Saturday, January 31, 2009

St. John Bosco’s Dream


The Two Pillars Dream by Matthew Brook

The Two Pillars Dream by Matthew Brook

A majestic ship, representing the Church and commanded by the Pope, was defending itself amid stormy seas from an opposing fleet. Innumerable enemy ships tried to sink the Church using everything in their arsenals, including writings or books or inflammable materials.

Safe Harbor Dream of St John Bosco

Safe Harbor Dream of St John Bosco

In the immense expanse of sea, two mighty columns of great height arise a little distance from each other. On the top of the higher and bigger column stands the Sacred Host of great size and beneath is a placard with the words: Salus Credentium - “Salvation of the faithful.” On the top of the other column was a statue of the Immaculate Virgin with a placard with this inscription: Auxilium Christianorum - “Help of Christians.”

The Pope tries with all his might to steer the ship toward the two columns to anchor to them. Whenever the enemy strikes a formidable blow against the ship, a gentle breeze blows from the two columns repairing the damage to the Church.

Ultimately, the Church finds safe harbor between the two Pillars:

First Pillar: Devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament
Second Pillar: Devotion to Our Blessed Mother


For further study on the dreams of St. John Bosco click here!

Prayer to St. John Bosco

Glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine Master and to form them in the light of faith and Christian morality didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst found a proper religious Institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work, obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God.

An indulgence of 300 days.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this prayer is devoutly recited every day for a month (S.P. Ap., Feb. 25, 1941).

Pope Benedict XVI looks on during his Wednesday general audience ...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mormons to build gigantic temple in front of Marian shrine in Honduras

.- The decision by the Mormon Church to build an enormous temple in front of the most popular Marian shrine in Honduras, Our Lady of Suyapa, has unleashed a wave of criticism and protest, according to Honduran media.

Protestors say the construction of the temple would block the famous view of the shrine of Our Lady of Suyapa as it is approached from a distance.

According to the Honduran daily La Tribuna, “Many Hondurans are concerned because they see an imminent danger that the view that the country has enjoyed of the main Catholic church of Honduras for 262 years is in jeopardy.”

Mormons, whose presence in the country is on the rise, but who have never been the object of hostility on the part of Catholics, have asked the local government for a permit to begin construction.

A large number of the faithful, however, have requested the permit be blocked. “This is about safeguarding the integrity of this national monument, and with the construction of a gigantic temple mere feet from the church of Our Lady of Suyapa, we Hondurans are obliged to conserve, rescue and protect the cultural patrimony of the country,” the protesters said.

The Marian shrine was visited by Pope John Paul II on March 8, 1983, before a crowd of more than one million.

Apology Letter of Bishop Richard Williamson

Mgr Richard Williamson

To His Eminence Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos

Your Eminence

Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.

For me, all that matters is the Truth Incarnate, and the interests of His one true Church, through which alone we can save our souls and give eternal glory, in our little way, to Almighty God. So I have only one comment, from the prophet Jonas, I, 12:

"Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."

Please also accept, and convey to the Holy Father, my sincere personal thanks for the document signed last Wednesday and made public on Saturday. Most humbly I will offer a Mass for both of you.

Sincerely yours in Christ

+Richard Williamson

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prayers for SwissMiss

Prayers please

"Please pray for my father-in-law who just suffered a minor heart attack....."

"Please also remember my mother-in-law in your prayers since she is pretty traumatized by these events."

"And, could you please pray for a relief to my tinnitus...."

"Thank you, I appreciate your prayers very much. As the Carmelites say, may God reward you."

Exclusive Interview: Leading Vatican Prelate Says Document of US Bishops Partly to Blame for Election of “Most Pro-Abortion President”

Also says Bishops’ Catholic News Service needs to be given "some new direction"

By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, January 28, 2009 ( – A document of the US Catholic Bishops is partly to blame for the abandonment of pro-life teachings by voting Catholics and the election of the “most pro-abortion president” in US history, one of the Vatican’s highest officials said in an interview with

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, named a document on the election produced by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that he said “led to confusion” among the faithful and led ultimately to massive support among Catholics for Barack Obama.

The US bishops’ document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” stated that, under certain circumstances, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion because of "other grave reasons," as long as they do not intend to support that pro-abortion position.

Archbishop Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis Mo. and recently appointed head of the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church, told that although “there were a greater number of bishops who spoke up very clearly and firmly ... there was also a number who did not.”

But most damaging, he said, was the document “Faithful Citizenship” that “led to confusion” among the voting Catholic population.

“While it stated that the issue of life was the first and most important issue, it went on in some specific areas to say ‘but there are other issues’ that are of comparable importance without making necessary distinctions.”
Archbishop Burke, citing an article by a priest and ethics expert of St. Louis archdiocese, Msgr. Kevin McMahon, who analysed how the bishops’ document actually contributed to the election of Obama, called its proposal “a kind of false thinking, that says, ‘there’s the evil of taking an innocent and defenceless human life but there are other evils and they’re worthy of equal consideration.’

“But they’re not. The economic situation, or opposition to the war in Iraq, or whatever it may be, those things don’t rise to the same level as something that is always and everywhere evil, namely the killing of innocent and defenceless human life.”

Archbishop Burke also cited the work of the official news service of the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference, that many pro-life observers complained soft-pedalled the newly elected president’s opposition to traditional morality.

“The bishops need to look also at our Catholic News Service, CNS, they need to review their coverage of the whole thing and give some new direction, in my judgement,” he said.

"The Power Of Prayer"

From Tara at Loved Sinner:

"Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise, Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick parson, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. Elijah was a human being like us: yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the earth produced it's fruit.
My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.---James 5:13-20"

Benedict XVI Expresses Solidarity With Jews

Vatican Spokesman Hopes Statement Clarifies Church Position

By Mirko Testa

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 28, 2009 ( Benedict XVI expressed solidarity with Jews and strongly condemned the use of concentration camps during World War II in his response to the uproar caused by lifting the excommunication of a holocaust-denying bishop.

Speaking today after delivering his weekly general audience address, the Pope addressed for the first time a rift that began Saturday when the Vatican lifted the excommunication of Lefebvrite Bishop Richard Williamson.

