Friday, March 1, 2013


Vatican City, 1 March 2013 (VIS) - Today, the first day of the Sede Vacante, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, has begun to summon the cardinals to the first of the General Congregations, as provided for by the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”.
This first General Congregation will take place on Monday, 4 March, at 9:30am in the Synod of Bishops Hall. A second General Congregation is also scheduled for 5:00pm in the same place.
Following is the text of the letter:
“As prescribed in the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” of 22 February 1996 at No. 19, analogous to the case of the death of the Supreme Pontiff, I have the duty to officially communicate to Your Eminence the news of the vacancy of the Apostolic See from the renunciation presented by Pope Benedict XVI effective from yesterday evening, 28 February, at 8:00pm in Rome.”
“On communicating this to you I fulfil my duty of summoning Your Eminence to the first of the General Congregations of the College of Cardinals, to be held on Monday, 4 March, at 9:30am in the Synod of Bishops Room in the Paul VI Hall.”
“The General Congregations will then continue normally until the complete number of Cardinal electors is gathered and the College of Cardinals decides the date for those Cardinal electors to enter into Conclave on the basis of what the recent Motu Proprio of 22 February established regarding modifications in the norms relating to the election of the Roman Pontiff.”
“On my part, I am pleased to take this opportunity to send you my fraternal greetings.”
Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – This afternoon, shortly after 5:00pm, Benedict XVI left the Vatican for the last time as Supreme Pontiff. A few moments earlier, in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State of His Holiness, and other members of that dicastery bid him farewell. In full military regalia, the Swiss Guard troops paid him homage. Also present were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome, and Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City. Many of the workers of the Vatican City State, with their families, were also in attendance and greeted the Pope with warm applause.

