Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – The Mass of the Lord's Supper that Pope Francis will celebrate on Holy Thursday in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors (IPM) will be, by his express desire, very simple, as reported by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. Concelebrating with the Holy Father will be Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, and Fr. Gaetano Greco, chaplain of the Institute.
Around 10 girls and 40 boys will take part in the Mass. The Pope will wash the feet of 12 of them, who will be chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions. The youth will also say the readings and the prayers of the faithful.
After the Mass, the Pope will meet with the youth and the IPM's personnel in the Institute's gym. Around 150 persons are expected to attend, including the Minister for Justice, Paola Severino, accompanied by the Head of the Department of Justice for Minors, Caterina Chinnici, the Commander of the Institute's Penitentiary Police, Saulo Patrizi, and the Institute's director, Liana Giambartolomei.
The youth will give the Pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler, which they made themselves in the Institute's workshop. The Holy Father will bring Easter eggs and “colomba” (the traditional Italian Easter cake in the shape of a dove) for all.
Given the intimate nature of the pastoral visit, journalists will be restricted to the area outside the building and no live coverage will be transmitted.
Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis sent a telegram to the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in Rome, Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, with his greetings for the Jewish celebration of Pesach, or Passover, which began at sundown yesterday evening.
The Bishop of Rome thanked Rabbi Di Segni for his presence at the celebrations of the beginning of his pontificate and asked him to extend the pontiff's “best wishes for the great Feast of Pesach” to the entire Jewish community of Rome.
“May the Almighty, who freed his People from slavery in Egypt in order to lead them to the promised land, continue to deliver you from all evil and to accompany you with his blessing. I ask you to pray for me, while I assure you of my prayers for you, confident that we can deepen our ties of mutual esteem and friendship.”
The telegram was published on the home page of the Roman Jewish community's website, with the information that Rabbi Di Segni had been greatly pleased to receive the pontiff's greetings and that he will soon thank the Pope when it is his turn to send the Pope his best wishes for the upcoming Easter celebration.
Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – In their Easter message, the leaders of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem invite the faithful around the world to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, extending an ecumenical appeal to visit those churches and to “walk with the living stones of this land, following in the footsteps of the Risen Christ”. The text continues: “The Christian presence here, in the Mother City of our faith, remains a beacon of the light of the Risen Christ that the first disciples were witness to in front of the empty tomb.”
“We invite all people of faith and good will in the world, particularly those in positions of authority, to strive for justice and peace among nations. We especially pray for Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and all those places suffering political upheaval. We pray for all victims of violence and oppression, for prisoners, for those who live without security, fugitives, and refugees, especially those here in our land.”
The Christian leaders conclude by asking all those who cannot make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land “to sustain the people of this land in their prayers,” emphasizing that the Christina presence in the region continues to decline.
Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) - Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, issued a statement calling for the adoption of a treaty banning the transfer of arms when violations of humanitarian or human rights are taking place. The statement was read during the Final Conference of the UN's Arms Trade Treaty, which is taking place in New York until 28 March.
In his message, the archbishop urged “delegations to work together in a consensual manner in order to achieve a historic treaty to control the international trade in arms.” He recalled that, since the start of negotiations, the Holy See has called for “a strong, effective and credible Arms Trade Treaty which will have a real and lasting impact on all people longing to live in a more secure and safe world”.
The statement asserted that “the Holy See has stressed that a responsible international arms trading system should provide strong protections against the transfer of arms to countries where such arms are being used against civilian populations in violation of internationally agreed humanitarian and human rights laws. Further, the Holy See has urged delegations to reorient the regulation of the trade in arms from one which is controlled through the lens of sheer economic interests to one which places overriding importance on human concerns and protecting human life and families.”


