Wednesday, August 29, 2012


To all faithful Christians who, in private or public, in church or in their own houses, shall keep any of the following Novenas, in preparation for the principal feasts of most holy Mary, Pope Pius VII., at the prayer of several holy persons, granted, by Rescripts issued through his Eminence the Cardinal-Vicar, Aug. 4 and Nov. 24, 1808, and Jan. 11, 1800 (all of which are kept in the Segretaria of the Vicariate) -
i. An indulgence of 300 days, daily.
ii. A plenary indulgence to all who shall assist at these Novenas every day, and who shall afterwards, either on the Feast-day itself, to which each Novena respectively has reference, or on some one day in its Octave, after Confession and Communion, pray to our Lord and to the Blessed Virgin ac cording to the pious intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.


(Beginning Aug. 30.)

Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.

Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.


Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Most holy Mary, Elect One, predestined from all eternity by the Most Holy Trinity to be Mother of the only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, foretold by the Prophets, expected by the Patriarchs, desired by all nations, Sanctuary and living Temple of the Holy Ghost, Sun without stain, conceived free from original sin, Mistress of Heaven and of Earth, Queen of angels:- humbly prostrate at thy feet we give thee our homage, rejoicing that the year has brought round again the memory of thy most happy Nativity; and we pray thee with all our hearts to vouchsafe in thy goodness now to come down again and be reborn spiritually in our souls, that, led captive by thy loveliness and sweetness, they may ever live united to thy most sweet and loving heart.

i. So now whilst we say nine angelic salutations, we will direct our thoughts to the nine months which thou didst pass enclosed in thy mother’s womb; celebrating at the same time thy descent from the royal house of David, and how thou didst come forth to the light of heaven with high honour from the womb of holy Anna, thy most happy mother.
Ave Maria.

ii. We hail thee, heavenly Babe, white Dove of purity; who in spite of the serpent wast conceived free from original sin.
Ave Maria.

iii. We hail thee, bright Morn; who, forerunner of the Heavenly Sun of Justice, didst bring the first light to earth.
Ave Maria.

iv. We hail thee, Elect; who, like the untarnished Sun, didst burst forth in the dark night of sin.
Ave Maria.

v. We hail thee, beauteous Moon; who didst shed light upon a world wrapt in the darkness of idolatry.
Ave Maria.

vi. We hail thee, dread Warrior-Queen; who, in thyself a host, didst put to flight all hell.
Ave Maria.

vii. We hail thee, fair Soul of Mary; who from eternity wast possessed by God and God alone.
Ave Maria.

viii. We hail thee, dear Child, and we humbly venerate thy most holy infant body, the sacred swaddling-clothes wherewith they bound thee, the sacred crib wherein they laid thee, and we bless the hour and the day when thou wast born.
Ave Maria.

ix. We hail thee, much-loved Infant, adorned with every virtue immeasurably above all saints, and therefore worthy Mother of the Saviour of the world; who, having been made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, didst bring forth the Word Incarnate.
Ave Maria.


O most lovely Infant, who by thy holy birth hast comforted the world, made glad the heavens, struck terror into hell, brought help to the fallen, consolation to the sad, salvation to the weak, joy to all men living; we entreat thee, with the most fervent love and gratitude, to be spiritually reborn in our souls by means of thy most holy love; renew our spirits to thy service, rekindle in our hearts the fire of charity, bid all the virtues blossom there, that so we may find more and more favour in thy gracious eyes. Mary! be thou our Mary, and may we feel the saving power of thy sweetest name; may it ever be our comfort to call on that name in all our troubles; may it be our hope in dangers, our shield in temptation, and our last utterance in death. Sit nomen Mariae mel in ore, melos in aure, et jubilus in corde. Amen. Let the name of Mary be honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart. Amen.

V. Nativitas tua, Dei Genitrix Virgo.
R. Gaudium annuntiavit universo mundo.

Famulis tuis, quaesumus Domine, coelestis gratiae munus impertire: ut quibus Beata Virginis partus extitit salutis exordium, nativitatis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum.

Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.


V. Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God.
R. Hath brought joy to the whole world.

Let us pray.
Grant to us Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace; that to all those for whom the delivery of the Blessed Virgin was the beginning of salvation, this her votive festival may give increase of peace. Through, &c.

Let us pray.
O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.


