NOVEMBER 9, 2008, Vol 58, No 23

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI denounced the continuing shortages of food around the world and said the causes included selfishness and "unbridled speculation".

At the root of global hunger is a prevailing materialist culture among developed countries, in which the needs of the poor are routinely forgotten, the pope said.

His comments came in a written message on Oct 16, World Food Day.

The pope said it was clear, even during recent months of food scarcity in places around the globe, that the international community has the resources to feed all the world’s people.

Instead, poverty coexists with abundance, he said, and he gave several reasons.

First, he pointed to the "race for consumption" that has not slowed even during the recent food shortages and that hurts the nutritional capacity of poorer countries.

Second, he said international negotiations have failed to "curb the selfishness of states or groups of countries or to put an end to the unbridled speculation that is affecting the mechanisms of pricing and consumption".

The pope also cited the lack of proper administration of food resources caused by corruption in public life, as well as increasing expenditures on weapons and sophisticated military technology to the detriment of basic necessities. n CNS


SINGAPORE – The remains of Father Anthony Schotte and Bishop Carlo van Melckebeke were installed at Church of the Holy Spirit’s columbarium on Friday Oct 24 following a requiem Mass. Both priests belonged to the CICM, an international religious missionary institute. Father Anthony Schotte founded Church of the Holy Spirit.

The Mass was concelebrated by CICM Fathers Frans De Ridder, Angel Luciano, Robertus Sarwiseso, Albert Brys and Holy Spirit parish priests Fathers Andrew Wong and Gerard Weerakoon.

It was Father Andrew’s idea to install Father Anthony Schotte and Bishop Carlo van Melckebeke’s remains at the parish columbarium as part of the parish’s 50th anniversary celebrations to be held in 2010. "It is through these pioneer missionaries in Singapore that we now have our present church," he acknowledged. "We need to keep their memory alive."

"Today we cannot help but recall the great distances these missionaries covered in their lives. The day they surrendered themselves to the Lord and left Belgium, their homeland, they never really stopped to look back," he added.

Father Schotte and Bishop Carlo were born in Belgium and were both missionaries in Ningxia, China – Father Schotte for 22 years and Bishop Carlo for 25.

Bishop Carlo was appointed Bishop of Ningxia in 1946 and forced to leave China in 1952. In 1953 he was appointed by the Holy See as Apostolic Visitor of the Overseas Chinese; he set up office in Singapore. He established the Singapore Catholic Central Bureau (today’s Carlo Society) for the diffusion of Catholic literature in Southeast Asia and initiated several Mandarin language publications including Hai Sing Pao, the archdiocesan Mandarin newspaper.

Father Schotte was also expelled from China and he lived in the Congo for six years before arriving in Singapore in 1958. He founded the Holy Spirit parish at Upper Thomson Road in 1960, and had the first church building completed in 1964.

Both missionaries were inseparable in life and, it seems, even in death. Father Schotte died on Sep 30, and the bishop one day after. They were buried at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery.

The remains of Bishop Carlo and Father Schotte had been exhumed on Sep 30 in the presence of Fathers Paul Staes and Andrew Wong. They had found Bishop Carlo’s thigh bone still intact and his pectoral cross still in one piece, although tarnished. Father Schotte’s body had disintegrated but his brain tissues were still intact, said Father Andrew.

The remains of CICM Fathers Jeroom Deblauwe and Marcel Wille were also exhumed on the same day since they were buried beside Father Schotte and Bishop Carlo. CICM priests are still deliberating if their remains would be kept at Church of the Holy Spirit or at Church of St. Michael.

Father Andrew recalled Father Schotte as a "mild-mannered man who had a goatee and a very pleasant smile on his face". Father Schotte had personally attended to Father Andrew’s late grandfather, an early pioneer-parishioner at the church, after he broke his hip and could not go to church.

"Unassuming and caring, Father Schotte’s treatment of my grandfather, Sunday after Sunday, made a tremendous impact on my young mind," Father Andrew said. "It sowed in me a seed for my priestly vocation. I remember wanting to grow up fast… to be like Father Schotte to serve God’s people."

At Holy Spirit, Father Schotte was assisted and then succeeded by Father Fossion, also CICM, who died a year ago, barely a month before the parish was to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his ordination. Incidentally, the requiem Mass and installation of ashes took place on the day that would have been Father Fossion’s 94th birthday.

