Tuesday, February 5, 2013




The car belonged to an official of the population control bureau. The parents were being transported to the small office to be fined. The one-child policy is criticized by demographers because it contributes to a rapidly aging population and decreasing workforce. But the government continues to implement it.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An employee of population control bureau ran his car over a 13 months baby of a couple guilty of violating the one-child policy. The episode that took place in Wenzhou (Zhejiang), was only revealed today. Local authorities are investigating the incident. The child was quickly brought to hospital, but died shortly after.

The People's Daily, reporting the incident, revealed that at the moment of the accident the child's mother was being forced to get into the official's car and the father of the child was about to get in. It is likely that the child was run over through carelessness rather than intentionally.

For more than 30 years in China has applied the law requiring couples to have only one child, with the exception for some ethnic minorities and couples of rural farmers where the eldest is female. The couples who have more children affected must pay high taxes (often one or two years of salary), or are forced to undergo abortions and forced sterilizations.

The one-child policy is criticized by demographic experts because of the rapid aging of the population and decreasing work force in society. Nevertheless, the minister for population control, Xia Wang pointed out that the law will not be cancelled and that it will remain in place "for a long time."




UK Parliament votes in favour of same-sex marriage bill | Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill,
The House of Commons voted in favour of same-sex marriage in England and Wales last night, despite the opposition of almost half the Conservative Members of Parliament. MPs voted for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by 400 to 175, a majority of 225, at the end of a seven hour debate.
Prime Minister David Cameron described the move as "an important step forward" that strengthens society. The Bill will now progress to Committee and the House of Lords and is likely to become law later this year.
Archbishop Peter Smith commented: "The Catholic Church continues to support marriage understood by society for centuries as the significant and unique lifelong commitment between a man and a woman for their mutual well-being and open to the procreation and education of children. Marriage is rooted in the complementarity of man and woman. For these reasons the Church opposes the Government’s Bill to re-define marriage. Despite claims by supporters of the Bill that the central issue is one of equality, the Bill actually seeks to re-define marriage and will have consequences for society at large.
"It became clear during today's debate in the House of Commons that the government has not thought through a number of profound problems in the Bill raised by members of Parliament during the debate. It will be extremely important that the many concerns we and others have expressed will be fully and carefully considered during the next stages of the Bill's passage through Parliament."
Among those who voted against the Bill was Conservative MP Graham Brady, who said:  “I voted in favour of an equal age of consent and civil partnerships because it righted an injustice. This measure does not. I will vote against this motion tonight not because I think the world will end but because it is impossible to guarantee that religious freedoms will not be compromised.”
Stephen Timms, (Labour) said: “Children are at the heart of marriage... but they are barely mentioned at the Bill. It would be a mistake to lose the value on the creation and bringing up of children and in the end it will be children who lose out if we do.”


Monday 4 February 2013

Words Archbishop Denis Hart
Kairos Voume 24, Issue 1

THE end of the old year and the start of the new is always refreshing as we return to our daily routines after the summer break. As we make resolutions for the new year, we resolve that this year will be different because this year we are going to behave differently.

But in order to behave differently, we need to break old bad habits and form new good ones. The ancients believed that a person who lived a good life did so because of the inner virtues—or ‘strengths’—of their character. To be a good person required formation in virtue.

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends towards the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions (St Gregory of Nyssa, Catechism §1803).

For instance, a person who has the virtue of fortitude does not need to be told to be courageous—they will naturally be courageous. The person who has the virtue of faith will not need to be told that they should trust God—they will naturally trust him in all circumstances.

However, the way to acquire virtue is to practise virtue. If you make a new year’s resolution, the only way you will keep it is by practising it until it becomes a new habit. In the same way, the path to virtue is to imitate virtue until it becomes your true nature.

In 2013, we continue the Year of Faith begun by Pope Benedict XVI last October with the Synod on the New Evangelisation. If we look at the virtues in relation to our vocation to be evangelists—a vocation that belongs to every baptised person according to their station in life—we must start with the so-called ‘Theological Virtues’: faith, hope and love. These virtues are not acquired simply by effort (although we can learn to practise them); they are the gift of the Holy Spirit in the sanctifying grace of Baptism (cf Catechism §1266).

