Monthly Archives: January 2013

Pope Benedict asks asks Vatican Court to review rules on Annulments

Sking on Saturday to the members of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, Benedict said “lack of faith” on the part of the spouses can affect the validity of a marriage.

While the Catholic church forbids remarried divorcees from taking Communion, church tribunals can declare a marriage void if it can be demonstrated that some key elements — such as a commitment to have children — were missing in the first place.

Catholics who obtain an annulment for their first marriage can then remarry without facing church sanctions.

In his speech to Rota judges, Benedict stressed he wasn’t suggesting an automatic link “between the lack of faith and the invalidity of marriage,” but seemed to equate a “lack of faith” with other justifications for an annulment.

The pope said he wanted to “draw attention to how such a lack may, although not necessarily, also hurt the goods of marriage,” since faith in God is “a very important element for living in mutual dedication and conjugal fidelity.”

For the pope, the issue requires “further reflection,” especially in the light of today’s secularized culture that puts little faith in a person’s ability to make lifelong commitments.

According to Miguel Angel Ortiz, a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Benedict wasn’t so much addressing the specific issue of remarried divorcees but addressing the relation between the spouses’ personal faith and the validity of marriage, including its commitment to fidelity.

In a 2005 question-and-answer session with priests, the pope said he once believed lack of faith was enough to declare a marriage invalid. But, after tasking theologians to look into the issue, he had “understood that the problem was very difficult” and required further study.

At the time, Benedict said it was “particularly sad” to see people marry in the church out of tradition instead of a faith commitment only to subsequently find faith and remarry.

For Ortiz, the pope’s reflection could “speed up the process of declaring a marriage invalid” without changing the substance of the process itself.


Don Bosco Relic Pilgrimage around Ireland

A casket with the relic of Don Bosco has been on pilgrimage throughout the world since the 5th of April 2009 to prepare to celebrate the bi-centenary of Don Bosco’s birth (1815-2015).

The casket will arrive in Ireland on Saturday 23rd February 2013 and will travel throughout the island until the 7th of March 2013.  The relics will leave Ireland on 8th March, travelling on to Croatia.

The full itinerary can be seen under the World News Category of our parish website. TV Mass will be on RTE Sunday 3rd March at 11.00am and the casket containing the relic of Don Bosco will be in Belfast at St Peter’s Cathedral on Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th March.






Don Bosco Relic Pilgimage around Ireland 23rd Feb – 7th March 2013

1. Dublin, Crumlin, St Agnes Church – Sat 23rd & Sun 24th Feb 2013.

2. Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Salesian College – Mon 25th Feb 2013.

3. Ballinakill, Co. Laois, St Brigid’s Church – Tue 26th Feb 2013.

4. Portlaoise, Co. Laois, SS Peter and Paul Church – Tue 26th Feb 2013.

5. Limerick, Milford, Our Lady Help of Christians Church – Wed 27th Feb 2013.

6. Limerick, Southill, Holy Family Church – Thu 28th Feb 2013.

7. Pallaskenry, Co. Limerick, Salesian College – Fri 1st March 2013.

8. Knock, Co. Mayo, Basilica – Sat 2nd & Sun 3rd March 2013.

RTE TV Mass on Sun 3rd at 11am.

9. Navan, Co. Meath, St Mary’s Church – Sun 3rd & Mon 4th March 2013.

10. Belfast, St Peter’s Cathedral – Mon 4th & tue 5th March 2013.

11. Dublin, S. McDermott St, Our Lady of Lourdes – Tue 5th & Wed 6th March 2013.

12. Limerick, Fernbank, Our Lady of the Rosary – Thu 7th March 2013.

International pilgrimage

The casket has already visited Italy, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Perù and Ecuador. It then travelled to Columbia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Porto Rico, Haiti, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, the United States and Canada. In 2011 it visited Japan, Indonesia, Australia, China, Taiwan, India, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka. In 2012 it has visited Uganda, Ruanda, Sudan, Togo, Mozambique, Ghana and Spain.