Thousands from all over the world in procession from the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem. For the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Palm Sunday is the rejection of all violence. Number of pilgrims doubled compared to 2012.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - " Today, our procession is one of salvation, the Lord himself is our salvation. Jesus, the King of Peace, came to Jerusalem, a city that has never known peace", said Msgr. Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem pointing out the significance of Palm Sunday celebrated this year in front of over 35 thousand faithful from all over the world. In his homily, the prelate encouraged all present to pray for the Holy Land so that this feast may represent "the rejection of all violence" and invited everyone to "let the Lord enter our hearts and our lives, to heal our wounds and our divisions, to strengthen us in our weakness and give us the courage to persevere in the midst of trials."
Last year, the Israeli police counted 15,000 people. This year, 35,000 olive branches and woven palms were displayed and raised on the procession from Bethphage through the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem, with an imposing security system both in the air and on the ground. Despite the shift of the Easter dates in the Diocese and the number of permits (6,000 this year - only half compared to last year) issued to Palestinians by the Israeli authorities,  the crowd was dense.  Banners were held high by some parishioners, with the names of the Latin Patriarchate Parishes: Aboud, Ramallah, Jifna, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Nablus.
From the Church of Bethphage (where Jesus mounted the donkey), the faithful began marching in droves and with joy to cries of "Hosanna."  The sun shone brightly upon this show of music and color; an international dance of drums, guitars, languages and fervor, with many wearing native Palestinian clothing.
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal walked at the back of the procession with the Franciscans and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, alongside some heads of the other Catholic Churches of the Holy Land and the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto who is also the Apostolic Delegate for the Palestinian Territories.
On Palm Sunday morning, the Patriarch presided over the Procession with Palms and the Pontifical Mass at the Altar of St. Mary Magdalene at the Holy Sepulchre. The previous night, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, celebrated the Vigil of Palm Sunday in the Chapel of the Apparition and the Holy Mass at Calvary.  
This year only the Catholic areas of Bethlehem and Jerusalem celebrate Easter according to the Gregorian calendar. Most of the Catholic communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Cyprus in fact follow the Julian calendar and begin Holy Week with the Orthodox Christians in the first week of May. The unification of the dates of Easter was announced on 15 October 2012 by the bishops of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, where it was established that within two years all the Catholics of the diocese of the Latin Rite and the various Eastern rites will celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar. (C. L.)



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
25 Mar 2013
Syria burns forcing hundreds of thousands flee
Caritas Internationalis, the aid and development arm of the Catholic Church is struggling to cope with millions of people displaced by Syria's two year conflict and in desperate need of help.
The Syrian uprising began on 15 March 2011 as part of the "Arab Spring" sweeping the middle east at the time with demonstrations calling for democracy and the resignation of President Bashar Al-Assad and his Ba'ath party government.  Instead of winning democracy and freedom, the conflict became a bitter all out civil-war with rebel  fighters joined by foreign-funded militias whose agenda was not democracy or freedom for Syria but an Islamic state under strict Sharia law.
In the past two years 70,000 Syrians have been killed with 4 million displaced and homeless in cities and towns across the once beautiful but now battle-scarred nation. A further 1 million men, women and children who were forced to flee the increasingly bloody civil war have lost everything and are now battling to survive in over-crowded refugee camps on the borders of neighbouring countries of Turkey and Jordan.
Syrian civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence in the nation's two year bloody civil war
In the Lebanon, where there are no refugee camps the more than 336,000 mainly women and children are being supported in temporary accommodation, with host families or in rented flats or apartments. Caritas Lebanon helps provide these families with food assistance, blankets, hygiene kits, shelter, water and sanitation as well as mental and physical health assistance.
"In terms of challenges, education and health assistance are among the most pressing need as many Syrian children in the Lebanon, the camps of Turkey and Jordan as well as inside Syria are not attending school," says CEO of Caritas Australia Jack de Groot.
He also points out that violence against Syrian women in the camps as well as Syria itself remains high and this is also an area where Caritas is responding and doing what it can to prevent this.
"But there are many tensions in the host countries to the ever growing number of Syrian refugees and the situation for these already traumatised men, women and children continues to deteriorate," Jack de Groot says.
Misery of Jordan camp too much for some who are returning t o Syria
Speaking on behalf of Caritas Australia he has issued an urgent call for more to be done to contain this escalating violence and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria and in the camps and border areas of the surrounding countries. While the world's emergency relief agencies such as the UN, Red Cross and Caritas Internationalis' are doing all they can, far more is needed to alleviate the situation and bring hope to those who have had to flee or who find themselves homeless and with nowhere to go.
"Caritas and other international aid agencies are struggling to keep pace with the need on the ground," says Jack de Groot and Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI 's impassioned plea to the world's governments to help the people of Syria. Speaking in January this year, a few weeks before the frail 86-year-old Holy Father announced he would be stepping down as Pontiff, he called for a ceasefire  to the fighting in Syria, stating, civil and political authorities had a "grave responsibility" to work for peace in Syria which has been "torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian populations."
Cities, homes, livelihoods destroyed as Syria self destructs
Currently there are an estimated 420,000 Syrians in Jordan. Most are in camps and receiving some assistance but the numbers needing help is overwhelming, Mr de Groot says.  A further 75,000 Syrians are receiving assistance outside the camps alongwith food, shelter, medical services and protection, the agency is also setting up schools for the children.
In Turkey there are around 300,000 Syrian refugees with Caritas Turkey issuing an urgent Emergency appeal. This appeal is being supported by Caritas Australia and of the funds raised by this year's Project Compassion a proportion will go to emergency relief, particularly in areas such as Turkey where refugees need medical help as well as food, clothing and the basic living essentials.
Caritas Lebanon is working tirelessly to provide clothing, blankets and tarpaulins for thousands of Syrian families and individuals who have fled across the border while in war-torn Syria itself, Caritas emergency relief teams remain on the ground helping people in every way they can.
Homeless and terrified, Syrian civilians flee across the border to overcrowded refugee camps
Operating in six regions across the country, Caritas teams are finding that many of the towns and cities where they are providing help have been badly damaged by the ongoing fighting along with the continuing air and missile attacks. Infrastructure has been destroyed, businesses closed and empty and food is scarce.
The immense scale of the unfolding tragedy is difficult to comprehend. So too is the damage inflicted on one of the oldest of the world's civilisations and the historic townships that date to the cradle of Christianity and St Paul's epiphany on the Road to Damascus.
To find out more about the desperate plight of Syria's civilian population and to donate to Project Compassion, Caritas Australia's annual Lenten appeal, log on to www.caritas.org.au

