Monday, December 10, 2012


Agenzia Fides REPORT – On Saturday, December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there was the usual Guinean National Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Nativity in Cacheu. In this Year of Faith, the motto of the pilgrimage was: "Mary, help us grow in faith." According to information sent to Fides Agency by the Curia of Bissau, in the afternoon of Friday 7 there was a march of young people from Capó in Cacheu (about 7 km), followed by Eucharistic Adoration in the Shrine. On the morning of 8 December pilgrims from various parishes of the two dioceses of Guinea-Bissau, came in procession to the Sanctuary, where the Holy Mass was celebrated presided by His Exc. Mgr. Pedro Zilli, Bishop of Bafatà, and concelebrated by His Exc. Mgr. José Camnate na Bissign, Bishop of Bissau, and by the Auxiliary Archbishop José Lampra Ca, as well as by many priests from from every corner of Guinea.
During his homily, Mgr. Zilli invited thousands of people gathered to place their hope in God, as Mary did, and said that "we are all called to holiness, to be immaculate, to live in communion with God". After pointing out that, in Jesus Christ, God makes us "ambassadors of reconciliation," the Bishop concluded: "Let us pray to God so that the 'dialogue for a new social contract', which is about to begin, helps us to heal the wounds of our wars, to bring harmony in families, to abandon the differences between the different groups or parties, to bring unity, brotherhood and peace in Guinea-Bissau. " After Mass, the Bishop of Bissau thanked all those present, the national and local authorities, volunteers and benefactors, the two priests of Portugal and Brazil who came to teach at the Major Seminary of Bissau. Mgr. Camnate na Bissign also thanked a group of Muslim leaders for their presence. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 10/12/2012)


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
11 Dec 2012

Donations go towards gifts, christmas hampers and help with rent, bills and food
For more than 120,000 men, women and children across NSW, Christmas this year will be bleak. Hard pressed to pay rent, utility bills, food and bus fares, there is nothing left over for a turkey or festive dinner let alone gifts under the tree for their children.
Determined to transform despair into hope, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW is pulling out all the stops as part of its annual Christmas Appeal to ensure these families not only enjoy Christmas but that each receives a hamper filled with goodies for their Christmas dinner and gift-wrapped presents for their children.
"Vinnies is seeing first-hand the dire impact of the increased cost of living on families and individuals and are expecting a big rise in the numbers of those looking for assistance," says Michael Perusco, CEO of Vinnies NSW adding that many of the men and women and families who are turning to Vinnies for help, are doing so for the first time.
"We are very concerned about the long term impact of cost of living pressures. There is no question the current situation is undermining the ability of many Australians to care for their families and to feel socially included," he says.

Giving to Vinnies will help turn despair into hope this Christmas
The immediate concern at Vinnies, however, is helping those in desperate need have the sort of Christmas most of us enjoy.
"As many of us prepare to celebrate the festive season with family and friends, there are countless Australians facing the prospect of a grim Christmas as they struggle to pay bills, provide food and basic necessities for their children, or worse find somewhere safe to call home," he says.
Each year at this time, Vinnies launches its annual Christmas Appeal and calls on those of us who are more fortunate to donate whatever we can afford to help those who are battling just to survive.
"Only through the goodwill and generosity of our supporters can Vinnies help people who are facing a bleak Christmas. In fact this Christmas alone we will be reaching to well over 100,000 people in NSW. It is a huge task but with the community's support, we can make a difference to people's lives," Mr Perusco says.
Christmas should be a joyous time when filled with hope we celebrate the birth of Our Lord. But for many across Sydney and the rest of NSW, instead of hope there is despondency and despair and fear for the future.

