Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween violates Church teaching, says Polish archbishop Polish archbishop has cautioned that Halloween celebrations violate Church teaching and urged Catholics not to take part “even in playful form.”

Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski of Łódź said: “This is a fundamentally anti-Christian festival. Parents and teachers should protect youngsters against its images of terror and dread, especially when many already associate it with the cult of Satan.”

Polish Catholic leaders have been trying to foster alternatives to Halloween, which has been marked in Poland since the 1989 collapse of communist rule.

In a pastoral letter to his archdiocese, Archbishop Jedraszewski said Poland was “already seeing a clear reversion in the Western world, as well as in Poland, to pagan practices.” 

He said that All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day had “long traditions” in Poland and were worthy Christian occasions for “praising God and honoring those who came before.”

“Introducing children, and sometimes adults, to Halloween practices is a violation of church teaching. Christians should not take part, even in playful form,” he said.

He added that, instead of celebrating Halloween, local Catholics should commemorate up to 20,000 youngsters who died at the only Nazi concentration camp for children, which operated in Łódź from 1942 to 1945.

A Catholic presenter with Polish Radio, Malgorzata Glabisz-Pniewska, told Catholic News Service data suggested that Poles’ interest in Halloween was now declining.

“Post-communist countries like ours went through a phase when everything from the West seemed better,” she told Catholic News Service yesterday. 

“Many people dislike Halloween now, not because of any link with Satanism, but because it’s an imported custom alien to our culture. It would be better if the church just left it to die naturally.”

Italians start to question school Catholicism lessons

For the first time in history, the entire class of one Italian high school opted out of an elective on Roman Catholicism earlier this month, reopening a long-standing debate over whether state money should be used to fund a class that focuses on a single faith.

Church attendance in Italy has been declining for years, but the country remains — at least on paper — the most Catholic in Europe. It is also a focal point for the world’s Catholics, as the home of the Vatican and the papacy.

That is what made the decision at Christopher Columbus High School in the northern port city of Genoa so unusual.

Until 1986, a course on Catholicism was obligatory for students. Now they can opt out of what is called the “Ora di religione” (religion hour), but most — around 91 percent, according to sources — take the course, which focuses on church history and traditions.

That’s around the same percentage of Italians who consider themselves Catholic (of those, 30 to 40 percent identify as “active” Catholics). Yet despite the apparent popularity of the course, critics wonder why state-run schools are funding the class.

“It would be easier for me to understand this course if it was a survey of world religions, or a course on spirituality or ethics,” said Fabio Milito Pagliara, a teacher and official from Italy’s Union of Atheists and Agnostics. “What about a course on citizenship? I just don’t think the state should be in the business of endorsing one specific faith.”

According to the Rome-based polling firm Opinioni, those who agree with that point of view are on the rise in Italy — though they remain a relatively small minority. Fifteen years ago, little more than one in 10 Italians thought the “Ora di religione” was in need of reform. Now, nearly one in four do, said Opinioni co-director Maria Rossi.

Supporters of the course say it is important because the Catholic Church is so dominant in Italy.

“The course isn’t trying to convert anyone, and if you live in Italy you will not understand the country unless you understand the Catholic Church,” said Nicola Incampo from Cultura Cattolica, which provides church-related information resources to schools. “You don’t have to be Catholic for that to be important.”

Vatican official says more than 3,000 a year quit religious life

The secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said in an October 29 address that over 3,000 men and women religious leave the consecrated life each year.

In the address – a portion of which was reprinted in L’Osservatore Romano – Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo said that statistics from his Congregation, as well as the Congregation for the Clergy, indicate that over the past five years, 2,624 religious have left the religious life annually. 

When one takes into account additional cases handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the number tops 3,000.

The prelate, who led the Order of Friars Minor from 2003 until his April 2013 curial appointment, said that the majority of cases occur at a “relatively young age.” 

The causes, he said, include “absence of spiritual life,” “loss of a sense of community,” and a “loss of sense of belonging to the Church” – a loss manifest in dissent from Catholic teaching on “women priests and sexual morality.”

Other causes include “affective problems,” including heterosexual relationships that continue into marriage and homosexual relationships, which are “most obvious in men, but also present, more often than you think, between women.”

The world, the prelate continued, is undergoing profound changes from modernity to postmodernity – from fixed reference points to uncertainty, doubt, and insecurity. 

In a market-oriented world, “everything is measured and evaluated according to the utility and profitability, even people.” 

It is “a world where everything is soft,” where “there is no place for sacrifice, nor for renunciation.”

Will the Church in Russia speak out over attacks against gays?

While Russia’s predominant Orthodox Church has long implicitly backed the campaign against homosexuals, smaller faith groups, including the Catholic Church, have said nothing against it and done little to help its victims.

On the verge of an urban roundabout, hemmed in by a battered fence, crop-haired youths brandishing baseball bats surround a young man in an orange T-shirt. 