The bishop had appeared days earlier on Swedish television claiming that historical evidence denies the gassing of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. He also alleged that no more than 300,000 Jews were killed during World War II.

Bishop Williamson was one of four prelates of the Society of St. Pius X who were illicitly ordained to the episcopate by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988. The excommunication was also lifted for the other three bishops, and was meant to be a step toward healing the division caused by the ordinations some 20 years ago.

Today the Pontiff acknowledged the horror of the Holocaust, and especially the death camps such as Auschwitz, which he said "carried out the brutal massacre of millions of Jews, innocent victims of a blind racial and religious hate."

The Pope expressed his "hope that the memory of the Shoah moves humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the human heart," and that the Holocaust "be for everyone a warning against forgetting, against negating or reductionism, because violence committed against even one human being is violence against all."

"No man is an island," Benedict XVI continued, referring to the English Poet John Donne (1571-1631).

"May the Shoah teach especially, as much the old generations as the new ones, that only the tiring path of listening and dialogue, of love and pardon, leads peoples, cultures and religions of the world to the desired encounter of fraternity and peace in the world," he said. "May violence never again humiliate the dignity of man!"


Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said immediately following the audience that the Pope's statements on the Holocaust "should be more than sufficient to respond to the questions of those who doubt the position of the Pope and the Catholic Church."

Since the weekend, reports had been circulating that the Rabbinate of Israel would indefinitely sever ties with the Vatican, which were established in 2000 when Pope John Paul II visited Israel, and cancel a meeting of the Commission for Religious Relations of the Holy See set for March.

The Vatican and the state of Israel have had their own, separate relationship since establishing diplomatic ties in 1993, and the current situation does not affect state relations.

Father Lombardi said today he hoped that "the difficulties presented by the Rabbinate of Israel can be the object of a subsequent and more profound reflection," and that Vatican-Jewish relations "can go forward fruitfully and serenely."

In an interview that aired today on Italian television, Oded Wiener, the director-general of the Rabbinate of Israel, affirmed the importance of relations with the Vatican: "I think that it is fundamental as much for us as for the Vatican itself."

Regarding Benedict XVI's comments after the general audience, Wiener underlined: "In the first place I believe that the declaration of the Pope this morning have been extremely important, for us and for the entire world. There is no place for people such as Williamson that deny the existence of the Holocaust."

"I think it has been a big step forward," he added.

The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy, said he was "very happy for a declaration from such a high level by the Holy See that clarifies and helps to overcome these misunderstanding."

"I think that it is erroneous, now, to personalize the question concentrating on a single bishop," he added.

With regard to the intention of Benedict XVI to travel to the Holy Land in May, the Israeli ambassador said "the Pope is welcome in Israel today, as he was welcomed yesterday and the day before."

[Adapted by Karna Swanson]


Vatican Insider Projects Speedy SSPX Resolution

By Brian Mershon

January 28, 2009, Rome, Italy—In his first interview subsequent to the Society of St. Pius X’s (SSPX) official statement to the good news, Superior General Bishop Bernard Fellay said that he believed in the infallibility of the Church and that he was “confident” that the Society would “reach a true solution” in its doctrinal discussions with the Holy See.

In fact, Vatican sources have indicated that the full regularization may occur as early as February 2, 2009, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Candlemas, which, if true, would be quite a Christmas present to the Church and especially traditionalist Catholics worldwide!

Vatican Working on Stable Juridical Structure

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, chief of Human Life International’s Rome bureau, could not confirm the February 2 date, but said his Curial source told him that they are currently busy working out the practical arrangements for a fully regularized Society of St. Pius X.

The final solution “cannot depend upon individual diocesan bishops,” Monsignor Barreiro said, noting the longsuffering many traditionalist Catholics experienced for nearly 20 years under the Ecclesia Dei Adflicta arrangement.

“They would certainly need to have guarantees that where they currently are located, they cannot be touched by the local bishop,” Barreiro said, noting the Society’s chapels being located across the globe, which he described as “de facto parishes.” Barreiro rightly noted that the Society bishops most likely would not accept any solution that involved jurisdiction by the local territorial Ordinary.

France’s Seminaries to be Over One-Third Traditionalist

In fact, specific resistance is most prevalent in the dying churches of France with their bishops and priests. Upon final regularization, Monsignor Barreiro said, “More than one-third of all seminarians in France will be in traditionalist seminaries.” This would include the SSPX, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the Institute of Good Shepherd and the Institute of Christ the King (ICR) as well as some other lesser known traditionalist priestly groups.

“I expect that some structure like a universal Apostolic Administration may be the only solution,” Monsignor Barreiro said, while cautioning that he did not have direct access to the specific details...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hackers Crack Into Texas Road Sign, Warn of Zombies Ahead

Transportation officials in Texas are scrambling to prevent hackers from changing messages on digital road signs after one sign in Austin was altered to read, "Zombies Ahead."

Chris Lippincott, director of media relations for the Texas Department of Transportation, confirmed that a portable traffic sign at Lamar Boulevard and West 15th Street, near the University of Texas at Austin, was hacked into during the early hours of Jan. 19.

"It was clever, kind of cute, but not what it was intended for," said Lippincott, who saw the sign during his morning commute. "Those signs are deployed for a reason — to improve traffic conditions, let folks know there's a road closure."

"It's sort of amusing, but not at all helpful," he told

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

St. Louis bishop: Lax Catholics, Satan behind pro-abortion officials

Bishop Robert Hermann, administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, says that the election of President Barack Obama would not have occurred without the support of lax Catholics.

“If at this stage our anger is directed at President Obama, our anger is misdirected,” Bishop Hermann writes. “Obama is not the enemy. He needs and deserves our prayers, not our condemnation. As Catholics, we are not guiltless. It seems to me that when President Kennedy compromised Catholic teachings and accommodated political pressures in order to be elected to the highest office in the land, he set the tone for many Catholic leaders to follow and to compromise their Catholic principles to get ahead. In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of-death candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land. Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!”

“In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of life,” Bishop Hermann continues, “we have to restore our Catholic identity. This means that all of us, as Catholics, have to undergo a profound transformation. It means that we have to take a good look at every facet of our Catholic life, including the serious study of life issues, the regular and devout use of our Sacramental system, especially the devout and weekly attendance at Mass, the regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the devout praying of the daily Rosary, and then the faithful, loving and firm witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices … Until we are willing to be politically incorrect in order to be biblically correct, we will never convince anyone that our religion is worth living.”

