula Magna of the LUMSA University and will have the novelty of a short rock concert preceding the first conference. The work document sent to all participants clarifies our perspective of cultural analysis of the transformations in adolescents and young adults who are questioning the practices of evangelisation."
"A few days ago," he commented, "the International Labour Organization said that 73.8 million young persons in the world are seeking employment and that there will be half a million more by 2014. This information raises a series of questions: Is there a distrust of government? Is there a fear of the future? Will the youth take to the streets in protest? Does the myth of eternal youth reveal a lack of value of adults?" In this context, and after the assembly takes an overall look at the situation, the program will focus on some of the most salient and wide-reaching cultural features such as how the "digital culture revolutionizes the model and the grammar of communications". The structures and rituals of this language, just like the importance of music, meeting places, etc. … All those questions that "require discernment on the part of the Church and a profound change in language and the creation of codes in which the Christian vision might be meaningful." Other topics for discussion will be the "emotional alphabet" of the youth, the value of the body, friendship networks, and the delay in attaining self-sufficiency.
The following day, three young adults from different continents will reflect on the reasons for having confidence in the youth. Despite the fear of the future and the worsening of economic conditions, there are "potentials, an incredible creativity, a spirit of volunteering that is full of altruism, … and answers to the questions of meaning and hope."
The next topic to be dealt with will be that of "generating the faith, which we have called the 'cultural battle'. Effectively," Bishop Avezedo said, "that means that creating conditions that make meeting Christ possible have to have a cultural as well as a pastoral and theological focus. The fatigue, and at times failure, of ecclesial practices that widen the gap between young persons and the Church needs to be understood. Also, the rates of being born into the faith are low. Adult generations either do not know how or do not have time to deal with their own faith or to generate the faith in their children."
"The audience with the Holy Father at the beginning of the plenary meeting will be a major incentive for the assembly. For 2,000 years, the Church hasn't had a predetermined artistic style or a predefined language. She looks to the person and the message of Jesus to communicate in these totally 'multi-verse' times. Emerging youth cultures reveal the vulnerability, the insecurity, and the fragility of repetitive formulas. The Pontifical Council for Culture's promising assembly frees us from superficiality and apathy and is unafraid of confronting the truth of cultural situations."
Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and
ten prelates from the Campania region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, along with auxiliaries
- Bishop Antonio Di Donna, titular of Castellum in Numidia, and
- Bishop Lucio Lemmo, titular of Turres Ammeniae,
- Archbishop Beniamino Depalma, C.M., of Nola,
- Archbishop Francesco Alfano of Sorrento-Castellammare di Stabia,
- Bishop Gennaro Pascarella of Pozzuoli,
- Bishop Salvatore Giovanni Rinaldi of Acerra,
- Bishop Angelo Spinillo of Aversa,
- Bishop Valentino Di Cerbo of Alife-Caiazzo, and
- Msgr. Giuseppe Regine, diocesan administrator of Ischia.
Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:
- appointed Bishop Ignatius Menezes as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Allahabad (area 46,774, population 32,199,000, Catholics 13,263, priests 90, religious 370), India. Bishop Menezes, emeritus of Ajmer, India, succeeds Bishop Isidore Fernandes, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Allahabad the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- appointed Fr. Laurent Birfuore Dabire as bishop of Dori (area 34,766, population 950,000, Catholics 10,000, priests 19, religious 20), Burkina Faso. Bishop-elect Dabire was born in Dissin, Burkina Faso in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1995. Previously judicial vicar and chancellor of the Diocese of Diebougou, Burkina Faso from 2005, the bishop-elect holds a doctorate in canon law and comparative law from Rome's Pontifical Lateran University and teaches law at the Unite Universitaire of Bamako, Mali.
- appointed Fr. Jonas Dembele as bishop of Kayes (area 160,000, population 1,432,000, Catholics 8,000, priests 18, religious 18), Mali. Bishop-elect Dembele, of the clergy of San, Mali was born in Sokoura, Mali in 1963, and was ordained a priest in 1992. Along with having served as pastor to several parishes in Mali since 1992, the bishop-elect was general secretary of the Diocesan Union of the Clergy of San and the National Union of the Clergy of Mali between 2002 and 2008.
- appointed Bishop Stanislas Lalanne as bishop of Pontoise (area 1,246, population 1,160,719, Catholics 844,000, priests 175, permanent deacons 28, religious 216), France. Bishop Lalanne, previously of Coutances, France, was born in Metz, France in 1948, was ordained to the priesthood in 1975, and received episcopal ordination in 2007. On the national episcopal conference her serves on the "Etudes et projets" committee and is also a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and an advisor to the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE).
- appointed Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula of Xai-Xai, Mozambique as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. Bishop Muandula is president of the Mozambique Bishops' Conference. His Holiness also appointed Dr. Marco Impagliazzo as a consultor of that same pontifical council. Dr. Impagliazzo, who teaches Contemporary History at the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy, is president of the Community of Sant'Egidio.
The Holy Father has appointed these cardinals, created in the consistory of 24 November 2012, as members of the following dicasteries and organs of the Roman Curia:
1) to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria;
2) to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon and Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India;
3) to the the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia;
4) to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Rome, Italy.
5) to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon;
6) to the presidency committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family: Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria and Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines;
7) to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia;
8) to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples: Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon and Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines;
9) to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India;
10) to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon;
11) to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Rome, Italy.




