APRIL 08, 2012, Vol 62, No 07

Read about the new initiative from the Singapore archdiocese: Priests and laypeople learn how to foster a 'safe environment' for children, page 2.

In our news section, we carry a report on the Society of St Vincent de Paul becoming a member of a UN body, page 16.

A brief report on 70 youths who took part in an overnight Lenten vigil at East Coast Park, page 8.

Popular author Fr Ronald Rolheiser reflects on Lenten observances in his regular column: Fast first, then feast, page 18

It's the last week of Lent and we carry a faith formation article, From Death to Life - discovering the journey of Jesus from crucifixion to resurrection, pages 20-21.

Keep reading CatholicNews! To subscribe to the print edition, click below.

Read about the new initiative from the Singapore archdiocese: Priests and laypeople learn how to foster a 'safe environment' for children, page 2.

In our news section, we carry a report on the Society of St Vincent de Paul becoming a member of a UN body, page 16.

A brief report on 70 youths who took part in an overnight Lenten vigil at East Coast Park, page 8.

Popular author Fr Ronald Rolheiser reflects on Lenten observances in his regular column: Fast first, then feast, page 18

It's the last week of Lent and we carry a faith formation article, From Death to Life - discovering the journey of Jesus from crucifixion to resurrection, pages 20-21.

Keep reading CatholicNews! To subscribe to the print edition, click below.

Bishop Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor diocese (centre) at the Chrism Mass. With him were permanent deacons Leslie Petrus (extreme left) and Anthony Chua (extreme right). The others are altar servers. Photo: FRANCIS GOPALBishop Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor diocese (centre) at the Chrism Mass. With him were permanent deacons Leslie Petrus (extreme left) and Anthony Chua (extreme right). The others are altar servers. Photo: FRANCIS GOPAL

JOHOR BAHRU – Bishop Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor diocese compared the Chrism Mass to Jesus’s prayer before suffering His passion.

Jesus had prayed that his disciples may be one just as the Father and He are one, so that the world may believe, said Bishop Tan at the Mass held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Johor Bahru on March 20.

“The first duty of the bishop, priests and permanent deacons is to unite all the people of God through their ministries.” said Bishop Tan.

“At this Mass my permanent deacons and priests renew their ordination promises to be obedient to their bishop and work with him in unity as a family to look after the people of God,” said Bishop Tan.
A woman prepares a simple, meatless meal for Lent.A woman prepares a simple, meatless meal for Lent.ON ASH WEDNESDAY, I joined my fellow Catholics in giving public witness to my faith, becoming, literally, a marked man. Ashes on the forehead cause a change in outlook and disposition, in the way I walk out and face the world.

When they see the black smudge, some people stare and wonder, others show a spark of recognition or look as though they recall something from days long past. Most don’t notice or studiously ignore the man with the black mark.

We wear ashes not to show off and say how holy and superior we are as Catholics. We wear ashes to remind us and others: From dust we are made, and to dust we shall return. The ash should not proclaim to the world, “Better than you!” but rather, “Sinner like me!”
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has established a commission to investigate a series of leaks of letters exchanged among Vatican officials and between the officials and the pope himself.

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican substitute secretary of state, said on March 16 that the papal commission would try “to shed light on the whole affair”.

A Vatican tribunal would look into taking legal action against those who gave the documents to reporters, and the Vatican Secretariat of State would carry out an administrative review of every Vatican office.

Singer Corrinne May performing at her March 23 concert. Photo: CANDICE CHANSinger Corrinne May performing at her March 23 concert. Photo: CANDICE CHANCatholics and non-Catholics alike flocked to the Church of St Mary of the Angels on March 23 for Corrinne May’s It’s a Beautiful Life concert.

May is a Singapore-born and bred Catholic singer-songwriter who is currently based in Los Angeles.

Of the 13 songs presented that night, 10 were from May’s latest album, Crooked Lines.

During the concert, she shared her inspirations for her songs. She also spoke briefly on Lent, and how it is about prioritising and spending quality time with family and friends, before performing 24 Hours, my personal favourite from her new album.

The line that stands out the most in this song poses a reflective question to me: “If I had only 24 hours to live, what would I do?”