St. Pammachius, Roman Senator and builder of the Church of SS John and Paul.
Feast: August 30
Information: Feast Day: August 30
Born: 340
Died: 409 at Rome
Roman senator, d. about 409. In youth he frequented the schools of rehetoric with St. Jerome. In 385 he married Paulina, second daughter of St. Paula. He was probably among the viri genere optimi religione præclari, who in 390 denounced Jovinian to Pope St. Siricius (Ambrose, Ep. xli). When he attacked St. Jerorme's book against Jovinian for prudential reasons, Jerome wrote him two letters (Epp. xlviii-ix, ed. Vallarsi) thanking him; the first, vindicating the book, was probably intended for publication. On Paulina's death in 397, Pammachius became a monk, that is, put on a religious habit and gave himself up to works of charity (Jerome, Ep. lxvi; Paulinus of Nola, Ep. xiii). In 399 Pammachius and Oceanus wrote to St. Jerome asking him to translate Origen's "De Principiis", and repudiate the insinuation of Rufinus that St. Jerome was of one mind with himself with regard to Origen. St. Jerome replied the following year (Epp. lxxxiii-iv). In 401 Pammachius was thanked by St. Augustine (Ep. lviii) for a letter he wrote to the people of Numidia, where he owned property, exhorting them to abandon the Donatist schism. Many of St. Jerome's commentaries on Scripture were dedicated to Pammachius. After his wife's death Pammachius built in conjunction with St. Fabiola (Jerome, Epp. lxvi, lxxvii), a hospice at Porto, at the mouth of the Tiber, for poor strangers. The site has been excavated, and the excavations have disclosed the plan and the arrangement of this only building of its kind. Rooms and halls for the sick and poor were grouped around it (Frothingham, "The Monuments of Christian Rome," p. 49). The church of SS. John and Paul was founded either by Pammachius or his father. It was anciently known first as the Titulus Bizantis, and then as the Titulus Pammachii. The feast of Pammachius is kept on 30 August.


Vatican Radio REPORT The feast of John the Baptist’s martyrdom, “reminds us, Christians of our time that we can not stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word, the Truth. The Truth is the Truth and there is no compromise”, said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday during his general audience held in Castel Gandolfo. 2, 600 French altar servers – girls and boys – were among the thousands gathered in Freedom Square, before the Apostolic palace to hear Pope Benedict’s catechesis dedicated to the memorial of the Forerunner to Christ and how he teaches us that Christian witness is fed by prayer. “Christian life”, he said “requires, so to speak, the daily "martyrdom" of fidelity to the Gospel, that is the courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions”.

The Holy Father added that this courage can only come from a solid relationship with God: “Prayer is not a waste of time, it does not rob much space from our activities, not even apostolic activities, it does the exact opposite: only if we are able to have a life of faithful, constant, confident prayer will God Himself give us the strength and capacity to live in a happy and peaceful way, to overcome difficulties and to bear witness with courage. St. John the Baptist intercede for us, so that we always maintain the primacy of God in our lives”.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

on the last Wednesday of August, we celebrate the liturgical memorial of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. In the Roman Calendar, he is the only saint whose birth, June 24, and death through martyrdom are celebrated on the same day. Today’s memorial dates back to the dedication of a crypt of Sebaste in Samaria, where, by the middle of the fourth century, his head was venerated. The cult spread to Jerusalem, in the Churches of the East and Rome, with the title of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. In the Roman Martyrology, reference is made to a second finding of the precious relic, transported, for the occasion, to the church of St. Sylvester in Campo Marzio, Rome.

These small historical references help us to understand how ancient and profound devotion to the John the Baptist is. In the Gospels his role in relation to Jesus stands out very well. In particular, St Luke tells his birth, his life in the wilderness, his preaching, and St. Mark tells us about his tragic death in today’s Gospel. John the Baptist began his preaching under the emperor Tiberius, in AD 27-28, and his clear invitation addressed to the people who flocked to hear him, is to prepare the way to welcome the Lord, to straighten the crooked streets of life through a radical change of heart (cf. Lk 3, 4). But the Baptist did not limit himself to preaching repentance, conversion, he also recognized Jesus as the "Lamb of God" who comes to take away the sin of the world (Jn 1, 29), he has the deep humility to reveal in Jesus the true Messenger of God, stepping aside so that Christ can grow, be listened to and followed. As a final note, the Baptist bears witness to his fidelity to the commandments of God with his blood, without ever giving in or turning back, carrying out his mission to the very end. In his Homilies the IXth century monk, St. Bede writes: "For [Christ] he gave his life, although he was not ordered to deny Jesus Christ, he was ordered not to silence the truth. However, he died for Christ "(Hom. 23: CCL 122, 354). For the love of truth, he did not stoop to compromises with the powerful and was not afraid to use strong words with those who had lost the path of God.

