Thursday, February 28, 2013


Vatican Radio report - The Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will come to an end with the Sede Vacante (“Vacant See”) beginning at 8pm Rome time (7pm GMT). On the last full day of his pontificate, Pope Benedict will hold a special farewell meeting with members of the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall. At 4.55 p.m. the Pope will bid farewell to the pontifical household, an depart the Apostolic Palace by car from the San Damaso Courtyard. From there, he will be driven to the Vatican heliport, where he will be seen off by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. At 5.15 p.m. he will be flown to Castel Gandolfo, about 30 km from Rome. The Holy Father will then briefly greet the faithful of the Diocese of Albano from the central balcony of the Apostolic Palace. This will be the last public appearance of Pope Benedict XVI while in office. At 8 p.m, the reign of the 265th Pope, the 264th successor of St. Peter, will come to an end, having lasted 7 years, 10 months, and 9 days.
Pope Benedict’s on Thursday morning with his closest advisors, gathered in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall for a final greeting, just hours ahead of his retirement and the end of his pontificate at 8pm, Rome time.
For his last meeting in the Vatican, the outgoing pontiff greeted 144 cardinals individually, together with the presidents and officials of the different Vatican offices.

Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s words to the College of Cardinals Thursday morning:

Dear beloved brothers

I welcome you all with great joy and cordially greet each one of you. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who as always, has been able to convey the sentiments of the College, Cor ad cor loquitur. Thank you, Your Eminence, from my heart.

And referring to the disciples of Emmaus, I would like to say to you all that it has also been a joy for me to walk with you over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord. As I said yesterday, in front of thousands of people who filled St. Peter's Square, your closeness, your advice, have been a great help to me in my ministry. In these 8 years we have experienced in faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the Churches’ journey along with times when clouds have darkened the sky. We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love which is the soul of our ministry. We have gifted hope that comes from Christ alone, and which alone can illuminate our path. Together we can thank the Lord who has helped us grow in communion, to pray to together, to help you to continue to grow in this deep unity so that the College of Cardinals is like an orchestra, where diversity, an expression of the universal Church, always contributes to a superior harmony of concord. I would like to leave you with a simple thought that is close to my heart, a thought on the Church, Her mystery, which is for all of us, we can say, the reason and the passion of our lives. I am helped by an expression of Romano Guardini’s, written in the year in which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, his last with a personal dedication to me, so the words of this book are particularly dear to me .

Guardini says: "The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ. "

This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square. We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: "The Church is awakening in souls." The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today. Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places. Let us remain united, dear brothers, to this mystery, in prayer, especially in daily Eucharist, and thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.

Prior to bidding farewell to each of you personally, I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope. May the Lord show you what is willed by Him. And among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom, here to today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart upon you my Apostolic Blessing.

Belwo please find a Vatican Radio translation of the farewell discourse by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals to Pope Benedict XVI.


With great trepidation the cardinals present in Rome gather around you today, once again to show their deep affection and express their heartfelt gratitude for your selfless witness of apostolic service, for the good of the Church of Christ and of all humanity.

Last Saturday, at the end of the Spiritual Exercises in the Vatican, you thanked your collaborators from the Roman Curia, with these moving words: My friends, I would like to thank all of you not only for this week but for the past eight years, during which you have carried with me, with great skill, affection, love and loyalty, the weight of the Petrine ministry.

Beloved and revered Successor of Peter, it is we who must thank you for the example you have given us in the past eight years of Pontificate. On 19 April 2005 you joined the long line of successors of the Apostle Peter, and today, 28 February 2013, you are about to leave us, as we wait for the helm of the Barque of Peter to pass into other hands. Thus the apostolic succession continues, which the Lord promised His Holy Church, until the voice of the Angel of the Apocalypse is heard proclaim on earth : "Tempus non erit amplius ... consummabitur mysterium Dei" (Ap 10, 6-7) "there is no longer time.: the mystery of God is finished." So ends the history of the Church, together with the history of the world, with the advent of a new heaven and a new earth.

Holy Father, with deep love we have tried to accompany you on your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: "Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way?" (Luke 24:32).
Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts burned too as we walked with you in the past eight years. Today we want to once again express our gratitude.

Together we repat a typical expression of your dear native land "Vergelt's Gott" God reward you! (End)

Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Archbishop Bernard-Nicolas Aubertin, O. Cist., of Tours, France, on receiving news of the death today of Cardinal Jean Marcel Honore, archbishop emeritus of that archdiocese. The cardinal was 92 years old. The Pope asked the Lord to “welcome this pastor who has served the Church with devotion in Catholic education and catechesis into His peace and His true light.” The cardinal was also “a skilled and passionate crafter in editing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, who always had the desire to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world of today.”
Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That respect for nature may grow with the awareness that all creation is God's work entrusted to human responsibility."
His mission intention is: "That bishops, priests, and deacons may be tireless messengers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth."
Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father:
- appointed Fr. Samuel Jofre as bishop of Villa Maria (area 28,000, population 386,000, Catholics 308,000, priests 69, religious 32), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Cordoba, Spain in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1983. Since ordination, he has served in several pastoral and judicial roles, most recently as judge on the inter-diocesanal tribunal of Cordoba and pastor of Santo Cristo Parish. He succeeds Bishop Jose Angel Roval, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Villa Maria the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- appointed Msgr. Joseph Dinh Duc Dao as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Xuan Loc (area 5,955, population 2,458,000, Catholics 873,440, priests 405, religious 2314), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Thuc Hoa, Nam Dinh, Vietnam, in 1945 and was ordained a priest in 1971. Since ordination, he has served in several pastoral, academic, and administrative roles, most recently as consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and rector of the Major Seminary of Xuan Loc. The Holy Father has assigned him the Titular See of Gadiaufala.