Before leaving the Vatican, Benedict XVI issued his last tweet: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.”
Shortly afterwards the Holy Father, accompanied by his private secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household, took a car to the Vatican heliport where the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, greeted him and he boarded the helicopter that carried him to Castel Gandolfo. As the helicopter lifted off, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica and the churches of Roma began ringing.
The Pope's helicopter flew over the city of Rome, passing by the Colosseum and St. John Lateran Basilica, and landed at the Castel Gandolfo heliport just after 5:20pm. Awaiting the Holy Father were Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, respectively president and secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State along with Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas, Bishop Marcello Semeraro of the Diocese of Albano, and civil and religious authorities of the area. The Pope was then taken by car to the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace, where he was greeted by hundreds of people while the bells of Castel Gandolfo's parishes rang out.
Shortly afterwards, Benedict XVI appeared at the balcony of the Apostolic Palace and said to the many faithful who were waiting to thank him for his pontificate: “Thank you. Thank you all. Dear friends, I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your well wishes, which do me such good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection. You know that this day is different for me than the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the Good of the Church and of humanity. I feel very supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!”
Benedict XVI's pontificate concludes at 8:00pm this evening (Rome time), at which time the period of the Sede Vacante begins. The Swiss Guards will no longer be in charge of his safekeeping—which detail will then be undertaken by the Vatican Gendarmerie—and will return to the Vatican to offer their service to the College of Cardinals. During this period the twitter account @Pontifex will be deactivated. Once elected, the new Pope may, if he so desires, take over its use. Benedict XVI's Fisherman's Ring and the seal of his pontificate will also be destroyed at that time and the papal apartments in the Vatican Palace will be sealed.
Vatican City, 1 March 2013 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., related some information regarding the Sede Vacante and the first hours of Benedict XVI after having left the pontificate in a press conference this afternoon.
Fr. Lombardi spoke this morning with Benedict XVI's personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household, who told him that, yesterday, His Holiness, who was very calm and serene, had watched several news programs and expressed his appreciation for the work of the journalists as well as for the participation of those who had assisted in his departure from the Vatican and his arrival at Castel Gandolgo. After a brief walk through the Apostolic Palace he went to bed and slept very well.
Today, as always, His Holiness celebrated Mass at 7:00am and then prayed the Liturgy of the Hours. In the afternoon he has another walk planned at 4:00pm, through the gardens of the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace, to pray the rosary. Benedict XVI brought with him various books on theology, history, and spirituality. At the moment he is reading from a book by the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthazar.
Yesterday at 8:00, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State sent a letter to all the diplomatic representatives to the Holy See informing them that, during the period of the Sede Vacante, all matters will be dealt with by the substitute and by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Moreover, this morning, the papal apartments in St. John Lateran were sealed.
Vatican City, 1 March 2013 (VIS) – The College of Cardinals is currently comprised of 207 cardinals: 117 Cardinal electors who can vote in the election of the Pope and 90 cardinals who are over the age of 80. First in the order of the hierarchy are Cardinal-bishops. Currently six in number, these were originally the bishops of the "suburbicarian" dioceses of Rome. Still today the Cardinal-bishops are assigned one of these seven suburbicarian Sees, even though they are not bishops of the diocese. Alongside the titular Cardinal-bishops of those Sees in the hierarchy of the Church (with the exception of Ostia's titular who, since 1150, has been the dean of the College of Cardinals), Pope Paul VI added, in his motu proprio of 1965, “Ad Purpuratorum Patrum”, the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The patriarchs are not assigned any further title because the names of each of their patriarchal Sees is already included in their title as cardinal.
Second and most numerous in the three orders of cardinals are the Cardinal-priests who are assigned the “titulos” (title) of the important churches of the Diocese of Rome.