Every child deserves to receive a gift on Christmas Day
Donations to Vinnies Christmas Appeal not only go towards providing families and individuals in need with hampers filled with festive food and gifts for children who would otherwise wakeup with nothing but also give financial assistance - helping out with rents, bills, clothing and other essentials over the Christmas and holiday period.
Last year in the weeks between November 2011 to January 2012 Vinnies members provided more than $4.1 million in assistance to men, women and children on the margins including $2.1 million in food vouchers.
During this same period, Vinnies also provided $853,000 in energy bill vouchers.
In 2012 the need is even greater with the costs of living rising even further and more people battling redundancies or under employment having been made casual but no longer receiving enough shiftwork to keep them and their families heads above water.
To make a life changing donation to 2012 Vinnies Christmas Appeal log on to


Matthew 18: 12 - 14
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?
13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.




St. Damasus I
Feast: December 11

Feast Day:December 11
Born:304 in Rome, Italy
Died:11 December, 384 in Rome, Italy
Major Shrine:archeologists

Born about 304; died 11 December, 384. His father, Antonius, was probably a Spaniards; the name of his mother, Laurentia, was not known until quite recently. Damasus seems to have been born at Rome; it is certain that he grew up there in the service of the church of the martyr St. Laurence. He was elected pope in October, 366, by a large majority, but a number of over-zealous adherents of the deceased Liberius rejected him, chose the deacon Ursinus (or Ursicinus), had the latter irregularly consecrated, and resorted to much violence and bloodshed in order to seat him in the Chair of Peter. Many details of this scandalous conflict are related in the highly prejudiced "Libellus Precum" (P.L., XIII, 83-107), a petition to the civil authority on the part of Faustinus and Marcellinus, two anti-Damasan presbyters (cf. also Ammianus Marcellinus, Rer. Gest., XXVII, c. iii). Valentinian recognized Damasus and banished (367) Ursinus to Cologne, whence he was later allowed to return to Milan, but was forbidden to come to Rome or its vicinity. The party of the antipope (later at Milan an adherent of the Arians and to the end a contentious pretender) did not cease to persecute Damasus. An accusation of adultery was laid against him (378) in the imperial court, but he was exonerated by Emperor Gratian himself (Mansi, Coll. Conc., III, 628) and soon after by a Roman synod of forty-four bishops (Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, s.v.; Mansi, op. cit., III, 419) which also excommunicated his accusers.
Damasus defended with vigour the Catholic Faith in a time of dire and varied perils. In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism; he also sent his legates to the Council of Constantinople (381), convoked against the aforesaid heresies. In the Roman synod of 369 (or 370) Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, was excommunicated; he held the see, however, until his death, in 374, made way for St. Ambrose. The heretic Priscillian, condemned by the Council of Saragossa (380) appealed to Damasus, but in vain. It was Damasus who induced Saint Jerome to undertake his famous revision of the earlier Latin versions of the Bible. St. Jerome was also his confidential secretary for some time (Ep. cxxiii, n. 10). An important canon of the New Testament was proclaimed by him in the Roman synod of 374. The Eastern Church, in the person of St. Basil of Cæsarea, besought earnestly the aid and encouragement of Damasus against triumphant Arianism; the pope, however, cherished some degree of suspicion against the great Cappadocian Doctor. In the matter of the Meletian Schism at Antioch, Damasus, with Athanasius and Peter of Alexandria, sympathized with the party of Paulinus as more sincerely representative of Nicene orthodoxy; on the death of Meletius he sought to secure the succession for Paulinus and to exclude Flavian (Socrates, Church History V.15). He sustained the appeal of the Christian senators to Emperor Gratian for the removal of the altar of Victory from the Senate House (Ambrose, Ep. xvii, n. 10), and lived to welcome the famous edict of Theodosius I, "De fide Catholica" (27 Feb., 380), which proclaimed as the religion of the Roman State that doctrine which St. Peter had preached to the Romans and of which Damasus was supreme head (Cod. Theod., XVI, 1, 2).