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 Feb 2013
Cardinal George Pell - head and shoulders above the gathering
The Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell was one of around 70 Cardinals who witnessed Pope Benedict XVI's last general audience in St Peter's Square yesterday, describing the two hours as a moving and beautiful farewell to a much-admired Pope.
A crowd of between 150,000 and 200,000 also welcomed the Holy Father as he arrived in the Pope-mobile being driven slowly through the crowds and stopping often when a baby or young child was passed to him to be blessed.
In addressing the crowd the Pope said he understood the gravity of his decision to leave the pontificate but believed this was for the good of the church.
He He said he thought there were moments when the "waters were choppy and there were headwinds" but he was grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of a great many people.
The final farewell to the faithful
Following the audience Cardinal Pell said; "It was a beautiful farewell. It was sad. There was an immense crowd - 150,000 to 200,000. Their affection for Pope Benedict was manifest.
"I think he was more than a little bit moved himself. But it was a beautiful farewell."  Cardinal Pell said he believed Pope Benedict will be remembered for many things including  the fact he was a brilliant thinker and a magnificent teacher. He was also very prayerful and humble.
"Pope Benedict also restored the tradition of the liturgy - that I think will be one of his greatest legacies," Cardinal Pell said.



by J.B. Vu
The archbishop of Saigon is one of the 115 cardinal-electors. The Holy Father has "worked in exemplary fashion for the universal" Church. In March, special Masses and meetings will be held in support of the prelates who will find a successor to Benedict XVI.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - In the first weeks of March, Vietnamese Catholics will pray for the future pope and for the cardinal-electors who will select Benedict XVI's successor. Lay people, priests, nuns and men and women religious will take part in special Masses and meetings in response to an invitation by Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Phạm Minh Mẫn, archbishop of Saigon, sent out on Monday to all the dioceses and parishes in the country.
The prelate will be among the 115 cardinals to sit in conclave to elect a new pope. He is expected in Rome for the weekend.
"When I heard about his resignation, I felt sorry," Archbishop Phạm Minh Mẫn toldAsiaNews.
"Benedict XVI is a dedicated pastor, very humble who worked in an exemplary fashion for the universal and local churches," he explained.
"In today's world, we must show our affection for the Church in a spirit of obedience to God's faith."
In response to the cardinal's letter, the cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City's First District will hold a special Mass on 9 March at 8.30 am.
The next day, all 211 parishes and all 60 male and female congregations in the city will hold prayer meetings.
Called to such a commitment, some priests and young people said that Vietnamese Catholics "are full of gratitude for Benedict XVI. His love, modesty, and humility are dedicated to the Lord and the people of God. He has served and helped the Church, looking at full human development without discrimination."



CAIRO, February 26, 2013 (CISA) -Coptic Catholics in Egypt have protested at the decision taken by President Morsi to hold parliamentary elections on a date which would coincide with Coptic Easter celebrations.
The President’s decision may be reconsidered following protests by Egyptian Christians. The same views were expressed by the Coptic Catholic, Auxiliary Bishop of Alexandria, Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna.
Commenting on the same issue another Coptic Bishop called for a postponement of the elections.
“A possible postponement could be explained with the subterfuge that the second round of elections would coincide with the national holiday of Sham al-Nasseem, a festivity of pharaonic origin which celebrates Spring and falls on Easter Monday,” said Bishop Anba Fahim Hanna.
The first date of political elections has been set for April 27, the Saturday before Palm Sunday and the second round on May 5, the Sunday on which this year Coptic Christians celebrate Easter.
“Our political leaders chose the dates because they never take the calendar of Christian festivities into consideration because no one around them is in a position to advise when a date is inopportune,” the Coptic Catholic Bishop complained.
He further added that, “In these matters they are completely in the dark. This is why we saw an explosion of protests on the social network”.
However, certain prominent Christians were able to make their voices reach the Presidential offices, in order to warn those responsible that the inconvenient choice of election dates could cause fresh social tensions and revolts.SHARED FROM CISA NEWS 



