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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
FIDES NEWS 12-11-2008
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VATICAN - Pope Benedict XVI to visit the Embassy of Italy to the Holy See, December 13
Rome (Agenzia Fides) The Embassy of Italy to the Holy See has released a statement saying that this December 13, his holiness Benedict XVI will make a visit to the Embassy itself. It will be the fourth time that a Pope visits Borromeo Palace: Pius XII visited in 1951, Paul VI in 1964, and John Paul II in 1986. The Holy Father will be welcomed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Franco Frattini and by the Undersecretary of the President of the Council, Mr. Gianni Letta, accompanied by the Ambassador of Italy to the Holy See, Antonio Zanardi Landi. The Holy Father's visit will take place just two months after his meeting with the President of the Republic, at the "Quirinale" and two months prior to the talks that are annually held on the occasion of the reception of the Lateran Pacts and the Accord of the Modification of the Concordat, which in 2009 will celebrate their 80th and 25th anniversaries, respectively. The event, which recalls the unique relationship maintained between Italy and the Holy See, coincides with an elaborate restoration of the Palace's Chapel, which is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, where the Pope will hold a personal meeting with members of the Embassy and their family members. The Holy Father will later greet the members of government present and those invited to the Palace for the celebration. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2008)
VATICAN - Benedict XVI advises Bishops of Bolivia to promote "systematic, widespread and incisive catechesis is needed, catechesis that teaches the Catholic faith clearly and completely. This Year of St. Paul that we are celebrating, is a special occasion to imitate the apostolic and missionary vigor of this great Apostle."
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "I know well of the difficult circumstances affecting the faithful and citizens of your country, which at the current time seem to be becoming even more marked. These certainly cause concern and call for the special pastoral solicitude of the entire Church, which has closely followed Bolivians through difficult situations with the single intention of keeping hope alive, reviving faith, fomenting unity, exhorting reconciliation and safeguarding peace." These were the words of the Holy Father Benedict XVI in addressing the Bishops of Bolivia, received in audience during there Ad Limina Apostolorum visit, on November 10. The Holy Father later made reference to the many challenges that arise among the Bishops' tasks, "because the faith sown in Bolivian soil always needs to be nourished and fortified, especially when signs emerge of a certain weakness in Christian life, which can be caused by factors of various origins, by incoherence between professed faith and the conduct of personal and social life, or by a superficial formation which leaves the baptized exposed to the influence of dazzling but empty promises." A "powerful instrument" in meeting to these challenges is the popular devotion, which the Pope defined as "a valuable treasure accumulated over the centuries thanks to the work of intrepid missionaries, and upheld with great faithfulness by generations of Bolivian families." It is a gift which certainly has to be safeguarded and promoted today, and that "requires a constant effort so that its significance may penetrate into the depths of people's hearts, remain illuminated by the Word of God, and transform itself into firm convictions of faith, consolidated by the Sacraments and by faithfulness to moral values." In order to cultivate a mature faith, lived in a joyful and responsible manner, "systematic, widespread and incisive catechesis is needed, catechesis that teaches the Catholic faith clearly and completely. This Year of St. Paul that we are celebrating, is a special occasion to imitate the apostolic and missionary vigor of this great Apostle, who never retreated when it came time to announce God's plan in all its integrity, as he tells the Pastors of Mileto. A partial or incomplete teaching of the Gospel message does not correspond with the Church's mission and it does not bear fruit." Quality general education, which includes the spiritual and religious dimension of the person, also helps to lay firm foundations for the development of the faith. Thus, it is important that Bishops place special attention in looking after the many educational institutions, "so as to maintain respect for their particular identity." The Holy Father later expressed his gratitude for the Bishops' effort " to offer seminarians a solid human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation, ensuring them the attentions of priests able to accompany them in their vocational discernment and to guarantee their suitability and competency." The Pope also recalled the need to guarantee permanent formation for the clergy and other pastoral agents, "in order to nourish their spiritual life and to ensure their work does not become routine or superficial." Referring to all that was brought to light in the recent Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the Holy Father encouraged them in their homilies, catechesis, and celebrations, to make "faithful proclamation, listening, and meditation on Scripture the first priority, as it is where the People of God find the meaning of their existence, their vocation and identity. Docile listening to the divine Word gives rise to love for others and, in turn, disinterested service to mankind. This is something that occupies a very important position in pastoral activity in Bolivia, in the face of the poverty, marginalization and helplessness of a large part of the population." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2008)
ASIA/CHINA - Archbishop Emeritus Pio Jin Peizian of Mukden passed away November 4: one of his main concerns was the formation of priests, religious, and lay faithful.
