Saturday, 31 May 2008

Unborn human life

Miracle baby survives ovarian pregnancy May, 2008

The proud father of a "miracle baby" born in Darwin has described his wife's pregnancy as "a time bomb".

Durga Thangarajah is the only child in Australia - and possibly the world - to survive a full-term ovarian pregnancy.

But the healthy 2.8kg bundle was on Friday oblivious to all the fuss caused by her remarkable entry into the world at 8.47am(CST) on Thursday.

"This form of pregnancy is rare enough, but to have it full term is unheard of," said obstetrician Andrew Miller from Darwin Private Hospital.

"I have never come across it in any hospital ... .

"It truly is a miracle she got a living baby out of it."

Ovarian pregnancies are the rarest form of ectopic pregnancies and occur when the egg fails to travel down the fallopian tube and into the uterus.

Instead, the foetus fertilises inside the ovary itself.

Midwife Dee Keogh said the operating room was astonished when 34-year-old Meera Thangarajah was cut open to deliver her second child during a routine caesarean section at 38 weeks.

"We could see the baby straight away," she said.

"Normally the baby is inside the uterus (but) we could see the baby clearly, its hair, all its features. I think everybody just thought wow - she is one lucky lady."

Ovarian pregnancies affect one in every 40,000 pregnancies and are considered a life threatening complication, with pregnancies usually terminated before 10 weeks.

Ms Keogh said most expectant mothers suffering from the condition experienced pain or bleeding.

Ravi Thangarajah, 40, was all smiles as he spoke about his new daughter Durga, which means Goddess in Hindu.

"The doctor and the paediatrician came in and told me it was like a miracle baby, you're one of the luckiest men in the world at the moment," he said.

"When you look at all the odds against us. I work for Sportingbet Australia and people reckon it's all about the odds. I tell you we beat all the odds!"

Mr Thangarajah said he had to "go to Google" to find out about the condition.

"It's slowly sinking in for me what happened. They keep telling me how risky it was for the mother. We didn't know it was this time bomb," he said.

"It could have been a disaster."

As for his wife, still sore after a two-hour operation, she said the family was looking forward to going home in a week.

"When they told me about it, I just thought 'Oh, my goodness'," she said.



VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to Sydney , Australia , for the 23rd World Youth Day was made public today. The trip is due to take place from 12 to 21 July.

The Pope will depart from Rome 's Fiumicino airport at 10 a .m. on Saturday 12 July, landing at 9.15 a .m. (Australian time) at the airport of Darwin/RAAF Military Base . After a brief stopover, his flight will proceed to Sydney 's Richmond airport. Having landed there, the Pope will travel to a private residence where he will remain until the morning of Thursday 17 July.

On 17 July, having celebrated Mass in private, the Pope will participate in the welcome ceremony at Sydney's Government House, after which he will pay a courtesy visit to the governor general and meet with the prime minister. Following a brief display of traditional Aboriginal dances and songs, he will then board the ship "Sydney 2000" and be taken to the city's East Darling Harbour where he will be welcomed by young people.

On Friday 18 July he will again celebrate a private Mass after which, at 10.30 a .m., he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting in the crypt of St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney before going on to meet with representatives of other religions in the cathedral chapter. Having lunched with a number of young people, he will pronounce a prayer for the beginning of the Way of the Cross in the square in front of St. Mary's Cathedral. At 6.45 p.m. he will meet a group of disadvantaged young people at the Sacred Heart church of Notre Dame University .

At 9.30 a .m. on Saturday 19 July, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in St. Mary's Cathedral with Australian bishops, seminarians and novices, and consecrate the building's new altar. Having had lunch with the bishops, that evening he will travel to the Randwick Racecourse to preside at a prayer vigil with young people.

At 10 a .m. on Sunday 20 July, he will preside at Mass for 23rd World Youth Day and pray the Angelus at Randwick Racecourse. At 6 p.m. on the same day, he will deliver an address during a meeting of benefactors and organisers of the 23rd World Youth Day in the chapter house of St. Mary's Cathedral.