Questioning, Pi concludes, is useful. We must have our times in the garden of Gethsemane, like Christ anguished in prayer. Photo: 20th Century Fox.
Questioning, Pi concludes, is useful. We must have our times in the garden of Gethsemane, like Christ anguished in prayer. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Does God exist? Many will remember a world-famous atheist declaring on national TV that this was a meaningless question. So why do people keep asking it?
Yann Martel’s prize-winning novel, Life of Pi, was recently made into a $120 million movie directed by Ang Lee. It is a fantasy adventure about an Indian boy who survives 227 days at sea after a shipwreck, mostly in a life-boat with a Bengal tiger. In the process he explores the question of God’s existence.
US President Barack Obama, who read the book with his daughter, declared it “an elegant proof of God – and the power of storytelling”. Whatever we think of the answers in the book, the question of God’s existence is irresistible, even to the mightiest on earth.
Related questions include: are we more than bundles of atoms and energy, flesh and blood? Are we also spiritual beings, with the possibility of some life after death? What kind of life? Do our lives in the meantime have any sort of purpose? Is there more to our loving, thinking, choosing – more to all our big questions and little answers – than the laws of nature and survival of the fittest? Does God want to say anything to me about these things? If so, how? Would He ever speak so directly to me as to become a human being and so definitively as to give me a religion to live by?
As we reflect upon the wonders of ourselves, our natural universe, our human communities, our histories and futures – the great stories – we realise how unnecessary it all is. I don’t have to be. Time was, when I wasn’t. Time will come, when I’m not. So too, all the rest of these things: why any of it? It all points beyond itself. If it can’t bring and hold itself in being then there has to be another explanation ...
I’m privileged to spend a lot of time with the young people of our Diocese. They are at that stage of life when they are asking the big questions. They lie awake at night thinking about them or spend endless hours discussing them. We have Theology on Tap, right here in a pub in Parramatta, for that very purpose.
They know, they tell me, that there has to be something behind it all. Everything we are and have owes itself to something outside ourselves. Everything comes to us, especially our very lives, as a gift.
That suggests a Giver, one whose that-it-is is included in its what-it-is. Philosophers call this ‘the first cause’ or ‘pure existence’. The Old Testament calls it “I am” or “The God of your fathers, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Ex 3:14, 6). Faith and reason agree: only this Being is ‘necessary’. Only this Being must be. Only this Being can pass on existence to everything else.
Forces in our culture distract or discourage us from thinking about such things. Worse still, they tell us we are self-creating, self-sustaining, self-redeeming. In this self-sufficiency we are, as it were, our own gods (cf. Gen 3:5). But the storms of life have a way of shattering such illusions and forcing the big questions back upon us.
As a child, young Pi Patel explored various religions. In the novel, when his teacher condemns all religion as darkness, Pi thinks “Darkness is the last thing that religion is. Religion is light.” He wonders if the teacher is testing him, like when he says “no mammal lays eggs” waiting for the boy to say “platypuses do”. When his father calls religion darkness in the film, Pi makes the sign of the cross and announces he wants to be baptised!
Questioning, Pi concludes, is useful. We must have our times in the garden of Gethsemane, like Christ anguished in prayer. “But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
Recalling the days of floating lost at sea Pi says “it was hard, oh, it was hard. Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love – but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific”. Until he surrendered to God – like the One on the crucifix who had so disturbed him when first he entered a church.
The film concludes by asking us which story is more satisfying: one with God in it, or one without? It is a rather postmodern way of framing the question. But as Pi concludes in the novel, God doesn’t need to be defended by arguments about His existence: He’ll be fine whether we believe in Him or not. It’s us who need to be shaped by the question and the answers. We need the awe and gratitude, the hope and love, that faith opens up to us. This Year of Faith is our chance to recover that!
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Bishop of Parramatta


