Wednesday, December 21, 2011


-  Christmas: Eternity Enters into Confines of Time and  Space
-  Korean Children Thank the Pope for His Service to Mankind
-  Other Pontifical Acts (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)



VIS REPORTS: VATICAN  CITY, 21 DEC 2011 (VIS) - "The greeting on everyone's lips during this  period is 'Merry Christmas! Happy Christmas Holidays!'. Let us ensure that,  also in our modern societies, this exchange of good wishes does not lose its profound  religious significance, and the feast does not become overshadowed by  external factors", said Benedict XVI during today's general audience,  his last before the Feast of the Lord's Nativity.

   "With the Christmas liturgy the Church introduces us into the great  Mystery of the Incarnation", the Pope told faithful gathered in the Paul  VI Hall. "Christmas, in fact, is not simply the anniversary of the birth  of Jesus, it is the celebration of a Mystery which has marked and continues  to mark the history of man: God came to dwell amongst us, He became one of  us. ... During Midnight Mass on Christmas Night we will intone these words in  the responsorial Psalm: 'Today the Saviour is born for us'. ... By indicating  that Jesus is born 'today', the liturgy underlines that His birth touches and  permeates all of history. ... Of course, the redemption of humankind took  place at a specific and identifiable moment of history: in the event of Jesus  of Nazareth. But Jesus is the Son of God ... Who became flesh. Eternity  entered into the confines of time and space, making it possible to meet Him  'today'. ... When, in liturgical celebrations, we hear or pronounce the  phrase: 'Today the Saviour is born for us', we are not using an empty  conventional expression, what we mean is that 'today', now, God is giving us  the possibility to recognise and accept Him, as did the shepherds of  Bethlehem, so that He can also be born into and renew our lives".

   The Pope then turned his attention to another aspect, reflecting on the birth  in Bethlehem in the light of the Paschal Mystery because, he said, "both  Christmas and Easter are feasts of redemption. Easter celebrates redemption  as a victory over sin and death. It marks the culminating moment when the  glory of the Man-God shines like the light of day. Christmas celebrates  redemption as the entry of God into history, when He became man in order to  bring man to God. It marks, so to speak, the starting point when the first  light of dawn begins to appear".

   "Even the seasons of the year in which these two great feasts fall, at  least in some areas of the world, can help us understand this aspect. Easter  coincides with the beginning of spring when the sun triumphs over the cold  and the fog and renews the face of the earth. Christmas comes at the very  beginning of winter when the light and heat of the sun are unable to awaken  nature, covered in a shroud of cold under which, nonetheless, life is  pulsating".

   "At Christmas we encounter the tenderness and love of God Who is attentive  to our weakness and sin, and lowers Himself to our level. ... Let us live  this Christmastime with joy. ... Above all, let us contemplate and experience  this Mystery in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the heart of  Christmas. There Jesus is truly present, the true Bread descended from  heaven, the true Lamb sacrificed for our salvation. I wish all of you and  your families a truly Christian Christmas. May the exchange of greetings on  that day be an expression of our joy in knowing that God is near us, and that  He wishes to follow the journey of life with us", the Pope concluded.

The  poor cannot wait

   At the end of his general audience, the Holy Father delivered greetings in a  number of languages to the pilgrims filling the Paul VI Hall, among them a  group of primary school children from Korea and another of Australian  seminarians. To Spanish speaking pilgrims he said: "I will pray to the  God Child for everyone, especially those who suffer. In these holy days, may  Christian charity be particularly active towards those most in need. The poor  can brook no delay".
AG/                                                                VIS  20111221 (690)


VATICAN  CITY, 21 DEC 2011 (VIS) - During today's general audience, three Korean  children gave the Pope a file containing letters and drawings by thirty-three  of their peers, prize-winners in a competition organised by the Korean  embassy to the Holy See and published in the Korean Catholic daily  "Pyeonghwa Shinmun". More than 1,200 children from all over the  country participated in the competition, which was organised to coincide with  sixtieth anniversary of the priestly ordination of Benedict XVI.

   According to a communique published today by the embassy of the Republic of  Korea to the Holy See, the aim of the competition was "to thank the Holy  Father for his tireless service to humankind and for his great affection for  the people of Korea. ... This event will help the Church and society in Korea  to promote the Catholic vocation, increasing the 'sensus fidei' of Korean  Catholics".