Mother waits with small child in Lebanon for help with food and shelter
Children have had to flee homes and all they know for precarious life as refugees



Prays that the Supreme Court uphold Proposition 8 and DOMA
Marriage is rooted in the reality that men and women are different
Many support marriage

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, will participate in the March for Marriage in Washington, March 26, by leading the marchers in prayer. Thousands of people from across the country are expected to gather in the nation’s capital to march peacefully to the United States Supreme Court to show their support for marriage.

The march occurs as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, the first of two marriage cases before it. Tomorrow, March 27, the Court will hear oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“It is truly inspiring to know that so many people from so many walks of life, including many young people, are expressing their support for marriage,” Archbishop Cordileone said about the march.

 “It is my hope and prayer that the Supreme Court will uphold Proposition 8 and DOMA, respecting the very nature of the human person and the nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Archbishop Cordileone said. 

“Every person has a mother and a father. Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to children born of their union,” he added. “The intrinsic dignity of every human being must be affirmed, but this is not realized by redefining marriage to mean simply the public recognition of certain emotional bonds among adults. Marriage is rooted in the natural reality that men and women are different, and thereby complementary, and that children deserve both a mother and a father. Respecting this truth benefits everyone.”

California’s Proposition 8 defines marriage in California’s constitution as the union of one man and one woman. In 2008, California voters approved the proposition, with more than 7 million voting in favor. Subsequently, Proposition 8 was found unconstitutional by lower federal courts. DOMA defines marriage for purposes of federal law as the union of one man and one woman. In 1996, DOMA was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA has been found unconstitutional by some lower federal courts.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on Proposition 8 and a decision on DOMA by the end of June. If the Court overturns either, the result would be adverse to the institution of marriage and to the family and could effectively result in marriage being redefined throughout the country.
More information is available at www.marriagemarch.org/. . . .


Agenzia Fides REPORT- Among the sugar cane plantations, 70 kilometers east of Santo Domingo, Haitians and Dominicans survive thanks to humanitarian aid that covers most of the local population. 10% of the population of the Dominican Republic live in extreme poverty in the batey, villages built with recycled materials in the midst of sugar cane plantations, also inhabited by Haitian workers with their families. In 16 of the provinces of San Pedro de Macoris and La Altagracia, in the east, and Bahoruco, in the southwest, in the last four years more than 10 000 people have benefited from a joint aid program between the humanitarian organization Save the Children and Mujeres en Desarrollo Dominican (MUDE).
The objective of the initiative is to improve the living conditions in bateye from a health, education, hygiene and housing point of view. In total, according to the data, 776 homes have been built for 3,100 people, 524 latrines for 550 families, and 13 schools for 1,300 children. The program was also supported by various state institutions that have given land to build community centers, which in turn will serve as emergency shelters, latrines, houses and orchards. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 26/03/013)



South Sudan: Church mourns heroic Bishop | South Sudan, Bishop Johnson Akio Mutek,  Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul, Torit, Sudan