We cannot proclaim what we have not personally known. So the first and primary virtue is faith. Faith, like hope and love, is a relational virtue: we learn to have faith in the very act of trusting another person. So it is with our faith in God; we learn to have faith in him by trusting him. Instead of fear, we believe that God will provide for us, that he will keep his promises, and that he will not let us down. We call the whole of our religion ‘the Faith’, because we have believed the witness of the Apostles and their successors concerning the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The virtue of faith teaches us the virtue of hope. ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,’ says the writer to the Hebrews (11:1). The Gospel we want to share with others is Good News for a world which is hungry for hope. The new life which we have personally come to know in Jesus is not for us only but for all people. Many are living lives of quiet desperation because they do not know that God’s grace has the power to change lives and open up new paths for their future.

The virtues of faith and hope make it possible to live the greatest virtue of all: love (cf 1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is a virtue that cannot be shown in words alone, which is why St Francis was able to say: ‘Preach the Gospel; use words if necessary.’ By our love, others will find our faith and hope credible. Early Church Father Tertullian records that the pagans would say: ‘See how these Christians love one another!’ The person who lives in love lives without fear because ‘perfect love casts out fear’ (1 John 4:18).

Thus St Peter wrote in his First Letter: ‘Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15). In this Year of Faith, we will find ourselves faced with opportunities for sharing the Good News with others. But besides the Theological Virtues, we will need the other virtues, which the ancient philosophers called the ‘Cardinal Virtues’ (Latin for ‘hinge’ because the good life depends upon them): fortitude, prudence, justice and temperance.

To be a person of faith in today’s world is to invite ridicule and even persecution. This knowledge often hinders us in being effective witnesses to the Good News among our family and friends and work colleagues. We are afraid that we will say the wrong thing or be ridiculed for what we say. Here especially we need the love which ‘casts out fear’. We need to resolve to practise the virtue of fortitude (or courage) if we are to be witnesses to the Lord. We have the example of the martyrs, both ancient and modern, to encourage us, and the words of Jesus: ‘Do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’ (Luke 12:11-12).

Recall also that St Peter said that we should witness ‘with gentleness and respect.’ We should practise the virtue of prudence, which teaches us that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7). If the opportunity to speak is given to us, the virtue of prudence will teach us to use a few well-chosen words rather than many, or to show our love in action, which will sometimes speak much louder than words.

Justice is also a virtue; and by acting justly in our relationships with others, we will give strong witness to the Lord of Justice in whom we believe and hope. Finally, our whole way of life, including the way in which we use created goods (the virtue of temperance), will show where our true faith, hope and love lie.

As we look back on the year past, we may be amazed at the many unlooked-for opportunities which God offered to us that we might do some good in the world. And if we are honest, we may be dismayed by the number of times we squandered those opportunities. If 2013 is to be any different, we will need to resolve to grow in the virtues that we need in order to be effective ministers of the New Evangelisation.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons




ABUJA, February 01, 2013 (CISA) -In a report released by Fides News Agency, Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram, has agreed to a ceasefire. The report stated that a local Nigerian newspaper reported that suspected members of the Muslim extremists have held a closed door meeting with Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, and other top government officials and religious leaders from the state.
The commander of Boko Haram in Northern and Central Borno, Sheikh Abu Mohammad Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, held a press briefing stating that after consulting the leader of the sect, Shiekh Abubakar Shekau, all parties involved in the conflict have agreed to lay down their arms. Sheikh Abdulazeez stated that the group recognized that a large number of Muslim women and children have suffered due to the conflict and therefore, decided to come to an agreement with the government to end the dispute.
However, the Boko Haram commander called on the government to unconditionally release all members of the sect that are currently in detention.
Boko Haram has carried out several attacks throughout Nigeria against churches and other Christian places of worship and has also targeted Islamic leaders in the country who they deem as moderate.