   During Midnight Mass on 24 December, one of the children will read the Prayer  of the Faithful, two will participate in the offertory, two will carry  flowers to the nativity scene and two more will receive Communion from the  hands of the Holy Father.
.../                                                                   VIS  20111221 (200)


VATICAN  CITY, 21 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 -  Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, apostolic nuncio to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas,  Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent  and Grenadines, Suriname, Guyana, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles,  also as apostolic nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

 -  Appointed Bishop Jaime Vieira Rocha of Campina Grande, Brazil, as  metropolitan archbishop of Natal (area 25,059, population 2,082,000,  Catholics 1,738,000, priests 154, permanent deacons 41, religious 243),  Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Matias Patricio de Macedo, whose resignation  from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon  having reached the age limit.

 -  Appointed Fr. Joao Justino de Medeiros Silva of the clergy of the archdiocese  of Juiz de Fora, rector of the "Santo Antonio" archdiocesan  seminary, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Belo Horizonte (area 7,240,  population 4,767,000, Catholics 3,411,312, priests 645, religious 2,007),  Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Juiz de Fora in 1966 and ordained a  priest in 1992. He has worked as pastor in a number of parishes and is a  member of the presbyteral council and of the college of consultors.

 -  Appointed Fr. Rubens Sevilha O.C.D., provincial of the Carmelite Province of  "Sao Jose" and pastor of the parish of "Santa Terezinha"  in the archdiocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Msgr. Joaquim Wladimir Lopes  Dias of the clergy of the diocese of Jundai, Brazil, vicar general, as  auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Vitoria (area 7,234, population 3,210,000,  Catholics 2,010,000, priests 138, religious 264), Brazil. Bishop-elect  Sevilha was born in Tarabai, Brazil in 1959 and made his perpetual religious  profession in 1984. He studied in Brazil and Rome and has held various  offices in his order and been active in pastoral care. Bishop-elect Lopes  Dias was born in Cafelandia, Brazil in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1997. He  has worked as pastor in a number of parishes and as vice rector and later  rector of the diocesan seminary.


According to a new survey from the US Pew Forum Research Center Christianity is the largest religion in the world. One third of the world's population is Christian- that is 2.18 billion people. 50.1% of these are Catholics, 37% are Protestants and 12% Orthodox. Christianity has grown four times its size since 1910. The largest growth has occurred in Asia. Now over 23% of the Christians live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The USA has the most Christians with 237 million, then follows Brazil with over 175 million and Mexico with over 107 million Christians.
Christians make up 32% of the world’s population today.-----
 China has 67 million Christians (5% of pop) and India 32 million Christians(2.6 % of pop.), yet in both countries they are minorities. Indonesia has 21 million (8.8 % of pop.). South Korea has 14.4 million Christians (44.8 % of pop.) and Vietnam has 7 million (8% of pop.). Kazakhstan is in ninth place