Award Winning Author’s Book Launched Posthumously

NAIROBI, January 29, 2013 (CISA) -Mandate of the People, a book written by the late Dr Margaret Ogola, was on January 28 posthumously launched at the Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel.
Tom Odhiambo, a teacher of literature at the University of Nairobi in his review noted Margaret Ogola’s attempt to confront the stereotype of the apolitical middle or business classes in Kenya to be proactive in politics.
“This is Ogollas most forthright argument about the urgent need for all Kenyans to reengage with problems of poverty that afflicts millions of Kenyans in the country’s cities and the countryside; to honestly create opportunities, provide incentives and an appropriate education for the millions of idling young Kenyans to participate in economic production t rethink our political culture,” said Mr Odhiambo.
The chief guest Mr Charles Nyachae, chairman of the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) termed the launch as timely with the current electoral mood in Kenya as the characters in the book reflect the behaviours of Kenyan politicians as they seek the people’s mandate to lead in 2013 General Elections.
According to Mr Nyachae, there is a lot in the book that we can relate to. The politician who counts on his money to buy peoples votes, those who would use any form of treachery against opponents, be it creating negative propaganda or instigating violence but who on ascending to position spend the electoral cycle doing everything else but representing the people who gave them the mandate.
Apart from writing Margaret Ogola was a medical doctor and human rights advocate. Her first novel, The River and The Source, won the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for literature and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for the Best First Book, African Region in 1995. Her other books include I swear by Apollo and A Place of Destiny.
In 1997, she co-authored with Ms Margaret Roche a brief biography on The Servant of God, Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga titled Life of Grace. She also wrote ‘Educating in Human Love: guiding children on sex’, a handbook for parents. In 1998, she became the National Executive Secretary for Health and Family Life at the Kenya Episcopal Conference.
The event brought together fellow writers, family, friends and fans who came to witness the launching of her last book.
Margaret passed away on September 22, 2011. She left behind a husband and six children.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Bishop of the Diocese of Neuquén and Vice President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, Hios Exc. Mgr. Virginio Domingo Bressanelli, S.C.I., expressed concern about the economic situation, social inequality that still exists in the country, in particular in the province of his diocese, and for the spread of drugs. The note sent to Fides Agency is an interview to the local press by the Bishop, in which he states: "The year 2012 was not one of the best years from the economic point of view. It is said that in 2013 and 2014, the situation can improve ... It is well known that when there are difficult situations, those who suffer the most are the vulnerable, the poorest, those with lower incomes or those without work." Mgr. Bressanelli, Bishop of Neuquén since 2011, pointed out that "the number of people who are in a vulnerable situation, who I met on the street and asked for help has increased."
The causes of the social situation, Mgr. Bressanelli cited "the international crisis, especially in the West, and the very few foreign investment in Argentina that have limited sources of employment." Therefore he said: "We (bishops) are neither the opposition nor the government, we are Pastors." This is why the document of the Argentinean Bishops touched "two important issues, such as family and social life."
The words of the Bishop were motivated by his demand for a decisive intervention of the State to counter consumption and drug addiction. "In Neuquén alcohol, gambling and drugs addicts are a serious problem" denounced Mgr. Bressanelli. According to what was reported, the figures are alarming: the average age when drugs begin decreased from 14 to 8 years. "Drug problem is now also present in primary schools," he said, saying he is in favor of increasing social workers. "The question of dependence must be attacked from all sides," concluded Mgr. Bressanelli. (CE)


Archbishop Joseph Cassidy RIP | Dr Joseph Cassidy,  Archbishop of Tuam, Archbishop Michael Neary

Archbishop Cassidy
The retired Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Joseph Cassidy, died yesterday, 30 January aged 79. The news was announced by Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary.
In paying tribute to Archbishop Cassidy, Archbishop Neary said: “It was with much sadness that I heard the news of the passing of Archbishop Joseph Cassidy. Archbishop Cassidy was a much loved pastor throughout his long life and varied ministry. People and priests knew him as a deeply spiritual man and as a gifted teacher and communicator.
"Archbishop Cassidy was acknowledged throughout Ireland as a most articulate spokesman for the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference throughout the 1980s. I express my sincere condolences to his family, to the priests of the Archdiocese of Tuam, to the dioceses of Achonry and Clonfert and to his very wide circle of friends within which I was privileged to be included. Ar Dheis Dé go raibh sé.”
Cardinal Seán Brady said: "It is with great sadness that I heard news today of the passing of Archbishop Joseph Cassidy, the former Archbishop of Tuam. For over fifty years Archbishop Cassidy served the people of God with dedication and distinction in the dioceses of Achonry, Clonfert and Tuam.
"A man of supreme pastoral care and a lovely sense of humour, he combined love for the Church with a wonderful understanding of the people with whom he was privileged to work. Superbly gifted as a communicator, Archbishop Cassidy dedicated much time and thought to honing and chiseling the words to sensitively fit the theme and the occasion. He did so selflessly and had no regrets at all about the efforts involved because he was ever anxious that the ensuing glory should be given to God and not to himself."
Joseph Cassidy was born 29 October 1933, a native Charlestown, Co. Mayo. He was Ordained Priest on 21 June 1959 for Achonry Diocese and was on loan to Clonfert in 1959 and was later incardinated into Clonfert diocese in the early 1960s.
He worked as a teacher in Saint Joseph’s College, Garbally from 1959-1977 and was President of Saint Joseph’s from 1977-1979.
On 24 August 1979 he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Clonfert. He was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Clonfert on 23 September 1979 and installed as Bishop of Clonfert on 1 May 1982. In September 1987 he was translated to Tuam as Archbishop. He retired in June 1995.
Source: Irish Catholic Communications Office