Father Frans De Ridder, who preached the homily, told the congregation that some parishioners had suggested placing the ashes of Father Schotte and Father Fossion together. They would end up "fighting", just like how they used to quibble when they worked alongside each other at the parish, he joked.

"I remember Father Fossion said to Father Schotte, ‘You’re stubborn as a mule!’ and then Father Schotte said to Father Fossion, ‘You’re as stubborn as two mules!’"

Father Frans also shared an anecdote about Bishop Carlo: The bishop set out to make Pope Paul V – not known for smiling – laugh. Meeting the pope, the bishop said, "I’m Melchizedek from the Old Testament". The pope laughed and the bishop was victorious.

Father Frans said the requiem Mass was "like a celebration of the family … reconnecting with the people important to our lives". He closed the homily by playing the hymn "We Remember" on his flute to the applause of the congregation.

Mass was followed by the rite of interment of ashes and the placing of Father Schotte and Bishop Carlo’s ashes in the church’s columbarium.

Father Andrew, who also performed the rite, added, "These days our youth look for heroes to imitate. May they know that they need not look very far. In our columbarium are the remains of many who have lived holy lives, and if we should like to talk about others, let us talk about how we can imitate these holy people [instead]." - by Joyce Gan

VATICAN CITY – The archbishop who prepared the final message of the synod of bishops suggests reading the Bible like a love letter, such that each reader approaches it with the certainty, "It was written for me."

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi said this before the definitive reading of the synod’s final message, which was approved by the assembly.

The message begins by "propos[ing] a spiritual journey consisting of four phases" "that will carry us from all eternity and the infinite nature of God to our homes and the streets of our cities".

Its four sections focus on "The Voice of the Word: Revelation"; "The Face of the Word: Jesus Christ"; "The House of the Word: The Church"; and "The Roads of the Word: The Mission".

Laced with biblical citations, the message recalls the primary themes that have been constantly looked at by the synodal assembly.

"Our faith is not only centred on a book, but on a history of salvation and, as we will see, on a person, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, man and history," it begins by affirming.

The text rises above any division between exegesis and theology, or exegesis and magisterium, asserting that "exegetical knowledge must […] weave itself indissolubly with spiritual and theological tradition so that the divine and human unity of Jesus Christ and Scripture is not broken".

The message vigorously promotes catechesis and well-prepared and delivered homilies, as well as lectio divina.

The final section on the mission urges every baptized person to be a missionary of the Word in his environment, in dialogue with believers of other religions and particularly with the world of culture and art.

A final word is addressed to those "our persecuted brothers and sisters or those who are put to death because of the Word of God and because of the witness they render to the Lord Jesus: As witnesses and martyrs they tell us of ‘the power of the word’, origin of their faith, of their hope and of their love for God and for men."

The draft of the message was initially presented by Archbishop Ravasi on Oct 18. The text immediately brought agreement on two points: It was one of the most beautiful ever prepared by a synod and it was very long.

The archbishop explained before reading the definitive version that he had received 52 messages from synod fathers asking him to preserve the draft, making small adjustments. The prelates’ notes explained that they want to
use the message in writing their pastoral letters, giving retreats to priests and courses to catechists.

Nevertheless, so that the message could be more easily read, the synodal assembly suggested the publication of a shorter version, which was prepared by Archbishop Ravasi in two pages. It is not an official document, but it was distributed by the secretary-general of the synod as the "Summary of the Message to the People of God From the Synod of Bishops."

"It is a text with passion, with ‘pathos’," affirmed the archbishop, explaining that this style was chosen because of the genre – a message to the people of God – but also because "the approach to the Word of God should be warm, not just exegetical or theological".

Before the final reading of the message, the Italian prelate suggested this key for the synod fathers, citing Soren Kierkegaard: "As a lover reads a letter from his beloved, you must read Scripture … the Bible has been written for me."

The message was welcomed with a round of applause, which ratified the assembly approval. -


VATICAN CITY – Here is a summary of the concluding message of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The theme of the assembly was "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church".


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


"WITH ALL THOSE everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord as well as ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:2-3). With the Apostle Paul’s greeting – in this year dedicated to him – we, the Synodal Fathers gathered in Rome for the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, with the Holy Father Benedict XVI, address to you a message full of reflection and proposals on the Word of God that has been the centre of our assembly’s work.