Last in the order of cardinals are the Cardinal-deacons who were originally the seven deacons in the Papal Household and the seven deacons who supervised the Church's works in the districts of Rome during the early Middle Ages, when church administration was effectively the government of Rome and provided for all of the city's social services. Cardinal-deacons today are given title to one of these deaconries.
Following is the complete list of the College of Cardinals according to their respective order of precedence. Cardinal electors are marked with an asterisk.
*RE Giovanni Battista
ARINZE Francis
*BERTONE Tarcisio
Cardinal-Bishop Patriarchs
SFEIR Nasrallah Pierre
DELLY Emmanuel III
*NAGUIB Antonios
*RAÏ Béchara Boutros
ARNS Paulo Evaristo
BAUM William Wakefield
CÉ Marco
MACHARSKI Franciszek
KITBUNCHU Michael Michai
do NASCIMENTO Alexandre
*DANNEELS Godfried
WILLIAMS Thomas Stafford
*MEISNER Joachim
VIDAL Ricardo J.
WETTER Friedrich
SIMONIS Adrianus Johannes
LAW Bernard Francis
BIFFI Giacomo
FALCÃO José Freire
SANTOS Alexandre José Maria dos
PIMENTA Simon Ignatius
CLANCY Edward Bede
SZOKA Edmund Casimir
TUMI Christian Wiyghan
CASSIDY Edward Idris
*LÓPEZ RODRÍGUEZ Nicolas de Jesús
*MAHONY Roger Michael
RUINI Camillo
KOREC Ján Chryzostom
VLK Miloslav
WAMALA Emmanuel
KEELER William Henry
*TURCOTTE Jean-Claude
CARLES GORDÓ Ricardo María
MAIDA Adam Joseph
*PULJI? Vinko
TONINI Ersilio
STAFFORD James Francis
DE GIORGI Salvatore
*ROUCO VARELA Antonio María
*PENGO Polycarp
*SCHÖNBORN Christoph
*GEORGE Francis Eugene
*SEPE Crescenzio
MEJÍA Jorge María
*KASPER Walter
*DIAS Ivan
*AGNELO Geraldo Majella
MCCARRICK Theodore Edgar
*BA?KIS Audrys Juozas
*ERRÁZURRIZ OSSA Francisco Javier
*NAPIER Wilfrid Fox
AGRÉ Bernard
*CIPRIANI Thorne Juan Luis
*HUMMES Cláudio
*BERGOGLIO Jorge Mario
*POLICARPO José da Cruz
*POLETTO Severino
EGAN Edward Michael
HUSAR Lubomyr
TUCCI Roberto
*SCOLA Angelo
*OKOGIE Anthony Olubunmi
*ZUBEIR Wako Gabriel
*RIGALI Justin Francis
*O'BRIEN Keith Michael Patrick
SCHEID Eusébio Oscar
*TURKSON Peter Kodwo Appiah
*TOPPO Telesphore Placidus
*PELL George
*BOZANI? Josip
*PHAM MINH MÂN Jean-Baptiste
*BARBARIN Philippe
*ERD? Péter
*VALLINI Agostino
*UROSA SAVINO Jorge Liberato
ROSALES Gaudencio B.
*RICARD Jean-Pierre
CHEONG Jinsuk Nicholas
*O'MALLEY Sean Patrick
*DZIWISZ Stanis?aw
*BRADY Seán Baptist
*SARR Théodore-Adrien
*DiNARDO Daniel N.
*SCHERER Odilo Pedro
*NJUE John
KARLIC Estanislao Esteban
MAZOMBWE Medardo Joseph
*ROMEO Paolo
*WUERL Donald William
*NYCZ Kazimierz
*PATABENDIGE DON Albert Malcolm Ranjith
*MARX Reinhard
*COLLINS Thomas Christopher
*DUKA Dominik
*EIJK Willem Jacobus
*BETORI Giuseppe
*DOLAN Timothy Michael
*WOELKI Rainer Maria
MURE?AN Lucian
*THOTTUNKAL Baselios Cleemis
*ONAIYEKAN John Olorunfemi
*TAGLE Luis Antonio
*TAURAN Jean-Louis
MARTINO Renato Raffaele
*NICORA Attilio
COTTIER Georges Marie Martin
NAGY Stanis?aw
*LEVADA William Joseph
*RODÉ Franc
CORDERO LANZA di Montezemolo Andrea
*SANDRI Leonardo
*LAJOLO Giovanni
*CORDES Paul Josef
*RY?KO Stanis?aw
*FARINA Raffaele
COPPA Giovanni
*AMATO Angelo
*SARAH Robert
*MONTERISI Francesco
*BURKE Raymond Leo
*KOCH Kurt
*SARDI Paolo
*DE PAOLIS Velasio
*RAVASI Gianfranco
*FILONI Fernando
*VEGLIÒ Antonio Maria
*BERTELLO Giuseppe
*AVIZ João BRAZ de
*O'BRIEN Edwin Frederick
*CALCAGNO Domenico
*VERSALDI Giuseppe
GRECH Prosper
*HARVEY James Michael
Vatican City, 1 March 2013 (VIS) - The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City State has issued four stamps with the image of an angel raising the pavilion (“umbraculum”) of the Apostolic Camera, the work of Italian artist Daniela Longo. The stamps cost: €0.70 for mail to Italy, with a light green background; €0.85 for mail to Europe, with a blue background; €2.00 for mail to the Americas, with a grey background; and €2.50 for mail to Oceania, on a yellow background.
The use of these stamps as postage is only available during the Sede Vacante, ending with the election of the new Pope. Their philatelic use is allowed afterwards and the office will continue to sell them to collectors. The initial printing is for 230,000 complete series. The folder including all four stamps costs €15.00. There is also a smaller folder that was created on Pope Benedict XVI's renunciation of the pontificate, which includes two stamps and costs €10.00.
Regarding coins, a €2.00 one commemorating the Sede Vacante will be issued. It is the only one that will be circulated seeing that, according to the European convention with the Vatican City State, only one coin is allowed to be issued per year, with an extra one permitted in the case of a Sede Vacante. There will, therefore, be two coins in 2013: one for the Sede Vacante and the other, to be issued in April, with an image of Benedict XVI.
The Sede Vacante coin, 125,000 of which will be minted, bears the emblem of the Cardinal camerlengo with the pavilion of the Apostolic Camera.
There will also be 10,000 silver €5.00 coins minted for the Sede Vacante that will have a dove of the Holy Spirit and the words “Veni Sancte Spiritus” on one side and the emblem of the Cardinal camerlengo with the pavilion of the Apostolic Camera and the phrase “Sede Vacante 2013” on the other. Likewise, 5,000 gold €10.00 coins will be minted. This will be a very small coin (13.85mm in size and 3g in weight) and will have the same images and writing as the silver coin.
The €5.00 and €10.00 coins are collectibles and, theoretically, can only be used within the Vatican. They are not legal tender outside of the Vatican.