Indeed, if it were your last 24 hours, what would you want to do? This song struck a chord in my heart when I first heard it on her recorded version, and hearing it live was indeed a whole new experience altogether.

The song that followed was Sight of Love, which had the phrase, “We were made in love, and back to love we will return, someday”. It was another song that touched my heart.

Halfway through the concert, May introduced her band, which included her husband and keyboardist Kavin Hoo.

VATICAN CITY – The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, has declared as “insufficient” the position of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X on certain basic doctrinal principles and criteria for interpreting Church teaching.

Cardinal William J Levada, head of the doctrinal congregation, met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the society’s superior, on March 16, to explain the Vatican’s evaluation, said Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi.

The society’s leaders were asked to further clarify their response to a “doctrinal preamble” the Vatican asked them to study last September.

“A further clarification from the society is expected by mid-April,” said Fr Lombardi. The society has been given “more time for reflection to see if some further step can be made”.

In late November, Bishop Fellay had said, “This doctrinal preamble cannot receive our endorsement, although leeway has been allowed for a ‘legitimate discussion’ about certain points of the [Second Vatican] Council.” n CNS

A teacher comforts a child as they observe a minute of silence, for those killed by a gunman,  outside Ozar Hatorah Jewish school. CNS photoA teacher comforts a child as they observe a minute of silence, for those killed by a gunman, outside Ozar Hatorah Jewish school. CNS photoTOULOUSE, FRANCE – French Church leaders have condemned the March 19 attack outside a Jewish school in Toulouse.

“Our region was overcome once more by horror this morning,” said Archbishop Robert Le Gall of Toulouse. “To the families affected by this outrage, we express our sentiments of deep compassion and our prayer.”

The archbishop issued the statement after a gunman on a motorcycle killed a rabbi, his two sons and a schoolgirl at Ozar Hatorah school, a junior high and high school.

Msgr Antoine Herouard, secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, led a special vespers service for the victims at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.

Msgr Bernard Podvin, spokesman for the French bishops’ conference, called it an “odiously perpetrated killing” and said all Catholics would feel “strong indignation” at the “blind violence against defenceless people”.

News that a gun from the school shooting was used by an attacker on a motorbike in earlier attacks fuelled concern that a serial killer was targeting not only Jews but also French minorities. Four African and Caribbean soldiers were killed in the March 12 attacks that also took place in Toulouse and nearby Montauban.
Dr Michael Thio, president general of the International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent De Paul. He is a Singaporean.Dr Michael Thio, president general of the International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent De Paul. He is a Singaporean.The International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent De Paul (SSVP) is now an NGO member of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council.

The society gained its Special Consultative Status – with no voting rights – in ECOSOC in late January, SSVP’S president general Michael Thio told CatholicNews.

ECOSOC makes policy recommendations on economic, social and environmental challenges faced by academics, business people and NGOs.

In a letter to all Vincentians, Dr Thio, a Singaporean, said the special status provides NGOs with access to ECOSOC and many other subsidiary bodies, as well as to UN human rights mechanisms.

The special status also allows NGOs to attend UN conferences as well as events organised by the President of the General Assembly.

The process to gain admission started in 2010, Dr Thio told CatholicNews.

SSVP’s entry into ECOSOC unites it with its three other Vincentian branches who had previously been admitted as NGO members – the (Vincentian Fathers) Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity and Association of International Charities.
Young adults kneel in prayer with other participants at a rally outside the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington on March 23. Young adults kneel in prayer with other participants at a rally outside the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington on March 23. WASHINGTON – Thousands gathered in front of US courthouses, state capitols and historic sites to protest a federal mandate requiring most religious employers to provide contraceptive coverage, even it is contrary to their beliefs.

All of the events, held at noon local time in 143 cities on March 23, were part of a nationwide Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally organised by the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, based in Michigan.

About 55,000 people participated.

In Washington, a rally was held in front of the Washington headquarters of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Rev Patrick Mahoney, a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church who is director of the Christian Defence Coalition, opened it with a prayer.

“We are here not with clenched fists but in humility before God,” he said, urging the crowd of about 2,000 to kneel on the paved area in front of the HHS building.