On Monday 21 July, having celebrated Mass in private, the Pope will travel to The Domain in Sydney where he will bid farewell to the 23rd World Youth Day volunteers, and pronounce an address. He will then go directly to Sydney 's international airport, where he will be greeted by the authorities before departing by plane for Darwin . Following a brief stopover, his flight will proceed to Rome where the Holy Father is due to arrive at around 11 p.m.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Excommunication of women priests and bishops who ordain them

Women who are ordained as priests will now incur automatic excommunication according to a new decree published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as will any bishop who attempts to ordain her.
Adelaide Now reports the decree was published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, giving it immediate effect.
A Vatican spokesman said the decree made the Church's existing ban on women priests more explicit by clarifying that excommunication would follow all such ordinations.
Excommunication is usually "ferendae sententiae", imposed as punishment.
But some offences, including heresy, schism, and laying violent hands on the Pope, are considered so disruptive of ecclesiastical life that they trigger automatic excommunication, or "latae sententiae."
The decree says that women priests and the bishops who ordain them would be excommunicated "latae sententiae."
AGI News translates the text of the decree as follows:

"The Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, in order to protect the nature and validity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and by the special faculty granted it by the Church's supreme authority, decrees that both the one trying to consecrate a woman in Holy Orders, and the woman who has tried to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, will be excommunicated 'latae sententiae', reserved to the Apostolic See."
The text continues that "if the one who has tried to consecrate a woman in Holy Orders or if the woman who has tried to receive Holy Orders is a member of the faithful of the Oriental Churches, he or she is excommunicated and pardon can only be given by the Apostolic See."
The decree, specifies the former Holy See, "will come into immediate force from the moment of publication in the 'Osservatore Romano'".

Monday, 26 May 2008

New Oxford tests on Shroud of Turin

An Oxford radiocarbon testing lab is to make new tests on the Shroud of Turin to determine whether contamination could have skewed earlier tests which indicated a creation date of the 13th or 14th century.

Catholic News Agency reports University of Colorado physics professor John Jackson has persuaded an Oxford laboratory to revisit the question of the age of the Shroud of Turin, the reputed burial shroud of Jesus Christ.
Professor Jackson argues carbon monoxide contaminating the shroud could have distorted its radiocarbon dating results by more than 1,000 years.
In 1988 and 1989 scientists at three laboratories drew on the results of radiocarbon dating to conclude that the shroud was a medieval forgery. They dated its creation to between 1260 and 1390 AD.

The Denver Post reports Professor Jackson's hypothesises that even minimal contamination of the shroud by environmental carbon monoxide could have skewed the dating by 1,300 years.
Professor Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, has agreed to test Jackson’s hypothesis.
Ramsey said other forensic and historical evidence indicates the shroud is much older than radiocarbon dating results initially indicated.
"Science still has much to tell us about the shroud," said Jackson, a devout Catholic who heads the Colorado Springs based Shroud of Turin Centre.
"If we are dealing with the burial cloth of Christ, it is the witness to the birth of Christianity. But my faith doesn't depend on that outcome," he told the Denver Post.
Jackson must prove a viable pathway for carbon monoxide contamination. He is working with Oxford to test linen samples subjected to various conditions the shroud has experienced, including outdoor exhibitions and exposure to extreme heat during a fire in 1532.
In 1978, Jackson led a research team given unprecedented access to the shroud. The team determined that the shroud was not painted, dyed or stained.

Saturday, 17 May 2008


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 - Benedict XVI has composed a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan to mark the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which is due to be celebrated on 24 May. In a Letter written to the faithful of the Catholic Church in China in May 2007, the Holy Father expressed the hope that 24 May, liturgical memorial of Our Lady Help of Christians who is venerated with such devotion at the Marian shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai , would become a day of prayer for the Church in China .