Everywhere the arrival of the casket has aroused great interest, participation and involvement and has brought together children, young people and adults to welcome Don Bosco, and to learn more about the Piedmontese saint, his Preventive System and his commitment to working with the young.

for more details –

Brigid’s ‘Camino’ launched.

Catholic Ireland News

Dolores Whelan, one of the people who had the idea for Slí Bhride, spoke of how in Brigid’s time prayer was part of everyday life. There was a prayer for milking, for sowing, for everything they did, and prayer was synonymous with working the land. So walking and getting back to the land is the ideal way to tap into our ancient prayer traditions.

“I have led pilgrimages to many of the sacred places over the last 20 years. I have always believed that when I walk on the land, and really connect with the land and feel that energy rising me, I am praying. I feel that the way back to our ancient tradition is through walking and praying in that way,” she said.

She and two others, Karen Ward and Anthony Murphy, are finalising the route which will be inaugurated on 7th July when the first pilgrims will set off from Faughart. Anthony Murphy, who has written several books including Island of the Setting Sun – In Search of Ireland’s Ancient Astronomers  and a new book Newgrange Monument to Immortality, did initial research and found that there is a straight line between Faughart Graveyard, Tara and the Curragh, and it intersects many significant historic and holy sites in between.

“We are very excited that on the 7th of July 2013 we will begin to re-inaugurate this path,” Dolores Whelan said explaining she always had an aspiration to open the ‘pilgrim paths’ in Ireland. She is also involved in the Brigid of Faughart Festival which includes the annual Pilgrimage Walk from Dundalk Town to Faughart Shrine, the Eucharist for St. Brigid’s Day at Faughart Shrine and a special day of healing.

Dolores Whelan runs Iomlanu Education near Dundalk, and has written Ever Ancient, Ever New with Celtic meditation CD. She did further research on the Sli Bhride with Karen Ward who was the Holistic Therapist presenter on RTE’s Health Squad and runs The Slí an Chroí Centre in Dublin with her husband.

At the launch Karen spoke about how the Camino de Santiago de Compostela has been popularised with the film starring Martin Sheen. Of late many people have taken up walking in Ireland, but this is not only because it is a cheap pastime during the recession but it goes back to our ancient traditions of pilgrimage in times of difficulty and need.

She and Dolores have travelled the route and uncovered a variety of ancient holy wells, monasteries and shrines to visit. It runs through or near Faughart graveyard and Brigid’s holy well there , Drumcashel, Ardee, Slane, Tara, Dunboyne and along the canal with stops at Maynooth and Prosperous before arriving at Kildare and Brigid’s monastic city.    There are points to stop reflect and pray, but for many each step of a pilgrimage is a prayer.

Full details of Slí Bhride will be available from March on:
For St Brigid’s Festival in Kildare see:
For Brigid of Faughart Festival see:

By Ann Marie Foley

Mali: Aid is being rushed to hungry families

Mali: Aid is being rushed to hungry families | Bishop Georges Fonghoro of Mopti, Aid to the Church in Need, ACN, Mali

displaced families – image ACN

Emergenciy food and medicine is being sent to hundreds of stricken families in Mali who have fled their homes to escape the fighting. Young children are already reported to be suffering from malnutrition.

A grant, totalling £34,000 was announced by Aid to the Church in Need on Friday, is being administered by Mopti Catholic diocese, southern Mali, a region where thousands of people have been displaced by war in the land-locked west Saharan country.

One of the world’s poorest nations, Mali is locked in a battle for supremacy after Islamists seized the north, prompting a French military retaliation earlier this month. With reports of the impending French-led international air and ground offensive against the Islamists, last week Church leaders warned of the need to act quickly in case the violence intensifies.

Bishop Georges Fonghoro of Mopti told ACN: “In the past months people have suffered enormously, especially in the north of the country. Many have fled to escape the violence.”  The bishop, whose diocese contains 40,000 Catholics, added: “We are dealing now with displaced people. The situation has calmed down even though a state of emergency was extended by three months. People are still afraid to return to their villages.”

Stressing how mothers and children are particularly lacking food, the bishop said: “The needs are enormous, the situation of the people both in the countryside and the cities is precarious and requires us to act immediately.”