by Mathias Hariyadi
The ceremonies were held in Bekasi and Yogyakarta. A recent but growing trend is vocations among older adults. As part of the celebrations, Mgr Ignatius Suharyo, archbishop of Jakarta, marked 37 years of priesthood, a "true gift" for the prelate.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The recent ordination of 33 new deacons is a sign of the vitality of the Indonesian Church. Following the country's tradition, six months from now, they will become priests. Their vocation heralds many more, among older adults men. The ceremony of the imposition of the first degree of the Holy Orders took place in Bekasi and Yogyakarta. In the former case, the event also marked the 37 years of priesthood of Jakarta archbishop Mgr Ignatius Suharyo.

The Parish of Pulogebang (Bekasi Regency, West Java Province) hosted the ordination of nine deacons last week. Mgr Suharyo conducted the service in a local church, not in the capital's cathedral, in accordance with a decades-old tradition.

Conducting the ceremony in local parishes is meant to strengthen the ties between Church hierarchy and the faithful, local Catholic sources explained, by highlighting the need for new vocations and priests to serve the community. At the same time, the event has become a venue for the new deacons "to meet, exchange and celebrate".

In this case, the event was twice important because it coincided with 37th anniversary of the ordination of the archbishop of Jakarta's. "It was a true gift for the bishop," said L. Suryoto, a former seminarian from East Jakarta.

Twenty-four more deacons were ordained in Yogyakarta, central Java, by Mgr Johannes Pujasumarta, archbishop of Semarang. Hailing from local congregations, they included eight diocesans from Semarang and one from Purwokerto. All of them are expected to become priests in June and July.

Indonesia's 7 million Catholics are a small minority (3 per cent) in the world's most populous Muslim nation. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, Catholics represent 3.6 per cent of the population.

Nevertheless, there are many vocations for the priesthood, especially among older adults. Ten years ago, the Jesuits opened the novitiate to older adults, with many men in their thirties interested in dedicating their "entire" life to Christ.

Many other congregations followed their lead, opening their seminaries to older adults with special classes set up alongside existing ones.



Mark 4: 21 - 25

21 And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand?
22 For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.
23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."
24 And he said to them, "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.
25 For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."


St. John Bosco
Feast: January 31

Feast Day:January 31
August 16, 1815, Castelnuovo, Piedmont, Italy
Died:January 31, 1888, Turin, Italy
Canonized:April 1, 1934, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Major Shrine:The Tomb of St John Bosco - Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians, Turin, Italy
Patron of:Christian apprentices, editors, publishers, schoolchildren, young people
"In his life the supernatural became the natural and the extraordinary the ordinary." So spoke Pope Pius XI of the beloved Don Bosco, renowned for his educational pioneering and his affectionate care for the fatherless. Born Giovanni Melchior Bosco in 1815, the future saint was the youngest son of a peasant farmer in the hamlet of Becchi, in the Piedmont district of north Italy. He lost his father at the age of two and was brought up by a devoted and industrious mother, Margaret Bosco, who had a hard struggle maintaining the home and the three children, all of them boys. A dream that little Giovanni had at the age of nine revealed to him his vocation. He seemed to be surrounded by a mob of fighting and swearing children whom he tried in vain to pacify, at first by arguments and then by hitting them. Suddenly there appeared a mysterious woman who said: "Softly, softly . . . if you wish to win them! Take your shepherd's staff and lead them to pasture." Even as she spoke, the children were transformed first into wild beasts and then into gentle lambs. From that time on, the boy thought, it was his clear duty to lead and help other boys.