Now we look at this great figure, this strength in passion, in resistance to the powerful. Where does this life of rectitude and coherency, this interior strength, completely spent for God and to prepare the way for Jesus, come from? The answer is simple: from his relationship with God, from prayer, which is the main theme of his whole existence. John is the Divine gift that had been long invoked by his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:13), a great gift, humanly beyond hope, because both were advanced in years and Elizabeth was barren (cf. Lk 1:7), but nothing is impossible for God (cf. Luke 1:36). The announcement of the birth takes place in a place of prayer, the temple of Jerusalem, indeed it takes place when it is Zechariah’ turn to have the great privilege of entering the holiest place of the temple to burn incense to the Lord (cf. Lk 1: 8-20). The birth of John the Baptist was marked by prayer: the song of joy, praise and thanksgiving that Zechariah raises to the Lord and which we recite every morning at Lauds, the "Benedictus", enhances the action of God in history and prophetically indicates the mission of his son John, who precedes the Son of God made flesh in order to prepare the way for Him (cf. Lk 1.67 to 79). The whole existence of the Forerunner of Jesus is powered by his relationship with God, especially in the time he spent in the wilderness (cf. Lk 1.80), the desert is a place of temptation, but also the place where the man feels his poverty most because he is deprived of material support and safety, and he understands that the only solid reference point is God Himself. John the Baptist, however, is not only a man of prayer, of constant contact with God, but also a guide in our relationship with God. The Evangelist Luke notes that when introducing the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples the "Our Father", the request is formulated with these words: "Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples "(cf. Lk 11:1).

Dear brothers and sisters, the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist reminds us, Christians of our time, that we can not stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word, the Truth. The Truth is the Truth and there is no compromise. Christian life requires, so to speak, the daily "martyrdom" of fidelity to the Gospel, that is the courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions. But this can only happen in our lives if there is a solid relationship with God. Prayer is not a waste of time, it does not rob much space from our activities, not even apostolic activities, it does the exact opposite: only if we are able to have a life of faithful, constant, confident prayer will God Himself give us the strength and capacity to live in a happy and peaceful way, to overcome difficulties and to bear witness with courage. St. John the Baptist intercede for us, so that we always maintain the primacy of God in our lives.

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Indonesia, Japan and Malta. Today, the Church celebrates the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. John, whose birth we celebrate on the twenty-fourth of June, gave himself totally to Christ, by preparing the way for him through the preaching of repentance, by leading others to him once he arrived, and by giving the ultimate sacrifice. Dear friends, may we follow John’s example by allowing Christ to penetrate every part of our lives so that we may boldly proclaim him to the world. May God bless all of you!


This morning, the Archdiocese of New York released a statement to the press regarding next week’s Democratic National Convention. I would like to share the press release with you.
“Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at next week’s Democratic National Convention. As was previously announced, he will also be offering the closing prayer at the Republican Convention on Thursday of this week.
It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the Cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate. The Cardinal consulted Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, who gave the Cardinal his consent to take part in the convention that will be taking place in his diocese.”


BANJUL BANJUL August 28, 2012 (CISA) -Responding to the official confirmation from the Gambian government given late on Monday August 27, that the authorities had executed nine people, Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa said:
“We are appalled that the Gambian authorities carried out the nine executions and urge them to ensure that no further executions take place. The death penalty is always the ultimate denial of human rights and in these cases the government has compounded the inhumanity by giving little or no notice to either the prisoners or their families. The Gambian authorities must immediately return the prisoners’ bodies to their relatives, and declare an official moratorium on the death penalty.”
On both 19 and 20 August, in a television address broadcast to mark the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Fitrt, President Jammeh announced to the nation that by the middle of September all existing death sentences would be “carried out to the letter”. After the executions, 38 people are still believed to remain on death row in the country.
According to the Gambian Government, before these latest executions the last execution in the country took place in 1985, 27 years ago. So far this year in Africa, 22 of the 54 member states of the African Union were abolitionist in practice, and 16 further were abolitionist in law for all crimes.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
29 Aug 2012