Ultimately, writes Bishop Hermann, Satan is behind the positions of pro-abortion officials. “President Obama, pro-choice legislators and Planned Parenthood are not our enemies. Our enemies are the invisible forces masked behind these people … They are used by our common enemy, Satan, and his evil forces, to get us to hate so that we, too, will end up in a culture of death … We owe all of them prayers and fasting for their conversion. At one point, Gov. Reagan was California's very pro-abortion governor. Yet he became a very pro-life president. He repented and regretted the evil he supported. We must bravely witness against supporting pro-choice and pro-abortion candidates in political elections, but pray daily for their conversion.”

“This is a great time to be a Catholic,” Bishop Hermann concludes. “This is a great time to witness to such a clear choice, the choice of Christ or the anti-Christ.”

News Flash: WE WIN!

"As we prepare to enter a new era in politics and perhaps society in general, keep something in mind: WE WIN! No matter what political party is in power at a given point in time, in the end those that remain faithful to Jesus Christ win the war. We may have to fight many battles outnumbered and even despised and looked upon as criminals and outcasts by a society that is unraveling and degenerating into something no one could have imagined.
What matters is that we run the race to the finish line and fight the good fight. Don’t “go with the flow,” for as the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen reminds us, “Dead bodies float downstream.” More than ever we shall have to be strong in the faith. Regular and worthy reception of the sacraments, constant prayer, and rigorous study of the faith is now essential, not merely a luxury.
The front line and primary battle is going to be the fight for life: the dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to the last moment of natural life. If we lose that one, every other battle space will be compromised. If the government succeeds in establishing abortion as an inalienable “right”, then the elderly and sick will be next. It will then be a short and slippery step to the government deciding who lives and dies regardless of their inherent human dignity.
If you don’t already pray the Rosary every day, please start at once. The prayer of the holy Rosary is the prayer of the holy Gospel, and that means it is the prayer of the Good News Who is Jesus Christ, the LIFE of the world. Many saints will be forged in the crucible of the coming years. Make sure you are among them.

God bless you,

Fr. John Corapi

Monday, January 26, 2009

"More anti-baby talk from Speaker Pelosi (D-CA)"


"The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is pro-abortion and she says she is Catholic.

Archbishop Niederauer of San Francisco, where her district is, was going to have a chat with her about that, but we haven’t heard much about what happened.

I picked this up from the Drudge Report:"

Sun Jan 25 2009 22:13:43 ET

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boldly defended a move to add birth control funding to the new economic "stimulus" package, claiming "contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

Pelosi, the mother of 5 children and 6 grandchildren, who once said, "Nothing in my life will ever, ever compare to being a mom," seemed to imply babies are somehow a burden on the treasury.

The revelation came during an exchange Sunday morning on ABC’s THIS WEEK.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus? [I suppose there is an amusing way to answer that…. but…]

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government. [So! Let’s get rid of the babies!]

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

"I wonder if in those first 10 seconds in hell, the eternally lost soul in a moment of stark realization considers the consequences of his own "downturn".

The Social Security system will probably collapse because, as the population ages, not enough people pay into it to support those who will draw from it.

How many abortions have their been since Roe v Wade?

How’s that for a strain on the nation’s budget?

The United States will one day probably be involved again is a serious conflict, which will truly have to engage the whole populace.

How many abortions have their been since Roe v Wade?

Who will bear arms and be productive when the crunch comes?

Explain to me again how thwarting God’s will results in blessings for individuals, families, communities and nations?

Sometimes the way these pols speak, when talking off the cuff, truly reveals their mindset. Remember the "I don’t want my daughter with a baby" comment? Perhaps Speaker Pelosi’s comments above reveal something of the same mindset. "

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"News of Great Joy!"

From The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer:

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer
send their heart felt congratulations
to Bishop Fellay
all the members
the Society of St Pius X
on the
"benevolent and courageous act"
of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
The Benevolent! The Courageous!
Long may he reign!

Press release of the FSSP following upon the Decree of the Congregation for Bishops

Fribourg (Switzerland), Saturday, January 24th, 2009 -

The Congregation for Bishops, having made public today the decree lifting the excommunication declared in 1988 regarding the four bishops ordained without pontifical mandate by Archbishop Lefebvre, The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter wishes to express its joy at the news of this step forward towards unity.

Since its foundation, the Fraternity of Saint Peter has not ceased to witness to its double attachment to the Seat of Peter and to the Tradition of the Church, praying constantly that a reconciliation could be achieved between the Holy See and the Society of Saint Pius X.

Today the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter unites itself completely to the hope of the Holy See, desiring “that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity”. (Decree of the Congregation for Bishops, 21 January 2009)

The Fraternity of Saint Peter would like to express its profound gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff. It sees in this magnanimous gesture a call to unity for all Catholics in order to spread in the world, faced with all the contradictions of our day, the Reign of Christ

Pope Benedict lifts excommunication of Bishops ordained by Lefebvre

.- The Press office of the Holy See released today a statement announcing an official decree from the Congregation of Bishops lifting, upon the request of Pope Benedict XVI, the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X ordained by Bishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, in the hope that such decision will lead to “real and final unity.”

“After a process of dialogue between the Apostolic See and the Society of St. Pius X, represented by its Superior General, Most Reverend Bernard Fellay, the request formulated by the Prelate, in letter dated December 2008, on behalf of the other three bishops of the Society, Most Reverend Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Most Reverend Richard Williamson and Most Reverend Alfonso del Gallareta, has been accepted by lifting the excommunication in which they had incurred twenty years ago”.

The statement, released in Italian, recalls that because of the Episcopal consecrations of June 30 1988 performed by Marcel Lefebvre without pontifical mandate, “the four aforementioned Prelates had incurred in the excommunication latae sententiae, formally declared by the Congregation of Bishops on date July 1st 1988”.

The press release quotes the words from a letter of Bishop Fellay to the Holy Father: “we are always firmly determined in the will to remain Catholic and to put all of our energy to the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept Her teachings with filial spirit. We firmly believe in the Primacy of Peter and his prerogatives, and because of that we suffer greatly by the current situation”.

