Tuesday, December 13, 2011



VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon Benedict XVI presided at Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of Latin America. The ceremony, which was intended to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the independence of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, was concelebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrasco, archbishop of Mexico, Mexico, and Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil. (RADIO VATICANA)

Before the Eucharistic celebration Guzman Carriquiry, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, read out a number of texts on the anniversary and the Virgin of Guadalupe, while Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, recited a prayer for Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In his homily the Pope said that everyone celebrating the bicentenary, apart from recalling "the historical, social and political aspects of those events, should renew their gratitude to the Almighty for the great gift of faith they have received, a faith which announces the redeeming mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that all peoples of the earth might have life in Him. Peter's Successor could not let this anniversary pass without expressing the Church's joy at the copious gifts which God, in His infinite goodness, has poured upon those beloved nations over the years".

"The venerated image of 'la Morenita del Tepeyac' ... with simplicity and a mother's heart, continues to show us the one Light, the one Truth: her Son Jesus Christ. He is the definitive response to the question about the meaning of life and to the fundamental doubts which, today too afflict, so many men and women of the American continent".

"Integration on that beloved continent is currently proceeding hand in hand with its emerging importance on the world stage. ... It is important for its various peoples to safeguard their rich store of faith and their historical and cultural dynamism, always defending human life from conception to natural end, and promoting peace. Likewise, they must protect the family in its genuine form and mission, and intensify their educational efforts. ... They are also called to foment initiatives ... aimed at bringing reconciliation and fraternity, increasing solidarity and protecting the environment, while making greater efforts to overcome poverty, illiteracy and corruption, and eradicating all injustice, violence, criminality, urban insecurity, drug trafficking and extortion".

"When the Church was preparing to celebrate the 'plantatio' of the Cross of Christ in the good earth of the American continent, Blessed John Paul II went to that land where, for the first time, he formulated plans for a new evangelisation, new 'in its ardour, its methods and its expression'", Pope Benedict recalled. "It is my responsibility to confirm people in the faith, and I too wish to encourage the apostolic efforts currently driving ... the 'continental mission' promoted at Aparecida, that Christianity may sink its roots deeper into the hearts of individuals and peoples in Latin America".

"May the light of Christ shine ever more brightly in the face of each of the sons and daughters of that beloved land, and may His redeeming grace guide their decisions, that they may unwaveringly continue to build a society founded on the triumph of goodness, the proliferation of love and the spread of justice. With these desires, and supported by divine Providence, before Easter I intend to make an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba, in order to proclaim the Word of Christ there, and convince people that this is the time to evangelise with strong faith, living hope and burning charity".

"All these intentions", Benedict XVI concluded, "along with the destiny of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and their journey towards a better future, I entrust to the loving mediation of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I also invoke the intercession of the many saints and blesseds, aroused by the Spirit over the centuries to offer heroic models of Christian virtues in their various life states and social environments, that their example may favour a new evangelisation under the gaze of Christ, the Saviour of man".

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VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, is currently visiting Chile in response to an official invitation from the government. Yesterday he met with Alfredo Moreno Charme, foreign minister, and with ministerial officials, before going on to meet with Sebastian Pinera at the Palacio de la Moneda in the nation's capital, Santiago de Chile.

A communique made public this morning explains that during the meetings "satisfaction was expressed at the excellent state of bilateral relations between Chile and the Holy See, and at the positive contribution Catholic institutions make to Chilean society, especially in the fields of education, social work and the integration of indigenous peoples.

"Further attention was given to themes discussed during the official visit of the Chilean president to the Vatican in March this year, when he met with His Holiness Benedict XVI. Questions of mutual interest include the defence of life from conception to natural demise, and of the family; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and education; adherence to the principles of international law; the protection of the environment, and support for integral development and social peace. In all of these matters, the views of the Holy See and the government of Chile converged on the fundamental values of human coexistence. Opinions were also exchanged on various international issues, including the situation on Latin America".

The secretary for Relations with States will today travel to Valparaiso, site of the National Congress, where he will meet with the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. He will also visit the shrines of St. Alberto Hurtado and St. Terestia de los Andes.

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UCAN REPORT: Catholics across country mourn tragic deaths, injury on highway
ucanews.com reporter, Baoding
December 13, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of Car crash kills priest and seminarians
Father Shi Liming

Six seminarians and a priest from the “underground” community in northern Hebei province were killed in a road accident on Sunday.

Another seminarian who was seriously injured in the crash is in intensive care at No. 3 Hospital in Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital. He was thrown from the minivan which was badly damaged.

The accident happened along the Jinzhou section of the provincial highway, Church sources said.

The dead priest, Father Shi Liming, 39, was driving the minivan at the time of the accident. He was ordained a priest in Baoding diocese, an underground community stronghold in northern China, about 10 years ago.

He was serving at Baoding Seminary, which has nurtured many Church leaders and does not have a fixed location so to avoid government crackdowns.

