Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – The Resurrection, the heart of the Christian message, and the two ways it is announced—profession of faith and narration—were the themes with which Pope Francis returned to the catechesis for the Year of Faith in this morning's general audience.
As is becoming his custom, the Holy Father travelled around St. Peter's Square in the white, open-top Jeep to greet the dozens of thousands of people who want to meet him, many of whom put their babies forward so he can take them in his arms. After his warm greeting of the faithful, the Pope prayed with those present and, after giving them a “good morning!”, he began his catechesis with the quote of the celebrated passage of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain”.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “there have often been attempts to obscure the faith in Jesus' Resurrection and doubts have crept in even among believers themselves. Our faith is 'watered down', we might say; not strong faith. Sometimes this has been because of superficiality, sometimes because of indifference, because we are busy with thousands of other things that seem more important than our faith, or even because we have a limited view of life. But it is precisely the Resurrection that offers us the greatest hope because it opens our lives and the life of the world to God's eternal future, to complete happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, and death can be conquered. This leads us to living our everyday lives more confidently, to facing them courageously and committedly. Christ's Resurrection shines new light on our everyday realities. Christ's Resurrection is our strength!”
Moving on to explain the two ways that the truth of the Resurrection is shared in the New Testament, Francis spoke first of professions of faith, that is, of the concise formulas expressing the core of the faith. Such examples can be found in the Letter to the Corinthians or the Letter to the Romans in which St. Paul writes: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). From the Church's first steps, her faith in the Mystery of Jesus' Death and Resurrection has been steadfast and clear.”
However, the Pope preferred to emphasize the witness that takes the form of a story, recalling above all that, in these types of testimonials, women are the first witnesses. They are the ones who, at dawn, go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and find the first sign: the empty tomb. They then encounter the divine messenger who tells them: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, is not here. He is risen.
“The women,” he attested, “are compelled by love and know how to welcome this announcement with faith. They believe and immediately they share [the announcement]. They don't keep it for themselves but convey it. They can't contain the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills their hearts. This should also happen in our lives. We should feel the joy of being Christians! We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! We must have the courage to 'go out' to bring this joy and this light to all the areas of our lives. Christ's Resurrection is our greatest certainty. It is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this certainty, with others? It is not just for us: it is to be proclaimed; to be given to others; to be shared with others. This is precisely our witness.”
Francis noted another element of the profession of faith in the New Testament: that only men are recorded as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles but no women. “This is because,” he explained, “according to Jewish law of the time, women and children couldn't give reliable, credible witness. In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. We can see here an argument in favour of the historical actuality of the Resurrection. If it had been made up, in the context of the time, it would not have been connected to the testimonials of women. The evangelists instead simply narrate what had happened: the women were the first witnesses. This says that God's choices are not made in accordance with human criteria. The first witnesses of Jesus' birth are the shepherds, simple and humble people. The first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful. And this is a bit the mission of women, of mothers and women: witnessing to their children and their grandchildren that Jesus is alive. He is the Living One. He is the Risen One. Mothers and women, go forward with this witness! For God, what counts is our hearts.”
“This also leads us to reflect on how women, in the Church and in the journey of faith, have had and still today have a unique role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and conveying his face, because seeing with faith always takes love's gaze, which is simple and profound. It is more difficult for the Apostles and disciples to believe: not for the women. Peter runs to the tomb, but stops before the empty tomb. Thomas has to touch the wounds on Jesus' body with his own hands. Even in our faith journeys it is important to know and to feel that God loves us; not to be afraid to love him: faith is professed with the mouth and with the heart, with words and with love.”
The Holy Father recalled that, after the apparitions to the women, there were others in which Jesus made himself present in a new way. “He is the Crucified One but his body is glorious. He did not return to his earthly life, but rather in a new condition. At first they don't recognize him and only through his words and his deeds are their eyes opened. Encountering the Risen One transforms them, gives new strength to their faith, an unshakeable foundation. For us too, there are many signs by which the Risen One makes himself known: Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, charity, these gestures of love bring a ray of the Risen One. Let us be enlightened by Christ's Resurrection and transformed by its power so that, through us too, the signs of death might give way to signs of life in the world.”
At the end, seeing that there were many young persons in the square, the Pope addressed them: “Take this certainty to all, the lord is alive and walks beside us in our lives. This is your mission. Take this hope forward with you. Be anchored to this hope, this anchor that is heaven. Hold tight to the lifeline. Be anchored and carry this hope forward. You, witnesses of Jesus, carry forward the testimony that Jesus is alive and that this will give us hope; it will bring hope to this world that has grown a bit old because of wars, evil, and sin. Young people, go forward!
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – Following is the calendar of celebrations scheduled to be presided over by the Holy Father in the months of April and May, 2013.
7 April, Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday: 5:30pm, Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran for the Bishop of Rome to take possession of the Roman cathedra.
14 April, Sunday:5:30pm, Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls
21 April, Sunday:9:30am, Mass and priestly ordinations in St. Peter's Basilica.
28 April, Sunday:10:00am, Mass and confirmations in St. Peter's Square.
4 May, Saturday:6:00pm, Recitation of the Rosary in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
5 May, Sunday:10:00am, Mass for Confraternities in St. Peter's Square.
12 May, Sunday:9:30am, Mass and canonizations of Blesseds Antonio Primaldo and Companions; Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui; and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala.
18 May, Saturday:6:00pm, Pentecost Vigil in St. Peter's Square with the participation of ecclesial movements.
19 May, Pentecost Sunday: 10:00am, Mass in St. Peter's Square with the participation of ecclesial movements.
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – On the eighth anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II yesterday, Pope Francis visited his tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. The Holy Father—accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, his personal secretary—prayed for a long while before Blessed John Paul II's tomb in the St. Sebastian Chapel and then also stopped at the tombs of Blessed John XXIII and St. Pius X.
