Thursday, April 11, 2013


Vatican City, 11 April 2013 (VIS) – This afternoon in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican, Pope Francis received members of the “Papal Foundation” during their annual visit to Rome. The “Papal Foundation” is an organization based in the United States, with headquarters near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that was established by Cardinal John Krol (1910–1996) to provide the Holy See with a stable source of income to finance the needs of the Church in the world.
To the Members of the Papal Foundation 
Dear Friends,
I am pleased to meet the members of The Papal Foundation during your pilgrimage to Rome, and I thank Cardinal Wuerl for his kind words. I very much appreciate your prayers as I begin my ministry as the Bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church. In the twenty-five years that have passed since the Foundation was established, you and your associates have helped the Successor of Saint Peter by supporting a number of apostolates and charities especially close to his heart. In these years, you have contributed significantly to the growth of local Churches in developing countries by supporting, among other things, the continuing formation of their clergy and religious, the provision of shelter, medical assistance and care to the poor and needy, and the creation of much-needed educational and employment opportunities. 

For all of this, I am deeply grateful. The needs of God’s people throughout the world are great, and your efforts to advance the Church’s mission are helping to fight the many forms of material and spiritual poverty present in our human family, and to contribute to the growth of fraternity and peace. May the fiftieth anniversary of the Encyclical Pacem in Terris, which falls today, serve as an incentive for your commitment to promoting reconciliation and peace at every level. During this Easter season, when the Church invites us to give thanks for God’s mercy and the new life we have received from the risen Christ, I pray that you will experience the joy born of gratitude for the Lord’s many gifts, and seek to serve him in the least of his brothers and sisters.

The work of The Papal Foundation is above all one of spiritual solidarity with the Successor of Peter. I ask you, then, to continue to pray for my ministry, for the needs of the Church, and in a particular way for the conversion of minds and hearts to the beauty, goodness and truth of the Gospel. With great affection I commend you and your families to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.
Vatican City, 11 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, the Holy Father Francis received Mr. Alberto Clementino Vaquina, prime minister of Mozambique, in audience. Prime Minister Vaquina then met with the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
“During the course of the cordial conversations,” reads a communique from the Holy See Press Office, “the Prime Minister repeated to the Holy Father the congratulations of the people of Mozambique on his election as Pope.”
“As the talks continued, satisfaction was expressed with the good relations existing between the Holy See and Mozambique, which have been further strengthened by the bilateral agreement between the two, which were signed on 7 December 2011 and were ratified last year. In particular, the Catholic Church's positive contribution to the peace and development of the country, especially through her initiatives in education and charitable assistance, was highlighted.”
Vatican City, 11 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, presented the first winners of an international competition on “Economy and Society”. The prize for this first edition was awarded jointly to two books: “Ciudadania, migraciones y religion. Un dialogo etico desde la fe cristiana.” (Citizenship, Migration, and Religion: Ethical Dialogue from the Christian Faith) by Professor Julio Luis Martinez Martinez, S.J., and "L'economia del bene comune", (The Economy of the Common Good) by Professor Stefano Zamagni. The “Economy and Society” award was created by the Centesimus Annus—Pro Pontifice Foundation to promote awareness of the Catholic Church's social doctrine.
Fr. Martinez teaches Moral Theology and Social and Political Philosophy at the Pontifical University of Comillas in Madrid, Spain and has been rector of the same institution for the past year. His publications focus on bioethics and the relationship between religion, politics, and emigration.
Professor Zamagni, an Italian, teaches Political Economy at the University of Bologna and the Bologna campus of the American institute, Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of many books and manuals on economics and the history of economics. He has spoken frequently on the cultural debate over issues such as the family, multiculturalism, and the laity.
Vatican City, 11 April 2013 (VIS) – Following is the text of the telegram that the Holy Father Francis has sent to Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla of Novara, Italy for the death yesterday at dawn of Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti, president emeritus of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and former delegate to the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Cardinal Antonetti was 90 years old.
“On hearing the sad news of the death of the venerable Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti, I wish to express my sentiments of deep sympathy to this diocesan community, which counted him among its most illustrious sons, as well as to his nephew Mario, to his other family members and their respective families, and to all those who knew and esteemed him. I recall the lamented cardinal who was a zealous collaborator of the Holy See for many years, in particular as a pontifical representative in various countries, then as president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and finally as delegate to the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi: everywhere he was an appreciated witness of priestly zeal and fidelity to the Gospel. I pray fervently to the Lord Jesus that He, through the Virgin Mary, may give the late cardinal the eternal reward promised to his faithful disciples. I send you and all those who share the sorrow of his passing, the comfort of a special apostolic blessing."
Vatican City, 11 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received ten prelates from the Tuscany region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, with Auxiliary Bishop Claudio Maniago,
- Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro,
- Archbishop Benvenuto Italo Castellani of Lucca,
- Bishop Mario Meini of Fiesole,
- Bishop Mansueto Bianchi of Pistoia,
- Bishop Franco Agostinelli of Prato,
- Bishop Fausto Tardelli of San Miniato,
- Bishop Giovanni Santucci of Massa Carrara-Pontremoli, and
- Abbot Diego Gualtiero Rosa, O.S.B. Oliv., Abbot of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
Vatican City, 11 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Burchell Alexander McPherson as bishop of Montego Bay (area 3,878, population 640,000, Catholics 10,000, priests 14, permanent deacons 13, religious 14), Jamaica. The bishop-elect was born in Mavis Bank-St.Andrew, Jamaica in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1991. A convert to Catholicism in 1976, since ordination he has served in several pastoral and administrative roles, most recently as pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and the St. Marin de Porres Mission in Kingston.