He began with those of his own village, teaching them the Catechism and bringing them to church. As an inducement, he would amuse them first with acrobatic and conjuring tricks, at which he became very clever. One Sunday morning when an itinerant juggler and gymnast was holding the children spellbound by his performance, young John challenged him to a competition and beat him at his own tricks. Then he marched off to church, followed by his admiring audience. It was more or less by chance that this talented boy learned to read. He was staying with an aunt who was servant to the priest, and when the priest was told of John's ambition, he taught him gladly. But John didn't want to stop with reading and writing; he wished to study for the priesthood. Many difficulties had to be overcome before he could even begin his preliminary studies. When, at sixteen, he entered the seminary at Chieri, he was so poor that money for his maintenance and his clothes had to be supplied by charity. The village mayor contributed a hat, one friendly person gave him a cloak, and another a pair of shoes. People were eager to help a boy who was himself so eager and ambitious. After his ordination as deacon, he attended the theological school at nearby Turin, finding time to continue his volunteer work with homeless or neglected boys. Having won the approbation of his superiors for what he was doing, he began to gather around him regularly on Sunday afternoons a band of these waifs and young apprentices.
After taking Holy Orders, his first appointment was assistant chaplain of a home for girls, founded by the Marchesa Barolo, a wealthy and philanthropic woman. This post left Don Bosco free on Sundays to devote himself to his group of boys. He set up for them a sort of combined Sunday School and recreation center on grounds belonging to the Marchesa, which he called "the festive Oratory." But the Marchesa quickly withdrew her permission, because the boys were, naturally, noisy and unruly, and sometimes even made so bold as to pick the flowers in the garden. For more than a year the group was regarded as a nuisance and sent from pillar to post. No property owner was able to put up with them for long. When at last Don Bosco was able to hire an old shed as a meeting place, and the future seemed promising, the Marchesa delivered herself of an ultimatum. He must choose between giving up the boys—who now numbered several hundred—or resigning his post at the girl's orphanage. Don Bosco promptly resigned, to devote himself wholly to the boys.
In the midst of these anxieties, he was prostrated by a severe attack of pneumonia that came near ending his life. As soon as he had recovered, he went to live in some poor rooms adjoining a new Oratory, or gathering place, with his mother as housekeeper. For ten years this good woman served as his adjutant and loyal helper, extending her motherly care over all the waifs and strays her son brought to her. Don Bosco now applied himself to consolidating his work and planning for the years to come. A night school which had been opened the previous year took shape, and as the Oratory was soon overcrowded, he opened two more youth centers in other parts of Turin. About the same time he began housing a few destitute boys. His next step was to build for his flock a small church which he placed under the patronage of his favorite saint, Francis de Sales. With that completed, he started to build a home for his steadily growing family. No one knew just how he managed to raise the money for these various projects, but his natural persuasiveness had much to do with it.
Those enrolled as boarders in the school were of two sorts: young apprentices and craftsmen, and other youths of more than average intelligence in whom Don Bosco discerned future helpers, with, possibly, vocations to the priesthood. At first they attended classes outside, but, as more teachers were enlisted, academic and technical courses were given at the house. By 1856 a hundred and fifty boys were in residence; there were four workshops, including a printing shop, and four Latin classes, with ten young priests as instructors; all this in addition to the oratories with their five hundred children. He cultivated in all of them a taste for music, and he was a believer in the therapeutic value of play. Don Bosco's understanding of young people, their needs, and their dreams, gave him great influence. He could manage them without punishment. "I do not remember to have used formal punishment," he wrote, "and with God's grace I have always obtained-and from apparently hopeless children-not alone what duty exacted but what my wish simply expressed." With an approach that seems quite modern, he planned programs that combined play, song, study, prayer, and manual work. He knew that straight academic learning was not enough. "Knowledge gives more power in the exercise of good or evil," he said, "but alone it is an indifferent weapon, lacking guidance."
Don Bosco's outgoing personality made him popular as a preacher, and there were many demands on his time to speak to various congregations. As a third form of activity, in the few hours that remained to him, he wrote useful and popular books for boys. In that day there was almost no attractive reading matter written especially for young people, and Don Bosco set himself to fill this need. He wrote stories based on history, and sometimes popular treatises on the faith. Often he toiled far into the night, until, in later life, his failing eyesight compelled him to give up writing.
A plan for some sort of religious order, to carry on the work when he had passed away, had long been in Don Bosco's mind, and at last he felt he had the strong nucleus of helpers that was required. "On the night of January 26, 1854, we were assembled in Don Bosco's room," writes one of the men present. "Besides Don Bosco, there were Cagliero, Rocchetti, Artiglia, and Rua. It was suggested that with God's help we should enter upon a period of practical works of charity to help our neighbors. At the close of the period, we might bind ourselves by a promise which could subsequently be transformed into a vow. From that evening, the name of Salesian was given to all who embarked on that form of apostolate." The name of course honored the great bishop of Geneva, St. Francis de Sales. It was not a propitious time for launching a new order, for in all its history Piedmont had never been so anti-clerical. The Jesuits and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart had been expelled, many convents suppressed, and laws were being passed curtailing the rights of religious orders. The statesman Urbano Rattazzi, one of those most responsible for the anti-clerical legislation, was deeply interested in popular education. As a resident of Turin, Rattazzi was familiar with Father John's activities, and, on meeting him by chance one day, urged him to found a society to further his valuable work, promising the support of the government.
The project grew, and in 1858 John went to Rome, taking with him the rules of the institution. From Pope Pius IX he received preliminary approbation. Sixteen years later he obtained full sanction, together with permission to present candidates for Holy Orders. The new society grew rapidly. Within five years there were thirty-nine Salesians; at the time of the founder's death there were eight hundred, and by 1929 the number had increased to about eight thousand. One of Father John's dreams was realized when he sent his first missionaries to the bleak and faraway land of Patagonia; other areas of South America were soon the scene of missionary endeavor. He lived to see twenty-six houses started in the New World and thirty-eight in the Old.
His next great work was the foundation in 1862 of an order of women to do for poor girls what the Salesians were doing for boys. The original group consisted of twenty-seven young women to whom he gave the name of Daughters of St. Mary Auxiliatrix, the Helper. The organization now numbers many thousands, with elementary schools in Italy, Brazil, and Argentina. To supplement the work of these two congregations, Father John organized his outside lay helpers into a new kind of Third Order, which he called Salesian Cooperators. They were men and women of all classes who pledged themselves to assist in practical ways the educational labors of the Salesians.
Any account of the life of this saint would be incomplete without some mention of his achievements as a builder of churches. His first little church of St. Francis de Sales soon proved inadequate, and he undertook the construction of a much larger building. This he finished in 1868, dedicating it to St. Mary the Helper. Later he found means to put up another spacious and much-needed church in a poor quarter of Turin, and this he placed under the patronage of St. John the Evangelist. But the immense effort of money-raising had left Don Bosco weary and depleted. He was not allowed time to recover his strength before another task was put before him. During the last years of Pope Pius IX, a project had been formed of building at Rome a church in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Pius himself had donated money to buy the site. His successor, Leo XIII, was eager for the work to be carried forward, but there was difficulty in raising funds. It was suggested to the Pope that this was something that Don Bosco did better than anyone else, and when he was asked to undertake it, he accepted the challenge.
After obtaining a considerable sum in Italy, Don Bosco went to France, where devotion to the cult of the Sacred Heart was particularly intense at this time. He was successful in his appeals, money came flowing in, and the early completion of the church was assured. As the day appointed for its consecration drew near, he was sometimes heard to murmur that if there were any delay, he would not live to witness it. Two years before the doctors had said that this generous-hearted man had worn himself out and that complete retirement offered the only chance of prolonging his life. Don Bosco had the joy of living a few months beyond the consecration of the church, which took place on May 14, 1887. He said one Mass before the new high altar.
Later in the year it became plain that his days were numbered; he gradually weakened, and on the morning of January 31, 1888, he died in his home city of Turin. Forty thousand persons came to the church to do honor to Don Bosco, and the entire city turned out as his remains were borne to their resting place. His memory was cherished and his work carried on by his followers. Not many years had elapsed before a movement was begun for his beatification. He was declared Venerable by Pope Pius X in 1907, beatified by Pius XI in 1929, and canonized by him in 1934. Don Bosco exemplified a new trend in the treatment of children, anticipating in some respects the practices of modern psychologists. Intuitively he knew that the loving care and attention of a wise, interested adult was essential to the healthy growth of every child, and he gave his very best to those children who had the least.



Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – The first and most fundamental definition that the Creed teaches us about God is that He is the Almighty Father. This was the theme of Benedict XVI's Wednesday catechesis during today's general audience that was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
"It isn't always easy today to speak about fatherhood," the Pope began, "...and, not having adequate role models, it even becomes problematic to imagine God as a father. For those who have had the experience of an overly authoritarian and inflexible father, or an indifferent, uncaring, or even absent one, it is not easy to calmly think of God as Father or to confidently surrender themselves to Him. But Biblical revelation helps us to overcome these difficulties by telling us about a God who shows us what it truly means to be a 'father'. Above all it is the Gospel that reveals to us this face of God as Father, who loves us even to the point of giving us the gift of His Son for the salvation of humanity."
In the light of the Scriptures and the writings of the evangelists, the Holy Father explained that God is our Father because "He has blessed us and chosen us before the foundation of the world. He has truly made us His children in Jesus. And, as Father, God accompanies our existence with love, giving us His Word, His teaching, His grace, His Spirit. ...If He is so good as to 'make His sun rise on the bad and the good and … rain to fall on the just and the unjust', then we can always, without fear and in complete faith, entrust ourselves to His forgiveness as Father when we choose the wrong path."
Tracing the history of salvation, Psalm 136 repeats "for his mercy endures forever", and the pontiff emphasized, "The love of God the Father never fails, never tires of us. … Faith gives us this certainty that becomes the sure rock upon which to build our lives. We can face every difficulty and every danger, the experience of the darkness of times of crisis and pain, sustained by the confidence that God does not abandon us and is always near to save us and bring us to everlasting life."
The kind face of the Father who is in heaven is fully shown in the Lord Jesus. "Knowing Him we know the Father and seeing Him we can see the Father. … Faith in God the Father requires that we believe in the Son, through the action of the Spirit, recognizing the Cross that saves as the definitive revelation of divine love. God is our Father, forgiving our sins and bringing us to the joy of the risen life."
"We can ask ourselves, how is it possible to imagine an all-powerful God by looking at the Cross of Christ? … We would certainly like a divine omnipotence that corresponded to our thoughts and our desires; an 'almighty' God … who vanquishes our adversaries, who changes the course of events, and who takes away our pain. … Faced with evil and suffering, ... it is difficult for many of us to believe in God the Father and to believe that He is all-powerful."
"Faith in God the Almighty, however, leads us to follow very different paths: learning to understand that God's thoughts and God's paths are different from ours and that even His omnipotence is different?it isn't expressed with mechanical or arbitrary force... Actually, God, in creating free creatures, in giving us freedom, gave up a part of His power, allowing us the power of our freedom. Thus He loves and respects love's free response to His call. His omnipotence isn't expressed in violence or destruction but rather through love, mercy, and forgiveness; through His tireless call to a change of heart, through an attitude that is only weak in appearance, and which is made of patience, clemency, and love."
"Only the truly powerful can endure evil and show compassion. Only the truly powerful can fully exercise the power of love. And God, to whom all things belong because He made them all, reveals His strength by loving everything and everyone, patiently awaiting our conversion because He wants us as His children. ...The omnipotence of love isn't a worldly power, but is that of total gift and Jesus, the Son of God, reveals to the world the Father's true omnipotence by giving His life for us sinners. This is the true ... divine power: responding to evil not with evil but with good, responding to murderous hatred with a love that gives life. Evil is thus truly vanquished, because it is washed by God's love. Death is thus definitively defeated, because it is transformed into the gift of life. God the Father resurrects His Son. Death, the great enemy, is swallowed up and deprived of its sting and we are freed from sin; we can grasp our reality as children of God."
"So, when we say 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty', we express our faith in the power of God's love who?in His Son who died and rose again?conquers hate, evil, and sin and gives us eternal life, a life as children who desire to remain forever in the 'Father's House'."
Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, 29 January, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held a plenary meeting in Jerusalem to continue negotiations pursuant to Article 10 para. 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.
The meeting was headed by Mr. Daniel Ayalon, M.K, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary of the Holy See for the Relations with States. The Holy See's delegation thanked Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon for his contribution to the negotiations and wished him success in his new endeavours.
The negotiations took place in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere. The Commission took notice that significant progress was made and looks forward to a speedy conclusion of the Agreement. The parties have agreed on future steps and to hold the next plenary meeting in June 2013 at Vatican City.
Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Juan Carlos Barreto Barreto as bishop of Quibdo (area 12,500, population 198,310, Catholics 186,010, priests 49, religious 62), Colombia. The bishop-elect, previously of the clergy of the diocese of Espinal, Colombia, was born in Guamo, Colombia in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1993. Bishop-elect Barreto has served as pastor in several Colombian parishes and as diocesan delegate to several organizations. Since 2008 he has been rector of the Espinal diocese's major seminary, La Providencia.