The full text of the English-language version of the Holy Father's prayer is given below:

"Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,

venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title 'Help of Christians',

the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.

We come before you today to implore your protection.

Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them

along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be

a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

"When you obediently said 'yes' in the house of Nazareth,

you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb

and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.

You willingly and generously co-operated in that work,

allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,

until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,

standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.

"From that moment, you became, in a new way,

the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith

and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross.

Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed

with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.

Grant that your children may discern at all times,

even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.

"Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,

who, amid their daily trails, continue to believe, to hope, to love.

May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,

and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,

offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.

Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,

ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.

Mother of China and all Asia , pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!"


Friday, 16 May 2008

A religious website for your interest

Dear Visitor,

You may wish to visit my website.

It is

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Human dignity (Benedict XVI)

“Human dignity is the intrinsic value of a person created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Christ. The totality of social conditions allowing persons to achieve their communal and individual fulfillment is known as the common good. Solidarity refers to the virtue enabling the human family to share fully the treasure of material and spiritual goods, and subsidiarity is the coordination of society’s activities in a way that supports the internal life of the local communities. … We can initially sketch the interconnections between these four principles by placing the dignity of the person at the intersection of two axes: one horizontal, representing "solidarity" and "subsidiarity", and one vertical, representing the "common good". This creates a field upon which we can plot the various points of Catholic social teaching that give shape to the common good.”

Benedict XVI,
Address to the Participants in the 14th Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences,
3 May 2008.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Muslim proposal needs critical observations, says German Jesuit

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- Welcoming the invitation to dialogue proposed by 138 Muslim scholars, Christian theologians must demonstrate they take the initiative seriously by highlighting its promises and acknowledging potential pitfalls, said a German Jesuit expert on Islam.

Jesuit Father Christian W. Troll, a professor of Islamic studies, spoke May 6 at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University about "A Common Word," the letter Muslim scholars sent to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders in October.

The letter outlined their proposal for a new level of Christian-Muslim theological dialogue focused on common teachings about faith in one God, love of God and love of neighbor.

"We must be the first to recognize the beauty of the form and content of this letter," Father Troll said.

But "together with gratitude, esteem and trust, this kind of dialogue requires study, criticism and the desire to learn from and inform the other; otherwise it is just a spectacle without dignity," he said.

Asked why so much of the Christian reaction to the letter seemed to move immediately from hailing it as a breakthrough in Christian-Muslim relations to pointing out problems or omissions, Father Troll said respect for the Muslim scholars' seriousness required Christian scholars "to translate this esteem for Muslims into constructive and even critical observations."

One common criticism, reflecting a concern of Pope Benedict, is that the letter failed to raise the topic of religious freedom.

Father Troll said that while Christians and Muslims in many parts of the world are engaged in serious dialogue and cooperative projects, "which are more important than an occasional dialogue in the Vatican," dialogue can take place only where both Christians and Muslims are free to practice their faith.

"This is why I ask my Muslim friends to do what they can to defend religious freedom," Father Troll said.

Father Troll and Jesuit Father Christiaan van Nispen, a professor of Islamic studies who teaches in Cairo, Egypt, said one of the most important things about the letter is the number and variety of Muslim scholars who signed it.

Father Troll said, "With this initiative, we see the emergence of something like an intra-Islamic ecumenical movement," bringing together Sunnis and Shiites from all over the world.

Father van Nispen said, "I find it interesting that, at least until now, there have not been attacks against this letter" from other Muslims "even though it represents a new approach" to Christianity.

"In Islam, there is no 'magisterium,' no doctrinal authority, but what is most important is consensus" among community leaders and more broadly among believers, he said. "This letter is certainly an expression of a certain consensus -- at least 240 scholars have now endorsed it."

Another element the priests identified as interesting was the Muslim scholars' use of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.

Father Troll said it was "a highly significant fact" that the letter quotes the Bible and does so with a positive tone.

"Does this indicate something of a break with classical Islamic doctrine, which regards the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as corrupted forms of the original revelation of God?" he asked.

