Holy See: March 2009 Archives

James Cardinal Gibbons

Archbishop of Baltimore

Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere


James Gibbons.jpg23 July 1834, born

30 June 1861, ordained priest

3 March 1868, Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina & later ordained bishop

30 July 1872, bishop of Richmond

20 May 1877, archbishop of Baltimore

7 June 1886, created cardinal

24 March 1921, died


Of the many things the Cardinal is known for is the arranging for the possession by the Benedictines of Caldwell Place in Gaston County, North Carolina, on which Mary, Help of Christians - Belmont Abbey sits. He also ordained Abbot Leo Michael Haid, a bishop and arranged for him to be the vicar apostolic of North Carolina. Haid prayed one of the absolutions for the Cardinal at his funeral. The monks of Belmont Abbey remembered the Cardinal at Mass today.

In a letter of greeting to Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino the Pope on the occasion of the "Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights," conference which took place week in the Vatican he wrote of that Christianity is life giving, and not full of despair in front of reality and that following John Paul insight, there is a new feminism informed by the Gospel that has the power to change people.

I am pleased to extend cordial greetings to you and to all those taking part in the International Conference on the theme "Life, Family and Development: the Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights." This event, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with the cooperation of the World Women's Alliance for Life and Family, the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations and other associations, is an exemplary response to my predecessor Pope John Paul II's call for a "new feminism" with the power to transform culture, imbuing it with a decisive respect for life (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 98-99).

Every day we learn of further ways in which life is compromised, particularly in its most vulnerable stages. While justice demands that these be decried as a violation of human rights, they must also evoke a positive and proactive response. The recognition and appreciation of God's plan for women in the transmission of life and the nurturing of children is a constructive step in this direction. Beyond this, and given the distinctive influence of women in society, they must be encouraged to embrace the opportunity to uphold the dignity of life through their involvement in education and their participation in political and civic life. Indeed, because they have been gifted by the Creator with a unique "capacity for the other," women have a crucial part to play in the promotion of human rights, for without their voice the social fabric of society would be weakened (cf. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 13). As you reflect on the role of women in the promotion of human rights, I invite you to keep in mind a task to which I have drawn attention on several occasions: namely, to correct any misconception that Christianity is simply a collection of commandments and prohibitions. The Gospel is a message of joy which encourages men and women to delight in spousal love; far from stifling it, Christian faith and ethics make it healthy, strong and truly free. This is the exact meaning of the Ten Commandments: they are not a series of "noes" but a great "yes" to love and to life (cf. Address to the Participants at the Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome, 5 June 2006).

It is my sincere hope that your discussions over these next two days will translate into concrete initiatives that safeguard the indispensable role of the family in the integral development of the human person and of society as a whole. The genius of women to mobilize and organize endows them with the skills and motivation to develop ever-expanding networks for sharing experiences and generating new ideas. The accomplishments of WWALF and the UMOFC/WUCWO are an outstanding example of this, and I encourage their members to persevere in their generous service to society. May the sphere of your influence continue to grow at regional, national and international levels for the advancement of human rights based on the strong foundation of marriage and family.

I once more extend best wishes for the success of this conference and my prayers for the continuing mission of the participating organizations. Invoking the intercession of Mary, "the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 570), I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



PS: a video clip on the Pope's remarks the other on women

The Synod of Bishops for Africa

at the Vatican from 4 to 25 October 2009


The Church in Africa in service to reconciliation,

justice and peace


You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world

(Matthew 5:13,14)


The Instrumentum Laboris (2009) (a working document for the synod)

The Lineamenta (2006) (sets priorities)

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (1995)


Mary, Star of Evangelization.jpgO Mary, Mother of God
and Mother of the Church,
thanks to you, on the day of the Annunciation,
at the dawn of the new era,
the whole human race with its cultures
rejoiced in recognizing itself
ready for the Gospel.
On the eve of a new Pentecost
for the Church in Africa, Madagascar
and the adjacent Islands,
the People of God with its Pastors
turns to you and with you fervently prays:
May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
make of the cultures of Africa
places of communion in diversity,
fashioning the peoples of this great Continent
into generous sons and daughters

of the Church
which is the Family of the Father,
the Brotherhood of the Son,
the Image of the Trinity,
the seed and beginning on earth of the eternal Kingdom
which will come to its perfection
in the City that has God as its Builder:
the City of justice, love and peace.

Catholics in the world.jpgAccording to the recently published Annuario Pontificio, the papal yearbook we see the number of Catholics in the world has increased by 1.4%, with particularly in Oceania and Africa. Vocations to the priesthood grew overall by 0.4%, though they decreased in Europe.

The Press Office of the Holy See stated that the worldwide Catholic Church included 1.147 billion people in 2007, a 16 million increase since 2006, and compared with the map to the right, the current numbers are significant. The numbers of baptized grew significantly in Oceania and Africa by 4.7% and 3%, respectively. Also positive was the growth made in Asia (+1.7%) and Europe (+0.8%). While North and South American Catholics decreased by 0.1%, they still represent half of all Catholics on the planet.

One notices moderate growth in the number of priests which according to those in the know, this trend began in 2000 after more than 20 years of steady losses. The year ending in 2007 saw the presbyterate rise from 405,000 to 408,000. Africa and Asia reported strong numbers, whereas numbers were stable in North and South America. Of course, the continents of Europe and Oceania reported significant declines during the same period. Looking more globally at the situation of vocations to the priesthood, the numbers increased by 0.4%, approaching 116,000. Africa and Asia grew in priestly vocations, while Europe and America registered respective reductions of 2.1% and 1%.


The statistical information is based on gather stats from 2007.


The BBC has an article on the increase of Catholic priests, read about it here.

Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli

Born on March 2, 1876

Ordained priest Easter Sunday, April 2, 1899

Ordained bishop on May 13, 1917

Created Cardinal December 16, 1929

Reigned as the 260th pontiff of the Holy Roman Church

March 2, 1876 - October 9, 1958


Pius XII.jpgGod, Who, in Thine ineffable providence, didst will that Thy servant Pius XII should be numbered among the high priests, grant, we beseech Thee, that he, who on earth held the place of Thine only-begotten Son, may be joined forevermore to the fellowship of Thy holy pontiffs. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.


About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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This page is a archive of entries in the Holy See category from March 2009.

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