When, in 379, Illyricum was detached from the Western Empire, Damasus hastened to safeguard the authority of the Roman Church by the appointment of a vicar Apostolic in the person of Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica; this was the origin of the important papal vicariate long attached to that see. The primacy of the Apostolic See, variously favoured in the time of Damasus by imperial acts and edicts, was strenuously maintained by this pope; among his notable utterances on this subject is the assertion (Mansi, Coll. Conc., VIII, 158) that the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Roman Church was based, not on the decrees of councils, but on the very words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18). The increased prestige of the early papal decretals, habitually attributed to the reign of Siricius (384-99), not improbably belongs to the reign of Damasus ("Canones Romanorum ad Gallos"; Babut, "La plus ancienne décrétale", Paris, 1904). This development of the papal office, especially in the West, brought with it a great increase of external grandeur. This secular splendour, however, affected disadvantageously many members of the Roman clergy, whose worldly aims and life, bitterly reproved by St. Jerome, provoked (29 July, 370) and edict of Emperor Valentinian addressed to the pope, forbidding ecclesiastics and monks (later also bishops and nuns) to pursue widows and orphans in the hope of obtaining from them gifts and legacies. The pope caused the law to be observed strictly.
Damasus restored his own church (now San Lorenzo in Damaso) and provided for the proper housing of the archives of the Roman Church. He built in the basilica of St. Sebastian on the Appian Way the (yet visible) marble monument known as the "Platonia" (Platona, marble pavement) in honour of the temporary transfer to that place (258) of the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, and decorated it with an important historical inscription (see Northcote and Brownlow, Roma Sotterranea). He also built on the Via Ardeatina, between the cemeteries of Callistus and Domitilla, a basilicula, or small church, the ruins of which were discovered in 1902 and 1903, and in which, according to the "Liber Pontificalis", the pope was buried with his mother and sister. On this occasion the discoverer, Monsignor Wilpert, found also the epitaph of the pope's mother, from which it was learned not only that her name was Laurentia, but also that she had lived the sixty years of her widowhood in the special service of God, and died in her eighty-ninth year, having seen the fourth generation of her descendants. Damasus built at the Vatican a baptistery in honour of St. Peter and set up therein one of his artistic inscriptions (Carmen xxxvi), still preserved in the Vatican crypts. This subterranean region he drained in order that the bodies buried there (juxta sepulcrum beati Petri) might not be affected by stagnant or overflowing water. His extraordinary devotion to the Roman martyrs is now well known, owing particularly to the labours of Giovanni Battista De Rossi. For a good account of his architectural restoration of the catacombs and the unique artistic characters (Damasan Letters) in which his friend Furius Dionysius Filocalus executed the epitaphs composed by Damasus, see Northcote and Brownlow, "Roma Sotterranea" (2nd ed., London, 1878-79). The dogmatic content of the Damasan epitaphs (tituli) is important (Northcote, Epitaphs of the Catacombs, London, 1878). He composed also a number of brief epigrammata on various martyrs and saints and some hymns, or Carmina, likewise brief. St. Jerome says (Ep. xxii, 22) that Damasus wrote on virginity, both in prose and in verse, but no such work has been preserved. For the few letters of Damasus (some of them spurious) that have survived, see P.L., XIII, 347-76, and Jaffé, "Reg. Rom. Pontif." (Leipzig, 1885), nn. 232-254.