“We are here because the faith community cannot be silent when it comes to human rights and we will never comply with an unjust order that violates our faith.”

Pope arrives to celebrate Mass on March 25.Pope arrives to celebrate Mass on March 25.

SILAO, MEXICO – Pope Benedict XVI told Mexicans suffering from poverty, corruption and violence, to trust in God and the intercession of Mary to help them bring about a “more just and fraternal society”, during Mass.

“When addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us,” the pope said in his homily during the outdoor Mass at Guanajuato Bicentennial Park in Silao on March 25.

It was the pope’s second full day of his second papal visit to Latin America. “We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because He is the essence of life and its author.”

The pope referred to the monument to Christ the King visible atop a nearby hill and observed that Christ’s “kingdom does not stand on the power of His armies subduing others through force or violence. It rests on a higher power that wins over hearts”.

The pope prays in front of the statue of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.The pope prays in front of the statue of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

EL COBRE, CUBA – For 400 years, Cubans have brought their sorrows and joys before the statue of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

When Pope Benedict visited the shrine on March 27, he echoed their prayers for a future marked by less poverty and greater freedom.

“I have entrusted to the mother of God the future of your country, advancing along the ways of renewal and hope, for the greater good of all Cubans,” he said.

At the shrine, he lit a candle and stood in silent prayer for several minutes before the statue.

Leaving the shrine, the pope stood on the steps and told the crowd outside that he prayed “for the needs of all who suffer, of those who are deprived of freedom, for those who are separated from their loved ones or who are undergoing times of difficulty”.
Priest lights candle in front of photo of late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria. CNS photoPriest lights candle in front of photo of late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria. CNS photoVATICAN CITY – Praising the ecumenical commitment of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Pope Benedict XVI offered his condolences to Orthodox Christians in Egypt on the death of their patriarch.

Pope Shenouda, who served as patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church for 41 years, died on March 17 at the age of 88.

In a message released at the Vatican the next day, Pope Benedict said he wanted to express his condolences and “brotherly compassion” to the bishops, priests and faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which includes about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 82 million people.

The vast majority of Christians in Egypt belong to Pope Shenouda’s Church and his four decades as patriarch often involved standing up for the rights of the country’s Christian minority and working with the Muslim majority to promote human rights and the common good.

“The Catholic Church as a whole shares the grief that afflicts the Orthodox Copts,” Pope Benedict said, and Catholics pray that “the God of all mercy may receive Pope Shenouda in His joy, His peace and light”.
BANGKOK – A Vatican delegation scheduled to evaluate the cause for beatification of the late Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan has been refused entry to Vietnam.

Fr Peter Nguyen Huu Giai, pastor of the An Bang parish of Hue diocese, said the delegation, which planned to interview witnesses in the beatification process from April 1-3, has been denied visas.

“I have been told that the Vatican delegation could not visit the country because they were refused entry visas by the government.”

Fr Giai, 70, and nine other clerics, Religious and laypeople had been assigned to provide testimony to the three delegates from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He said he believed the refusal of entry visas was the result of sensitivity by government officials over the beatification.
Coadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin (right) and Fr Paul Jiang Sunian of Wenzhou. UCAN File PhotoCoadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin (right) and Fr Paul Jiang Sunian of Wenzhou. UCAN File PhotoHONG KONG – Coadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou and his chancellor, Fr Paul Jiang Sunian, were taken into custody by government officials in mid-March to attend “learning classes”, sources told the Asian Church news agency, UCA News.

Bishop Shao, 49, was appointed by the Holy See to lead Wenzhou’s unregistered, or underground, Catholic community in 2007 and is not recognised by the government.

Bishop Shao and Fr Jiang were taken on March 19.

If Bishop Shao and Fr Jiang are “intelligent enough in their learning”, they will be allowed back soon; if not, they will be detained longer, local Church sources quoted government officials as saying.

“This implies their release depends on whether they accept the government’s religious policies,” one of the sources told UCA News.

Sources also said a few of Wenzhou diocese’s 17 underground priests were summoned to meet with religious officials in mid-March. Some were told to remain behind while others were allowed to return home the same day, the sources added.

A Facebook page created in support of the campaign.A Facebook page created in support of the campaign.