“His Holiness Benedict XVI, who has followed this process from the beginning”, the press release explains “has always tried to heal the fracture with the Society, even personally meeting Bishop Bernard Fellay, on August 29 2005. On such occasion, the Supreme Pontiff expressed his will to proceed gradually and in reasonable stages by such path and now, kindly, with pastoral concern and fatherly mercy, by means of a decree from the Congregation of Bishops dated January 21 2009, revokes the excommunication applied to the aforementioned Prelates.”

“The Holy Father has been inspired in this decision by the hope of reaching the soonest possible full reconciliation and complete communion,” the statement concludes.

The Decree

The Decree from the Congregation of Bishops says that “in a letter dated December 15 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, by Bishop Bernard Fellay, on behalf of the other three bishops consecrated on June 30 1988, requested again the lifting of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by decree of the Prefect of this Congregation for Bishops dated July 1st 1988”.

The Congregation’s decree quotes the passage from Bishop Fellay’s letter released by the Vatican Press office and continues: “His Holiness Benedict XVI – fatherly sensitive to the spiritual suffering expressed by those interested as a consequence of the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the commitment expressed by them in the letter to not spare any effort to further deepen in the necessary dialogues with the Authorities of the Holy See over the questions still open, in order to reach soon a full and satisfactory solution to the original problem, has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta created by their episcopal consecration”.

“With this act –the decree continues- we wish to consolidate the mutual relations of trust and intensify and provide stability to the relation of the Society of St. Pius X with this Apostolic See”.

“This gift of peace, concluding the Christmas celebrations, whishes to also be a sign to promote the unity in charity of the Universal church and accomplish to eliminate the scandal of division,” the decree continues.

“We augur that this step may be follow by the caring accomplishment of the full communion with the Church of the whole Society of St. Pius X, thus witnessing true fidelity and truthful recognition of the Magisterium and the Pope’s authority with the proof of visible unity”.

“On behalf of the faculties expressly granted by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the current decree, y lift the censure of excommunication latae sententiae to Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta declared by this Congregation on July 1° 1988, while I declare null of juridical consequences, as of today, the decree released in the past.”

The Decree is signed by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, on date January 21, 2009.
  • Link

Decree of the Congregation for Bishops


By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: "We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial disposition. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much."

His Holiness Benedict XVI - paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter of not sparing any effort to deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters, so as to achieve shortly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin - decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, arisen with their episcopal consecration.

With this act, it is desired to consolidate the reciprocal relations of confidence and to intensify and grant stability to the relationship of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also intended to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division.

It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity.

Based on the faculty expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.

Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, January 21, 2009.

Card. Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops



The excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009.

We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of “silent apostasy.”

Besides our gratitude towards the Holy Father and towards all those who helped him to make this courageous act, we are pleased that the decree of January 21 considers as necessary “talks” with the Holy See, talks which will enable the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church.

In this new atmosphere, we have the firm hope to obtain soon the recognition of the rights of Catholic Tradition

Menzingen, January 24, 2009

+Bernard Fellay

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pope: Shrine Is Key to Europe's Christian Identity

Mary's Greatness Is in Her Availability to All

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2009 ( Benedict XVI gave an improvised discourse on the Virgin Mary, in gratitude for receiving honorary citizenship of Mariazell, home of one of the most important Marian shrines in Europe.

This distinction was conferred on the Pope after Wednesday's general audience. Mariazell is the site of the Basilica of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which houses a statue of Our Lady believed to be miraculous. For centuries, the town has been one of Europe's principal pilgrimage sites. Today, some 1 million pilgrims visit it annually.

The Holy Father spoke in German about being joyful "at being a citizen of Mariazell and at being able to live so close to the Mother of God," and he spoke to the others about Mary's role as "promoter of unity" between men.

The Pontiff last visited the shrine in September 2007, and he noted that "according to human foresight, in this life I will not be able to return to making a pilgrimage there physically, but now I live there truly and in this sense I am always present."

He recalled two previous visits to the shrine, and he told some stories that he lived through with the bishop and the rector, especially during his last visit in which they were surprised by a torrential rain.

European identity

Benedict XVI also affirmed the importance that this shrine has had on European history.

"Mariazell is much more than a 'place,'" he said. It also represents "the living history of a pilgrimage of faith and prayer down the centuries."

Yet, he added: "It is not only the prayers and invocations of men that are present, but rather a real answer is also present.

"We feel that the answer exists, that we do not extend a hand toward something unknown, that God exists, and that, through his mother, he wants to remain particularly close to us.

"For this reason I am happy to be at home in my heart and now, so to say, also by law, in Mariazell."

The Holy Father noted that Mariazell expresses all that Europe has been able to build. He affirmed that Mariazell is that "from which proceeds all that today forms [Europe's] identity, and through which Europe would always be able to return anew to be what it is: through the encounter with the Lord, to whom his mother guides us."

True greatness

The Pope recalled that the Virgin of Mariazell has received important titles throughout history, like "great mother" of Austria and of the Slavic towns, in this sanctuary visited by thousands of people during the centuries, until Mariazell was even considered the spiritual center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

However, he added, the Virgin shows us that greatness does not arise from the quality of being unattainable.

He explained that Mary's "greatness is evident precisely in the fact that she addresses herself to the smallest, that she is present for them, that we can turn to her at any moment without having to pay an entrance fee, just with our hearts."

This greatness has nothing to do with "exterior majesty," the Pontiff continued, but rather with "goodness of heart that offers to all the experience of what it means to be together."

"In the trips that I make through the fields of memory," he said, "I always make a stop in Mariazell, precisely because I feel that there the Mother goes out to meet us and reunites us to all."

SSPX Bishop Fellay's Letter to Swedish Television Station

From The Remnant:

Click image to enlarge

The Vatican YouTube Channel

"This channel offers news coverage of the main activities of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and of relevant Vatican events.
It is updated daily.
Video images are produced by Centro Televisio Vaticano (CTV), texts by Vatican Radio (RV) and CTV.
This video-news presents the Catholic Churchs position regarding the principal issues of the world today.
Links give access to the full and official texts of cited documents." Country: Holy See (Vatican City State)

h/t NLM

Pope Benedict XVI (L) blesses lambs during the feast day of ...

Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful during his weekly general ...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Excommunications of SSPX bishops lifted (rumour)


UPDATE 2 (Jan. 22, 0730 GMT): Paolo Luigi Rodari also confirms the news in his report for Il Riformista this morning, adding the information that:

"It [the decree] will come out in the next few days, probably by Sunday. The President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio wrote and signed it [the decree], by the Pope's will."

Kyl disappointed with Obama inaugural address

January 21st, 2009 @ 9:50am

by Jon Zimney/KTAR

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, second-ranking Republican in the Senate, was not impressed with President Barack Obama's inaugural address.

"His speech was not high-brow, it was more low-brow and a bit surprising in that regard," said the Senate Minority Whip.

Kyl said he felt that Obama took an unfair shot at the Bush Administration and that he suggested that anyone who does not agree with his policies is unpatriotic.

"It's fine to say you're going to do your best to be a leader, you're going to do your best to deal with the problems at home, but you don't have to contrast with the previous administration," Kyl said.

He took exception to Obama's call for "an end to petty grievances" and a political truce in Washington.

"If the idea is we have to avoid controversy by getting in line behind his proposals, that's not patriotism," Kyl said. "If he is asking that everybody agree with him and thereby have a truce, that's not going to work."

Kyl said Obama's proposed economic stimulus package "is, in my view, awful."

"It's very expensive, it will do very little to stimulate the economy. It's essentially just making good on an awful lot of Democrat political promises over the years that they haven't had a vehicle to attach to."

Kyl said he has every right to question and debate the issue, and cast a "no" vote if he wants, without being considered "unpatriotic."

Message from Archbishop Raymond L Burke

From Archbishop Burke via WDTPRS:

Dear Members of the Marian Catechist Apostolate,

Today is the 36th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous decision in the cases Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, by which the highest court of our nation took away the safeguard of the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life, from the most vulnerable members of the human family, the unborn. Rightly, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has, for some time, designated this day as a Day of Penance for Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person, and of Prayer for the Full Restoration of the Legal Guarantee of the Right to Life. January 22nd is to be observed “as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373).

The legacy of the just-mentioned decisions has been an unconscionable decline in the respect for all human life. By now, you are familiar with the latest and most heinous anti-life legislation the people of the United States of America are facing: the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The passage of FOCA would lift all restrictions on procured abortion, force taxpayers to participate in the funding of procured abortions; revoke all informed consent, parental notification and conscience protection laws; and force even Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, which clearly would necessitate the closing of Catholic hospitals. I ask you to pray for the defeat of FOCA and to do all you can to work against its passage, while also working to protect existing pro-life legislation. For more information on how to become involved, please visit the USCCB website at

In a special way, I address you, the members of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, on this Day of Penance. Reflecting on the circumstances in society which give rise to the necessity of a Day of Penance for Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person, I am deeply conscious of the much needed service of the Marian Catechist Apostolate in the renewal of society. I take the occasion of this most sad anniversary for our nation, to encourage you to redouble your efforts to grow in personal holiness and knowledge of the Catholic Faith, that you may always be equipped to share generously and courageously the richness of the Faith with others, for the transformation of society.

Please join me today and always in calling upon the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the transformation of the culture death into a civilization of divine love and life.

Invoking God’s blessing upon you and your home, I am

Yours devotedly in Christ,

(Most Rev.) Raymond L Burke
Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis
Prefect, Apostolic Signatura of the Supreme Tribunal

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pope moves 10 closer to sainthood

.- On Saturday, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to announce the approval of the miracles and heroic virtues of several Servants of God.

In order for Servants of God to move onto beatification, the next “step” toward sainthood, the congregation must recognize their heroic virtue and certify that one posthumous miracle took place through the Servant of God’s intercession.

Canonization, the next “step” requires an additional miracle unless waived by the Pope.

Those who were recognized with a miracle are:

- Servant of God Ciriaco Maria Sancha y Hervas, Spanish cardinal archbishop of Toledo, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha (1833-1909).

- Servant of God Carlo Gnocchi, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the "Pro Juventute" Foundation (1902-1956).

- Servant of God Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, Spanish professed priest of the Company of Jesus (1711-1735).

- Servant of God Raphael Rafiringa (ne Louis), Madagascan professed religious of the Institute of Brothers of Christian Schools (1856-1919).

- Servant of God Eustachio Kugler, (ne Joseph), German professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (1867-1946).

Those Servants of God acknowledged as having heroic virtue are:

- Servant of God Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Spanish bishop of Osma (1600-1659).

- Servant of God Robert Spiske, diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Hedwig (1821-1888).

- Servant of God Carolina Beltrami, Italian foundress of the Institute of "Immaculatine" Sisters of Alessandria (1869-1932).

- Servant of God Mary of the Immaculate e Conception Salvat y Romerio (nee Maria Isabella), Spanish superior general of the Institute of Sisters of the Company of the Cross (1926-1998).

- Servant of God Liberata Ferrarons y Vives, Spanish laywoman of the Third Order of Carmelites (1803-1842).

Additionally, during a private audience on December 22, 2008, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to recognize the heroic virtues of Servant of God Jose Tous y Soler, a Spanish priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins and founder of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd (1811-1871).

God bless Fr. R.

From Orthometer:

Another Visit From The Truth Squad.

This came via email from the Northwest:

Dear Father Richtsteig,
My husband and I were in town from Seattle Wa. the day your comments appeared in the paper. Needless to say we were embarrassed as catholics.
No one cares who you voted for or who you wanted in office.
It appears you are the one who needs enlightenment. You are in your appointed position to serve the faithful. Being the only negative contributor did not sit well with any of our friends to whom we shown your "piece". A little graciousness and support would have been the appropriate response. Your behavior only gives credience to those people leaving the church. You are not speaking for the faithful Father, you are speaking for yourself. That was not the intent of The Tribune. Your bad manners reflect badly on those of us who know better. I
I will pray for your humility.