Moments later, the youngster lies gasping and pleading on the ground, as a thick knee is pressed to his neck and heavy boots kick at his torso. 

The video bears the slick logo of Occupy Pedofilyaj, a Russian vigilante group, and is just one of dozens posted on the internet to frighten gays and lesbians.

They provide chilling images of the hardships facing homosexuals in Russia and neighbouring ex-Soviet republics, which have prompted calls for foreign sanctions and a boycott of next February’s Winter Olympics. 

'While the Catholic Church is against homosexual practices, it also opposes homophobia,' explained Mgr Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of Russia’s Catholic bishops’ conference. 

'But homosexuality is a totally marginal issue in Russian society. There’s no great interest in it here and very few homosexuals in our Catholic communities.'

Homosexuality was de-criminalised in Russia in 1993, two years after the collapse of Communist rule, and removed from the list of mental illnesses in 1999. 

But pressure against gays and lesbians has been growing, while violent assaults, often documented and filmed, are routinely ignored by the police. 

This year alone, while brutal murders in Volgograd, Kamchatka and other areas have instilled a climate of fear, according to human rights groups, the Russian Army has issued new guidelines for dealing with homosexual recruits, and plans have been laid for nationwide screening of homosexuals to prevent HIV.

European Union surveys rank Russia alongside Muslim countries as among the least tolerant of homosexuals. 

With no law against sexual discrimination, few public figures have ever declared their homosexuality, while victims of harassment have no confidence in the authorities and rarely reports acts of violence.

Catholics encouraged to acknowledge Blue Knot Day

The CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council has written to more than 1,500 Catholic priests and women and men from religious orders encouraging support for the activities of Blue Knot Day. 

Blue Knot Day and other activities will conclude this Sunday, November 3. The week’s activities are part of an annual awareness campaign coordinated by the victims of child sexual abuse group, Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma.

TJH Council CEO Francis Sullivan said Blue Knot Day is an important event that focuses on the damage done to victims of child sexual abuse. 'This year’s Blue Knot activities are focused on recovery and spreading the message to both survivors and all community members that with the right care and support, recovery is possible,' Mr Sullivan said.

'It is important all members of the community, and particularly members of the Catholic Church, do whatever we can to help victims and survivors.'

New mobile app advises of Mass times
The Archdiocese of Brisbane has produced a new mobile app which advises the details of the next (by time) and nearest (by location) Mass to the user, wherever they may be in the diocese, reports the Archdiocesan website.

It means Brisbane Catholics need never ask 'what time’s Mass on?' again as the app uses a GPS locator to provide the user with upcoming Mass options within a geographical radius. 

The smart phone and tablet app is free and available for both iOS and Android devices.

Its genesis came from Archdiocesan website feedback, wherein numerous requests had been made to group and order the ‘Find a Mass’ information by time of day rather than by parish. 

Brisbane Archdiocesan Web Developer Matt Cassidy has spent the past five months building and testing the app and said he was pleased to have finally found a solution to this recurrent request.

'The governing principle I kept in mind when working on the project was that an app should do one thing and do it well,' Mr Cassidy said. 'Basically it connects the public with the key locations and services across the archdiocese by providing a searchable public directory which makes heavy use of geographical location points. It’s timely to make it available now as we have a lot of visitors who are soon to be travelling here for holidays over the Christmas and New Year period.'

Pope: Every Christian must ask himself how he responds to the love of Jesus

Asking ourselves how we respond to the love of Christ, if it is a love like that of Paul, for whom " no one can separate me from the love of Christ ," or like "unfaithful" Jerusalem of which Jesus himself says, "you were unwilling to be loved, and entrusted yourself to many idols, which promised you everything and then abandoned you".

This is the question posed by Pope Francis, who this morning celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the altar of Blessed John Paul II's tomb. There were more than a hundred priests and many faithful. 

The Pope commented on the readings of the day: the letter of St Paul to the Romans where the Apostle of the Gentiles speaks of his love for Christ and the Gospel of St. Luke in which Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, which did not understand it was loved by him.

"In these readings - said Francis - there are two things that strike us. First, Paul's certainty: ' Nothing will be able to separate usfrom the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' But he loved the Lord so much - because he had seen him , he had found him, the Lord had changed his life - he loved him so much that he said that nothing could separate him from this love.  Precisely this love of the Lord was the center, the very center of the life of Paul. In persecution, in disease, in betrayal, in his every experience, all these things that happened in his life, none of this could separate him from the love of Christ. It was the center of his own life, the point of reference: the love of Christ. "

"And without the love of Christ, without experiencing this love, recognizing, nurturing that love, you can not be a Christian: the Christian feels the Lord's gaze, that beautiful gaze, loved by the Lord and loved to the very end. feels ... the Christian feels that his life was saved by the blood of Christ. And this is love: this is a loving relationship. That's the first thing that really strikes me".