Professor Scott Prasser, Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute
Euthanasia is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences to society and is far too important to be decided by a bill requiring just two days of parliamentary debate followed by a conscience vote, says Professor Scott Prasser, Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute at the Australian Catholic University (ACU).
Instead Professor Prasser says before any laws are modified, emotion must be removed from the debate and a Royal Commission or a neutral wide-ranging public inquiry established to get rid of the myths and look at the facts. The commission or public inquiry would investigate the legal and medical ramifications of voluntary euthanasia as well as the effects on society. A careful study of euthanasia legislation enacted overseas in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium as well as in the US states of Washington and Oregon should also be made, along with the impact of the legislation on society.
"The investigation by this citizen body, whether a commission or public inquiry, needs to be carried out truthfully, factually and in a non-emotive way," he says explaining that to clarify all the issues associated with so-called "mercy killing" requires time, patience and considerable skill by those people people carrying out the investigation.

British man lost his court battle to be allowed to die but passed away from natural causes a few days later
Good policy needs time and thought, Professor Prasser explains and believes Australia should follow the example of the British House of Lords' Select Committee on Medical Ethics and its highly-praised wide-ranging 1994 public inquiry into euthanasia.
An equally thorough inquiry carried out in Australia would be a two to three year process, he says and should not be rushed through parliament in a few short weeks. Nor should an issue as important and complex as euthanasia be decided by a referendum, he adds.
"The issue is not black and white and cannot be answered simply with a yes or a no."
Professor Prasser is equally dismissive of polls on the subject saying "the overwhelming popular acceptance of euthanasia is assumed" as a result of the 85% of Australians who responded positively to a single loaded question in a 2009 Newspoll survey which asked: "If a hopelessly ill patient, experiencing unrelievable suffering, with absolutely no chance of recovering, asks for a lethal dose, should a doctor be allowed to give a lethal dose or not?"
Such confronting personalised characterisation of the issue ignores its many complexities and subtly muddies the waters around the current legal position of pain relief to the terminally ill, he says.
Equally emotionally and persuasive are rare and tragic cases such as that of Tony Nicklinson, the 58-year-old British man suffering "locked in syndrome" who went to court in Britain this month to be permitted to die. He was refused this right but died of natural causes less than a week later.

Euthanasia is a complex issue that challenges the fundamental principles on which society is based
Another is that of South Australian mother, Joanne Dunn who met with doctors last week to seek a decision to stop feeding her 37-year-old son, Mark Leigep who has been in a vegetative non-responsive state since March 2006 after being involved in a car crash and receiving severe head injuries. She insists that her son be allowed to die and under present laws, depriving him of food and water is the only way she says he can be relieved of his suffering.
"Profound disagreement about the nature of the problem is a feature of euthanasia as a public policy issue. There is also confusion about elements such as terms like 'terminally ill.' What qualifies as terminal and how accurate is the diagnosis? 'Unrelievable pain' is another, who is to judge this and does this apply to psychological as well as physical pain. It also brings into question informed consent and the role of the doctor," he says pointing out that euthanasia has far reaching implications for individuals, institutions and society, the dimensions of which mean that none can be addressed in isolation.
This is why Professor Prasser believes it is vital for a Royal Commission or public inquiry be held before any euthanasia policy is legislated. "People must be given the opportunity to think more fully and seriously about important public issues, to be part of the meaningful dialogue and deliberation that acknowledges different values and beliefs is more likely to lead to a sound and lasting policy solution than an adversarial approach or the 'tyranny of the majority.'"
Engaging the public in this way would be a welcome new feature to the Australian political process, he says and describes the current system as one characterised by "rushed policy development, demands for 'instant' policy solutions, flawed policy processes and the trivialisation and politicisation of national policy discourse."