Father Troll said that if the scholars intended to demonstrate a willingness to recognize the Jewish and Christian Bibles, even if differences of interpretation remain, they should have said so explicitly.

Father van Nispen said it is essential that Christians remember "there is not just one form of Islam, just as there does not exist one form of Christianity; even though all the Christian churches are centered on the person of Christ, deep doctrinal differences exist."

And, he said, "if among different Christians theological dialogue is not easy," people should not expect Christian-Muslim dialogue to be easy.

The Muslim scholars' letter, he said, is an important part of creating "a climate which will allow us to meet in all our diversity."

Monday, 5 May 2008

Mother Dies of Cancer to Save Life of Her Unborn Child

By Gudrun Schultz
CLEVELAND, Ohio, December 13, 2005 ( – A mother who developed cancer while pregnant with her fourth child has died after refusing treatment that would have harmed the baby.
In a sacrifice reminiscent of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who died of cancer in 1962 after deciding to protect the life of her unborn baby, Bernadette Mimura chose to save her child’s life at the cost of her own. She delivered a healthy son, Nathan, two months premature, and lived long enough to witness his baptism.
Mimura selflessly refused to consider treatment for her condition which would have harmed her unborn child, even though such treatment is permitted according to Catholic teaching.
“Being a Catholic, abortion was out of the question for her,” her partner Adam Taylor said. “It was a tough decision, but we could not give up on Nathan.” (Telegraph Group Limited)
Born in Milan in 1922, Gianna Beretta was a pediatric doctor, mother of three children and pregnant with her fourth when she discovered she had cancer. A faithful Roman Catholic, she offered her life for the safety of her child. She died a week after the birth of the baby, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family.
To learn more about St. Gianna Beretta Molla, see:

Australian Doctor Dies After Refusing Cancer Treatment in Order to Save Her Unborn Child

Refused high-level chemotherapy that might have saved her from Hodgkin's lymphoma

By Hilary White
MELBOURNE, September 14, 2007 ( - Another woman has saved her unborn child's life at the expense of her own. In a case similar in many ways to that of Gianna Beretta Molla, the Italian doctor recently canonized by the Vatican for a similar act of self-sacrifice, an Australian GP, Dr. Ellice Hammond, 37, refused high-level chemotherapy that might have saved her from Hodgkin's lymphoma. The treatment would have endangered the life of her unborn daughter, Mia Ellice.

After two initial rounds of mild chemotherapy failed, Mia Ellice, then 31 weeks old, was born after an inducement. She is developing well at the Monash Medical Centre neonatal intensive care unit, the Herald Sun reported today.

Dr. Hammond's husband, Peter Wojcik told the Herald Sun he was proud of his wife's devotion to their child. "It feels like I got robbed of a wife and a mother."

"I guess she didn't expect it to go this way, and if she did she wasn't telling us. But she would just want what is best for Mia and for everyone to love her and carry on with life.

"Her whole life was looking forward to being a mum. She loved it."

Mia Ellice is reported to be doing well and her father hopes to take her home within a few weeks.

Italian Mother "Lays Down Her Life" for Her Unborn Child

Paola Brenda sacrifices life for "gift of motherhood, the gift of having children"

By Michael Baggot

PIEVE DI SOLIGO, Italy, May 1, 2008 ( - In an act of sacrifice comparable to that of pro-life patroness St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Italian mother Paola Breda recently died after having declined potentially life-saving cancer treatment that could have harmed her unborn child.

Breda was diagnosed with breast cancer six months into her pregnancy with her child Nicola, but postponed treatment until after Nicola's birth.

During her funeral, Vittorio Veneto Bishop Corrado Pizziolo called Breda an exemplification of Jesus Christ's Gospel call "to lay down one's life for one's friends."

"What Jesus did - the Gospel which He lived for us - this is what we see carried out in the life of our sister," said the Bishop according to the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Father Giuseppe Nadal told Radio Vaticana that Breda was disappointed that she and her husband Loris Amodei were unable to have a child until a decade into their marriage.