Coptic Orthodox Patriarch says never in two thousand years has St. Mark’s Cathedral suffered such an attack. The Islamist president is not protecting Christians. The video of the assault which took place on April 7. Young Christians and Muslims take to streets in sign of the unity of the Egyptian people.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - The Islamists attacks on St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo has aroused considerable concern within the Coptic Orthodox community, which for the first time has pointed the finger at President Mohamed Morsi and his entourage. The charge against the Islamist head of state was voiced by Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, Tawadros II, who in a recent interview with the private Ontv television said: "We want facts, not just words. President Morsi has promised to do everything in his power to protect the cathedral, but in reality he hasn't". Today, hundreds of young Christians and Muslims organized a protest against attacks and to enhance dialogue and unity between the two components of Egyptian society.

On 7 April, in front of St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, a group of Islamists hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at participants in the funerals of four Christians killed in sectarian clashes that took place on April 5 in the district of Khosous on the outskirts of the capital. The attack, which took place under the eyes of the police, left two dead and over 80 injured. A church building was also set on fire.

According to the Patriarch, Morsi is responsible for what happened, "his behavior comes under the category of negligence and poor assessment of events. In two thousand years our cathedral has never suffered an attack like that." Tawadros II urges the authorities to take a clear position because "the situation has gone beyond the limits of freedom of expression and has reached an unsustainable level of chaos."

After the assault Morsi said that the violence of recent days "are an attack against my own person," and proposed the revival of the defunct Committee for justice and equality. But Tawadros II has responded that " there are already enough of these committees and groups, none of them ever really worked".

The amateur images filmed by some activists of the Maspero Youth Union show the violence of the clashes on April 7, with dozens of extremists shouting anti-Christian slogans, inciting hatred against the minority. In the video the police can also be seen throwing tear gas inside the cathedral, intoxicating even women and elderly people who had taken refuge in the church. In a video some unknown masked men are seen shooting from a terrace on the Christians below.