Tasmanian premier supports euthanasia bill
A typical example of this, according to Professor Prasser, is this week's decision by the Federal Government to dump the floor price on carbon less than two months after the carbon tax was introduced. Another is Canberra's recent back flip on immigration and the return to off shore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.
Populism and rushed policy decisions are increasingly being made with the hope of turning the polls around and winning votes. And this may well be the case in Tasmania where the state government is struggling and many predict a wipe-out at the next election.
In a bid to turn this around in the past few months not only has Premier Lara Giddings announced plans to legalise same sex marriage but has given her support to a bill legalising voluntary euthanasia. Despite the promised discussion paper not yet released, let alone a full inquiry held, Premier Giddings says she hopes to have euthanasia legislation before the Tasmanian Parliament before the end of the year.
Confident the bill will pass, Dr Philip Nitschke, director of Exit International has already announced plans to launch a Tasmanian home-visit clinic program and to have this up and running by this time next year. Modelled on a Dutch version of assisted suicide which has operated out of a van since March this year, Nitschke's program would allow doctors to travel to patients' homes and lawfully prescribe and administer the lethal drug Nembutal.
"The distinguishing characteristic of euthanasia as a public policy problem is its moral dimension which challenges the fundamental principles on which society is based," Professor Prasser says and quotes from the 1994 House of Lords inquiry which found it impossible to set secure limits on voluntary euthanasia: "to create an exception to the general prohibition of intentional killing would inevitably open the way to its further erosion whether by design or inadvertence, or by the human tendency to test the limits of any regulation."


Scottish Cardinal urges politicians to 'sustain rather than subvert Marriage' | Scottish Bishops, Marriage Sunday
The Catholic Church in Scotland inaugurated 'National Marriage Sunday' on Sunday 26 August 2012. In a Pastoral Letter read out in all of Scotland's 500 Catholic parishes, the Bishops' of Scotland placed " a special emphasis on the role of the family founded on marriage" and stressed that "marriage is a unique lifelong union of a man and a woman".
In a strongly worded message, the Bishops restated their "deep disappointment that the Scottish Government has decided to redefine marriage and legislate for same sex marriage".
As well as thanking parishioners for their past support in defence of marriage, the message urged them to "continue to act against efforts to redefine it".
Endorsing the initiative Cardinal Keith O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland said: "The Church's teaching on marriage is unequivocal, it is uniquely, the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that Governments, politicians or Parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality."
Cardinal O'Brien added: "With this letter we will announce the creation of a National Commission for Marriage and the Family, a body which will be charged with promoting
the true nature of marriage, it will develop an online prescence and produce materials and organise events which will help Catholic families to support and sustain marriage"
"While we pray that our elected leaders will sustain rather than subvert marriage, we promise to continue to do everything we can to convince them that redefining marriage would be wrong for society".
The full text of the message is shown below:

A Message for Marriage Sunday 26 August 2012 from The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

In all things, we as Catholics look to Jesus Christ as our model and teacher. When asked about marriage He gave a profound and rich reply: “Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, ‘made them male and female’, and said: ‘This is why a man must leave father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one body’.” (Matthew, 19: 4-5).
In the Year of Faith, which begins this October, we wish to place a special emphasis on the role of the family founded on marriage. The family is the domestic Church, and the first place in which the faith is transmitted. For that reason it must have a primary focus in our prayerful considerations during this period of grace.
We write to you having already expressed our deep disappointment that the Scottish Government has decided to redefine marriage and legislate for same-sex marriage. We take this opportunity to thank you for your past support in defense of marriage and hope you will continue to act against efforts to redefine it. We reaffirm before you all the common wisdom of humanity and the revealed faith of the Church that marriage is a unique life-long union of a man and a woman.
In circumstances when the true nature of marriage is being obscured, we wish to affirm and celebrate the truth and beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and family life as Jesus revealed it; to do something new to support marriage and family life in the Catholic community and in the country; and to reinforce the vocation of marriage and the pastoral care of families which takes in the everyday life of the Church in dioceses and parishes across the country.
For that reason, in the forthcoming Year of Faith we have decided to establish a new Commission for Marriage and the Family. This Commission will be led by a bishop and will be composed mostly of lay men and women. The Commission will be charged with engaging with those young men and women who will be future husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and with those who already live out their vocation to marriage and parenthood in surroundings which often make it hard to sustain and develop the full Catholic family life we cherish.
We wish to support too, those who are widowed, separated and divorced and all who need to feel the Church’s maternal care in the circumstances in which they find themselves. The new Commission will promote the true nature of marriage as both a human institution and a union blessed by Jesus. The Commission will be asked to develop an online presence so that prayer, reflection, formation and practical information on matters to do with marriage and family life can be quickly accessible to all. It will also work to produce materials and organise events which will support ordinary Catholic families in their daily lives. During the course of the coming year we will ask for your support for these initiatives.