1) United States 246,780,000 79.5% 11.3%

2) Brazil 175,770,000 90.2 8.0

3) Mexico 107,780,000 95.0 4.9

4) Russia 105,220,000 73.6 4.8

5) Philippines 86,790,000 93.1 4.0

6) Nigeria 80,510,000 50.8 3.7

7) China 67,070,000 5.0 3.1

8) DR Congo 63,150,000 95.7 2.9

9) Germany 58,240,000 70.8 2.7

10) Ethiopia 52,580,000 63.4 2.4

Subtotal for the 10 Countries 1,043,880,000 40.4 47.8

Total for Rest of World 1,140,180,000 6.3 52.2

World Total 2,184,060,000


CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT: Archbishop: every Czech should honour Václav Havel
By Staff Reporter on Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Archbishop: every Czech should honour Václav HavelVáclav Havel walks with John Paul II at the airport in Prague in May 1995, two years after Havel was elected to lead the Czech Republic (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)
The president of the Czech bishops’ conference has called Václav Havel a “friend and fellow prisoner” and said the entire nation owes him a debt of gratitude for its freedom and the new flourishing of Czech life and culture.
Archbishop Dominik Duka of Prague, who was imprisoned with Havel by the communists, asked that the bells of all Catholic churches in the Czech Republic ring at 6pm on Sunday, December 18, in memory of the former president who died that morning at the age of 75.
The archbishop, who met Havel in prison in 1981 and stayed in touch after the end of Communism in 1989, was scheduled to celebrate Havel’s funeral Mass on Friday in St Vitus Cathedral.
“He knew the loss of freedom, the denial of human dignity, oppression and imprisonment,” Archbishop Duka said in a statement on the Czech bishops’ website. “I am convinced that everyone across the country, regardless of political or religious beliefs, owes him honour and thanks.”
Havel, a playwright and essayist, was one of the founders of the Charter 77 movement, which began criticising the Communist government of then Czechoslovakia, particularly for its lack of respect for human rights, in 1977.
He served four years of hard labour and nine months in prison for dissident activities before becoming head of state after the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” that toppled Communism. He resigned in 1992 when Slovakia declared its independence, but was elected president of the Czech Republic six months later.
Havel met Pope Benedict XVI during the Pope’s trip to Prague in 2009. He met Blessed John Paul II at least five times, three of them in Prague, and Havel attended the late pope’s funeral at the Vatican in 2005. The two men admired one another and saw each other as participants in the same battle for freedom, human rights, human dignity and respect for the cultures of Eastern Europe.
In an interview with a Polish Catholic news agency in 2000, Havel said: “John Paul II is someone very close to me, who continually startles me with his personality and inspires me.
“His language, constantly stressing human dignity and recalling the rights of man, has been a novelty in the papacy’s history. If the pope had been someone else, from another part of the world, without the historical experience of Poland, he probably wouldn’t have had such a clear attitude to totalitarianism. John Paul II’s services in this area are undeniable,” he said.
He also told the interviewer that in April 1990 he made his Confession to Pope John Paul during the pope’s first Czech pilgrimage while under the spell of the pope’s “charismatic personality”.
“I suddenly realised I was in fact confessing in front of him, even though I’m not accustomed to going to Confession, since I’m not a practising Catholic. I felt the need because of the great will to understand the other person that emanates from the person of the pope,” Havel said.
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, noted that Havel attended a Mass of thanksgiving in St Vitus Cathedral immediately after his inauguration in 1989, restoring a practice Czech leaders had followed for centuries until the Communists came to power.
“That ceremony was not only the recovery of an ancient liturgy that united politics and tradition, culture and religion, but represented the beginning of a new history, a history of freedom of which Vaclav Havel was the most important symbol,” the newspaper said.


Hundreds of people receive baptisms at the Xikai
St. Joseph's Church every Year. PHOTO ON TOP:
Xikai St. Joseph's Church in downtown Tianjin
Agenzia Fides REPORT - During the solemn celebration on December 17th which was held in the Cathedral of Xi Kai, the Diocese of Tian Jin, 270 catechumens were baptized. During the Eucharist on the fourth Sunday of Advent, on December 18, the parish priest officially welcomed them in the parish family thanking in particular for the missionary efforts of the whole parish and the close communion that the church members live. "We have always stressed that evangelization is the duty and right of every baptized person - the parish priest underlined-. We are happy to see that our parishioners have applied this principle in their lives, creating an atmosphere of fellowship and missionary awareness inside and outside the parish. We brought the Gospel outside the church door". In addition, the parish priest announced the next course of catechism which opens on February 12, 2012.
Kai Xi's Cathedral, dedicated to St. Joseph of the Diocese of Tian Jin, was built in 1914 in Romanesque style and can accommodate over 2,000 people. The mission of the Vincentians, was called "the French church" by locals. The parish now has more than 30,000 faithful, it is very lively and also uses modern technology and mass media to promote evangelism. It was among the first parishes to open a website and, recently, has also opened a blog on evangelization. The Diocese of Tian Jing is a large Catholic community, where Catholicism has had a remarkable development. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 20/12/2011)


ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT: Archbishop Denis Hart's 2011 Christmas message Print E-mail