Tribute to inspirational Kathy Piper  RIP | Kathy Piper, Paul Donovan

Kathy Piper
Kathy Piper (3/4/1937 to 26/2/2013)
The former chair of the Brentwood Justice and Peace Commission and Central America desk officer at Catholic Institute of International Relations (CIIR) Kathy Piper has died at the age of 75.
Kathy was a fighter all of her life. She finally succumbed to cancer after a long battle. At first the disease was defeated and went into remission for some years. Then 18 months ago it came back. Kathy was always upbeat about the disease, determined to carry on but it finally overcame her.
Kathy’s had physical battles for much of her life suffering with bad arthritis and osteoporosis. Yet despite these physical afflictions she continued to work constantly for social justice.
Kathy was born into a traditional Irish family in 1930s Dagenham, Essex. She gave up the maiden name, Murphy, when marrying her soul mate Chris Piper. The couple had three children John, Clare and Lucy. The family grew up for many years in Chadwell Heath before moving to Wanstead in the early 1980s.
It was whilst trying to make some sense of Catholicism that Kathy came to dwell more and more on the social teachings. Latin American teachers like Dom Helda Camra, Jon Sobrino and Gustavo Gutierrez made a big impact. Though looking back, she always credited her former teacher Sister Elizabeth Rendall (died 2011), with sowing the seeds of justice in her days as a young Ursuline student.
The social teachings brought the faith to life for Kathy in a way that she had never known before. She took a degree en route to getting her big break, joining CIIR. Reluctant at first to cut familial ties and take on the new challenge, she was encouraged by Chris to make the leap.
At CIIR she blossomed, working under the tutelage of then general secretary Mildred Neville and Julian Filochowski. She was sent on an intensive Spanish course, an essential skill to have when working on Central America.
Over a number of years during the 1970s and 80s Kathy worked tirelessly going to and from the war torn region. She was often a fixer behind the scenes, bringing people together and often not getting all the credit she deserved. In the early 1990s, she played a key role in bringing Professor Noam Chomsky over to lecture for CIIR.
A lifelong socialist, the liberation theologians of Latin America brought her faith to life. Over the years, a series of Latin American visitors stayed at the house in Wanstead, bringing liberation theology right into the heart of east London.
Kathy had been involved in the 1970s and 80s with the creation of the national J&P network that eventually metamorphosed into NJPN.
So when Kathy left CIIR in the 1990s, it seemed a logical step to renew her work with the network. She became chair of the Brentwood Justice and Peace Commission. The Commission thrived under Kathy’s guiding hand, setting up working groups and holding study days on not always popular subjects like the Troubles in Northern Ireland. There was also groundbreaking work with refugees.
Kathy was always a great believer in the need for formation in the faith. I first came to know her when we set up a group in Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Wanstead called the Association for Relief in Crisis Areas (ARICA).
The aim of the group was to raise awareness and funds relating to poverty in the south. ARICA supported projects in Peru, India, Colombia and Kenya. Kathy joined the group contributing through her vast knowledge but it was the regular chats with her and Chris - usually over a glass of wine- that excited those of us in the group to want to do more. Kathy played a huge part in my own journey from banking to social justice journalism. She saw the need for formation in the faith and helped so many people down the years on their different paths.
As recently as two years ago, Kathy joined a group organised to develop a formation in social justice in the Church. The group foundered but her commitment to build Church was ever present.
Kathy loved the Church. She was part of the generation really excited by Vatican II. The opportunities it opened up, the challenges to be Church in the world. It inspired Kathy as it did so many others of that time to want to work for social justice as Church.
She was though saddened by recent developments, the closing in of the Church on itself. The shutting down of those inspiring voices from Latin America and elsewhere who professed liberation theology. She was particularly upset at the child abuse scandals, hurt that she felt the hierarchy never really apologised to the people for the damage done in their name. She felt betrayed.
Kathy will be sadly missed. She was a quiet inspiration to so many people. Her lifelong bravery when faced with physical challenges and determination to make a better life for the mass of people who inhabit this planet. She was also a proud mother and grandmother to John, Clare, Lucy and Ella, Kitty, Billy and Jack. She will though now go to be reunited with her beloved Chris.
The funeral is 11.30am on Wednesday, 6 March at Our Lady of Lourdes, Wanstead, London. E11
Paul Donovan is an award-winning Catholic journalist based in London. 
His blog is at:


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


St. Hilary
Feast: February 28

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

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)



Vatican Radio REPORT - SHARE - Pope Benedict XVI held the final General Audience of his pontificate on Wednesday in St Peter's Square. 
Below, please find Vatican Radio's English translation of the Holy Father's remarks.


Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood!
Distinguished Authorities!
Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this last General Audience of my pontificate.

Like the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart the paramount duty to thank God, who guides the Church and makes her grow: who sows His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His people. At this moment my spirit reaches out to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in these years of Petrine ministry I have been able to receive regarding the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity that circulates in the body of the Church – charity that makes the Church to live in love – and of the hope that opens for us the way towards the fullness of life, and directs us towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone and every thing in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).

At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know – all of us know – that the Gospel’s word of truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews: it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my faith, this is my joy.

When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, [2005], I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord really has guided me. He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of ​​Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been - and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His - and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired in order to strengthen our own faith in God in a context that seems to push faith more and more toward the margins of life. I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord. I would like that we all, entrust ourselves as children to the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk every day, even in times of struggle. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says, “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, for having made me a Christian.” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good, that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!

At this time, however, it is not only God, whom I desire to thank. A Pope is not alone in guiding St. Peter’s barque, even if it is his first responsibility – and I have not ever felt myself alone in bearing either the joys or the weight of the Petrine ministry. The Lord has placed next to me many people, who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your counsels, your friendship, were all precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State, who accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretariat of State and the whole Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various areas, give their service to the Holy See: the many faces which never emerge, but remain in the background, in silence, in their daily commitment, with a spirit of faith and humility. They have been for me a sure and reliable support. A special thought [goes] to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I can not forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, the consecrated persons and the entire People of God: in pastoral visits, in public encounters, at Audiences, in traveling, I have always received great care and deep affection; I also loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every shepherd, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I carried each of you in my prayers, with the father's heart.

I wish my greetings and my thanks to reach everyone: the heart of a Pope expands to [embrace] the whole world. I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes present the great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for good communication, whom I thank for their important service.

At this point I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many people throughout the whole world, who, in recent weeks have sent me moving tokens of concern, friendship and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone: now I experience this [truth] again in a way so great as to touch my very heart. The Pope belongs to everyone, and so many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world's greatest figures - from the Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the Church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline.

In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.

Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was committed always and forever by the Lord. Always – he, who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one’s life precisely when he offers it as a gift. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.

