Vietnam Prime Minister meets with Catholic Bishops

Ha Noi, Vietnam, Oct.14,2007 (CINS/VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with representatives at the 10th Viet Nam Bishops’ Conference on friday.

On behalf of the Government, he congratulated the conference for their successes and highlighted key points in the country’s socio-economic development.

He stressed the Party and State’s policy of promoting the great national unity, with great care for Catholics.

Dung praised the conference’s contributions to national development, especially their efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS, reducing traffic accidents, and improving education.

Nguyen Van Nhon, chairman of the Viet Nam Bishops’ Conference, said the organisation would mobilise Catholics to help develop the country, and encourage people to further better education, health care, and traffic safety.

Fidei donum priests sent on mission to Asia, Italian bishops urge greater commitment to missions in Asia

Rome, Italy, Oct.14,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – Asia “is a horizon which cannot be overlooked” by Italian Churches.  This is why Fidei donum priests should be guided “there, where Christianity first arose”.

This is the invitation contained in a note from the Commission for the evangelisation of peoples and co-operation between Churches of the Italian Bishops Conference, published yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of the encyclical letter Fidei donum, in which Pius XII re-launched the urgency of missionary activity and exhorted diocese throughout the world to send priests and lay people to announce the Gospel “to the peoples”.

The note, issued for the missionary month of October, recognises “the obstacles of culture and language” which often make missions in Asia difficult, but it also underlines how this is “a horizon that cannot be ignored by our Church”.  Above all, writes the Commission, contact  with the Asian communities, “creates precious osmosis, helping us to feel part of the universal Church and placing us in touch with cultures and traditions of vast dimensions, which all to often appear to be ‘exotic’ and distant”.

Since the Letter was published in 1957, an average 1900 priests have been ‘donated’ by Italian diocese to the world, of which 11 have died announcing the Gospel, among them don Andrea Santoro, martyred in Turkey in 2006. The note adds that “if it is true, according to the words of Tertullian, that the blood of the martyrs rather than being a sign of death is in fact the seed from which new Christian’s spring, then we can be certain that none of these lives have been offered in vain”.

The Commission “hopes that this fiftieth anniversary encourages Italian diocese that have no Fidei donum to opt for this choice, and those who honour the Italian Church which such generosity to continue along this path with increased renewal”.

U.S. Catholic Bishops Issue Letter Of Solidarity To Bishops In Myanmar

Washington, USA,Oct.07, 2007- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a letter of support to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Myanmar addressing the recent outbreak of violence that has overtaken that nation during the past two weeks and offered prayers for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The USCCB also sent a letter expressing the bishops’ concern to the U.S. ambassador of the Union of Myanmar, urging a peaceful solution “in order that there will be stability, peace and non-violence.” Both letters were signed by Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Policy.

The letters were sent in the wake of wide-spread protests against the military government of Myanmar that led to a government crackdown. The non-violent protests against the 45 year old military dictatorship have been met with an increasingly violent response.

The U.S. Bishops’ letter to the bishops of Myanmar concludes with assurances that “in union with Pope Benedict XVI we are offering prayers that the current conflict will be resolved peacefully for the welfare of the people of your nation.”

Filipino bishops call on Catholics to pray for peace in Myanmar

Manila, Philippines, Oct. 04,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on the country’s Catholics to pray and offer masses for a “peaceful and non-violent solution to the situation in Myanmar.”  The bishops stressed that Filipinos can easily empathise with the Burmese people because of the Philippines’ own experience of repressive rule.

In a message read in every diocese, Mgr Angel Lagdameo, CBCP chairman and archbishop of Jaro, said that “[h]aving ourselves experienced what it is to be under Martial Rule and participated in the peaceful restoration of our democracy, we can understand as well as sympathize with the monks, people and bishops of Myanmar.”

A few days ago, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) sent a letter of solidarity to Mgr Paul Zinghtung Grawng, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), expressing their closeness and pain for the situation in Burma.

“We pray that the problems in your beloved country would be resolved through peaceful dialogue for the sake of the common good,” wrote Mgr Orlando Quevedo, FABC secretary general and archbishop of Cotabato (Philippines), in the letter.

Pope to bishops: be “angels” of the Churches entrusted to you

Vatican City, Sep.30,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – There is an intrinsic bond between a bishop’s ministry and the mission of angels: Pope Benedict XVI said this in his homily in yesterday morning’s Eucharistic celebration during which he ordained 6 new bishops, 5 Italian and 1 Pole.   Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State and Cardinal Marian Jaworski, Archbishop of Lviv of the Latins participated in the ceremony. One of the newly elected Msgr. Mieczys?aw Mokrzycki, former secretary to John Paul II and the current pope, was ordained coadjutant to this diocese in Ukraine.  Along with Msgr. Mokrzycki, the pope ordained bishops Msgr. Francesco Brugnaro, Msgr. Gianfranco Ravasi, Msgr. Tommaso Caputo, Msgr. Sergio Pagano, Msgr. Vincenzo Di Mauro. This is the first ordination of bishops by Benedict XVI.

The celebration took place on the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. In his moving homily the pope recalled that in the early Church – and in Revelations – bishops are referred to as “angels”.  Just as angels, explained the pope, bishops must lead humanity to God; they must knock on the door to their hearts to announce Christ; they must heal the wounds of relations between man and woman and save them from sin with reconciliation and forgiveness.

Throughout his entire discourse the pontiff referred to this similitude, starting with the names of the three Archangels, which contains the suffix “El”, which in Hebrew is the name of God.  “God – said the pope – is written in their names, in their very nature…. they are His messengers.  They bring God to mankind, they reveal the heavens and thus, they reveal earth….. the Angels speak to man about what constitutes his true being, what is often is often covered or buried in his life.  They call man to himself, touching him on God’s behalf”.  And he added: “In this way even we humans must become angels for one another – angels who lead us from the wrong path and guide us once again towards God…..A bishop must be a man of prayer, who intercedes on behalf of mankind with God”.

Benedict XVI then went on to highlight the characteristics of the three Archangels of the feast (the only ones named in the Bible), illustrating other aspects of the Bishop’s role.

Michael (“Who is as God?”) “defends the cause of the one God against the dragon’s presumption, the “ancient serpent” as his called by John.  It is the serpent’s continuous attempts to make men believe that God must disappear, in order for making to obtain greatness; that God stands in the way of our freedom and so we must be rid of Him”.

In reality, explains the pontiff, “he who puts God aside, does not make mankind great, rather he denies mankind his dignity.  And thus, man becomes an unsuccessful product of evolution”.

This is why, adds the pope; “it is the Bishop’s duty, as a man of God, to make space in the world for God against those who would negate Him and in doing so defend the greatness of man”.  And again: “Faith in God defends man from all of his weaknesses and inadequacies: God’s radiance shines on every individual”.

 Gabriel (“Man of God”) is the archangel who announces the Good News to Mary.  He said the pope “is the messenger of the incarnation of God.  He knocks on Mary’s door …… repeatedly God knocks on the human heart ….. on the world’s door and on the door to the heart of every individual.  He knocks waiting to enter”. And turning to the candidates the pope added: “Dear friends, it is your duty to knock on the man’s hearts in Christ’s name. By entering in union with Christ, you will be able to take on Gabriel’s role: bringing Christ’s call to men”.

Raphael (“God heals”) is the archangel healer, protagonist of the Book of Tobias.  The pope recalls that Raphael heals the relationship between Tobias and Sarah, marked by the curse of death: “he heals the wounded union between man and woman. He heals their love.  He crushes the demons which tine and time again attempt to destroy their love.  He purifies the atmosphere between the two and gifts them the ability to welcome and accept one another always”. “In the New Testament – recalls the pontiff – the order of marriage, established in creation and threatened in a multifaceted way by sin, is healed by the fact that Christ gathers it into his redeeming love.   He makes marriage a sacrament: His love, which takes on the cross for us, is the saving strength, which in the midst of confusion, gifts us the ability to be reconciled, purifies the atmosphere and heals all wounds”.  The bishop (and indeed every priest) “is entrusted with the duty of guiding men towards the reconciling power of Christ’s love.  He must be the “healing angel” who helps them to anchor their love to the sacrament and live their love with renewed commitment drawn from the sacrament”.

 “The book of Tobias – added the pope – speaks of the healing of blind eyes.  We all know that today we are threatened with blindness to God…… healing this blinded through the message of the faith and witness of love, is Raphael’s service which is entrusted each and every day to priests and in a particular way to bishops.  Thus we are spontaneously led to think of the sacrament of reconciliation and penitence, which in the deepest meaning of the word, is a healing sacrament.  The true wound of the soul, in fact is sin.  And only is a forgiveness in virtue of the power of God, in virtue of the power of Christ’s love exists, can we be healed, can we be redeemed”.

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