"The other thing that strikes me is this sadness of Jesus, when he looks at Jerusalem. ' But you, O Jerusalem, you who did not understand love'. It did not understand the tenderness of God, with that beautiful image that Jesus depicts. It did not understand the love of God : the opposite of what he Paul felt. But yes, God loves me , God loves us, but it is something abstract, something that does not touch my heart and arrange my life as I can. There is no loyalty there. And Jesus' cry from the heart for Jerusalem is this: ' Jerusalem , you were unwilling to be loved, and entrusted yourself to many idols, which promised you everything and then abandoned you'. At the heart of Jesus , the suffering of Jesus' love : a love that is not accepted , not welcomed".

"These two icons today: that of Paul, who remains faithful to the love of Jesus to the end, with the strength to go forward, to bear everything . He feels himself weak, a sinner, but has the strength in that ' love of God, in that encounter that he had with Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the unfaithful city and its people, unfaithful, who do not accept the love of Jesus , or even worse , huh? Who live this love but only half way: a little ' yes, a little ' no, according to their own convenience. Just look at Paul with his courage that comes from this love, and at Jesus who weeps over the city, which is untrue. Let's look at Paul's faithfulness and Jerusalem's infidelity, and at Jesus, his heart, who loves us so much.  What do can we do? That is the question: Are we like Paul or Jerusalem ? Is my love for God strong like that of Paul or my heart a luke warm heart like that of Jerusalem? May the Lord, through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II, help us to answer this question . So be it . "

Bangladesh Catholic Church launches its first online weekly Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh has just opened its first online paper. 

Launched on 27 October in cooperation with the Christian Communication Centre, the website is named Pratibeshi (Neighbours), after the oldest Bengali language Catholic weekly. 

Founded in 1940, the paper is currently distributed in 30 countries. 

For Pratibeshi editor Fr Joyanto Gomes, the online edition "allows many users to read our news even on the internet." In fact, "As the world changes, we must upgrade," he explained. 

Hence, "We are going down this path to have a direct contact with our readers."

The magazine's new version will publish news about the Catholic Church, but also foreign news as well as articles on cultural topics important for the Church of Bangladesh. 

Pratibeshi's main goal is threefold: to present and promote Christ's message and the Church's teachings through the new media; stimulate, develop and raise spiritual, social, civil and economic awareness by telling ordinary people's everyday experiences; and push Church personnel to use the new forms of communication. 

The weekly is a member of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication.

The online site has already received its first feedback. 

"I am happy to know that Pratibeshi is also available online," said Anthony Gomes Pius, a Catholic man from Dhaka. For him, "the transition to a digital version offers the opportunity to reach more people."

For Samual Purification, the Bishops' Conference did a great thing. The online edition "will make it easier to read news and stories published by Pratibeshi."

Bishops of Southern Africa: Corruption is theft from the poor

“Corruption is theft from the poor," warn the Bishops of the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference.
In a recently published Pastoral Letter dedicated to the scourge of corruption, the bishops of the SACBC (which brings together the Bishops of the South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana) point out that "Corruption harms the whole community. When bribery becomes a way of life for civil servants, business people or church personnel, their real responsibilities are put aside in pursuit of making money for themselves”.

And the document continues, outlining how corruption leads us to become cynical about each other, to distrust the people we regard as our leaders and as honorable people.

The President of the SACBC, Cape Town Archbishop Stephen Brislin, spoke to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni about the Pastoral Letter which he says, was triggered by the need to address what is an enormous issue, around the world and in South Africa…

Archbishop Stephen Brislin says that there have been a number of cases in his country which have brought corruption to the fore, and in a country where there are many many poor people, the issue is perhaps even more poignant.

Quoting from the Pastoral Letter itself: “Corruption is theft from the poor. Money diverted into the pockets of corrupt people could have been spent on housing for the homeless, on medicine for the sick or for other needs. Aid should reach those it is intended for”. So, Archbishop Brislin points out “unless we are able to root out corruption in our society and in our country we are stealing from the poor, we are preventing the advancement of poor people, we are preventing poor people reaching their full potential as human beings”. “Corruption – he explains – is endemic; it is at every level of society, and therefore we have to look at it in the broadest possible way”.

The document includes a quote by Pope Francis in which he says that corruption is worse than other sins, because when it becomes a habit it hardens the heart. Archbishop Brislin says he thinks this is very true:“it is a very selfish action. It is saying I want to enrich myself, I want to enjoy the benefits and the fruits that other people can’t have”. So he says: “it harms the whole community. It is a poison, an evil that must be eradicated from the whole of society”.

The Archbishop confirms that the bishops of Southern Africa have called on their people to embrace the international ecumenical “Exposed” Campaign – which calls individuals to take action and in fact indicates that corruption is a universal issue.