The aid comes on top of emergency aid given to Mali last year, again helping displaced people.

The crisis broke nearly a year ago when Mali’s army staged a coup prompting Islamist militants and secular rebels to extend their control to the whole of the north, an area of the Sahara Desert larger than France. With the army putting up very little resistance, France carried out airstrikes in cities in the rebel-held north while working jointly with Malian troops to recapture Diabaly, Konna and Douentza, all close to Mopti.

Last weekend, Aid to the Church in Need received an account of the people’s suffering from a missionary priest reporting on the lead-up to the liberation of strategically important Diabaly and Konna a week ago.

Fr Zacharie Sorgho, whose parish of Nioro du Sahel in western Mali, has welcomed people fleeing the conflict, described the events, saying: “One morning there was an armed assault [by Islamist rebels] in the city of Konna… and other southern cities.

“This created a great fear in the city and everyone was in a state of confusion. People were fleeing and there were cries of despair.  After the intense fighting, Konna was freed from the hands of the jihadist Muslims. But then they attacked Diabaly and took it. They used people as human shields.”


Ms Simons told the crowd that claims by the Government that abortion was needed to treat threatened suicide in pregnancy had been “completely demolished at last week’s Oireachtas hearings on abortion”.

She said: “The psychiatrists who addressed the hearings were unanimous that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation.

“There is no evidence whatever that suggests that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted or mistimed pregnancy. But there is evidence that abortion increases the risk of future mental health problems for a significant number of women,” she said.

Speaking at the vigil, Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte said that “Quite frankly I am most concerned that this Government proposes to legislate for abortion”.

“Ireland is almost unique in the western world in looking out for, and fully protecting, two patients during a pregnancy – a mother and her unborn child,” he said.

“We are here to oppose the unjust targeting of even one unborn child’s life in circumstances that have nothing to do with genuine life-saving medical interventions,” Mr Harte said to rapturous applause from people who had travelled from all over Ireland.

One of the highlights of the event, which was held on Dublin’s Merrion Square, was a live phone call to Taoiseach Enda Kenny where everyone chanted ‘keep your promise’ – a reference to Mr Kenny’s pre-election pledge not to legalise abortion.

The massive pro-life event went quiet as Dr Eoghan de Faoite of Youth Defence called an Taoiseach’s constituency office, and Mr Kenny’s voice could be heard asking the caller to leave a message.

“Hello an Taoiseach, this is the Vigil for Life, and I have 30,000 people here to give you a reminder of the pro-life promise you made in 2011,” said Dr de Faoite.

“The vigil has been a tremendously powerful and historic event, and the voice of the majority has been heard for the protection of both mother and baby,” said Dr de Faoite.


Holocaust Memorial Day | Pope Benedict XVI, Holocaust Memorial Day, Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem monument to Janusz Korczak



When Pope Benedict XVI visited the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on 11 May, 2009 he said:

‘I have come to stand in silence before this monument, erected to honour the memory of the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah. They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names: these are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again. Most of all, their names are forever fixed in the memory of Almighty God.

Established in 1953, as the world centre for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust Yad Vashem and its partners has collected and recorded the names and biographical details of two thirds of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. Two million more still remain unidentified.

As the Pope quoted at the beginning of his visit to Yad Vashem, a passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah furnishes two simple words which solemnly express the significance of the place itself: “vad” – which means memorial, and “shem” which means name…

“I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name … I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off” .

Pope Benedict said: “One can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect, yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being.

“May the names of these victims never perish! May their suffering never be denied, belittled or forgotten! And may all people of goodwill remain vigilant in rooting out from the heart of man anything that could lead to tragedies such as this!”

Pope Benedict said that the Catholic Church feels deep compassion for the victims remembered here. Similarly, he said, ” she draws close to all those who today are subjected to persecution on account of race, colour, condition of life or religion – their sufferings are hers, and hers is their hope for justice.” And he reaffirmed that he is committed to pray and work tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again.

Pope Benedict said: “Gazing upon the faces reflected in the pool that lies in stillness within this memorial, one cannot help but recall how each of them bears a name. I can only imagine the joyful expectation of their parents as they anxiously awaited the birth of their children. What name shall we give this child? What is to become of him or her? Who could have imagined that they would be condemned to such a deplorable fate!”