The “always” is also a “forever” - there is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.

I thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have welcomed this important decision. I continue to accompany the Church on her way through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and to His Bride, which I have hitherto tried to live daily and that I would live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter, that the Lord might accompany him with the light and the power of His Spirit.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community: to her we entrust ourselves, with deep trust.

Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love. Thank you!



by Card. Oswald Gracias
The archbishop of Mumbai thanks the pope who led the Church in implementing the Second Vatican Council with wisdom and clarity. The Year of Faith and the New Evangelisation are his gifts, which the new pontiff will have to continue.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - As I prepare to leave for Rome, emotions of gratitude, love and affection fill my heart for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. Hopefully, I will be present for the last public appearance of His Holiness. My imminent thoughts are for Pope Benedict XVI whose deep knowledge of the mystery, humility, life of prayer, deep appreciation of beauty in the Church and in the world marked his significant but short pontificate. I also carry with me the gratitude, love and prayers of India's 18 million Catholics for our Beloved Holy Father.
It is very humbling to be at the conclave. I have been spending many hours in personal prayer and meditation, asking for God's most Holy Spirit to instruct my heart to be an instrument of the Lord's grace and providence to fulfil faithfully this service, entrusted upon me as a cardinal, and upon the College of Cardinals, to elect the next Pope after discerning together the signs of the times for the Church and the world.
In a very special way, I have been interceding with St Francis Xavier and the Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata-both loved by hundreds of millions and whose mortal remains are in our beloved country-and with the Blessed John Paul II, whom I knew personally.
I have written to all the churches in India, asking them to have a special Mass during the days of the conclave. I asked all convents, monasteries and religious houses of contemplative life to pray especially for the election of the next pope.
Peter is the rock. Peter is vital to the Church. Our Lord entrusted the keys to Peter. Peter is Jesus' gift to the Church, a teacher who guards the faith, a sign of unity that confirms the brothers in faith.
Continuity in the teachings of Vatican II will be the main thrust of the new pontiff, just as it was for Pope Benedict XVI who clearly stood in continuity with his predecessors.
Both the New Evangelisation and the Year of Faith are gifts to the Church that clearly show Pope Benedict XVI's convictions about the need for renewal in the Church. But they are also in continuity with the Second Vatican Council to be carried through to the next pontificate. These are treasures for the Church universal.
It is fundamental that we are completely open to the Spirit. It is vital, essential and meaningful that there should be no distractions during the days of the conclave, that as one heart and mind, we serve the Church to elect the new pope.
Our Lord's assurance, that "I am with you always", dismisses any concern that might arise. In faith, I know that the Holy Spirit is ever-present to guide the Church. We have always had popes according to the need of the times to guide the Church through the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
Finally and more importantly, I recall and I am strengthened by the Holy Father's own words during the Mass for the election of the Roman Pontiff: 'Let us ask our Lord insistently tha the will again give us a pastor according to his heart, a pastor who will lead us to the knowledge of Christ, to his love, to true joy."
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)




ADDIS ABABA, February 26, 2013 (CISA) -East African leaders have signed an accord at the African Union headquarters, in Addis Ababa, for peace in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The accord which was signed in the presence of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was aimed at bringing peace DRC after armed years of rebellion.
The 11 Heads of State and officials of the Great Lakes region who signed the accord expressed their commitment to restoring peace and justice in the region.
The accord foresees a strategic review of the UN peacekeeping mission in DR-Congo (MONUSCO) and a series of political and diplomatic steps toward restoring security in the territory. Among the main points agreed by the leaders is that of “no tolerance or support for any type of armed group” in the nation.
Rwanda and Uganda were repeatedly accused of financing and arming the M23 (March 23 Movement) rebels, who in December 2012 launched an offensive in DR-Congo, even seizing the capital of North Kivu Goma, then agreeing to withdraw in exchange for talks with the Kinshasa government. Kigali and Kampala have always denied their backing of the rebels.
Based on the accord, an “intervention brigade” will be integrated to the 17,000 strong MONUSCO force with a mandate of “imposing peace”. This international force will be deployed along the border with Rwanda to neutralize all armed groups in the area: aside from the M23, also the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), the ADF-Nalu (Democratic Alliance-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) and the Burundian FNL (National Liberation Force).
The neighboring nations and international community will also be called to monitor and verify the peace process in the territory through a special envoy to be named by the UN.
The Kinshasa government pledged to introduce reforms, in particular concerning internal security, promoting national reconciliation, tolerance and democratization.
“The time has come to abandon the law of the strongest, rather than strength of the law”, said Congolese President Joseph Kabila at the ceremony for the signing of the deal.
“This is just the start of a path, a global approach that needs constant commitment from all parts”, said the UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, expressing hope for a future of “peace and stability” for the Kivu region.


