Sunday, March 17, 2013


Vatican City, 17 March 2013 (VIS) – This morning, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Vatican parish of St. Anna, the doors of which were crowded from the earliest morning hours with a large number of people. The pontiff was greeted by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, his vicar general for Vatican City State.
Today's Gospel, on this Fifth Sunday in Lent, narrates the story of the adulterous woman whom the Pharisees want to stone. Instead, Christ forgives her, and those who accused her disperse, intimidated by Jesus' bending down to write on the ground with His finger.

In his homily, the Holy Father recalled that, before this story, Jesus had retired to the mountain to pray and later had gone down to the Temple where everyone listened to him. In the end, they left him alone with the woman. “Jesus' solitude!”, he said. “It is a fruitful solitude—both that of His prayer with the Father as well as the other, so beautiful, ... of his mercy toward this woman. This is the Church's message today.”
“There is a difference between the people,” he continued. “On the one hand are the people who come to listen to him and before whom He takes a seat and teaches. These are the people who want to listen to Jesus' words; the people with open hearts, in need of the Word of God.” Nevertheless, “there were others who didn't listen, who could not listen. Among those were the ones who had gone to him with that woman, wanting him to condemn her. … I also think we are like this people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but, on the other hand, at times, like to be cruel to others, isn't that right? To condemn others, right? This is Jesus' message: mercy. On my part, I say it with humility; this is the the Lord's strongest message: mercy. He himself said: 'I did not come for the righteous'. The righteous can justify themselves. … Jesus came for the sinners.”
For example, think of the gossip after the call of Matthew: 'but that one keeps company with sinners!' And He has come for us, when we recognize that we are sinners. But if we are like the Pharisee before the altar—'Oh God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.'—then we do not know the Lord's heart and we will never have the joy of feeling this mercy! It is not easy to trust in God's mercy because it is an incomprehensible abyss. But we must do it!”
The Pope explained that sometimes people say to priests: “'Oh, Father, if you knew my life you wouldn't say that.' 'Why? What have you done?' 'Oh, I've done bad things.' 'Good! Go to Jesus; He likes you to tell him these things. He forgets. He has the special ability to forget. He forgets them, kisses you, embraces you, and tells you only: 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.' He only gives you this counsel. A month later we are the same … We return to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us. Let us ask for this grace.”
At the end of the Mass, the Pope presented some of those who were present at the celebration:
“Here are a few who aren't parishioners, these Argentinian priests. One is my auxiliary bishop but today they are my parishioners. I also want you to meet a priest who comes from very far away and is here: a priest who, for a long time, has worked with street kids and drug addicts. He opened a school for them and has done many things so that they might know Jesus. All of those street kids have a job today thanks to what they were able to study. They are capable of working. They believe in and love Jesus.” The Pope then addressed the priests, saying: “Come, come and greet the people.” And to all: “Pray for this man. He works in Uruguay. He is the founder of the John Paul II high school; that's his job. I don't know how he got here today. I understand. Thank you. Pray for him.”
After greeting the parishioners, the Pope appeared at the Vatican's Porta Angelica Street, next to the Santa Anna Gate that is one of the entrances into the Vatican City State, to greet the thousands of people who wanted to see him before he prayed his first Angelus as Pope.
Vatican City, 17 March 2013 (VIS) – “Never forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving us. Have you thought about the patience that God has with each of us?” These were the words that Pope Francis addressed to the nearly 200,000 people who had travelled from around Italy and from around the world in previous days to be able to live this first Angelus with the new Pope.
The event lasted only 15 minutes, many of which passed in attentive silence from the people assembled. “If God did not forgive us all, the world would not exist,” the Holy Father affirmed. The Roman Pontiff, Francis, spoke only in Italian. In the crowd, on his father's shoulders, three-year-old Francesco said, in his child's language: “I like. My Pope.”
