Friday, March 8, 2013


Vatican City, 8 March 2013 (VIS) – The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013. A “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica that morning. In the afternoon, the cardinals will enter into the Conclave.

Vatican City, 8 March 2013 (VIS) - 
Before beginning the press conference, Fr. Lombardi noted that today is International Women's Day and offered a bouquet of mimosas with a rose to a female journalist in representation of all women in keeping with the custom in the Vatican to give flowers to the women who work in the Holy See today.
Continuing, Fr. Lombardi reported on the sixth General Congregation, which took place yesterday evening from 5:00pm until 7:00pm and was attended by 151 cardinals. Two newly arrived cardinals swore the oath: Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, metropolitan archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Cardinal elector) and Cardinal Adam Joseph Maida, archbishop emeritus of Detroit, Michigan, USA (non elector). The entire complement of 115 Cardinal electors who were expected has thus arrived. During the course of the Congregation 16 interventions were given.
In the seventh General Congregation this morning, 153 cardinals were present and, as there were no other new arrivals, no new oaths were sworn. All 115 expected Cardinal electors were present. The first act of the Congregation dealt with No. 38 of the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”, which states that the College of Cardinals must recognize the reasons for the absence of cardinals who will not be participating in the Conclave. “In this case there are two absences: Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, S.J., archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, Indonesia, for health reasons and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, ex-archbishop of Edinburgh, Scotland, for personal reasons. The College voted to accept the absences for the reasons presented.”
The next order of business was Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano's presentation of No. 37 of the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”, recently modified by Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio, which now reads: “I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, fifteen full days must elapse before the Conclave begins, in order to await those who are absent; nonetheless, the College of Cardinals is granted the faculty to move forward the start of the Conclave if it is clear that all the Cardinal electors are present; they can also defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election.”
“Since all the expected Cardinal electors are now present”, Fr. Lombardi said, “the College can now prepare to decide the date of the Conclave, including whether to move the date up from 15 days after the beginning of the period of the Sede Vacante.”
“The cardinals also commented on the Adopt-a-Cardinal prayer initiative that is being promoted on the web, which over 220,000 people have already subscribed to.” In signing up, participants are assigned, at random, a cardinal for whom they can pray during these days.
During this morning's seventh General Congregation, there were 18 interventions on issues including: interreligious dialogue, contemporary culture, bioethics, justice in the world, the importance of the Church proclaiming a positive message of love and mercy, and collegiality. The role of women in the Church was also discussed. Since most of the cardinals have only spoken once, over a hundred cardinals have intervened and still others are signed up to address the gathering in the coming Congregations.
Fr. Lombardi also mentioned the Domus Santa Martha, which will be the residence of the cardinals during the Conclave, explaining that the cardinals' rooms are assigned by lot drawn during the Congregations. “No cardinal chooses who will be his neighbour nor which room they would prefer. He noted that the newly elected Pontiff will also remain for a short period at the “Domus” while the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace are unsealed and renovated.
In another vein, he commented that the Holy See “is vacant but does not stop”, meaning that the Vatican's various dicasteries continue with their normal activities under the direction of their various department heads. He also provided the name of the preacher who will give the following meditation to the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Prospero Grech, O.S.A.
Responding to previous questions regarding the preparations of the floor of the Sistine Chapel for the Conclave, the director of the Holy See Press Office clarified that “the elevation of the floor serves to render a uniform working space, covering the uneven pavement and the steps” that are around the altar and along the left wall of the chapel.
Vatican City, 8 March 2013 (VIS) - “I have never felt alone.” These words, pronounced by Benedict XVI during his last general audience as Pope on Wednesday, 27 February, form the title chosen by the Vatican Publishing House (“Libreria Editrice Vaticana”, LEV) for the newly published book containing Benedict XVI's final addresses. The front cover displays a photograph of the Pope greeting the faithful who had gathered to bid him farewell that day in St. Peter's Square. On the back appear the words he spoke from Castel Gandolfo on 28 February: “I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.”
The noted publishing house presents this book as a “small tribute”, a “sign of the LEV's fidelity to the Holy Father” who, as expressed in the book's introductory presentation, “we have accompanied from the beginning to the end of his Pontificate”. It is a simply bound volume that hopes to “be a sign of gratitude and appreciation”.
In the same introduction, the LEV explains that the Vatican Publishing House's “catalogue has focused on the magisteria and teachings of Benedict XVI”. In this sense, the publishing house recalls that its mission is to “always be an instrument for spreading the word of God and the Magisterium”.
The first text presented in the book is the declaration that Benedict XVI made in the consistory of 11 February, renouncing his ministry as Bishop of Rome. Following are his general audience catechesis on the morning of Wednesday, 13 February, his homily at the Ash Wednesday Mass that evening, and the greeting that the Pope received at the conclusion of that celebration from the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
The book also presents his meeting with the clergy of Rome on 14 February, the Angelus from 17 and 24 February, his reflection at the end of the Curia's Lenten retreat on the morning of 23 February, the text of his final general audience on the 27th, his greeting to the cardinals present in Rome on the morning of the 28th, and the words he addressed to the faithful of the Diocese of Albano who were awaiting him in the square in front of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo in the early evening of that day.
The book also contains the text of the Apostolic Letter with his Motu Proprio “Normas Nonnullas”, which modified some of the norms regulating the process of the election of the Roman Pontiff.
The volume concludes with a brief biography of Benedict XVI. It is only available in Italian.