Here are the videos of the clashes posted to AsiaNews by young activists of the Maspero Youth Union:

Video of the clashes in front of St. Mark's Cathedral in the Christian quarter of Abasseya:
Muslims chant "Allah is Great" during the assault on the cathedral:



A story of one woman's faith and courage
  • Gail Wood for Christian Science Monitor
  • Philippines
  • April 11, 2013
It was the last place Lois Prater's children expected her to go – overseas to become a missionary.
At age 80, Ms. Prater, who had been a stay-at-home housewife all her married life, sold her Seattle-area home, her car, and other belongings to build an orphanage in the Philippines. She became the unlikely helping hand for hundreds of orphaned children over the years, many of whom were abused or abandoned.
“She sold everything,” says Bonnie Swinney, one of Prater's three daughters. “The only things she kept were the things she could use in the orphanage.”
In 1991, Prater, with her own money, bought 12 acres of land covered with mango and coconut trees near Orion, a small town in the Philippines. Three years later, the doors would open to King's Garden Children's Home, a 2,000-square-foot, white stucco building, giving orphaned children from infants to teens new hope.
“I can't imagine at my age going over there now,” says Ms. Swinney, who is 73. “What she did was amazing.”
For 13 years, Prater lived in the Philippines, enduring both physical and financial hardships. She had to overcome a number of challenging physical ailments along the way. And there was the difficult task of living in a foreign country, far from her family. Yet she refused to come home.
Finally, with a new manager in place, Prater retired and returned home to live with her daughter near Seattle just before her 90th birthday. She died in January at age 100.
“I didn't know anything about business, about building an  orphanage,” Prater said several years ago when talking about her decision to open King's Garden. “All along, I've just trusted in God, and He's answered my prayers. I did what I could do, and God did the rest.”
Just a few years after King's Garden Children's Home opened, Prater invested in expansion. King's Garden tripled in size and started a school. Over the years, an average of about 60 children at a time have lived at the orphanage.
Prater's unlikely journey began six months after her husband, Galon Prater, died in 1988. While Lois Prater was watching a Christian TV program, Lora Lam, a missionary on the program, asked for people to join her on a three-week outreach trip to China. Prater, who had attended Bible school as a teenager and had earned her ministerial license, felt her childhood desire to become a missionary rising again.
“I said, 'Lord, I'm too old to go now,' ” Prater said.
But she went, making three trips, one to China and two to the Philippines, taking part in open-tent meetings. Inspired by her trip with Ms. Lam to China, Prater returned for a second trip several weeks later with 11 other women for a month-long stay in the Philippines. She later made a third visit to the Philippines alone and was speaking at a church when a poorly dressed man came up to her after the service and offered to sell his baby to her for 1,000 pesos, or about $40 at that time.
“That impacted my soul so deeply I knew I had to do something,” Prater said.
So, in 1990 she returned to the United States and sold her home for $65,000. She sold everything she had, determined to build an orphanage.
“It was a strange feeling to see her selling everything: her couches, her chairs, her China hutch, her washer and dryer, everything,” says Swinney, who made several visits to her mom's orphanage over the years. “But I had heard her stories about her wanting to build an orphanage all my life. This is something she had always wanted to do.”
Prater admitted selling her home wasn't easy.
"I struggled, but I knew that what I was trying to do was something much more important than hanging onto my faded couch," Prater said.
At 89, Prater had a physical setback and was forced to step down as the orphanage's director. She returned home, this time for good. But she made several short visits to her orphanage over the next few years.
The orphanage and school continues to do well today. Monica Jarvis assumed directorship of King's Garden Children's Home in 2005 and remains in that position  with the support of the Assemblies of God World Missions.
“To think that my mom opened the orphanage at 80 and worked there until she was 89 absolutely blows me away,” says Swinney, who has adopted several children from King's Garden Children's Home. “My mom has the biggest heart.”
Each of the children brought to King's Garden Children's Home has a heartbreaking story. One of the first children, who had no name, was brought to Prater when he was just nine days old. Prater named him Albert. His alcoholic father was in jail and his mother moved into the jail with him because she had no other place to stay.
One-by-one, Prater took in each of that mother's four children, keeping them out of jail.
Another child, who Prater named Tommy, was brought to King's Garden Children's Home by the police when he was just one year old. Tommy's ear had been cut off by his father. Heidi, another child brought to Prater by the police, came to King's Garden with stomach worms and head lice. Many of the children who come to King's Garden are in need of medical treatment.
The mother and father of a girl named Jennifer died, and she moved into King's Garden when she was 10. Her step brother brought her to the orphanage because she had no other place to live.
“I feel I'm not talented enough to do any of this,” Prater said while she was still overseeing King's Garden. “But God enables me. My responsibility is to do what I can. He does the rest. My only regret is I didn't start when I was younger.”
Prater's story has been an inspiration to others, including her daughter, showing how it's never too late to live a life of serving others.
“My mom was such an amazing person,” Swinney says. “She had tremendous faith in God.”



