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Bishop Zammit’s Lenten Pastoral Letter

By | Bishop Carmel, News

REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS

Dear Beloved in Christ,

For practically a whole year, the words most used have been pandemic, self-isolation, Covid-19, Coronavirus and unfortunately death due to Covid-19.  All these terms have become familiar to us, and they are all connected to the threat to life that the virus going round all over the world poses.  Due to this pandemic, all of us have lost persons we loved or were close to.

Last year the public celebration of Easter was not possible, and we don’t know as yet how the celebration of the Easter Triduum this year will be celebrated due to the uncertainties that the pandemic raises.

During this Lent, whatever the situation the pandemic confronts us with, certain truths about Lent are good to remember and put into practice.  The elements that make Lent relevant are prayer, conversion, sacrifice and charity which includes almsgiving. The restrictions that we have to follow may even be a help to reflect more about what is really important in our life and give more attention to these realities.  This Lent gives us the opportunity of reflecting about our priorities in life, and whether these priorities are in the order they should be.

When Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit after his baptism in the Jordan into the wilderness, he was in self-isolation.  There he had time, forty days, to prepare himself for his public ministry and to realise what his mission was really about.  He was faced with the challenges or temptations that we all face due to our fallen nature.  He did battle with the devil, and he overcame the temptations regarding self-indulgence, self-glory and seeking power.  He was able to overcome these temptations because he spent his time in the desert praying and fasting.  After forty days in the desert, he went out to start his public ministry and his first proclamation was “The hour has come.  The Kingdom of God is near.   Repent and believe the Good News” (Mk 1, 15).

The Lord commissioned the Church to continue to spread this original message.  The call to repentance and conversion is always relevant and urgent.   The command to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News is the treasure that is entrusted to the Church (cf. Mk 16, 15). What is the good news?  The Good News is Christ himself, his presence in the Church.  “I am with you always, till the end of the age” (Mt. 28, 20).  This presence is very actual in the sacrifice of the Mass, which actualises the salvation and redemption that were achieved by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his overpowering of death by his Resurrection.

Jesus was not always active amongst the crowds who were hungry for his words and his miracles.  He found time to be alone with his Father in intimate prayer.   During Lent, in a special way, we are reminded about the importance of personal prayer, which is at the heart of every Christian’s life.  We are urged to find ways to be alone with the Father.  The Season of Lent has always been a call to spend time with the Father in personal prayer.

Although our faith tells us that God is love, that He is always anxious to receive us back into his arms when we make up our mind to return to him, as we learn in the parable of the prodigal son, it is always possible that we will turn our back to God.  We are unfortunately often influenced by a society which looks on life and on the world as all that we have to enjoy now.  Many seek to  experience heaven here and now, and the new sainthood is achieving celebrity and experiencing as much pleasure as we can in the present.

Christ took upon himself the weight of all our sins, and through his passion and sacrificial death he, so to speak, paid for all our sins.  This is what we mean by redemption.  But sin did not end with our redemption, and it is still very much alive around us, and this reality will continue till the end of time. But Christ never turned his back on the sinner.  He will never turn his back to us, however much we may feel in despair or burdened with guilt.

The call to repentance is also a call to conversion.  It is not sufficient to say I am sorry, but one has to change direction. The danger is that we may consider ourselves as not in need of any conversion because, although we realise we have faults, we don’t consider them as serious enough as to make any effort to overcome such defects or failures.

When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest, he answered that the first and greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength, and that the second most important commandment was to love one’s neighbour as oneself (cf. Mt 22, 36-40). In its essence, love means willing what is good for the other and then to act on that desire. Real love is to escape from the natural inclination to be egoists, and to embrace the good of the other for the sake of the other.

In previous Lents we suggested that any charitable donations may go to Aid to the Church in Need.  You are obviously free to choose which charity you would like to make your contributions to this Lent as a consequence of your self-denial, but I would like to encourage you to remember to include Aid to the Church in Need also this year.  This Charity is dedicated to help Christians who are suffering persecution and who are also caught up in countries where there are conflicts which make life extremely difficult.

May Mary, the Mother of our Saviour and our mother, walk closely with each of us this Lent, to bring us and those we pray for safe into celebrating in faith the Resurrection.

With my good wishes and prayers,

+Carmel Zammit
Bishop of Gibraltar

Public worship to resume as from Saturday 20th February

By | Bishop Carmel, News

The Chief Minister has announced this afternoon that as from Saturday 20th February, public worship may be resumed, with the same Public Health directives as just before lockdown, mainly concerning social distancing and sanitisation hygiene. His Lordship the Bishop has therefore instructed the parishes to reopen for public worship on that day.

Unfortunately, this means that public liturgies will resume after Ash Wednesday and so, this year we will not be able to administer the ashes in our customary way. Instead, we may substitute the placing of blessed ashes on our heads, with a time for prayer and contemplation of what Lent means and of the significance this Penitential time has for us as Christians. The Stations of the Cross, or reading and meditating on a passage from Sacred Scriptures which is used at Mass on Ash Wednesday, are particularly appropriate.