“Like his visit to the tomb of St. Peter and the Vatican Grottoes,” reads a note from the Press Office of the Holy See, “this afternoon's visit to the Basilica expresses the profound spiritual continuity of the Petrine Ministry of the Popes that Francis lives and feels intensely. This is also evident in the meeting and the frequent phone calls with his predecessor, Benedict XVI.”
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – This past Monday afternoon, 1 April, the Pope visited the tomb of St. Peter, which is located in the necropolis under the Vatican Basilica. He stayed to pray in the Clementine Chapel (Chapel of St. Peter), the closest place to the burial of the first Apostle, which is found directly under the Basilica's central altar and the cupola.
The Holy Father travelled the main street of the necropolis accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, secretary of the Fabric of St. Peter, and Pietro Zanander and Mario Bosco, directors of the necropolis. Afterwards, the Pope went to the Vatican Grottoes to pay homage at the tombs of the Popes of the last century who are buried there: Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul I.
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – On the occasion of the celebration yesterday, 2 April, of the Sixth World Autism Awareness Day, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, published the following message:
“Dearest brothers and sisters, on the occasion of the Sixth World Autism Awareness Day, which this year takes place during the liturgical period of the Easter festivities, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers intends to express the solicitude of the Church for autistic people and their families, inviting Christian communities and people of good will to express authentic solidarity towards them.”
“I would like to take as a point of departure for my reflections the approach of Jesus who drew near to, and walked with, the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). The look marked by loss, and even more by amazement, that shaped the steps of Cleopas and Simon could be a similar expression to—and equally similarly be found within—that which marks the faces and the hearts of parents who have a son or a daughter with autism.”
“Autism: this is a word that still generates fear today even though in very many cultures which traditionally excluded handicaps the ‘diversely able’ have begun to be accepted socially, and many of the prejudices that have surrounded people with disabilities and even their parents have begun to be dismantled. To define someone as autistic seems automatically to involve a negative judgement about those who are afflicted by it, and, implicitly, a sentence involving a definitive distancing from society. On the other hand, the person concerned seems to be unable to communicate in a productive way with other people, at times as though shut up in a ‘glass bell’, in his or her impenetrable, but for us wonderful, interior universe.”
“This is a ‘typical and stereotyped’ image of the autistic child which requires profound revision. Ever since her birth, as a guiding theme, the Church has always expressed her care for this aspect of medicine through practical testimonies at a universal level. Above all else, this is witness to Love beyond stigma, that social stigma that isolates a sick person and makes him or her feel an extraneous body. I am referring to that sense of loneliness that is often narrated within modern society but which becomes even more present in modern health care which is perfect in its ‘technical aspects’ but increasingly deprived of, and not attentive to, that affective dimension which should, instead, be the defining aspect of every therapeutic act or pathway.”
“Faced with the problems and the difficulties that these children and their parents encounter, the Church with humility proposes the way of service to the suffering brother, accompanying him with compassion and tenderness on his tortuous human and psycho-relational journey, and taking advantage of the help of parishes, of associations, of Church movements and of men and women of good will.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, setting oneself to listen must necessarily be accompanied by an authentic fraternal solidarity. There should never fail to be global care for the ‘frail’ person, as a person with autism can be: this takes concrete form with that sense of nearness that every worker, each according to his or her role, must know how to transmit to the sick person and his or her family, not making that person feel a number but making real the situation of a shared journey that is made up of deeds, of attitudes and of words—perhaps not dramatic ones but ones that suggest a daily life that is nearer to normality. This means listening to the imperious exhortation that we should not lose sight of the person in his or her totality: no procedure, however perfect it may be, can be ‘effective’ if it is deprived of the ‘salt’ of Love, of that Love that each one of these sick people, if looked at in their eyes, asks of you. Their smile, the serenity of a family that sees its loved one at the centre of the complex organisation that each one of us, by our specific tasks, is called to manage for his or her life, and perceived and achieved sharing: this is the best ‘outcome’ that will enrich us.”
“In practice, this is a matter of welcoming autistic children in the various sectors of social, educational, catechistic and liturgical activity in a way that corresponds and is proportionate to their capacity for relationships. Such solidarity, for those who have received the gift of Faith, becomes a loving presence and compassionate nearness for those who suffer, following the example and in imitation of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan who by his passion, death and resurrection redeemed humanity.”
“The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, during the Year of Faith, wishes to share with people who suffer because of autism the hope and certainty that adherence to Love enables us to recognise the Risen Christ every time that he makes himself our neighbour on the journey of life. Let what John Paul II, in whose intercession we trust and the eighth anniversary of whose return to the house of the Father we remember specifically today, be a reference point for us: ‘The quality of life in a community is measured largely by its commitment to assist the weaker and needier members with respect for their dignity as men and women. The world of rights cannot only be the prerogative of the healthy. People with disabilities must also be enabled to participate in social life as far as they can, and helped to fulfil all their physical, psychological and spiritual potential. Only by recognizing the rights of its weakest members can a society claim to be founded on law and justice’ (John Paul II, Message on the Occasion of the International Symposium on the Dignity and Rights of the Mentally Disabled Person, 7-9 January 2004, n. 3).”
“May what the Holy Father Francis observed during the first days of his papacy—expressing his nearness to the sick and the suffering—be constant light: ‘we must keep the thirst for the absolute alive in the world, not allowing a one-dimensional vision of the human person to prevail, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and to what he consumes: this is one of the most dangerous snares of our time’!”
“While I hope for the cooperation of everyone in a choral and compassionate answer to the numerous needs that come to us from our brothers and sisters with autism and their families, I entrust the sufferings, the joys and the hopes of these people to the mediation of Mary, Mother of Christ and ‘Health of the Sick’ who, at the foot of the Cross, taught us to pause beside all the crosses of contemporary Man (cf. “Salvifici Doloris”, n. 31).”
“To people with autism, to their families and to all those who are involved in their service, while confirming my nearness and prayer, I send my personal and affectionate best wishes for a serene and joyous Easter with the Risen Lord.”
Vatican City, 1 April 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with the numerous faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
“Good morning and Happy Easter to you all,” he said. “Thank you for coming today, in such large numbers, to share the joy of Easter, the central mystery of our faith. May the power of Christ's resurrection reach every person—especially those who are suffering—and every place that is in need of trust and hope.”