It is a message that is entrusted to our pastors in the first place, to the many, generous catechists and to
all those who guide you in a loving listening and reading of the Bible. Now, to you, we would like to outline
the soul and the substance of this text, so that it may grow and deepen your knowledge and love for the Word of God. There are four cardinal points on the horizon that we invite you to know and that we will express through just as many images.



First of all there is the divine Voice.
It echoes in the beginnings of Creation, breaking the silence of nothingness and giving origin to the marvels of the universe. It is a Voice that penetrates in history, wounded by human sin and distressed by suffering and death.
It also sees the Lord walking with humanity to offer his grace, his Covenant, his salvation. It is a Voice that enters into the pages of the Holy Scriptures, which we read today in the church, guided by the Holy Spirit, who was given as the light of truth to it and to its pastors.



Also, as Saint John wrote, "The Word became flesh" (1:14). Here then the Face appears. It is Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the eternal and infinite God, but also the mortal man, tied to an historical era, to a people and to a land. He lives the exhausting existence of humanity till his death, but rises glorious and lives forever.

He makes our encounter with the Word of God perfect. He unveils to us "the full meaning" and unity of the Holy Scriptures, therefore Christianity is a religion that has a person at its centre, Jesus Christ, the one who reveals the Father. He makes us understand that the Scriptures are "flesh", that is to say human words to be understood and studied in their way of expressing, but that also preserve the light of divine truth within, which we can only live and contemplate with the Holy Spirit.



It is the same Spirit of God that leads us to the third cardinal point in our itinerary, the Home of the divine word, that is to say the church, which, as Saint Luke suggested (Ac 2:42), is supported by four ideal columns.

There is "teaching", which is reading and understanding the Bible in the announcement made to all, in catechesis, in the homily, through a proclamation that involves mind and heart.

Then there is "the breaking of the bread", which is the Eucharist, the source and the summit of the life and the mission of the church. Like what happened that day at Emmaus, the faithful are invited to nourish themselves in the liturgy of the table of the Word of God and Body of Christ.

A third column is "prayer" with "psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God" (Col 3:16). It is the Liturgy of the Hours, the church’s prayer destined to give rhythm to the days and times of the Christian year. There is also the Lectio divina, the prayerful reading of the Holy Scriptures able to lead, in meditation, in prayer, in contemplation, to the encounter with Christ, the living Word of God.

And, finally, there is "brotherly communion" because to be true Christians it will not suffice being "those who hear the word of God" but also those who "put it into practice" (Lk 8:21) through love’s labours. In the home of the Word of God we also can meet the brothers and sisters from other churches and Christian communities who, even in division, live a real unity, if not a full one, through the worship and love for the divine Word.



Thus we reach the last image of the spiritual map. It is the road the Word of God walks upon: "Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations [...] and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you... what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops" (Mt 28:19-20; 10:27).

The Word of God must run through the world’s streets which today are also those of computer, television and virtual communication.

The Bible must enter into families so that parents and children read it, pray with it and that it may be their lamp for the steps on the way to existence (cf. Ps 119:105).

The Holy Scriptures must also enter into the schools and in the cultural areas because for centuries they were the main reference for art, literature, music, thinking and the same common moral. Their symbolic, poetic and narrative richness makes them a banner of beauty for faith as well as for culture, in a world often scarred by ugliness and lowliness.

However, the Bible also shows us the breath of pain that rises from the earth, goes towards the cry from the oppressed and the laments of the miserable. At the summit it has the cross where Christ, alone and abandoned, lives the tragedy of the most atrocious suffering and death. Because of this presence of the Son of God, the darkness of evil and death is irradiated by the Paschal light and by the hope of glory.

But on the roads of the world, the brothers and sisters of other churches and Christian communities walk with us also, even while divided, live a real unity if not a full one, through the worship and love for the Word of God.

Along the paths of the world we often meet men and women of other religions that listen and faithfully practise the commands of their holy books and who, with us, can build a world of peace and light, because God "wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4).