Here is my response,

Dear _____,
I do not claim to speak for the faithful. That is not the job of a priest. When the Tribune called, they knew that I, like many, have grave reservations about the President's policies as reflected in his campaign promises and statements, which have only been substantiated by the records of his cabinet appointees so far. They did not ask for congratulations, etc....
I would call you attention to the fact that I said I will support him, I any way that I am morally able. However, I cannot and will not support him on his stated policies which are contrary to the teaching of the Church--policies which will affect the most innocent and vulnerable among us. Further, I will not keep silent on this for fear I might offend someone whose political sensibilities may be stronger than their faith.
I appreciate your prayers for my humility be assured on mine in return,

Posted by Fr. Erik Richtsteig

Monday, January 19, 2009

Father Z - Mass Live (9:02 AM)

Vatican to get own YouTube channel

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican will soon have its own channel on the video sharing site YouTube where the Catholic faithful or the curious will be able to see Pope Benedict or Church events, a Vatican source said on Saturday.

The details of the accord are due to be presented on Friday at a news conference attended by Vatican officials as well as Henrique de Castro, managing director of media solutions for Google, which owns YouTube.

The initiative will involve Google, the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio.

It will mark the Vatican's deepest plunge into new media. The Vatican opened up its website,, in 1995.

Benedict XVI Calls Families to Unite

Pope Benedict XVI is seen on a screen during a live satellite ...

Says They Must Mobilize to Influence Culture

By Karna Swanson

MEXICO CITY, JAN. 18, 2009 ( Benedict XVI encouraged thousands of families in Mexico and around the world to mobilize themselves to promote a culture and politics of the family.

The Pope said this in a video message he sent to those participating in the closing Mass of the VI World Meeting of Families, which ended today in Mexico City. The five-day international event was held under the theme "The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Values."

The video message was scheduled to be shown Saturday during the celebration of the family held at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but due to rain it was postponed and shown today before the closing Mass.

Attendance to the two weekend events at the Marian shrine was well below original predictions, due in part to the sudden cold front that brought rain and a significant dip in temperatures to the mountain capital since last Monday.

Organizers told ZENIT that an estimated 20,000 attended the celebration of the family Saturday, and on Sunday more than 30,000 were present in the basilica and atrium. Thousands more were watching the closing Mass on giant television screens situated on the street in front of the shrine.

More than 10,000 turned out for each day of the theological-pastoral congress held Wednesday through Friday, exceeding all participation records of any other international family meetings.

In Benedict XVI's video message, he noted the necessity "to develop a culture and a politics of the family, that are driven in an organized manner by the families themselves."

Incisive action

With his words, the Pope urged families "to unite yourselves to the associations that promote the identity and rights of the family, according to an anthropologic vision that is coherent with the Gospel." He then invited "these associations to coordinate themselves and collaborate with each other so that their actions be more incisive."

The Bishop of Rome called the family the "vital cell of society, the first and decisive resource for its development, and many times the last refuge for those whose needs aren't meet by the established social structures."

"For it's essential social function," he added, "the family has the right to be recognized in it proper identity and to not be confused with other forms of living together."

The Holy Father said the family should also be able to count on "deserved cultural, legal, economic, social and medical protection," and that the state should offer families school choice.

The Holy Father said the Christian family, "living with confidence and in filial obedience to God, with fidelity and in generously accepting children, caring for the weakest and ready to forgive, becomes a living Gospel that all can read."

In this context, the Pope gave the family the work of presenting "its testimony of life and its explicit profession of faith in the various spheres of its environment, such as the school and various associations"

Likewise, he asked that families commit themselves "to the catechetical formation of their children, and the pastoral activities of their parochial community, especially those related to marriage preparation or directly related to family life."

"To work for the family is to work for the dignified and luminous future of humanity and for the building of the Kingdom of God." The family, he concluded, is called "to be evangelized and evangelizer, humane and humanizing."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ACLU files lawsuit against conscience protection rules

.- New conscience protection regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been challenged in a new federal lawsuit filed on Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The HHS announced the rule change on December 18. The new rule reportedly clarifies the rights of health care providers to decline to participate in services to which they object in conscience. The rule will help protect those individuals and institutions in the medical field who object to abortion.

Acting on behalf of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Connecticut. According to the ACLU, the suit argues that the rule significantly undermines access to essential family planning, reproductive and other health care services and information...


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pope explores St. Paul's teaching on the Church as Bride of Christ

.- More than 4,000 people gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to hear Pope Benedict XVI deliver his continuing series of teachings on St. Paul, which today focused on the Apostle’s teaching about Christ as the head of the Church and the Church as his Bride.

As he began his Wednesday general audience, Pope Benedict explained that his reflections would focus on St. Paul’s “twin” letters of Colossians and Ephesians, which are “very close in their manner of expression, vocabulary, and exposition."

Similar in language, they are unique in developing the theme of Christ as "head" or kephalé of the Church. The Pope said that Christ “guides and is responsible for the Christian community as its leader and its Lord… The Church is subject to Him, both to follow His superior guidance and to receive all of the life that emanates from Him.”

Pope Benedict explained that Christ is considered as head of the heavenly powers and of the entire cosmos. Paul, he expounded, “says that God places Christ above every principality and power. His words assure us that Christ is above every hostile power, so that if we are close to him we have nothing to fear."

In the context of the entire cosmos being subject to Christ, the Holy Father referred to the depiction of Christ as "Pantocrator," shown enthroned over the world, on a rainbow. This depiction, the Pope said, "indicates His equality with God at Whose right hand He sits, and hence also His unrivalled role as the guide of human destinies.”

"Such a vision," he added, "can only be conceived by the Church, not in the sense that she wishes unduly to appropriate that which is not hers, but in another, dual, sense: both in that the Church recognizes that in any case Christ is greater than herself, because His lordship extends beyond her confines, and in that only the Church, and not the cosmos, is defined as the Body of Christ. This means we must give positive consideration to worldly things, because Christ recapitulates them in Himself, and at the same time we must fully live our specific ecclesial identity, which is the closest to the identity of Christ Himself."

Another aspect of the Apostle‘s two Letters is "the concept of mystery," "the inscrutable divine plan for the destiny of mankind, of peoples and of the world,” he said. It is for this reason that one “finds fulfillment in Christ,” the Holy Father noted.

Finally, the Holy Father touched on the recurring theme of "the Church as the bride of Christ.” According to St. Paul, the Pope said, Christ has "won" his bride, the Church, by giving his life for her, “the greatest possible demonstration of love."

