Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The third meeting of the Viet Nam - Holy See Joint Working Group took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam, on 27 and 28 February. The meeting was co-chaired by Bui Thanh Son, vice minister for Foreign Affairs and head of the Vietnamese delegation, and by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation. (image RADIO VATICANA)
The meeting, which "took place in an atmosphere of cordiality, frankness and mutual respect" according to the final communique, served to examine international issues, to review progress in relations following the working group's second meeting in June 2010, and to discuss issues related to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam.
"The Vietnamese delegation", the English-language communique reads, "emphasised that the State of Viet Nam has always implemented and continually improved the policy to respect and ensure freedom of belief and religion for the people; encouraged the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to actively and effectively participate in the current course of national, economic and social development.
"From its part, the delegation of the Holy See took note of these considerations and expressed appreciation for the attention given by civil authorities to the activities of the Catholic Church. ... The Holy See expressed the wish that its role and mission be strengthened and extended in order to enhance the bonds between the Holy See and the Catholic Church in Viet Nam as well as the intention of Viet Nam and of the Holy See to develop their relationship".
The communique goes on: "Both sides recalled the teachings of His Holiness Pope Benedict's XVI, ... and his considerations concerning being a good Catholic and a good citizen, and stressed the need for continued cooperation between the Catholic Church and civil authorities in order to concretely and practically implement those teachings in all activities.
"The two sides came up with an assessment that the Viet Nam - Holy See relationship has attained positive developments on the basis of good will and constructive dialogue, as well as respect for principles in the relationship".
The next meeting will be held in the Vatican on a date to be arranged through diplomatic channels.
While in Viet Nam, the Holy See delegation paid courtesy calls to Pham Binh Minh, minister of Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Thanh Xuan, vice standing chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, and to a number of Catholic institutions.

Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The administrative council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel (the sub-Saharan region of Africa which includes countries on the west coast and central part of the continent) recently concluded its thirtieth meeting in Rome.
Speaking on Vatican Radio, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", of which the foundation is part, explained that the administrative council had focused its attention on the financing of a number of projects. "This year", he said, "we have assigned over two million dollars for more than 200 projects in the nine countries which make up the foundation. These projects involve the struggle against desertification and drought, as well as irrigation and education".
Msgr. Dal Toso noted that the re-emergence of the problem of drought in the Sahel highlights the urgency of the measures taken. The lack of food resulting from the impact of drought on agriculture "will reach its peak in the coming months. ... Both the international community and, more specifically, a number of Catholic organisations are seeking to intervene to prevent this crisis, he said.
The secretary of "Cor Unum" pointed out that the Church represents a minority in the countries of the Sahel. "In some cases a truly minuscule minority, in an environment characterised by the presence of Islam and of traditional religions". For this reason the John Paul II Foundation also serves as "an instrument of dialogue with other religions. ... As the Pope's teaching has recently been highlighting, faith is expressed in works, and what we manage to express through charity seeks in its own small way ... to bear witness to Christ".
The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel came into being following that Pope's first trip to Africa in May 1980, where he was greatly struck by the tragic consequences of desertification. The foundation was established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984, and is actively involved in managing and protecting natural resources, in the struggle against drought and desertification, in rural development and in the fight against poverty, through the involvement of local people.

Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Luiz Henrique da Silva Brito of the clergy of the diocese of Campos, Brazil. diocesan chancellor, spiritual director of the diocesan seminary of "Maria Imaculada" and pastor of the parish of "Sao Benedito", as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (area 1,261, population 6,158,000, Catholics 3,737,000, priests 602, permanent deacons 124, religious 1,044), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Goncalo, Brazil in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1991. He studied in Brazil and in Rome. Apart from his pastoral work, he is defender of the bond at the ecclesiastical tribunal of the archdiocese of Niteroi and professor of moral theology at the archdiocesan seminary.


Archbishop of York, d. on 29 February, 992. Of Danish parentage, Oswald was brought up by his uncle Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, and instructed by Fridegode. For some time he was dean of the house of the secular canons at Winchester, but led by the desire of a stricter life he entered the Benedictine Monastery of Fleury, where Odo himself had received the monastic habit. He was ordained there and in 959 returned to England betaking himself to his kinsman Oskytel, then Archbishop of York. He took an active part in ecclesiastical affairs at York until St. Dunstan procured his appointment to the See of Worcester. He was consecrated by St. Dunstan in 962. Oswald was an ardent supporter of Dunstan in his efforts to purify the Church from abuses, and aided by King Edgar he carried out his policy of replacing by communities the canons who held monastic possessions. Edgar gave the monasteries of St. Albans, Ely, and Benfleet to Oswald, who established monks at Westbury (983), Pershore (984), at Winchelcumbe (985), and at Worcester, and re-established Ripon. But his most famous foundation was that of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, the church of which was dedicated in 974, and again after an accident in 991. In 972 by the joint action of St. Dunstan and Edgar, Oswald was made Archbishop of York, and journeyed to Rome to receive the pallium from John XIII. He retained, however, with the sanction of the pope, jurisdiction over the diocese of Worcester where he frequently resided in order to foster his monastic reforms (Eadmer, 203). On Edgar's death in 975, his work, hitherto so successful, received a severe check at the hands of Elfhere, King of Mercia, who broke up many communities. Ramsey, however, was spared, owing to the powerful patronage of Ethelwin, Earl of East Anglia. Whilst Archbishop of York, Oswald collected from the ruins of Ripon the relics of the saints, some of which were conveyed to Worcester. He died in the act of washing the feet of the poor, as was his daily custom during Lent, and was buried in the Church of St. Mary at Worcester. Oswald used a gentler policy than his colleague Ethelwold and always refrained from violent measures. He greatly valued and promoted learning amongst the clergy and induced many scholars to come from Fleury. He wrote two treatises and some synodal decrees. His feast is celebrated on 28 February. IMAGE


Israel's Tourism Ministry and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land organised the trip. The ecumenical delegation includes Card Oswald Gracias and newly appointed Card Mar George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabar Church. The Indian community in the Holy Land numbers 5,000, 3,000 of them, Catholic.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A delegation of Indian religious leaders is in the Holy Land on pilgrimage to celebrate Lent. They arrived last Sunday at the invitation of Israel's Tourism Ministry and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land and they are scheduled to travel to the country's main holy sites until 1 March.

The delegation includes CBCI President Card Oswald Gracias, His Beatitude Card Mar George Alencherry Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, the Most Rev Dr Soosa Pakiam, metropolitan archbishop of Trivandrum, Most Rev Filipe Neri Ferrao, patriarch of the East Indies and Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Dr Joshua Mar Nicodemos, metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Right Rev Godwin Nag, president of UELCI and bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India.