Today, March 8, is International Women's Day. The 1st national "Women's Day" was held on February 28, 1909 in the USA. The International Women's Day was celebrated on March 18, 1911. To celebrate this many hold parades or conferences in honour of women's roles in society. It also serves to call attention to the plight of many women suffering unjustly in many countries world wide.
In honor of women's day; here is a list of
1. MARY, MOTHER OF GOD Mary of Nazareth was born before the 1st century AD. Mary was born to Anne and Joachim. She was the mother of Jesus Christ. She conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit and remained a virgin. The angel Gabriel came to her and announced that she would conceive and bear a son who would be Emmanuel. She proclaimed the famous inspired prayer found in the Gospels: "My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. Shall call me blessed: These words are a prediction of that honour which the church in all ages should pay to the Blessed Virgin. Let Protestants examine whether they are any way concerned in this prophecy. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.  He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever." (Luke 1: 46)
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 26, 1910. The Bojaxhiu family was of Albanian descent. When she turned 18 she entered the Sisters of Loreto of Ireland. She took the name Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux. She taught in a missionary school in India until 1948. While traveling through India she felt God calling her to serve the poorest of the poor. She received permission to leave her order and began to help the poor with volunteers. In 1950, she was given permission from the Vatican to start the order "The Missionaries of Charity".In 1979, she received the Nobel peace prize for her tireless work for the poor. (picture above)
Her order rapidly spread around the world to care for the poor, sick and marginalized in over 120 countries. She spoke of this ministry in her own words, "I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days."
was born in Victoria, Australia, on January 15, 1842 and died on August 8, 1909. She is also known as St. Mary of the Cross. She founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart with Father Julian Tenison Woods. They focus on education for the poor. She was canonized on October 17, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. (Image: She is the first Australian Canonized Saint. Mary Helen MacKillop was born in Fitzroy, Victoria.
was born near the Rhine River, in Germany, in 1098 and died  on September 17, 1179. She was a visionary, musician, doctor, abbess and theologian.  She founded 2 monastaries. Hildegard composed Ordo Virtutem, the 1st passion play. She was taught in a monastery from the age of 8. Later she became an Abbess. She was the youngest of 10 children. Her books include: Scivias and Vita.
Mother Angelica was born in Canton, Ohio, on April 20, 1923, with the name Rita Rizzo. She founded the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in 1980. She became a novice and then nun with the Poor Clares of Adoration in 1944. In 1962 she founded a house for the Poor Clares in Alabama. Her network has reached over 1 billion viewers world-wide. They run Catholic programming. It also offers a Website and Radio.                                          
were African martyrs from Carthage in 202. Both of them were young mothers when they were killed by the Roman Emperor. Perpetua is quoted as saying: "We were in the hands of our persecutors, when my father, out of the affection he bore me, made new efforts to shake my resolution. I said to him: 'Can that vessel, which you see, change its name?' He said: 'No.' I replied: 'Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say, a Christian." Felicity is quoted replying to a guard: "It is I that suffer what I now suffer; but then there will be another in me that will suffer for me, because I shall suffer for him." They and other martyrs were severly tortured; St. Pertua said before death:  "Continue firm in the faith, love one another, and be not scandalized at our sufferings." Their names are mentioned in the Canon of the Roman Catholic Mass. Their feast is on March 7.
7. ST. TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS, born as Edith Stein, was a Jewish woman born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11. She was an academic and worked for a university. In 1917, Edith was converted when visiting a friend; she wrote "This was my first encounter with the Cross and the divine power it imparts to those who bear it ... it was the moment when my unbelief collapsed and Christ began to shine his light on me—Christ in the mystery of the Cross". On 1 January 1922 Edith Stein was baptized. She entered the Carmelite convent of Cologne on 14 October and was clothed in the habit on 15 April 1934.
During the time of Nazi power Edith Stein was arrested by the Gestapo on 2 August 1942, while she was in the chapel with the other sisters. She together with her sister Rosa, who had also converted and was serving at the convent. Her last words to her sister: "Come, we are going for our people". She and her sister were killed in Auschwitz. Her feast day is August 9.
8. ST. ALPHONSA MUTTATHUPADATHU was born on August 19 1910 and died on July 28, 1946. She was a Franciscan Sister. She is the 1st Indian canonized Saint. Alphonsa was from the Syro-Malabar Eastern Rite founded by St. Thomas the Apostle. She was born in Kudamlloor, Kerala, India and spoke Malayalam.  She became a nun in 1936 and though sickly, taught in school for  years. Many miracles are attributed to her. She was canonized on October 12, 2008 and her feast is July 28.
9. ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX was born on January 2, 1873 and died on September 30, 1897. She was born in Alencon, France. Her original name was Marie-Francoise-Therese Martin. She became a Carmelite nun at the age of 15. Her other names were St. Therese of the Child Jesus, of the Holy Face and the Little Flower. She was a sacristan who became ill with Tuberculosis and died at age 24. She and her 5 sisters all became nuns.  Her memoirs entitled Story fo a Soul have become famous. She never left the convent but had an intense prayer life and love of God. She was declared a Doctor of the Church and the patroness of missions. Her feast day is October 1st or 3rd.
10. ST. JOSEPHINE BAKHITA was born in Sudan, Africa, in 1869 and died on February 8, 1947. She was a slave and became a Canossian nun in Italy. She worked for 45 years in Europe. She was born in Darfur to the Daju people; and belonged to a wealthy family. As a young child she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders, severally tortured and enslaved. She was forcibly converted to Islam. After much tortue under her masters she was sold to an Italian Consul who was kind. She moved to Italy with the family and worked in peace for them. She was declared free by an Italian court in 1889. Bakhita was baptised and confirmed in 1890. In 1893 she entered the Canossian Sisters and was welcomed by Pope Pius X. She was cook, sacristan and portress. Her reputation for holiness spread throughout Italy. Her feast is February 8.
Compiled by: Miriam Westen, M.Ed, MA Theology