And Archbishop Brislin says that this Letter is a way of preparing for the upcoming April elections that mark 20 years of democracy in South Africa. However he reveals the bishops will be issuing another Pastoral document in celebration of that event. “What we would like for people in SA to do is to consider very carefully when they are going to the polls who should be voting for in terms of issues and the issues which affect our country”.

The Archbishop also comments on the part of the letter in which the bishops call on members of the Church to examine their attitudes, he says that Church members must be stewards of the donor money they receive for projects, so “we have got to make sure we have the right processes in place, the right systems in place to ensure there is no corruption, and should there be a case of corruption, that we immediately take the right action”.

Pope Francis meets with members of Circolo San Pietro Francis received the members of the St Peter’s Circle on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. 

The Circolo San Pietro as it is known in Italian was founded in Rome in 1869 through the efforts of a group of enthusiastic young men from the families of Roman nobility, who desired to witness to the world their fidelity to the Pope and to defend him during a difficult moment in the history of the papacy. 

Today the Circle is essentially a charitable sodality: members distribute 50 thousand meals every year in three kitchens in various parts of the city of Rome; they offer family-style hospitality to parents whose children are admitted for care at the “Bambin Gesù” pediatric hospital, as well as to needy young women studying at university; the circle also distributes new clothing items to those in need through parishes, religious communities and other charitable organizations.

In his remarks to members on Thursday, Pope Francis thanked them for their continued support of the Pope and their work in favor of the poor, as well as for the special collection campaign called “St Peter’s mite”, which the circle makes for the Pope in Roman parishes each year. 

“Dear friends,” said Pope Francis, “continue to be a visible sign of Christ’s charity toward those who find themselves in need – both in the material and in the spiritual sense – and also to the pilgrims who come to Rome from all around the world.”

Lombardi: “Consistory date set for 22 February”

Fr. Lombardi with Pope FrancisFrancis has set 22 February 2014 as the date for the first Consistory for the creation of new cardinals.

Fr. Federico Lombardi announced this, adding that the group of eight cardinals Francis appointed to advise him on Curia reform a few days before this. 

The Synod council, meanwhile, will be meeting shortly after the Consistory.

The Pope announced his decision to hold a Consistory for the creation of new cardinals on 22 February during his meetings with the Council Council of the Synod of Bishops and the Council of eight cardinals appointed to advise him on Curia reform (the G8). 

The work schedules of the two bodies will naturally take the Consistory into account. 

The G8   will hold their third meeting just a few days before the Consistory and the Council of the Synod will meet a few days after it. 

The 15-member Council on economic reform should meet a week before the Consistory

On 22 February the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle. 

This is the date traditionally chosen for the celebration of Consistories for the creation of new cardinals.

Pope Francis says Mass near tomb of Bl. Pope John Paul II

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Thursday in St Peter’s Basilica, inside the St Sebastian Chapel where Blessed Pope John Paul II is buried.

Every Thursday morning, a group of Polish worshippers takes part in a Mass celebrated in the St Sebastian Chapel. 

This week, the Mass was celebrated by Pope Francis himself. 

In his homily, the Pope focused on the love of God, and on two powerful images illustrating the two different ways in which this love might be received.

On the one hand, he said, we have the certainty of the apostle Paul: “no one can separate me from the love of Christ”. 

Paul lived through persecution, through illness, through betrayal, but the love of Christ was always at the centre of his life. 

On the other hand, Pope Francis continued, we have the sadness of Jesus as he looks upon Jerusalem, the unfaithful. And the heart of Jesus wept for this city that didn’t understand the love of God, for this love that was not received.

Pope Francis contrasted the two images – Paul, who feels he is a sinner, but finds strength in the love of God, and Jerusalem, with its people who don’t accept the love of God, or worse, who half accept it, depending on their own convenience. 

So let us ask ourselves, Pope Francis concluded – do I have a strong love, like Paul, or do I have a tepid heart, like Jerusalem?

Monsignor honoured for saving thousands

Former supreme court judge Hugh O'Flaherty, his son Hugh and grandson Hugh pictured at the unveiling of the Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty statue on Mission Road, Killarney on Wednesday.A half-century after his passing, the deeds of a heroic Irish priest who helped saved thousands of people in Nazi-occupied Rome during the Second World War are still talked about.

And yesterday, the 50th anniversary of his death, a monument to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty was unveiled in his hometown, Killarney, Co Kerry, before a gathering that included international representatives.

However, the warmest applause came from several hundred local people when black and red cloaks were lifted to reveal a 2m bronze statue of the renowned humanitarian.

The sculpture by Valentia Island-based artist Alan Ryan Hall depicts the monsignor striding across St Peter’s Square.

His story is told as a backdrop to the sculpture, with replicas of the various honours he received.

Credited with saving more than 6,500 people from certain death, he became known as the Pimpernel of the Vatican and his achievements have inspired several books and films.

At the ceremony were family and friends, as well as international and local dignitaries, including assistant attache at the US Embassy George Sands, Canadian ambassador Loyola Hearn, British ambassador Dominick Chilcott, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles John Brown, and Nurit Tinari-Modai of the Israeli Embassy.