Wednesday 21 December 2011
archbishophart-200pxArchbishop Denis Hart has issued the following Christmas message:
Christmas comes to a world filled with families grieving the loss of young Australians in war, the inroads of sickness which cuts life short, anger and wanton violence.
The birth of Jesus our Saviour as a baby reminds us that God's love is light in darkness, constancy of love and faithfulness, which invites us to live by the love that he has first shown us.
The blessings of Christmas are precious but fragile. A child is born into poverty. Kings worship at his crib, but another king threatens his life. This child becomes the world's greatest teacher, who offers us new hope and the means to be saved. He offers us the possibility of giving to others; our time, our interest, our love, and he promises us a joy beyond what we can imagine.
May Christmas be a time for God, who loved us first, and invites us to share his love with others. May we bring peace and hope to all we meet and receive it in rich measure ourselves, so that we can witness to the triumph of light and goodness over darkness and evil.
May Christ give peace to our hearts and minds.


CISA REPORT: NKUBU, December 20, 2011 (CISA) –Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful and their friends turned up at St Pius seminary grounds to mark 100 years since the first missionaries brought the faith to Meru.
Two Consolata missionaries, Frs Giovanni Balbo and Luigi Olivero arrived in Meru on December 13, 1911 to begin their first mission.
His Eminence John Cardinal Njue presided over the celebrations. He thanked the early missionaries and especially from the Consolata for bringing not only Christianity to the people of Meru but also education and development. “We are the fruits of the missionaries; they identified us as human beings and proclaimed the Good News to us.”
He said that the missionaries were our light and they fully guided us. He asked the faithful to use the celebration not as a formality but as a time to examine their conscience on whether the Good News that has been preached to them is reflected in their lives.
“To plant the seed of faith is not hard, what is hard is to nourish the seed. You should be ‘living stones’, prepared and continuing to build the spiritual temple of the lord,” he added.
The Cardinal urged politicians and other leaders to desist from making inflammatory remarks and be in the forefront in fighting corruption.
President Mwai Kibaki attended the celebrations and challenged the church to provide leadership in the ongoing process of national transformation.
Asserting that the church should particularly participate in the creation of a friendly atmosphere for growth and prosperity, President Kibaki noted that the church must continue to play her irreplaceable role of guiding and counselling citizens and their leaders.
The Head of State said, “I am happy to be with you today for the centenary celebrations of the Meru Catholic Diocese. I salute the Bishop, clergy, and all the faithful of this diocese for this important milestone. We thank God for the growth of the Church through these years.”
“The Church remains an integral part of the social, economic and political development of our nation. The church should therefore continue playing the irreplaceable role of guidance and counselling to both citizens and leaders,” the President stated.
He noted the early missionaries not only left behind their homes and families, endured many hardships but even sacrificed their lives in the course of their assignments.
The President commended them, “We admire their courage and faithfulness and pay tribute to them.”
Several bishops among them Archbishop Peter Kairo of Nyeri, Bishop Anthony Mukobo, IMC, of Isiolo, Bishop Peter Kihara, IMC, of Marsabit, the host Bishop Salesius Mugambi, Bishop Anthony Muheria of Kitui and Bishop Virgilio Pante, IMC of Maralal and over a hundred priests attended the celebrations.
President Kibaki was accompanied by Minister of Energy Kiraitu Murugi, Assistant minister of Higher Education Kilemi Mwiria and Secretary to the cabinet Francis Muthaura all of whom are products of the Catholic Church in Meru.
It was also a special occasion for Bishop Peter Kariuki Kihara, IMC, of Marsabit Diocese who was marking his 28th anniversary since he was ordained a priest in December 17, 1983.