Ash Wednesday remains a day of fasting and abstinence for those who are bound by ecclesiastical law and who are able to do so without harm to their health, especially during this time when it is important to keep a good diet that will help us battle against Covid and seasonal viruses.

The dispensation from the observance of the Sunday precept and of Holy Days of Obligation remains in force until we can return fully to normal.

Please be careful to observe social distancing in church, particularly in weekends when the maximum number of persons allowed to gather in a church might inadvertently be exceeded. Your cooperation will be sincerely appreciated, especially if you find on arrival that  you should not enter a church because there is no more safe room available.

The previous restrictions regarding funerals, baptisms, weddings and confessions continue to be in force for as long as the Public Authorities’ directives continue to hold.

[12/2/2021]

Breaking News!

By | Bishop Carmel, News, Vatican

From the office of the Bishop of Gibraltar, Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned.

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Appointment of Apostolic Nuncio in Benin

The Holy Father has appointed as Apostolic Nuncio in Benin Mgr Mark Gerard Miles, at the same time elevating him to the titular see of civitatis ducalis, with the dignity of Archbishop.

 

Archbishop-elect Mark Gerard Miles

The Most Reverend Mark Gerard Miles was born in Gibraltar, U.K., on 13 May 1967.

He was ordained a priest on 14 September 1996 and incardinated into the Diocese of Gibraltar.

He has a doctorate in Canon Law and a licence in Theology.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 July 2003, and subsequently worked in the Pontifical Representations in Ecuador and Hungary, then in the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State and most recently in the Holy See Observer Mission to the Organization of American States in Washington D.C.

He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and has a working knowledge of French.

Details of the date and ceremony of Episcopal Ordination to follow shortly.

 

Monsignor Miles, on reacting to the news, stated: 

“I am honoured and humbled by the Holy Father’s confidence in appointing me to be his representative to the Republic of Benin.

My gratitude goes out to my beloved family, thinking of my late parents William and Mary Miles, and to all my friends and loved ones who have supported me on life’s journey and have helped me on the path of faith and vocation.

I thank my brother priests of the diocese of Gibraltar and especially bishops past and present who have, in different ways, been fatherly towards me. I extend deep gratitude to everyone in Gibraltar, a community distinguished by tolerance, respect, warmth and unique hospitality.

Finally, I commend this ministry to the intercession of Our Lady of Europe and to the prayers of the Saints close to my heart so that I may give honour to God and fulfil the work he has entrusted to me”.

 

Bishop Carmel Zammit, on reacting to news, stated:

“ I am delighted both for Archbishop-Elect Mgr Mark Miles and for the Church in Gibraltar. I have no doubt that Mgr Mark will be supported by the prayers of all of us in Gibraltar in this important ministry he will be undertaking on behalf of the Holy Father as his diplomatic representative in the Republic of Benin. The Diocese of Gibraltar wishes him many years of faithful and rewarding service in the Church. All the clergy and the community congratulate Mgr Miles on this appointment and also congratulate his family”.

Request for prayers during the Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes

By | Liturgy, News

REQUEST FOR PRAYERS
during the Novena to Our Lady Of Lourdes
(Sacred Heart & St. Paul)

If you would like to have your petitions presented to Our Lady during the Novena, please send them to:

noreply.novenapetitions@catholicdiocese.gi

Each day, all petitions received will be prayed for and placed by the statue of Our Lady in the church.

Please note that we are unable to reply to e-mails at the above address. Thank you.

Churches to reopen as restrictions reviewed

By | Bishop Carmel, News

Following the latest review of the restrictions by the Public Health Authorities, the Bishop has instructed that churches may reopen for private prayer as from this coming Monday.

For the moment, public Masses and liturgies remain suspended until the Authorities indicate that it is safe to do resume them.

Bishop Zammit encourages everyone to cooperate with the lockdown guidelines issued by the Public Health Authorities for the good of all, especially the vulnerable.

Churches closed during lockdown

By | Bishop Carmel, News

All our churches are to remain CLOSED (including now also for private prayer)

for the time being, in view of the high number of persons being infected by Covid-19.

 
Bishop Zammit encourages everyone to cooperate with the lockdown guidelines issued by the Public Health Authorities for the good of all, especially the vulnerable.

Use of anti-Covid vaccines “morally acceptable”

By | News, Teaching, Vatican

A note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was approved by Pope Francis, gives the green light during the pandemic to the use of vaccines produced with cell lines derived from two foetuses aborted in the 1960’s.

“It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted foetuses in their research and production process.”

Due to the situation of the ongoing pandemic, “all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) made these statements in a note signed by the Prefect, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, and the Secretary, Archbishop Giacomo Morandi. The text was explicitly approved by Pope Francis on 17 December and released on Monday.

Clarifying doubts

The CDF document, which was published as many countries are preparing to implement vaccination campaigns, authoritatively intervenes to clarify doubts and questions which have emerged from sometimes contradictory statements on the subject.