Birmingham: Archbishop Longley pays tribute to Pope Benedict | Archbishop Bernard Longley

Archbishop Longley
The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, celebrated a special Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Benedict XVI, on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle, 22 February, in the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Chad, Birmingham, packed to capacity.

The full text of the homily given by the Archbishop of Birmingham on that occasion was released yesterday, Thursday, 28 February 2013, the last day of the eight-year Pontificate of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Bernard Longley said:

You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.

“As little as two weeks ago nobody could have foreseen that we should be gathered here for a Mass of thanksgiving for the Pontificate of Pope Benedict. Although the Code of Canon Law makes provision for the resignation of the Pope - and Pope Benedict himself has made occasional reference to the possibility – nobody imagined that the present pontificate would draw to a close in this way.

“Now that we have begun to move beyond the original surprise we have a moment to reflect on the magnitude and wisdom of the decision that the Holy Father has made and on the lasting impact of the manner of his departure from the Petrine ministry. It is an act of profound humility and of obedience and it mirrors the beginning of Pope Benedict’s pontificate.

“The Holy Father was elected to succeed Blessed Pope John Paul II in 2005 when he was already 78. Humility and obedience characterised the decision he then made to accept this responsibility at an already advanced age, simply placing his trust in Christ and obedient to the will of the Father.

“He could little have imagined then how fruitful his pontificate would be, especially through the impact of his teaching and his apostolic journeys to many parts of the globe. Here in the United Kingdom in 2010, and more especially for us in the City of Birmingham, we were to benefit from his presence and from the impact of his words.

“September 2010 was a time of extraordinary grace for the Catholic community in England & Wales and in Scotland. Pope Benedict, as our Supreme Pastor, set before us afresh the central themes of the Gospel, relating them to our own time and experience – he spoke up as a witness for the truth. In particular he strengthened our resolve to continue to play our part in public and civic life, confident that the contribution of faith to public service and the common good can be more clearly demonstrated.

“What we witnessed was also a moment of spiritual importance for the people of our countries who welcomed Pope Benedict with a warmth that clearly moved him and in a way that confounded earlier critics of the visit.

“As he bade the Holy Father farewell at Birmingham Airport Prime Minister David Cameron said Pope Benedict had challenged the whole country to sit up and think. A challenge to us all to follow our conscience to ask not what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities? To ask not what we can do for ourselves, but what we can do for others?

“The Holy Father awakened the lasting though sometimes hidden memory of the Christian roots that will always be the foundation of our society and he leaves us with a challenge. How can we help others understand our common future in relation to the God who is our only certain and unchanging point of reference?

“The impact of Pope Benedict’s visit was felt not only by Christians but by many others for whom faith in God is their compass-point in life. It highlights an opportunity and a challenge that Blessed John Henry Newman recognised in the changing society of his own time. It is not so much that the truth and beauty of God and the values offered by religion are being ignored or rejected, but our own attempts to express or share our faith sometimes fail to move our contemporaries.

“The memory of his visit to Birmingham is heightened as we thank God for the witness and ministry of Pope Benedict. He has listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and in obedience he has decided to step down from office next Thursday for the good of the Church that he loves. He wants the whole Church to turn its attention in prayer towards the election of his successor by the College of Cardinals next month (March).

“But we cannot do so without this moment of gratitude and affection for one who heard the words of Christ to Peter and knew that they were also addressed for a while to himself: You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church. Soon they will be addressed to another as the ministry that our Lord entrusted to Peter continues to serve the Church in our own time.