Representing the O’Flaherty family were a nephew and niece of the monsignor’s, former Supreme Judge Hugh O’Flaherty and Pearl Dineen.

Colonel Sam Derry was the monsignor’s second-in-command in the Rome escape line and his son William was present with his wife Marion.

Also there were Mo and David Sands, grandchildren of Henrietta Chevalier, who operated a safe house in Rome and who worked closely with the monsignor.

Hugh O’Flaherty said his uncle would have been astonished that people would have taken so much trouble to present such a wonderful monument in his home town.

He also said his uncle loved simple recognition, meeting people and being recognised. He also loved walking through Killarney and stopping for chats. “Recognition was important to him, in a simple way,’’ said Mr O’Flaherty.

The statue was unveiled at Mission Rd by Killarney mayor Paddy Courtney and a grove of trees has also been planted in the monsignor’s honour.

Chairman of the O’Flaherty Memorial Committee Jerry O’Grady said the unveiling was the culmination of five years of fund-raising. “We hope that the sculpture will tell the monsignor’s story in a meaningful way and inspire future generations to act selflessly and never turn their back on people who need help,’’ he added.

The Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Week continues until Sunday and the O’Flaherty Humanitarian Award will be presented posthumously, on Saturday night, to Donal Walsh, the Tralee teenager who raised money for cancer treatment and worked to prevent suicide among young people.

Same-sex marriage decision delayed

Concern in Fine Gael has forced Taoiseach Enda Kenny to delay a Cabinet decision on whether to hold a referendum on extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.
In a setback for Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, ministers did not discuss the issue yesterday, despite confident expectations from Labour that the constitutional poll would be approved at the meeting.

Mr Kenny pushed the decision back to next week’s Cabinet as he sought to shore up support for the move among Fine Gael backbenchers shaken by the rifts caused by the X Case legislation.

The Taoiseach is to launch a telephone diplomacy effort to assure his party’s TDs that they are not being railroaded into a referendum by Labour.

He has particular concerns about six TDs who have serious reservations about the referendum move, and a senior party source said: “There is no harm for Fine Gael to see the Taoiseach halting Gilmore’s gallop on this for a week.”

With the date for a referendum still to be ironed out, Labour TDs are keen for new legislation on parenting and adoptive rights to be pushed through quickly by Justice Minister Alan Shatter as they fear anti-gay marriage campaigners would use that issue to “hijack” the focus of a constitutional poll on marriage equality.

Mr Gilmore is keen for the reforms regarding adoption by same-sex couples to be passed by the Dáil before a referendum and has shifted his call for a vote to be held next year to early 2015 as a result.

The Taoiseach, who again refused to say whether he was in favour of or opposed to gay marriage, denied that his party was split on the issue.

“I have made it clear that the party that I lead was the party that introduced the civil registration facility as a major piece of progress for gay people,” said Mr Kenny.

Unease among Fine Gael TDs over a gay marriage referendum has heightened after the divisions triggered by legislating for the X Case which saw five TDs and two Senators expelled from its parliamentary ranks.

Ruairi Quinn, the Labour Education Minister, has stated he believed there would be a referendum on same sex-marriage in early 2015.

The constitutional convention decided by a margin of four to one that such a referendum should be held.

Labour had expected the Cabinet to back the move yesterday, but leave the issue of a choice between holding it in October next year, or Mar 2015, until the spring.

Mr Gilmore has stacked a lot of his political credibility on pushing through a gay marriage referendum as soon as possible after he branded it the “civil rights issue of this generation”.

Labour sources said they were confident Cabinet would agree the move next week after Mr Kenny was given time to try and bring more of his backbenchers on board on the issue.

Australian Christian group blames bushfires on gay marriage

One of this month's bushfiresNew South Wales (NSW) lawmakers have been bombarded with emails from group Christian Snippets Australia claiming that this month’s catastrophic bushfires were a warning from God to back down on plans to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.

Christian Snippets Australia warned that recent ‘bushfires and gale force winds’ were a ‘prelude’ to what would happen if a bill to legalize same-sex marriage is passed by the NSW Upper House.

Christian Snippets Australia warned NSW lawmakers that the fires had been ‘a final attempt to avoid the foreboding disasters that God will bring down upon your own head, and upon the heads of many others, should this Bill be passed.’

The email warned NSW state Premier Barry O’Farrell to ‘quash the bill or be quashed’ himself.

Christian Snippets Australia have in the past warned that people are trying to promote ‘godless socialism’ in Australia.

O’Farrell declared a state of emergency 20 October with over 100 bushfires burning across the state though these are mostly under control now.

The fires killed two people and destroyed 248 houses and it is estimated they caused nearly $100 million worth in damage.

Priest left with facial injuries after assault by youths during Co Armagh burglary priest was assaulted and locked in the bathroom of his Co Armagh parochial house during an aggravated burglary. 