Pastoral Letter for Lent 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Lent 2013 is a season in which we are called to a renewal of faith. Especially, in this special Year of Faith for the Universal Church, we all need to go back to the very foundations of our faith.

Our Catholic faith is the most fundamental value of our lives – never more so than when we experience testing times. Let us never forget God calls us into the desert only to strengthen and deepen our faith.

From a spiritual perspective, the 'desert' is that place we enter to be reminded of the One who is truly essential in our lives, where we stand before God with no false veneer or pretence. For many of us there can be the 'desert' of illness, of joblessness, of anxiety, of conflict and of doubt; the ‘desert’ of moving to get back on to one’s feet after a bewildering setback.

Particularly during this Lent 2013 we are specially mindful, as a local Church here in Australia, of the 'desert' that has been created by the tragic crimes of sexual abuse perpetrated by some of our fellow Catholics and the devastation it has wrought upon innocent persons.

No matter the 'desert' we enter into, it must become for us that place where we confront the challenges of daily life, not as insurmountable problems but as stepping stones to growth. It is that place where we confront ourselves with no other support than God.

Yet we cannot face this Lenten journey relying only on our own willpower. We can all be so easily overwhelmed by our sense of our own weakness and anxiety about the future. Without faith as our bedrock, as our Holy Father Benedict XVI reminds us in his 2013 Lenten message, our plans and activities cannot bear authentic fruit.