Lenten signature campaign launched


KUALA LUMPUR – Kuala Lumpur archdiocese has launched a Lenten signature campaign to petition the prime minister to improve the country’s education system.

The signatures, which are collected online as well as on paper, will be sent to the Prime Minister’s Department by July 9, according to a letter sent out to parishes from Fr Simon Labrooy, ecclesiastical assistant to the Catholic Teachers’ Association, Malaysia.

In his letter dated Feb 15, Fr Labrooy said: “We are in danger, when political interests, capitalism and racism get mixed up into the education policies. We have seen this happen repeatedly in Malaysia.”

He noted in the letter, titled What Is Happening To Our Children’s Education, that “there are racial and religious polarisations in our schools. But how do we build national unity when history is re-written and there are disputable facts in the textbooks?”

He also noted that “mission schools were built by Christians but today Church authorities have to seek approval to use the facilities of these schools to conduct catechism, Bible Knowledge or other religious classes”.

“As the government continues to give out licences for private businesses to set up schools and colleges, how is it that religious groups are not given similar licences or even allowed to have a say in the running of their own schools?” he asked.

“Proper education policies must be in place to ensure that our children are provided with the right information and nurtured in the right atmosphere of values, so as to prepare them to be responsible, caring and honest citizens,” he wrote.

The crowd cheers before Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival to celebrate Mass in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba.The crowd cheers before Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival to celebrate Mass in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba.

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, CUBA – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the struggles of Cuba’s Catholics after half a century of communism as he celebrated Mass on his first day in the country.

The pope spoke on March 26 in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, in Cuba’s second-largest city. He had arrived in the country a few hours earlier, after spending three days in Mexico (see story on facing page).

The Vatican had said the square would hold 200,000 people and it was full; several thousands also filled the streets leading to the square. Cuban President Raul Castro sat in the front row for Mass.

Tens of thousands of those at the Mass, which celebrated the feast of the Annunciation, wore white T-shirts welcoming the pope as the “pilgrim of charity”.
Church of the Holy Trinity wardens pose with children from the Minh Hung community during a recent mission trip.Church of the Holy Trinity wardens pose with children from the Minh Hung community during a recent mission trip.
Wardens from the Church of the Holy Trinity reached out to marginalised Vietnamese women and children during their most recent mission trip to the country.

Twelve male and female wardens, aged 12 to 68, visited places such as Tan Binh and Cu Chi in and around Ho Chi Minh City, and the Minh Hung community near the Cambodian border.

The March 12-18 trip was the latest in a series of outreach programmes to the country since warden Paul Handidjaja initiated the project in 2007, after he made contact with the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions there.
One of the Stations of the Cross outside Nativity Church. The parish took three months to build the structures.One of the Stations of the Cross outside Nativity Church. The parish took three months to build the structures.The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has constructed outdoor Stations of the Cross.

The project took three months to complete and also involved the building of concrete pathways and cement slabs, says parish priest Fr Henry Siew. The images were bought from Vietnam.

All the Stations are of the same design, except for Station 12, which is incorporated into the existing outdoor altar, said Fr Siew.

The cost of the project is estimated at $125,000 according to the parish bulletin.

Youths from the East District parishes participated in a vigil that lasted till dawn at East Coast Park.Youths from the East District parishes participated in a vigil that lasted till dawn at East Coast Park.

About 70 youths from the six East District parishes took part in an overnight Lenten vigil at East Coast Park.

The event started with a Christian Passover Celebration, or Seder Meal, on March 16 evening at the Church of the Holy Family and ended at dawn the next day at the beach.

The vigil was organised by the Holy Family Youth Office with help from the parish pastoral council and East district youth representatives.

The event was to help the youth “encounter Christ through a journey”, said Mr Andrew Lin, youth coordinator at Holy Family Church.

Madam Halimah Yacob being shown around HopeHouse by home mentor, De La Salle Br Collin Wee (left), and caseworker Franciscan Friar Vernon Chua (behind him).Madam Halimah Yacob being shown around HopeHouse by home mentor, De La Salle Br Collin Wee (left), and caseworker Franciscan Friar Vernon Chua (behind him).

Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob visited HopeHouse at St Patrick’s School on March 22.

