Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Vatican City, 15 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father will visit the archdiocese of Milan on the occasion of the 7th World Meeting of Families to take place in that Italian city.
Benedict XVI will depart from Rome's Ciampino Airport on 1 June at 4:00pm and will arrive an hour later in Milan. At 5:30pm he will address those gathered in the Piazza del Duomo and, at 7:30pm, will attend a concert in his honour and that of the official delegations to the World Meeting of Families at the Scala Theatre.
On Saturday, 2 June, at 10:00am, the Pope will participate in the "Hora Media" at the cathedral. He will read the meditation and will venerate the relics of St. Charles Borromeo. At 11:15am in Meazza Stadium, he will greet children who are being confirmed and will then give a speech and pray the Angelus. At 5:00pm in the Throne Room of the bishop's palace he will meet with civil authorities and, at 8:30pm, will address the participants of the "Celebration of Witnesses" that will take place in the metropolitan park of Bresso.
On Sunday, 3 June, at 10:00am in Bresso's park, he will celebrate Holy Mass and will pray the Angelus. At 1:15pm, after lunch in the bishop's palace with cardinals, bishops, and some families, he will greet members of the Family Foundation 2012 and the organizers of the visit.
Benedict XVI's return flight to Rome will arrive at Ciampino Airport at 5:30pm, from where he will travel by helicopter to the Vatican heliport where he is expected to arrive at 6:45pm.

Vatican City, 15 May 2012 (VIS) - This morning a note from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., was issued on the conclusion of the legal conflict between the Holy See and the Benetton Group, due to its unlawful use of Pope Benedict XVI's image in the "Unhate" ad campaign.
"Last Friday," reads the communique, "the Benetton Group published a note ... reaffirming its 'regret for having offended His Holiness Benedict XVI and believers', and assuring that it 'guarantees and maintains that all photographic images of the Holy Father have been retracted from commercial distribution and promises not to use the image of the Holy Father in the future without authorization from the Holy See'". It ends with stating that "the Benetton Group will use its resources to stop the further use of the image by third parties on internet sites and in other places".
"The communique of the Benetton Group," emphasizes Fr. Lombardi, "represents the conclusion, based on an agreed settlement, of the conflict between the lawyers of the Holy See ... and those of the Benetton Group, a conflict that took place, as announced, and has been open until now. The Benetton Group recognizes therefore ... that the Pope's image must be respected".
"The Holy See did not seek monetary compensation. Nevertheless, moral compensation in recognition of the abuse committed has been sought as well as affirming the desire to defend, even by legal means, the Pope's image. In place of monetary compensation it has asked and received from the Benetton Group an act of generosity, effective even if limited, toward one of the Church's charitable activities".

Vatican City, 15 May 2012 (VIS) - The 2012 meeting of MigraMed for all the Caritas organizations that operate in the Mediterranean countries will open in Cagliari, Italy tomorrow, 16 May. This year's forum is dedicated to the dialogue between the two shores of "Mare Nostrum" and will touch on, among other themes, the conflict in the Middle East and North Africa as well as the reception of emigrants and perspectives of emigration.
"A year after the Arab Spring and during the financial, economic, and social crisis that Europe is undergoing, Caritas in the Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern, and European areas will meet with Caritas Italy and the diocesan Caritas organizations on the theme of emigrants and the politics of development and welcome", reads a communique from Caritas Italy.
From 16 to 18 May will see the discussion on, among other themes to be analysed, Italy's system of welcome to those who have fled Libya: 3,000 of the 20,000 reception points in this country are administered under the umbrella of diocesan Caritas throughout the Italian territories.
The topic of interreligious dialogue will also be addressed because the Caritas organizations on the southern shore of the Mediterranean are found in countries that are, for the most part, Islamic. In this context, Caritas organizations from Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Tunisia will take part. Likewise Caritas from France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Malta, and Albania as well as representatives from Caritas in the Middle East will participate.
The meeting will provide the opportunity to evaluate the present and future of emigration in the Mediterranean in light of the transformation in the Middle East and North Africa, along with Europe's role during this economic crisis and the humanitarian emergency of refugees.

Vatican City, 15 May 2012 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kumasi (area 5,118, population 1,744,000, Catholics 401,000, priests 112, religious 615), Ghana. He succeeds Archbishop Thomas Kwaku Mensah, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of Kannur, India, as bishop of Calicut (area 12,505, population 10,453,000, Catholics 50,201, priests 125, religious 833), India. Concurrently he is named as the apostolic administrator "sede vacanate et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Kannur.
- Bishop Roberto Calara Mallari, previously auxiliary of San Fernando, Philippines, as bishop of San Jose (area 2,540, population 819,000, Catholics 725,000, priests 33, religious 34), Philippines.


Personal Ordinariate to be established in Australia on 15 June Print E-mail
ACBC logoMonday 14 May 2012
The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, announced on Friday 11 May that Pope Benedict XVI intends to announce the establishment in Australia of a Personal Ordinariate for Former Anglicans to commence on 15th June 2012.
Archbishop HartA Personal Ordinariate is a church structure for particular groups of people who wish to enter into communion with the Catholic Church.
In 2009 Pope Benedict announced special arrangements to cater for groups of Anglicans who wished to join the Catholic Church. This provision allows them to maintain some of the traditions of prayer and worship of Anglicanism.
Personal Ordinariates have already been established in the United Kingdom (2011) and the United States of America (2012).
The Australian Bishops have already put in place procedures to enable clergy and lay church members to join the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate.
Archbishop Hart hopes that there will be a warm welcome to those wishing to enter the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate.
“I am confident that those former Anglicans who have made a journey in faith that has led them to the Catholic Church will find a ready welcome”, he said.
This new community will have the status of a diocese and will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross under the patronage of St Augustine of Canterbury.



smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
Freedom_of_conscience_and_religion(CCCB – Ottawa)… The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) today released a pastoral letter on freedom of conscience and religion. Issued by the CCCB Permanent Council, the letter expresses concern about an “aggressive relativism” in Canada that seeks to relegate religion to the private sphere.
“Legitimate secularity draws a distinction between religion and politics, between Church and state,” the pastoral letter states, but is open to the engagement of religious beliefs and faith communities in public debate and civic life. “Radical secularism”, however, excludes religion from the public square “and from freely engaging in the public debate necessary for shaping civic life.”
In its pastoral letter, the Permanent Council explains why freedom of religion and conscience is necessary for the common good of countries such as Canada where religious diversity is the norm. When religious freedom “is threatened, all other rights are weakened and society suffers,” the pastoral letter states. “Freedom of conscience,” the letter explains, “is a necessary condition for seeking the truth and for adhering to that truth once it is sufficiently known.” Emphasizing that the right to religious freedom includes the right to live out one’s faith in the public square, the pastoral letter states that ”attempts to limit expressions of religious faith to places of worship … should be judged as a serious curtailment of a guaranteed right.”
The Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton and President of the CCCB, noted in his introduction to the pastoral letter that it is “addressed to everyone of good will, calls on Catholics, all believers, and even those of no faith, 1) to affirm the right of religion to be active in the public square, 2) to maintain healthy Church-State relations, 3) to form consciences according to objective truth, and 4) to protect the right to conscientious objection.” Archbishop Smith also noted the letter was being released in preparation for Pentecost. He said the pastoral letter “encourages all faith communities to contribute to the formulation of public policy and the common good, and concludes by exhorting believers not to compromise their convictions, but to stand up for their faith, even if they must suffer for it.”
The CCCB Permanent Council serves as the CCCB administrative board. Currently composed of 12 Catholic Bishops from across the country, it is responsible for overseeing the activities and policies of the Conference between the annual meetings of the Plenary Assembly of all the Bishops of Canada, and approving how the decisions and recommendations of the Plenary Assembly are implemented.
The letter can be downloaded freely from www.cccb.ca. The printed version can be ordered from the CCCB Publications Service at www.cccbpublications.ca/

PDF of the pastoral letter
Introduction to the pastoral letter by the President of the CCCB
Summary of the pastoral letter
Questions for reflection
To order copies


He defended himself against agents who burst into his house after his uncle escaped. The charges are baseless because no one died. For this reason, the authorities are preventing lawyers from seeing him.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chen Kegui, nephew of blind dissident Chen Guangcheng, was arbitrarily arrested by police in Shandong. He has been denied access to his family lawyer and his wife has been placed under house arrest. The nephew was taken into custody on 9 May for his role in Chen's escape on 26 April to the US Embassy in Beijing, the China Human Rights Defender (CHRD) reported. The latter monitors human rights in China.

Chen Kegui is accused of "intentional homicide" because during the dissident's escape, he used a knife in self-defence against agents and unidentified people who burst into his uncle's home, slightly wounding some of the attackers. Why he was charged with homicide is unclear since no one died.

Chen Kegui's mother, Ren Zongju, was released on bail after being briefly detained.

Chen's lawyers have not been allowed to meet their client, who could get the death penalty.

Liu Weiguo, the lawyer authorised by Chen Guangcheng's wife, was warned not to go to Linyi to help Chen Kegui. Another lawyer, Chen Wuquan, had his licence to practice taken away. Song Ze, a volunteer with a legal association, disappeared.

After an incredible escape from his home, the blind dissident, famous for his opposition to forced abortions and land grabs, found refuge in the US Embassy in Beijing.

After officials convinced him to leave the compound, he was taken to a hospital in the Chinese capital where he is under constant watch.

Meanwhile, the authorities launched a campaign against his family and friends.


BBC's Head of Religion gives Communications Day lecture | Aaqil Ahmed, BBC's Head of Religion and Ethics, World Communications Day Lecture

Aaqil Ahmed - image BBC
Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC's Head of Religion and Ethics, delivered this year's World Communications Day Lecture at the Mount Street Jesuit Centre in central London last night, 14 May, speaking on: 'The Future of Religious Broadcasting.'

Ahmed, who began his career in Current Affairs, also worked on Religious programming at Channel Four - before the department was closed. Diversity of output is the future, he said. "Our audiences are very diverse and we can’t expect to service all of them with the same output. We need to make programmes that interest the religious, the non-religious, the non-religious literate and the general viewer."

He explained: "Research told me that people wanted to know more about the basics of religion, they wanted to know less about the conflict and more about its roots in history and theology. Hence projects such as How God made the English, The Bible's Buried Secrets, Seven Wonders of Buddhism and Jerusalem: The making of a Holy City. They refresh the genre and fit into this thirst for knowledge".

One of the most popular programmes recently was the Preston Passion, which brought in millions of viewers. The religious slot with the consistently largest viewing figures for the last 50 years has been ‘Songs of Praise’.

Fr James Hanvey SJ, responded to the lecture suggesting that Ahmed had taken a somewhat 'sociological' view of religion and suggested that the BBC should examine spiritual questions in more depth rather than simply offering Songs of Praise or historical documentaries. Ahmed defended his department's output and commitment to religious programming, in a climate where every other television company has now dropped religion from its schedules, and the BBC is facing more and more cuts.

The lecture was organised by the Catholic Communications Network, to celebrate World Communications Day in England and Wales.

The evening began with Mass was celebrated by the Church's media bishop, Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff.