Mark 5: 21 - 43

21And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea.22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja'irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet,23and besought him, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live."24And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.25And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years,26and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.27She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.28For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well."29And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.30And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?"31And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?'"32And he looked around to see who had done it.33But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.34And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."35While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?"36But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe."37And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.38When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly.39And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping."40And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.41Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Tal'itha cu'mi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise."42And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.43And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


St. Agatha
Feast: February 5

Feast Day:February 5
Catania or Palermo
Died:251, Catania
Patron of:bellfounders; breast cancer; bakers; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses
We have her panegyrics, by St. Aldhelm, in the seventh, and St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth centuries; also a hymn in her honour among the poems of Pope Damasus, and another by St. Isidore of Seville, in Bollandus, p. 596. The Greeks have interpolated her acts; but those in Latin are very ancient. They are abridged by Tillemont, t. 3, p. 409. See also Rocci Pyrrho, in Sicilia Sacra, on Palermo, Catana, and Malta.

The cities of Palermo and Catana, in Sicily, dispute the honour of her birth; but they do much better who, by copying her virtues, and claiming her patronage, strive to become her fellow-citizens in heaven. It is agreed that she received the crown of martyrdom at Catana, in the persecution of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of our Lord 251. She was of a rich and illustrious family, and having been consecrated to God from her tender years, triumphed over many assaults upon her chastity. Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and avarice, imagined he should easily compass his wicked designs on Agatha's person and estate by means of the emperor's edict against the Christians. He therefore caused her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catana. Seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, she made this prayer: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil." She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went. On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew. The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole month she was there. Quintianus, being informed of her constancy after thirty days, ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty. The judge, offended at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made him this reproach: "Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself? "He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her. But God would be himself her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light. Quintianus, four days after, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made this prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul." After which words she sweetly gave up the ghost. Her name is inserted in the canon of the mass in the calendar of Carthage, as ancient as the year 530, and in all martyrologies of the Latins and Greeks. Pope Symmachus built a church in Rome on the Aurelian Way under her name, about the year 500, which is fallen to decay. St. Gregory the Great enriched a church which he purged from the Arian impiety with her relics, which it still possesses. This church had been rebuilt in her honour by Ricimer, general of the Western Empire, in 460. Gregory II built another famous church at Rome, under her invocation, in 726, which Clement VIII gave to the congregation of the Christian doctrine. St. Gregory the Great ordered some of her relics to be placed in the church of the monastery of St. Stephen, in the Isle of Capreae, now Capri. The chief part, which remained at Catana, was carried to Constantinople by the Greek general, who drove the Saracens out of Sicily about the year 1040; these were brought back to Catana in 1127, a relation of which translation, written by Mauritius, who was then bishop, is recorded by Rocci Pyrrho and Bollandus. The same authors relate in what manner the torrent of burning sulphur and stones which issue from mount Aetna, in great eruptions, was several times averted from the walls of Catana by the veil of St. Agatha, (taken out of her tomb,) which was carried in procession. Also that through her inter. cession, Malta (where she is honored as patroness of the island) was pre served from the Turks who invaded it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to be distributed in many places.
The perfect purity of intention by which St. Agatha was entirely dead to the world and herself, and sought only to please God, is the circumstance which sanctified her sufferings, and rendered her sacrifice complete. The least cross which we bear, the least action which we perform in this disposition, will be a great holocaust, and a most acceptable offering. We have frequently something to offer—sometimes an aching pain in the body, at other times some trouble of mind, often some disappointment, some humbling rebuke, or reproach, or the like. If we only bear these trials with patience when others are witnesses, or if we often speak of them, or are fretful under them, or if we bear patiently public affronts or great trials, yet sink under those which are trifling, and are sensible to small or secret injuries, it is evident that we have not attained to true purity of intention in our patience; that we are not dead to ourselves. We profess ourselves ready to die for Christ, yet cannot bear the least cross or humiliation. How agreeable to our divine spouse is the sacrifice of a soul which suffers in silence, desiring to have no other witness of her patience than God alone, who sends her trials; which shuns superiority and honours, but takes all care possible that no one knows the humility or modesty of such a refusal; which suffers humiliations and seeks no comfort or reward but from God. This simplicity and purity of heart; this love of being hid in God, through Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all our sacrifices, and the complete victory over self-love, which it attacks and forces out of its strongest entrenchments: this says to Christ, with St. Agatha, "Possess alone all that I am."

SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/stagatha.asp#ixzz1lWfgarU2