Vatican City, 10 December 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the International Congress "Ecclesia in America" on the Church in the American continent was inaugurated with a Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica. The congress was organised by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Knights of Columbus in collaboration with the Institute for Guadalupan Studies, and will be inspired by the work of the Synodal Assembly, convoked by Blessed John Paul II in November and December 1987, entitled "Encounter with the living Jesus Christ: The way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America".
The Holy Father, who arrived at the Basilica at 7 p.m., greeted the participants, first recalling that "Blessed John Paul II had the foresight and intuition to improve the relationships of cooperation between the particular Churches throughout North, Central and South America, at the same time facilitating greater solidarity among the nations of the continent. Today these themes merit review in order to put Christ's redeeming message into practice with greater diligence, in the hope of reaping abundant rewards of sanctity and ecclesial renewal. The theme that guided the reflections of the Synodal Assembly can also serve as an inspiration for your work during these days. ... In effect, Jesus Christ's love and the power of His grace must take root ever more intensely in the hearts of the people, families and Christian communities of your nations, to allow them to progress with dynamism along the paths of harmony and fair progress".
The Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in America" focuses on "current challenges and difficulties which present specific and complex characteristics. Indeed, secularism and various religious groups are spreading throughout the continent, giving rise to numerous problems. Education and the promotion of a culture of life are matters of fundamental urgency in view of a widespread mentality that tends to attack the dignity of the person and damage the institution of marriage and family. How can one fail to be concerned about painful situations of emigration, displacement or violence, especially when linked to organised crime, narcotrafficking, corruption and arms dealing? And how should we face the painful inequalities and areas of poverty caused by questionable economic, political and social measures?"
The Pope emphasised that all these important questions require careful study, "yet in addition to their technical evaluation, the Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from the encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent. ... The love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming His name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants. ... For this reason we ought to take up this commitment, ... encouraging priests, deacons and consecrated men and women and pastoral agents to purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the Word of God and the Church's Magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. ... A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America", concluded the Pope.
Vatican City, 9 December 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter's Square. The Pope, in the Gospel of this second Sunday of Advent, commented on the figure of St. John the Baptist, who is presented by all four Gospels at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, as his precursor, while St. Luke offers us a posterior reading.
"John, as the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, both of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and therefore prepares mankind for the spiritual worship of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus", explained the Pope. "John the Baptist is defined as the 'voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths'. The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God precedes, as it comes to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness".
"Thus he plays an important role, but always in relation to Christ", said the Pope, recalling the words of St. Augustine: 'John is the voice that passes away, Christ is the eternal Word'. Our task today is to listen to that voice, to give space to Jesus and to welcome Him, the Word that saves us, into our hearts. In this time of Advent, let us prepare to see, through the eyes of faith, God's salvation in the humble stable in Bethlehem. In our consumerist society, where we seek joy in material things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced externally as a superficial holiday, but rather as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to mankind".
Vatican City, 8 December 2012 (VIS) - At 3.45 p.m., on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI made his way to Piazza di Spagna in Rome for the traditional act of veneration of the image of the Virgin Mary on the column situated in front of the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See.
During his journey, the Holy Father stopped briefly at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, where he greeted the members of the Via Condotti Storeowners Association. Once in the square, the Pope began by offering a prayer, followed by a reading from the Apocalypse of St. John, a homily and the offering of a floral tribute to the image of the Virgin. In his address, the Pope reflected on the Gospel of this solemnity, the Gospel of the Annunciation.
Benedict XVI began by explaining that the encounter between the angel and Mary, the decisive moment in which God became Man, "was enveloped in a great silence. ... That which is truly great often goes unnoticed and calm silence is more fruitful than the frenzy that characterises our cities, and which, in due proportion, was also present in the important cities of those times, such as Jerusalem. All this action prevents us from pausing, allowing ourselves to be calm and listening to the silence in which the Lord makes his discreet voice heard."