Catholic People’s Weeks in 2013 | Catholic People’s Weeks, CPW
For nearly 70 years Catholic People’s Weeks (CPW) have provided 'holidays with a difference', with plenty of food for thought, exploring faith, and time for recreation. Some events are for people of all ages - families with children, as well as people (of any age) without children. Others are for those aged 18 and over. All events - whether weekend, long weekend or week-long - offer engaging talks and activities, prayer and socialising, and liturgy in a community setting.
In 2013, CPW offers nine events, varying between two and seven days, on a range of themes. You can consider the nature of God, get closer to the prophetic voices of the Old Testament, or learn about the spirituality of the early Christians of the Middle East. Or you can engage with ideas and action on social justice, or how we should envisage and renew our lives at home.
There are two new centres in 2013. One is at Elim in Malvern, a really well appointed centre in beautiful countryside. Belsey Bridge in East Anglia has 20 acres of grounds. Both centres have heated outdoor pools and a reputation for excellent food.
The winter weekends will return to the familiar and very popular settings of Boars Hill, Oxford and Hyning in Lancashire. Hyning is also booked for June. Downside School in Somerset, which has its own pool and extensive grounds, is on the summer schedule, along with the lovely Noddfa centre in Penmaenmawr, North Wales. The autumn reunion weekend, including the annual Dora Turbin Lecture, will be at Boars Hill.
CPW is very good value for money - prices include food, accommodation, childcare, the centre facilities and the educational programme - but a Friendship Fund is there to help those who would otherwise not be able to afford to come.
There is a 5% discount on all bookings for summer events received by the end of February.
Details can be found at
Full brochure at


Agenzia Fides REPORT – As the time approaches for the start of the electoral campaign for 2014 presidential elections, Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas, Archbishop of San Salvador, says the local Catholic Church trusts that this event will take place without violence and with maximum transparency.
The Archbishop also said that the candidacy of former President Tony Saca should not cause conflict, because like all the politicians wishing to take part, he has the right to do so if the law so allows. “Whether a campaign is or is not violent, should not depend on the presentation or non presentation of a certain candidate” said Archbishop Escobar Alas who expressed the certainty that “this campaign will not be a source of conflict or violence, because society today is highly sensitive to the issue”. Lastly the Archbishop underlined that the use of violence on the part of politicians can provoke immediate response from the people through the vote. “This is not a threat, it is simply due the fact that the people have matured and simple refuse any abuse of power", concluded Archbishop Escobar Alas.
(CE) (Agenzia Fides, 25/02/2013)


Matthew 20: 17 - 28

17And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,18"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death,19and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day."20Then the mother of the sons of Zeb'edee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.21And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom."22But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able."23He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."24And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.25But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.26It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,27and whoever would be first among you must be your slave;28even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."


St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
Feast: February 27

Feast Day:February 27
March 1, 1838, Assisi, Italy
Died:February 27, 1862, Gran Sasso, Italy
1920, Rome, Italy by Pope Benedict XV
Major Shrine:San Gabriele, Teramo, Abruzzi
Patron of:Students, Youth, Clerics, Seminarians, Abruzzi
On a summer day a little over a hundred years ago, a slim figure in a black cassock stood facing a gang of mercenaries in a small town in Piedmont, Italy. He had just disarmed one of the soldiers who was attacking a young girl, had faced the rest of the band fearlessly, then drove them all out of the village at the point of a gun. The young man was Francesco Possenti, whose father was lawyer for the Papal States and who had recently joined the Passionist Order, taking the name of Brother Gabriel.

He became very sick during his school years and had promised that if he got better, he would dedicate his life to God. St. Gabriel Possenti got better and forgot about it. He got sick again and made the same promise, but again got well and forgot his promise. Once, during a church procession in which a great banner of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was being carried, the eyes of Our Lady looked straight at him and he heard the words: "Keep your promise." Shaken, he remembered his promise, changed his life completely, and entered the Passionists.
He hoped to be sent to the missions after his ordination to the priesthood, but at the young age of twenty-four, he died. Canonized in 1920, he is, along with St. Aloysius, one of the patrons of youth. He was very fond of his family and is particularly remembered as a remarkable young man who, at the age of twenty, threw all aside for God, determined to become a saint.

From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . Suddenly his face began to shine with glory, and his clothing became dazzling white, . . . a cloud covered them, blotting out the sun, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."—Mark 9:2-3, 7



Vatican Radio REPORT-  The end of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, at 20:00, Thursday February 28th, will be marked by the stepping down of the Pontifical Swiss Guard from the gates to the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo. At that time they will end their active duty, because their service is specifically linked to the Petrine ministry. The gates closing on these men, who swear an oath to protect the life of the Holy Roman Pontiff, will thus be the final act and lasting image of Benedict XVI’s eight year Pontificate. 

But he will continue to be called His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. He will continue to wear white, a simple white cassock without a cape, but he will not wear the signatory red shoes, choosing instead the brown leather shoes gifted him in Leon, Mexico last year and with which he is very happy.

Moreover his fisherman’s ring and papal seal will be destroyed as they pertain specifically to the Papal office. All of these decisions on the future of Benedict XVI once the clock strikes eight pm on Thursday were taken by the Holy Father himself, in collaboration with the camerlegno and pontifical household.

They were relayed to press by Fr. Federico Lombardi Tuesday in the now daily briefing on the final hours of this pontificate. 

Fr. Lombardi also revealed that the Pope is preparing for his final public appearances through prayer and reflection. And he confirmed that the Holy Father together with his private secretaries is also sorting between documents of a more personal nature and those relating to the Petrine ministry, ahead of his move.

But ahead of his departure from the Apostolic Palace, scheduled for 17:00 hrs Thursday he still has two great appointments one public and one private. 

Fr. Lombardi revealed that upwards of 50 thousand tickets have been requested for Wednesday’s last general audience, which will follow the regular pattern of a catechesis and greeting in various languages. But the Press Office director also confirmed that many more pilgrims are expected to arrive without a ticket and will be able to gain access to the square. 

After the general audience, the Holy Father will greet leading figures in the Clementine Hall, among others, the President of Slovakia, the captains regent of San Marino, the president of Bavaria, the Prince of Andorra.