Two of the seminarians who died came from Xiwanzi diocese in Hebei, as did the injured man. Two came from northeastern China, one from Tianjin and one from Xinji city, near Shijiazhuang. They were mostly in their early 20s and new students who had enrolled at the start of the school year which began in October, sources said.

The bodies of the victims were taken to a funeral parlor in Jinzhou ahead of their funerals, the dates of which have yet to be decided.

Many Catholics across China called for prayers for the deceased after the news of the accident broke.

“It is not easy to cultivate priestly vocations nowadays. It is terribly sad this tragedy has suddenly taken them away all at once,” said a nun in Hebei.



CANADIAN BISHOPS REPORTS: According to the Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d’information54.7% of the Haitian population is Catholic. Structurally, the Catholic Church in Haiti is composed of 10 dioceses and two archdioceses. Their Bishops are assisted by the Episcopal Conference of Haiti. Pope John Paul II visited the Haitian people in 1983. The Church in Canada has a long-standing history of solidarity and exchange with Haiti. This includes the presence of Canadian religious there, as well as projects involving the Canadian Religious Conference, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). In turn, Canada has been enriched by the contributions of Haitian immigrants.

The Haitian Episcopal Conference on occasion is represented at the Meetings of the Bishops of the Church in America, which bring together representatives from the CCCB, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) who meet annually to discuss common issues. The situation in Haiti has often been a topic, including in 2010, following the January earthquake; in 2004, following a coup d’état; and in 2000 in a common effort to encourage the richer nations to cancel the debts of the world’s poorest countries.

haiti2Over the years, the CCCB has also undertaken a number of its own interventions in solidarity with Haiti. These include a letter of solidarity to the Episcopal Conference of Haiti following the cancellation of the November 1987 Haitian presidential election; an October 1991 letter calling on the Government of Canada to intensify its efforts to assist in the peaceful resolution of a violent crisis in Haiti; a 1992 letter to the Government of Canada following a violent attack on the Most Reverend Willy Romélus, then Bishop of Jérémie in Haiti; a 1994 letter congratulating the Government of Canada for its support of the legitimate Government of Haiti and its pledge of $30 million in aid to the country; and a 2004 letter of support to the President of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti.

The CCCB has also assisted the Church in Haiti with financial contributions through joint campaigns with CCODP. These include the Share Lent and the special emergency campaign following the January 2010 earthquake, which raised $20 million in Canadian Catholic donations. Other contributions made directly by the CCCB have included funding assistance for evangelization and formation sessions in Hinche, Les Cayes, Port-au-Prince, Jérémie, and Gonaïves, as well as a $20,000 donation for the installation of solar panels in the Grand Séminaire Notre-Dame, in Port-au-Prince.

The President of the CCCB, Archbishop Richard Smith, its Vice-President Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, and Assistant General Secretary Mr. Bede Hubbard will participate in a solidarity mission to Haiti which is being organized by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, December 14-21, 2011.



CNA REPORTS: Bishop Charles Morerod, the newest bishop in the Catholic Church, is ready to evangelize his diocese in Switzerland, even though the task will be more difficult than it was in the third century.

Bishop Charles Morerod, O.P. Credit: Jean-Claude GadmerUpon his appointment to Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg in Switzerland he disarmed the Swiss media by admitting, “in all frankness, I was hoping that the choice would not fall on me,” but “what the Pope wants, you cannot refuse.”

The 50-year-old Swiss Dominican was ordained a bishop on Sunday after spending the past 15 years in Rome, most recently as the rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. He is also Secretary General of the International Theological Commission and a consultant for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“It is quite frightening,” he told CNA before he left Rome for his new post. “And the only reason that I’m not too afraid is that when God calls he also helps, and I know that because I have noticed that in my life already.”

Bishop Morerod returned to a homeland where Catholics are statistically the majority – 42 percent of the population – but where secularization has eaten away at the practice of that faith in recent decades.

It is in these types of traditionally Christian countries that Pope Benedict XVI wants to launch a “new evangelization.”

“If we compare the new evangelization to the first one,” said Bishop Morerod, “in a sense, we now have to speak to people who think they know Christianity and who think they know it well enough to know there is nothing to be found there – or are even who are in reaction to it.”

The Christian gospel was first preached to the people of Switzerland in the third century. Bishop Morerod said that, in comparison, the task now is “more difficult” but is still “worth it.”

“I would like people to know it is beautiful to be a believer. Oddly enough, it seems that many don’t even suspect that. There is a very deep ignorance of faith. I think that could be addressed.”

He is also convinced that the current experience of the Church offers many reasons for hope, beginning with “trust in God and the Holy Spirit,” as well as the increasing thirst for reasons to believe in God, Jesus and the Catholic Church.

“I have been quite surprised by the number of questions I’ve received on Facebook since my appointment was announced,” he said. Most of those questions come from “people who say, ‘I’ve been asking this question for years but never found anybody who would reply with some answers.’”