On the day of the Annunciation, Mary was "deep in thought and yet ready to listen to God. There was no obstacle within her, no barrier, nothing that would separate her from God. This is the meaning of her being without original sin. Her relationship with God is free from even the slightest rift; there is no separation, no shadow of selfishness, but rather perfect harmony. Her little human heart was perfectly 'centred' in the great heart of God. ... Coming here, before this monument to Mary, in the centre of Rome, reminds us first that the voice of God is not recognised amid noise and turmoil; his plan for our life as individuals and as a society are not visible on the surface; we need to descend to a deeper level where the forces at work are not economic or political but moral and spiritual. It is at this deeper level that Mary invites us to enter into harmony with God's action."
Secondly, Mary Immaculate teaches us that "the salvation of the world is not the work of man - of science, technology or ideology - but of Grace. ... Grace means love in its purity and beauty. It is God Himself as revealed in the salvific narrative of the Bible and fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Mary is called the 'favoured one' and this identity recalls to us God's primacy in our life and in the history of the world. She reminds us that the power of God's love is stronger than evil, and that it fills the void that selfishness creates in the history of people, families, nations and the world. Such emptiness can become a form of hell, where human life is dragged to its lowest depths and towards emptiness, losing meaning and light. The false remedies the world offers to fill the void ... in fact widen the abyss. Only love can save us from falling, but not merely any love. It must have the purity of Grace, which God transforms and renews to fill intoxicated lungs with fresh, clean air and new vital energy. Mary tells us that, however far a man may fall, he never falls beyond the reach of God, who has descended even into hell. However far astray our heart may be led, God is always 'greater than our heart'. The soft breath of Grace can disperse the darkest clouds, and make life beautiful and rich in meaning even in the most inhumane situations."
Finally, Mary Immaculate speaks to us of joy, "the true joy that emanates from a heart freed from sin. Sin carries a negative sadness that induces us to close up. Grace brings true joy, which does not depend on possessing things, but is rooted in the innermost, deepest part of the self, and which nothing and no one can take away. Even though some believe that Christianity is an obstacle to joy because they see it as an ensemble of prohibitions and rules, it is essentially a 'Gospel', a 'good tiding'. In fact, Christianity is the proclamation of the victory of Grace over sin, of life over death. Even if it entails sacrifice and a discipline of the mind, heart and behaviour, it is because in man we find the poisonous root of selfishness that causes harm to the self and to others. We must therefore learn to say 'no' to the voice of selfishness and 'yes' to that of real love. Mary's joy is complete because in her heart sin casts no shadow. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life".
"In this time of Advent", the Pope concluded, "Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God that speaks to us in silence; to welcome His Grace that frees us from sin and selfishness, so that we may experience true joy".
Vatican City, 8 December 2012 (VIS) - In the Angelus of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI emphasised that Mary is Immaculate "by a gratuitous gift of the Grace of God, which she accepted, however, with perfect willingness and cooperation. In this respect she is 'blessed' because she 'believed', because of her firm faith in God".
The Holy Father continued, "Mary represents that 'remnant of Israel', the holy root announced by the prophets. The promises of the Old Covenant are welcomed in her. In Mary the Word of God is listened to, and finds acceptance, a response; the Word finds the 'yes' that allows it to take on flesh and to dwell among us. In Mary humanity and history are truly open to God and accept his Grace, in readiness to serve his will. Mary is the genuine expression of Grace. She is the new Israel that the Scriptures of the Old Testament describe with the symbol of the bride. ... The Fathers of the Church developed this image and so the doctrine of the Immaculate was born, first with reference to the Church as virgin-mother, and then to Mary".
"The light that emanates from the figure of Mary helps us also to understand the true meaning of original sin. Indeed, in Mary the relationship with God, that may be destroyed by sin, is completely alive and active. There is no opposition within her between God and her being; rather, there is full communion, full understanding. There is a reciprocal 'yes', from God to her and from her to God. ... She is full of His Grace and His love.
"In conclusion, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary expresses the certainty of faith that the promises of God are realised: that His covenant does not fail, but has produced a holy root, from which has grown the Fruit most blessed of all the universe, Jesus the Saviour. Mary Immaculate demonstrates that Grace is able to bring about a response, that God’s fidelity can generate a true and good faith".
Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father assured his closeness to the people of the Philippines, recently struck by a violent hurricane. "I pray for the victims, for their families and for the many displaced persons. May faith and charity provide the strength to face this difficult trial".
Finally, the Holy Father greeted the members of the Movement of Christian Workers, and in particular the prayer group of the Dermopathic Institute of the Immaculate (IDI-IRCCS) in Rome, which currently faces significant challenges. "I hope that a solution can be found to the difficulties experienced by many Catholic institutions in the health sector", he concluded.
Vatican City, 10 December 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, as president of the Court of Appeal of Vatican City State.
- Appointed Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti of Tempio-Ampurias, Italy, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Ozieri, Italy. He accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Sergio Pintor, upon having reached the age limit.