“Their cry still echoes in our hearts.

“My dear friends, I am deeply grateful to God and to you for the opportunity to stand here in silence: a silence to remember, a silence to pray, a silence to hope.”

For more information on Yad Vashem and Holocaust Memorial Day see:

EGYPT: Renewed calls for Human Rights on Second Anniversary of Uprising

Egypt: renewed calls for human rights on second anniversary of uprising | His Grace, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of Coptic Orthodox Church, Egypt, CSW, Christian Solidarity Worldwide

However repression has continued in the subsequent years, with brutal tactics being employed against pro-democracy protestors by the previous military and by the government of President Morsi in order to enforce the status quo, resulting in the loss of many lives. Most recently, seven people died and hundreds were injured during the widespread protests that took place late last year, following the negative reaction to the new constitution, which restricts freedom of expression and the rights of women and religious minorities.

In addition, sectarian violence has continued with little or no official intervention. Members of Egypt’s Coptic community have been physically attacked or killed; their homes, businesses and church buildings have been destroyed and several young women have been abducted.

In a statement issued on the eve of the anniversary, His Grace, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said: “The uprising in Tahrir Square on 25 January 2011 inspired the world as it saw Egyptians standing side-by-side in an effort to reclaim their national identity. There was hope for a new Egypt, one that could offer its people the freedom and responsibility of equal citizenship while no longer focusing on their religious or political stance. It is unfortunate however, that two years down the line we have not seen sufficient signs of this transformation, and we still witness the marginalisation and alienation of many, Christians and Muslims alike, within Egyptian society, while repeatedly witnessing others committing crimes and not being brought to justice.” He added: “Considering the significant sacrifice that has been presented over the past two years, even leading to the loss of life, it is time for Egypt to emerge out of the pattern of discriminatory practice, and take on its new identity of a promised democracy that the January 2011 uprising sought to establish.”

United Action for Egyptian Copts (UAFEC), a United Kingdom-based Diaspora NGO said: “The Egyptian revolution in 2011 is a dream that has not yet come true. Let us keep dreaming and working hard towards a truly free and democratic Egypt and have faith that God will deliver Egypt very soon.”

CSW’s Advocacy Director, Andrew Johnston, said: “The revolution promised to usher in a new era of rights for Egypt’s citizens, and there was particularly hope that the rights of religious minorities would improve. However, the past two years have seen increasing restrictions of fundamental freedoms, a marked increase in attacks against Copts, as well as the jailing and harassment of those who have opposed the Morsi government, or who do not share the Muslim Brotherhood’s political or religious vision. If the government is truly as democratic as it claims, it should begin to take concrete steps to allow for freedom of expression and to ensure that the rights of all citizens are respected, and that any attacks on individuals or communities are thoroughly investigated.”

For further information see:

ISRAEL: Election result could open new perspectives for Christians

Israel: election result could open new perspectives for Christians | Father Frans Bouwen, Belgian Missionary of Africa, elections in israel

Father Frans Bouwen

However he said the citizens of Israel had given a strong signal that they desire peace and stability above all else.  “With the success of the Party of Yair Lapid, a position that I would define realistic and pragmatic has been established. The Israelis have said: we want to live a normal life, without ideological struggles. Likewise, peace is one of the things that one needs in order to live a normal life. So a pragmatic and not idealistic approach can emerge, which could be beneficial, if it is not denied in the negotiations over the division of power.”

Fr Bouwen said: “The profile of the Christian community in Israel is changing, but the majority of Christians still belongs to the Palestinian Arab minority. Other Christians are mostly immigrant workers and their stable roots remain to be verified. In addition, there is the problem concerning Russian immigrants who came to Israel without revealing their Christian faith. It is known that they exist, they go to church, visit monasteries, but they do not want to be identified as Christians, and no one can say how many they are. ”

The historical editor of Proche Orient Chrétien, Father Bouwen  has been involved in ecumenical dialogue for many years and is a highly regarded analyst of Christian communities in the Middle East.