Bishop Akio in 2009 - image ACN
Tributes have been paid to a Sudanese bishop who survived a dozen or more death threats while serving a people who suffered so much during the country's long and bloody civil war. Bishop Johnson Akio Mutek was laid to rest on Friday (22 March) in his Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul, Torit, a building devastated by ongoing bombing of the area during Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war.
Years of strain helping his people survive sustained military assault inevitably weakened the bishop's health and last Monday (18 March), after two kidney transplants in India, Bishop Akio died suddenly in Nairobi, Kenya. He was only 55.
In a message sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur of Khartoum, Sudan, said: "We are really saddened by the death of Bishop Akio. May the compassionate and merciful Lord reward him for his pastoral endeavours and receive him into his eternal peace."
Ordained priest in December 1988, Fr Akio served in Torit during the height of the aerial bombardment mounted by the Islamist regime in Khartoum, which systematically reduced the region to rubble.
At one point, Khartoum forces occupied the region, forcibly converting people to Islam, outlawing the local language in favour of Arabic and snatching children away for training as child soldiers.
Fr Akio worked alongside Bishop Paride Taban of Torit, often ministering to people behind enemy lines and helping evacuate them to safe areas away from the Antonov bombers. The bishop's own home was reportedly bombed more than 70 times within three weeks.
His responsibility for leading the people through war increased aged 40 when he became Auxiliary Bishop of Torit in May 1998. He took over control of the diocese nine years later.
In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Akio recalled the civil war, saying: "The people's anger welled up over many years and was constantly renewed by new experiences of pain and anguish."
The bishop pointed to a scar on his forehead, one of many assassination attempts.
Archbishop Paulino Lokurdu Loro of neighbouring Juba, marked the 25th anniversary of Torit diocese in December 2008 saying it was the area most affected by violence during Sudan's civil war.
Torit became part of South Sudan when the January 9 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between the Khartoum regime and southern-based rebels the Sudanese People's Liberation Army.
Bishop Akio was charged with rebuilding Torit diocese which was virtually razed to the ground – the cathedral, bishop's house and curial buildings were all in ruins. Until this point Torit was cut off from the outside world and in July 2009 staff from Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need made a long-awaited visit to Torit diocese where they were hosted by Bishop Akio.
Recalling the visit, Aid to the Church in Need's John Pontifex said: "Arriving in Bishop Akio's diocese, I was shocked by the scale of the devastation, unlike anything I had seen before. Barely one stone was left standing on another. The Catholic Church – with Bishop Akio as its shepherd – was charged with literally and metaphorically rebuilding the diocese from the ground up.
"It was a truly daunting task, with virtually no infrastructure available, but while others were downcast and fearful for the future, Bishop Akio was full of plans for the future. My strongest memory of him involves a visit to St Therese's Primary School in Torit where the children were tired from waiting. But the bishop soon turned their sadness into tears of joy by jumping onto a tree stump and singing a local chant with the refrain 'Jesus, Number One'."
Source: ACN


John 13: 21 - 33, 36 - 38

21When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me."22The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.23One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus;24so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom he speaks."25So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, "Lord, who is it?"26Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.27Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly."28Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.29Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor.30So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.31When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified;32if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.33Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.'36Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward."37Peter said to him, "Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."38Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.


St. Margaret Clitherow
Feast: March 26

Feast Day:March 26
Born:1556 as Margaret Middleton at York, England
Died:25 March 1586 at York, England
Canonized:25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI
Major Shrine:The Shambles, York
Patron of:businesswomen, converts,  martyrs
Margaret Clitherow, born in Yorkshire, England, was the wife  of John Clitherow, whose family was Catholic, although he had taken on the state religion of England long before he married. Two or three years after her marriage, Margaret became a Catholic. Her home became a stopping-off place for  priests, and Mass was offered secretly there.
Her husband went along with her interests, even when she sent their oldest son to Douai, in France, to be educated. Not only was she devout, she was also a zealous promoter of the faith, converting others and bringing back backsliders to the practice of their religion. Meanwhile, the laws against the Catholic faith became more harsh, and the. government was determined that Catholicism should be stamped out in Yorkshire where it was especially strong.
Everyone loved St. Margaret Clitherow, and even her servants  knew that she hid fugitive priests, but no one betrayed her. She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church with him. Her husband was summoned by the authorities to explain why his oldest son had gone abroad, and the Clitherow house was searched. A Flemish boy, from fear, revealed the hiding place of the priests where chalices and vestments were kept. Margaret was arrested along with a neighboring housewife who had attended Mass at the Clitherow home. Margaret's only concern was that her family was safe.
She was brought to trial and would not plead, her only statement being, "Having made no offense, I need no trial." If she had been tried, her family would have been called as witnesses against her, and she was determined that this would not happen. Reluctantly, the judge sentenced her to be "pressed to death," a bizarre death sentence in which the condemned was placed under a door (or similar object) and rocks piled on the door until the person was crushed to death.
Margaret died on March 25, 1586, her last words being, "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!" She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970.

source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/M/stmargaretclitherow.asp#ixzz1qDmFBAx3