The event was days in planning. Through the media—above all TV and the radio—many already had an idea of who the new Pope is. “I saw him on TV and I was moved … by his humility. … He is one of us,” commented 30-year-old Angelica who had gotten up at 6:00am this morning to arrive at St. Peter's.
The Holy Father commented on the day's Gospel reading, the passages that recount the story of the adulterous woman. “God's face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. … He never tires of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. 'Great is the Lord's mercy',” was the new Pope's profound message. He combined his written text with spontaneous, off-the-cuff comments, which were full of good humour. Following is the complete text of the Pope's words.
“Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!”, the Pope began. After our first meeting last Wednesday, today I again give my greetings to you all! And I am happy to do it on Sunday, the Lord's Day! This is beautiful and important for us Christians: to meet on Sunday, to greet one another, to talk as we are doing now, in the square. This square that, thanks to the media, takes on worldly dimensions.”
“In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. It captures Jesus' attitude: we do not hear words of contempt, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more!' Well, brothers and sisters! God's face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience that He has with each of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, is always patient with us, understanding us, awaiting us, never tiring of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. 'Great is the Lord's mercy', says the Psalm.
“In these days, I have been able to read a book by a cardinal—Cardinal Kasper, a talented theologian, a good theologian—on mercy. And it did me such good, that book, but don't think that I'm publicizing the books of my cardinals. That is not the case! But it did me such good, so much good... Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy changes everything. It is the best thing that we can hear: it changes the world. A bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand God's mercy well, this merciful Father who has such patience... Think of the prophet Isaiah who asserts that even if our sins were scarlet red, God's love would make them white as snow. That is beautiful, [this aspect of mercy]. I remember when, just after I was made bishop, in 1992, the Madonna of Fatima came to Buenos Aires and a large Mass for the sick was celebrated. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. Near the end of the Mass I got up because I had to administer a confirmation. An over 80-year-old woman came up to me, humbly, very humbly. I asked her: 'Nonna [grandmother]—because that's how we address our elderly—Nonna, you want to confess?' 'Yes', she told me. 'But if you haven't sinned...' And she said to me: 'We have all sinned...' 'But perhaps the Lord will not forgive you...' 'The Lord forgives everyone', she told me, with certainy. 'But how do you know that, ma'am?' 'If the Lord didn't forgive everyone, the world would not exist.' I wanted to ask her: 'Tell me, have you studied at the Gregorian [Pontifical University]?', because that is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: the inner wisdom of God's mercy. Let us not forget this word: God never tires of forgiving us, never! 'So, Father, what is the problem?' Well, the problem is that we get tired, we don't want to, we get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us never get tired. Let us never get tired. He is the loving Father who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And let us also learn to be merciful with everyone. Let us call upon the intercession of the Madonna who has held in her arms the Mercy of God made human.”
After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted the tens of thousands of faithful who overflowed St. Peter's Square: “Thank you for your welcome and your prayers,” he said. I ask that you pray for me. I renew my embrace to the faithful of Rome and extend it to all of you who have come from various parts of Italy and the world just as to those who are joining in with us by means of the media. I have chosen the name of the Patron Saint of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and this reinforces my spiritual ties to this land that, as you know, is where my family originated. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church. [He has called] this family of God to walk together the paths of the Gospel. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin protect you! And don't forget this: The Lord never tires of forgiving. We are the ones who tire of asking forgiveness.”
The Pope's final words to the crowd gathered in the square were greeted with deafening applause: “Have a good Sunday and enjoy your lunch!” They were only 15 minutes, a quarter of an hour that, for many thousands, held a stronger interest than the other two competing activities taking place in Rome today: the city's marathon and the Quirinal Palace's open house.



