Friday, June 14, 2013

ACN News - Illegal confiscation of Church property in Pakistan


A local Catholic leader in Pakistan has spoken out against the illegal confiscation of Church property by the government.

The Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Lahore in northern Pakistan, Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, deplored the illegal transfer into state ownership of a piece of land belonging to the Church.

He reported that the transfer has now also been formalized in the land register.

A Caritas center had previously stood on the confiscated land, which was torn down with heavy equipment under police protection on January 9, 2012.

The complex of buildings had included a day care center for old people, a sewing school for girls, a chapel and a convent for sisters, as well as further Catholic Church institutions.

The center has been in the possession of the Church since at least 1887.
           
“The provincial government had promised on many occasions to give the confiscated land back to us. But not only were these promises not kept, but meanwhile the property has even been transferred into state ownership in the relevant documents,” Bishop Shaw said.

He made his report to international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), saying that a court has already ruled that the transfer of the land to state property took place illegally.

Shaw further stated that, in his opinion, in the case of the severe unrest that occurred on March 9 in a Christian district of Lahore, some government representatives had “had an eye on the land” and wanted to drive out the inhabitants.

The police stood by and did nothing when, two days after accusations of blasphemy made against the Christian Sawan Masih on March 7, some 3,000 men attacked St. Joseph’s Colony and set fire to 178 houses as well as two Christian churches.

In the Bishop’s view, however, it is gratifying that expressions of solidarity with the victims have come from numerous Muslims, along with spontaneous offers of aid.

“A growing consciousness is developing among the population that we are all Pakistanis,” the bishop said.

Bishop Shaw described how representatives of the government, Muslim scholars and a high-ranking Imam came together to visit the scene, give comfort to those affected and express their deep regret. This is the first time that such a thing has happened in this form, said Shaw.

“More and more voices are being raised saying that the whole congregation should not be punished when one of its members unconsciously or even consciously does wrong. This is a good sign.”


With image of Msgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, OFM, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Lahore in Pakistan (© ACN).


Editor’s Notes:




Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.


For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

ACN News - The struggle to offer hope and help in Syria

A graphic account of the deepening human suffering and violence in Syria has come from a priest ministering to people in one of the areas worst affected by the conflict.

In a report describing the devastated city of Homs, the priest details his desperate struggle to provide basic food, shelter and medicine to more than 30,000 people fleeing violence amid ongoing bomb blasts and other violence.

The priest, who cannot be named for security reasons, explains how the people are being helped at a center funded by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), to whom he sent his report.

He goes on to give an account of the “many explosions” of the past week in his quarter of Homs, one of which took place very near to his church.

The car bomb left 11 people dead, including five of his parishioners.

An earlier explosion caused the death of a 10-year-old boy from the Catholic community center next to his church. Three other children were injured.

In his report, the priest pays tribute to a Jesuit priest and 74 other Christians living in a “siege [–like] manner” in Homs’ ancient Old City, where many historic churches, mosques and other buildings lie in ruins after fierce fighting.

Facing a shortage of food and medicine, the Jesuit and his flock rely on aid parcels being sent to them.

Describing life for the Jesuit and his people, the priest writes that people continue to cling to hope in spite of the difficulties.

He said: “We have a great hope. Churches still ring bells for prayers and all people come and share Mass.”

Quoting Pope Francis, he writes: “Nobody can steal our hope and joyfulness.”

The priest reported an upsurge in demand at his center, saying people had been hit hard by massive increases in rent charges, food prices and other essentials.

The report comes shortly after ACN agreed an aid package of $40,000 for the center on top of $66,700 given last year.

Thanking ACN for its ongoing support, the priest writes: “Great thanks for your support and help.”

He adds: “In our center, we began our work with 1,000 families and the numbers grew and grew.”

“Almost all the people need help… People need food, rent money and medicine, so it requires a lot of money and work.”

With increased demand on the center, the priest reported that two Christian villages near Homs which previously had a combined population of nearly 1,000 people now lie abandoned after everybody fled.

Referring to a third Christian village abandoned a year ago, he stated that people recently returned to find their homes either destroyed or requisitioned with no hope of getting them back. 

“The situation is disastrous,” he said.

ACN is prioritizing emergency help for Syria, with reports stating that 4 million are displaced within the country and 1.5 million have fled abroad to Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere.

The charity is appealing for funds and for prayers both for those in need of urgent help and those giving it.



Editor’s Notes:


Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Feast of St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony statue, Molokai
Happy Feast Day!

This is what St. Anthony wrote regarding the Cross:

"The Christian must lean on the Cross of Christ as the wanderer leans on his stick when he takes a long journey. He must be well etched in the minds and hearts of the Passion of Christ only because the word is derived from that source of life and peace, grace and truth. Let us turn our eyes to Jesus, our Lord nailed to the Cross of salvation to crucify our flesh to his Cross mortifying the senses; weep for the sins we have committed ourselves and those of our neighbor".
Source

Thanks to Mary Jane for sharing the following:

TUESDAY: SAINT ANTHONY'S DAY

Tuesday is dedicated to Saint Anthony because of the many and astounding miracles which occurred on the Tuesday on which his body was laid to rest.

So numerous were these prodigies, as has been told before, that the somber funeral was transformed into a triumphal procession. It is said that no one invoked the aid of the Saint without obtaining relief. All returned to their homes comforted, praising God and saying: "This is the day the Lord hath made to Saint Anthony; let us be glad and rejoice therein."

Since that time the devout clients of the Wonder- Worker have dedicated every Tuesday to Saint Anthony as the day on which God was pleased to show forth the power of the Saint.

This pious custom gradually spread throughout the Catholic world. In Franciscan churches on each Tuesday, devotions were held in his honor, and faithful clients come to pay homage to him. Saint Anthony himself has chosen Tuesday as his own. He has obtained throughout the centuries countless favors, spiritual and temporal, for those who have honored him on that day.

The Church has set Her approval upon Tuesday as Saint Anthony's day by generous indulgences. A plenary indulgence is granted on every Tuesday of the year to all who receive the Sacraments and on that day visit a Catholic church where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, and there pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

A plenary indulgence is granted on each day of thirteen consecutive Tuesdays (or Sundays), once a year, to all who perform an act of piety in honor of St. Anthony, receive the Sacraments, visit a church or public oratory and pray there for the intentions of the Holy Father (Leo XIII, Mar. 1, 1898).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blessed John XXIII - On Simplifying Himself


Picture source

Pope John XXIII was always trying to sanctify himself, even as a young boy.  The following is an excerpt from his journal, during a Holy Week retreat, when he was the Papal Representative in France (1945).
"In order to simplify everything, I shall bear in mind the theological and cardinal virtues.  The first cardinal virtue is prudence.  This is what Popes, Bishops, king and commanders have found difficult, and it is in this that they frequently fail.  It is the characteristic quality of the diplomat, so I must cultivate it with particular care.  Every evening I must examine myself strictly on this point.  My ready tongue often betrays me into saying far too much.  Beware, beware!  Know how to preserve silence, how to speak with moderation, how to refrain from judging people and their attitudes, except when this is an obligation imposed by Superiors, or for grave reasons.

On every occasion say less rather than more and always be afraid of saying too much, remembering St. Isidore of Seville's praise to St. Fulgentius.  And be particularly careful to preserve charity. This is my Rule".
This is a good lesson for all of us.  It is always to say less than more.  You will not regret saying less.  It is always a good idea to think, and pray before speaking.  Think of all the saints.  They were very prudent in speech.

- Journal of a Soul