Our faith teaches us that marriage is a great and holy mystery. The Bishops of Scotland will continue to promote and uphold the universally accepted definition of marriage as the union solely of a man and a woman. At the same time, we wish to work positively for the strengthening of marriage within the Church and within our society.
This is an important initiative for all our people, but especially our young people and children. We urge you to join us in this endeavour. Pray for your own family every day, and pray for those families whose lives are made difficult by the problems and cares which they encounter. Finally, we invite you to pray for our elected leaders, invoking the Holy Spirit on them, that they may be moved to safeguard marriage as it has always been understood, for the good of Scotland and of our society.
Source: SCMO



Islamabad court will decide on lawyers' application for release. The opinion of a medical commission that examined the girl will be decisive. Its findings indicate that she is a minor with unspecified mental challenges. Hundreds of people sign a petition for her release sponsored by a Pakistani association in Italy.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - An Islamabad court will decide tomorrow whether to accept a request by lawyers representing Rimsha Masih to release the mentally challenged Christian girl in prison since 16 August on blasphemy charges. The case has attracted worldwide attention and many organisations have launched protest and solidarity campaigns on her behalf.

On the margins of this case, the fate of hundreds of Christian families who fled their neighbourhood on the outskirts of the capital for fear of retaliation by Muslim extremists remains uncertain. Some of them in fact have not yet found a safe haven but cannot go back to their homes.

Rimsha Masih was accused of blasphemy on the basis of the 'black law' because she burnt some pages on which were printed some Qur'anic verses. According to the Pakistan Penal Code, she could get life in prison. It is feared that extremists elements close to the Taliban could retaliate, something they have done in the past when they carried out extrajudicial executions of people accused of blasphemy.

The court is expected to decide whether to release the girl or not after reviewing the findings of an evaluation carried out by a medical commission established for that purpose. The latter found that the girl is under the age of 14 and with reduced mental faculties. So far, it is unclear what her mental disability might be.

In the meantime, the Association of Pakistani Christians has launched a campaign for Rimsha's release with hundreds of people signing up around the world. The plea will eventually be presented to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Led by Mobeen Shahid, professor at the Pontifical Lateran University, activists in Rome plan to show their solidarity by launching an initiative directed at Pakistan's highest authorities.

The initiative will also include a demand to "revise or abolish" the country's blasphemy law, which has created hundreds of innocent victims since it was introduced in 1986.



Mark 6: 17 - 29
17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero'di-as, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her.
18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
19 And Hero'di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not,
20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.
22 For when Hero'di-as' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it."
23 And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom."
24 And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer."
25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.
27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison,
28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.
29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.


The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Feast: August 29
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST was called by God to be the forerunner of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless, and to improve the extraordinary graces which he had received, he was directed by the Holy Ghost to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness, in the continual exercises of devout prayer and penance, from his infancy till he was thirty years of age. At this age the faithful minister began to discharge his mission. Clothed with the weeds of penance, be announced to all men the obligation they lay under of washing away their iniquities with the tears of sincere compunction; and proclaimed the Messias, Who was then coming to make His appearance among them. He was received by the people as the true herald of the Most High God, and his voice was, as it were, a trumpet sounding from heaven to summon all men to avert the divine judgments, and to prepare themselves to reap the benefit of Vie mercy that was offered them. The tetrarch Herod Antipas having, in defiance of all laws divine and human, married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, who was yet living, St. John the Baptist boldly reprehended the tetrarch and his accomplice for so scandalous an incest and adultery, and Herod, urged on by lust and anger, cast the Saint into prison. About a year after St. John had been made a prisoner, Herod gave a splendid entertainment to the nobility of Galilee. Salome, a daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, pleased Herod by her dancing, insomuch that he promised her to grant whatever she asked. On this, Salome consulted with her mother what to ask. Herodias instructed her daughter to demand the death of John the Baptist, and persuaded the young damsel to make it part of her petition that the head of the prisoner should be forthwith brought to her in a dish. This strange request startled the tyrant himself; he assented, however, and sent a soldier of his guard to behead the Saint in prison, with an order to bring his head in a charger and present it to Salome, who delivered it to her mother. St. Jerome relates that the furious Herodias made it her inhuman pastime to prick the sacred tongue with a bodkin. Thus died the great forerunner of our blessed Saviour, about two years and three months after his entrance upon his public ministry, about a year before the death of our blessed Redeemer.