Children's Advent Carol Service at Westminster Cathedral | Children's Advent Carol Service at Westminster Cathedral, BIshop Alan Hopes, BIshop John Arnold

Bishop Hopes with Nativity Players
On Tuesday 4 December, 2,500 children from across the Diocese of Westminster celebrated the Nativity story in Westminster Cathedral at the annual Catholic Children’s Society Westminster Advent Carol Service. The event was divided into two parties, the first of which was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, John Arnold at 11am and the second by Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes at 2pm.

The service incorporated the Nativity play which was performed by the children and included a live donkey and sheep. The Christmas story was narrated by an actor, playing the role of Joseph, and included a variety of Christmas Carols. After the Nativity had been completed, the Bishops’ gave a brief homily to the children in which they asked the children what did Mary and Joseph bring to Christ, and what can we bring?

Speaking about the importance of remembering the true meaning of Christmas after the service Bishop Alan Hopes said: “In the run up to Christmas, parents and carers find themselves pressured into showing their love simply by how much they spend. So I am pleased that the story of God’s love for us as shown at Christmas and in the simplicity of the Crib still attracts and entrances the young”.

Paul Winterbottom, at the Catholic Children’s Society, Westminster said: “it is a great opportunity to bring together children attending Catholic Primary schools across the Diocese...and helps to improve a child’s spiritual development”.
Source: CCN


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Apostolic Nuncio in the Ivory Coast, His Exc. Mgr. Ambrose Madtha, died on Saturday, December 8 in a car accident in the west of the Country. The car carrying Mgr. Madtha was involved in an accident on the road Man-Biankouma. The Nuncio was returning to Man, where he spent the night, from the village of Odienné, where he presided over a Mass. The driver was also killed in the accident while the secretary and a religious woman are slightly wounded.
"The bishops are gathered for a special Bishops' Conference and after its conclusion the date of the Nuncio’s funeral will be notified" says to Fides Agency Abidjan Yessoh Pierre Claver N'Guessan, Vicar General of Abidjan. The body of Mgr. Madtha arrived yesterday, Sunday, December 9, at the seat of the Archbishopric in Abidjan.
Mgr. Madtha was born on November 2, 1955 in Belthangady, India, and was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in the Ivory Coast on May 8, 2008. Mgr. Madtha, who was dean of the Diplomatic Corps in the Ivory Coast, was committed to finding a peaceful solution to the post-election crisis that out-going President, Laurent Gbagbo opposed, to the current Head of State, Alassane Ouattara. During the attack of the forces of Ouattara, backed by French troops, the Presidential Residence where Gbagbo was barricaded, Mgr. Madtha remained in the Nunciature, located at 200-330 meters from the palace, where Fides had contacted him (see Fides 08/04/2011).
The Ivory Coast has not yet recovered from the political confrontation between the two factions. One of the areas most affected by latent insecurity for the presence of armed groups is precisely the west where Mgr. Madtha died. The Nuncio should have celebrated a Mass in Duékoué, a town on the border with Liberia, where during the crisis of 2010-2011 more than 3,000 civilians were massacred. In July 2012 several people were killed in the assault of a refugee camp in Nahibly, at the entrance of Duékoué. The Ivorian press recalls that Mgr. Madtha made a personal commitment on several occasions to come to the aid of refugees welcomed in a Catholic parish and other structures in the area. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 10/12/2012)


Singing for something

Monday 10 December 2012

By Anne McIlroy, Genazzano FCJ College

IN Catholic schools we work with students, many of whom have an interest in social justice and a desire to make a difference. Every now and then we meet a student who has more energy and more passion to make a difference.