“What greater sign of love could there be than this,” he remarked. Christ “is concerned for her beauty; not just the beauty acquired through Baptism, but also the beauty that must grow every day through a life of irreproachable moral behavior, without spot or blemish.”

"From here to the shared experience of Christian marriage is but a short step," he observed. “And in fact it is not clear what the initial point of reference was for the author of the Letter: whether the Christ-Church relationship provided a light in which to consider the union of man and woman; or whether experience of conjugal union was the light in which to examine the relations between Christ and the Church.”

"These two Letters are a great catechesis, from them we can learn how to be good Christians," Pope Benedict concluded.

"If we begin to understand that the cosmos is the mark of Christ, we understand what our relationship with the cosmos is, what problems are involved in its conservation. We learn to see it using reason, but a reason moved by love, respect and humility. If we remember that the Church is the Body of Christ, that Christ gave Himself for her, then we learn to live with Christ in mutual love, a love that unites us to God and brings us to see the image of Christ in others. Let us ask the Lord to help us meditate well on Sacred Scripture, his Word, and to really learn to live well.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life on Mars

ALIEN microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, Nasa scientists believe.

The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes.

Discovery ... gas around Mars

Discovery ... gas around Mars

Nasa are today expected to confirm its presence during a briefing at their Washington HQ.

And the find is seen as exciting new evidence that Martian microbes are still alive today.

Some scientists reckon methane is also produced by volcanic processes. But there are NO known active volcanoes on Mars.

Furthermore, Nasa has found the gas in the same regions as clouds of water vapour, the vital �drink� needed to support life.

Mission ... probe on the surface of Mars

Mission ... probe on the surface of Mars

Experts speculate that the methane is being emitted as a waste product by organisms called methanogens living in water beneath underground ice.

And they would have to be alive today because the methane would otherwise have been lost from the Martian atmosphere.

What a scoop ... Phoenix lander dug up chunks of ice last year

What a scoop ... Phoenix lander dug up chunks of ice last year

John Murray — a member of the Mars Express European space probe team — believes the mini-Martians may be in a form of suspended animation and could even be REVIVED.

He has found overwhelming evidence of a vast frozen ocean beneath the dust near the Martian equator where simple life could have thrived as microbes.

Today’s briefing will feature a star panel of Mars experts headed by Michael Meyer, chief scientist for Nasa’s Mars programme.

UK Mars expert Professor Colin Pillinger believes the methane can only point to the presence of life on the planet.

Space neighbours ... Earth and Venus rise over Mars in mock-up

Space neighbours ... Earth and Venus rise over Mars in mock-up

His ill-fated Beagle 2 probe was carrying a laboratory that would have looked directly for such signs of life when it crashed on Christmas Day 2003.

Prof Pillinger, below, told The Sun last night: �Methane is a product of biology. For methane to be in Mars’ atmosphere, there has to be a replenishable source.

�The most obvious source of methane is organisms. So if you find methane in an atmosphere, you can suspect there is life.

�It’s not proof, but it makes it worth a much closer look.�

Nasa’s findings confirm studies by Europe’s Mars Express probe, which has been orbiting the planet for five years and also reported signs of methane in 2004.

Britain’s top space expert Nick Pope last night hailed the new evidence of life as �the most important discovery of all time�.

He said: �What could be more profound than to know it’s not just us out there?

Expert ... Colin Pillinger

Expert ... Colin Pillinger

"We’ve really only scratched the surface — it’s an absolute certainty that there is life out there and we are not alone.

�If there is life on Mars then the logical conclusion is that there must be life elsewhere too.

�If it’s happened here on Earth, then why shouldn’t it happen anywhere? The implication is this is a universal law.

�Mars is very similar to Earth. It’s about the same size, it’s a rocky inner planet.

�Most scientists believe it probably has liquid water which is almost universally agreed as the pre-requisite for life. I am certain there is other life in the Universe and, most likely, intelligent life.�

The Red Planet has gripped the public imagination for more than a century as a possible home for aliens.

But life could not survive on its surface because, unlike the Earth, Mars has no magnetic shield to protect it against deadly sun radiation.

The planet resembles our own in many ways. It is made of rock, it has an atmosphere and weather systems.

Although much smaller with a diameter of around 4,222 miles, Mars’ day is just 40 minutes longer than ours and its tilted axis gives it seasons.

Water has been found in the form of buried ice and scientists believe that two billion years ago, Mars was covered with liquid oceans.

Proof that water is still on Mars came in 2007 when Mars Express used ground-piercing radar to study the region around the planet’s South Pole.

Nasa’s latest lander Phoenix dug up chunks of Martian ice last year. It swiftly evaporated into the thin atmosphere.

Nasa have controversially hit the headlines before for claiming evidence for Martians.

In 1996, they said they had discovered fossilised organisms in a meteorite from the planet.

But other scientists were sceptical.

Today’s conference will be broadcast live online by NASA TV ( ) at 7pm.

First Lady Laura Bush praises Catholic education in school visit

.- Mrs. Laura Bush on Tuesday visited Little Flower School in Bethesda, Maryland in her last school visit as First Lady. Noting the upcoming celebration of National Catholic Schools Week, she praised the history of Catholic schools in the United States and congratulated Little Flower for being chosen as a Blue Ribbon School.

Her audience included school faculty, students, and the Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl.

“This is my last school visit as First Lady of the United States, and I wanted to end my school visit with a terrific school like Little Flower,” Mrs. Bush said during her 10 a.m. remarks, in which she also referenced her career as a teacher and school librarian.

The First Lady said that National Schools Week, observed from Jan. 25 – 31, is “the week that everybody in the United States can thank our Catholic schools for the great work that you do all over our country and all over the world, really.”

“It's also a time for us to talk to our leaders about the importance of Catholic education,” she continued.

“Catholic schools have a very long history in the United States,” Mrs. Bush continued. “Many of the very first schools in our country for the first little boys and girls that lived in the United States were Catholic schools.

“You have a long history of both academics and also of making sure American children in Catholic schools learn the values that are important to all of us and that are important to the people of the United States.”

She added that National Schools Week is an opportunity for her to thank everybody involved in Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Washington, and also an opportunity to convey thanks on behalf of President Bush.