To download the lecture click here: http://bit.ly/KYfPNg


Agenzia Fides REPORT – People are waiting for the appointment of the new President of the transition in Mali. "The mediators of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) were in Bamako for 5 days, but failed to bring the various parties to agree on appointing a new President of the transition" says to Fides Fr. Edmond Dembele Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Mali. On May 22, the interim period of the government ends, initiated under the agreement reached on April 6 by the military junta (which took power with the coup on 22 March) and by the Malian political parties, with the mediation of ECOWAS. Interim President is Dioncounda Traoré who appointed Cheick Modibo Diarra as Premier (see Fides 18/05/2012).
"The ECOWAS wants Dioncounda Traore to continue to be the President of the transition, but the military junta would like another person," says FR. Dembele. ECOWAS threatened to reintroduce sanctions imposed against the coup on April 2 and then suspended after the agreement on April 6.
"The ECOWAS mediators should be back today in Bamako," says Fr. Dembele to Fides. "Yesterday, the leaders of the junta held a press conference in which they launched a proposal to hold a big meeting with all national social and political forces of the nation to designate the President of the transition. But it seems that the ECOWAS is not favorable to this proposal. Religious Catholic, Protestant and Muslim leaders, continue to mediate to try to find a solution to the crisis, " added the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Mali.
As for the north of Mali, in the hands of a series of armed groups, Fr. Dembele says that "the State last weekend, along with the High Islamic Council, and an association of citizens from the north that are in Bamako, sent food and medicines to the people of Tomboctou, Gao and Kidal."
In the north the tension for both the divisions between the various armed groups that control the area, and for the people’s impatience against the oppression of Islamists is increasing. "A recent meeting between the armed movements in the north to find a way to manage the region seems to have failed. This is because the groups have different goals: some want to impose the sharia and others who struggle for independence in the north. In Gao the young took to the streets to protest against the imposition of the Sharia law that provides for the prohibition of games (football and cards), music and television."
Previously the destruction of an important Islamic shrine in Tomboctou (the Islamists are in fact iconoclasts) had provoked the protests of local people and Muslim associations: the High Islamic Council has formally condemned this act. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 15/5/2012)


John 16: 5 - 11
5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?'
6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;
10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more;
11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.


St. Isidore the Farmer
Feast: May 15

Feast Day:May 15
Born:1070 at Madrid, Spain
Died:15 May 1130
Canonized: 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV
Patron of:farmers; day laborers
It is a misfortune which deserves to be lamented with floods of tears, that ignorance, obstinacy, and vice should so often taint a country life, the state which of all others is most necessary and important to the world; the most conformable to a human condition and to nature; the state which was sanctified by the example of the primitive holy patriarchs, and which affords the most favorable opportunities for the perfect practice of every virtue and Christian duty. What advantageous helps to piety did the ancient hermits seek in the deserts, which the circumstances of a country laborer do not offer? The life of St. Isidore is a most sensible proof of this assertion. He was born at Madrid, of poor but very devout parents, and was christened Isidore from the name of their patron, St. Isidore of Seville. They had not the means to procure him learning or a polite education; but, both by word and example, they infused into his tender soul the utmost horror and dread of all sin, and the most vehement ardor for every virtue, and especially for prayer. Good books are a great help to holy meditation; but not indispensably requisite. St. Irenaeus mentions whole nations which believed in Christ, and abounded in exemplary livers, without knowing the use of ink or paper. Many illustrious anchorets knew no other alphabet than that of humility and divine charity. The great St. Antony himself could not so much as read the Greek or Latin languages: nay, from the words of St. Austin, some doubt whether he could read even his own barbarous Egyptian dialect. Yet in the science of the saints, what philosopher or orator ever attained to the A B C of that great man? Learning, if it puffs up the mind, or inspires any secret self-sufficiency, is an impediment to the communications of the Holy Ghost: simplicity and sincere humility being the dispositions which invite him into the soul. By these was Isidore prepared to find him an interior instructor and comforter. His earnestness in seeking lessons and instructions of piety made him neglect no opportunity of hearing them; and so much the more tender and the deeper were the impressions which they left in his soul, as his desire was the stronger and the more pure. His patience in bearing all injuries and in overcoming the envy of fellow-servants by cordial kindnesses, his readiness to obey his masters, and in indifferent things to comply with the inclinations of others, and humbly to serve every one, gave him the most complete victory over himself and his passions. Labor he considered as enjoined him by God in punishment of sin, and for a remedy against it. And he performed his work in a spirit of compunction and penance. Many object that their labors and fatigues leave them little time for the exercises of religion. But Isidore, by directing his attention according to the most holy motives of faith, made his work a most perfect act of religion. He considered it as a duty to God. Therefore he applied himself to it with great diligence and care, in imitation of the angels in heaven, who in all things fulfil the will of God with the greatest readiness and alacrity of devotion. The more humbling and the more painful the labor was, the dearer it was to the saint, being a means the more suitable to tame his flesh, and a more noble part of his penance. With the same spirit that the saints subdued their bodies by toils in their deserts, Isidore embraced his task. He moreover sanctioned it by continual prayer. While his hand held the plough, he in his heart conversed with God, with his angel guardian, and the other blessed spirits; sometimes deploring the sins of the world, and his own spiritual miseries, at other times in the melting words of the royal prophet, raising his desires to the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem. It was chiefly by this perfect spirit of prayer, joined with, or rather engrafted upon a most profound humility and spirit of mortification, that St. Isidore arrived at so eminent a degree of sanctity as rendered him the admiration of all Spain. In his youth he was retained servant by a gentleman named John de Vargas of Madrid, to till his land and do his husbandry work. The saint afterwards took a most virtuous woman to wife, named Mary Toribia. Those who call her de la Cabeza were deceived by a chapel to which that name is given, because her head is kept in it. After the birth of one child, which died young, the parents, by mutual consent, served God in perfect continency.