It happened at a parochial house in Jonesborough on Wednesday night.

At around 11.30pm the priest discovered three youths in the office before they assaulted him and left him locked in a bathroom.

The gang made off with a some of money.

The priest escaped by climbing through a window and was later taken to hospital to be treated for injuries to his face.

Police have appealed for information.

Ar Sos - Annual Break a short note to state that we here in CW will be taking our annual leave beginning on the 26th October up to and including the 1st of November.

Looking forward to your company beginning in November.

Rosary Prayers For October

This short invocation to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, is an appropriate prayer for the Month of the Holy Rosary, as well as for reciting at the end of the rosary.

To Our Lady of the Rosary

In this prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary, we ask the Virgin Mary to help us to cultivate a habit of interior prayer through the daily recitation of the rosary. 
This is the object of all of our prayers: to arrive at the point where we can "pray without ceasing," as Saint Paul tells us to do.

To the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

This theologically rich prayer to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, calls to mind our Blessed Mother's protection of the Church - as, for example, at the Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571), when the Christian fleet defeated the Ottoman Muslims through the intercession of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

For the Crusade of the Family Rosary

This prayer for the Crusade of the Family Rosary was written by Francis Cardinal Spellman, the cardinal archbishop of the archdiocese of New York in the mid-20th century. 
The Family Rosary Crusade was originally an organization, founded by Fr. Patrick Peyton, dedicated to convincing families to recite the rosary together daily.
Today, we can pray this prayer to spread the practice of the daily recitation of the rosary.
In that vein, it is especially appropriate to add this prayer to our daily prayers for the Month of the Holy Rosary.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Boy takes stage with Pope Francis, hugs him, won't leave Francis displayed his patience Saturday during an address in St. Peter's Square when a little boy with a buzz cut and a striped shirt climbed up on stage and refused to leave.

He'd apparently been seated with other children on a bench to the side of the stage when he walked over to the center where the pope was at the lectern, speaking on the topic of families.

The boy marched around and gazed placidly. 

At one point, security and aides tried to lure him offstage -- he was offered a treat from someone's pocket and taken by an arm. 

The young visitor turned to the pope and wrapped his arms around the pontiff's legs. 

The pope smiled benignly and rubbed the boy on his head. 

Later, as the pope was shaking hands with a man, the boy reached up and hung onto both of their hands. 

Then he saw a girl standing off the side. 

He pulled her over closer to the pope, like he had a special "in" with the man. 

Perhaps now he does.

In times of trouble call on the communion of saints, urges Francis

Pope Francis arrives for the general audience (CNS)Trials and doubts are part of everyone’s faith journey, “even mine”, Pope Francis said today, but Christians know they can get through the hard times with help from God, other Christians and those in heaven.

“Who hasn’t experienced insecurities, losses and even doubts in the journey of faith?” the Pope asked. “It’s part of life. It should not shock us because we are human beings, marked by fragility and limits.”

“Don’t be frightened” but ask for help, Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience, talking about the “communion of saints” as the Church prepared to celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls.

In times of difficulty, the Pope said, “it is necessary to trust in God through prayer and, at the same time, it’s important to find the courage and humility to open yourself to others in order to ask for help.”

“We are a great big family” through baptism, the Pope told the estimated 50,000 pilgrims and visitors gathered for the audience in St Peter’s Square. The communion of saints, he explained, refers not only to those who have been canonised by the Catholic Church but to all the baptised.

“The communion of saints goes beyond earthly life,” the Pope said. “It extends beyond death and lasts forever” to find its fullest expression when all believers are “reunited in heaven”.

“All the baptised here on earth, the souls in purgatory and the blessed souls in heaven form one big family,” he added in remarks to Polish pilgrims. 

“This communion between heaven and earth is expressed particularly in prayers of intercession, which are the greatest form of solidarity, and is also the basis of the liturgical celebrations of the feasts of All Saints and All Souls.”

Every Christian, the Pope said, has an obligation to be a responsible part of the communion of saints, supporting other Christians in their faith.

A believer’s communion with God and with Jesus must find expression in communion with all those who also believe, he said. Those who truly enter “the glowing furnace of the love” of God, love others because God’s love “burns away our selfishness, our prejudices, our internal and external divisions”, he said. “The love of God also burns away our sins.”

Immediately after the audience, Pope Francis met leaders of Iraq’s Christian, Kurdish Yazidi, Sunni and Shia Muslim communities. 

He had asked pilgrims at the audience to pray for Iraq, which “unfortunately is struck daily by tragic episodes of violence” and needs “to find the path to reconciliation, peace, unity and stability”.

Ar Sos - Annual Break a short note to state that we here in CW will be taking our annual leave beginning on the 26th October up to and including the 1st of November.
Looking forward to your company beginning in November.