By  on Thursday, 14 March 2013
Archbishop Nichols (Photo: Mazur/
Archbishop Nichols (Photo: Mazur/
What great joy we all felt when, not long after 6 pm yesterday evening, the white smoke swirled into the night air, ascending high above the huge crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square. We have a new pope! We have a father! A time of waiting followed. Filled with a sense of excited expectation we wondered: who’s been elected? Of course, in one very important sense it didn’t really matter who had been chosen as our pope. At his last address to the College of Cardinals, having no idea who would be elected, Pope Benedict promised “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his successor. This, too, was and is, our attitude. With the Pope Emeritus, for whose pontificate we again express our heartfelt gratitude to God, we readily give our unconditional reverence and obedience to Pope Francis.
But when at last the announcement was made, many of us –and I include myself – were taken by surprise. However, once Pope Francis had appeared upon the balcony with that lovely smile, his simplicity and humility evident, the initial surprise soon gave way to the certainty that this is an inspired and inspiring choice. Yes, this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis’ first act (after cracking a joke about the cardinals having to go to the ends of the earth to find a new Bishop of Rome) was to ask us to pray for him, before he bestowed his blessing upon us. The silence at this moment was a powerful proclamation.
We will continue to pray for our new pope; and I am sure that through his papacy we will be richly blessed. For Pope Francis places at God’s disposal a wealth of experience and many gifts. As no doubt you’ve learned, Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, one of five children. His father came from Italy, from near Turin, and was a railway worker. As a young man the future pope planned to be a chemist. However, God had a different plan! Obedient to God’s will, Jorge Mario Bergoglio entered the Society of Jesus instead. Cleary highly intelligent, he studied and has taught theology and philosophy, psychology and literature. From 1973 to 1993, he was the Provincial of the Argentinean Jesuits. [This was a difficult period for Argentine; it was the time of the military dictatorship.] He was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 before becoming the Archbishop in 1998, and then made a Cardinal by Bl. Pope John Paul II in 2001. On reaching 75, Cardinal Bergoglio, as he was then, submitted his resignation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires to Pope Benedict. Perhaps he was looking forward to a quieter life? But now we know, God had a different plan.
Soon after his election yesterday Pope Francis enjoyed a telephone conversation with our still beloved Pope Emeritus. Maybe Pope Francis asked his predecessor for a few tips. Undoubtedly, the Pope Emeritus assured Pope Francis of his unceasing and fervent prayers for him and for the whole Church. This conversation was a most historic moment: a new pope speaking with his predecessor on the phone. And, just as the ending of Benedict’s papacy has its place in our great history, so too does the election of Pope Francis: the first non-European for 1000 years; the first ever from Latin America; the first Jesuit pope; the first Francis.
Francis. I really do think that’s a lovely choice of name. Firstly, we think of St. Francis of Assisi and his simplicity, humility and poverty. We know that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis lived a very simple life, choosing to live in a small apartment and use public transport. Such simplicity gave powerful credibility to the great concern he expressed for the poor in his homilies and speeches. He spoke against the unjust distribution of goods which creates a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers and sisters; our brothers and sisters for whom there must be created the conditions that protect their rights and allow them to build their own future. I believe we are blessed with a pope who will follow St. Francis’s sound advice: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” In fact, I understand he’s already demonstrated his commitment to justice as pope by going back to his hotel to pay the bill!
But we also think of St. Francis Xavier, one of the greatest saints of the Society of Jesus and renowned missionary. What will the mission of Pope Francis be? It will be the same mission of every pope, the same mission we hear Christ entrusting to St. Peter and the Apostles in the Gospels.
Allow me, however, to turn to our first reading at Mass this evening, so to explore a little further this mission of Pope Francis. It’s taken from the book of Exodus. The event described occurred during that wonderful journey of liberation experienced by the Israelites, when God led them out of servitude. Yet what did they do? They turned away from the living God who alone could guarantee them authentic freedom. Instead they turned to a god of their own fashioning.
The mission of Pope Francis is to lead us into an ever greater liberty by helping us to resist the attraction of the idols we create for ourselves; idols which end up enslaving us. He will encourage us to be faithful to God, living and true: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the one God fully revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the communion of Love in whom we are set free to be fully ourselves. Just like Pope Benedict, Pope Francis will, I’m sure, invite us to keep our gaze on Christ, to believe in him. He will ask us to entrust ourselves and the Church to Christ, sent by the Father to lead us to the Father. So too Pope Francis will invite us to be guided by the Holy Spirit as renewal of the Church within its continuity carries on. We ought not to be at all surprised when, in the tradition of his predecessors, Pope Francis speaks up for the most vulnerable, defending the dignity of human life from conception to natural end; nor when he champions the meaning and purpose God has established for our human sexuality, for marriage and family life.
The mission of Pope Francis is to challenge every person, each one of us, to respond generously to the call to personal holiness. Yet, I am sure he will do so with great compassion and with the gentleness of another great St. Francis, Francis de Sales. For Pope Francis is a sensitive pastor, willing “to listen, walk with people and understand” our weakness. Moses knew the great mercy of God. That’s why he knew God would hear his plea; and despite the terrible betrayal of God committed by the people with whom he walked, Moses knew God would not destroy them. Pope Francis has written: “Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord”. When we have turned away from God, the mission of Pope Francis is to enable us to permit ourselves to experience, “the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin.”
On the radio this morning I was asked if I was pleased personally with the appointment of this new pope. Was he ‘my kind of man?’ That is the wrong question! He is given to us as a great gift. We rejoice in receiving him into our hearts. My judgment about him doesn’t matter. Nor does the judgement of the media. As the Gospel tells us, only one judgement matters: that of the Lord himself. So as we joyfully thank God for his election, let us support Pope Francis with our unfailing prayer and our loving fidelity. Let us join our prayers to those of this man of profound prayer, who this morning went to pray before an icon of the Blessed Virgin in the Basilica of St. Mary Majors. Invoking the intercession of the Mother of the Church, let us pray that Pope Francis will be strong and faithful in the work God has given him to carry out, and that the exercise of his Petrine ministry will always be to the greater glory of God. Amen.



