Thursday, June 20, 2013


St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Feast: June 21

Feast Day:June 21
Born: 9 March 1568 at castle of Castiglione delle Stivieri in Montau, Lombardy, Italy
Died:21 June 1591 at Rome
Canonized: 31 December 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Major Shrine:Church of Sant'Ignazio, Rome (his tomb)
Patron of:Young students, Christian youth, Jesuit novices, People with AIDS and their caregivers
Born in the castle of Castiglione, 9 March, 1568; died 21 June, 1591. At eight he was placed in the court of Francesco de'Medici in Florence, where he remained for two years, going then to Mantua. At Brescia, when he was twelve, he came under the spiritual guidance of St. Charles Borromeo, and from him received First Communion. In 1581 he went with his father to Spain, and he and his brother were made pages of James, the son of Philip II. While there he formed the resolution of becoming a Jesuit, though he first thought of joining the Discalced Carmelites. He returned to Italy in 1584 after the death of the Infanta, and after much difficulty in securing his father's consent, renounced his heritage in favour of his brother, 2 November, 1585, a proceeding which required the approval of the emperor, as Castiglione was a fief of the empire. He presented himself to Father Claudius Acquaviva, who was then General of the Society, 25 November, 1585. Before the end of his novitiate, he passed a brilliant public act in philosophy, having made his philosophical and also his mathematical studies before his entrance. He had in fact distinguished himself, when in Spain, by a public examination not only in philosophy, but also in theology, at the University of Alcal&aacuate;. He made his vows 25 November, 1587. Immediately after, he began his theological studies. Among his professors were Fathers Vasquez and Azor. In 1591 when in his fourth year of theology a famine and pestilence broke out in Italy. Though in delicate health, he devoted himself to the care of the sick, but on March 3 he fell ill and died 21 June, 1591. He was beatified by Gregory XV in 1621 and canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726. His remains are in the church of St. Ignazio in Rome in a magnificent urn of lapis lazuli wreathed with festoons of silver. The altar has for its centerpiece a large marble relief of the Saint by Le Gros.



Vatican Radio REPORT: To pray the Our Father we have to have a heart at peace with our brothers. We don't pray "my Father," but "our Father," because "we are not an only child, none of us are”. This was the focus of Pope Francis' homily at Mass Thursday morning in Casa Santa Marta. The Pope emphasized that we believe in a God who is a Father, who is "very close" to us, who is not anonymous, not "a cosmic God." 

Prayer is not magic, rather it is entrusting ourselves to the Father’s embrace. Pope Francis centered his homily on the prayer of the "Our Father" taught by Jesus to His disciples, of which the Gospel speaks today. Jesus, he said, immediately gives us a piece of advice in prayer: "In praying, do not babble", do not make "worldly noises, vain noises”. And he warned that "prayer is not a magical thing, there is no magic with prayer." Someone once told me that when he went to a "witch doctor" they said a lot of words to heal him. But that "is pagan." Jesus teaches us, "we should not turn to Him with so many words," because "He knows everything." He adds, the first word is "Father," this "is the key of prayer." "Without saying, without feeling, that word – he warned - you cannot pray": 

"To whom do I pray? To the Almighty God? He is too far off. Ah, I can’t hear Him. Neither did Jesus. To whom do I pray? To a cosmic God? That’s quite normal these days, is it not? ... praying to the cosmic God, right? This polytheistic model that comes from a ratherlight culture ... You must pray to the Father! It is a strong word, 'Father '. You must pray to Him who generated you, who gave you life. Not to everyone: everyone is too anonymous. To you. To me. To the person who accompanies you on your journey: He knows all about your life. Everything: what is good and what is not so good. He knows everything. If we do not start the prayer with this word, not just with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray in a Christian language".

"Father," he reiterated, "is a strong word" but "opens the door". At the time of sacrifice, the Pope said, Isaac realized that "something was wrong" because "he was missing a sheep," but he trusted his father and “confided his worries to his father’s heart" . "Father" is the word that "the son" who left with his legacy "and then wanted to return home" thought of. And that father "sees him come and goes running" to him, "he threw himself in his arms", "to cover him with love." "Father, I have sinned:" this is, the Pope said, "the key of every prayer, to feel loved by a father": 

"We have a Father. Very close to us, eh! Who embraces us ... All these worries, concerns that we have, let's leave them to the Father, He knows what we need. But, Father, what? My father? No: Our Father! Because I am not an only child, none of us are, and if I cannot be a brother, I can hardly become a child of the Father, because He is a Father to all. Mine, sure, but also of others, of my brothers. And if I am not at peace with my brothers, I cannot say 'Father' to Him." 

