Friday, March 22, 2013


Vatican Radio REPORT Pope Francis received the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on Friday in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The work of the Church with the poor, the indispensable role of religion in favour of integral human development, and the need to defeat the “dictatorship of relativism” that is the spiritual poverty of our age, were among the themes of Pope Francis’ discourse. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks to the representatives of the more than 180 countries, sovereign orders and international organisations with which the Holy See has formal diplomatic relations.


Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Heartfelt thanks to your Dean, Ambassador Jean-Claude Michel, for the kind words that he has addressed to me in the name of everyone present. It gives me joy to welcome you for this exchange of greetings: a simple yet deeply felt ceremony, that somehow seeks to express the Pope’s embrace of the world. Through you, indeed, I encounter your peoples, and thus in a sense I can reach out to every one of your fellow citizens, with their joys, their troubles, their expectations, their desires.
Your presence here in such numbers is a sign that the relations between your countries and the Holy See are fruitful, that they are truly a source of benefit to mankind. That, indeed, is what matters to the Holy See: the good of every person upon this earth! And it is with this understanding that the Bishop of Rome embarks upon his ministry, in the knowledge that he can count on the friendship and affection of the countries you represent, and in the certainty that you share this objective. At the same time, I hope that it will also be an opportunity to begin a journey with those few countries that do not yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, some of which were present at the Mass for the beginning of my ministry, or sent messages as a sign of their closeness – for which I am truly grateful.
As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.
But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.
One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is Pontiff, that is, a builder of bridges with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity.
In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.
Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment.

Dear Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you again for all the work that you do, alongside the Secretariat of State, to build peace and construct bridges of friendship and fraternity. Through you, I would like to renew to your Governments my thanks for their participation in the celebrations on the occasion of my election, and my heartfelt desire for a fruitful common endeavour. May Almighty God pour out his gifts on each one of you, on your families and on the peoples that you represent. Thank you!



John 10: 31 - 42
31The Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?"
33The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God."
34Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, `I said, you are gods'?
35If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken),
36do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,' because I said, `I am the Son of God'?
37If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;
38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
39Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
40He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there he remained.
41And many came to him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true."
42And many believed in him there.



USCCB Says Administration Mandate Violates First Amendment Freedoms Of Religious Organizations And Others

March 20, 2013
WASHINGTON— The general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the current proposed revisions of the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate are “an unprecedented …violation of religious liberty by the federal government” and must be changed. 
The statement is in comments filed March 20 regarding the mandate, which requires most health plans in the United States to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and related education and counseling.
The comments, made on the USCCB’s behalf by Anthony R. Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary and general counsel, and Michael F. Moses, associate general counsel, note a number of continuing problems with the regulations, which had been the subject of earlier rulemaking and comment by the USCCB. The comments state:

First, like earlier iterations of the regulation, the latest proposal requires coverage of items and procedures that, unlike other mandated “preventive services,” do not prevent disease. Instead, they are associated with an increased risk of adverse health outcomes, including conditions that other “preventive services” are designed to prevent.

Second, no exemption or accommodation is available at all for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage. Virtually all Americans who enroll in a health plan will ultimately be required to have contraceptive coverage for themselves and their dependents, whether they want it or not.

 Third, although the definition of an exempt “religious employer” has been revised to eliminate some of the intrusive and constitutionally improper government inquiries into religious teaching and beliefs that were inherent in an earlier definition, the current proposal continues to define “religious employer” in a way that, by the government’s own admission, excludes (and therefore subjects to the mandate) a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious. Generally the nonprofit religious organizations that fall on the “non-exempt” side of this religious gerrymander include those organizations that contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services.

Fourth, the Administration has offered what it calls an “accommodation” for nonprofit religious organizations that fall outside its narrow definition of “religious employer.” The “accommodation” is based on a number of questionable factual assumptions. Even if all of those assumptions were sound, the “accommodation” still requires the objecting religious organization to fund or otherwise facilitate the morally objectionable coverage.

 Fifth, the mandate continues to represent an unprecedented (and now sustained) violation of religious liberty by the federal government. As applied to individuals and organizations with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage, the mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“We are willing, now as always, to work with the Administration to reach a just and lawful resolution of these issues. In the meantime, along with others, we will continue to look for resolution of these issues in Congress and in the courts,” Picarello and Moses write.

The full text of the comments is available at 



Palm Sunday Melbourne Passion Play

Friday 22 March 2013
NOW in its 17th year, the Melbourne Passion Play has become an Easter tradition for many families. It was founded by Pat La Manna, who first staged the play in Rosebud in 1997.

This year the Passion Play will be held at Ruffey Lake Park in Doncaster.

The large cast of 70 is made up entirely by volunteers. The Passion Play is interactive, with the audience also invited to participate in crowd scenes, such as Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem and when he is later condemned to death by Pontius Pilate.

Two performances of the Passion Play will be held this year –  one on Palm Sunday, 24 March, at 1.30pm and the second on Good Friday, 29 March at 10am.
Entry is free.

Patrons are asked to enter the park via Church Road from King Street, Doncaster. From here you will be directed to where the first scene of the play will be staged. The audience will then progressively move to other parkland settings as the story unfolds.

The play is staged outdoors, so audience members are advised to prepare for sunny or inclement weather.