Both Breda's first child, Illaria, and her second child, Nicola, brought their mother great joy, said the priest. Fr. Nadal also recounted a teary-eyed Breda coming to him during her second pregnancy.

"'I've been diagnosed with cancer, and they are suggesting chemotherapy, but that would hurt the baby. I absolutely don't want that, because I always asked for the gift of motherhood, the gift of having children," said Breda.

St. Molla was a Milanese pediatric doctor pregnant with her fourth child when she learned of a fibroma in her uterus and declined either the abortion or complete hysterectomy that would have saved her life.

Before surgery to rescue her unborn child, St. Molla told doctors, "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him."

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Catholic-Muslim Statement on Dialogue

"Faith and Reason Are Intrinsically Nonviolent"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2008 - Here is a statement released at the conclusion of the sixth colloquium between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Center for Interreligious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization.
The colloquium began Monday and ended today.
* * *
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Vatican) and the Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation (Tehran, Iran) held their sixth Colloquium in Rome from 28 - 30 April 2008 under the joint presidency of His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis TAURAN, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and His Excellency Dr. Mahdi MOSTAFAVI, President of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation.
The delegation of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was composed as follows:
- His Excellency Archbishop Pier Luigi CELATA
- His Excellency Archbishop Ramzi GARMOU
- Reverend Monsignor Khaled AKASHEH
- Reverend Monsignor Prof. Piero CODA
- Reverend Father Prof. Michel FÉDOU, S.J.
- Prof. Vittorio POSSENTI
- Dr. Ilaria MORALI
The delegation of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation was composed as follows:
- Hojjat al-Islam Dr. Mohammad Jafar ELMI
- Hojjat al-Islam Dr. Mohammad MASJEDJAMEI
- Dr. Abdolrahim GAVAHI
- Hojjat al-Islam Dr. Seyyed Mahdi KHAMOUSHI
- Hojjat al-Islam Dr. Hamid PARSANIA
The participants, with the help of six papers presented by three scholars from each side, examined the theme Faith and Reason in Christianity and Islam, which was developed through three subthemes from the point of view of Catholics and Shi'a Muslims: 1) Faith and reason: Which relation? 2) Theology/Kalam as inquiry into the rationality of faith; 3) Faith and reason confronted with the phenomenon of violence.
And the end of the meeting the participants agreed upon the following:
1. Faith and reason are both gifts of God to mankind.
2. Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it.
3. Faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent. Neither reason nor faith should be used for violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence. In any case, these events cannot question either reason or faith.
4. Both sides agreed to further co-operate in order to promote genuine religiosity, in particular spirituality, to encourage respect for symbols considered to be sacred and to promote moral values.
5. Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalities and thanking God for them. They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs.
6. Generalization should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions within Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered.
7. Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them.
The participants expressed their satisfaction with the level of the presentations and the debates as well as the open and friendly atmosphere during the colloquium.
The participants were honoured and pleased to be received at the end of the colloquium by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who was particularly satisfied with the choice of the theme and the venue of the meeting.
The next colloquium will be held in Tehran within two years, preceded by a preparatory meeting.

Vatican Meeting with Iranian Islamic Organization


VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, Benedict XVI received participants in the sixth meeting of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation of Tehran, Iran. They have been meeting to study the theme of: "Faith and Reason in Christianity and Islam".

The participants in the meeting, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Mahdi Mostafavi, president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation, agreed upon the following points:

"Faith and reason are both gifts of God to mankind.

"Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it.

"Faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent. Neither reason nor faith should be used for violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence. In any case, these events cannot question either reason or faith.

"Both sides agreed to further co-operate in order to promote genuine religiosity, in particular spirituality, to encourage respect for symbols considered to be sacred and to promote moral values.

"Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalties and thanking God for them. They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs.

"Generalisation should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions with Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered.

"Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them".