“Christ has fully and finally conquered evil, but it is up to us, to people in every age, to embrace this victory in our lives and in the concrete realities of history and society. … The Baptism that makes us children of God and the Eucharist that unites us to Christ must become our lives. That means they must be reflected in our attitudes, behaviours, actions, and choices. The grace contained in the Easter Sacraments is an enormous source of strength for renewal in personal and family life, as well as for social relations. But everything passes through the human heart: if I allow myself to be reached by the grace of the risen Christ, if I let grace change for the better whatever is not good in me, whatever might do harm to me and to others, then I allow Christ's victory to affirm itself in in my life, to broaden its beneficial action. This is the power of grace! Without grace we can do nothing! Without grace we can do nothing! And with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion we can become an instrument of God's mercy—that beautiful mercy of God.”

“Expressing in our lives the sacrament we have received: that … is our daily work—and, I would also say, our daily joy! The joy of being instruments of Christ's grace, as branches of the vine that is Christ himself, inspired by the sustaining presence of His Spirit! Let us pray together, in the name of the dead and risen Lord and through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that the Paschal mystery might work deeply in us and in our time so that hatred may give way to love, lies to truth, revenge to forgiveness, and sadness to joy.”
After the Reginal Coeli the Pope, in Italian, greeted the pilgrims from the various continents, wishing them a tranquil Monday of the Angel (as Easter Monday is traditionally referred to), “on which the joyful announcement of Easter strongly resounds: Christ is risen! And I close with these words: 'Happy Easter to all and have a good lunch!'”
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – The Pontifical Biblical Commission will celebrate its annual plenary session from 8 to 12 April at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City under the presidency of Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller. Fr. Klemens Stock, S.J., secretary general of the commission, will directing the assembly's work sessions.
During the course of the meetings, the study on the theme “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible” will be concluded. “For some years,“ reads a communique from that office, “the Commission has decided to concentrate its effort on verifying how the themes of inspiration and truth are manifested in the various books of Sacred Scripture. The aim of the reflection is to offer a positive contribution so that, in a deepened understanding of the concepts of inspiration and truth, the Word of God may be welcomed by all faithful in a way that is ever more suited to this unique gift in which God communicates himself and invites humanity to communion with him.”
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that next Sunday, 7 April, at 12:00pm, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, will take possession of the title of St. Saturninus on Via Avigliana 3.