Ruffey Lake Park in Docaster this Sunday




KIGALI, March 19, 2013 (CISA) -Democratic Republic of Congo, M23 rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, who was indicted on war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), turned himself in at the United States Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda on Monday March 18.
The announcement was made by Rwanda’s Foreign minister: “We have just learned that General Ntaganda presented himself at the US Embassy early this morning”. US authorities have released no confirmation so far.
Ntaganda, known as the ‘The Terminator’, was indicted by the Hague based court for conscripting and using child soldiers, murder, ethnic-based persecution and rape in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In November 2008, TV footage showed his men of the CNDP (National Congress for the Defence of the People) in the Kiwanja village, 90km north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, where some 150 civilians were killed in a single day.
Ntaganda integrated into the Congolese army in 2009, but defected last April accusing Kinshasa authorities of failing to respect accords.
The Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende has expressed certainty  that Ntaganda was among the rebels that in the past days have crossed over the border into Rwanda following the internal division of the M23 (March 23 Movement) and victory of the ‘moderate’ branch of the movement headed by Sultani Makenga.
Kigali and Kampala are accused of providing military, political and logistic support to the rebels active in DR-Congo, despite being part of the mediation for peace negotiations.
According to MISNA, his capture could mark an important step in the complicated peace process in the strife-ridden Kivu region.



Jesuit stresses Fr Bergoglio did not betray priests during junta years | Junta, Argentina, Fr Bergoglio, Franz Jalics SJ,Orlando Yorio

Father Franz Jalics SJ
In the wake of media reports suggesting that when he was bishop in Argentina, during the dictatorship, Pope Francis handed over two priests to the authorities, one of those priests, Father Franz Jalics SJ has firmly repeated his rejection of the story.
He writes: 'Since my statement on 15 March of this year I have received many questions, and this is why I would like to add the following. I feel almost obliged to do so because some commentaries have given the opposite interpretation of what I meant.
'The facts are this: Orlando Yorio and I were not denounced to the authorities by Fr Bergoglio.
'As I made clear in my earlier statement, we were arrested because of a female Catechist who originally worked with us and who later joined the guerilla (due to a faulty translation she was referred to in the previous statement as a man). We did not see her for nine months. Two or three days after her arrest we were subsequently arrested. The officer who interrogated me asked for my documents. When he saw that I was born in Budapest he mistook me for a Russian spy.
'In the Argentine Province of the Jesuits and in church circles incorrect information had been disseminated in the years previously, saying that we had moved into the slums because we belonged to the guerrillas. But that was not the case. My guess is that these rumours are the reason why we were not released.
'Previously I tended to the view that we were victims of a denunciation.  At the end of the 1990s, after many discussions, it became clear to me that this assumption was unfounded.
'It is therefore wrong to claim that our capture came about at the instigation of Fr Bergoglio.'
Franz Jalics SJ


Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, moderate Koranic professor, was a supporter of Assad. He was killed during a religious lesson along with his grandson. The opposition rejects all responsibility. But suspicions point to jihadists.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 42 people have been killed in a suicide attack on the Iman mosque in the center of Damascus. Among the victims was a leading Sunni figure Dr. Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti (see photo), a supporter of the Assad regime, and his grandson. Another 84 were injured. Al Bouti, 84, was killed as he was holding Koran lessons with his students.

In Syria, the majority of the population is Sunni Muslim, with a good presence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the 80s these radical groups were prosecuted and often eliminated by Hafez el Assad. Al Bouti, a Sunni moderate, supported the policy of Assad and even sung the Koranic prayers during the funeral of his Bashar's father, Hafez, in 2000.

At the announcement of his death, Syrian television aired music and prayers as a sign of mourning. Suspicions over responsibility for his assassination fall on the opposition rebels. Al Bouti, who had plenty of space in the state media, often asked Muslims to support the Assad government and declared oponents as "mercenaries" and "scum."

His fame and the esteem he enjoyed, however, throws a bad light on the opposition. A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army has declined any responsibility for the attack. The President of the Syrian opposition, Ahmed Al-Khati Moaz said that the opposition "categorically condemns the murder."

But suspicions remain on the jihadist fringes fighting in the country.

The Syrian opposition is often confused and divided in its allegations against the regime, to which it has attributed massacres, or criminal actions. A few days ago the opposition accused the army of using chemical weapons against civilians in Aleppo. The regime in turn blamed the opposition.

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, condemned the use of chemical weapons and has promised an international inquiry, but many quarters say it will be very difficult to come to any conclusion.



Blessed Clemens August von Galen
Feast: March 22

Feast Day:March 22
Born:16 March 1878 at Dinklage Castle, Lower Saxony, Germany
Died:22 March 1946 at Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Beatification:9 October 2005, Saint Peter's Plaza, Vatican, by Pope Benedict XVI
Clemens August von Galen was born on 16 March 1878 in Dinklage Castle, Oldenburg, Germany, the 11th of 13 children born to Count Ferdinand Heribert and Elisabeth von Spee.
His father belonged to the noble family of Westphalia, who since 1660 governed the village of Dinklage. For over two centuries his ancestors carried out the inherited office of camerlengo of the Diocese of Münster.
Clemens August grew up in Dinklage Castle and in other family seats. Due to the struggle between Church and State, he and his brothers were sent to a school run by the Jesuits in Feldkirch, Austria.
He remained there until 1894, when he transferred to the Antonianum in Vechta. After graduation, he studied philosophy and theology in Frebur, Innsbruck and Münster, and was ordained a priest on 28 May 1904 for the Diocese of Munster by Bishop Hermann Dingelstadt.