March 8 is Women's Day. JCE is featuring women who have contributed significantly to society and the Church. Mrs. Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy is a model of womanhood for today.

Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy has a BA from St. Francis Xavier University and an MA in developmental psychology from the University of Guelph. She has a continued interest in Catholic Psychology and has taken American Psychological Association Continuing Credits in this area. Elizabeth is a Registered Psychologist in the Province of Alberta where she maintains a private practice in assessment and diagnosis of children and adolescents with developmental/learning disorders. As researcher for the deVeber Institute, Elizabeth has contributed to publications on Child Sexual Abuse; Single Parenting in Canada; the Elderly and Euthanasia and has published on a variety of topics around abortion’s aftermath. She has also co-authored developmental/educational research. Elizabeth has spoken widely on her research, and has served on the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

Click to open expanded view
Her book is available for purchase 
 Elizabeth is also a Registered Psychologist in the province of Alberta. She specializes in the assessment and diagnosis of children and adolescents with learning disabilities and developmental disorders.  At Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy she teaches the Developmental Psychology Course and is the Director of Counselling and Learning Support. She did her undergraduate work at St. Francis Xavier University and her graduate work at the University of Guelph, as well as having completed American Psychological Association accreditation in Catholic Psychology. Elizabeth has published widely in the areas of Life issues and serves as the Senior Research Associate to The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research in Toronto. In this capacity she has authored numerous monographs, academic papers and coauthored with Ian Gentles:  Women’s Health After Abortion II: The Medical and Psychological Evidence.  She is currently working on a third (3rd) edition of this book and travels extensively to speak at conferences and workshops on Life issues. She has served as the Secretary to the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and is currently the Research Editor for the Canadian Psychological Association’s Educational Section Newsletter.  Elizabeth and her husband Keith have seven children and, at the moment, seven grandchildren.
shared from


Heavenly Father, we pray in union with the whole Church for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Cardinals. May the Cardinals of the Church listen attentively to Your Holy Spirit during the conclave.
Almighty God, we pray that the conclave brings us a Pope who pleases You by guiding Your Church to grow in faithfulness to You. We pray together with the intercession of our Mother Mary and all the Saints. Please Lord, protect and guide your Church during this time of interim. (IMAGE SOURCE : GOOGLE )