The visit was part of Madam Halimah’s effort to familiarise herself with the homes supported by her ministry and to keep in touch with the people directly involved in the running of the homes.

HopeHouse, a joint project of the De La Salle Brothers and a group of lay people, was set up to help at-risk male youths who have committed legal offences.

Verbum Dei Missionaries in Singapore (from left) Sr Sandra Seow, Sr Maria Jose M Egido and Sr Grace Gonzales.Verbum Dei Missionaries in Singapore (from left) Sr Sandra Seow, Sr Maria Jose M Egido and Sr Grace Gonzales.

The Verbum Dei Missionaries in Singapore launched their worldwide congregation’s 50th anniversary celebrations with a Mass at Church of St Teresa Church.

The March 24 Mass was celebrated by Fr Gerson Ortiz, a Philippines-based Verbum Dei priest, and Friar Antonio Gonzalez, a Dominican priest based in Singapore.

“As missionaries, our mission is to share with others the joy of the Gospel,” Fr Ortiz said during the Mass. “When God is at the centre of our lives, we experience fullness of life.”

Members of Catholic Mingle at a Lenten reflection session.Members of Catholic Mingle at a Lenten reflection session.

A group of young adults say that coming together for Lenten reflections has not only strengthened their faith but also helped them get to know other singles.

The group, called Catholic Mingle, has been organising Thursday evening sessions at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul since Feb 23. They use the Singapore Pastoral Institute’s Lenten booklet, Through the Door of Faith.

Coming together as a community helps to strengthen one’s faith so that one does not feel alone in one’s Lenten journey, said Ms Joyce Loh, who started the group.

ACTS members (in blue T-shirts) serving food to the Aeta community.ACTS members (in blue T-shirts) serving food to the Aeta community.

A Call To Share to serve the Aeta tribal community in Pampanga

ACTS, a multi-parish group which has been doing mission work in Cambodia, is now reaching out to the Philippines.

From March 4-11, the ACTS (A Call To Share) core team visited Pampanga province to finalise plans to serve the Aeta tribal community there this December.

About 60 people from the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) Family Life Ministry are expected to visit about 150 families living in Calumpang, Mabalacat.

CJC students distributing packages of food and toiletries to migrant workers at their dormitories in Yishun.CJC students distributing packages of food and toiletries to migrant workers at their dormitories in Yishun.

Catholic Junior College students packed 1,180 food-and-toiletries parcels for migrant construction workers recently.

The project, coordinated by Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI), saw 33 students packing these items on March 16, and distributing them two days later.

Each package consisted of a tin of sardines, a tin of curry chicken, two bars of soap, a tube of toothpaste, a packet of rice, instant noodles and a bottle of shampoo.

Mr Kwek Mean Luck, from the archdiocese’s National Committee on Safe Environment, speaking at the seminar.Mr Kwek Mean Luck, from the archdiocese’s National Committee on Safe Environment, speaking at the seminar.

Priests, laypeople learn how to foster a ‘safe environment’ in Church


Some 200 Church workers and priests attended a briefing to familiarise themselves with two documents that aim to protect children and young people from sexual abuse and harassment within the Church.

The talk-cum-question-and-answer session was held at the Church of St Teresa on March 19, and saw members of the archdiocese’s National Committee on Safe Environment and the Professional Standards Office (PSO) highlighting points from the documents, Keeping Communion and Restoring Communion.

Christianity is the religion of Christ crucified and risen. Christ redeemed us by His death and resurrection. As St Paul puts it: “Jesus was handed over to death for our sins and raised up for our justification” (Rom 4:25).

His death and resurrection removed our sins and gave us justification, divine life.

The apostles started preaching about Christ’s death and resurrection soon after they experienced Christ’s resurrection. This teaching was handed down orally and slowly put into writing.

The Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of the New Testament tell us how the apostles experienced the Risen Lord so that we by accepting their testimony can believe in the risen Lord also and thus be saved.

The Archdiocese of Singapore is looking for a Communications Manager to develop and maintain strong internal and external communications for the Catholic Archdiocese. The position will report to the Communications Advisory Council, which oversees the Archdiocesan Communications Office.

The responsibilities of the role include: