Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pope Francis thrills Manila as estimated 6 million turn up for Mass

Estimated turnout is largest ever audience for a head of the Catholic church, surpassing the 5 million record set by John Paul II in 1995

Sunshine de Leon in Manila
Monday 19 January 2015 07.22 AEST

An estimated six million people flocked to Manila’s Rizal park on Sunday to attend the final mass of Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the Philippines.
The turnout breaks the record set by the last pope to say mass in the same park – John Paul II in 1995, when five people million attended.

Pope Francis holds mass with millions in Manila

The pope is a revered figure in the Philippines, where 80% of the population is devoutly Catholic. Many at the mass considered his visit as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Chiqui Tulaio had arrived at the venue hours before the mass began, to try to find a good place to stand along the motorcade route. “He is a second Jesus for us, a second father for Filipinos,” she said.
Dancers in colourful attire the mass celebrated by Pope Francis.
Dancers in colourful attire attend the mass celebrated by Pope Francis. Photograph: Ettore Ferrari/EPA
Though it rained all day on Sunday, the weather did not dampen the spirits of the faithful who had come from all over the country, motivated by the chance to see a man whom they believe is an answer to their prayers.
Crowds lined the streets patiently and calmly, standing on the closed-off pavements near the venue or behind policed barricades waiting for a sight of their hero. To ­protect themselves from the rain they wore everything from rubbish bags turned into raincoats to shawls made of bubble wrap.
One observer, Joey Stefona, was so excited about the prospect of seeing Pope Francis in person he said: “If he passed by I would be so elated, no words can explain. I really love the pope. I can see all the people smiling – all smiling despite the rain because they are all hoping to see the pope and pray for ­everyone’s dream.”
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from  his popemobile based on the design of a jeepney.
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from his popemobile based on the design of a jeepney. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
As Francis rode into the park on a popemobile based on a Filipino “j­eepney” vehicle, he wore a simple plastic yellow rain poncho of the type that had been handed out to thousands who attended his visit to typhoon-ravaged Tacloban on Saturday.
Upon seeing the modified US army second world war jeep that so many use for public transportation, cheers of joy and excitement rang out in the crowd.
On seeing the pope for the first time, another member of the public, Fely Saldua, said: “It’s a happiness that you can’t describe, an inner happiness.”
A cancer patient who hoped seeing the pope would help her recovery said she wished him to hear “the voices of the Filipinos, not only the politicians or powerful people”.
An aerial view of the crowd of worshippers waiting  for the arrival of Pope Francis in Rizal park, Manila.
An aerial view of the crowd of worshippers waiting for the arrival of Pope in Manila’s Rizal Park. Photograph: EPA
Pope Francis also had a message for the Filipinos. During his homily he said that, given theirs was the foremost Catholic country in Asia, Filipinos were called to be missionaries of faith.
He also noted that it was sometimes tempting to “give up” amid the wrongs, but it was a time to remain strong.
A 16-year-old, named Brenda, said she wanted to tell the pope: “I want him to learn that even with all the crime going on there was hope, no matter how infinitesimal.”


Taken from:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Peace means far more than the absence of War


Description: france-remembers-charlie-hebdo8



 Damien F. Mackey




“The indispensable presupposition of all these” – the Pope said – “is peace, which, even more than an end to all wars, is the fruit of heartfelt conversion”.





The Universal Desire for Peace


Every normal person yearns for a life of peace and one free from constant painful dramas. People chalk the word, ‘peace’, on footpaths, write it on walls, wear it on their T-shirts. The word ‘peace’ has been much bandied about since the Lindt café siege in Sydney (Australia) and the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Former Australian Idol winner, Wes Carr, who quickly penned a song about the Sydney siege, I Pray, recently made this comment: “I am so deeply humbled my song I Pray has resonated with so many ... we all need to find peace within ourselves and speak more of LOVE and HOPE than to live in fear and anger”.

Even Man Haron Monis, the Islamic terrorist responsible for the Lindt café siege in Sydney, was a self-professed “peace activist” who in 2011 registered with [New South Wales] Fair Trading, an association the objects of which were: “To provide humanitarian assistance to mankind especially children and women. To promote peace and spirituality in the society and to encourage people to live in harmony”.

And the brother of the police officer Ahmed Merabet who was gunned down during the Charlie Hebdo rampage, and who was Muslim, said. “Islam is a religion of peace and love”. Thus we could all probably say, with the prophet Jeremiah (8:15):


We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror”.


Now Pope Francis, too, has spoken masterfully about our same subject of peace in his Angelus Address of January 2015, getting right to the nitty-gritty of this vital matter ( In the course of his address the pope would take up the theme of humankind’s universal desire for peace: “Each person, and every people hungers and thirsts for peace; therefore, it is necessary and urgent to build peace!”

But what exactly is peace?

Well, according to Pope Francis’s definition: “Peace is not only the absence of war, but a general condition in which the human person is in harmony with himself, in harmony with nature, and in harmony with others. This is peace”.

Obviously the removal of all war is necessary for the attainment of peace:


First of all, to silence arms and to extinguish the outbreaks of war remain the unavoidable conditions to begin a journey that leads to the achievement of peace in its different aspects. I think of conflicts that are still shedding blood in too many regions of the planet, of tensions in families and in communities ….


But Pope Francis then immediately moves on to identify the less obvious and more personal and deep-seated ‘wars’, asking: “-- but in how many families, in how many communities, in how many parishes is there war! as well as the sharp conflicts in our cities and towns between groups of different culture, ethnic and religious backgrounds”.

Now to the crux of it all.


The heart of the matter: Do we really know how to find peace?


People today talk much about peace, and light, and freedom. For instance, the massive crowd of marchers in Paris constantly chanted “liberté” (“freedom”) at their rally. They were only proclaiming their Voltairian rights. The Charlie Hebdo situation certainly resonates with “Voltaire”, as according to the Wikipedia article (


In a 1745 letter recommending his play Fanaticism, or Mahomet to Pope Benedict XIV, Voltaire described the founder of Islam, Muhammad as "the founder of a false and barbarous sect" and "a false prophet." Voltaire wrote that "Your holiness will pardon the liberty taken by one of the lowest of the faithful, though a zealous admirer of virtue, of submitting to the head of the true religion this performance, written in opposition to the founder of a false and barbarous sect. To whom could I with more propriety inscribe a satire on the cruelty and errors of a false prophet, than to the vicar and representative of a God of truth and mercy?".[91][92] His view was modified slightly for Essai sur les Moeurs et l'Esprit des Nations, however they remained negative.[93][94][95][96][97] In 1751, Voltaire performed his play Mohamet once again, with great success.[98]


Whilst people today talk persistently about the much-desired pathways to happiness in life (peace, love, freedom-liberty), are they actually prepared to ‘walk the talk’ along these very same pathways?

Often they are not, according to the recent assessment of Pope Francis in consideration here of “light”, and “peace” (Angelus Address, my emphasis):


In the Gospel that we read today, Saint John says, “In Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (Jn 1:4-5, 9). People speak a great deal about the light, but they often prefer the deceptive tranquility of the dark. We speak so much about peace, but we often resort to war, or choose complicit silence, or we do nothing concrete to build peace.



The reason being that these same reject the very Author of these life qualities, Jesus Christ, who - as in the case of the first Christmas - gets completely left out in the cold (Angelus):


In fact, St John says that "He came to what was His own, but His own people did not accept Him" (Jn 1:11); because "“this is the verdict, that the light -- Jesus – came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed” (Jn 3:19-20). So says the Gospel of St John. A person's heart can reject the light and prefer the darkness, because the light lays bare their evil works. The one who does evil hates the light; the one who does evil hates peace. 


US Catholic educator, Sherry Weddell, puts it like this (“Beyond great silence: an interview with Sherry Weddell”:


 “Jesus is ‘He who must not be named’,” Weddell says, remembering a favourite quip of one of her close friends; one likening the situation of Christ to that of Voldemort in the Harry Potter films and novels.

“There’s a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture going: ‘I will never ask you where you are in your relationship with God and you’re never going to have to talk about it,” Weddell says.
“We’ll just pretend that topic is not even on the table; that it’s all taken care of somehow.
“We’ll talk about things we do, about institutions and our next committee meeting and how we’re going to organise this, and our finances, and our budget, but we never talk about the heart of the matter.” ….


Weddell’s description, ‘He who must not be named’, reminds me of a type of scary movie in which the cowering inhabitants must not name, or ever speak of, an evil force lurking in the shadows of their remote village.  

At the very time of my writing this article, Description: Jews for Jesus Australia

has come also to light with an appropriate blog piece about what it considers to be the true meaning of ‘peace’ and the indispensability to it of Jesus Christ (“Peace I Leave with You”:


"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."


Description: paris-peace2


"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."

I was there above in the pictures you see... you will probably only be able to see my Jews for Jesus hat, because we were so squashed against each other that I felt like saying, "Je suis... Sardine"! The famous slogan has been toted the world over. "Je suis Charlie" means: "I condemn the attack", "I am for free speech" "I want a democratic nation at peace with all religions, thoughts and views to the exclusion of all fanatics and fundamentalists." Jesus' statement, therefore, seems very a propos, because he offers "Peace", but he immediately adds "not as the world gives". In other words, what people want is not what Jesus is offering. Jesus is not Charlie, if you will.  When He says, "My peace" His peace is not what we understand as Peace, necessarily. Jesus used the word "Shalom". Shalom comes from "Shalem" which means "wholeness" and "spiritual harmony" filling every aspect of our lives…not merely "Je suis Charlie". It is much more. It is the fullness of God's presence. ….


This article, which seems to resonate extremely well, in part, with Pope Francis’s comments on the matter of peace, has elicited comments such as these:


I agree 100%.....peace without Jesus is an empty peace. Repent because Kingdom of Heavens is coming.

Jesus ....The Messiah is the solution to the worlds problems ...Pray for our Jewish Brothers and sisters and the Christians of the Middle East who live with terror and hate on a daily basis



I am sad that we are so supportive of Charlie Hebdo. We oppose bullying because of the often tragic consequences. Mocking someone's religion is bullying. Why are we surprised at the results?


The ‘God’ of the atheists


One has to wonder exactly to whom singer Wes Carr is praying in his song, I Pray:


There ain't no God,

That will play,

With your fear, evil and hate

There ain't no God, That will discriminate,

You can't fight hatred with hate.


We are all Love

Got to remember love

Unconditional love

We are all love.




One is reminded to some extent of Isaiah 45:20: “They have no knowledge who carry around the wood of their engraved image, and pray to a god that cannot save them”.

This is the ‘wisdom’ of the world, all love and peace and happiness, but entirely without God.

Wes is simply echoing here Beatle John Lennon’s anthem to atheism:



Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...


According to the Apostle James (3:15): “Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic”.  


Selective Condemnation


Rightly has, and does, Charlie Hebdo condemn Islamic terrorism. And rightly did the anti-terrorism crowd in Paris - some say ‘the largest in French history’ - march in protest against the barbaric massacre of twelve people, including the editor Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, other Charlie Hebdo employees, and two National Police officers.

Journalist Jessica Reed, The Guardian, has this month (8th January, 2015) also praised the weekly magazine for what she considers to be its “tireless commitment to defending women” (


Charlie Hebdo partly shaped my political views as a teenager. I especially remember the delight I felt when it called for a huge mobilisation in my hometown, Tours, before Jean Paul II’s visit, damning the Catholic church for its position on condom use. I remember the grace and humanism of a column it gave to Patrick Pelloux, an ER doctor working in a poor suburb, detailing how the healthcare system was failing the poorest among us. I remember its tireless commitment to defending women, especially to the right to have an abortion and the right to have a sex life without shame.


With this last statement in mind, I think it safe to assume that Charlie Hebdo has never ever thought to condemn abortion, which Lord Nicholas Windsor has rightly described as a terrorism even greater than the Islamic one. Abortion, which Windsor nails as “the single most grievous moral deficit in contemporary life”, is discussed here particularly in relation to Europe (


Abortion Greater Threat to Europe than Islamic Terrorism


Legal abortion is “the single most grievous moral deficit in contemporary life” and its proliferation will exact an as-yet unknown social price for the countries that have adopted it, said Lord Nicholas Windsor, the son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, this month.

“The granting to ourselves of the right wantonly to kill, each year, millions of our offspring at the beginning of their lives: This is the question of questions for Europe,” he said.

“The practice of abortion is a mortal wound in Europe’s heart, in the center of Hellenic and Judeo-Christian culture.”

With legal abortion all but ubiquitous, Lord Windsor wrote in the U.S. religious journal First Things, mothers have the power of the emperor’s over the lives of their children: “Caesar’s thumb is up, or Caesar’s thumb is down. And when it comes to exporting this idea, we do it with zeal and determination through such institutions as the United Nations and the European Union.”

He asks what the ultimate cost to a society that has “placed this fearful act at its center – consciously approving, even celebrating, its own most egregious moral failing” will be.

The great irony, he said, is that Europe’s highly “rights” conscious political and social atmosphere, “is in favor of one of the gravest and most egregious abuses of human rights that human society has ever tolerated.”

“Didn’t Europeans think they could never and must never kill again on an industrial scale?”

Lord Windsor points to the reduction of poverty in the 1st world, the growth of women’s and minority rights, the end of colonialism and the relatively peaceful end to the Cold War, but says the threat of abortion has “taken us unawares” and overshadowed these accomplishments. Even the threat of Islamist terrorism does not qualify as so deep an “existential” threat as abortion.

“All else that we concern ourselves with in the lives of human beings derives from the inescapable fact that first we must have human lives with which to concern ourselves.” In disregarding the right of the unborn to be born, he said, “humanity’s deepest instincts are trampled and shattered.”

Windsor compared abortion to slavery as a great moral and social evil that calls for a “new abolitionism for Europe” before it is too late. Britain’s birth rate is higher than most European countries, but remains below replacement level at 1.9 children born per woman. Recent statistics have shown, however, that the country has one of the highest rates of abortion in the EU, especially among younger women.

“This is a historically unprecedented cascade of destruction wrought on individuals: on sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, future spouses and friends, mothers and fathers – destroyed in the form of those to whom we owe, quite simply and certainly, the greatest solidarity and duty of care because they are the weakest and most dependent of our fellow humans.” ….


How can humankind even pretend to be striving for peace whilst allowing this ‘Herodian slaughter of the innocents’ to proceed! Are we really serious about peace, or just hypocrites? Recall John 3:20: “The one who does evil hates the light; the one who does evil hates peace”. 

This is the whole crux of the matter.




Voltaire would be pleased. Now-deceased Charlie Hebdo editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, had vowed that his cartoonists would keep poking fun “until Islam is just as banal [or humdrum] as Catholicism”.

Far worse than that, the staff of Charlie Hebdo have horribly mocked Jesus Christ and his holy Mother in various of their publications.

For those interested in learning about Heaven’s fiery displeasure regarding blasphemies against Mary, see my:


The Five First Saturdays of Our Lady of Fatima





Je ne suis pas Charlie.