1 Our Father
1 Hail Mary
1 Glory Be
Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.



holy_seeFor the more than 1.2 billion Christians around the world who are members of our Church, this is an important and solemn moment. The Cardinals of the Catholic Church, in prayer and meditation, free from interference by the outside world, will begin their Conclave to elect a new Successor to the Apostle Saint Peter.
The word “conclave” refers to a place with a key. Only a few staff are permitted occasional access to the Cardinals. They gather in prayer in the Sistine Chapel, just as before Pentecost the Apostles went to “the room upstairs” where they “constantly devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts of the Apostles, 1.13-14). The prayers of the Cardinals echo those almost 2,000 years ago: “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one … you have chosen” (Acts 1.24). This time, however, it is not Peter who summons the brethren and addresses them. It is the Cardinals, brothers in faith, who meet to discern the one whom the Lord has chosen to hand on the keys he has given Peter, “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16.18).
My brothers and sisters, I extend an invitation to you, on behalf of the Bishops of Canada and our brother Bishops around the world. The invitation comes from us as “successors of the Apostles, who together with the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, the visible Head of the whole Church, govern the house of the living God” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 18). We invite each of you to join the Cardinals and the whole Church in praying to the Holy Spirit to show who is to be chosen as the new Successor of Peter.
As a sign and instrument of unity and communion, the new Pope will be called to lead the successors of the Apostles and all the faithful in apostolic teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2.14, 37-42). Let us pray that he, with Peter and like Peter, will be bold and strong in his witness, standing with the Apostles, speaking out, exhorting those near and far away, and capable of moving hearts to conversion and reconciliation.
May our prayers themselves be a witness to our communion and unity as Church. May they strengthen and renew our belief as Catholics that “Jesus Christ, the Eternal Shepherd,” has “placed Blessed Peter over the other Apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion” (Lumen Gentium, no. 18).
+ Richard W. SmithArchbishop of Edmonton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
March 8, 2013


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
8 Mar 2013
Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowships celebrate women and create leaders
across Australia
Women across Australia make a rich contribution to the Church. They are our primary evangelisers, instilling their love of God in their children. At a grass roots level women are also sources of inspiration not only to their children but to their families and communities and are the ones who live the Catholic ethos and celebrate their faith each and every day. 
"In parishes and communities across the country, women really make a difference and today which is International Women's Day we want to pay tribute to them and celebrate the feminine genius as well as the role of women in the Church," says Donella Johnston, Director for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's (ACBC) Office for the Participation of Women (OPW).
Donella also wants to pay tribute to Australia's forward-thinking Catholic Bishops who more than a decade ago not only recognised the tremendous contribution made to the Church by women, but established what is believed to be the world's first-ever OPW to support and encourage women and through fellowships and other initiatives, give them opportunities for faith formation, theological study and leadership training.
As far as is known, other than Germany which recently founded an office similar to Australia's OPW, there are no other initiatives that have been specifically set up to build on the important role played by women in the Church.
Over the past three years 20 women in Sydney have entered religious life
"Back in 1996 Australia's bishops had a prophetic vision for the role of women in our Church. This was the year they commissioned a report focussing on the participation of women in the Australian Church," Donella explains.
Entitled: Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus, the comprehensive wide-ranging report was released in 1999 and examined the different ways women participated in the Church, the assistance and support offered, the barriers to participation and ways that participation could be increased.
"The Church needs their gifts in all its life and mission," the Bishops announced and said the Report had revealed that many women felt frustrated at not being able to participate as fully as they would like and how they would like to be more involved in decision making in the Church and different areas of Church life and ministry.
At the start of the Millennium in 2000, the ACBC devoted its Social Justice Statement to the findings of the report and hope for the future, and the following year established the Office for the Participation of Women.
The first-ever Director of OPW was the much mourned and missed, Therese Vassarotti who died late last year at age 62 after a brief and courageous battle against acute myeloid leukaemia.
Donella Johnston Director of the National Office for the Participation of Women
"She was a true pioneer and a wonderful role model for Catholic women and girls," says Donella. "Therese was not only a true leader and highly regarded theologian and educator, but a daughter, wife, sister, mother and grandmother and a lifelong champion of women."
Faith was the wellspring of Therese's life and when she took up the role as Director of OPW she said one of her primary goals would be to "have men and women making decisions together and sharing their wisdom."
She also wanted to ensure to give a voice to those people who felt disenfranchised and to ensure they were not only listened to but heard.
"Therese was a true pioneer," says Donella who took over the role of Director in December 2011, describing her appointment as a "great honour and privilege."
Over the past 16 months, Donella has built on the legacy of Therese and is extremely proud and pleased that today there is at least one if not more women acting as OPW liaisons and representatives in every diocese across Australia. She is also thrilled with the ongoing success of the Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowships where women from across the country enter a two year program to obtain a post-graduate degree in theology, deepen their faith and train as community leaders.
"Since 2006, when the program first began, we have had 27 women complete the program. Of this number, 21 are now employed by the Catholic Church in leadership positions with some working in Catholic Education, others are in health care as Directors of Mission or Coordinators of Mission. Still others are working with their Dioceses in Social Justice roles and in Interfaith initiatives," she says.
Therese Vassarotti will be remembered for her faith-filled life and contribution to the Church
This year a further 17 women have been given Fellowships which cover all costs of tuition, accommodation and travel during the part time studies over the next two years as well as the five retreats where they join together to discuss what they have learned and support one another.
In addition to supporting women of faith and encouraging them to share their skills, wisdom and gifts, OPW also promotes gender equality in the developing world, speaks out against gendercide and fights to eliminate gender disparity in education at both primary and secondary school levels as well as battling to eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality and improve health education.
Donella believes the establishment of an OPW is a reflection of the open mindedness of Australians and our pioneering spirit and believes much of this is due in part to the inspiration and legacy of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
Inspired by faith, courageous and determined St Mary of the Cross MacKillop founded schools for the poor, visited men and women in prison, championed the plight of women forced into prostitution and poverty, and founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, one of the world's first religious orders not to live in a convent but to live and work among those they helped and cared for.
To celebrate International Women's Day 2013, OPW and the Council for Australian Catholic Women have created prayers and resources for parishes across Australia either today or on Sunday, 10 March when many Churches will pay tribute to women.
These resources can be downloaded at