On the first day of their stay, the religious leaders visited the Holy Sepulchre and celebrated the Eucharist on Mount Zion.

They later met with Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Holy Land, who spoke to them about the Christian communities present, about their relations with other communities and their current situation. They also discussed Indian pilgrims and how the Custody, together with Israel's Tourism Ministry, can improve and increase the number of visitors.

More than a million pilgrims visit the Holy Land each year. In the first half of 2010, they were 1.6 million, 39 per cent more than in 2009.

In the past few years, the number of pilgrims from Asia, especially India, has gone up considerably.

A good number of Indians also live in the country, mostly for work. Some 3,000 of them are Catholic.


FEBRUARY 29, known as a LEAP DAY in the Gregorian calendar, is a date that occurs in most years that are evenly divisible by 4, such as 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Years that are evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, with the exception of years that are evenly divisible by 400, which do contain a leap day; thus 1900 did not contain a leap day while 2000 did. Years containing a leap day are called leap years.
February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year. Leap years
Although most years of the modern calendar have 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Every four years, during which an extra 24 hours have accumulated, one extra day is added to keep the count coordinated with the sun's apparent position.
It is, however, slightly inaccurate to calculate an additional 6 hours each year. A better approximation is that the Earth makes a complete revolution around the sun in 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 16 seconds. To compensate for the difference, an end-of-century year is not a leap year unless it is also exactly divisible by 400. This means that the years 1600 and 2000 were leap years, as will be 2400 and 2800, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not, nor will be 2100, 2200 and 2300.

The Gregorian calendar repeats itself every 400 years, which is exactly 20,871 weeks including 97 leap days. Over this period, February 29 falls 13 times on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday; 14 times on a Friday or Saturday; and 15 times on a Monday or Wednesday.

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Look kindly, Lord, we pray, on the devotion of your people, that those who by self-denial are restrained in body may by the fruit of good works be renewed in mind. Through our Lord.


RUMBEK, February 24, 2012 (CISA) –The Diocesan Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek, Fr Fernando Colombo, has said that the season of lent offers an opportunity for spiritual growth, encouraging the faithful to make good personal efforts to profit from this special period of 40 days.
According to a statement sent to CISA by Radio Good News, Fr Colombo was presiding over the Eucharistic celebration at Holy Family Cathedral in Rumbek to mark Ash Wednesday, the beginning of lent.
He called on the faithful to cultivate their spiritual life in understanding and appreciating both the passion and the resurrection of Jesus, cautioning against the tendency to consider the resurrection and have little or no regard to the suffering and death of Jesus.
Fr Colombo advocated for a personal approach to the Lenten season, urging each faithful to design a program on how to spend the period of 40 days effectively.
Fr Colombo also said that having an attitude of tolerance, humor and even joyful acceptance of the daily challenges would constitute Lenten observance, citing the realities of a harsh weather, thirst, daily demanding duties, among others.
Fr Colombo also reminded the congregation of the three traditional ways of observing the Lenten season that is, listening to the word of God, works of charity, and fasting.


Vulnerable Children Inquiry Print

Archbishop Denis-Hart Wednesday 29 February 2012

"The wellbeing and safety of all children and families is of fundamental importance to the Church," the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart said yesterday, responding to the tabling in the Victorian Parliament of the Report of the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry.

Speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops of Victoria, Archbishop Hart noted that "the Report of three volumes contains 90 separate recommendations in relation to a number of very important questions about how our society deals with its most vulnerable members. There are recommendations relating to the courts, government departments and agencies and non-government and religious organisations, including the Catholic

The Archbishop said, "Many sectors of our community will be studying the Report and will form views on its findings and recommendations.

“Detailed responses will be provided by the Church as the Report and its recommendations are
examined," Archbishop Hart said.


Press Release


Msgr. Ratzinger offers rare glimpse at his brother … the Pope

New book is a detailed portrait of the Holy Father from boyhood to his Papacy
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 27, 2012 – Brotherly love is not uncommon, but the over-80-year-old bond between Monsignor Georg Ratzinger and his brother Joseph – Pope Benedict XVI – is of one of the rarest and most fascinating fraternal relationships ever written about.

In My Brother the Pope, available March 1 in English from Ignatius Press, Msgr. Ratzinger provides German writer Michael Hesemann with the only living witness to the early days and formation of brothers who were ordained as Catholic priests together on the same day in 1951 – after surviving Nazi Germany and World War II.
Msgr. Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI – or Georg and Joseph in their early days – mere sons of an ordinary hard-working policeman and faithful Catholic who married a devout woman he met through taking out a print advertisement, are seen as never before.
“(Msgr. Ratzinger) draws the picture of a family that grew so strong through the practice of its deep faith that it could withstand all the storms of that time, even those of the godless Nazi regime,” Hesemann writes in the book’s introduction.
Noted author and Papal biographer George Weigel calls My Brother the Pope “an evocative portrait that sheds new light on the experiences that shaped some of the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI.”
Hesemann, whose idea it was to acquire Monsignor Ratzinger’s detailed memoirs about his brother and their unique bond, says of My Brother the Pope, “The Ratzinger family secret is now available to the entire world.”
Msgr. Ratzinger tells Hesemann of the brothers’ early lives, when they were forced to become part of the Hitler Youth and drafted into the army of the Third Reich. My Brother the Pope also provides an intimate look into the Ratzinger family, and the tight knit and devotional Catholic home life that produced not one – but two vocations to priesthood.
“Often on Sundays we attended Mass twice, once as servers and another time with our family, for instance, the early Mass at 6:00 and the main parish Mass at 8:00 or 8:30,” Msgr. Ratzinger tells Hesemann. “Then, in the afternoon at 2:00, there were devotions, on feast days a Vespers service. This piety, which was lived and put into practice, defined our whole life, even though today I celebrate only one Mass and refrain from going to a second one. Nevertheless, it was imparted to us as children in the cradle, so to speak, and we remained faithful to it throughout our lives. I am convinced that the lack of this traditional piety in many families is also a reason why there are too few priestly vocations today.”
In My Brother the Pope, Monsignor Ratzinger not only shares – for the first time – a unique depiction of his brother with stories never heard before, but readers will encounter the man, the best friend, who continues to serve as a confidante and guide to the Holy Father to this day in the midst of his Papacy.