This, he added, explains the fact that Jesus, after having taught us the Our Father, stresses that if we do not forgive others, neither will the Father forgive us our sins. "It's so hard to forgive others – said the Pope - it is really difficult, because we always have that regret inside." We think, "You did this to me, you wait '... and I’ll repay him the favour ": 

"No, you cannot pray with enemies in your heart, with brothers and enemies in your heart, you cannot pray. This is difficult, yes, it is difficult, not easy. 'Father, I cannot say Father, I cannot'. It’s true, I understand. 'I cannot say our, because he did this to me and this ...' I cannot! 'They must go to hell, right? I will have nothing to do with them'. It’s true, it is not easy. But Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit: it is He who teaches us, from within, from the heart, how to say 'Father' and how to say 'our'. Today we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to say 'Father' and to be able to say 'our', and thus make peace with all our enemies. " 



Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – At 11:00 this morning, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic palace, the Holy Father Francis received the participants in the 38th Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 
Below please find the official text of Pope Francis address to the Participants in the 38th Conference of FAO (Thursday, 20 June 2013)

Mr President,
Your Excellencies,
Mr Director General,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Continuing a long and meaningful tradition which began sixty years ago, I am pleased to receive you, the participants in the 38th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I thank President Mohammad Asef Rahimi and the representatives of many countries and different cultures who are working together to respond in a fitting way to the primary needs of so many of our brothers and sisters: those of receiving their daily bread and finding a dignified place at the table.

I greet the Director-General, Professor José Graziano da Silva, whom I had occasion to meet at the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome. On that occasion he made it clear to me that the situation worldwide is particularly difficult, not only because of the economic crisis but also due to problems associated with security, the great number of continuing conflicts, climate change and the preservation of biological diversity. All these situations demand of FAO a renewed commitment to tackling the many problems of the agricultural sector and of all those living and working in rural areas.

The initiatives and possible solutions are many, nor are they limited to increasing production. It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.

2. This, I believe, is the significance of our meeting today: to share the idea that something more can and must be done in order to provide a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill or, worse, promises which all too often have not been kept. Nor can the current global crisis continue to be used as an alibi. The crisis will not be completely over until situations and living conditions are examined in terms of the human person and human dignity.

The human person and human dignity risk turning into vague abstractions in the face of issues like the use of force, war, malnutrition, marginalization, the violation of basic liberties, and financial speculation, which presently affects the price of food, treating it like any other merchandise and overlooking its primary function. Our duty is to continue to insist, in the present international context, that the human person and human dignity are not simply catchwords, but pillars for creating shared rules and structures capable of passing beyond purely pragmatc or technical approaches in order to eliminate divisions and to bridge existing differences. In this regard, there is a need to oppose the shortsighted economic interests and the mentality of power of a relative few who exclude the majority of the world’s peoples, generating poverty and marginalization and causing a breakdown in society. There is likewise a need to combat the corruption which creates privileges for some and injustices for many others.

3. Our present situation, while directly linked to financial and economic factors, is also a consequence of a crisis of convictions and values, including those which are the basis of international life. This is a larger framework which demands the undertaking of a conscious and sober work of rebuilding, one which also affects FAO. Here I am thinking of the reform the Organization has initiated to ensure a more functional, transparent and impartial operation. This is certainly something positive, yet every authentic reform involves an increased sense of responsibility on the part of everyone, in the realization that our individual fate is linked to that of others. My thoughts turn to the well-known parable in the Gospel where a Samaritan helps someone in need. He is not prompted by philanthropy or the fact that he has money at his disposal, but by a desire to identify with the person he helps: he wants to share his lot. Indeed, after providing for the man’s care, he announces that he will return to inquire after his health. What is involved here is more than mere compassion or perhaps a desire to share or to promote a reconciliation which can overcome differences and disagreements. It is a willingness to share everything and to decide to be Good Samaritans, instead of people who are indifferent to the needs of others.

What is demanded of FAO, its member States, and every institution of the international community, is openness of heart. There is a need to move beyond indifference or a tendency to look the other way, and urgently to attend to immediate needs, confident that the fruits of today’s work will mature in the future. To move forward constructively and fruitfully in the different functions and responsibilities involves the ability to analyze, understand, and engage, leaving behind the temptations of power, wealth or self-interest and instead serving the human family, especially the needy and those suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

We are all aware that one of the first effects of grave food crises – and not simply those caused by natural disasters or violent conflicts – is the uprooting of individuals, families and communities. The separation is a painful one; it is not limited to their lands, but extends to their entire existential and spiritual environment, threatening and at times shattering their few certainties in life. This process, which is now taking place worldwide, demands that international relations once more be regulated by their underlying ethical principles and recover the authentic spirit of solidarity which can guarantee the effectiveness of every cooperative undertaking.