“His brief but fruitful pontificate has not been without its challenges and controversies, but Pope Benedict has sought to confront them with truthfulness and charity. He has offered positive initiatives in the service of the Gospel to counter the negative forces that have threatened to undermine the effective preaching of the Good News. Those special years dedicated to the Priesthood, the Year of St Paul, and the Year of the Eucharist have led us to this Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Benedict last October.”

Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: “The Year of Faith with its emphasis on the New Evangelization will now usher in the ministry of a new pope and set the tone for its early years. In the manner of his departing, during this special year, Pope Benedict is emphasising that our attention should always be focussed on our Lord Jesus Christ and on his Gospel since these are served by the Church’s mission and in a particular way by the Petrine ministry itself.

“Our Lord is calling Pope Benedict to another way of serving the Church at the heart of which is a life of prayer. So we pray that Pope Benedict may be blessed in the remaining days of his pontificate and it the uncharted days ahead, knowing that his example will continue to be an inspiration and a reason for thanksgiving.”


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
1 Mar 2013

Bedelia Melville at the retreat held at the Benedict XVI Retreat Centre at Grose Vale
The Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowship enriches and deepens faith and provides a unique opportunity to learn from each other, develop fresh new perspectives and create lasting friendships, says Bedelia Melville, assistant to the Archdiocese of Sydney's Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Relations.
One of this year's successful candidates, Bedelia joined 16 other women from 12 dioceses across the country at the Good Samaritan Sisters St Benedict Centre at Pennant Hills last week for an intensive four days to mark the start of the newly-restructured program.
Ranging in age from 25 to 35, those taking part included primary and secondary school teachers, a senior management consultant, a family and faith educator, a lawyer with the Australian Federal Police, a Public Relations Officer and an executive support officer with the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.
"The gathering was a wonderful reminder of the broad diversity of the Church in Australia and the different make up and demands of each diocese and I especially liked and admired the instant openness and trust shown by all those taking part," she says.
She was also grateful not only for the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of each of the women taking part in the program but the fact that they were a mix of singles and marrieds.

"Some of those with families and these mothers' input added interesting and important insights to our discussions."
Young Catholic women formed lasting and supportive friendships at the four day weekend retreat
The participants have now returned to their different dioceses from where they will embark on post graduate studies in theology and faith formation from their homes using the internet and modern technology. This is also the way the women who created their own support groups during their four days at the Benedict XVI Retreat Centre will keep in touch with one another to share resources, thoughts and ideas, and to offer encouragement.
The women will gather again at the start of each of the four semesters in the program where they will renew friendships and undertake another intensive four days of study, reflection, prayer and meditation.
Spread over two years, the program enables young Catholic women to graduate with a Certificate in Theology, or for those such as Bedelia who already has a Masters in Theology to further their studies in this area.
An initiative of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), the Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowship promotes academic study, faith formation and leadership development and acknowledges and encourages the rich contribution women make to the Church and to their communities.
Instigated in 2006 past programs have required those awarded fellowships to travel to the ACT for a compressed 15-week live-in full-time course at the Australian Catholic University's Canberra campus.
"Women lead busy lives with many career and family commitments making it difficult for them to take four months off. So this year we decided to make the program more flexible so more women could participate," explains Donella Johnston, Director of the ACBC's Office for the Participation of Women (OPW).
Donella Johnston pays tribute to rich contribution of recipients of Catholic Women's Fellowships
In order to do this, the Fellowship's academic and theological studies will be run by the Broken Bay Institute via its well known online study programs.
Sponsored by the ACBC together with religious congregations, institutions and Church agencies, successful candidates in the Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowship are given scholarships valued at more than $12,000 which covers all tuition, travel, accommodation and administrative costs during the two years of their faith formation and academic study program.

"As well as financial input from our sponsors, those taking part in the Fellowship this year are receiving real support from their employers and families to enable them to travel to Sydney five times over the next two years," says Donella who gives high praise to the calibre, talents, commitment and dedication of this year's 17 successful candidates.
"We had many strong applications this year. They were uniformly outstanding and selection was difficult," says Andrea Dean, OPW's Fellowship Coordinator. "We had to be quite firm about criteria. Some applied but had not yet finished their undergraduate degree and were asked instead to reapply after graduation."
Bishop Peter Ingham, the ACBC's delegate for the Council for Australian Catholic Women says the fellowship program is one of the best things the Bishops Conference has done for women in the Church.
"At the foot of the Cross, the women were the ones who stood by Jesus. They were the first to witness the resurrection and in many ways, I think this gives us a scriptural basis for the lifting up of women in our Australian Church, and to really support them and empower them to lead," he says.
In this Year of Grace and Year of Faith, when Catholics everywhere are marking the 5oth anniversary of the start of Vatican II, when the contribution of women was not only fully recognised by the Church but supported and encouraged, gives added resonance and underlines the importance of the ACBC's fellowship initiative.

Natasha Free a primary teacher from Whyalla SA is one of the successful fellowship candidates
"Until the retreat last weekend I didn't realise that so far Australia is the only country that has an OPW supported by a nation's Conference of Bishops," says Bedelia adding she feels enormously privileged to have been granted a fellowship and to this unique and very special opportunity.
"During the four days we made long-lasting friendships. It was an unforgettable time and the calibre, warmth and energy of everyone there filled me with great confidence for the future of the Church in Australia," she says.
"From the moment we arrived we were made to feel so welcome and throughout the four days we not only learned from each other but were spoiled by the Good Samaritan Sisters who run the Centre with endless supplies of delicious homemade cinnamon rolls and wonderful baked dinners where we would talk into the night over food and glasses of wine."
Women between the ages of 25 and 35 are encouraged to apply for a Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowship. Applications and referee forms can be downloaded at


Agenzia Fides REPORT - "We are extremely disturbed and greatly saddened by the violence and the loss of precious life in the heat of the recent campaigns for the Livingstone parliamentary by-election," said a statement sent to Fides Agency, signed by the leaders of principial Christian denominations in Zambia, Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC).
The campaign for the partial renewal of Parliament (the elections are held today, February 28) was marked by tensions and violence that resulted in the murder of a politician, Harrison Chanda, who was killed on February 25 in Livingstone.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased and all victims of violence. At the same time, we condemn in the strongest terms possible, any form of political and electoral violence," the statement said.
"We further wish to appeal for calm and maximum restraint from the various political parties in Livingstone and also from the Zambia Police Service. It is incumbent on all of us not to do or say anything that might worsen an already volatile situation."
"This is not the time for finger-pointing. What is needed now is for all stakeholders to do some serious soul-searching: Is this the level our politics has come to? Is this the path we want to pursue in our democratic dispensation?" The document concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/02/2013)


The violence erupted after the sentencing to death of a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party), accused of war crimes in 1971. More than 800 injured. Among the victims, three policemen. Explosions in several neighborhoods of the capital, temples and houses burnt the Hindu community in the southeast. The Islamic religious authority in the country calls for calm.

Dhaka (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 35 people have died in Bangladesh in clashes between police and supporters of the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami. Over 800 are injured. The violence erupted in the late afternoon yesterday after Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, a party leader accused of war crimes during the conflict of 1971, was sentenced to death. The verdict sparked yet another hartal (strike) by the National Jamaat and its supporters, who in a short time set several towns and villages on fire, destroyed some Hindu temples, left thousands of people wounded. Among the victims there are three police officers, beaten to death when 2 thousand Jamaat activists attacked a police station in the northern district of Gaibanda.

Riots broke out in different parts of the country. In the southeastern district of Noakhali, some Islamic fundamentalists set fire to houses and temples of the Hindu community. In Dhaka, the capital, a series of bombs exploded in the residential districts of Mirpur-1, Kafrul, Mohammadpur, Motijheel, Abdullahpur, Khilgaon and Uttara. Police have tightened security in the city for fear that violence will escalate again after Friday prayers.

The Islamic Foundation, which answers to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, has asked all imams and mosques in the country not to feed the tension in the Muslim community.