On Thursday morning, at 11am, there will be a farewell greeting with all of the cardinals present in Rome. Thursday afternoon, the Pope will bid farewell to the pontifical household at 16.55, departing by car from the San Damaso courtyard. There he will take his leave of Secretary of State officials. From there, the Pope will go to the heliport where he will be greeted by the Cardinal Dean, Angelo Sodano. Shortly after 17:00 he will leave for Castel Gandolfo, where he will arrive at 17.15. At 17.30 he will make a brief greeting to greet the faithful of the Diocese of Albano from the central balcony of the Apostolic Palace. This will be the last public appearance of Benedict XVI.

At 20:00 the Vacant See begins. The following day, March 1, Fr. Lombardi confirmed that the Cardinal Sodano will officially convoke the Cardinals to Rome. He added that as March 1 is Friday the general congregations not begin on Saturday or Sunday, but "in all probability” will begin on Monday, March 4. The meetings which will determine the start of Conclave among other things, will be held in the New Synod Hall.
Finally Fr. Lombardi confirmed that there will be daily press briefings with general information of from the Congregations for journalists following the event. 

Vatican City, 26 February 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world concerning the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land. The letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the congregation, has the purpose of sensitising the Catholic Church around the world with regard to the Holy Land, and of promoting initiatives of prayer and fraternal charity towards Christians of Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, and neighbouring countries.
“The Gospel message of compassion,” the text reads, “illumines the need for the Good Friday Collection in support of our brothers and sisters in the places of Redemption. Together with their pastors, they live the mystery of Christ, Crucified and Risen for the salvation of mankind. On account of its ecclesial dimension, this ancient duty is an ever gratifying opportunity. As Easter approaches, it is all the more appropriate as an expression of the faith that the Church, under the guidance of Pope Benedict XVI, is intensely living, on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. That event opened her to the world, at the same time rooting her still more firmly in the tradition that departs from the Christian origins. Of these the Holy Land is the silent witness and living custodian, thanks to the Latin communities of the Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custody, as also to the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian, Armenian, Copt, and Chaldean faithful active there. Lately, this region is also witness to the fact that entire peoples, hungering for dignity and justice, have given wings to the dream of a springtime, the fruits of which are desired at once, as if the great, longed-for transformation could be possible without a renewal of hearts and an acceptance of a common responsibility for the poor.”
“Among the first fruits of the new awareness brought by the Council was the Encyclical 'Pacem in terris' of Blessed John XXIII, which raises in this Year of Faith a pressing call for peace, especially in Syria, whose tragic path represents a threat to the entire Near East.”
“The situation in the Middle East would seem to demand what the Servant of God Paul VI proposes in the Encyclical 'Populorum progressio'. Following his denouncement of 'the material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love' (n. 21), the Pope suggests not only 'a growing awareness of other people's dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace', but also affirms that 'then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end' (ibid). Towards that goal, the Pope does not hesitate to hold up 'above all ... faith—God's gift to men of good will—and our loving unity in Christ'. With a vision born of faith, he chose the Land of Jesus to make, in 1964, the first of his great apostolic voyages. Following in his footsteps in the year 2000, Blessed John Paul II described his pilgrimage as 'a moment of brotherhood and peace, [to be remembered] as one of the most beautiful gifts of the whole Jubilee event' and expressed his 'deeply felt desire for a prompt and just solution to the still unresolved problems of the Holy Places, cherished by Jews, Christians and Muslims together' (Novo millenio ineunte, n. 13).”
“Pope Benedict also offers us an admirable example of this same compassionate outlook. Encouraging evidence is found in his Pastoral Visit of this past September to Lebanon for the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente'; the constant mention of the region's woes in the Angelus, in his audiences, and in his Messages to various people and institutions; as well as his prayer intention for January 2013, shared with the entire Church: 'that the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance'. Finally, for this coming Good Friday, he has invited two young Lebanese Maronites to write the text for the Via Crucis procession.”
“In the widest sense, the Land of Jesus is composed of Israel and Palestine, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. The Christians living in all these countries must find in us the same attitude of solidarity in the faith.“
“With grateful wonder we recognize how much the generous concern of Catholics around the world has already accomplished. This assistance maintains the Holy Sites, as well as the communities that dwell there. Together with institutes of men and women religious, the funds collected provide immediate relief to the catastrophic consequences of war and other emergencies. Through a qualified network of pastoral, educational, and health care specialists, these resources come to the aid of families, often saving lives that have been rejected: the old, the sick, and the disabled. In addition, aid is provided to those without work and to youth in search of a brighter future. In every case, the collection seeks to build up human rights, especially the right to religious liberty. To this one must add the praiseworthy ecumenical and inter-religious effort, which requires stemming the incessant exodus of Christian faithful from their motherland and the accompaniment of the displaced and the refugee. Taken as a whole, this constitutes the 'Christian characteristic', which makes the region, beyond all of its suffering, a Place where God is glorified, because humanity is blessed.”
“With deep conviction the Congregation for Eastern Churches appeals to all to reconfirm their ecclesial charity in favour of the Holy Land. Together with the Pope, the Congregation thanks the pastors and faithful who, standing by the Cross of the Lord, offer their prayerful and fraternal embrace to those dwelling in the Holy Land. These have earned the gratitude of the Supreme Pastor of the Church and ours, too, for by their faithful witness in the midst of suffering, they remind the world of the consoling promise of the Risen One: 'These things I have spoken to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full' (Jn. 15:11).”
Also made public today was a report prepared by the Custody of the Holy Land (a province of the Order of Friars Minor with responsibility for the Holy Places), listing the works carried out with the proceeds of the Good Friday collection of 2012. Restoration and maintenance has been carried out on numerous shrines, churches, and convents in the Holy Land including such places as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Magdala, Capernaum, Mount Tabor, and Mt. Nebo. Other initiatives sought to improve welcome services for pilgrims.
A significant part of the proceeds was used to fund student scholarships, to help small business, and to build houses, schools and sports centres for children. Other recipients of aid included families, parish communities, the poor, and cultural institutions.
Vatican City, 26 February 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father:
- appointed Bishop Claudio Giuliodori as ecclesiastical assistant general of the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuorem Italy. Bishop Giuliodori was previously bishop of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, Italy.
- appointed Msgr. Claudio Iovine as relator of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Msgr. Iovine was previously a research assistant of the same dicastery.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013