4. This is clearly seen in the decision to dedicate the coming year to the rural family. Apart from the celebrations themselves, it is necessary to reaffirm the conviction that every family is the principal setting for the growth of each individual, since it is through the family that human beings become open to life and the natural need for relationships with others. Over and over again we see that family bonds are essential for the stability of relationships in society, for the work of education and for integral human development, for they are inspired by love, responsible inter-generational solidarity and mutual trust. These are factors which can make even the most adverse situations more bearable, and bring a spirit of true fraternity to our world, enabling it to feel as a single family, where the greatest attention is paid to those most in need.

Acknowledging that the fight against hunger entails the pursuit of dialogue and fraternity means for FAO that its contribution to negotiations between States, giving new impulse to the decision-making processes, must be marked by the promotion of the culture of encounter and of solidarity. But this also calls for willingness on the part of the member States, a complete knowledge of particular situations, suitable preparation, and ideas which take into account every individual and every community. Only thus will it be possible to combine the thirst for justice experienced by billions of people with the concrete realities of today’s world.

The Catholic Church, with all her structures and institutions, is at your side in this effort, which is aimed at building concrete solidarity, and the Holy See follows with interest and encourages the initiatives and activities undertaken by FAO. I thank you for this opportunity to meet you, and I bless the work which you carry out daily in the service of the least of our brothers and sisters.


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – At 11:30 this morning in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received participants in the 86th Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Organisations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO). This organisation, under the sponsorship of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, is formed from various organizations around the world including: the Catholic Near East Welfare Association; Aid to the Church in Need; Renovabis; and Oeuvre d'Orient, which financially and spiritually assist members of the Church in the East.
Below, please find the complete English translation of the Holy Father’s remarks to the “Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches”: 
1. Welcome to all of you! I greet you with joy, for giving thanks to the Lord, together with their brothers and sisters of the East, who are represented here by some of their Pastors, and by you, the Superiors and Collaborators of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and the members of the Agencies that make up the ROACO. They are grateful to God for the faithfulness to Christ, to the Gospel, and to the Church, which the Eastern Catholics have given proof of over the centuries, facing great difficulties for the Christian name and “keeping the faith” (cf. 2 Tm 4:6-8 ). They are close to them with gratitude. Grateful to each of you, and to the Churches of which you are the expression, insofar as you work in their favour, I return the cordial greetings the Cardinal Prefect has offered me. Like my predecessors, I wish to encourage and support you in the exercise of charity, which is the only source of pride for the disciples of Jesus. This charity comes from the love of God in Christ: the Cross is the summit, a luminous sign of the mercy and the charity of God for all, that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5).

2. It is a duty for me to exhort to charity, which is inseparable from the faith in which the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Saint Peter is bound to confirm the brethren. The Year of Faith leads us to profess with ever more conviction the love of God in Christ Jesus. I ask you to accompany me in uniting faith with charity, which is inherent in the Petrine Service. Saint Ignatius of Antioch has that weighty expression with which he defines the Church of Rome: “the Church that presides in charity” (Letter to the Romans, greeting). I invite you, therefore, to collaborate “in the faith and in the charity of Jesus Christ our God” (ibid.), remembering that our work will be effective only if it is rooted in faith, nourished by prayer, especially by the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of faith and charity.

3. Dear friends, this is the first testimony we have to offer in our service to God and to [our] brothers, and it is only in this way that all of our actions will bear fruit. Continue your intelligent and caring work in realizing well-considered and coordinated projects, giving appropriate priority to formation, especially of young people. But never forget that these projects must be a profession of the love of God that constitutes the Christian identity. The Church, in the variety and richness of its component parts and its activities, does not find security in human means. The Church is of God, has confidence in His presence and in His action, and brings into the world the power of God, which is the power of love. The post-synodal Apostolic ExhortationEcclesia in Medio Oriente should be a precious reference for you in your service.

4. The presence here today of the Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts and of the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans; of the Papal Representatives in the Holy Land and in Syria; of the Auxiliary Bishop of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem; and of the Custody of the Holy Land, carries my heart to the Holy Places of our Redemption, but also renews in me the vivid ecclesial concern for so many brothers and sisters who live in a situation of insecurity and seemingly interminable violence which does not spare the innocent and most helpless. Constant and trusting prayer is required of us believers, that the Lord might grant the longed-for peace, joined to sharing and concrete solidarity. I would like to renew once more, from the depths of my heart, an appeal to the leaders of nations and of international organisations, to believers of every religion, and to women and men of good will to put an end to all suffering, to all violence, to all religious, cultural and social discrimination. The confrontation that sows death should give place to the encounter and the reconciliation that brings life. To all those who suffer I say forcefully: never lose hope! The Church is close to you, the Church walks with you and sustains you! I call upon you to do everything possible to alleviate the grave necessities of the stricken populations, especially of Syria. The beloved Syrian people . . . the ever increasing number of refugees and displaced persons. Saint Ignatius of Antioch himself asked the Christians of Rome: “Remember in your prayers the Church in Syria . . . Jesus Christ Himself will look over it, and your charity” (Letter to the Romans, IX,I). We too, you and I, repeat, “Remember in your prayers the Church in Syria . . . Jesus Christ Himself will look over it, and your charity.” I entrust the innumerable victims to the Lord of life, and I implore the Most Holy Mother of God that she might console the many people who are experiencing the “great tribulation” (Rev. 7:14). And it is truly a great tribulation!

Upon each of you, upon the Agencies, and upon all the Eastern Churches, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing. 


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – For the occasion of Francis' upcoming apostolic trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to preside at the 38th World Youth Day, statistics have been published concerning the Catholic Church in that country. The information, updated to 31 December 2011, comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church. The Pope's journey is scheduled from22 to 29 July.
Brazil covers a surface area of 8,514,215 square kilometres and has population of 195,041,000 of whom 164,780,000 (84.48%) are Catholic. There are 274 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 10,802 parishes, and 37,827 pastoral centres. Currently there are 453 bishops, 20,701 priests, 33,230 religious, and 2,903 permanent deacons. There are also 1,985 lay members of secular Institutes, 144,910 lay missionaries, and 483,104 catechists. Minor seminarians number 2,671 and major seminarians 8,956.
A total of 1,940,299 students attend 6,882 centres of Catholic education ranging from kindergartens to universities. There are also 3,257 centres for special education. There are 5,340 institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Brazil including: 369 hospitals, 884 clinics, 22 leper colonies, 718 homes for the elderly or disabled, 1,636 orphanages and nurseries, and 1,711 family counselling and other pro-life centres.
Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – As part of the Year of Faith, the pontifical representatives, the apostolic nuncios, will meet with the Holy Father this Friday and Saturday, 21-22 June.
TomorrowFriday at 10:30am, the Pope will receive the nuncios in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. In the afternoon, from 4:30 to 5:45pm in the pontifical basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Eucharistic adoration will be held and vespers will be celebrated, presided by Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica. Finally, a meditation will be led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, participants will visit the Basilica's scavi. In the evening, at8:30pm, they will have dinner with the Holy Father in the Oval Patio of the Casina of Pius IV.
On Saturday, 22 June, in the Chapel of the St. Peter's Basilica Choir, Mass will be concelebrated at 9:00am, presided by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State. At10:45am, Terce will be prayed in the New Synod Hall and the pontifical representatives will have a working meeting with the superiors of the Secretariat of State. After the meeting finishes they will have lunch at the Domus Sanctae Marthae (without the Pope). The Days will conclude with a concert at 5:30pm in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday morning, the old Synod Hall was the site of a meeting—organized by the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See—of the administrative heads of the various dicasteries and dependent agencies of the Vatican, according to a note issued by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J.
The meeting, attended by all the personnel of the Prefecture along with international auditors, is the second of its kind, the first having been held in December of last year for the presentation of the Prefecture's new rules. It will be followed, probably each six months, by other similar reunions.
After reading a short greeting from the Holy Father, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., and an introduction by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture, an interesting agreement was presented, by virtue of which Banco Santander offered its availability to place its contacts and formative resources, drawing upon the wide network of the Bank's relationships with the international academic world, at the Prefecture's disposition.
Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State, also spoke, giving his greetings and encouragement. The Prefecture's secretary, Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, and Accountant General, Dr. Stefano Fralleoni spoke, in turn, to explain the historical development of the Prefecture's preparation of the consolidated financial statements and the importance of properly preparing budgets in the governance of the economical administration.
In particular, information was given on the progress made in preparing a consolidated financial statement that isn't limited to the two specific areas of the Curia and the Vatican City Sate, but which also extends to the areas of the pastoral outreach and charitable activities that are overseen by the Holy See.
The financial statements in question will be presented in documented and detailed form at the next meeting of the Council of Cardinals—the so-called “Council of Fifteen”, which will meet, as usual, in the first days of July—to study the Holy See's organizational and economic problems. The meeting was followed by a series of addresses and questions on the part of the participants, among which are to be noted the speeches by the international auditors, whose presence and participation were highly appreciated by all present.
Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed Dr. Venerando Marano, previously adjunct judge of the Tribunal of Vatican City State, as a permanent judge of that tribunal.



World Refugee Day


Forced to Flee,
Seeking Safety

For over a century the Catholic Church in the United States has provided material and spiritual support to migrants, both domestically and abroad. A migrant population in particular need of protection are refugees who, according to the 1951 Refugee Convention, are those who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country." Refugees are particularly vulnerable because they are often unable to take advantage of legal protections that are often afforded to residents and citizens of a country and are thus particularly open to exploitation. 
The Catholic Church has long recognized these threats and since at least the World War II era, the Church has been proactive in its advocacy efforts on behalf of these populations. In addition to advocacy, it also provides services to refugees who are resettled into the United States and develops resources that help refugees integrate into their new homeland. World Refugee Day, which is celebrated every year on June 20, provides an opportunity to highlight some of these efforts and shed light on the important work of the Church in this regard. It is also an opportunity to highlight some of the refugee populations that are in need of further protections. Please find below a series of fact sheets that provide overviews of some of these situations.  Use them as a resource to familiarize yourself, your family, and your friends to these crises and to learn more how you can help. 
  • Forced to Flee: The Plight of Congolese Refugees
    The Democratic Republic of the Congo has, in recent decades, faced one political crisis after another. Economic chaos, civil war, and government corruption has contributed to the displacement of countless numbers of Congolese
  • Forced to Flee: Eritrean Refugees, Kidnapped and Tortured
    Forced military conscription, grinding poverty that prohibits the average Eritrean from living a life of dignity, and an oppressive government has contributed to a significant and growing refugee population.
  • Forced to Flee: The Syrian Exodus
    Since 2011 a full-scale rebellion that seeks the removal of President Bashar al-Assad has broken out in Syria, and has led to a massive dislocation of people who are fleeing the violence and seeking safety elsewhere. 
It is important to note that these only represent a small sampling of the refugee populations to whom the Church provides support. Since it began its work in earnest with refugees, the Church has advocated for and helped to resettle refugees from Eastern Europe, Central and South America, Africa, and throughout Asia. 

The Catholic Church in Action

The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental resettlement agency in the world, and generally helps to resettle as many as a third of all refugees brought into the United States in any given year. This work is made possible through the tireless efforts of people working as part of the Church's resettlement network across the country.  In additional to its resettlement activities, representatives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services often travel abroad to see first hand the situation of refugee populations, and to develop policy recommendations that are intended to provide protection to these populations. Please find below the final reports from some recent delegation trips:

How you can help

  • Refugee populations are in need of your assistance, both through material support when they arrive and continual advocacy efforts on their behalf. To learn more about how you can help the Church in its efforts to protect refugee populations, please click here.
  • If you are interested in assisting MRS continue its important work with migrants and refugees, please consider making a donation to the National Catholic Migration Fund.


The Lourdes shrine has closed due to severe flooding in southwest France. Hundreds of pilgrims have been evacuated and a 70 year old woman was killed. The Gave de Pau river has overflowed.
The Mayor of Lourdes, Jean-Pierre Artiganave, has said that shrine will not reopen until safety can be assured. 
"We need more reinforcements in the area to face these floods, which are really exceptional," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls. 
Donations can be made at the Lourdes website:

There was about five feet of water in the grotto. Many pilgrimages to Lourdes have been cancelled. (Image source: Google/various news sources)


Pope John Paul II was beatified on May 1 2011. The media in Italy have reported that his canonisation is another step closer. The theological consultants to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes confirms that  prayers and events concerning an alleged miracle give evidence that the healing was accomplished through the intercession of Pope John Paul II. This second miracle has yet to be officially released and signed by the Congregation. The board of physicians had said in April that there was no natural, medical explanation for the healing. The healing involves a woman from Latin America healed on May 1 2011, a few hours after Blessed John Paul was beatified.


by Simone Cantarini 
In a village north of Aleppo Fr. Hanna, a Franciscan, rings the bells every day to show the public that he is there for them. Nuns, priests and volunteers are now a point of reference and love for Christians and Muslims torn apart by a war imported from outside. Archbishop Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Damascus: "The real victory is not winning the war, but peace." 

Rome (AsiaNews) - "In a small village north of Aleppo conquered by the rebels Fr. Hanna, a Franciscan priest, rings the bell each day at the small local church. The chimes mark the hours of the day and are a sign of hope for the whole population, Christian and Muslim, knowing that in the small chapel there is someone ready to listen, to alleviate their suffering, regardless of faction, and religious beliefs. In Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and other cities, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd provide continuous assistance to the displaced, bringing clean clothes, food and words of comfort. "
This is what Msgr. Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Damascus tells AsiaNews.  He is currently in Rome for the 86th Assembly of the ROACO (Reunion of Works to Aid the Oriental Churches) on "The situation of Christians and churches in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and the Holy Land," which concludes today with a meeting with Pope Francis.
"Fr. Hanna - says the bishop - like other priests around the country, has become a reference point for the community. People respect and appreciate him for his simple presence, because he decided to stay, at a time when everyone is trying to escape. During these months, the Islamist insurgents have repeatedly ordered the removal of the bells, because they are not in line with the Sharia law imposed by force. With the help of the population, mostly Muslim, the young Franciscan however, resisted, he was not frightened and continues to bring aid, food to the poor, visiting the sick and elderly and guide young people in search of odd jobs to sustain their families. "