Mukden (Agenzia Fides) This past November 4, the Archbishop Emeritus of Mukden (Shenyang), province of Liaoning (mainland China) passed away. He was nearly 84 years of age and for some time his health had been frail due to a kidney tumor. The Prelate was born March 16, 1924 in Dandong, a small town near the border with North Korea, into a long-standing Catholic family. In 1935, he entered the minor seminary in Fushun and later, the major seminary in Shenyang (1942-43), Jilin (1944-45), and Beijing (1948-1949). He finished his theological studies in Hong Kong at the South China Regional Seminary (1949-1951). He was ordained a priest in Shanghai by Bishop Walsh, MM, on January 29, 1951, two years after the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Following his ordination he was sent to teach Latin in the minor seminary in Beijing and from 1952-1955, he worked as an accountant in a chemical factory. Once he was able to return to pastoral activity, he served as assistant pastor in the parish of Fushun. In 1958, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for being an "anti-revolutionary." He came out of prison in 1968 and was sent to perform forced labor for "reeducation through labor." Only in 1980, following an increased religious tolerance, was he able to once again perform pastoral activity in public and return to the parish in Fushun, later becoming Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Shenyang. On May 21, 1989 he was ordained a Bishop. One of the areas that most concerned Archbishop Jin, and where he poured out much of his time and effort, was that of the formation of priests, religious, and laity. He greatly valued belonging to the universal Church and thus, was one of the first Bishops to send priests and religious to other countries to complete their studies. During a visit to religious in Taiwan, he expressed his desire to be able to soon pay a visit to the Holy Father. In 2007, as his illness worsened, he resigned from his episcopal office, effective June 29, 2008, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, when he left charge of the Archdiocese to his Coadjutor Bishop Paul Pei Junmin. The Archdiocese of Mukden (Shenyang) is located nearly 630 kilometers northeast of Beijing and has over 110,000 Catholics, 80 priests (most of whom are young), 47 parishes and 70 places of worship, and over 180 religious, who are extremely active in caring for the sick and the elderly, and in visiting families. The Archdiocese has a hundred major seminarians and eight major seminarians, and runs three clinics and a residence for the elderly. The funeral service for the beloved Prelate was celebrated on November 8, presided by his successor, Archbishop Paolo Pei Junmin, and attended by the Bishops of Jilin, Yongping (Tangshan) and Ichang (Yichang), along with 120 priests, 200 religious, the seminarians of the Archdiocese, and over 3,000 faithful and local civil authorities. As was written in the reports of his funeral, Arhcbishop Jin was "a man open to dialogue, but firm in the principles of the faith; with trust in God and with love for the Church he sought to meet the spiritual needs of his people throughout his entire life." (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2008)
ASIA/HONG KONG - The diocese prepares for three new priests to be ordained on November 15
Hong Kong (Agenzia Fides) The Catholics of Hong Kong are joyfully preparing for the ordinations of three new priests. According to a report from the Kong Ko Bao (the Chinese version of the diocesan bulletin), three deacons from the Holy Spirit Seminary of the Diocese of Hong Kong - Liao Ya Lun, Tan Han Wei, and Tan Yong Ming will be ordained priests on November 15 in the Cathedral. The community is already making preparations for the event. On November 12-14, in the parishes of Saint Thomas and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, there will be a prayer vigil held for the three deacons and for vocations in general. The future priests were ordained to the diaconate last January and following their ordination to the priesthood they will continue working in the parishes where they have been performing their pastoral services. Deacon Liao Ya Lun was born in Hong Kong in 1974, into a Catholic family. After participating in World Youth Day 1997 in Paris, and praying the monthly prayer for vocational discernment, he entered the seminary in 2001. Deacon Tan Han Wei was also born in Hong Kong in 1975, into a Catholic family. He entered the seminary in August 2001. Deacon Tan Yong Ming was born 52 years ago into a Catholic family. He worked in the Hong Kong Administration Offices as a civil engineer and researcher. He entered the seminary in 2000. According information on the diocesan website (www.catholic.org.hk), the diocese now has 246,000 faithful, 291 priests, 68 religious brothers, 502 religious sisters, 52 parishes, 41 churches and 31 chapels. The Church runs 297 kindergartens and elementary schools, with 24,000 students, 6 hospitals, 13 clinics, 39 social services and family centers, 18 high schools, 13 residencies for elderly, and 20 rehabilitation centers. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 11/10/2008)
ASIA/INDIA - "We want to celebrate Christmas in peace; the state should see to the return of Christians and the reconstruction of Churches": letter from the Bishops to the Prime Minister of Orissa
