NOVEMBER 21, 2010, Vol 60, No 23

Left: Spain’s Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia watch Pope Benedict XVI arrive to celebrate Mass outside the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Right: People protest the pope’s visit on Nov 6.  Below: The pope leads the Angelus prayer outside the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia after consecrating the church in Barcelona. CNS photo

BARCELONA – Pope Benedict XVI warned countries of the danger of no longer being at the loving service of their citizens as he urged the faithful to bring Christ’s message of hope to all people.

During a two-day journey to a once-staunchly Catholic Spain, the pope sought to bolster and renew people’s faith in God and convince an increasingly secular society that the Church wants dialogue, not confrontation. The pope’s Nov 6-7 visit, his 18th trip abroad, brought him first to one of Catholicism’s most popular and ancient pilgrimage sites, Santiago de Compostela, and then Barcelona, where he consecrated the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.

During the Nov 7 Mass in which he blessed and anointed the altar of the church dedicated to the Holy Family of Nazareth, he said Christians must resist every attack on human life and promote the natural institution of the family. Under the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who came to power in 2004, Spain has relaxed its divorce laws, eased restrictions on abortion, legalised same-sex marriage and allowed gay couples to adopt.

In his homily, the pope praised the technical, social and cultural progress made over the years. However, he said, a country must also advance morally.

The recent publicity surrounding the mix up in the creation of an IVF (in vitro fertilisation) baby – where a woman’s egg was wrongly fertilised with the sperm of a man who was not her husband – has once again brought this ART (Artificial Reproductive Technology) into the limelight. This article seeks to give an overview of some modern fertility options for Catholic couples who wish to improve their chances of achieving pregnancy naturally, without resorting to IVF.

A couple’s fertility window
While a man normally produces sperm all the time, a woman usually releases an egg from one of her ovaries only once during her menstrual cycle. Since the egg can survive up to one day, and a man’s sperm can survive up to five days in a woman’s genital tract after sexual intercourse (under maximal conditions), a couple can be considered fertile for only about five to six days per menstrual cycle.
PENANG, MALAYSIA – Simply attending Mass every Sunday is not sufficient to strengthen one’s faith, says Bishop Antony Selvanayagam of Penang. What is additionally required is a concern for the istic development of others.

The Malaysian bishop, who on Oct 24 turned 75, the age when bishops are obliged to request for retirement, has worked for human development in his years heading the diocese. He set up the Penang Office for Human Development and the Parish Human Development Committees, as well as strengthened Basic Ecclesial Communities.

In this interview with ucanews.com, he talks about his work in these areas as well as the role that Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) play in the religious, social and political lives of Catholics.

The rescue of the miners was a complete success: an engineering feat, a miracle of faith and survival, a lesson in international cooperation.

As 48-year-old Victor Segovia, one of the 33 Chilean miners trapped for 69 days half a mile deep in a goldmine, was reeled to the surface in a narrow capsule, the country’s president, Sebastian Piera, hugged him and said: “Welcome to life.” Ironic as it may seem, the trapped miners survived only because they had a full life – one of faith, sharing, discipline, structure, unity, and self-sacrificing leadership. We have much to learn from their experience.

As each of the miners emerged into the spotlights or bright sunlight of the Atacama Desert, people from all over the world were riveted to their televisions. Asked what was so interesting, a woman said it was seeing something that really worked.
Four musicians from different religious backgrounds are working together to stage a concert for ACMI

SINGAPORE – Four musicians from different faith backgrounds are pooling their talents for an Advent concert of sacred songs to spread Christmas cheer while also raising funds for the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI).

Speaking to CatholicNews after a rehearsal, Teng Xiang Ting, a law undergraduate, and who helps train and conduct the National Junior College and CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School (SNGS) choirs, said that she is glad that she is able to lend her voice to something meaningful.