The brothers Georg and Joseph confer their first blessing
“From the beginning of my life,” Pope Benedict said, “my brother has always been for me not only a companion, but a trustworthy guide. For me he has been a point of orientation and of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions. He has always shown me the path to take, even in difficult situations.”
The Ratzinger brothers celebrated the 60th anniversary of their ordinations to the priesthood last year, and the book includes many pages of black and white and color photos that illustrate the lifelong, lasting friendship the Pope and his brother have enjoyed. They continue to vacation together, and talk to each other daily.
“Not just a fascinating book but a unique one, as well,” said Fr. Benedict Groeschel, of My Brother the Pope. “We are granted an intimate look at the life of one beloved brother through the eyes of another.”
A Spanish edition of My Brother the Pope is available from Liguori Publications.
To request a review copy of My Brother the Pope or to arrange interviews with spokespersons, please contact Alexis Walkenstein
(561-445-5409 or Email); Tim Lilley (678-990-9032 or Email); or Kevin Wandra (678-990-9032 or Email) of The Maximus Group.


Jonah 3: 1 - 10

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nin'eveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you."
3 So Jonah arose and went to Nin'eveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nin'eveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth.
4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he cried, "Yet forty days, and Nin'eveh shall be overthrown!"
5 And the people of Nin'eveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
6 Then tidings reached the king of Nin'eveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he made proclamation and published through Nin'eveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water,
8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yea, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands.
9 Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?"
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
Psalms 51: 3 - 4, 12 - 13, 18 - 19

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
18 Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on thy altar.

Luke 11: 29 - 32

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.
31 The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
32 The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - The programme of the Holy Father's forthcoming trip to Milan, Italy, for the Seventh World Meeting of Families was published today. The meeting is due to last from Tuesday 29 May to Sunday 3 June and will have as its theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration". Benedict XVI will be present for the last three days.
The Holy Father will arrive at Milan's Linate airport at 5 p.m. on Friday 1 June, where he will be welcomed by the local authorities. At 5.30 p.m. he is due to meet citizens in the Piazza del Duomo and deliver an address. At 7.30 p.m. he will visit La Scala opera house where a concert is scheduled to be held in his honour.
At 10 a.m. on Saturday 2 June the Holy Father will celebrate Lauds and pronounce a meditation in the cathedral of Milan, in the company of priests and religious. He will then travel by car to the city's San Siro stadium for a meeting with young people who are due to receive Confirmation this year. In the afternoon Benedict XVI is due to deliver an address before the local authorities. At 8.30 p.m. he will move on to Milan's Parco Nord for the Feast of Testimonies of the World Meeting of Families.
On Sunday 3 June, Benedict XVI will preside at a concelebration of the Eucharist, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Parco Nord. After praying the Angelus he will return to the archbishopric where, that afternoon, he will meet with members of the "Milano Famiglie 2012" foundation and with the organisers of his visit. At 5.30 p.m. the Holy Father will bid farewell to the authorities at Linate airport before boarding his return flight to Rome.
The World Meetings of Families trace their origins back to 1981 when Blessed John Paul II promulgated the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and established the Pontifical Council for the Family. The first meeting was held in Rome in 1994 and they have been taking place every three years since then. Their purpose is to celebrate the divine gift of family, to bring families together to pray, and to increase understanding of the role of the Christian family as a domestic Church and the basic cell of evangelisation.

Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - The Twelfth Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops recently held its seventh meeting. The outcome of their deliberations has been made public in a press communique.
Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod, began by recalling that the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is due to be held in the Vatican from 7 to 28 October on the theme: "The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith". The members of the council then turned their attention to a draft version of the "Instrumentum laboris" or working document of the forthcoming Synod, pausing to examine the issue of "the recipients of the new evangelisation and the identity of Christians in their relationship with Christ".
The communique notes that "debate was particularly intense concerning the primacy of the faith at this time in history, characterised as it is by a crisis in faith which is also a crisis in the transmission of faith. Mention was made of the 'fruitlessness of current evangelisation', also due to the influence of modern culture which makes the transmission of the faith particularly difficult, and represents a challenge for both Christians and the Church. In this context, the Year of Faith will be a good occasion to develop to gift of the faith received from the Lord, to live it and transmit it to others.
"The primary place for the transmission of faith was identified in the family", the communique adds. "There the faith is communicated to young people who, in the family, learn both the contents and practice of Christian faith. The indispensable efforts of families are then extended by catechesis in ecclesial institutions, especially through the the liturgy with the Sacraments and the homily, or by giving space to parish missions popular piety, movements and ecclesial communities".

Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - On Sunday 4 March, dioceses in Spain will be celebrating Spanish America Day and, for the occasion, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America has published a message entitled: "Committed with America to the New Evangelisation", signed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., president of the commission.
"Today", the message reads, "the Church in Spain and the Church in America are, in some sense, facing the same challenges. Their rich Catholic tradition ... runs the risk of gradual erosion, Secularisation is advancing on all sides. There is no lack of hostility to the presence and message of the Church. The hedonistic and relativist trend of consumer and media society tends to displace and uproot the Christian culture of the people".
Therefore, it is necessary "to update, reformulate and revitalise Catholic tradition, rooting it more firmly in people's hearts, in the lives of families and in the culture of peoples, so that it may shine forth as beauty of truth, and as a promise of happiness and of a more human life for everyone". Both America and Europe are in need of a new evangelisation.
Speaking in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007, Benedict XVI noted that Latin America's most precious heritage is its Catholic faith, which "has animated its life and culture ... for more than five centuries". This heritage, as the bishops gathered in Aparecida said, finds expression "in charity, which on all sides inspires gestures and initiatives of solidarity with the poorest and those most in need". Likewise, it foments "an awareness of the dignity of the person, wisdom about life, passion for justice, hope against all hope, and joy of living even in very difficult circumstances".
The message of the pontifical commission recalls how "calls for a 'new evangelisation' have been made very frequently, by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and addressed in particular to Europe and America. ... There is a need for people who show that God is present in their own lives and at all levels of existence and coexistence; people who invite others to share a life that is new, authentic and more human, a life that refers back to the event which made it possible and which continually regenerates it. ... May the People of God not fail to pray in all dioceses on this Day, that divine providence may arouse new missionary vocations".
The message contains a number of recommendations to strengthen missionary commitment to new evangelisation. These include welcoming families and communities of Latin American immigrants, especially in the current period of crisis "because they need the closeness, solidarity, charity, evangelisation and catechesis of Christian communities". Another important aspect is to welcome Latin American priests who undertake pastoral service in foreign dioceses, and to involve young people in new evangelisation, following the journey which began with World Youth Day in Madrid on "a spiritual, educational an missionary pilgrimage" to the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.

Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - An exhibition entitled "'Lux in Arcana' - the Vatican Secret Archives unveiled", organised to mark the fourth centenary of the foundation of the Archives, will be inaugurated in Rome's Capitoline Museums tomorrow. The exhibition, which will remain open until 9 September, includes around 100 documents of great importance, including Clement VII's letter to the English parliament on the matrimonial cause of Henry VIII, the bull of excommunication against Martin Luther, documents from the trial of the Templars in France, and a letter from St. Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes to Pope Pius IX.


Approved by 89.4 per cent of voters, the new basic charter opens the country to a multiparty system. However, it allows Assad to remain president until 2028. Wounded photojournalist Paul Conroy and reporter Edith Bouvier have left Homs. In the city, the bodies of 68 people were found, showing gunshot and knife wounds.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Syria's new constitution came into effect after President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday issued decree No. 94 on the Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic. The Interior Ministry announced that the new fundamental charter was approved by 89.4 per cent of those who voted; however, only 57.4 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot.

Under the new constitution, the Baa'th party's monopoly is abolished allowing more parties to form. New elections are set to take place in three months time. The presidency is now limited to two terms, but will come into force only at the end of Assad's current seven-year term (in 2014) and is not retroactive. This means that Assad (who came to power in 2000) could rule until 2028.

As the government celebrates this milestone, the opposition has released more reports about clashes and bombing by the Syrian air force for a total of 128 dead. In Homs, 68 people were found dead in a "massacre" with men, women and children showing signs of gunfire but also knife wounds.

According to some reports from the "martyr" city, British photojournalist Paul Conroye and French reporter Edith Bouvier, who were wounded a few days ago, were evacuated to Lebanon.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also announced that its workers have reached Hama with help for 12,000 people. It had been prevented from doing so since 17 January.

At the international level, European nations have indicated their intention to put more pressures on Damascus through tougher sanctions. Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said his government is in favour of providing weapons to the rebels. "We should do whatever necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves," he said during an official visit to Norway.

By contrast, Russia and China continue to oppose any international action against Assad.

In a newspaper article, the Russian president has accused the West of "lacking the patience to work out an adjusted and balanced" solution, calling on the opposition to do what is asked of the Syrian armed forces.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei slammed the United States, urging the Americans to look at the situation in Iraq, ten years after their intervention. (PD)'s-new-constitution-comes-into-effect-amid-bombing-and-massacre-claims-24099.html


‘Without change’ suddenly means ‘with change’
‘Choice’ means ‘force’
Liberalism becomes illiberal
Sterilization, contraception, abortifacients essential; ‘essential health benefits’ not
WASHINGTON—The Department of Health and Human Services mandate that would force virtually all employers to pay for sterilization and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs to employees has “absurd consequences,” Bishop William E. Lori said February 28.
Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, chair of the US bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, made his comments in testimony about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.
His written and oral testimony can be found at
Bishop Lori voiced concern for an “accommodation” President Obama described February 10, which suggested a way around moral concerns the church outlined in the health care reform act.
“This‘accommodation’ would not change the scope of the mandate and its exemption,”he said. “Instead, it would take the form of additional regulations whose precise contours are yet unknown and that may not issue until August 2013.”
“For present purposes, the ‘accommodation’ is just a legally unenforceable promise to alter the way the mandate would still apply to those who are still not exempt from it,” he said. He added that “the promised alteration appears logically impossible.” He said that despite discussions on an accommodation the President has already finalized the controversial mandate that was proposed months earlier “without change,” thereby “excluding in advance any expansion of the ‘religious employer’ exemption. Somehow, this situation of ‘no change,’ is heralded as ‘great change,’ for which the Administration has been widely congratulated.”
Bishop Lori underlined the government’s forcing a religious body to violate its beliefs.
“I emphasize this word—‘force’—precisely because it is one of the key differences between a mere dispute over reproductive health policy and a dispute over religious freedom. This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs,” he said.
“It is not a matter of ‘repackaging’ or ‘framing’this as a religious freedom dispute. It is a matter of acknowledging the basic fact that government is forcing religious people and groups to do something that violates their consciences,” he said.
Bishop Lori noted that earlier “people and groups of all political stripes—left, right, and center—came forward to join us in opposing it. But now, the mere prospect of the ‘accommodation’ described above has caused some simply to abandon their prior objection. In so doing, they undermine the basic American values that they would otherwise espouse.”
“Only in the post-mandate world might it be considered ‘liberal’ for the government to coerce people into violating their religious beliefs; to justify that coercion based on the minority status of those beliefs; to intrude into the internal affairs of religious organizations; to crush out religious diversity in the private sector; and to incentivize religious groups to serve fewer of the needy.”
He questioned why sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients are requirements of the health care act while decisions on prescription drugs and hospitalization that are supposed to be “essential” are “handed off to each state.”
“HHS will brook no dissent regarding whether sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients must be covered as ‘preventive services,’” he said. “HHS is essentially indifferent regarding what is— or is not—mandated as an ‘essential health benefit.’ As a result, genuinely beneficial items may well be omitted from coverage, state-by-state. By contrast, states have no such discretion with respect to sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients.”
He asked the committee for support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R.1179, S. 1467) to “help bring the world aright again.”
“This legislation would not expand religious freedom beyond its present limits, but simply retain Americans’longstanding freedom not to be forced by the federal government to violate their convictions,” he said.


BY: FELIX SHARE - ALLAFRICA.COM REPORT(THE HERALD): A GROUP of six church leaders recently toured the region to persuade Sadc leaders to force President Mugabe to implement a cocktail of security, electoral and media reforms.
The group, led by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president Dr Goodwill Shana, has come up with a position paper with demands that they are presenting to Sadc ministers of justice.
It has also emerged that most of the information contained in their paper is similar to MDC-T's election demands.
The paper is entitled "The role of the church in nation building in Zimbabwe."
Government sources described the tour as a "regime change plot" saying the clergymen were selling an MDC-T position paper.
The group, operating under the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, was in Mozambique last month where it met the Minister of Justice, Judge Maria Benvida Delfina Levi, without an invitation.
The other five clergymen are Bishop Naison Shava (head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church), Bishop Alexio Muchabaiwa, Fathers Edward Ndete, Frederick Chirombo (Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference) and Father Richard Menatsi (Southern African Catholic Bishops secretary-general).
A representative of the group, Bishop Shava yesterday confirmed the visit but said it had nothing to do with Zimbabwe's political parties.
"The visit has got nothing to do with political parties in the country. Anyway, talk to Dr Shana . . . he is the one we mandated to respond to media inquiries and I cannot comment further than that," he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Dr Shana were fruitless as his personal assistant only identified as Chipo, said he was out of the country on church business.
Presenting their paper to Jugde Levi, the clergymen reportedly said they were engaged in various ways to "try and resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe".
The group said it expected key reforms to take place in the country after the completion of the constitution-making process.
"Our own desire is that there should be a people-driven Constitution. After the adoption of the new Constitution, we expect political, legislative, electoral, media and security reforms to take place before holding free and fair elections," read part of the paper.
The clergymen said they had no faith in the country's voters' roll, adding that Sadc should explore a "more appropriate" model for monitoring elections.
"Zimbabwe needs a new voters' roll. We believe Sadc needs to explore a more appropriate model of monitoring elections. We urge your Government (Mozambique) to push for a Sadc presence on the ground six months ahead of any election.
"During the pre-election period Sadc would have to open satellite offices in provinces and districts, which will remain open during and well after the election."
The group said Sadc's presence after an election should not be "less than a month".
"Such presence on the ground would improve our electoral atmosphere especially by curbing violence and possible rigging of elections."
A Government official yesterday said some clergymen were being used by MDC-T and foreigners to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
"There is just something fishy about their visit because everything in their document coincides with the MDC-T position paper," the official said.
"How can they move around the region with such an ill-informed document? The contents simply show that they have got a hidden agenda.
"They are busy talking about reforms instead of concentrating on their core business. Their interest is a cause for concern," he said.
The issue of reforms in the country, especially in the security sector, is being pushed by agents of regime change who want to reverse the gains of independence.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora yesterday said his party had nothing to do with the pastors' regional offensive.
"The pastors are acting on their own without the insistence of the MDC-T. The coincidence in demands might be because we are seeing similar things on the ground," he said.
However, Zanu-PF argues that the country's security sector needs no reform because it is the envy of so many countries in the world as it is highly disciplined and professionally managed.
The reputation of the security forces has seen them participate in numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions worldwide.
Every year groups of Zimbabwean police officers serve under UN peacekeeping missions.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
28 Feb 2012

Fr Gerry Iverson
The Rev Dr Gerald Iverson, former rector of St Patrick's College, Manly and Pastor Emeritus at Greystanes' Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish where he served as parish priest, has died.
Fr Gerry, as he was affectionately known, lost his courageous battle against the ravages of Parkinson's Disease on Friday, 24 February.

He was 75.
"There is a mixture of emotions among his many friends as we prepare to celebrate his funeral," says Fr Peter Confeggi, Parish Priest at St Patrick's Parish, Blacktown explaining that along with great sadness at Fr Gerry's passing there is also a sense of relief he is now free of the crippling effects of Parkinson's which claimed his voice and ability to eat himself making him "unable to share a glass of red wine with friends."
"I was privileged to spend the last evening of his life alongside him in ICU," Fr Peter says recalling how with the early light of a new day and the arrival of his brother, Fr Gerry had pointed to three letters on his spell chart...SMH.
"The Sydney Morning Herald was duly brought to him and this was typical of his engagement with life - the Gospel in one hand, a newspaper in the other!"
With his limitless compassion, profound faith as well as his humour, warmth and ability to engage with people of all faiths, all walks of life and all ages, Fr Gerry's passing is being mourned by all those who were lucky enough to have known him.
"He was a great parish priest, a great personal friend and a great leader," says Fr Peter Confeggi. "He was also a man who stood with people in times of change, crisis and transition, and helped them draw the best from the experience."

As preparations are made for a Funeral Mass to be held on Friday, 2 March at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Greystanes where he served as parish priest for 17 years, stories of Fr Gerry's many friendships and kindnesses have flooded the parish office with tributes being sent by text, phone, email as well as hastily written sympathy cards.
"Gerry had a wonderful capacity to gather people and build friendships," Fr Peter recalls. "I remember sharing breakfast with him the morning after 9/11. What can we do? he asked. And within weeks he had Catholic parishioners sitting down with Muslims from the Gallipoli Mosque at Auburn."
Along with Fr Gerry's compassion, was what Fr Peter describes as a "rare depth of emotional intelligence," a fine, agile mind and an unceasing zest for life which he lived to the full.
"By the time we met in midlife he had climbed in the Himalayas, kayaked in Antarctica and seemed to fit 30 hours in to most days," Fr Peter says and believes Fr Gerry in his relationships with people, put a human face on the Church and for those within the Catholic community and beyond, he was a voice of compassion and understanding."
Fr Gerry Iverson with St Paul's College
Year 8 student, Alexander Burke at
opening of language centre named
in his honour
The eldest of four children, Fr Gerry was born in 1937 to Claude and Kathleen Iverson and grew up in Albury where he was educated at St Brigids Primary School and Christian Brothers College.

At just 17, he entered St Columba's Seminary at Springwood. He spent two years there before continuing with his priestly studies at St Patrick's College, Manly. Many years later, when he became Rector of the Manly seminary, he used to tell his students that if he'd been Rector at that time, he would have said: 'Gerry Iverson go away and grow up a bit.'"
Celebrating his golden jubilee of ordination in July 2010, he talked about his vocation and said a number of things had drawn him to the priesthood. "A priestly vocation that had a lot more prestige attached to it than it does now," he commented and revealed that one of his teachers at College had also played a role in his decision to become a priest.
"Br Tom Davitt, a Christian Brother was a wild eccentric Irishman, but his love of the priesthood was profound and his influence on all of us was extraordinary. He showed us what a truly fulfilling vocation the priesthood was."
Ordained by Bishop Henschke on 16 July 1960, Fr Gerry served in various parishes across the Wagga Wagga Diocese under Bishop Frank Carroll who appointed him Administrator of the Cathedral parish where as a member of the parish team, he helped establish a marriage and counselling service as well as an agency providing services now provided by Centacare.
In 1979, Fr Gerry returned to academia studying for a masters degree at the Institute of Pastoral Studies in Chicago. Returning to Australia, he took over as Director of Marriage Education and Family Support by the Diocese of Wagga Wagga and then in 1985, the then Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Edward Clancy appointed him Rector of St Patrick's College, Manly.
Among the seminarians at St Patrick's when he took over, was Tony Abbott, the current leader of the Coalition.
"Fr Gerry did not quite order me to spend the following year as a pastoral assistant in a distant parish to sort myself out, because modern churchmen are not that authoritarian," Tony Abbott wrote of this period in his life, in his recently published memoir, Battlelines. "Under protest I went to Emu Plains but I sensed that it would work out well when the parish priest asked if I took my coffee with milk or with brandy!"
Fr Gerry joined Minister Chris Bowen
and other dignitaries at unveiling of
St Paul's College's new language centre
Fr Gerry loved his experience at St Patrick's and found being in charge of the formation of young people, and dealing with their enthusiasm and questions, immensely rewarding. But after five years in the role, he found he missed the variety and closeness involved in ministering to families, children and individuals that he had experienced as a parish priest.
Incardinated in Parramatta, in 1994 he was appointed to Greystanes during extremely difficult times for the parish. His role was to rebuild and reunite the parish. While many felt disillusioned and had walked away, many others recognised through Fr Gerry's compassion, energy and ministry, the chance of a new beginning.
For the next 17 years he remained parish priest at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, respected, admired and very much loved.
Equally at home as a behind-the-scenes confidante to Church leaders as he was in counselling those about to wed, praying and comforting the bereaved or visiting his fellow priests in prison, Fr Gerry led a life filled with God's love and laced with compassion.
In July 2011, Federal member for Mahon, Chris Bowen officially opened the $1.9 million Fr Gerald Iverson Language Centre at St Paul's Catholic College, Greystanes. Funded by the Commonwealth's BER stimulus scheme, the Centre creates new possibilities in learning and teaching. While commending these, Chris Bowen said he was also there to "specifically honour and pay my respect to Fr Gerry and the thousands he has helped through difficult circumstances over the many years he was parish priest."
Although battling his Parkinson's Disease, Fr Gerry attended the blessing and opening of the Centre named after him which stands as a fitting memorial and legacy to the esteem and love in which he was held by the parish, its schools and its people.
"The Church was blessed to have Fr Gerry's ministry. As many were blessed to have him as a friend," says Fr Peter.
A Vigil for Fr Gerry Iverson will be held at 7.30 pm on Thursday, 1 March at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Old Prospect Road, Greystanes. A Pontifical Concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial for Fr Gerry will be offered at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes at 11 am, Friday 2 March. Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta will be principal celebrant and Homilist for the Mass will be the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Most Rev Geoffrey Robinson.
Fr Peter Confeggi will deliver the eulogy.


Over 100 churches go solar after appeal to higher order | green energy, ecotricity

installing solar panels on church roof
More than 100 churches have benefitted from the High Court decision to extend the Feed-in-Tariff window for solar panels – which closes on Saturday. Since January 25, Ecotricity has helped the Church of England’s green mission by taking the total number of churches with solar panels past 150 in the South West alone.

This is in addition to 300 churches, vicarages and CoE schools across the diocese of Gloucester, Exeter and Bath & Wells that now use green energy from Ecotricity – the Stroud based renewables company that the Church of England has chosen as preferred green supplier for every parish in the UK, as part of their new ‘Parish Buying’ scheme.

With 16,000 church buildings throughout the UK, parishes are being urged to reduce their carbon footprint by making greener purchasing choices, in line with the Church of England’s national campaign – ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ – with a target of cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

“This is far more than a cost saving exercise - it is a means of demonstrating good stewardship and releasing money which can be directed towards mission and ministry,” said Church of England procurement officer Russell Stables.

Before Feed-in-Tariff rates were suddenly slashed on December 12, only 47 church buildings in the diocese of Gloucester, Exeter and Bath & Wells had installed solar panels, but the High Court appeal allowed more than 100 to take advantage of the new March 3 deadline for the higher rate.

On January 25, the Court of Appeal rejected the Government’s appeal against the High Court ruling that cuts to solar panel Feed-in-Tariffs was ‘legally flawed.

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: “The Church of England is setting a great example for others to follow. They are looking right across their organisation and making it as sustainable as possible.

“The need to protect the environment is unarguable these days and organisations of all shapes, sizes and creeds need to step up and take responsibility like the Church of England has done.”

The Church of England’s new shortlist of preferred products and services champions ethical businesses and Ecotricity have been selected for their dedication to people and planet over profit.

Britain’s leading green energy company, Ecotricity was founded over 15 years’ ago when, in 1996, it founded the UK’s green electricity market and movement. A ‘not for dividend’ company with no outside shareholders to answer to, it now powers over 58,000 homes and businesses in the UK from its fleet of 53 windmills and it invests more per capita in building new sources of green energy than any other UK electricity company.


Matthew 6: 7 - 15

7 "And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;
12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


St. Hilary
Feast: February 28

Feast Day:February 28 or November 17
at Sardinia
Died:28 February 468 at Rome, Italy
Elected 461; the date of his death is given as 28 Feb., 468. After the death of Leo I, an archdeacon named Hilarus, a native of Sardinia, according to the "Liber Pontificalis", was chosen to succeed him, and in all probability received consecration on 19 November, 461. Together with Julius, Bishop of Puteoli, Hilarus acted as legate of Leo I at the "Robber Synod" of Ephesus in 449. There he fought vigorously for the rights of the Roman See and opposed the condemnation of Flavian of Constantinople (see FLAVIAN, SAINT). He was therefore exposed to the violence of Dioscurus of Alexandria, and saved himself by flight. In one of his letters to the Empress Pulcheria, found in a collection of letters of Leo I ("Leonis I Epistolae", num. xlvi., in P.L., LIV, 837 sq.), Hilarus apologizes for not delivering to her the pope's letter after the synod; but owing to Dioscurus, who tried to hinder his going either to Rome or to Constantinople, he had great difficulty in making his escape in order to bring to the pontiff the news of the result of the council. His pontificate was marked by the same vigorous policy as that of his great predecessor. Church affairs in Gaul and Spain claimed his special attention. Owing to political disorganization in both countries, it was important to safeguard the hierarchy by strengthening church government. Hermes, a former archdeacon of Narbonne, had illegally acquired the bishopric of that town. Two Gallican prelates were dispatched to Rome to lay before the pope this and other matters concerning the Church in Gaul. A Roman synod held on 19 November, 462, passed judgment upon these matters, and Hilarus made known the following decisions in an Encyclical sent to the provincial bishops of Vienne, Lyons, Narbonne, and the Alps: Hermes was to remain Titular Bishop of Narbonne, but his episcopal faculties were withheld. A synod was to be convened yearly by the Bishop of Arles, for those of the provincial bishops who were able to attend; but all important matters were to be submitted to the Apostolic See. No bishop could leave his diocese without a written permission from the metropolitan; in case such permission be withheld he could appeal to the Bishop of Arles. Respecting the parishes (paroeciae) claimed by Leontius of Arles as belonging to his jurisdiction, the Gallican bishops could decide, after an investigation. Church property could not be alienated until a synod had examined into the cause of sale.
Shortly after this the pope found himself involved in another diocesan quarrel. In 463 Mamertus of Vienne had consecrated a Bishop of Die, although this Church, by a decree of Leo I, belonged to the metropolitan Diocese of Arles. When Hilarus heard of it he deputed Leontius of Arles to summon a great synod of the bishops of several provinces to investigate the matter. The synod took place and, on the strength of the report given him by Bishop Antonius, he issued an edict dated 25 February, 464, in which Bishop Veranus was commissioned to warn Mamertus that, if in the future he did not refrain from irregular ordinations, his faculties would be withdrawn. Consequently the consecration of the Bishop of Die must be sanctioned by Leontius of Arles. Thus the primatial privileges of the See of Arles were upheld as Leo I had defined them. At the same time the bishops were admonished not to overstep their boundaries, and to assemble in a yearly synod presided over by the Bishop of Arles. The metropolitan rights of the See of Embrun also over the dioceses of the Maritime Alps were protected against the encroachments of a certain Bishop Auxanius, particularly in connection with the two Churches of Nice and Cimiez.
In Spain, Silvanus, Bishop of Calahorra, had, by his episcopal ordinations, violated the church laws. Both the Metropolitan Ascanius and the bishops of the Province of Tarragona made complaint of this to the pope and asked for his decision. Before an answer came to their petition, the same bishops had recourse to the Holy See for an entirely different matter. Before his death Nundinarius, Bishop of Barcelona, expressed a wish that Irenaeus might be chosen his successor, although he had himself made Irenaeus bishop of another see. The request was granted, a Synod of Tarragona confirming the nomination of Irenaeus, after which the bishops sought the pope's approval. The Roman synod of 19 Nov., 465, took the matters up and settled them. This is the oldest Roman synod whose original records have been handed down to us. It was held in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. After an address of the pope, and the reading of the Spanish letters, the synod decided that the church laws must not be tampered with. In addition to this Hilarus sent a letter to the bishops of Tarragona, declaring that no consecration was valid without the sanction of the Metropolitan Ascanius; and no bishop was permitted to be transferred from one diocese to another, so that some one else must be chosen for Barcelona in place of Irenaeus. The bishops consecrated by Silvanus would be recognized if they had been appointed to vacant sees, and otherwise met the requirements of the Church. The "Liber Pontificalis" mentions an Encyclical that Hilarus sent to the East, to confirm the Oecumenical Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and the dogmatic letter of Leo I to Flavian, but the sources at our disposal furnish us no further information. In Rome Hilarus worked zealously for the integrity of the Faith. The Emperor Anthemius had a favourite named Philotheus, who was a believer in the Macedonian heresy and attended meetings in Rome for the promulgation of this doctrine, 476. On one of the emperor's visits to St. Peter's, the pope openly called him to account for his favourite's conduct, exhorting him by the grave of St. Peter to promise that he would do all in his power to check the evil. Hilarus erected several churches and other buildings in Rome. Two oratories in the baptistery of the Lateran, one in honour of St. John the Baptist, the other of St. John the Apostle, are due to him. After his flight from the "Robber Synod" of Ephesus, Hilarus had hidden himself in the crypt of St. John the Apostle, and he attributed his deliverance to the intercession of the Apostle. Over the ancient doors of the oratory this inscription is still to be seen: "To St. John the Evangelist, the liberator of Bishop Hilarus, a Servant of Christ". He also erected a chapel of the Holy Cross in the baptistery, a convent, two public baths, and libraries near the Church of St. Laurence Outside the Walls. He built another convent within the city walls. The "Liber Pontificalis" mentions many votive offerings made by Hilarus in the different churches. He died after a pontificate of six years, three months, and ten days. He was buried in the church of St. Laurence Outside the Walls. His feast day is celebrated on 17 November.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Vatican City, 26 February 2012 (VIS) - The Pope and the Roman Curia began their annual spiritual exercises this evening, the first Sunday of Lent.
This year's meditations are being directed by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who will focus on the theme of "the communion of Christians with God".
The exercises are being held in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, and will come to an end on Saturday 3 March. During the retreat all audiences are suspended, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 29 February.

Vatican City, 26 February 2012 (VIS) - In his reflections before praying the Angelus this morning with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI commented on the Gospel reading from this Sunday's liturgy, St. Mark's narrative of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
"The Lord chose to undergo the attack of the tempter so as to defend us with His help and instruct us with His example", said the Holy Father quoting a text written by St. Leo the Great. This episode teaches us that man is never free from temptation, but we can become stronger than any enemy "by following the Lord every day with patience and humility, learning to build our lives not without Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life. The temptation to remove God, to regulate ourselves and the world counting only on our own abilities, has always been present in the history of man", the Pope said.
In Christ, God addresses man "in an unexpected way, with a closeness that is unique, tangible and full of love. God became incarnate and entered man's world in order to take sin upon Himself, to overcome evil and to bring man back into God's world. But His announcement was accompanied by a request to respond to such a great gift. Indeed, Jesus said "repent, and believe in the good news'. This is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert every day of our lives to His will, orienting our every action and our every thought towards what is good. The period of Lent is a good time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance and works of fraternal charity".
Following the Angelus the Pope greeted pilgrims in a number of different languages, asking them to pray for him as he and the Roman Curia retire for their Lenten spiritual exercises, which begin this evening.

Vatican City, 25 February 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received 200 scientists and members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is currently celebrating its eighteenth general assembly on the theme: "The diagnosis and treatment of infertility". This subject, said the Pope, "has particular scientific importance, and is an expression of the concrete possibility of fruitful dialogue between ethics and biomedical research".
"Research into diagnosis and therapy is the most scientifically correct approach to the question of infertility, as well as being the most respectful of the human condition of the people involved", said Benedict XVI. "Indeed, the union of a man and a woman, in that community of love and life which is marriage, represents the only worthy 'place' for a new human being to be called into existence".
The Pope explained how "the human and Christian dignity of procreation does not lie in a 'product', but in its bond with the conjugal act: that expression of the spouses' love for one another, that union which is not only biological but also spiritual. ... An infertile couple's legitimate aspirations to become parents must therefore, with the help of science, find a response which is fully respectful of their dignity as people and as spouses". Yet, the Holy Father said, the field of human procreation seems to be dominated "by scientism and the logic of profit", which often "restrict many other areas of research.
"The Church is attentive to the suffering of infertile couples", he added, "and her concern for them is what leads her to encourage medical research. Science, nonetheless, is not always capable of responding to the needs of many couples, and so I would like to remind those who are experiencing infertility that their matrimonial vocation is not thereby frustrated. By virtue of their baptismal and matrimonial vocation, spouses are always called to collaborate with God in the creation of a new humanity. The vocation to love, in fact, is a vocation of self-giving and this is something which no bodily condition can impede. Therefore, when science cannot provide an answer, the light-giving response comes from Christ".
Benedict XVI invited the participants in the general assembly to continue to develop "a science which is intellectually honest and dedicated to the continual search for the good of mankind. ... Indifference towards truth and goodness is a dangerous threat to authentic scientific progress", he warned. In conclusion, the Pope encouraged his audience to dialogue with faith because "it was Christian culture - rooted in the affirmation of the existence of Truth, and the intelligibility of reality in the light of Supreme Truth - which enabled modern scientific knowledge to develop in mediaeval Europe, a knowledge which in earlier cultures had remained in the bud".

Vatican City, 25 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, accompanied by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the same congregation.

Vatican City, 25 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea, Italy, as archbishop of Cagliari (area 4,041, population 572,615, Catholics 567,615, priests 247, permanent deacons 37, religious 919), Italy. He succeeds Archbishop Giuseppe Mani, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Medellin, Colombia, presented by Bishop Gilberto Jimenez Narvaez, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop John F. Du of Dumaguete, Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of Palo (area 4,620, population 1,762,000, Catholics 1,362,000, priests 161, religious 191), Philippines.


Agenzia Fides REPORT– It is an initiative that should be rejected because it "has no reference to the defense of life, population health, environmental protection": this is the opinion expressed by Mgr. Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, S.J., Archbishop of Huancayo, who criticized the proposal to "bless", with government approval, a controversial mining project that is creating serious environmental problems and to public health. In Peru there is a "PAMA" ("Programa De Adecuacion Y Manejo Ambiental "), a sort of "certificate" that the government grants to industrial and mining projects, ensuring environmental sustainability and health care. The Parliamentary Huaire Casio proposed that the approval granted to a mining project, and its metallurgical complex is given to the Doe Run Peru and active in the district of Junin. The mining project, according to the Environmental Commission established by the diocese, "creates shameful living conditions for local people, to the advantage of the Doe Run Peru," said the Archbishop.
As reported to Fides by the "Coordination of National Radio in Peru," even Mar Perez, of the National Commission of Human Rights expressed his views on the issue. Perez said that the current government has a "mistaken view of human rights because it gives a misleading picture of development. It offers a false model development, focused only on revenues from the mines." "In the case of Doe Run Peru – he continued - the state is failing in its obligation to protect fundamental human rights. The need for development cannot be an excuse for neglecting the protection of human rights. Protecting the right to health and environment is a way to ensure real development for the country".
According to observers, the Doe Run Peru mining project generates poverty and suffering in society, because of the high rate of pollution: families will be forced to deal with diseases contracted due to contamination with toxic gases. The exposure of citizens to high levels of pollution - are warning local committees - involves high social costs, lives are destroyed and leads to a serious deterioration of public health. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 25/2/2012)

Monday, February 27, 2012


Caoimhe O'Reilly from Cavan, Cardinal Seán Brady, Eimear Brady from Cavan and François-David Freschi, Youth Officer for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 at Crossroads 2012.
50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012, Extends Invitation to Ireland’s Youth

Young people from across Ireland are invited to celebrate their faith at this summer’s International Eucharistic Congress 2012 (IEC2012) in an event that is being described as one of the most ambitious youth ministry programmes ever presented in this country.
The programme called ‘Go! Be Church!’ will happen in an area known as the Chiara Luce Youth Space at IEC2012 in the RDS from 10-16 June. Young people from 17 to 25 years of age will engage in a diverse range of activities that include workshops, dramas, interactive catechesis, celebrations, concerts, social activities, games, and art.
Around 2,500 young people are expected to participate in ‘Go! Be Church!’ this summer and, in preparation for the upcoming Congress, more than 350 young people from across the Dioceses of Ulster gathered in Tyrone on Sunday last, 26 February, to celebrate faith through music, workshops and prayer at an event called Crossroads 2012.
The significant role that youth play in the Church in Ireland was highlighted by the presence of Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, who was the principal celebrant of the Eucharist at Crossroads 2012.
Other bishops concelebrating the Mass at St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley included Bishop Liam MacDaid, Bishop of Clogher, and Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor. They were joined by IEC2012 Diocesan Delegates from the Northern dioceses.
Bishop McKeown emphasised the important role the youth programme will play in the upcoming Congress: “These are difficult years for everybody in modern Ireland – and, in a particular way, for young people. We are all paying the price for trying to live in the fast lane or coarsening our hearts with superficiality.
“The 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 provides a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for the people of this island to pause and reflect on the deep human hunger; for meaning, love, God, healing and communion. Adults may well need to see, hear and listen to young people much more than the youth need the adults!”
Bishop McKeown added: “The Congress is a God-given opportunity to reawaken our idealism through reflecting on the mystery of love, community and service. It is a divine invitation to put communion at the heart of who we are as a people.”
Francois-David Freschi, IEC2012 Youth Officer, said: “We are hoping that every parish in Ireland will send at least one young person to represent them in the IEC2012 Chiara Luce Youth Space. The Church in Ireland needs young people and the Congress is a fantastic opportunity for young adults to explore and celebrate their faith.”
Each diocese in Ireland is being invited by IEC2012 to bring groups of young people to the Congress, either for the entire week or a portion of it. At the end of the week, young people will be missioned to go back to their parishes to begin local faith programmes.
The IEC2012 Youth Space is named after Chiara Badano, an ordinary young woman involved in the Focolare movement, who died in 1990 at the age of 18, after succumbing to bone cancer. Because of her qualities as a friend, and her deep sensitivity to the needs of others, especially the poor, she came to be known as ‘Chiara Luce’ (Claire ‘the Light’ in Italian). Chiara was beatified in 2010 and is the patron saint of the IEC2012 Youth Space.
To support the spiritual journey of young people before and after the Congress, groups of young people are invited to dip into the Pastoral Programme which is available on It invites us to walk in the footsteps of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Further information:
• Aisling Harmey, Media Relations Manager, 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012,
Tel: 00353 (01) 234 9903 Mob: 00353 (0) 87 137 2447 Email:
• Aoife Connors, Media Officer, 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012,
Tel: 00353 (01) 234 9940 Mob: 00353 (0) 87 628 0580 Email:
Notes for Editors:
• The 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 will take place in Dublin from 10 – 17 June 2012 with up to 25,000 pilgrims expected to attend each day at the RDS, including 12,000 international pilgrims representing 95 different countries.
• IEC2012 will transform the RDS into a Eucharistic Village for an eight day festival of faith and culture. The Eucharist will be celebrated in the Liturgy and adored in the Prayer Space.
• The Congress is an international gathering of people, every four years somewhere in the world, which aims to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church; to help improve our understanding and celebration of the liturgy and to draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist. These aims are achieved through a programme of pastoral preparation in the years leading up to the Congress and a programme of liturgical and cultural events, lectures and workshops over the course of one week.
• The theme of the Congress is ‘The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one Another’ (Communion – like Solidarity – means a relationship of mutual love and self-giving).
• On 17 June, more than 80,000 people are expected to gather and celebrate the Final Mass of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 at Croke Park Stadium.
• There will be 18 keynote addresses by international speakers.
• The full programme is available here:
• Previous Congresses took place in Quebec (2008) and Guadalajara (2004)
• For more information:
• Registration for the Congress is now live.