by Sumon Francis Gomes
The activists face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 10 million taka (100 thousand euro). Protests of the Shahbag secular movement: "It is a violation of freedom of speech and an insult to democracy." In the country a blasphemy law does not (yet) exist.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Bangladeshi authorities are now targeting internet. The Dhaka police (Dhaka Metropolitan Detective) have arrested three bloggers (see photo) for publishing "offensive comments about Islam and the prophet Mohammed" on various websites. Officers arrested Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, 24, Russel Parvez, 36, and Mashiur Rahman Biblop, 42, in their homes, seizing even computers, modems and external hard drives. The activists of the Shahbag movement, to which three belong, are demanding the immediate release of the bloggers, calling their arrest "a violation of freedom of speech and an insult to democracy."

"These atheists bloggers - deputy police commissioner Molla Nazrul Islam, told a news conference - attacked Islam and Hinduism, the Prophet Muhammad and the Hindu god Ram, using various pseudonyms. We identified eight other bloggers and we are going to also detain them. "

In Bangladesh the crime of blasphemy is not punishable. Those arrested are charged with infringing the Information and Communication Technology Act of 2006, if found guilty, they face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 10 million taka (about 100 thousand euro). However, according to Shahriar Kabir, head of the Committee for a Secular Bangladesh, their arrest is wrong and is likely to create a serious precedent, "Even if the Islamic fundamentalists continue to demand blasphemy laws like those in Pakistan, the government should not create controversies taking action against 'anti-religious bloggers'. Otherwise, it risks destroying the secular spirit of the country ".

For about a month, the investigative unit of the capital has been monitoring "anti-religious activities" online. Blogs have in fact become very popular places of debate, used in particular by lay Shahbag activists, a movement that takes its name from a neighborhood in Dhaka, where it held its first peaceful demonstrations against the war crimes committed by the Islamic party Jamaat- e-Islami in 1971. The secular nature of Shahbag and the request not to use religion for political purposes has attracted the ire of supporters of the Islamist party. The tension rose with the murder of Asif Mohiuddin, one of the leaders of the movement, stabbed during a protest on January 14.



Truth Justice and Healing Council members announced

Tuesday 2 April 2013

ARCHBISHOP Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and Sr Annette Cunliffe RSC, Chair of Catholic Religious Australia, have today announced the members of the Truth Justice and Healing Council (TJHC).

