Saturday, 18 December 2010



 1. With profound sorrow, the Holy See laments the fact that from 7 to 9 December 2010 there was held in Beijing the Eighth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives. This was imposed on numerous Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. The manner in which it was convoked and its unfolding manifest a repressive attitude with regard to the exercise of religious liberty, which it was hoped had been consigned to the past in present-day China. The persistent desire to control the most intimate area of citizens’ lives, namely their conscience, and to interfere in the internal life of the Catholic Church does no credit to China. On the contrary, it seems to be a sign of fear and weakness rather than of strength; of intransigent intolerance rather than of openness to freedom and to effective respect both of human dignity and of a correct distinction between the civil and religious spheres.
 2. On several occasions the Holy See had let it be known, first and foremost to the Bishops, but also to all the faithful, and publicly, that they should not take part in the event. Each one of those who were present knows to what extent he or she is responsible before God and the Church. The Bishops in particular and the priests will also have to face the expectations of their respective communities, who look to their own Pastor and have a right to receive from him sure guidance in the faith and in the moral life.
 3. It is known, moreover, that many Bishops and priests were forced to take part in the Assembly. The Holy See condemns this grave violation of their human rights, particularly their freedom of religion and of conscience. Moreover, the Holy See expresses its deepest esteem for those who, in different ways, have borne witness to their faith with courage and it invites the others to pray, to do penance and, through their works, to reaffirm their own will to follow Christ with love, in full communion with the universal Church.
 4. Addressing those whose hearts are full of dismay and profound suffering, those who are wondering how it is possible that their own Bishop or their own priests should have taken part in the Assembly, the Holy See asks them to remain steadfast and patient in the faith; it invites them to take account of the pressures experienced by many of their Pastors and to pray for them; it exhorts them to continue courageously supporting them in the face of the unjust impositions that they encounter in the exercise of their ministry.
 5. During the Assembly, among other things, the leaders of the so-called Episcopal Conference and of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association were appointed. Concerning these two entities, and concerning the Assembly itself, the words written by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 Letter to the Church in China continue to apply (cf. nos. 7 and 8). In particular, the present College of Catholic Bishops of China cannot be recognized as an Episcopal Conference by the Apostolic See: the "clandestine" Bishops, those not recognized by the Government but in communion with the Pope, are not part of it; it includes Bishops who are still illegitimate, and it is governed by statutes that contain elements incompatible with Catholic doctrine. It is deeply deplorable that an illegitimate Bishop has been appointed as its President. Furthermore, regarding the declared purpose to implement the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church, it should be remembered that this is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, which from the time of the ancient Creeds professes the Church to be "one, holy, catholic and apostolic". It is therefore lamentable also that a legitimate Bishop has been appointed President of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
 6. This is not the path that the Church must follow in the context of a great and noble nation, which attracts the attention of world opinion for its significant achievements in so many spheres, but still finds it hard to implement the demands of genuine religious freedom, despite the fact that it professes in its Constitution to respect that freedom. What is more, the Assembly has rendered more difficult the path of reconciliation between Catholics of the "clandestine communities" and those of the "official communities", thereby inflicting a deep wound not only upon the Church in China but also upon the universal Church.
 7. The Holy See profoundly regrets the fact that the celebration of the above-mentioned Assembly, as also the recent episcopal ordination without the indispensable Papal mandate, have unilaterally damaged the dialogue and the climate of trust that had been established in its relations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The Holy See, while reaffirming its own wish to dialogue honestly, feels bound to state that unacceptable and hostile acts such as those just mentioned provoke among the faithful, both in China and elsewhere, a grave loss of the trust that is necessary for overcoming the difficulties and building a correct relationship with the Church, for the sake of the common good.
 8. In the light of what has happened, the Holy Father’s invitation – addressed on 1 December 2010 to all the Catholics of the world to pray for the Church in China which is going through a particularly difficult time – remains pressing.