After saying he would appeal the ruling, the president decides to accept it. El Baradei warns of "Ignorance and manipulation". Morsi drops below 50 per cent in opinion polls in a country that has high unemployment and an economy that is hurting.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Cairo Administrative Court said the electoral law promulgated by President Mohammed Morsi needed to be reviewed by the Supreme Constitutional Court. Initially, the president had said he would appeal but then relented, saying he would respect the ruling.
Last month, he had announced that the elections for the People's Assembly would take place in four stages over two months, starting on 22 April.
The main opposition coalition said it would boycott the polls because the electoral law favoured the president's Islamist allies, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi's change of heart stems from a desire not to increase the resentment in the population. In fact, a number of observers have pointed out that his popularity has dropped below 50 per cent over the past few months.
For his part opposition leader Mohammed El Baradei noted that "Ignorance and manipulation of the essence of the rule of law are the characteristics of a fascistic state".
After the fall of Hosni Mubarak two years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups have used Morsi's electoral success to manipulate the constitution and election law to boost their power.
Meanwhile, unemployment is up, at 13 per cent, and the economy is hurting. Disillusionment with Islamists is also setting in among ordinary Egyptians.
Young people and activists who fought to see Mubarak fall now see their ideals of democracy and equality betrayed by the growing Islamisation of Egyptian society and the rise of an authoritarian state.


Mark 12: 28 - 34

28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"29Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one;30and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'31The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."32And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he;33and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."34And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any question.