Georgie is one such student. Georgie is in Year 11 at Genazzano. Last year she was one of the students selected to go to Broome as part of the Indigenous Exchange that the College runs, which was an influential experience in her education in inequality and injustice.

“The Kimberley is a magical place but even more magical for me was the meeting with this culture that I really knew nothing about. The people I met and the conversations I had which are now part of me. That was the power of this experience,” Georgie said.

The experiences on the exchange meant that the awareness of these students working in areas of need and of inequality has been heightened.

The FCJ sisters work with the very poor in the Philippines and the Genazzano community works to support their efforts with fundraising and collecting books that can be used in their work.

Georgie had the idea to utilise the talents of current Genazzano students and make a CD to raise funds for the nuns.

When asked where the idea came from, Georgie said “while I love the sausage sizzles and the coloured clothes days we have to raise money for the nuns, I thought that this would be more than that."

The CD is also a way to create an awareness of the needs of the nuns and the lives of others.

So, with very little fuss, she got together thirteen students and they recorded some wonderful music which makes up the CD, ‘Singing for Something’.

On Tuesday 27
November, current students and past students, teachers and Sisters FCJ gathered at the Madeleine Centre for the ‘Singing for Something’ CD launch.

The profits will go to the Sisters Faithful Companion of Jesus in the Philippines who will use this money to create a special and memorable Christmas for the children whose families they work with. The profits will also go towards education of these children in 2013.

Not only is the CD great for easy listening or as a Christmas present but buying the CD, means that we are enabling the Spirit of Christmas to be passed from one country to another.

Anne McIlroy-Social Justice Co-ordinator, Genazzano FCJ College

Photo courtesy of Genazzano FCJ College


by Wang Zhicheng
Mgr Thaddeus Daqin quit the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association the day of his ordination as a token of obedience to the pope. He also refused to share communion with an excommunicated bishop. The government-sanctioned Bishops' Conference, which stripped him of his title, is not recognised by the Holy See. Xi Jinping's leadership elicits hopes and brings disappointments.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) - For the past several months, the courageous auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has been under house arrest. Ordained last 7 July, he might lose his Episcopal post after government-sanctioned Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church of China (BCCCC) revoked his appointment, UCANews reported. Sources told AsiaNews the rumours circulating on the subject of Mgr Ma are true, but no official decision has yet to be made public.

The brutal action against the auxiliary bishop did not come as a surprise. On the day of his Episcopal ordination, Mgr Ma challenged the government's 60-year Church policy by resigning from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), which controls the Church, and by refusing to share the chalice with a bishop excommunicated by the Holy See.

Worshippers present at the ceremony gave the new prelate a long standing ovation. For many, he came to embody the courage exhibited by many Chinese priests and bishops. However, the authorities are truly terrified by the possibility that many more might reject the CPCA, and thus undermining party control.

Right after his ordination, the new bishop was placed under house arrest at the diocesan seminary, near Our Lady of Sheshan shrine. Since then, he has been denied the right to wear the zucchetto, ring, pectoral cross and all other tokens of his Episcopal office. Recently, he has also been denied the right to co-celebrate Mass with other priests. Seminarians and nuns who helped the bishop in his act of defiance were also punished.

Founded in 1958 on the orders of Mao Zedong, the CPCA wants to set up a Catholic Church that is independent of the Holy See, one that would see bishops named and elected independently of the pope. In his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Benedict XVI wrote that such a proposition is "incompatible with Catholic doctrine."

The Holy See does not recognise the BCCCC, which appears to have removed Mgr Ma from office, because it includes only bishops recognised by China's Communist authorities, some of whom have been excommunicated. No underground bishop is a member.