So it was that Jesus spent forty days and nights in the desert. Harassed and tempted by Satan’s temptations, he proved faithful to his Father and to his mission for our sakes. He showed how a life of holiness requires prayer. Prayer is simply being present to God.

And so it is for us during the 40 days of voluntary 'desert' living this Lent. Our prayer, penance and fasting take us to the ‘desert’ where, stripped of customary comforts and excess, we learn to rely on God alone.

Grounded in faith - from which all authentic charity flows - we are called to act justly and love tenderly especially by showing compassion and mercy to the poor and disadvantaged.

So during our Year of Faith this Lent let us deepen our journey of faith as disciples:
  • Fridays of Lent in our Archdiocese should become special days of fasting and prayer. Days of special penance where we implore the Lord to bring deep healing to all those suffering from the crimes of sexual abuse.
  • I encourage you to go on 'pilgrimage' to pray at the special churches designated as pilgrimage churches during the Year of Faith. Such journeying reminds us of the need to pray frequently and intensely for divine grace which is our only salvation in times of special pain and crisis.
  • Charity and solidarity for the poor and disadvantaged is also a vital way of deepening our Catholic faith. Please support Project Compassion and the works of the St Vincent de Paul Society. A quiet act of charity for someone in need - unknown and unnoticed - is also a powerful way of living our Catholic faith.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that in order to journey through the 'desert' and face the temptations and wiles of the Evil One we must become people of deeper faith. It is only by accepting God’s unconditional love that we sinners can journey on.

No matter then what challenges are ahead of us - this Lent 2013 we remember it is never too late to start again. May the God of all consolations be with us all in this our special Year of Faith.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+ Denis J. Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Following the heavy rains that are flooding the southern part of Mozambique, where already a decade ago, hundreds of people died, local authorities have planned the evacuation of 50 000 people. Since the beginning of the rainy season, the month of October, about 50 people were killed, and eight of the main rivers of the country exceeded the warning threshold. The South African country is experiencing one of the worst floods since the last major flood in 2000, which affected millions of people and caused the death of about 800 people. The rains continue to pour along the basin of the Limpopo River in the southern province of Gaza, home to the most vulnerable communities.
The water has swelled the rivers of neighboring countries and local authorities have opened the floodgates of two dams to reduce the risk of elevated levels.
In the coastal area of Mozambique nine international river basins converge that make it particularly vulnerable to flooding. Although the rain has stopped in most areas, the risk of flooding remains high because of the waters that continue to come from the hinterland. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 30/01/2013)


by Nirmala Carvalho
The number refers to the disparity between males and females reported in the last national census (2011). In the parishes of the Archdiocese 37 million lamps and candles will be lit. For the director of the Catholic weekly The Examiner, spiritual and sexual health formation can bring about a change in attitude that respects the dignity and sacredness of human beings. The message of the Bishops' Conference for Indian Republic Day.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The campaign "37 million lights" begins tomorrow, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Mumbai to sensitize the community to all forms of violence against women: sex-selective abortion, female feticide, dowry murders, rapes, maternal and child mortality. Today India celebrates its 63rd Republic Day, and the debate on the role of women, after the New Delhi gang rape is still alive. The Archdiocese initiative comes in this context, to reiterate the position taken by the Church from the outset. The title refers to data from the last national census (Census 2011), which states that the disparity between men and women in the population is 37 million.

For this reason, tomorrow evening the parishes of the Archdiocese will symbolically light (in total) 37 million lamps and candles.

Fr. Anthony Charanghat, editor of the archdiocesan weekly The Examiner, told AsiaNews: "In India, sexual violence against women is ancient and widespread as patriarchy. Crimes such as rape, dowry murders, acid attacks, honour crimes, child brides and human trafficking are the order of the day. senseless violence and manic brutality inflicted on the victim [New Delhi, ed] have shaken the conscience of many middle-class citizens, who consider Gender Equality as important as the fight against poverty. " However, "this movement must go on until justice is done for all our daughters and sisters who have been violated."

According to the priest, protest and indignation at such crimes "must be translated into reasoned not impulsive actions". Instead of "invoking draconian penalties or death for those who commit rape", more than anything else "we need a change in mentality reached through spiritual and sexual health education, while respecting the dignity and sacredness of the human being."

In his message for the Indian Republic Day, even the Bishops' Conference (CBCI) returned to the issue of violence against women. The bishops stress that "violence against women and children - not only rapes, but all cases of female infanticide and feticide, harassment, rape, honour and dowry killings - crumble the pillars of society and the nation, stopping the path to peace and prosperity. "

To defeat these plagues, the CBCI reiterates the importance of "total formation of the person, which should help parents, teachers, elders, spiritual leaders and authorities," and the futility of "dehumanizing measures such as the death penalty or chemical castration. " The desire for revenge "must give way to forgiveness," noting that "human life is a precious gift of God, which no one has the right to take away."