St. John of God
Feast: March 8

Feast Day:March 8
March 8, 1495, Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal
Died:March 8, 1550, Granada, Spain
October 16, 1690, Rome by Pope Alexander VIII
Patron of:alcoholics; bookbinders; dying people; firefighters; heart patients; hospital workers; publishers; sick  people
Born at Montemor o Novo, Portugal, 8 March, 1495, of devout Christian parents; died at Granada, 8 March, 1550. The wonders attending the saints birth heralded a life many-sided in its interests, but dominated throughout by implicit fidelity to the grace of God. A Spanish priest whom he followed to Oropeza, Spain, in his ninth year left him in charge of the chief shepherd of the place, to whom he gradually endeared himself through his punctuality and fidelity to duty, as well as his earnest piety. When he had reached manhood, to escape his mastery well-meant, but persistent, offer of his daughter's hand in marriage, John took service for a time in the army of Charles V, and on the renewal of the proposal he enlisted in a regiment on its way to Austria to do battle with the Turks. Succeeding years found him first at his birthplace, saddened by the news of his mother's premature death, which had followed close upon his mysterious disappearance; then a shepherd at Seville and still later at Gibraltar, on the way to Africa, to ransom with his liberty Christians held captive by the Moors. He accompanied to Africa a Portuguese family just expelled from the country, to whom charity impelled him to offer his services. On the advice of his confessor he soon returned to Gilbratar, where, brief as had been the time since the invention of the printing-press, he inaugurated the Apostolate of the printed page, by making the circuit of the towns and villages about Gilbratar, selling religious books and pictures, with practically no margin of profit, in order to place them within the reach of all.
It was during this period of his life that he is said to have been granted the vision of the Infant Jesus, Who bestowed on him the name by which he was later known, John of God, also bidding him to go to Granada. There he was so deeply impressed by the preaching of Blessed John of Avila that he distributed his worldly goods and went through the streets of the city, beating his breast and calling on God for mercy. For some time his sanity was doubted by the people and he was dealt with as a madman, until the zealous preacher obliged him to desist from his lamentations and take some other method of atoning for his past life. He then made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where the nature of his vocation was revealed to him by the Blessed Virgin. Returning to Granada, he gave himself up to the service of the sick and poor, renting a house in which to care for them and after furnishing it with what was necessary, he searched the city for those afflicted with all manner of disease, bearing on his shoulders any who were unable to walk.
For some time he was alone in his charitable work soliciting by night the needful supplies, and by day attending scrupulously to the needs of his patients and the rare of the hospital; but he soon received the co-operation of charitable priests and physicians. Many beautiful stories are related of the heavenly guests who visited him during the early days of herculean tasks, which were lightened at times by St.Raphael in person. To put a stop to the saint's habit of exchanging his cloak with any beggar he chanced to meet, Don Sebastian Ramirez, Bishop of Tuy, had made for him a habit, which was later adopted in all its essentials as the religious garb of his followers, and he imposed on him for all time the name given him by the Infant Jesus, John of God. The saint's first two companions, Antonio Martin and Pedro Velasco, once bitter enemies who had scandalised all Granada with their quarrels and dissipations, were converted through his prayers and formed the nucleus of a fourishing congregation. The former advanced so far on the way of perfection that the saint on his death-bed commended him to his followers as his successor in the government of the order. The latter, Peter the Sinner, as he called himself, became a model of humility and charity.
Among the many miracles which are related of the saint the most famous is the one commemorated in the Office of his feast, his rescue of all the inmates during a fire in the Grand Hospital at Granada, he himself passing through the flames unscathed. His boundless charity extended to widows and orphans, those out of employment, poor students, and fallen women. After thirteen years of severe mortification, unceasing prayer, and devotion to his patients, he died amid the lamentations of all the inhabitants of Granada. His last illness had resulted from an heroic but futile effort to save a young man from drowning. The magistrates and nobility of the city crowded about his death-bed to express their gratitude for his services to the poor, and he was buried with the pomp usually reserved for princes. He was beatified by Urban VIII, 21 September, 1638, and canonized by Alexander VIII, 16 October, 1690. Pope Leo XIII made St. John of God patron of hospitals and the dying.