Bhubaneswar (Agenzia Fides) The Bishops of Orissa have recently written a list of considerations they wish to bring to the attention of Prime Minister Shri Naveen Patnaij, who is currently governing the eastern Indian state. In a recent meeting, the Bishops presented the Prime Minister with a list of their petitions, with several "words of truth" on the situation in the area of Kandhamal, where the majority of the anti-Christians attacks in Orissa have been reported. The letter is signed by Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Bishop Thomas Thiruthalil of Balasore, and Bishop Sarat Nayak of Berhapur. The first consideration in the text makes reference to the many refugees in Kandhamal, and that the considerable drop (they are now 11,000) in the number does not imply that they have returned to their houses or towns. Many of them have gone to other refugee camps in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, and other cities: at least 15,000 of them are living outside the district. Furthermore, a large number of them have left the state and gone towards Andra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka. The Bishops explain the reason for this flight: many are afraid of more attacks from Hindu extremists. They threaten them to convert to Hinduism and destroy their property or take their lives if they don't. There are many armed criminals who walk free, terrorizing Christians, the Bishops say. They also addressed the serious situation of injustice and discrimination that the Christian communities experience. For example, it is forbidden to bury a Christian in the land of his origin. There is an intimidation campaign being carried out, which violates human rights and one which the government should stop. Furthermore, the government in Orissa promised to award new lands to the farmers who do not have any, however this has not yet taken place. The third point the Bishops mention is the destruction and looting of Churches, convents, and Christian schools and buildings, which continues to occur without any intervention on the part of authorities. Some of the police stations, like that of Sarangoda, have even refused to take claims for new acts of violence, with no regard for their role in upholding respect for the law. The Bishops ask that rebuilding of destroyed and damaged buildings begin December 1, in order to guarantee the Christian communities the celebration of Christmas, thanks to the position of the Federal Police Forces, which the Bishops say would help enforce order and allow for Christians to return to a normal life. The Bishops also note that what is occurring is not an ethnic conflict between tribes, as some have tried to portray it, in order to hide the real intentions of Hindu fundamentalists, which is to eliminate all presence and trace of Christianity in the state of Orissa. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 11/10/2008)
AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Cardinal Julio Terrazas tells the Holy Father of the joys and hopes, sorrows and concerns of the country, during the Ad Limina visit
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "Our great desire is that this encounter may be an expression of our affection for the successor of Peter," said Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, Archbishop of Santa Cruz and President of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference, in greeting the Holy Father Benedict XVI in the audience held on November 10, on the occasion of their Ad Limina Apostolorum visit. The Cardinal began by expressing his gratitude to the Pope for his closeness at Aparecida, for the attention and words he addressed to the people of Bolivia in difficult times and for his Pastoral concern for the Church in Bolivia. The Cardinal later presented the Holy Father with a general account of the main "joys and hopes, sorrows and concerns" of the country. Among the joys he mentioned, the first was the "Continental Mission," which will be launched early next year, "in order to awaken the missionary impulse amoung our faithful and all the People of God in Bolivia." He also mentioned the new "Focus and Pastoral Directives of the Bishops' Conference, which tries "to illumine, encourage, and accompany the life and pastoral action of the local dioceses in our country, during the next five years." Another positive aspect is "the growing value of the Sunday Mass and the announcement of the Word of God as the center of community life," as well as a greater "presence of religious and missionaries who dedicate their lives to the service of the People of God with generosity in many far-away and abandoned areas, and oftentimes, in dangerous circumstances." In addition, following the indications of Aparecida, they are trying to establish "formation for Christian initiation and on-going formation for the baptized, based on the Bible, Tradition, the Church's Magisterium and Social Doctrine, which enlighten our existence and give motivation for a personal, communal, and social commitment." However, with all that said, there are always moments of difficulty and insecurity, Cardinal Terrazas explained. Thus, it is evident that the political measures and legal mechanisms being used up until now to fight the great evils of poverty, social injustice, discrimination, and marginalization, "appear to be neither sufficient nor adequate in being able to establish a Bolivia for all its people." Another cause for concern is that "this process of change still does not find channels that respond to the spiritual value and wealth of the entire society, who longs for paths of justice and peace." The Cardinal went on to explain that "intolerance has risen and has prevented rational dialogue from bearing any fruit. It has often rejected sane measures and opted for physical, verbal, and ethical violence that leads to insecurity, suffering, and mourning in the country." Thus, the Bishops continue to witness "the reappearance of new forms of exclusion, the rise of revenge, hate, racism, and even signs of xenophobia. These manifestations, lived with great intensity, have weakened the state, and the effectiveness of those whose duty it is to guarantee democracy." Throughout this entire process, the Bishops have made continual calls for reconciliation, pardon, sane judgment, dialogue, and prayer for peace. In a special manner, the Cardinal said, "we have offered our contribution and reflection in the drafting of the new Constitution, giving guidelines from the Gospel and the Church's Social Doctrine," insisting on crucial points such as "the sacredness of human life, the dignity of the human person, freedom, the common good, and democratic coexistence." "We have lived moments of intense uncertainty that, thanks be to God, have been abated after a long and painful quest for consensus, so as to serve the entire country," the Prelate affirmed. The President of the Bishops' Conference concluded his address by asking that the Holy Father bestow his apostolic blessing upon the entire Bolivian people, "so that our beloved Bolivia may be fully established in justice, reconciliation, freedom, and love, the foundations of peace." (RG) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2008)
AMERICA/MEXICO - President of the Pontifical Council for Families calls the WMF 2009 "a splendid experience of universal brotherhood." The Pope will participate via satellite and send Cardinal Bertone as his delegate
Mexico City (Agenzia Fides) - "As President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and in accord with the Archbishop of Mexico, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, I invite you all to participate with your families in the VI World Meeting of Families, which will take place here in Mexico City, this coming January 14-18." These were the words of Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who is currently in Mexico to prepare for WMF 2009. The Cardinal called the encounter "a very important event, both because it refers to the family, the fundamental cell of the Church and civil society, and because many Cardinals, Bishops, and delegations from all over the world will attend - from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the United States and Canada, Europe and Oceania. It will be a splendid experience of universal brotherhood." The Cardinal then recalled that although the Holy Father Benedict XVI will not be able to attend physically, he will "participate through several televised talks before, during, and after the event and will send a special video-message through live-television connection, during the Closing Mass, on January 18." He also announced that the Pope will send his closest collaborator, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, to the World Encounter as his Papal Legate. "I will bring you the Pope's greeting myself and I assure you of his great affection and care for the people of Mexico, which after Brazil is the largest of the Catholic countries and has always shown fidelity to the Lord, his Vicar the Pope, and the Holy Catholic Church," the Cardinal concluded. During his stay in Mexico, which began on November 4, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli visited the sites which will host the WMF, such as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Expo-Bancomer Santa Fe Conventions Center, and held various meetings with the volunteers who will work the encounter, as well as the Organizing Committee, presided by Bishop Jonas Guerrero Corona. He also officially inaugurated the new website for the WMF 2009, which has been given a new technical design so as to result more efficient and possess a larger capacity of memory data. The site also includes a page where the national and international mass media sources can access information on this great event. Today, November 11, the Cardinal will be attending the Plenary Assembly of the Mexican Bishops' Conference. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2008)
AMERICA/MEXICO - Plenary Assembly of Bishops studies the mission of the laity, formulating strategic guidelines in culture, economy, politics, and mass media, so as to launch the Continental Mission in Mexico
Mexico City (Agenzia Fides) The Bishops of Mexico are currently celebrating their General Assembly which lasts from November 10-14. The general objective of the Assembly is to clarify, revive, and strengthen the mission of the laity, in the spirit of the Aparecida Document and the Pastoral Letter 2000, by formulating strategic guidelines in culture, economy, politics, and mass media, so as to launch the Continental Mission in Mexico. Among the specific objectives are: share the vision of the Bishops and laity on the challenges, ways, and opportunities for a greater participation on the part of the laity in society; discern general guidelines for participation of the lay faithful in Mexico in 4 senses: culture, economy, politics and the common good, and mass media; reach compromises between the Bishops and laity, rooted in the needs of the New Evangelization; establish guidelines for participation within the Church in Mexico, especially in certain events such as the Bicentennial anniversary and the Centennial anniversary of the Revolution, among others. The four main themes to be addressed during the Assembly are: culture, understood in the areas that pertain to the human person, e.g. the family, education, dialogue between science and faith, values, and social transformation; economy, seeing the priority of the person over material goods and work over profit, care for the environment and development within the lines of justice, as well as overcoming poverty; politics