Hollywood actor and producer Eduardo Verastegui in Australia

Monday 25 February 2013

By Fiona Basile
Kairos Catholic Journal

EDUARDO Verástegui is a man of many talents and much passion. The 38-year-old Mexican, who now lives in Los Angeles, USA, is a Hollywood film producer, actor, singer, model and pro-life advocate and he is in Australia this week to share his story ‘from fame to faith’ and to also launch his latest award-winning film, Crescendo, which made it to the final top 50 for the 2013 Oscar nominations for short film—spare a thought for him as you check out the Academy Awards today!

View photo gallery

Eduardo, who is speaking and launching his film in Melbourne on Thursday night at Australian Catholic University’s Central Hall in Fitzroy, was born in Xicotencatl, in northern Mexico, and was raised a Catholic. However, he was ‘always lukewarm’ about his faith. ‘My faith was not at the centre of my life—not because I didn’t want it to be—but because I didn’t know my faith very well, and how can you love what you don’t know?’
At 18 he moved to Mexico City to pursue his dream of being an actor and singer. He worked as a model, studied acting and later joined the boy band Kairo—they were a big hit and toured Latin America for three and a half years. He then started acting on popular Mexican TV soap operas—he starred in five shows in four years.

Still not satisfied with his entertainment success, he moved to Miami. His ‘big break’ came on the plane from Miami to Los Angeles, when he met a casting director for 20th Century Fox who invited Eduardo to audition for a film role. Successful in the audition, he packed his bags for Los Angeles, and a career in films that continues today—although his focus has now completely changed.

‘I was one of those people who thought if I had physical beauty, fame, women and wealth, then I’d be happy—I’d be somebody,’ he said. ‘That’s what our society teaches us and I bought it. But I realised I had nothing—I was empty inside.’

Thanks to his English teacher, who gently and consistently questioned Eduardo about his Catholic faith and his ‘purpose in life’, he realised that he had not been using his creative talents responsibly. He also realised he ‘was not born to be a movie star, a producer, doctor or lawyer’. Rather, he was ‘born to know, to love and to serve God. We are all called to be saints,’ he said.
At the age of 28, Eduardo made a promise to God that he would ‘no longer take jobs that offended God, his family or his Latino culture’. He had thought about life in the priesthood, or a life of mission in the Amazon jungles, but eventually a priest friend persuaded him to remain in the ‘Hollywood jungle’, where he could be ‘a light in the darkness’.

In 2004 he co-founded Metanoia Films—Metanoia is Greek for conversion and encapsulates his own personal experience. Its first fruit, the movie Bella—which he produced and starred in—won the People’s Choice award at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. He has also starred in For Greater Glory alongside Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, and is currently producing Little Boy, which is due for release later this year.

Eduardo has received numerous awards in recognition of his positive contribution to the Latin American community and to promoting a culture of life. He is the founder of non-profit organisations, Let’s Be Heroes and Mantle of Guadalupe. For more information about Eduardo, see

For more information about Eduardo’s public talks this week in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, click HERE

ADDED FEATURE! QnA with Eduardo Verástegui

While enjoying a coffee in a local café on Friday afternoon, Eduardo shared some more interesting facts about himself and his work with Kairos Catholic Journal's photo-journalist, Fiona Basile.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing Catholics today?

We have the truth, but we need to work on our marketing. We need to recognise that media is very powerful, whether it be film, television, internet, video games, radio or music. In the United States, the average time spent in meaningful conversation between parents and children is around 6 minutes a day, whereas the children are spending about 8 hours a day in front of media. So we know who is educating the youth right now and it’s not parents, schools or the Church. There is nothing wrong with media, it’s just a tool and in fact, when used well, it can change the world. The problem however is what’s coming out of the media and right now, I’d say more than 80% is poisoning our society. So we need to deliver our message of love, truth, beauty and goodness in an attractive way.

You mentioned chastity also being an important issue, particularly for young people.
There are many people, even Catholics, who don’t know the real meaning of chastity. Many people think chastity and celibacy is the same thing and that only priests or religious are called to live chastely, but we are all called to live chastely. We need to be effective in sending out this message, particularly to our young people, so that they know the wisdom and reasons for living a chaste life. We need to talk about why it’s healthy, and a good thing to be able to control ourselves. If we are called to be saints, there is no sanctity without chastity—chastity is the big rock that sustains everything. And you need to pray for the grace of chastity—it’s a gift from the Holy Spirit.

In difficult times, what gets you through?