Vatican City, 7 March 2013 (VIS) – 
There were 152 cardinals present at this morning's fifth General Congregation, which was held from 9:30am until 21:30am. This includes two newly arrived cardinals who took the oath of secrecy: Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, archbishop of Warsaw, Poland, who is a Cardinal elector and Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, apostolic nuncio emeritus to Czech Republic. The final Cardinal elector expected, Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, archbishop of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, is in the process of arriving. (IMAGE SOURCE: GOOGLE )
Three new Cardinal assistants were chosen by lot to serve on the Particular Congregation, the three-day term of the first Cardinal assistants having expired. The Cardinal assistants chosen were: from the Order of Bishops, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon; from the Order of Priests, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and from the Order of Deacons, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., president emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
During the Congregation, Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano read the draft of a telegram of condolence to be sent for the death of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, on behalf of the College of Cardinals, which was approved by all. “When a head of state dies,” Fr. Lombardi explained, “the Pope always sends a telegram of condolence. In this case, during the Sede Vacante, that task falls to the College of Cardinals.”
Over the course of the morning, 16 cardinals addressed the gathering. The first three speeches were from those responsible for the finances and the patrimony of the Holy See: Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA); and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State. As called for in No. 171 § 2 of the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus”, during the Sede Vacante the Carmelengo has to provide the College of Cardinals with this information regarding the Holy See's patrimonial and economic status. “They were brief but clear reports of each one's area of competence,” the director of the Holy See Press Office said, “bearing in mind that there is always an established date to present the previous year's balance, which is released in July. Today's was a quick way of giving information in broad outlines.”
The other 13 addresses touched upon a variety of topics, always following the order of request and without any specific order of theme. To the topics that have become common in these days—that is, evangelism, the Holy See and its Dicasteries, and the profile of expectations and hopes for the new Pope—were added issues including ecumenism, relations with other Christian churches, and the Church's charitable efforts. It has to be kept in mind that the Congregation is not simply composed of these speeches. There is also a break of a half hour or more when the Cardinal fathers can meet with one another and exchange opinions among themselves.”
Fr. Lombardi also addressed the question of confidentiality and secrecy regarding the Conclave and the General Congregations in light of some news that has been published in these days. “Article 12 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis'”, he clarified, “states that the cardinals must take an oath to observe the provisions made within and to maintain secrecy. Obviously, it is different form the oath made at the Conclave. However, the common denominator is maintaining the reserve and privacy of the institutional atmosphere as a College, not just as private individuals. For example, during the Sede Vacante of 2005, the cardinals decided and voted not to give interviews after the first Congregations.”
Finally, referring to the outfitting of the Sistine Chapel for the Conclave, Fr. Lombardi indicated that preparations for the elevation of the pavement are continuing, the windows have been blacked-out, and the two stoves for producing the “fumata” (smoke signalling the election or non-election of a Pope after each vote) have been installed. Also, the Pope emeritus' coat of arms, which is created with flowers in the Vatican Gardens and visible from the cupola of St. Peter's Basilica, was removed to prepare the flower bed for the new Pope's insignia.
The sixth General Congregation will be held this evening from 5:00pm-9:00pm.
Vatican City, 7 March 2013 (VIS) - The Santa Martha House (Domus Sanctae Marthae) is a modern residence building located near St. Peter's Basilica on the site of a former hospice for pilgrims. Since its construction in 1996 it has provided housing for prelates and others having business with the Holy See. The five-story building has 106 suites, 22 single rooms, and one apartment. Its management is entrusted to a director, whose appointment is reserved to the Secretariat of State, and its tasks are defined by statute.
In this period of the Sede Vacante, those persons residing in the “Domus” have been moved in order to make the necessary preparations for housing the Cardinal electors. When the Conclave begins, besides the Cardinal electors, the “Domus” will also house those persons resident within the Vatican who also form part of the Conclave, as established in No. 46 of “Universi Dominici Gregis”.
Juridically speaking, the current manifestation of the Domus Sanctae Marthae is a foundation. It was established in 1996 by a chirograph, that is, a hand-written charter, which was penned by Pope John Paul II himself. Today's building replaces the St. Martha Hospice that was ordered built by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 during the fifth cholera pandemic to care for the sick from the areas around the Vatican. During World War II, the building was used to house refugees, Jews, and ambassadors from countries that had broken diplomatic relations with Italy.
John Paul II's chirograph states that: “in view of the new situation that has arisen, I have resolved to suppress the previous Foundation in order to establish a new Foundation under the title of "Domus Sanctae Marthae” for the purpose of offering hospitality, in the spirit of true priestly fraternity, to the ecclesiastic personnel in service of the Secretariat of State and, as far as possible, in service of the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, as well as the Cardinals and Bishops travelling to Vatican City in order to visit with the Pope or to participate in events and meetings organized by the Holy See. All of this is compatible with the provisions established in the Apostolic Constitution, 'Universi Dominici Gregis', which reserves the building's rooms for the exclusive use of the Cardinal electors during the Conclave for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.”
The other persons, besides the Cardinal electors, who will reside at or enter the “Domus” during the Conclave are those mentioned in “Universi Dominici Gregis” as necessary “to meet the personal and official needs connected with the election process”. These include: the Secretary of the College of Cardinals; the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations; the Masters of Ceremonies; priests from the regular clergy for hearing confessions in the different languages; two medical doctors for possible emergencies; as well as cleaning and cooking staff. All the persons indicated here must receive prior approval from the Cardinal Camerlengo.
During the Conclave the Cardinal electors can walk from the “Domus” to the Sistine Chapel unless they desire to use the small bus that has been placed at their disposition.



KINSHASA, March 6, 2013 (CISA) -Violent clashes between rival factions of the M23 are underway in the region of Rutshuru, 30 km from Goma, capital of North Kivu (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo).
In the aftermath of the framework agreement for the Congo signed in Addis Ababa on 24 February, the M23, the main armed movement that operates in North Kivu, has been split into at least two parts. The first refers to Jean-Marie Runiga, the former political leader of the movement, recently removed from office, and the other to Sultani Makenga, military commander of the rebel group.
Tension between the two factions, reports Fides, exploded after the signing of the Framework Agreement, which aims to stabilize the Great Lakes Region, putting under control the so-called “negative forces” (the various armed groups that have been in the area for a long time).
Faced with the prospect of a new international intervention in North Kivu, Runiga wanted to go on the attack, whereas Makenga seems willing to dialogue with national authorities and international bodies to stabilize the region.
In other news, Congolese Bishops opposed the revision of Article 220 of the Constitution which prohibits changes in the shape of the State. In a Memorandum to the President of the Republic, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) states that, “respect for the constitutional order must be observed by all. This is the premise of national cohesion and unity.” The Bishops pledge to “sensitize the population to understand the importance of this article for the stability of the Country.”
The Bishops also call for serious reforms of the judiciary system, armed forces and police, and an effective fight against corruption, also to ensure the safety in the east of the Country, threatened by the presence of various armed groups.