Argentina: priest issues statement on Pope Francis during junta years | Fr Franz Jalics SJ, Gemma Simmonds CJ, Buenos Aires,Archbishop Aramburu, Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis

Fr Franz Jalics SJ

Fr Franz Jalics SJ, the Hungarian-born Jesuit who was closely involved in the events in Argentina, about which the press have been so busy recently, has published his own account of what happened. Many thanks to Gemma Simmonds CJ for translating it from the German.
I had been living in Buenos Aires since 1957. In 1974, following a growing inner desire to live the Gospel and to draw attention to the terrible poverty, and with the permission of Archbishop Aramburu and the former provincial superior Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio, I went to live in a 'favela', a slum district of the city, together with a confrère. From there, we continued our teaching at the University.
In the circumstances of the time, similar to a civil war, approximately 30,000 people, left-wing guerrillas and innocent civilians, were killed by the military junta within one to two years. The two of us in the slum had contacts both with the junta and with the guerrillas. However, due to the lack of information at that time as well as through targeted misinformation our position also led to misunderstandings within the church. At this time, we lost contact with one of our lay colleagues as this person had joined the guerrillas.
Nine months later, after he was captured by the soldiers of the junta and interrogated, they learned that he was in contact with us. On the assumption that we were involved with the guerrillas, we were arrested. After a five-day interrogation, the officer who led the interrogation dismissed us with these words: "Fathers, you are not at fault. I will see to it that you can go back to the slums." Despite this promise, and inexplicably to us, we were subsequently held for five months, blindfolded and shackled in prison. I can take no position on the role of Fr Bergoglio in these events.
I left Argentina after our liberation. Only years later did we have a chance to discuss what had happened with Fr Bergoglio, who meanwhile had been appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires. We then celebrated Mass together publicly and embraced one another solemnly. I am reconciled with these events and personally consider them as over.
I wish Pope Francis God’s rich blessing for his Office.
P. Franz Jalics SJ
15 March 2013



A touch of Africa comes to Melton

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Words Bill Lucas
Pictures Fr Michael Moody
MELTON and surrounding districts are becoming home to an ever increasing number of families from South Sudan. Helping these new arrivals understand  and become part of the Australian way of life is a big job facing the municipal and religious authorities. Not only is finding suitable housing a headache for the Melton Council but finding work and other socialising activities for both men and women, who often have few or no English skills, is certainly no easy task.

One of the ways of helping newcomers integrate and find friends is for them to become involved in social activities which bring them into contact with the locals. The surrounding Churches have rallied to provide fellowship for all new arrivals by holding regular special church services in the various languages of South Sudan and incorporating the colourful songs and dances of that country.