St. Peter Canisius
Feast: December 21

Feast Day: December 21
Born: May 8, 1521, Nijmegen in the Duchy of Guelders, Netherlands
Died: December 21, 1597
Canonized: May 21, 1925, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Patron of: Catholic press, Germany
This doctor of the church is often called the second Apostle of Germany. Both Holland and Germany claim him as their son, for Nijmegen, where he was born, May 8th, 1521, though a Dutch town today, was at that time in the ecclesiastical province of Cologne and had the rights of a German city. His father, a Catholic and nine times burgomaster of Nijmegen, sent him at the age of fifteen to the University of Cologne, where he met the saintly young priest, Nicolaus van Esch. It was he who drew Canisius into the orbit of the loyal Catholic party in Cologne, which had been formed in opposition to the archbishop, Hermann von Wied, who had secretly gone over to the Lutherans. Canisius was chosen by the group to approach the emperor, and the deposition of the archbishop which followed averted a calamity from the Catholic Rhineland. Shortly afterwards Peter Canisius met Bd. Peter Faber, one of the first companions of St Ignatius, and made the under his direction. During this retreat he found the answer to the question he had put to himself: how best could he serve God and assist the stricken Catholic church in Germany?
He was inspired to join the Society of Jesus, and, after his ordination in 1546, soon became known by his editions of works of St Cyril of Alexandria and of St Leo the Great. In 1547 he attended the council of Trent as procurator for the bishop of Augsburg, where he became still further imbued with the spirit of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. His obedience was tested when he was sent by St Ignatius to teach rhetoric in the comparative obscurity of the new Jesuit college at Messina, but this interlude in his public work for the church was but a brief one.
Recalled to Rome in 1549 to make his final profession, he was entrusted with what was to become his life's work: the mission to Germany. At the request of the duke of Bavaria, Canisius was chosen with two other Jesuits to profess theology in the University of Ingolstadt. Soon he was appointed rector of the University, and then, through the intervention of King Ferdinand of the Romans, he was sent to do the same kind of work in the University of Vienna. His success was such that the king tried to have him appointed to the archbishopric. Though he refused this dignity, he was compelled to administer the diocese for the space of a year.
It was at this period, 1555, that he issued his famous , one of his greatest services to the church. With its clear and popular exposition of Catholic doctrine it met the need of the day, and was to counter the devastating effect of Luther's . In its enlarged form it went into more than four hundred editions by the end of the seventeenth century and was translated into fifteen languages.
From Vienna Canisius passed on to Bohemia, where the condition of the church was desperate. In the face of determined opposition he established a college at Prague which was to develop into a university. Named Provincial of southern Germany in 1556, he established colleges for boys in six cities, and set himself to the task of providing Germany with a supply of well-trained priests. This he did by his work for the establishment of seminaries, and by sending regular reinforcements of young men to be trained in Rome.
On his many journeys in Germany St Peter Canisius never ceased from preaching the word of God. He often encountered apathy or hostility at first, but as his zeal and learning were so manifest great crowds soon thronged the churches to listen. For seven years he was official preacher in the cathedral of Augsburg, and is regarded m a special way as the apostle of that city. Whenever he came across a country church deprived of its pastor he would halt there to preach and to administer the sacraments. It seemed impossible to exhaust him: 'If you have too much to do, with God's help you will find time to do it all,' he said, when someone accused him of overworking himself.
Another form of his apostolate was letter writing, and the printed volumes of his correspondence cover more than eight thousand pages. Like St Bernard of Clairvaux he used this means of comforting, rebuking and counselling all ranks of society. As the needs of the church or the individual required, he wrote to pope and emperor, to bishops and princes, to ordinary priests and laymen. Where letters would not suffice he brought to bear his great powers of personal influence. Thus at the conference between Catholics and Protestants held at Worms in 1556, it was due to his influence that the Catholics were able to present a united front and resist Protestant invitations to compromise on points of principle. In Poland in 1558 he checked an incipient threat to the traditional faith of the country; and in the same year, he earned the thanks of Pope Pius IV for his diplomatic skill in healing a breach between the pope and the emperor. This gift of dealing with men led to his being entrusted in 1561 with the promulgation in Germany of the decrees of the council of Trent.
Shortly afterwards he was called on to answer the of Magdeburg. This work, 'the first and worst of all Protestant church histories', was a large-scale attack on the Catholic church, and its enormous distortions of history would have required more than one man to produce an adequate answer. Yet Peter Canisius showed the way by his two works, , and .
From 1580 until his death in 1597 he labored and suffered much in Switzerland. His last six years were spent in patient endurance and long hours of prayer in the college of Fribourg, now that broken health had made further active work impossible. Soon after his death, December 21st, 1597, his tomb began to be venerated, and numerous miracles were attributed to his intercession, He had the unique honor of being canonized and declared a doctor of the church on the same day, June 21st, 1925.


Luke 1: 39 - 45
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
40 and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth.
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."