Dear brothers and sisters, guard the Bible in your houses, fully read, study and understand its pages, transform them into prayer and witness of life, listen to it with love and faith in the liturgy. Create the silence to effectively hear the Word of the Lord and hold a silence after the listening, because it will continue to dwell, live and speak to you. Make it resound at the beginning of your day so that God will have the first word and let it echo in you in the evenings so that the last word will be God’s.

"And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace" (Ac 20:32). With the same expression used by Saint Paul in his farewell speech to the heads of the church in Ephesus, also the Synodal Fathers entrust the faithful of the communities dispersed throughout the world to the divine word, which is also judgement but above all grace, which cuts like a sword but is sweet as a honeycomb. It is powerful and glorious and guides us on the roads of history with Jesus’ hand, who you like us love with an imperishable love (cf. Eph 6:24).


VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has prepared three alternative endings for the priest’s words of dismissal at Mass, to emphasize the missionary spirit of the liturgy.

Pope Benedict XVI personally chose the three options from suggestions presented to him after a two-year study, Cardinal Francis Arinze told the Synod of Bishops in mid-October.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an interview on Oct 17 with Cardinal Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

He said, along with "Ite, missa est" the Latin phrase now translated as "The Mass is ended, go in peace," the new options are:

• "Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum" (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord).

• "Ite in pace, glorificando vita
vestra Dominum" (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life).

• "Ite in pace" (Go in peace).

The idea for alternative words at the end of Mass was raised at the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. Many bishops wanted the final words to reflect a more explicit connection between Mass and the church’s mission of evangelization in the world.

Cardinal Arinze said the concern was that, for many Catholics, the present words of dismissal sounded like "The Mass is ended, go and rest."

The cardinal said his congregation undertook a wide consultation and came up with 72 different possible alternative phrases. Of these, the congregation chose nine and presented them to the pope, who chose the final three.

The three alternatives were published in October in the latest edition of the Roman Missal, along with "Ite, missa est," which has not been abolished, Cardinal Arinze said.

The cardinal said the congregation was still studying another suggestion made during the 2005 synod, that of moving the sign of peace to a different part of the Mass.

In 2005, the pope said the sign of peace had great value, but should be done with "restraint" so that it does not become a distraction during Mass. He asked for the study on moving the sign of peace from a moment just before Communion to another time in the liturgy.

Cardinal Arinze said that, after consultation, the congregation had written to bishops’ conferences asking their preference between leaving the sign of peace where it is now and moving it to an earlier moment, after the prayer of the faithful.

He said the responses from bishops’ conferences were expected to be in by the end of October, and the question would then be presented to the pope for a final decision.

Cardinal Arinze said that in addition to its timing some have suggested that the sign of peace be limited to an exchange between the Massgoer and those in his or her immediate vicinity. He said that in some churches today, the sign of peace is extended to the point that it becomes "almost a jamboree".

Cardinal Arinze said a third suggestion from the 2005 synod, a "eucharistic compendium", also has made progress and is near publication.

He said the compendium would include doctrinal notes on the Mass, as well as prayer texts, passages of papal liturgical teachings, canon law tracts and other explanatory materials. He emphasized that the compendium would propose ideas, not impose them.

Cardinal Arinze said a fourth project of the worship congregation, working together with Vatican congregations for doctrine and clergy, was the drawing up of a list of homily themes that correspond to Sunday scriptural readings and to the church’s doctrinal teachings.

"This is not a matter of model homilies, but general indications in which, for each theme, elements are furnished to be able to develop the theme," he said. - cns

SINGAPORE – As the song "Still" by Hillsong was played to the congregation, everyone was singing along except members of the performing group – they used sign language instead. The performers were members of the Singapore Catholic Deaf Community (SCDC) who were commemorating International Day for the Deaf at Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) on Oct 5.

The performance showed that hearing impaired people have the ability to participate in praise and worship using sign language.

Members of the society also put up a skit about a deaf man, on the brink of despair and frustration, who thankfully met someone from church who shared the Good News with him and restored his faith in God.

Brother Lionel Thomas, a seminarian from the Malacca-Johor Diocese, commented that he
was awed by God’s love for the deaf in giving them this wonderful tool for communication, and added
that it was "a humbling experience to be with this group as they display such strong unity, love and support among members!"

SCDC President Patrick Anthony was thankful to IHM for its support over the past few years. He hoped that more hearing impaired people and volunteers will join the community.