We are especially lucky at St Dominic’s in Melton to have the services of one of the new deacons recently ordained in the Melbourne Archdiocese. George Piech Meat is a South Sudanese father of six who, although based in Dandenong, comes every two weeks to serve alongside Fr Michael Moody to minister to the growing number of South Sudanese in the parish. On Sunday the 13th of January St Dominic’s hosted our first Mass for this community and taking charge of proceedings was Deacon George. Starting at 1:30PM, or thereabouts, the Church was packed with smiling South Sudanese of all ages and the mood was set with the strains of the entrance hymn provided by the Sunshine South Sudanese choir.  Drums, tambourines and rhythmic singing had everyone joining in; even the few non Africans that came. One has to get used to the constant buzz of family activity that permeates the atmosphere of an African Mass but everyone participates in the prayers and singing.
Because the South Sudanese community comprises people from different tribes the ceremony was conducted in English and simple African Arabic which served to unite the congregation. Arabic and Dinka hymns were sung. Deacon George gave the homily in both Arabic and English and concentrated on exhorting everyone to become involved in the parish life.

After Mass we were treated to a traditional South Sudanese barbecue in Fr Michael’s house where there was a plentiful supply of meat and special Sudanese delicacies. Probably, many people went unrecognised because one of the barbecues was set up inside the enclosed pergola. After a half hour or so most people were outside leaving the smoke to itself. The spirit of fellowship was very enjoyable and everyone had a good time.

This mass will take place once a month on the second Sunday and Sudanese people from all the surrounding areas are invited to attend. As well as presiding at this monthly Mass, Deacon George comes to Melton every second Tuesday when he helps the local people with their problems and actively gets involved in promoting the participation of boys and girls in the various sporting groups in the parish. Of course basketball and soccer are very popular among the boys.

What we want to see now is an increase in the number of South Sudanese who regularly come to Mass on Sunday. Breaking down the barriers of language and the feeling of not fitting in will certainly  go a long way to help our Sudanese friends join in all of the parish activities and hopefully take leadership roles.


by Mathias Hariyadi
Fr Neles Tebay Pr receives the 2013 Peace Award given by the Korean Tji Haksoon Justice and Peace Foundation for his efforts in favour of dialogue between Indonesian authorities and Papuan separatist groups through the Papuan Peace Network. His dream is to see the parties sit down for real peace talks after decades of tensions and violence.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In light of his efforts in favour of dialogue between Indonesian authorities and pro-independence Papuan activists, Fr Neles Tebay received the 2013 Peace Award from the Seoul-based Korean Tji Haksoon Justice and Peace Foundation. He has no intention to stop "until real peace talks get underway".
The Indonesian priest, who is based in the Archdiocese of Jayapura (Papua) where he serves as the dean of the Fajar Timur High School of Philosophy and Theology, was recognised for his work in building peaceful channels of communication between the Indonesian government and separatist groups.
Working in cooperation with Protestant clergymen in the Papuan Peace Network (Jaringan Damai Papua or JDP), Fr Tebay, who is also a member of the Papuan Interfaith Forum for Religious Leaders, has nurtured hope for peace in the province.
He has done so by listening to the demands of pro-independence groups and building bridges with the central government, work that is crucial to prevent violence and a region-wide conflict in the resource-rich province.
Speaking to AsiaNews on the eve of his departure for Seoul for the award ceremony, Fr Tebay (pictured) said he would pursue his action until the dream of peace talks is realised.
"Tensions have persisted in the region for at least 50 years," he said with civilians paying the price. Still he is especially happy that his work is appreciated by international organisations as well as local groups.
In 2001, Indonesia granted Papua a high degree of autonomy. However, devolution has never been implemented and indigenous peoples continue to complain about unfair treatment.
Since Indonesia officially annexed in 1969 under strongman Sukarno (1967-1998) by taking advantage of temporary UN rules, the province has had to endure the invasion of foreign and Indonesian companies, sparking the rise of a separatist movement.
The current name of the province came into use in 2002 under then President Abdurrahman Wahid.


Isaiah 43: 16 - 21
16Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,
17who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
19Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
20The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,
21the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
Psalms 126: 1 - 6
1When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
3The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
4Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb!
5May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!
6He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. 
Philippians 3: 8 - 14
8Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ
9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith;
10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
13Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
John 8: 1 - 11

1but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.2Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst4they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?"6This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.7And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."8And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.9But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.10Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"11She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."