St. Isidore continued always in the service of the same master. On account of his fidelity, he could say to him as Jacob did to Laban,1 that, to guard and improve his stock, he had often watched the nights, and had suffered the scorching heats of summer, and the cold of winter; and that the stock, which he found small, had been exceedingly increased in his hands. Don John de Vargas, after long experience of the treasure he possessed in this faithful ploughman, treated him as a brother, according to the advice of Ecclesiasticus,2 Let a wise servant be dear to thee as thy own soul. He allowed him the liberty of assisting daily at the public office of the church. On the other side, Isidore was careful by rising very early, to make his devotions no impediment to his business, nor any encroachment upon what he owed to his master. This being a duty of justice, it would have been a false devotion to have pretended to please God by a neglect of such an obligation; much less did the good servant indulge his compassionate charity to the poor, by relieving them otherwise than out of his own salary. The saint was sensible that in his fidelity, diligence, and assiduous labor consisted, in great part, the sanctification of his soul; and that his duty to his master was his duty to God. He also inspired his wife with the same confidence in God, the same love of the poor, and the same disengagement from the things of this world: he made her the faithful imitatrix of his virtues, and a partner in his good works. She died in 1175, and is honored in Spain among the saints. Her immemorial veneration was approved by pope Innocent XII. in 1697. See Benedict XIV., de Canoniz. 1. 2, c. 24, p. 246.
St. Isidore being seized with the sickness of which he died, foretold his last hour, and prepared himself for it with redoubled fervor, and with the most tender devotion, patience, and cheerfulness. The piety with which he received the last sacraments drew tears from all that were present. Repeating inflamed acts of divine love, he expired on the 15th of May, 1170, being near sixty years of age. His death was glorified by miracles. After forty years, his body was removed out of the churchyard into the church of St. Andrew. It has been since placed in the bishop's chapel, and during these five hundred years remains entire and fresh, being honored by a succession of frequent miracles down to this time. The following, among others, is very well attested. Philip III., in his return from Lisbon, was taken so ill at Casarubios del Monte, that his life was despaired of by his physicians. Whereupon the shrine of St. Isidore was ordered to be carried in a solemn procession of the clergy, court, and people, from Madrid to the chamber of the sick king. The joint prayers of many prevailed. At the same time the shrine was taken out of the church, the fever left the king; and upon its being brought into his chamber, he was perfectly cured. The year following the body of the saint was put into a new rich shrine, which cost one thousand six hundred ducats of gold. St. Isidore had been beatified a little before by Paul V., in 1619, at the solicitation of the same king. His solemn canonization was performed, at the request of king Philip IV., on the 12th of March, 1622; though the bull was only made public by Benedict XIII. See the life of St. Isidore, written by John of Madrid, one hundred and forty years after his death; and Card. Lambertini, de Canoniz. SS. t. 3.

SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/I/stisidorethefarmer.asp#ixzz1uzO7vqVK


Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today made a pastoral visit to Arezzo in the Italian region of Tuscany, where he was greeted on arrival by Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy, and by the local religious and civil authorities. The Holy Father then went on to celebrate Mass at the "Il Prato" park behind the cathedral of Arezzo. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
"The first reading presented us with an important moment which expresses the universality of Christ and the Church’s message: St. Peter, in the house of Cornelius, baptised the first pagans. In the Old Testament God had wanted the blessing of the Jewish people not to remain exclusive, but to extend to all nations". Thus "Peter’s gesture becomes a symbol of the Church’s openness to all humanity. Following the great tradition of your Church and your community, be authentic witnesses of God’s love for all", said the Holy Father.
He then mentioned some of the outstanding figures of the local Church, such as San Donato and Blessed Gregory X who is buried in the cathedral. In this context he exhorted the modern-day faithful to be "ferment in society, ... active and coherent. With its centuries-old history, the city of Arezzo brings together significant expressions of culture and values", he said. "This land was the birthplace of great Renaissance personalities, from Petrarch to Vasari, and played an active role in affirming that concept of man which left its mark on the history of Europe, drawing strength from Christian values. ... Within the context of the Church in Italy, which has dedicated this decade to the theme of education, we must ask - especially in this region where the Renaissance was born - what vision of man we are proposing to the new generations. The Word of God we have heard is a powerful invitation to live God’s love towards all; and indeed, among its distinctive values, the culture of this land includes solidarity, attention to the weak and respect for the dignity of all. ... Showing solidarity with the poor, means recognising the plan of God the Creator, Who made us all one family".
Benedict XVI then turned to consider the current economic crisis. "The complexity of the problems makes it difficult to find quick and effective solutions to emerge from the present situation, which particularly affects the weakest elements of society and is of special concern to young people. Since earliest times, attention to others has moved the Church to show concrete signs of solidarity with those in need, sharing resources, promoting simpler lifestyles, going against an ephemeral culture which has disappointed many and determined a profound spiritual crisis. May this diocesan Church, enriched by the shining witness of St. Francis of Assisi, continue to be caring and attentive towards those in need, and may it teach people to go beyond the purely materialistic ideologies that often mark our age and end up clouding our sense of solidarity and charity.
"Bearing witness to the love of God by caring for the weakest is tied to the defence of human life, from beginning to natural end", the Pope added. "In your region, ensuring everyone dignity, health and fundamental rights, is justly considered an indispensable good. The defence of the family, through laws that are just and protect the weakest, is always an important point that keeps the fabric of society strong and offers hope for the future. Just as in the Middle Ages, the statutes of your city became instruments that ensured inalienable rights to many, may they continue that task today, promoting a city with an ever more human face. The Church offers her contribution to this task so that the love of God may always be accompanied love for neighbour".

Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - "As Mother of the Church, Our Lady always wants to comfort her children at the time of their greatest difficulty and suffering", said the Pope today before praying the Regina Coeli with thousands of faithful who had attended his Mass at the "Il Prato" park in the Italian city of Arezzo.
"Through Mary, we invoke moral consolation from God, so that this community and the whole of Italy may resist the temptation to become discouraged and, strengthened by their great humanist tradition, may set out again on the road to spiritual and moral renewal which is the only thing that can bring authentic improvement in social and civil life".
After praying the Regina Coeli, Benedict XVI made a private visit to the cathedral of San Donato where he paused before the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Comfort to adore the Blessed Sacrament and venerate the image of the Virgin. From there, he travelled to the bishop's palace where he had lunch with bishops from the Tuscan region.

Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today the Holy Father arrived by helicopter at the town of Sansepolcro which is currently celebrating the thousandth year of its foundation. Before going there he had been due to travel to the shrine of La Verna but because of bad weather and in particular fog, he was unable to do so and his visit to Sansepolcro was brought forward. There he met with local citizens in the Piazza Torre di Berta which for the occasion had been decorated with more than 300 standards.
Before meeting the locals, Benedict XVI visited the cathedral of St. John the Baptist where he paused in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and venerated a famous crucifix known as the "Santo Volto" (Holy Face), considered to be one of the oldest images of the the clothed and crucified Christ.
In his address to the citizenry the Pope recalled how a thousand years ago the pilgrim saints Arcano and Egidio, "in the midst of the great transformations of their time, set out for the Holy Land to discover truth and the meaning of life. On their return, not only did they bring stones they had gathered on Mount Sion, but also an idea they had matured in the Land of Jesus: constructing in the upper reaches of the Tiber valley a 'civitas hominis' in the image of Jerusalem which, in its very name, evokes justice and peace". Arcano and Egidio "imagined a complex model city full of hope for the future, in which Christ's disciples were called to be a motor of society, promoting peace through the practice of justice". Their idea became reality "thanks to the support first of the Benedictine then of the Camaldolese charism, and continued for generations. Great commitment was needed to found a monastic community and later, around their church, your town", the Holy Father said.
That church, he went on, is "a point of reference which everyone can use as guidance for their journey, and especially for their lives. It is a powerful invitation to look to heaven, to rise above daily life ... in a constant striving towards spiritual vales and communion with God, which do not alienate us from daily life but orient it and enable us to experience it more intensely. This also holds true today, helping us to rediscover the search for 'truth', to perceive life as a journey which brings us towards the 'true' and the 'right'".
"Today it is particularly important for the Church’s service to the world to be expressed through illuminated lay men and women, who are able to work inside the city of man, moved by a desire to serve which goes beyond private interests and partisan concerns. The common good is more important than the good of the individual, and Christians too must contribute to the growth of a new public ethic. ... Christians, and especially the young, are called to counterpoise widespread misgivings about political and social activism with commitment and love for responsibility, animated by evangelical charity which requires us not to remain closed in ourselves but to take responsibility for others. I invite young people to think big: Have the courage to dare. Be ready to give new flavour to civil society, with the salt of honesty and disinterested altruism".
One of the main challenges facing the ancient town of Sansepolcro is "harmonising a rediscovery of its own centuries-old identity with welcoming and incorporating other cultures and sensibilities", the Pope observed. "St. Paul teaches us that the Church and the whole of society are like a human body in which each part is different from the others, but all work together for the good of the organism".
Finally Benedict XVI recalled that the basilica "is the seat of rediscovered harmony between worship and civic life, the point of reference for the pacification of souls. Just as your forefathers were able to build a splendid church of stone as a sign of communion of life, so it is up to you to make the meaning of this sacred building visible and credible, living in peace in the ecclesial and civil communities. ... Look to your rich cultural heritage and be a living Church at the service of the Gospel. A hospitable and generous Church which with her witness brings the love of God to all human beings, especially those who suffer and are in need".
Following his address and after greeting the local authorities, the Holy Father began his return journey to Rome.

Vatican City, 12 May 2012 (VIS) - Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Republic of Italy, yesterday offered a concert to Benedict XVI to mark the seventh anniversary of his election to the pontificate. The performance was held in the Paul VI Hall where the Orchestra and Choir of the Roman Opera House, conducted by Riccardo Muti and Roberto Gabbiani, played Antonio Vivaldi's "Magnificat RV611", and the "Stabat Mater" and "Te Deum" from Giuseppe Verdi's "Quattro pezzi sacri".
At the end of the concert, the Pope thanked those who had participated in the preparation and performance of the event, expressing his appreciation for Riccardo Muti's sensitivity for sacred music and his efforts to disseminate awareness of "this rich repertory which expresses the faith of the Church in music. ... The 'Magnificat' we have heard is a hymn of praise to Mary and to all the humble of heart who joyfully and gratefully recognise and celebrate God's action in their lives and in history. God's 'style' is different from that of man, because He stands alongside the poorest and weakest to give them hope. With extraordinary depth of feeling, Vivaldi's music expresses praise, exultation, thanksgiving, and wonder before the works of God".
The Holy Father continued his remarks by nothing that, "with the two pieces of sacred music by Giuseppe Verdi, ... there was a change of register. We found ourselves in the presence of Mary's suffering at the foot of the cross. ... Just as he explored and expressed the drama of so many characters in his operas, here Verdi outlines the drama of the Virgin as she contemplates her Son on the cross. The music is reduced to the essential, almost 'seizing' the words to express their significance as intensely as possible, ... enabling us to participate in her maternal suffering and allowing the love of Christ to burn in our hearts, until the last passage which is an intensely powerful supplication to God that the soul be given the glory of heaven, the ultimate aspiration of humankind.
"The 'Te Deum' is also replete with contrasts", the Pope added. "Verdi is scrupulously attentive to the holy text but his reading thereof diverges from that of tradition. He does not concentrate on the song of victory or coronation but, as he himself wrote, on the successive situations: initial exultation, ... contemplation of Christ incarnate Who frees and opens the Kingdom of Heaven, ... invocation ... for Him to have mercy and, in the end, the cry repeated by soprano and the choir: 'In te, Domine, speravi', with which the piece closes, almost a request on Verdi's part for hope and light in the last stage of his life".