“Catholic schools have a special commitment in inner cities,” the First Lady remarked. “Many Catholic schools in the United States are taking as a special mission their responsibility to educate disadvantaged students, and I want to give you my special thanks for that and my encouragement to continue that important mission in our inner cities.”

Mrs. Bush then congratulated the school for being awarded the Blue Ribbon last year.

“Have you all seen that great big blue ribbon right here in your hallway? Did you know that only 50 non-public schools in all of the United States were chosen as Blue Ribbon Schools? So that's a really wonderful accomplishment,” she commented.

The award, she said, means that students at Little Flower are really learning and succeeding “in every way.”

“I want to give you special congratulations to the teachers, to the administration, to the faculty, but especially to the students at Little Flower School. I want to applaud you,” she said.

“Congratulations on being such smart kids.”

The First Lady reported that in the Archdiocese of Washington about 97 percent of children who go to Catholic schools go on to higher education.

“And that's a very, very good record and very good statistic,” she said.

Mrs. Bush closed her remarks by thanking Archbishop Wuerl, school principal Sister Rosemaron Rynn, and the students in her audience.

Since Little Flower School opened in 1953, it has been staffed by members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Their motherhouse is in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Today there are six IHM sisters on the faculty of Little Flower. According to the school’s web site, it offers an “excellent” academic program that is “imbued and enlivened by the gospel message which inspires all to live the values of our Catholic faith.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Saying Yes to Life -- 19 Times (Part 1)

Interview on Parenting a Large Catholic Family

By Kathleen Naab

CHICAGO, Illinois, JAN. 12, 2009 ( God the Father subjects to human free will his desire to pour out new life -- and the rewards of responding to this desire are countless, says a couple that has parented 19 children.

James and Kathleen Littleton wrote about their experience of responding to God's creative love in a book about raising their 14 living children, "Better by the Dozen, Plus Two."

The Littletons also spoke with ZENIT about their decision to have such a large family, and why it required separating themselves from prevailing cultural opinions, even perhaps among Catholics.

Part 2 of this interview will be published Tuesday.

Q: What do you suggest for couples seeking to discern what God asks of them through the Church's call to responsible parenthood?

James: Here I believe we are discussing openness to life within marriage. The answer to this question lies in the law of love, and also, of course, in hope and trust as opposed to fear, which so infects the world today. Kathleen and I made the regretful mistake of beginning our marriage succumbing to the lie of artificial contraception. By the sublime grace of God we converted from this error, and have been showered with the undeserved grace of having thus far 19 children, 14 living on earth and five in heaven.

The Church teaches that it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life -- Catechism No. 2366. The Church does allow for couples to space the births of their children for just reasons via natural family planning. So we must deal with the subjective question of couples discovering the will of God each month regarding their openness and readiness to embrace and be open to co-creating new life in partnership with him, of bringing a beautiful new person into existence in time and eternity, an unrepeatable, unique human person with an irreplaceable and necessary mission for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

This possibility is not an imposition, but rather a transcendent gift of the very creative power of God himself. It is humbling and awe-inspiring to think that our Heavenly Father chooses to subject his ache to pour out new life to the choice and generosity of human beings on whom he has bestowed yet another awesome power, that of free will. He will never interfere with our free will, yet ultimately we are called to respond to this and all his gifts in love.

The key virtue of hope, which our beloved Pope Benedict is attempting to turn the world toward, is vital with regard to openness to life in marriage. Kathleen and I have met so many people who only needed one word of encouragement or one example to find the hope and courage to do what they already knew they wanted in their hearts, what God wanted, to be open, if so blessed, to having another child in their marriage. Their sense of joy, relief, and peace was evident when they shared or implied their decision to be open to bring another life into time and eternity.

No, we are not saying that everyone needs to have as many children as physically possible without regard for their circumstances. But we are encouraging couples to be generous and re-evaluate the possibility of having another child if God grants this gift, to examine this in a prayerful way open to God's will, with a supernatural, faith-filled perspective.

When we pray and contemplate Jesus Christ and his love, and the magnificence of each human person in comparison with inferior things such as our fears, and yes, our tendency often toward selfishness and materialism, when most importantly we live the Eucharistic and sacramental life, when we seek the guidance of the sweet Guest of our souls, the Holy Spirit, and when we humble ourselves to seek the counsel of wise and holy people, our response to our merciful Father's gift of life will take on a new, deeper, and true perspective.

We suggest couples not apply their reason and intellect alone, or what the dominant culture attempts to impose, but also faith -- and even with a higher regard for faith -- so as not to try to make God small, not to put him in a tiny box. Our heavenly Father has the power and ability to provide all we need, and he will. He is never outdone in generosity. There is a great feeling of freedom and peace that one experiences when one takes a bit of a risk and puts out into the deep in love and trust in our infinitely loving God.

Kathleen: God is the one who creates, we are only cooperators. The creation of a new human life lies in God's will for us. It is up to God to bless us or not with a new child. This calls for great generosity, faith and trust in his plan for our marriage and our lives. But it is also very freeing -- to know that God is with us at every moment -- and if he created us, he will sustain us.

He also will give us the grace of state to be good parents and providers. And if he doesn't bless us with a child, that too is his will, and he intends only what is good for us. We only need to live each day with greater faith, love and generosity -- to ensure that God's will, not mine be done -- for this alone will make us happy and give us peace.

Q: You propose that the formation of a child starts with prayer while he or she is still in the womb. But does formation of character begin as early as infancy? And if so, how?

James: Yes, the formation and sanctification of children begins in the womb and certainly through infancy and beyond. Jesus is the one who sanctifies; we merely cooperate with his work. Consider Luke 1: 41, when John leaps in Elizabeth's womb at Mary's greeting -- this happens when we bring our babies in the womb and infants to Mass or for a visit to our Eucharistic Lord Jesus, where graces radiate from Christ into the souls of our children and of course into us.

There are many useful practical techniques available via various sources for formation of character at various ages, and we provide some of our ideas and experiences in our book. But suffice it to say that all techniques are fruitless unless connected to the vine of Jesus Christ. Here we see the primacy of grace, where in order to form our children in virtue we must first and foremost take them to Mass, as well as the other sacraments, especially the sacrament of penance, and pray with them.