and the common good, for building a new society, values for democracy, political ethics and public policies; and the mass media, studying its influence on public opinion, the use of power, and the transformation of values and issues in society. In each one of these themes, the following questions will be addressed: What can and should the Church do in this social sector, in order to evangelize? What tasks correspond to the Bishops? What tasks correspond to the laity? Given the themes, in addition to the Bishops, the Assembly will also be attended by several competent members of the laity. They will offer their testimony and work on the New Evangelization of the Culture, in all its sectors, and will come from the country's 18 different Ecclesiastical Provinces. Special emphasis will be placed on the woman, indigenous peoples, and farmers. The lay delegates were chosen according to the following criteria: fidelity to the Christian message, the Magisterium of the Church, especially her Social Doctrine; active participation in social evangelization: culture, economy, politics, and mass media; capacity for dialogue and proposal; from various different social and cultural spheres; that there be ample participation of women and representation from all the Church Provinces, as well as a balanced participation in all the issues of the Assembly. All have participated in previously held meetings in their own respective Ecclesiastical Provinces. The General Assembly began on November 10 with a Mass celebrated in the Basilica of Guadalupe, presided by Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, President of the Mexican Bishops' Conference, and concelebrated by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio of Mexico, along with over 100 Mexican bishops. In his homily, Bishop Aguiar reminded the laity that their mission in the world is not at all easy, as "we live in an anti-clerical and secularized society that tries to ridicule and limit the Church's mission to a merely cultural sphere." However, in this situation, "Mexico shows a great thirst for justice, calls for economic equality, and opportunities for education and employment, demands ethical and moral values in order to prevent social decadence, prefers life to death, and longs for a future and for hope." Thus, "the values of the Gospel are the response." He then called on all present to unite their efforts and offer their own capacities in "making the Gospel the Good News for Mexico." At the end of the celebration, Bishop Aguiar Retes read a statement in which he announced the launching of the Continental Mission in all the dioceses in the country. "As Bishops, we assume the challenge to work in bringing a new vitality to the evangelizing mission of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean." (RG) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2008)
OCEANIA/NEW ZEALAND - New Prime Minister elected; Christian leaders make an appeal for the war on poverty
Wellington (Agenzia Fides) New Zealand has elected a new Prime Minister, after 9 consecutive years of the Labour Party, conservative John Key, a 47 year-old businessman, has been elected with 45% of the votes, versus the 33% allotted to the Labour Paty led by ousted Premier Helen Clark. The results shows that there were 59 seats awarded to the National Party, of the Prime Minister, and 43 to the Labour Party. Key brings with him a long-standing career as a banker, having been a member of the Federal Reserve Bank from 1999-2001, and is today a multi-millionaire. The Prime Minister has met with his allies in government to form a coalition, given that in order to have the majority in Parliament, his party needs at least another 5 seats. The two parties are: ACT and United Future. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary form of government, thus the Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by a leader in central government. The country has experienced a regular alteration between nationalists and labor party members in the last 20 years. The new Prime Minister has mentioned that the country is passing through "difficult times," due to the world economic crisis. According to predictions, the country's economy will be in a deadlock until 2009. One of the first meetings to be attended by Key will be that of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, in which the countries in the area will examine possibilities for fighting the economic crisis. On the eve of elections, the Christian leaders in New Zealand came together in an ecumenical forum, and sent an Open Letter to the future governors, asking them to make the war on poverty a priority for the national policy, especially considering large families, the poor, the unemployed, and the homeless. These issues, the Christian leaders said, must be addressed by the government, in guaranteeing the respect for the dignity and well-being of all citizens. The letter places five crucial issues at the government's attention: the use of national prosperity to eliminate poverty; support families and protect children; provide basic assistance (e.g. medical) for the elderly; guarantee all people the right to housing; support local communities with social services. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 10/11/2008)
AFRICA/DR CONGO - Coadjutor Bishop of Matadi appointed
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) The Holy Father Benedict XVI, on November 11, 2008, appointed Bishop Daniel Nlandu Mavi, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Matadi (Democratic Republic of Congo). Until now, he has served as Titular Bishop of Cataquas and Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2008)