Vatican City, 12 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.

Vatican City, 14 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Fr. Dieudonne Nzapalainga C.S.Sp., apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Bangui, Central African Republic, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 38,342, population 1.043,000, Catholics 246,657, priests 104, religious 124). The archbishop-elect was born in Mbomou, Central African Republic in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1998. He studied in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon and France, and has worked in pastoral care in France and in the Central African Republic.
- Appointed Fr. Dennis Kofi Agbenyadzi S.M.A., regional superior of the Society of African Missions for the Central African Republic, as bishop of Berberati (area 45,000, population 450,000, Catholics 110,000, priests 33, religious 30), Central African Republic. The bishop-elect was born in Kadjebi-Akan, Ghana in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1997. He studied in Ghana, Benin and Cote d'Ivoire and has worked as a pastor and in administrative positions.
- Appointed Fr. Nestor-Desire Nongo-Aziagbia S.M.A., superior of the Haguenau Community in Strasbourg, France and superior of the same district for the Society of African Missions, as bishop of Bossangoa (area 62,420, population 612,000, Catholics 281,000, priests 38, religious 22), Central African Republic. The bishop-elect was born in M'Baiki, Central African Republic in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1998. He studied in the Central African Republic, Nigeria and France. He worked in pastoral care and administration in Nigeria before moving to France.
- Appointed Fr. Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, vicar general of Alindao, Central African Republic, as coadjutor of the same diocese (area 18,475, population 171,600, Catholics 63,000, priests 13, religious 13). The bishop-elect was born in Bangassou, Central African Republic in 1970 and ordained a priest in 2001. He has held various roles in the diocese of Alindao including parochial vicar, head of the diocesan liturgical commission and pastor of the cathedral.
- Appointed Bishop Alvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri of San Marcos, Guatemala, as bishop of Huehuetenango (area 7,400, population 917,713, Catholics 706,449, priests 27, religious 57), Guatemala. He succeeds Bishop Rodolfo Francesco Bobadilla Mata C.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Robert McGuckin as bishop of Toowoomba (area 487,000, population 276,700, Catholics 77,400, priests 48, religious 57), Australia. The bishop-elect was born in Sydney, Australia in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1973. Among other roles, he has worked in pastoral care in numerous parishes, as professor of canon law and as judge of the appeals tribunal of Australia and New Zealand.
- Appointed as consultors of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation: Fr. Marco Frisina, president of the Commission for Sacred Art of the diocese of Rome, and professor at the Pontifical Lateran University and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; Fr. Jeremy Driscoll O.S.B., professor at the Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, U.S.A., and at the Theological Faculty of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum; Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik S.J., director of the Aletti Centre, and professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, and Salvatore Martinez, president of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association, Italy.
On Saturday 12 May it was made public that the Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Andrzej Jez, auxiliary of Tarnow, Poland, as bishop of the same diocese (area 7,566, population 1,124,000, Catholics 1,117,000, priests 1,423, religious 1,243).
- Fr. Archimandrite Donato Oliverio, delegate "ad omnia" of the eparchy of Lungro of the Italo-Albanians, Italy, as bishop of the same eparchy (area 493, population 33,400, Catholics 32,300, priests 39, permanent deacons 1, religious 28). The bishop-elect was born in Cosenza, Italy in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1982. Among other roles he has served as a pastor, director of the eparchial office for catechesis, bursar and secretary of Lungro's Institute for Religious Sciences.
- Fr. Orlando Roa Barboasa of the clergy of the archdiocese of Ibague, Colombia, rector of the "Maria Inmaculada" major archdiocesan seminary, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Ibague (area 6,044, population 591,000, Catholics 531,000, priests 105, permanent deacons 12, religious 184). The bishop-elect was born in Cali, Colombia in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1984. He studied in Colombia and in Rome and has worked as a pastor and in the field of pastoral care of young people.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
9 May 2012

Treasurer Wayne Swan
Health and social welfare services are disappointed with a Budget they say has come with a huge cost for the disadvantaged, the poor and unemployed.
The agencies claimed today the slim Budget surplus has been achieved by slashing spending on sub-acute hospital beds, putting a knife to the Medicare Safety Net and cutting millions from the GP Super Clinics program.
While giving generous hand-outs of as much as $2000 in benefits and bonuses to lower and middle income families, the poor and unemployed received virtually no help at all, according to the agencies.
International aid agencies said today the world's poorest communities have also missed out with $2.9 billion in foreign aid put on hold, despite the Government's reiterating its promise to pledge 0.5 percent of Gross National Income by 2015. 
The Budget also failed to address an expected shortfall across Australia's public and private hospitals of more than 110,000 nurses by 2025.
Just $55.2 million put aside for Government's
heavily promoted Aged Care Reforms
"One of the great disappointments of this Budget is the $120 million cut from multi-purpose services which means more than 200 hospital sub-acute beds promised as part of last year's COAG (Council of Australian Governments) Health Reform Agreement will not now be built," says Martin Laverty, CEO of Catholic Health Australia (CHA).
Mr Laverty also expressed disappointment that only a modest $55.2 million in new spending has been allocated to the aged care sector, which he describes as being under immense strain and in urgent need of reform and additional funding.
Less than three weeks ago, PM Julia Gillard announced an ambitious $3.7 billion plan to overhaul the aged care sector. But the majority of the funding for the Government's heavily-promoted "Living Longer, Living Better" scheme turns out to be made up of redirected allocations from the scaled back Aged Care Funding Instrument Program, with only half a billion in new funding allocated over five years. Of this amount, just $55.2 million has been put aside for 2012-13.