The TJHC will oversee the Catholic Church's engagement with the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Council, welcomed the announcement saying the 13 member Council is made up of men and women with professional and other expertise, especially across child sexual abuse, paedophilia, trauma, mental illness, suicide and public policy.

"The Church and members of the TJHC are determined that the truth be told and that the Church assists victims and those damaged by abuse as children receive justice and to embark on a sustainable process of healing. " Francis Sullivan said.

"Councillors have been chosen for their obvious expertise and their willingness to give frank and independent advice."

"This Council will guide the Church as it goes through the Royal Commission, and will approach the task with openness and compassion."

" We accept that the Royal Commission may well reveal embarrassing and shameful episodes from our past, but it is necessary in order for the truth to heal and for the community to see that our engagement is genuine and sincere."

" Our task also involves advising the Church on the best practice changes to protect children and prevent sexual abuse."

" This is a crucial task as the Church demonstrates through its actions that the welfare and safety of children are the highest priority."

The Truth Justice and Healing Council will hold its first meeting in Sydney in mid April.

Members of the Truth Justice and Healing Council are:

Justice Barry O'Keefe: The Council is chaired by Barry O'Keefe AM QC; a former Commissioner of NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption; a former Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of NSW; chairman of Interpol's International Group of Experts on Corruption, chairman of the International Anticorruption Conference and a former Mayor of Mosman. He is a consultant to law firm Clayton Utz and was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at Notre Dame University in 2005.

Dr Sue Gordon AM: Retired magistrate in the Children's Court in Western Australia; inaugural Commissioner on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission; chaired the Inquiry into the Response by Government Agencies to Complaints of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities in Western Australia in 2002. In 2004 appointed Chair of the National Indigenous Council and the Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce in 2007.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge: Archbishop Mark Coleridge has been the Metropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane since May 2012. He was previously Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn (2006-2012) and Auxiliary Bishop for Melbourne (2002-2006). Archbishop Mark holds a Doctorate in Sacred Scripture and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and French. He has served in the Holy See's Secretariat of State and on the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communication.

Professor Maria Harries: Senior Research Fellow in the Social Work and Social Policy School at the University of Western Australia; extensive experience in child abuse and has numerous publications in the child protection/public policy; worked with the Christian Brothers for many years and was the inaugural Chair of the Mercy Care juridical body covering the health, aged care and welfare services previously conducted by the Mercy Sisters in Perth.

Mr Jack Heath: Chief Executive Officer of Sane Australia, a mental health advocacy organisation for people suffering mental illness; in 1997 founded the Inspire Foundation with the idea of using the Internet to prevent youth suicide; helped establish Inspire in Ireland and the United States. Mr Heath has also served as a diplomat and a senior advisor to both Prime Minister Paul Keating and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

Associate Professor Rosemary Sheehan: Currently working in Department of Social Work at Monash University; 17 years' experience in dispute resolution in the Children's Court of Victoria; has served on the Victorian Women's Correctional Services Advisory Committee and Child Death Review Committee; serves on MacKillop Family Services Quality and Advocacy Committee; consultant for the Victorian Government Review of Child Protection 2002 -2003.

Hon Greg Crafter AO: Admitted as a legal practitioner of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1978; a former Minister in the SA Government having held the portfolios of Community Welfare, Aboriginal Affairs and Education and Children's Services. Former President of the Geneva based International Baccalaureate Organisation and Chairman of the Organisations' Executive Committee.

Sr Maree Marsh: Maree Marsh csb is the former Congregational Leader of the Brigidine Sisters and is currently the Chair of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) and a psychologist at Anti-Slavery Australia. She has a doctorate in Ministry from Boston University and has researched processes adopted for managing disclosures of sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese and studied documents developed by the Canadian Bishops as an outcome of sexual abuse that took place in that country in the 1970's and 1980's. Her professional expertise involves support for women who have experienced clerical sex abuse.

Bishop Bill Wright: Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle. He is a member of the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry and the Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations.

Professor Greg Craven: Lawyer and academic, Vice-Chancellor of Australian Catholic University (ACU), foundation Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia. An expert in public law, Professor Craven has published numerous journal articles and four books, including
Conversations with the Constitution.