Government postpones decision on same sex marriage vote!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_620_330/image.jpgThe Government has postponed for a week a decision on whether or not to proceed with a referendum on same sex marriage.

The Cabinet was due to consider a recommendation by the Constitutional Convention on the issue today but deferred it to allow Taoiseach Enda Kenny to consult Fine Gael backbenchers on the issue.

Concern about proceeding with a referendum has emerged in Fine Gael in recent days and it is likely that the parliamentary party will discuss the matter before it goes to cabinet.

Those on the back benches are keen to avoid any repeat of the divisions seen in the party over the abortion legislation, which led to the loss of five TDs and two Senators.

“I support the holding of a referendum. I think we need to see marriage equality in this country,” said Dublin South-East TD Eoghan Murphy said earlier this week. 

He added that Fine Gael should facilitate the holding of a referendum but that it did not mean the party has to take to a position in that referendum.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who is strongly pushing for the referendum, has in recent days proposed legislation to allow same sex couple adopt children.

That has sparked concern in Fine Gael and opposition to a commitment on a referendum is growing.

On Monday, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said his understanding was that there would be a referendum on gay marriage in early 2015.

“I am looking forward to putting that proposal to the people,’’ the Minister said, adding that such a vote might be part of a series of recommendations to come out of the convention.

Magdalene group critical of response

Justice For Magdalenes (JFM) Research has hit out at the Government’s response to UN criticism’s of the McAleese report as “an outrage” which “beggars belief”.
Rapporteur to the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) Felice Gaer wrote to the Government in May criticising the McAleese report as “incomplete” and lacking “many elements of a prompt, independent, and thorough investigation”.

However, in a response from the Department of Justice issued in Aug, the Government said the McAleese report “disproved” many of the assumptions held about the Magdalene Laundries.

It was critical of the 800 pages of survivor testimony provided by JFM, stating that “many of the general allegations relied on reports unsupported by any direct knowledge and were not supported by the facts uncovered by the McAleese committee”.

It also pointed out that JFM provided the testimony of 10 women and that this contrasted with the “much larger sample of 118 women available for the McAleese report”.

The Government also stated that there was an absence of “any credible evidence of systematic torture or criminal abuse in the Magdalen laundries”.

However, JFM Research said out that it submitted 22 testimonies, not 10, to the McAleese Committee and offered to have all sworn. The group said the committee told them that this was not necessary.

It also said the committee accepted written testimony from numerous witnesses, but excluded written testimony submitted by JFM, including for example the testimony of a former paid hand in the Galway Magdalene laundry who detailed beatings, returns of ‘escapees’ by the gardaí and the harsh conditions in which the women lived and worked.

The group also pointed out that of the 118 women interviewed by the McAleese Committee, 58 of these were still in the care of and highly dependent on the religious orders.

Human rights lawyer and JFM Research member Maeve O’Rourke said the Government’s response to UNCAT contained “several inaccuracies”.

“One such inaccuracy is that the median duration of stay for known entrants to the Magdalene Laundries was 27.6 weeks. In actual fact, the substantive report, rather than the executive summary, reveals that duration of stay was not recorded for 58% of known entrants to the laundries,” she said.

JFM also pointed to Mr Justice Quirke, as part of preparing his redress proposals, interviewed a much larger sample of 337 women, 288 of whom provided information about their length of stay which tallied with JFM’s assertions.

Priests say inquiry procedures flawed

 Diarmuid Martin: Think of victims.The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has said children who were abused by priests must be remembered during any criticisms of the Murphy report.

A review of the inquiry has claimed individual priests and bishops would not have been “under investigation” and named and shamed if the Murphy Commission had stayed true to its terms of reference.

The new study, commissioned by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), also accused the inquiry’s practices and procedures of falling short of the requirements of natural and constitutional justice.

However, Archbishop Martin said one should never overlook the context which gave rise to the establishment of the Murphy report, which rocked the Catholic Church in 2009 when it revealed decades of abuse were ignored because clerics were effectively granted garda immunity.

“A strikingly large number of children were sexually abused by priests within the Church in Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Anyone who loves the Church must be truly saddened by this fact.

“The children who were abused and their families and dear ones must be uppermost in our minds.”

The ACP said some priests of Dublin Archdiocese requested a study of Judge Yvonne Murphy’s Investigation of Clerical Child Abuse in the Archdiocese about 18 months ago.

The 42-page review by barrister Fergal Sweeney was presented to ACP members at their AGM in Athlone yesterday.

ACP spokesman outspoken cleric Fr Tony Flannery said priests discussed the report and would not justify any abuse that took place, but believe the procedures used were legally flawed.

“They were faulty in particular under the terms of reference in naming and shaming individual priests and bishops,” he said.

“These individuals were not given the basic human right that every citizen is entitled to — to defend their good name.”

Fr Flannery said that under the terms of reference Judge Murphy was investigating institutions and not individuals.