The action against Mgr Ma comes a few weeks after the Chinese Communist Party held its congress, and chose a new leadership, that of the fifth generation, under Xi Jinping, the new party general secretary, who will in a few months time also become China's president.

Many analysts have praised the new leader as a sober reformer who could improve the situation of religious freedom in China. However, the latest events indicate the opposite.


Luke 5: 17 - 26

17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.
18 And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus;
19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.
20 And when he saw their faith he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?"
22 When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts?
23 Which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Rise and walk'?
24 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the man who was paralyzed -- "I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home."
25 And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God.
26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today."


St. Gregory III
Feast: December 10

Feast Day:December 10

Pope St. Gregory III was the son of a Syrian named John. The date of his birth is not known. His reputation for learning and virtue was so great that the Romans elected him pope by acclamation, when he was accompanying the funeral procession of his predecessor, 11 February, 731. As he was not consecrated for more than a month after his election, it is presumed that he waited for the confirmation of his election by the exarch at Ravenna. In the matter of Iconoclasm, he followed the policy of his predecessor. He sent legates and letters to remonstrate with the persecuting emperor, Leo III, and held two synods in Rome (731) in which the image-breaking heresy was condemned. By way of a practical protest against the emperor's action he made it a point of paying special honour to images and relics, giving particular attention to the subject of St. Peter's. Fragments of inscriptions, to be seen in the crypts of the Vatican basilica, bear witness to this day of an oratory he built therein, and of the special prayers he ordered to be there recited.
Leo, whose sole answer to the arguments and apologies for image worship which were addressed to him from both East and West, was force, seized the papal patrimonies in Calabria and Sicily, or wherever he had any power in Italy, and transferred to the patriarch of Constantinople the ecclesiastical jurisdiction which the popes had previously exercised both there, and throughout the ancient Prefecture of Illyricum. Gregory III confirmed the decision of his predecessors as to the respective rights of the Patriarchs of Aquileia and Grado, and sent the pallium to Antoninus of Grado. In granting it also to Egbert of York, he was only following out the arrangements of St. Gregory I who had laid it down that York was to have metropolitical rights in the North of England, as Canterbury had to have them in the South. Both Tatwine and Nothelm of Canterbury received the pallium in succession from Gregory III (731 and 736). At his request Gregory III extended to St. Boniface the same support and encouragement which had been afforded him by Gregory II. "Strengthened exceedingly by the help of the affection of the Apostolic See", the saint joyfully continued his glorious work for the conversion of Germany. About 737 Boniface came to Rome for the third time to give an account of his stewardship, and to enjoy the pope's "life-giving conversation", At Gregory's order the monk and great traveller, St. Willibald, went to assist his cousin St. Boniface in his labours.
The close of Gregory's reign was troubled by the Lombards. Realizing the ambition which animated Liutprand, Gregory completed the restoration of the walls of Rome which had been begun by his predecessors, and bought back Gallese, a stronghold on the Flaminian Way, from Transamund, Duke of Spoleto, which helped to keep open the communications between Rome and Ravenna. In 739, Liutprand was again in arms. His troops ravaged the exarchate, and he himself marched south to bring to subjection his vassals, the Dukes of Spoleto and Benevento, and the Duchy of Rome. Transamund fled to Rome, and Gregory implored the aid of the great Frankish chief, Charles Martel. At length ambassadors from the viceroy (subregulus) of the Franks appeared in Rome (739). Their arrival, or the summer heats, brought a momentary peace. But in the following year, Liutprand again took the field. This time the Romans left their walls, and helped Transamund to recover Spoleto. When, however, he had recovered his duchy, he would not or could not comply with Gregory's request, and endeavour to recover for the pope "the four cities of the Roman duchy which had been lost for his sake." In the midst of all these wars and rumours of war, Gregory died, and was buried in the oratory of our Lady which he had himself built in St. Peter's. He died in 741, but whether in November or December is not certain. It is however, on 28 November that he is commemorated in the Roman martyrology.