Despite welcoming $1 billion in new funding over four years to kick-start a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), $225 million in new funding to give a $515 million boost to public dental care, and applauding improved access to free bowel cancer screening for older Australians, Mr Laverty is troubled that health issues at a wider level were not addressed.
Budget fails to address shortfall of 110,000
nurses by 2025
"One of the disappointments is the lack of any policy - and associated funding - to address the expected shortfall of nurses by 2025," he says.
The predicted shortfall was included in a report by Health Workforce Australia issued two weeks ago. But instead of confronting the issue, the Government responded with a Budget that cut back workforce spending in the sector by $68 million.
Health experienced more than $1 billion in cuts in last night's Budget, including trimming back the Medicare Safety Net and winding back the medical expenses tax offset.

Among the severest critics of Wayne Swan's Budget last night is Dr John Falzon, Chief Executive of St Vincent de Paul Society's National Council.
"The Government's bid to get back into surplus has come on the back of sole parents and the unemployed," he charges, sharply criticising the 2012 Budget for failing to deliver relief for people who are outside the labour market.
Budget cuts mean a loss of more than
200 sub acute hospital beds
"The Budget confirms one thing that both sides of politics agree on; and that's their belief in the existence of the undeserving poor," he says. "The message is that if you're poor, it's because you are just not trying hard enough. So the unemployed are left below the poverty line."
The Newstart Allowance has not been increased since 1996 and at $245 per week is less than half Australia's minimum wage. But despite Vinnies and welfare organisations lobbying the Government to give Newstart a much needed boost of $50 a week, the Budget increased the entitlement by just $4 per week.
As part of the Government's scramble to keep its promise and return the Budget to surplus by 2012-13, single mothers will be taken off parenting payments and forced onto Newstart once their youngest child reaches eight years of age. For mothers this means having to live on less than $38 per day while for the Government it represents a saving of more than $700 million over four years.

"The surplus has been achieved by skimming from the pockets of single parents and their children," Dr Falzon says. "There is nothing wrong with bringing home the bacon for middle Australia. But the people living at the rough end of Struggle Street are trying to get by on baked beans."
The Newstart Allowance pays
jobseekers $243.40 a week
or just $35 a day
Caritas Australia, the aid and development arm of the Catholic Church, is also troubled by the Government's decision to renege on its Millennium promise to commit 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI) in foreign aid by 2015. Instead Foreign Affairs Minister confirmed last night that Australia would no longer meet this commitment.
The earlier $2.9 billion pledged in foreign aid has been deferred.
Australians individually are among the most generous on earth but despite its wealth, as a nation Australia lags behind most other OCED countries. Despite being in a recession, Britain gives 0.7% of GNI in foreign aid while Australia gives less than 3.5% of GNI.
Of the 20 developing nations helped by AusAid, 18 are in our region and include Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and poverty stricken communities across Asia.
According to Caritas CEO, Jack de Groot, along with helping with agriculture, sustainability, health, education and job skills, foreign aid helps lift people out of poverty and in doing so, creates stability and security across the region.
"We would like Australians to understand they have been responsible for changing the lives of countless men, women and children through their generous commitment to helping those in need during natural disasters and through federally-funded programs that change lives in the long term," he says. "But put in perspective, the Budget potentially leaves us behind other comparable nations."
As one of the world's healthiest economies, Australia should be leading the push to address injustice and poverty, not following or lagging behind, he says.


A special Mass and reception took place at the Church of Notre Dame de France in Leicester Square - on Saturday, to celebrate the unveiling of the newly-restored Cocteau murals and the renovated organ.
London: French Church celebrates restored Cocteau murals | Church of Notre Dame de France, Leicester Square, Cocteau murals, Duncan Middleton

Matthew Fisher (Pioneer Scout Group leader) & Florent David members of the parish Lay Community by murals
Organist Duncan Middleton played improvizations during the blessing of the organ and accompanied the special choir who sang beautifully throughout the Mass. The celebration was dedicated to Fr Gerard Noblet SM, who died this year after serving at Notre Dame for 16 years.

In his homily, Fr Guy Wernert spoke of how each statue and image in the church had been lovingly chosen to praise God and lead the congregation to prayer.

The murals,  adorning the walls of a side chapel, were carried out in 1960 by the well-known artist, filmmaker, writer and poet Jean Cocteau. They depict the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Assumption of Our Lady.

It was Mr René Varin, cultural advisor at the French Embassy in London who thought of asking Cocteau to take part in the decoration work of the new Church. The building had been virtually destroyed by a bomb during World Wall II and was being rebuilt.

Cocteau, who was 70 at the time,  spent slightly more than a week on the project, from 3 - 11 November 1959. His films, particularly Le Testament d’Orphee,  were enjoying huge success in London at that time and he had to be protected from the invasion of reporters and fans by a wooden scaffolding all around the chapel.

Cocteau had only recently returned to practicing his Catholic faith after a long absence from the Church, and was very devout. According to eyewitnesses, he would arrive each morning at about ten and always began by lighting a candle before the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.

He would then pray aloud while he worked on the drawings. When he spoke to the Virgin of the Annunciation, he was full of joy, and said: "O you, most beautiful of women, loveliest of God's creatures, you were the best loved. So I want you to be my best piece of work too...
I am drawing you with light strokes... You are the yet unfinished work of Grace..."

Once he had finished his tasks, Jean Cocteau was sad to leave. He told friends: "I am sorry to go. It is as if the wall of the chapel had drawn me into another world..."

He went on to comment: "I shall never forget that wide open heart of Notre Dame de France, and the place you allowed me to take within it."

Cocteau died nearly four years later, on 11 October 1963. He was buried according to his wishes, in the chapel of St Blaise of the Simple Ones, at Milly la Forêt, near Fontainebleau.

Notre Dame de France, served by the Marist Fathers, has a very lively pastoral outreach to London's French speakers and the wider community. There is a residential lay community of young people, an African refugee support project and homeless project.

Next month the parish is participating in Spirit in the City with other West End Catholic churches. On Thursday, 7 June, a Marian street procession will arrive there (from Our Lady of the Assumption, after a talk by Fr Christopher Jamison), for testimonies, sung night prayer and a social evening.

On Friday, 8 June, After Mass at 12.15, there will be a talk by Fr Keith Barltrop on  ‘the call to be witnesses in the world.’  From 1.15 – 5.30pm there will be Sanctuary in the City – Adoration in the church and outreach in Leicester Square. During the evening programme which starts at 7pm there will be music,  prayer and testimonies in Notre Dame before a talk by Sr Gemma Simmonds, CJ, on ‘the call to be witnesses of the Eucharistic Lord’. At 8pm a Eucharistic street procession  will set out to Corpus Christi in Covent Garden where there will be a time of Adoration, Benediction and Night Prayer.

Later, on 17 June, the entire parish of Notre Dame de France will have their annual picnic together after Sunday Mass. Nathalie Champel, who leads a team of about 100 catechists working in the parish and with children from the French Lycee, said:  “It’s a wonderful event which we all look forward to. We love our parish.”


KHARTOUM, May 11, 2012 (CISA) –The Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan have postponed their annual Plenary Assembly because of tensions between the two countries, read a message sent by the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference, the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC).
The Plenary Assembly was scheduled to be held in Juba, South Sudan from June 12 to 17.
The message further said that the holding of the meeting will depend on political developments.
According to Fides, South Sudan has accused Khartoum of bombing several locations in its territory, in the Upper Nile, Unity and Western Bahr el-Ghazal. Both Khartoum and Juba claim to respect a cease-fire agreement imposed by a UN Security Council resolution of May 4.
Meanwhile, on Thursday May 10, the South Sudan said that it was ready to reopen negotiations with its northern neighbor, Sudan, to try to resolve oil, security and frontier disputes that ignited border fighting last month.


Agenzia Fides REPORT– It is unacceptable that children die or remain disabled because of hunger. This is what emerges in a document released by the Archdiocese of Mexico, which is based in Mexico City, which proposes some actions for the establishment of a national agreement to deal with this tragedy. To raise awareness on social levels of poverty and inequality that exist in Mexico, the Catholic Church has just published its second National Report "Dolor de la Tierra, Dolor de los Pobres. ¡Actuemos ya! "Which emphasizes that "it is unacceptable that a quarter of Mexicans live in hunger and thirst, and that children cannot continue to die or be disabled because of hunger." "Neither - continues the document - it is possible that there are communities where more than 90% of the population are poor. We cannot continue to follow a policy of social development that goes beyond emergencies without thinking about what is essential for the daily living of the people." The Archdiocese has proposed to give rise to "a national agreement that establishes priorities for tackling poverty and inequality, promoting the mobilization and the concentration on agreements at a regional and national level." In the work, coordinated by Caritas Mexico, the head of the Episcopal Commission for the Social Pastoral (CEPS-Caritas), His Exc. Mgr. Gustavo Rodríguez Vega, Bishop of Nuevo Laredo, said that "there are situations that require new attitudes and new actions on our behalf, which cannot be postponed."(AP) (Agenzia Fides


The country's 26 dioceses organise events that include songs, poetry readings, traditional dancing and floral offerings to Mary. Former students at Don Bosco schools organise small groups to pray and read the Bible.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - The Marian month, an important time of the year in Vietnam, is being marked by prayers of peace for families, Vietnamese society and the Church in China.
For the Marian month, Vietnam's 26 dioceses have organised ceremonies that include songs, poetry readings, traditional dances and flower offerings for Mary. In the Diocese of Saigon, at least 198 parishes have organised poetry readings and floral offerings (Dâng Hoa in Vietnamese) with the participation of children and young people.
The Catholic Church in Vietnam has also responded to Pope Benedict XVI's appeal to pray for the Church in China during the month of May. On 18 May 2007, the pontiff said, "all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China." 
In Ho Chi Minh City, about 500 former students from Don Bosco schools organised prayers and Bible readings.
The celebrations also include taking a statue of Our Lady of Help for Christians from home to home, where it stays for one or two days, allowing residents to pray to her on behalf of Catholic families and for peace in today's Vietnamese society.
Prayers groups also come together, drawing members such as doctors, business people, teachers, public servants and workers.
"Our Lady is a 'bridge' that united us," Joseph Đỗ Văn Đức, a supervisor in a Japanese company, told AsiaNews. "By praying together we can create communion and help each other more".
"We organise floral offerings, read the rosary and pray to the Virgin in the month of May," members of the Thanh Đa Parish. "The Virgin Mother will certainly not forget our families. May she bless us and give our country peace."
Every month, some 10,000 Vietnamese, including some non-Catholics, take part in pilgrimages to Our Lady of Tapao, Phan Thiết diocese. However, Our Lady of La Vang draws even more pilgrims in need of help and support.
"I found myself facing many difficulties," said Teresa, from Thánh Linh Parish. "I face discrimination and lack of respect in the office where I work. Sometimes, I have endured harassment, but I keep my faith."
"Every day," she explained, "I go to the Redemptorists to pray to the Mother of Perpetual Help and feel peace in my heart. I have seen many non-Catholics come to pray with their families and children. The walls are full of ex-voto thanksgiving messages Mary."


John 15: 9 - 17
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
17 This I command you, to love one another.