By  on Monday, 4 March 2013

Cardinal Keith O'Brien issued his statement over the weekend Scott Campbell/AP/Press Association Images
Cardinal Keith O'Brien issued his statement over the weekend Scott Campbell/AP/Press Association Images
Cardinal Keith O’Brien has admitted to sexual misconduct as he stated that he would play no further role in the Church.
In a statement made yesterday afternoon the former Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh confessed that his “sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected” and asked for forgiveness from those he had “offended”, the people of Scotland and the entire Catholic Church.
Some of the details of the alleged “inappropriate” behaviour, against three priests and one former priest, have emerged, with the accusations including attempting to touch and kiss the men.
One of the accusers also claimed that he had been warned not to go public and that the Church wanted to “crush” him.
Cardinal O’Brien said he would now withdraw completely from public life. Cardinal O’Brien was the most outspoken opponent of plans to redefine marriage in Scotland and England. He will not take part in the forthcoming papal conclave.



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
7 Mar 2013
The world's bishops gather in St Peter's Basilica for the start of
Vatican II
University students are being offered special rates to enable them to take part inThe Great Grace Conference to be held in Sydney in May. There are also great Earlybird discounts of $150 for those who register for the Conference before Friday, 15 March.
Regarded as one of the most significant religious gatherings for intellectual and faith formation to be held in Australia in recent times, The Great Grace: Receiving Vatican II Today will bring together nine of the world's leading theological scholars and experts on the Second Vatican Council as key note speakers. The Conference will feature 30 workshops designed to explore the remarkable teachings of Vatican II and celebrate the relevance of the Council not only now but into the future. 
An initiative of the Archdiocese of Sydney in partnership with Australian Catholic University (ACU) as the Conference's major sponsor, The Great Grace is designed to give participants a unique insight into one of the most momentous events of the Church.
Taking its name from Blessed John Paul's description of Vatican II as "The Great Grace for the Church for the 21st Century," the Conference will run from 20-23 May and is not only being held in the Year of Grace but during the 50th anniversary of the start of the Council which began under Pope John XXIII in October 1962 and closed three years later in December 1965 under Pope Paul VI.
Prior to becoming Pope, Blessed John Paul II was one of the great scholars of Vatican II.
"From the vantage point of 50 years it is too easy to the see the Council merely as a gathering of key figures over several years who made some changes, and to regard this today simply as part of the past," says Professor Greg Craven, Vice Chancellor of ACU.  "We forget that the great minds of the Council: Ratzinger (who later became Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), Wojtyla (who became Blessed John Paul II), Congar, Rahner, Courtney Murray, de Smedt, Suenans, K├Ânig and others were the great minds of the mid-Twentieth Century."
Professor Craven says the remarkable legacy of these great minds who attended Vatican II will not be sufficiently mined in a mere 50 years nor possibly even in 100 years.
"The Great Grace Conference is an outstanding opportunity for students, university staff and for people of faith of all ages and walks of life to reflect on the Council and its teachings together," he says and adds that he is particularly pleased young people, none of whom were even born at the time of Vatican II, will have a chance to "be introduced to the remarkable teachings that emerged from the Council and now shape our understanding of the Church and its mission, a mission we all share."
The importance with which The Great Grace Conference is regarded by scholars and Church leaders is underscored by the fact that ACU, the University of Notre Dame, Campion College, the Broken Bay Institute and the Catholic Institute of Sydney are each offering course credits for students who attend the Conference to be put towards their diploma or degree.
Professor Craven is also urging staff at ACU as well as students to attend and is proud that of the nine outstanding keynote speakers two are professors from the University. Professor Anthony Kelly CssR, is a Redemptorist priest, prolific author on Christian life and Professor of Theology at ACU. Professor Anne Hunt is a Doctor of Theology and has written on Vatican II and its vision on the role of the laity in the Church.  She is currently Executive Dean of ACU's Faculty of Theology and Philosophy.
Pope Paul VI's Nostra Aetate from Vatican II a wonderful model for interfaith relations
Other highly regarded key note speakers who will address the Conference include Canada's Cardinal Marc Ouellet PSS, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome and tipped one of those who may be elected as the next Pope; the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell; and Professor Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.
The rich contribution made by women to the Church was recognised, encouraged and celebrated by Vatican II and Professor Craven is particularly pleased not only about the increasing numbers of women studying at ACU but the high percentage of women holding senior leadership positions at the University.
"Five of our six executive deans are women and half the deputy vice-chancellors are also women - a claim no other University can make," he says and on the eve of International Women's Day tomorrow, 8 March, pays tribute to the influence and contribution of women particularly at ACU.
"Since Vatican II the numbers of lay people studying theology have risen with a significant number of women among them, including our Dean of Theology and Philosophy ACU, Anne Hunt who will be a keynote speaker at the Conference," he says.
To find out more about The Great Grace: Receiving Vatican II Today and to check on the discount deals for Earlybirds and students go to



Mark 12: 28 - 34

28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"29Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one;30and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'31The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."32And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he;33and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."34And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any question.