Bishop Morerod says that he has also been asked many questions about “the relationship between faith and reason” by journalists, although they are usually tied to hot button moral issues.

“I try to tell them that Jesus did not choose saints as his apostles or disciples but that they became saints because they were with him,” said Bishop Morerod, making that point that “morality is not a starting point but is rather a consequence” of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

With that relationship as the starting point, he said, the Church can explain how Christian morality can help “build a better society.” At the same time, convincing people of the goodness of Christianity also requires avoiding scandals, he pointed out.

Fundamentally, Bishop Morerod believes that the evangelization of countries like Switzerland is ambitious but realistic, “because basically if I did not think it was possible I would do something else with my life.”

Despite being a native of the Fribourg region, the new bishop is eager to reacquaint himself with his homeland after a decade and a half in Italy. While Rome “is a beautiful city,” he finds it “more pleasant” to live in “more or less in the countryside of Switzerland.”

But he will miss the many friends and students he has gotten to know and love during his time in Rome.

“As a professor I hope I have helped some students,” he said, recalling how he received a message a few days ago from a former student who told him, “I was in a bus in Albania and I was surrounded by Jehovah’s Witnesses and thanks to your class I could speak to them in favor of the Trinity, so I must thank you.”




The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference today appointed Canberra Educator Donella Johnston as the Director for the Office for the Participation of Women (OPW) and as the Executive Secretary to the Bishops' Commission for Church Ministry (BCCM).

opw-director-Donella-Johnston-350The position was designed by the Bishops' Conference over 10 years ago to foster the participation of women in the Catholic Church.

Donella comes from an education background, having worked as Religious Education Coordinator at Canberra Catholic college St Francis Xavier in Florey. She has also shown leadership on various Archdiocesan commissions, as well as at a parish level.

Donella brings to the role a high level of tertiary theological study and has a Masters in Religious Education from the Australian Catholic University.

Chair of the BCCM Bishop Brian Heenan is delighted to welcome Donella to the position of Director.

"Donella brings an excellent background in educational leadership and a solid faith formation to this position. She is passionate about enhancing the participation of women in the Church."

"Her vibrant personality will be a great asset to her in the varied tasks associated with this position and I have every confidence in her capacity to engage with the Catholic people of Australia in this role," he said.

Donella is enthusiastic about starting in this role in the coming weeks and hopes that she will be able to make a difference.

"Jesus' simple Gospel message of unconditional love underlies my whole work ethos. I hope to communicate these values in my work as Director of the OPW," she said.

"The Director of the OPW is an exciting and challenging position. I have a sound understanding of the issues that affect women in the Church and I hope that my experiences of leadership in Catholic education will well-equip me for this new challenge," she said.

"I also would like to pay tribute to the work of former Directors Therese Vassarotti and Kim Davis who pioneered this sharing of a vision for a more authentic participation that includes and honours the gifts of women in the life of the Church," she said.



Agenzia Fides REPORT - "We invite you to forcefully reject war and everything that could plunge back into violence in our Country. If we do not commit ourselves to doing everything in our power, there is a risk that the Country falls into the horrors of another war, while they are still open wounds". It is the dramatic appeal made by the Bishops of Burundi to their compatriots in the Christmas Message.
In the document, sent to Fides, the Bishops say that Burundi was on its way towards reconciliation and civil reconstruction after the end of a bloody civil war (1993-2006): from the return of displaced people and refugees from neighboring Countries, to respect for freedom of speech to the opening of several sites for public and private works. "Is it possible that in the face of all these benefits, we still want to take the logic of distrust, exclusion, conflict and war? No and again no! "The Bishops said in the message.
While, there are rumors of a return to war, "in recent times - write the Bishops - murders and massacres have passed all measures. It goes beyond ordinary crimes, such as those arising from the robbery, by land conflicts and of interest: the Country is threatened by bloody crimes for political reasons and of which one accuses all parties in conflict". The Bishops write down that besides murder there is also the crime of disappearances: "People are kidnapped, only to be murdered, thrown in rivers, without leaving any trace, even to the point of mutilating them in order not to be recognized. Some of these crimes are, unfortunately, attributed to some agents of the Services et Renseignement National et de Sécurité Nationale".
This has created a climate of fear among the government (which fears the presence of armed groups) and the population (who fears the violence of the security apparatus), note the Bishops, who offer some steps to overcome this situation: respect the government that has just come out from the democratic elections which must in turn respect and recognize the role of opposition; establish dialogue between all political parties; investigate on the agents of security services indicated by the population as responsible for crimes committed against them; bring to justice those criminals who have already been identified "even if they belong to the party in power"; complete the process of disarming the population and disband the militias of the party. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/12/2011)

TODAY'S GOSPEL AND MASS ONLINE: DEC. 13: Matthew 21: 28 - 32

Matthew 21: 28 - 32
28"What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'29And he answered, `I will not'; but afterward he repented and went.30And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir,' but did not go.31Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.