Catholic Women's League at United Nations

Thursday 11 April 2013

Words + pictures by Fiona Basile, Kairos Catholic Journal

NEW YORK CITY—the city that never sleeps.
I can testify to that personally, having just spent two weeks there attending the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations (UN). What a steep learning curve in terms of international relations, negotiations and diplomacy—this was certainly no holiday!

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More than 6000 people attended the session—the biggest in its history—including UN agencies staff, UN member state delegates (193 countries are represented at the UN) and non-government-organisation (NGO) representatives. I attended in the capacity of youth observer for the Catholic Women’s League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga, along with Jane Munro, Catholic Women’s League of Australia (CWLA) National International Secretary. As an NGO, the CWLA has consultative (Roster) status with the Economic and Social Council, a body of the UN. Article 71 of the UN Charter requires the UN to maintain close relations with NGOs in order to remain true to its goals.

The theme of this year’s CSW was ‘The elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls’. Violence against women and girls is rife in many nations, and the magnitude of the violence, the forms in which it is manifested, and its causes are many. We have a long way to go to alleviate this problem.

Both in the lead-up to the CSW, and during the two weeks of its sitting, UN state delegations, influenced by countless NGOs, debated the content of what was to become the final document, the ‘Agreed Conclusions’ of the commission—the Agreed Conclusions can be used by NGOs and governments in their respective countries to help shape policy and laws applicable to the abolition of violence against women and girls.

Given there were no Agreed Conclusions last year, there was intense pressure on the delegates to produce a final document. After tense negotiating, word for word, paragraph for paragraph, and a frenzy of Twitter feeds and Facebook updates in the final hours of the Friday afternoon and evening of the second week, an Agreed Conclusions document was adopted.

According to World Youth Alliance director of advocacy Elyssa Koren, most countries accepted the text as fair. She said: ‘The initial draft document had been littered with references to reproductive rights language, which is understood to include abortion.’ These had been filtered down to only a few mentions in the final document and were qualified with reference to the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994, which underlines countries’ sovereign rights to determine their own national laws on these issues.

However, one of the biggest losses in terms of the language, she said, was the deletion of the words ‘the family’ which had appeared in earlier drafts due to the controversy over saying ‘all forms of the family’ and also the deletion of the phrase, ‘the inherent right to life, liberty and security of persons’. This is a serious blow given it contradicts a foundation principle of civilisations worldwide, and is expressed in the US Declaration of Independence and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The Holy See, which has permanent observer status at the UN, had proposed the inclusion of this critical reference, but it was overruled. (Read the Holy See's statement about the Agreed Conclusions at the conclusion of the CSW57 here).

As stated by Professor Helen Alvare, reading out the Holy See’s official statement to the commission: ‘Respect for human life, from conception to natural 
death, is the starting point for confronting a culture of violence. It is also, both philosophically and practically speaking, an inalienable principle. In this regard, any measure which would, of itself, inflict violence cannot at all be considered a fitting response to violence in some of the most difficult social problems confronting women.’

And while this was going on, attendees participated in a multitude of side events hosted by state delegations and NGOs that all addressed the issue of violence against women. On two occasions I was also able to ask questions of the panelists.

The first being to ministers from Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Norway who were hosting a session on the engagement of boys and men in the effort to eliminate violence against women and girls. The ministers had discussed a variety of ‘preventative measures’ to combat violence against women, but had not mentioned the issue of the increased exposure to and easy access to internet pornography, particularly for young boys, and the effects this was having on their development and attitudes towards women. (My question and the answers were captured on video!)

The second opportunity came at a panel discussion hosted by a Christian NGO. I questioned the inconsistency between the group’s assertion that it aims to uphold the dignity of the person, and to stand against a culture of death, and yet upholds the woman’s right ‘to sexual reproductive rights’ (ie, the right to abortion). Sadly, the question was taken as a comment, and so not answered, but it certainly inspired a lengthy and fruitful conversation with several women after the session.

Certainly the highlights for Jane and me were attending the side events where NGOs are actually helping people in need at a grassroots level. Other highlights were meeting the Most Reverend Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Borders and a passionate advocate against gendercide and China’s one-child policy, the World Youth Alliance team, and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) team—just to name a few.

Stay tuned for more reports from the CSW at the UN in upcoming editions of Kairos Catholic Journal and online.

Fiona filed numerous reports and photo galleries on the Catholic Women's League of Victoria Wagga Wagga Facebook page and on its website.


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A Tribute to Sjef Donders | Fr Joseph Donders,  ‘Sjef’, White Fathers

Fr Sjef Donders
Fr Joseph Donders, widely known as ‘Sjef’, died on 7 March 2013 in hospital in Maastricht (Holland) aged 83. He will be fondly remembered as an inspiring speaker who for many years worked closely with CAFOD’s education programme.
Born in 1929 in Tilburg, Sjef began his training with the White Fathers (later called Missionaries of Africa) in 1952 and was ordained priest in 1957 in Galashiels, Scotland.
Sent to Rome for further studies he started a doctorate on Teilhard de Chardin but midway was made to change since a young priest was not allowed to read his books in those days. Nonetheless Teilhard’s thinking had a lasting effect. While teaching philosophy for nine years at the order’s formation house in Holland, Sjef became a well-known figure on Radio and TV.
In 1970 he arrived in Kenya teaching philosophy first in the seminary and then at the University of Nairobi where for six years he was Head of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. As a lecturer he was remembered years later as being “electrifying and thought-provoking”. In its recent tribute the Kenyan national daily, The Nation, says “He helped shape the destiny of this country through his contribution to education. Prof Donders taught in Kenya for 15 years and made a deep imprint on the nation.”
It was particularly as University Chaplain that he became known to a far wider public. It seems that when he preached at the university chaplaincy there were more worshippers outside than inside. As a result Orbis published a collection of 52 of these sermons in a book entitled ‘Jesus the Stranger’ which won the 1979 USA National Religious Book Award. This was followed by nine other collections of sermons published by them. Many were re-published in Australia, Ireland, India, and The Philippines. Some were translated into German, Italian, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili.
In 1984 he became the first Director of the Washington-based ‘Africa Faith and Justice Network’. AFJN was founded as a missionary commitment to social justice ‘to educate and advocate for a transformation of US policies toward Africa, by bringing the most important issues affecting the people of Africa to the lawmakers in Washington.’ It involved Sjef in a lot of travel in America, Africa and Europe visiting religious communities, parishes and universities to inform them about the work of AFJN and so to use their political influence.
In 1988 Sjef became Professor of Mission Studies at The Washington Theological Union which brought him into contact with the Latin American Church where he visited students on internships in Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina. He continued to teach at the Theological Union till 2007. He finally retired and returned to Holland in 2010.
Sjef was first invited to come and work with CAFOD’s education programme in 1984 and then continued to come each summer for most of the time he was based in Washington. Among a whole generation of CAFOD supporters he made a deep and lasting impression through his ability to communicate the Gospel message with simplicity, relevance and humour. He was able to draw on his very rich and varied experience as educator, preacher and missionary and will be remembered particularly as a charismatic storyteller. He was a prolific writer with some 77 titles to his name (according to Amazon’s current list). His latest major publication was the Award-winning ‘John Paul II, His Encyclicals in Everyday Language.’ (Orbis Books).

A key idea in Sjef’s presentation of the Bible was what he called “The Big Story“. He thought most preaching had followed the traditional paradigm: Creation - Fall -  Redemption - New Life. According to this Jesus offered himself as a ransom in atonement to the Father. As a result grace was available but could be lost (ie we could be without God). A widespread reaction to this pattern nowadays is ‘What a strange God!’ (ie the story no longer works). The outcome has been an exclusive, individualist spirituality: some are ‘reborn’ and have divine life in them and others don’t. We need to appreciate that each Gospel presents a different explanation for why Jesus died and this paradigm only corresponds to St Mark’s account).

Sjef’s alternative paradigm (“The Big Story”) sees Abram ah Sarah as the first historical figures. This father & mother of all nations - whole prophetic tradition of a Messiah to come - Jesus proclaims a Kingdom of Justice & Peace - Heavenly Jerusalem (= city of peace) where all the nations of the earth will come together (Rev 21) establishing the Kingdom of Justice & Peace. This framework fits in with so many conclusions of our tradition and experience:
- The whole Bible is about Justice & Peace: we don’t have to pick out a few ‘proof’ texts.
- The Gospels mention Kingdom 115 times. ‘Christ first of all proclaims a Kingdom; everything else is relative.’ (Evangelii Nuntiandi Paul VI).
- The Kingdom is already among (within) us, though not yet fully realised.
- ‘It is like a treasure, yeast, a banquet, salt, a pearl…’
- The big story shines through in all the small stories of daily experience.
- ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’;
- ‘Each time we degrade a victim we see the face is our own’;

In this way Sjef arrives at a more inclusive spirituality: God’s life (Spirit) is in everyone and can never be lost. (Dominum et Vivificantem, JPII).

So we are not saved by ‘grace’ which only we Christians have. How else do we explain the straightforward human goodness that is the daily experience of ordinary people?
The task is to make the big story the story of every individual.

The Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7) is already present in people and can be drawn out (Acts 10). Our task is to tune in to the Spirit of Christ (in people already), enabling them to understand the truth about themselves – that they form the one family of God. This is the Good News of Peace (Acts 10:36 & Ephesians 2:17)
‘That they may be one’ (Jn 17:21) can be seen as a prayer that everyone realise that they are one already, that they already share God’s life and form the one family of God.
Yet so much in the Catholic Church has seemed to emphasise the exclusion of others.
People are basically good: they share God’s life and are ‘Temples of the Holy Spirit’. This is not to deny the reality of sin in the world and our dependence on God, but far better to focus on what is positive about them.

Sjef Donders lived as he taught and those who knew him will always remember his example of living out the Gospel. “Jesus lived His Life inviting us to share His intention and His Spirit. It is the way He asks us to carry our cross in the way He did. The final victory will be His and ours!” 

Brian Davies

Brian Davies, a former Head of Education at CAFOD, is active in Justice and Peace in Birmingham Archdiocese.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The welfare state in the nation, the permanent mission, social media: are, among other themes, at the centre of the 95th Ordinary Meeting of the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia, which opened today in Cochabamba.
The Conference received a message by Pope Francis, read by the same Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr. Giambattista Diquattro. The Cardinal Julio Terrazas will offer a message to the Bishops of the country and the people of God, in which he will recall his participation in the Conclave. The works are opened by the President of CEB and Mgr. Oscar Aparicio. As reported to Fides by Mgr. Eugenio Scalpellini, the Auxiliary Bishop of El Alto and General Secretary of the CEB, the bishops will reflect on the events that have characterized the social, political and economic life of the country and will also face the problem of trafficking and drug use.
"Our view on situations that occur in the reality of the country are not a political analysis but a reflection made by the faith and in the light of the Gospel," said the bishop, adding: "A missionary Church must communicate the truth, values and be a leader in the formation of conscience in society." (CE) (Agenzia Fides 11/04/2013)


John 3: 31 - 36

31He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all.32He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony;33he who receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.34For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit;35the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.36He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.


St. Gemma Galgani
Feast: April 11

Feast Day:April 11
Born:12 March 1878 at Borgo Nuovo di Camigliano, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Died:Holy Saturday, 11 April 1903 at Borgo Nuovo di Camigliano, Lucca, Italy
Canonized:2 May 1940 by Pope Pius XII
Major Shrine:Passionist Monastery in Lucca, Italy
Patron of:Students, pharmacists, tuberculosis patients, love and hope
There is little to be said about her life. Born at Camigliano in Tuscany, she suffered from 'tuberculosis of the spine with aggravated curvature', and, though she considered herself cured by a vision of the young Saint Gabriel Possenti, she could not obtain a certificate of health enabling her to enter a convent, as she wished. She had many 'abnormal' experiences from June 1899 onwards, including the 'stigmata' in hands and feet, carefully examined by her confessor and biographer, the Passionist Fr Germano. These began to appear about 8 p.m. on a Thursday and lasted till 3 p.m. on the Friday. No pain preceded their apparition, but only a deep recollection. There was seen first a discoloration on the back and palm of each hand; then a 'rent in the flesh' under the skin which then split, and a deep laceration was observed, at least usually: the holes above and below corresponded and the perforations seemed complete, but it was hard to judge of this because they kept firing up with blood, partly flowing, partly congealing. Fr Germano measured the diameters and shapes of the wounds carefully, and noted that 'a few times' a sort of fleshy swelling, like a nail-head, about an inch across, covered the wounds in the hands (though not those in the feet): 'The deep wounds were the more usual state of Gemma's stigmata—I say, the more usual state'. He also says that directly the Friday ecstasy was over, 'the flow of blood from all < five> wounds ceased immediately; the raw flesh healed; the lacerated tissues healed too': at least by Sunday not a vestige remained of the deep 'cavities'; the new skin was smooth, though 'whitish marks' remained on it. Much more could be said about this saint, but this account suffices as occasion for explaining the principles governing the Church's approach to these and allied phenomena.
First, the Congregation of Rites, declaring that Gemma practiced the Christian virtues to a heroic degree, explicitly refrained from passing judgment on the preternatural character of the recorded phenomena; a matter (it adds) 'upon which no decision is ever made' (see <Acta Apostolicae Sedis> vol. xxiv [1932], p. 57, and Thurston: <Physical Phenomena of Mysticism>, ed. J. H. Crehan, chapter 11, especially pp. 52-54).
We must first register the alleged <facts> presented to us for observation, and then consider the evidence. Only then may we tentatively embark on <interpretation>. So we notice that before the time of St. Francis of Assisi there can be quoted only two or three instances of stigmatization of doubtful character: but since St. Francis, instances become almost innumerable up to the present day. We start by excluding those where self-inflicted wounds can even be suspected; for there have been instances of downright imposture, of misguided asceticism-conscious or possibly unconscious. This cannot apply to Gemma Galgani, since the gradual appearance and disappearance of her wounds was scrupulously <watched>. Again, all instances of complete stigmatization (save probably two) are found in women, and usually (though by no means always) in women who lead an enclosed and constantly meditative life; this suggests that the mind can influence the body-as it obviously can: a <thought> can make one blush, or turn pale. Further, an ecstatica's stigmata (or visions) not seldom correspond with some picture or effigy that she habitually sees: the marks of the scourging on Gemma are said to reproduce those on a crucifix she contemplated; Catherine Emmerich and others 'see' our Lord on a Y-shaped cross like one they were accustomed to; some will see Him crucified with three, others with four, nails; the wound of the lance may be on the right, or again on the left. We may therefore grant that <even if> a supernatural grace be granted to the soul, the mind, helped by the imagination, may proceed to interpret it to itself by means of such ideas or images as it possesses or prefers. But how far can the 'mind' influence the body? 'Dermatography'—marks on the skin, usually disappearing soon—can undoubtedly be induced by suggestion, whether it be self-suggestion or administered by another; but can suggestion cause lesions of the tissues, persisting and not becoming gangrenous? The word 'hysteria' should now be left aside—the ugly word 'pithiatism' may be replacing it—it merely means 'suggestibility'. Now there is no fault in being 'suggestible'; one person may lie abnormally open to the stimulus of anger, fear, sex or pity. If then we seek the nature of the stimulus lying behind the bodily manifestations observed in one who, on other grounds, is judged to be of exceptional holiness, we can prudently suppose that it is love for God, for Christ incarnate, or crucified, which so moves the entire 'subject'—body-mind—as to produce the exterior phenomena. The miracle would then lie in the intensity of the love for God granted to a human soul; the physical consequences of so super-human a love might be quite incalculable, by no means necessarily the stigmata, though possibly including them: indeed, disconcerting symptoms might well co-exist with those that might be expected, and should by no means be at once ascribed to diabolic influences. The description of all abnormal symptoms of the sort under discussion should be purely clinical, not rhetorical or pietistic.

St. Gemma Galgani was beatified in 1933, and canonized in 1940.



St. Stanislaus
Feast: April 11

Feast Day:April 11
Born:26 July 1030 as Szczepanowski, Poland
Died:murdered on 8 May 1079 in the chapel of Saint Michael in a suburb of Cracow, Poland
Canonized:1253 by Pope Innocent IV at Assisi, Italy
Patron of:Cracow, Plock, Poland, soldiers in battle
Bishop and martyr, born at Szczepanów (hence called Szczepanowski), in the Diocese of Cracow, 26 July, 1030; died at Cracow, 8 May, 1079; feast on May 7 in Roman Martyrology, but on 8 May in Cracow, which has a special feast of the translation of his relics on 27 September; patron of Poland and the city and Diocese of Cracow; invoked in battle. In pictures he is given the episcopal insignia and the sword. Larger paintings represent him in a court or kneeling before the altar and receiving the fatal blow. No contemporary biography of the saint is in existence. At the time of his canonization a life appeared written by a Dominican Vincent(?) (Acta SS.,May, II, 196) which contains much legendary matter. His parents, Belislaus and Bogna, pious and noble Catholics, gave him a religious education. He made his studies at Gnesen and Paris(?). After the death of his parents he distributed his ample inheritance among the poor. Lambert Zula, Bishop of Cracow, ordained him priest and made him pastor of Czembocz near Cracow, canon and preacher at the cathedral, and later, vicar-general. After the death of Lambert he was elected bishop, but accepted only on explicit command of Pope Alexander II. He worked with his wonted energy for his diocese, and inveighed against vices among high and low, regardless of consequences. Boleslaw II had become King of Poland. the renown he had gained by his successful wars he now sullied by atrocious cruelty and unbridled lust. Moreover the bishop had several serious disputes with the king about a piece of land belonging to the Church which was unjustly claimed by Boleslaw, and about some nobles, who had left their homes to ward off various evils threatening their families and who were in consequence cruelly treated by the king. Stanislaus spared neither tears nor prayers and admonitions to bring the king to lead a more Christian life. All being in vain, Boleslaw was excommunicated and the canons of the cathedral were instructed to discontinue the Divine Offices in case the king should attempt to enter. Stanislaus retired to the Chapel of St. Michael in a suburb of Cracow. The king was furious and followed the bishop with his guards, some of whom he sent to kill the saint. These dared not obey, so Boleslaw slew him during the Holy Sacrifice. The body was at first buried in the chapel, but in 1088 it was transferred to the cathedral by Bishop Lambert II. St. Stanislaus was canonized 1253 by Innocent IV at Assisi.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)