Professor Craven is Deputy Chairman of The Council of Australian Governments (COAG), Vice-President of the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association (AHEIA) Executive Committee and a Member of the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC)

Ms Elizabeth Proust AO: Currently Chairman of the Bank of Melbourne, Chairman of Nestlé Australia and a director of Perpetual; former Secretary to the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet (1995 to 1997) after previously being Secretary of the Department of Attorney General; distinguished career in public sector administration as well as in banking and finance.

Mr Stephen Elder: Executive Director of the Catholic Education Office Melbourne; Parliamentary Secretary for Education in the Victorian Government from 1992 -1999 with responsibility for professional standards issues; background in teaching and community work, with extensive knowledge of the administrative functions of the Church and related organisations.

Dr Marian Sullivan: Dr Marian Sullivan is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who has 30 years clinical experience with the consequences of childhood trauma and abuse. Former member of the Queensland Medical Board dealing with issues of professional misconduct, boundary violations and professional regulation.


KHARTOUM, April 02, 2013 (CISA) – Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Monday April 01, ordered the release of all political prisoners, a move cautiously welcomed by the opposition in the tightly-controlled African country.
The announcement comes after Sudan and South Sudan agreed in March to end hostilities and resume cross-border oil flows after coming close to war a year ago. Khartoum had accused its southern neighbour of supporting rebels trying to topple Bashir.
“I announce today my decision to release all political prisoners,” Bashir told parliament. “I also renew a commitment to create a climate to hold a national dialogue with the other political forces.”
Bashir, in power since 1989, did not say when and how many prisoners would be released.
Rights groups have accused the government of holding an unspecified number of dissidents since the security services cracked down hard on small protests against austerity measures unveiled by Bashir last year.
In February, a U.N. human rights expert said Sudan was holding opposition figures and other detainees without trial and denying them urgent medical care.
Sudan’s weak and fractured opposition tried to bring “Arab Spring” protests to Khartoum, but failed to mobilize mass support.
Kamal Omar, spokesman for the National Consensus Forces grouping of the main opposition parties, said Bashir’s comments were a step in the right direction, but said more was needed.
“This is a positive move but it needs to be accompanied by action on the ground,” Omar said. “We need a climate that will allow political dialogue, freedom of expression and press freedom.”
According to Reuters, Bashir’s comments come after Vice President Ali Osman Taha last week invited rebel groups to help prepare a new constitution following the secession of the south in July 2011.
Khartoum has accused Juba of backing rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) which took up arms in two border states around the time of South Sudan’s independence.
After the split, the two fell out over the position of their border, the status of disputed land, the division of national debt and how much the landlocked South should pay to export its oil through Sudan, and other issues.
Rebels of the SPLM-North sided with the south during the civil war with Khartoum that led up to South Sudan’s independence. But they were left inside Sudan after the partition.


Luke 24:

13 - 35

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
17 And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad.
18 Then one of them, named Cle'opas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.
22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning
23 and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see."
25 And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further,
29 but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.
31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?"
33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them,
34 who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.


St. Richard
Feast: April 3

Feast Day:April 3
Born:1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, England
Died:3 April 1253 at Dover, England
Canonized:1262 by Pope Urban IV
Major Shrine:Chichester Cathedral
Patron of:coachmen
St. Richard was born at the manor of Wiche, famous for its salt wells four miles from Worcester, being second son to Richard and Alice de Wiche In order to keep faithfully his baptismal vows, he from his infancy always manifested the utmost dislike to gay diversions, and ever held in the highest contempt all worldly pomp: instead of which his attention was wholly employed In establishing for himself a solid foundation of virtue and learning. Every opportunity of serving others he regarded as his happiness and gain. The unfortunate situation of his eldest brother's affairs gave him an occasion of exercising his benevolent disposition. Richard condescended to become his brother's servant, undertook the management of his farms and by his industry and generosity effectually retrieved his brother's before distressed circumstances. Having completed this good work, he resumed at Paris those studies he had begun at Oxford, leading with two select companions, a life of piety and mortification, generally contenting himself with coarse bread and simple water for his diet; except that on Sundays and on particular festivals he would, in condescendence to some visitors, allow himself a little meat or fish. Upon his return to England, he proceeded to become master of arts at Oxford, from whence he went to Bologna, in Italy, where he applied himself to the study of the canon law, and was appointed public professor of that science. After having taught there a short time, he returned to Oxford, and, on account of his merit, was soon promoted to the dignity of chancellor in that university. St. Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury. having the happiness of gaining him for his diocese, appointed him his chancellor, and intrusted him with the chief direction of his archbishopric; and Richard was the faithful imitator of his patron's piety and devotions. The principal use he made of his revenues was to employ them to charitable purposes, nor would he on any terms be prevailed on to accept the least present in the execution of his office as ecclesiastical judge. He accompanied his holy prelate in his banishment into France, and after his blessed death at Pontigni, retired into a convent of Dominican friars in Orleans. Having in that solitude employed his time in the improving himself in theological studies, and received the order of priesthood, he returned to England to serve a private curacy, in the diocese of Canterbury. Boniface, who had succeeded St. Edmund in that metropolitan see, compelled him to resume his office of chancellor, with the care of his whole diocese. Ralph Nevil, bishop of Chichester, dying in 1244, king Henry III. recommended to that see an unworthy court favorite, called Robert Passelew: the archbishop and other prelates declared the person not qualified, and the presentation void: and preferred Richard de Wiche to that dignity. He was consecrated in 1245. But the king seized his temporalities, and the saint suffered many hardships and persecutions from him and his officers, during two years, till his majesty granted him a replevin: upon which he recovered his revenues, but much impaired. And as, after having pleaded his cause at Rome before pope Innocent IV. against the king's deputies, and obtained a sentence confirming his election, he had permitted no persecution, fatigue. or difficulty to excuse him to himself for the omission of any part of his duty to his flock so now, the chief obstacles being removed, he redoubled his fervor and attention. He, in person, visited the sick, buried the dead, and sought out and relieved the poor. When his steward complained that his alms exceeded his income: "then," said he, "sell my plate and my horse." Having suffered a great loss by fire, instead of being more sparing in his charities, he said, "Perhaps God sent us this loss to punish our covetousness;" and ordered upon the spot more abundant alms to be given than usual. Such was the ardor of his devotion that he lived as it were in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. He preached the word of God to his flock with that unction and success which only an eminent spirit of prayer could produce. The affronts which he received, he always repaid with favors, and enmity with singular marks of charily. In maintaining discipline he was inflexible, especially in chastising crimes in the clergy, no intercession of the king, archbishop, and several other prelates could prevail with him to mitigate the punishment of a priest who had sinned against chastity. Yet penitent sinners he received with inexpressible tenderness and charity. While he was employed in preaching a holy war against the Saracens, being commissioned thereto by the pope, he fell sick of a fever, foretold his own death, and prepared himself for it by the most melting ejaculations of divine love and thanksgiving. He died in an hospital at Dover, called God's House, on the 3d of April, in the year of our Lord 1253, of his episcopal dignity the ninth, of his age the fifty-sixth. His body was conveyed to Chichester, and interred before the altar which he himself had consecrated in his cathedral to the memory of St. Edmund. It was removed to a more honorable place in 1276, on the 16th of June, on which day our ancestors commemorated his translation. The fame of miraculous cures of paralytic and other distempers, and of three persons raised to life at his tomb, moved the pope to appoint commissaries to inquire into the truth of these reports, before whom many of these miracles were authentically proved upon the spot; and the saint was solemnly canonized by Urban IV, in 1262.
source: EWTN


Vatican Radio report:  Pope Francis paid a private visit to the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II Tuesday evening, the eighth anniversary of whose death was remembered yesterday. Pope Francis, accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica and his personal secretary, Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, visited the tomb at seven p.m., after the basilica closed to pilgrims.
The Pope spent time kneeling in silent prayer at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II in the Chapel of St. Sebastian, but he also paused briefly in prayer at the tombs of Blessed John XXIII and St. Pius X. On Monday, Pope Francis prayed at the tomb of St. Peter, the Church's first pope, in the necropolis beneath the Basilica. His visits to the tombs of former pontiffs and his meeting and repeated telephone conversations with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, are an expression of Pope Francis’ desire for profound spiritual continuity of the Petrine ministry.