Mr Sweeney said the State was entirely justified in deciding to investigate historical child abuse, but found the report dismissed out of hand any reasons, explanations or mitigating circumstances put forward by those clerics whom it names and shames.

“Individual clerics of the Dublin Archdiocese should not have been ‘under investigation’ if the Murphy Commission had stayed true to its terms of reference,” he said.

‘No change’ in ministry ban for rebel cleric

The Association of Catholic Priests elected three new leading spokesmen yesterday as rebel priest Fr Tony Flannery admitted there had been “no change” on his ban on ministry. 

Fr Flannery, an outspoken member of the ACP since its foundation three years ago, has been banned by the Vatican from ministry since spring last year.

Yesterday he said that while Pope Francis had changed some things since taking over, senior Church personnel instrumental in his ban from ministry had been re-appointed.

Fr Flannery said he intended to step down as one of the ACP leaders in the coming months, following a period of transition during which the three new members can assume their roles and once another senior member of the ACP, Fr Brendan Hoban, has recovered from a recent illness.

“My situation has not changed at all,” Fr Flannery said. Asked if the election of Pope Francis had led to any changes in the level of communication between Rome and the ACP, he said: “No is the simple answer to that.”

He said Pope Francis had introduced a new movement in the church but the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had also been reappointed.

So far there had been no communication between the Vatican and the ACP and Fr Flannery said: “I am not holding my breath for that to change.”

It is understood as many as six priests in Ireland have been censured to some degree by the Vatican but that Fr Flannery is the only one prevented from ministry.

At yesterday’s AGM of the ACP in Athlone, Fr Gerry Alwill from Co Cavan; Redemptorist priest in Cherry Orchard, Fr Gerry O’Connor; and Augustinian parish priest in Finglas, Fr Seamus Aherne; were elected to leadership roles.

The ACP estimates that it has 1,050 members, roughly one-third of all active priests.

The AGM heard discussion of an ACP review into the Murphy Commission into clerical child sex abuse in Dublin which said it had “veered off the tight rails” and instead concentrated “to an alarming degree on ‘naming and shaming those clerics whom the Commission found wanting in child protection at the time.”

The ACP review, carried out by barrister Fergal Sweeney, attracted some strong criticism yesterday.

Rosary Prayers For October

This short invocation to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, is an appropriate prayer for the Month of the Holy Rosary, as well as for reciting at the end of the rosary.

To Our Lady of the Rosary

In this prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary, we ask the Virgin Mary to help us to cultivate a habit of interior prayer through the daily recitation of the rosary. 
This is the object of all of our prayers: to arrive at the point where we can "pray without ceasing," as Saint Paul tells us to do.

To the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

This theologically rich prayer to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, calls to mind our Blessed Mother's protection of the Church - as, for example, at the Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571), when the Christian fleet defeated the Ottoman Muslims through the intercession of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

For the Crusade of the Family Rosary

This prayer for the Crusade of the Family Rosary was written by Francis Cardinal Spellman, the cardinal archbishop of the archdiocese of New York in the mid-20th century. 
The Family Rosary Crusade was originally an organization, founded by Fr. Patrick Peyton, dedicated to convincing families to recite the rosary together daily.
Today, we can pray this prayer to spread the practice of the daily recitation of the rosary.
In that vein, it is especially appropriate to add this prayer to our daily prayers for the Month of the Holy Rosary.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Priest in Central African Republic hopeful of foreign help after archbishop’s appeal to UN

Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic (CNS)A priest in the Central African Republic said Church leaders are hoping to see concrete results from an archbishop’s appeal for an international humanitarian mission and expansion of African Union peacekeeping forces.

“The Church is acting as (the) voice of the voiceless in urging international intervention as soon as possible, said Msgr Cyriaque Gbate Doumalo, secretary-general of the Catholic bishops’ conference. 

“Even in the capital, many have no shelter and nothing to eat, while children are sick and exposed.”

Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, spoke to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group earlier this month. 

The archbishop said his nation was a powder keg, adding that, since March, the rebel coalition Seleka had expanded from 3,500 to 25,000 members, aided by child soldiers and a “constant supply of weapons”.

He urged the UN to help establish an independent commission for “credible elections” and an investigation by the International Criminal Court into alleged crimes against humanity.

Last December, Seleka, which includes some Arab-speaking Islamists, launched an offensive against President Francois Bozize and suspended the constitution after seizing Bangui and then ousting the president in March.

In a June statement, the bishops’ conference said Seleka’s occupation had left the country “looted and destroyed” and its “social fabric completely torn up.”

Msgr Doumalo said thousands of residents of Central African Republic faced hunger and disease. He said 37,000 people had sought refuge at a Catholic mission in the eastern town of Bossangoa after fighting between Seleka forces and groups loyal to Bozize.

In September, the United Nations said that of the country’s 4.6 million people, 1.6 million were in dire need of assistance, including food, protection, health care, water, sanitation and shelter.