Tensions are high in the country since February 5 last, when activists and bloggers of all ages, sexes and walks of life launched a peaceful demonstration to demand the government (led by the Awami League, ed) impose the death penalty for those accused of war crimes. Supporters of Jamaat (which is in opposition, ed) have accused the protesters of blasphemy and claim the war tribunals are "politicized". On 18 February, Parliament passed an amendment to the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, which now allows the death sentence for war criminals. Since then, activists of the Jamaat-e-Shibir (youth wing of the party) have gone on a rampage of vandalism throughout the country, escalating until yesterday's climax.

The court found Delwar Hossain Sayeedi guilty of 19 charges, including: murder of innocent civilians; collaboration with the Pakistani army in killings and torture of unarmed people, arson, rapes. In addition, during the war, he forced some Hindus to convert to Islam, and seized assets and property belonging to this community.



Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 234

Reading 1 Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a

Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons,
for he was the child of his old age;
and he had made him a long tunic.
When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons,
they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.

One day, when his brothers had gone
to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem,
Israel said to Joseph,
“Your brothers, you know, are tending our flocks at Shechem.
Get ready; I will send you to them.”

So Joseph went after his brothers and caught up with them in Dothan.
They noticed him from a distance,
and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him.
They said to one another: “Here comes that master dreamer!
Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here;
we could say that a wild beast devoured him.
We shall then see what comes of his dreams.”

When Reuben heard this,
he tried to save him from their hands, saying,
“We must not take his life.
Instead of shedding blood,” he continued,
“just throw him into that cistern there in the desert;
but do not kill him outright.”
His purpose was to rescue him from their hands
and return him to his father.
So when Joseph came up to them,
they stripped him of the long tunic he had on;
then they took him and threw him into the cistern,
which was empty and dry.

They then sat down to their meal.
Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead,
their camels laden with gum, balm and resin
to be taken down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers:
“What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood?
Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites,
instead of doing away with him ourselves.
After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”
His brothers agreed.
They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21

R. (5a) Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
When the LORD called down a famine on the land
and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
They had weighed him down with fetters,
and he was bound with chains,
Till his prediction came to pass
and the word of the LORD proved him true.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.

Gospel Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.


St. Suitbert
Feast: March 1

Feast Day:March 1
Died:1 March 713 near Düsseldorf, Germany 
Patron of:angina sufferers; Germany; throat diseases
Apostle of the Frisians, b. in England in the seventh century; d. at Suitberts-Insel, now Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf, 1 March, 713. He studied in Ireland, at Rathmelsigi, Connacht, along with St. Egbert. The latter, filled with zeal for the conversion of the Germans, had sent St. Wihtberht, or Wigbert, to evangelize the Frisians, but owing to the opposition of the pagan ruler, Rathbod, Wihtberht was unsuccessful and returned to England. Egbert then sent St. Willibrord and his twelve companions, among whom was St. Suitbert. They landed near the mouth of the Rhine and journeyed to Utrecht, which became their headquarters. The new missionaries worked with great success under the protection of Pepin of Heristal, who, having recently conquered a portion of Frisia, compelled Rathbod to cease harassing the Christians. Suitbert laboured chiefly in North Brabant, Guelderland, and Cleves. After some years he went back to England, and in 693 was consecrated in Mercia as a missionary bishop by St. Wilfrid of York. He returned to Frisia and fixed his see at Wijkbij Duurstede on a branch of the Rhine. A little later, entrusting his flock of converts to St. Willibrord, he proceeded north of the Rhine and the Lippe, among the Bructeri, or Boructuari, in the district of Berg, Westphalia. This mission bore great fruit at first, but was eventually a failure owing to the inroads of the pagan Saxons; when the latter had conquered the territory, Suitbert withdrew to a small island in the Rhine, six miles from Dusseldorf, granted to him by Pepin of Heristal, where he built a monastery and ended his days in peace. His relics were rediscovered in 1626 at Kaiserwerth and are still venerated there. St. Suitbert of Kaiserwerdt is to be distinguished from a holy abbot, Suitbert, who lived in a monastery near the River Dacore, Cumberland, England, about forty years later, and is mentioned by Venerable Bede.

(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)