Mass is the centre of my day. We are in a fight and this fight doesn’t end until we die. We’re human and we’re facing big temptations every day, so the only way to be victorious is if you have God on your side. That’s why Mass and communion for me is the most important part of my life—everything else comes from that. It’s also important to recognise what the purpose of your life is—it’s to be a saint. As Mother Teresa said, ‘we are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful to God’. I think when you understand that, it makes it a little easier because you at least know where you’re going, you know your purpose and meaning in life, so you can make the decisions you need to make. That gives a lot of peace and freedom.

What is the purpose of your film production company, Metanoia Films?

To produce films that not only entertain but which also make a difference in people’s lives. We want our audience to leave feeling inspired to be a better person, wanting to love and forgive more, and that they will have hope and fire in their hearts. My hope as an artist is to elevate the intellect to what is good, beautiful and truthful. I want to use art to heal the wounds that people have in their hearts and to think more about forgiveness, love, compassion and generosity—all the virtues in general.

In the opening of your movie Bella you say, ‘My grandmother once told me, if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans'. It’s a beautiful opening line.

It’s a famous sentence and it goes on to say, ‘And if you want to make God cry, follow those plans'. Sometimes our worst enemy can be our own personal dreams if they’re not in line with God’s will. Even if those dreams are good, if they’re not in line with God’s will, then you’re not going to be happy.

You’ve won a lot of awards for your film work and for promoting a culture of life. Is there an award that you’re particularly proud of?

Every award is always accepted with a lot of gratitude and of course it helps to open more doors so the message can be delivered in a wider way. But despite all of the awards and the success of the films, what is more important for me is all the people who call or send letters or emails sharing how their lives have been changed. For example, after Bella and Crescendo, I have been contacted by young girls who were pregnant and who were scheduled to terminate their pregnancies and who, after seeing Bella, for instance, they changed their minds and kept their babies. More than 1000 babies have been saved by the grace of God that we know of. Only God knows how many more babies have been saved—it might be thousands more. But even if it was only one, then that’s what matters. Life is sacred, it’s not an accident, it’s beautiful and we have to do what we can to protect it from conception to natural death.

Who’s your favourite saint?
That’s a hard one because I love all of them, and I learn from all of them. It depends what I need. I can say St Francis of Assisi, St Augustine, Mother Theresa.

What’ your favourite quote?
Mother Theresa’s, ‘We’re not called to be successful, we’re called to be faithful to God.’ That’s very liberating for me—taking into account the culture that we’re living in right now and that we all want to be successful. That’s not our call—our call is to be saints and to be faithful to God.
My second favourite one is what St Faustina wrote in her diary, ‘From the beginning of time to the end of time, all the sins of the world are nothing but a drop of water in the ocean of God’s mercy when you repent.’ I think for those of us who feel we have too much on our shoulders from the past, and that we could never be forgiven, this quote tells you that God’s forgiveness is bigger than our misery and our sins when we repent.

Where are you most at peace?
In Mass. That’s the best part of the day for me. And particularly at the moment I take communion—that’s when I feel that heaven and earth meet—where I feel that I have one hand on earth and one in heaven. That’s the most peaceful moment.

Do you have favourite hymn?
Salve Regina. I try to sing Salve Regina every night before I go to sleep.

Do you have a favourite piece of Scripture?
It depends again. I love the Gospel of St John, particularly, Chapter 1:1-14.

Other than your work, which I know you’ve very passionate about, what brings you joy?
It’s a combination of many things—I could write a book about those moments. I like to go hiking in Los Angeles. There’s a mountain I climb and you can see the entire view of Los Angeles from the top. I feel free, and breathe in the fresh air. It’s a great work out.
I like to enjoy a cup of great coffee, chocolate gives me a lot of joy, reading a book on the life of a saint also brings me a lot of joy because it inspires me and challenges me to live a life of virtue.
I like to play tennis with friends, listen to music in my house by myself, and I’m from Mexico so I like to cook. I have the fire, I put on a little music, candles, and then cook. It’s like therapy for me. I enjoy dinner parties with friends—I invite friends to my house, I cook and serve them—we have good wine, good food and chocolate. It’s those little things. It’s important to have those moments of recreation, so that we can work hard the next day. St Thomas Aquinas speaks of this ‘wholesome recreation’ or ‘eutrapelia’.

What would you most like to be remembered for?
Someone that was just trying, as best as he could, to do God’s will. Trying! But that’s for him to judge. But at least I’m trying to work hard, to do my best, and with an open heart. We’re not alone, God will carry us.

At the completion of the interview and photo shoot, while walking along the street, there was one final question I had for Eduardo! ... 'Do you know how to change a flat tyre?' 
Fortunately, the answer for me was a resounding: 'C'mon! Let's do it!'. I appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to help Eduardo (and Tomas).

Photographs copyright 2013 Fiona Basile, Kairos Catholic Journal, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne

Photos above:  (1) Eduardo enjoys "a fantastic coffee" in a local Melbourne cafe; (2) Eduardo in one of Melbourne's many alleyways; (3) Eduardo stands in front of the beautiful St Patrick's Cathedral, East Melbourne; (4) Eduardo with Kairos Catholic Journal's photo-journalist Fiona Basile; (4) Eduardo with his yummy coffee at a local East Melbourne cafe; (5) Cafe owner Joseph with Eduardo and the "fantastic" coffee beans ... although Joseph insists it's a combination of things that makes a great coffee!; (6) Eduardo; (7) Tomas gets in on the photography action; (8) Tomas and Eduardo changing the flat tyre on Fiona's car.