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    » 07/12/2008, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Pauline Year in the footsteps of Fr Joseph Vaz, the apostle of Sri Lanka

    Melani Manel Perera

    Celebrations for the Pauline Year in the country coincide with the beginning of the preparatory period for the third centenary of the death of the missionary beatified by John Paul II. The bishops call the faithful to follow these two "proclaimers of the word of God", and to imitate their "missionary spirit".

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - Celebrations for the Pauline Year coincide with festivities for Blessed Joseph Vaz, called "the apostle of Sri Lanka". The three years of preparations for the third centenary of his death, to be observed on January 16, 2011, are now underway. In what at the time was still called Ceylon, Fr Joseph permitted the "rebirth of Christianity from his own ashes", and it is precisely because of his immense evangelical and missionary effort that Pope John Paul II called the Blessed, of Indian origin, "the Saint Paul of Sri Lanka".

    In a statement released by the bishops' conference (CBCSL), in which the faithful are called "to follow attentively the example left by Saint Paul", the bishops of the country emphasise "the enormous missionary effort carried out both by the Apostle and by Blessed Joseph Vaz". "Fr Vaz", affirms the statement from the CBCSL, "heard an inner voice that constantly called him to come to the aid of the abandoned and persecuted Catholics of Sri Lanka. Both Saint Paul and Blessed Joseph Vaz preached the gospel zealously, not heeding the many trails and hardships and persecutions. St Paul was martyred and blessed Joseph Vaz's life was a continuous martyrdom".

    The bishops' conference urges the faithful to "imitate, study, and follow these two great men of God as models", analysing in particular their missionary charism. Benedict XVI has pointed out the Apostle Paul as an exemplary figure of "proclaiming the good news" among the peoples, a figure who still today is "a model" of faith.

    The bishops of Sri Lanka ask the faithful to organise occasions of Bible study and reflection, to analyze the letters of Saint Paul and learn from these models "how to preserve the faith and become proclaimers of the message of salvation". They invite seminaries and religious institutes to organise meetings aimed at promoting the study of the apostle, of his life and works, his theological thought and missionary spirit; an invitation that also applies to the laity and young people, that they may keep their faith alive. "As St. Paul worked for unity and brotherhood among all Christians", concludes the document of the CBCSL, "let us foster ecumenical gatherings and conduct seminars and workshops at the diocesan level".

    In a final note, the bishops recall the visit of John Paul II to Sri Lanka, during which he evoked the figure of Fr Joseph Vaz, calling him "a model for bishops, priests, and religious", because of his "profound love for God and his brothers". Pope Wojtyla exhorted the faithful to follow his "example, so that the life of the Blessed may become a model of inspiration for each of you".

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    See also

    06/06/2008 VATICAN - MALAYSIA - SINGAPORE
    Pope: protection of human rights and interreligious dialogue, in service of evangelisation
    Benedict XVI speaks to the bishops of three south Asian countries of the "yearning for God" among the people of the continent, and of uneven respect for religious freedom. Resistance against the "dictatorship of positivist reason", offspring of the Enlightenment, which "tries to exclude God from public discourse", and the welcoming of the "true conquests" of that period.

    25/07/2008 THAILAND - WYD
    WYD, instrument of conversion for Thai young people
    The delegates returning from Sydney emphasize their renewed missionary commitment, after their encounter with Pope Benedict XVI. Among the most intense moments, the representation of the Way of the Cross. For all, the sensation of having experienced a real and proper "miracle" of faith.

    14/01/2009 CHINA - VATICAN
    "The Church on trial in Mao's China" published
    It is the latest work by Fr. Angelo Lazzarotto, PIME. An historical study based on exclusive documents, on the lives of PIME missionaries in Henan, on the impact of Maoism and its persecution against foreign clergy and the local Catholic community, up to today's halfhearted openness and the party's continued attempt to create a Church independent of the Holy See. Here we publish the introduction by Archbishop Claudio Celli, one of the leading experts on China in the Vatican. The volume goes on sale beginning January 26 (LAZZAROTTO A., La Cina di Mao processa la Chiesa, Emi, Bologna, 2009, pp 528, euro 20).

    29/10/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: the cross overturns the logic of power: folly for men, love for God
    Continuing his illustration of the figure of St. Paul, Benedict XVI spoke today of the theology of the cross. What seems to be a failure "reveals the power of God, which is different from human power," and grants salvation freely.

    25/01/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Christian unity requires "all of our energy and efforts", but prayer above all
    At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI recalls that this event has existed for one hundred years, and that for 40 years meditations and prayers for this appointment have been prepared together with the World Council of Churches. In this bimillennial Pauline year, the effort for unity takes on special significance.



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