The Nuncio believes that the Church has a great responsibility in this country. Syria has been used by foreign nations as a battlefield for opposing ideologies: Wahhabi Islam against Shiite Islam, democracy against totalitarianism, countries of the Western bloc against Russia. "Christians, Orthodox and Catholics, they still have an extensive network of contacts, formed by parishes, service centers, convents, soup kitchens. When compared with the cost of a normal NGO its costs are minimal." "We - he adds - are here to witness to the Gospel. Clergy are laying down their lives life for Christ and at this time the features of his face are those of the Syrian people who are suffering. Lay people who work with us are mostly volunteers, who share our mission. "

The situation described and experienced by Msgr. Zenari is dramatic: "The war in Syria now affects the entire population, by the end of it the displaced people could reach a record 10 million, almost half the population. Even in Damascus, the capital, people no longer have anything . The houses are now empty, in order to survive they are selling furniture, clothes, their goods, those who have some jewels or precious object sell them on the black market, to buy fuel, oil, dried meat, powdered milk for children. We need a cease- fire, even a few hours, to alleviate the suffering of these families, but neither the government nor the rebels allow it. "

Archbishop Zenari invites all Catholics, especially Westerners, to find out about the "real situation in Syria." Unfortunately it is not the one reported in newspapers and television. "Nobody is talking about the Syrian people - says the prelate - no one states that the population is first victim of what passes over their heads: bombs, sanctions, air strikes, terrorist attacks, brutal murders, which will increase if we continue to send weapons to the army and rebels". "The real victory - he concludes - is not winning the war, but peace. Only with peace can Syria begin to rebuild."



High Flyers Raise $3.75 Million Ahead of Tomorrow's National Sleepout

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
19 Jun 2013
NSW Vinnies CEO Michael Perusco and Holly Kramer CEO of Best & Less with onesie suits
Tomorrow night on what promises to be one of the coldest nights of the year, 1118 high flyers from across Australia will sleep rough under a sheet of cardboard as part of St Vincent de Paul Society's annual CEO Sleepout.
Aimed at raising awareness as well as funds for Australia's more than 105,000 homeless men, women and children, the CEO Sleepout is now in its eighth year and with $3.75 million already raised is well on track to top last year's $5 million mark and is tipped to raise a whopping $7 million.
In Sydney, temperatures are set to fall below 10 degrees with showers also forecast. But on the day before the winter Solistice and the longest night of the year on Friday, 21 June, many of the city's 327 CEOs taking part may be cosier than most thanks to a donation of 200 blue, red, orange and striped "onesies" donated by Holly Kramer, CEO of Best & Less.
A first-timer at the CEO Sleepout, Holly made history this year by raising more $120,000 ahead of the Sleepout from generous donations not only from the company's 5000 employees but from Best & Less customers across the state as well.
Malcolm Turnbull who took part in the 2012 Sleepout has so far raised almost $40,000 for the homeless this year
Along with the 200 "onesies" Holly has donated to keep many of NSW's CEOs warm, her company gave a further 1000 warm winter pairs of pajamas to Vinnies' Matthew Talbot Homeless Services to distribute to families and children most in need.
The annual CEO Sleepout is now a national event with Sleepouts taking part in every capital city of Australia as well as Wollongong, Newcastle and Tweed Heads.
In Brisbane this year, former PM Kevin Rudd who vividly remembers the months he and his mother and brother were homeless after his father's death, will again take part in the Sleepout.
In Sydney two other well known Federal MPs will also be unrolling sleeping bags and covering themselves in cardboard to experience for a brief time just what it is like to to be homeless and forced to sleep rough.  Malcolm Turnbull, Shadow Minister for Communications will again join the CEO sleep out at the Redfern Carriageworks tomorrow night and has already raised almost $40,000 for the homeless. Mark Butler, Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness will also be taking part along with 325 other Sydney CEOs and community leaders.
Kevin Rudd will take part in the Brisbane CEO Sleepout again this year
Among others taking part in the Sydney sleepout will be Andrew Scipione, NSW Police Commissioner; Andrew Stoner, Deputy Premier of NSW; Deborah Hutton of Balance by Deborah Hutton, Bernard Boerma CEO of CatholicCare and Michael Perusco, CEO of Vinnies NSW.
As he has done every year, Dr John Falzon, CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society's National Council will also participate. But this year instead of Canberra or Sydney he will be sleeping rough in Australia's top end.
"I will be doing the CEO Sleepout in Darwin and spending the night at Fannie Bay Gaol," he says. While he admits it will be far warmer in Darwin than in Canberra where he usually spends the Sleepout, he believes it is important to raise awareness of homelessness in the Northern Territory which has the highest proportion of people per head of population in Australia who are currently without a home.
While Vinnies CEO Sleepout is expected to raise at least $5 million for the homeless this year, equally important is raising awareness about homelessness and removing stereotypes. This includes being homeless is the person's own fault and that they should have worked and tried harder to hold down a job.
Dr John Falzon, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society
But with most of us only a few pay cheques awayfrom  homelessness. The unexpected loss of a job or a regular income could see us unable to pay the mortgage or rent and if we are without family to help out, forced out of our houses or flats and onto the streets.
Contrary to popular misconceptions the majority of the homeless are in their late 20s or early 30s with the fastest growing number of homeless women who have fled situations of domestic violence and with children and no income, forced to sleep in their cars or bed down at shelters or with friends.
Currently more in NSW alone, more than 17,000 children under the age of 12 with 56% of the homeless men and women across the State under 35.
"Homelessness in a nation as prosperous and as rich as Australia is nothing short of scandalous," Dr Falzon says.
"There will always be some in the community who think people who are homeless are the ones who must change; that they must be subjected to some form of 'tough love,'" he says and points to the Federal Government's refusal to increase the Newstart Allowance in this year's budget, despite the fact the allowance has not been increased over the past 19 years and at just $497 per fortnight has not kept pace with the rising cost of living during this time.
Instead of helping the unemployed or the single mothers and their children the Government moved onto the payment in January this year Dr Falzon says the allowance has forced them to live below the poverty line.
Last year more than 300 Sydney High Flyers took part in Vinnies CEO Sleepout for the Homeless
Submissions from Vinnies, welfare and social service agencies as well as businesses urged the Government to increase Newstart by at least $50 per week. But the Government refused, insisting that by keeping the allowance low would force the unemployed and single mothers, once their child reached the age of 8, back into the work force.
Keeping people below the poverty line and punishing them further for being homeless is not the way to create a smart and confident Australia, Dr Falzon warns and insists the key to ending homelessness lies not in the homeless themselves but with society as a whole.
"On the eve of the CEO Sleepout we are specifically calling on both sides of politics to embrace partisan support for the 2008 White Paper target to halve homelessness by 2020 and to offer a place called home to all those who are sleeping rough," he says.
According to Dr Falzon, any steps towards halving homelessness, let alone eliminating it, must  include a guarantee of the basic human right to housing.
"There also needs to be a strong investment in education, especially focussing on students from disadvantaged backgrounds and pathways to secure and sustainable employment, including an adequate rather than impoverishing income support system for those who are outside the labour market."
The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is a powerful symbol, he says. "But it is only a symbol. As a society we need to do much more."


IN HONOR OF THE YEAR OF FAITH- JCE WORLD NEWS IS SHARING Anthony - Warrior of God. (Image share - Google)
YOUTUBE ABOUT SHARE: St. Anthony began life as a young nobleman who enjoyed all the sumptuous pleasures and privileges of that medieval Europe could offer. Yet he was compelled by a mysterious inner voice to gaze upon the unspeakable misery, disease and cruelty around him. Overcome with boundless compassion, he entered a monastery, dedicating his fine mind and fragile body to defending the poor and oppressed against injustice. This revolutionary saint dared to challenge the highest spheres of society, the government and even the Church, if they were guilty of exploiting the common people. His story continues to this day with the many accounts of those who have been transformed by "the most famous saint in the world," St. Anthony of Padua.
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Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 368

Reading 1 2 COR 11:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If only you would put up with a little foolishness from me!
Please put up with me.
For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God,
since I betrothed you to one husband
to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts may be corrupted
from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ.
For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached,
or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received
or a different gospel from the one you accepted,
you put up with it well enough.
For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “superapostles.”
Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge;
in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so that you might be exalted,
because I preached the Gospel of God to you without charge?
I plundered other churches by accepting from them
in order to minister to you.
And when I was with you and in need, I did not burden anyone,
for the brothers who came from Macedonia
supplied my needs.
So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
By the truth of Christ in me,
this boast of mine shall not be silenced
in the regions of Achaia.
And why? Because I do not love you?
God knows I do!