Friday, 17 December 2010

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Monday, 6 December 2010

Mary Glowrey (1887-1957): Australian witness to hope in India

When in early January 1920, a brass plate disappeared from the front of 82 Collins St, Melbourne, an extraordinary story remained untold for many years. The plate bore the inscription, Mary Glowrey, M.D. Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist.
Mary Glowrey was born in 1887 at Birregurra in Victoria. Of Irish descent, she was the third of nine children born into a loving and prayerful family. Each night the Rosary was said and with it a prayer for priests and doctors. Mary, recalling that practice many years later, wrote: "When my brother and I were respectively priest and doctor, I sincerely hoped that many another mother added that 'trimming' to the Rosary."
Mary's outstanding academic achievements would earn her a University Exhibition, an invaluable cash scholarship and, pursuing her literary interests, she began studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne in 1905. However, after a great deal of prayer and the encouragement of her father, Mary switched over to the medical course and graduated in 1910 with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.
After completing her residency in New Zealand, she returned to build her own successful private practice in Melbourne, later working at St Vincent's Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

God's call

A chance reading in 1915 of a pamphlet about the appalling death rate amongst babies in India fundamentally changed the direction of her life. Falling to her knees, Mary finished reading the pamphlet and knew God was calling her to help the women and children of India.
Meanwhile, Mary's busy schedule of external commitments continued. In 1916, she was elected as the first General President of the newly formed Catholic Women's Social Guild, now known as the Catholic Women's League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga. Deeply concerned about the economic and social inequities that women faced, this inspired group of young Catholic women sought to change society through prayer and action. This was the first large scale organising of Catholic women in Victoria.
During this busy time, Mary also studied for a higher medical degree with a particular emphasis on obstetrics, gynaecology and ophthalmology in preparation for her medical missionary work. She became a Doctor of Medicine in December 1919.
In January 1920, Mary left her thriving career as an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist and, surrendering herself completely to God's will, sailed for India to become a medical missionary with the Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Guntur. Pope Pius XI later bestowed a special blessing on her medical work and, as Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, she became the first nun-doctor missionary.
A woman of profound faith and brilliant achievement, she placed the remainder of her life at the service of the medical and spiritual needs of the people of India.
In time the small dispensary in Guntur grew into St Joseph's Hospital where Mary, for many years the lone doctor, trained local women to be pharmacists, nurses and midwives to help stem the tide of suffering.
Countless patients flocked to see the "gentle Sister Doctor" who often travelled to visit the sick and dying in outlying villages, crouching down to treat patients on the earthen floors of their small straw huts. She also studied and made extensive use of traditional Indian medicines.
Mary was said to radiate Christ by word and example and she never attempted anything without praying to the Holy Spirit, knowing that with such help all things are possible.
Recognising the vital need to promote the Christian use of medicine, Mary founded the Catholic Hospital Association of India in 1943. Her vision was the establishment of a Catholic Medical College in order to train professionals whose medical care would be grounded in an understanding of the absolute inviolability of human life and be placed at the service of life.


For the last two years of her life, Mary shouldered the Cross of excruciating physical pain and suffering which she bore with extraordinary courage and patience. The sisters who witnessed her apostolate of suffering have described the calm, serene joy radiating from Mary's face, which struck all who approached her.
On 21 November 1956, the Feast of Our Lady's Presentation, Mary was sent a new and lasting cross. In trying to help her nurse, she grasped the rail of her bed with her 'good' right arm but the bone had become brittle as a result of the cancer that had now spread throughout her body and the arm broke, never to be mended. She just had to lie on her bed bearing her added suffering, accepting God's will as she had always sought to do. Her only regret, in her own words, "I have not done enough. I could have done more."
When Mary finally died on 5 May 1957, her last words were, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" and "My Jesus, I love you". At her requiem Mass, the Bishop of Guntur described Mary as a "special creation of God ... a great soul who embraced the whole world." It was in Bangalore, where Mary Glowrey so courageously lived the final months of her life, offering her suffering to God for her dreams for India, that St John's Medical College was eventually built a little over a decade after her death. One of her fellow sisters was amongst the first intake of medical students.

To obtain a copy of the prayer for the cause of Dr Mary Glowrey, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the General Secretary of the Catholic Women's League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga, Mary Glowrey House, 132-134 Nicholson St, Fitzroy, Vic, 3065.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Free e-book "Son of God: Daily Gospel year A-1"

   A free e-book (1300 pages) offering a reflection on the Gospel for every day of the present liturgical year, Year A-1.
   Click on the following URL, and you will be taken to a page from which you may download, free of charge, your e-book. It is copyright, but you are free to use it for personal reading. 
   The e-book is offered in DNL and PDF formats, with a separate PDF format also compatible with any usual electronic reader. You have your choice.
  URL for the free e-book "Son of God: Daily Gospel Year A-1" is as follows:

Free e-book "Son of God: Daily Gospel year A-1"

YouTube notice of a free e-book (1300 pages).

The e-book provides a reflection on the Gospel of every day of the present liturgical year, December 2010 to November 2011.