Responsorial Psalm PS 111:1B-2, 3-4, 7-8

R. (7a) Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.
Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
R. Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
sure are all his precepts,
Reliable forever and ever,
wrought in truth and equity.
R. Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel MT 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”


St. Silverius
Feast: June 20

Feast Day:June 20
Born:480 at Frosinone (in modern Italy)
Died:November 537
Patron of:Ponza, Italy
Dates of birth and death unknown. He was the son of Pope Hormisdas who had been married before becoming one of the higher clergy. Silverius entered the service of the Church and was subdeacon at Rome when Pope Agapetus died at Constantinople, 22 April, 536. The Empress Theodora, who favoured the Monophysites sought to bring about the election as pope of the Roman deacon Vigilius who was then at Constantinople and had given her the desired guarantees as to the Monophysites. However, Theodatus, King of the Ostrogoths, who wished to prevent the election of a pope connected with Constantinople, forestalled her, and by his influence the subdeacon Silverius was chosen. The election of a subdeacon as Bishop of Rome was unusual. Consequently, it is easy to understand that, as the author of the first part of the life of Silverius in the "Liber pontificalis" (ed. Duchesne, I, 210) relates, a strong opposition to it appeared among the clergy. This, however, was suppressed by Theodatus so that, finally, after Silverius had been consecrated bishop (probably on 8 June, 536) all the Roman presbyters gave their consent in writing to his elevation. The assertion made by the author just mentioned that Silverius secured the intervention of Theodatus by payment of money is unwarranted, and is to be explained by the writer's hostile opinion of the pope and the Goths. The author of the second part of the life in the "Liber pontificalis" is favourably inclined to Silverius. The pontificate of this pope belongs to an unsettled, disorderly period and he himself fell a victim to the intrigues of the Byzantine Court.

After Silverius had become pope the Empress Theodora sought to win him for the Monophysites. She desired especially to have him enter into communion with the Monophysite Patriarch of Constantinople, Anthimus, who had been excommunicated and deposed by Agapetus, and with Severus of Antioch. However, the pope committed himself to nothing and Theodora now resolved to overthrow him and to gain the papal see for Vigilius. Troublous times befell Rome during the struggle that broke out in Italy between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines after the death of Amalasuntha, daughter of Theodoric the Great. The Ostrogothic king, Vitiges, who ascended the throne in August, 536, besieged the city. The churches over the catacombs outside of the city were devastated, the graves of the martyrs in the catacombs themselves were broken open and desecrated. In December, 536, the Byzantine general Belisarius garrisoned Rome and was received by the pope in a friendly and courteous manner. Theodora sought to use Belisarius for the carrying out of her plan to depose Silverius and to put in his place the Roman deacon Vigilius, formerly apocrisary at Constantinople, who had now gone to Italy. Antonina, wife of Belisarius, influenced her husband to act as Theodora desired. By means of a forged letter the pope was accused of a treasonable agreement with the Gothic king who was besieging Rome. It was asserted that Silverius had offered the king to leave one of the city gates secretly open so as to permit the Goths to enter. Silverius was consequently arrested in March, 537, roughly stripped of his episcopal dress, given the clothing of a monk and carried off to exile in the East. Vigilius was consecrated Bishop of Rome in his stead.

Silverius was taken to Lycia where he was went to reside at Patara. The Bishop of Patara very soon discovered that the exiled pope was innocent. He journeyed to Constantinople and was able to lay before the Emperor Justinian such proofs of the innocence of the exile that the emperor wrote to Belisarius commanding a new investigation of the matter. Should it turn out that the letter concerning the alleged plot in favour of the Goths was forged, Silverius should be placed once more in possession of the papal see. At the same time the emperor allowed Silverius to return to Italy, and the latter soon entered the country, apparently at Naples. However, Vigilius arranged to take charge of his unlawfully deposed predecessor. He evidently acted in agreement with the Empress Theodora and was aided by Antonina, the wife of Belisarius. Silverius was taken to the Island of Palmaria in the Tyrrhenian Sea and kept their in close confinement. Here he died in consequence of the privations and harsh treatment he endured. The year of his death is unknown, but he probably did not live long after reachingPalmaria. He was buried on the island, according to the testimony of the "Liber pontificalis" on 20 June; his remains were never taken from Palmaria. According to the same witness he was invoked after death by the believers who visited his grave. In later times he was venerated as a saint. The earliest proof of this is given by a list of saints of the eleventh century (Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire, 1893, 169). The "Martyrologium" of Peter de Natalibus of the fourteenth century also contains his feast, which is recorded in the present Roman Martyrology on 20 June.

[Editor's note: According to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope St. Silverius was exiled not to Palmaria, but rather to the Island of Palmarola, a much smaller and more desolate island near Ponza, Italy, in the Bay of Naples.]

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)