The “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines” recalls three previous pronouncements on the same topic: one from the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) in 2005; the CDF Instruction Dignitas Personae in 2008; and, another note from the PAV in 2017.

Moral aspects

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says it does not “intend to judge the safety and efficacy” of current vaccines against Covid-19, which is the responsibility of biomedical researchers and drug agencies. Rather, the CDF focuses on the moral aspects of receiving vaccines developed using cell lines from tissue obtained from two foetuses that were aborted in the 1960’s.

The Instruction Dignitas Personae, approved by Pope Benedict XVI, pointed out that “there exist differing degrees of responsibility”, because “in organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision.”

Therefore, argues the note published on Monday in summing up the Instruction of 2008, “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available”, it is “morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted foetuses in their research and production process.”

‘Remote cooperation’

The CDF says the reason for considering these vaccines morally licit is the “kind of cooperation” in the evil of abortion, which is “remote” on the part of those receiving the vaccine.

Therefore, the “moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory” since there exists a grave danger, in the form of an “uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent.”

The Covid-19 pandemic, says the CDF, fulfils this requirement.

“In such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.”

Not a legitimation of abortion

The Congregation clarifies that “the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.” Nor should it imply a moral approval of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted foetuses.

The CDF note calls on pharmaceutical companies and government health agencies to “produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience.”

Voluntary vaccination

At the same time, the Congregation recalls that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

The morality of vaccination, it notes, depends both on the duty to protect one’s own health and the pursuit of the common good. “In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.”

Those who for reasons of conscience reject vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted foetuses, however, must “do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behaviour, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.”

Distribution to poor countries

Finally, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says it is “a moral imperative” for the pharmaceutical industry, governments, and international organizations to ensure that effective and ethically acceptable vaccines are accessible “to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them.”

“The lack of access to vaccines, otherwise, would become another sign of discrimination and injustice that condemns poor countries to continue living in health, economic and social poverty.”

Covid Restrictions in churches from 22nd December to 11th January

By | Bishop Carmel, News

Following the request from the Public Health Authorities, the Bishop has decreed that all Masses and public liturgies are suspended from Tuesday 22nd December until the 11th January, when the situation will be reviewed.

It is a sad, but necessary step, in the light of the recent exponential increase in Covid cases in Gibraltar.

Many will be disappointed that there will be no Midnight and Christmas Masses this year, but the Bishop is grateful for the cooperation of all.

Let us remain united in prayer this Christmas, as we look forward to better times in 2021.

Our Lady of Europe and St. Bernard, Patrons of Gibraltar, pray for us.

Celebrating the 175th ANNIVERSARY of Loreto in Gibraltar

By | Events, News

From the Loreto Newsletter:

“In school, we will be talking to the children about this important historical event and working on projects to mark this year over the next 12 months. To get celebrations off to a flying start, Ms Sciacaluga, supported by Mrs Simpson and past-pupil Conor McGibney, have prepared a video treat for you.
With a huge thank you to all the teachers, staff and pupils for taking part, we hope you enjoy the Loreto Convent School response to the Jerusalema Challenge.”

click here for the JERUSALEMA experience!

175th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARRIVAL OF THE FIRST LORETO NUNS IN GIBRALTAR

By | Events, News

16th December 2020

marks the 175th anniversary of the arrival in Gibraltar of the first Loreto Nuns in Gibraltar. They came here expressly to open a school for Gibraltarian girls, and in fact they opened two. One was a fee-paying school, which was originally situated at Don Place, where the five nuns established their convent. The other, for the poorer children, was set up in a large room at 50 Governor’s Street. Both immediately attracted a large number of pupils.

The party of five nuns were escorted to Gibraltar by the Catholic bishop, Rt Rev Mgr Henry Hughes. They were Mother Angela Kelly, the Mother Superior, and Sister Vincent Clinch, Sister Seraphia Rorke, Sister Placida Byrne and another sister thought to be Sister Josephine Underhill. The eldest of the nuns was just 28 years old.

Thus began the long association between the Loreto Nuns and Gibraltar.

Over the many years that the nuns were at the forefront of education for girls in Gibraltar, while the boys were catered for by the Irish Christian Brothers, the nuns taught in a number of schools.

In 1873, the Loreto nuns opened the Loreto Convent School at Europa Road which is still active today. It is Gibraltar’s oldest school that is still in operation. For many years, and in the period up to the World War II evacuation from Gibraltar, this was a boarding school. Many Spanish families sent their daughters to be educated by the Loreto nuns.

The nuns are fondly remembered by the older members of the community for the many years that they were at the helm of the Loreto Convent School at 6 Convent Place. The former school chapel was converted into an office for Sir Joshua Hassan when the seat of government moved there from Secretary’s Lane.

Indeed the order of the Loreto Nuns was given the Freedom of the City by Gibraltar’s Parliament in 2005. They were the first women to receive this accolade. Today, the spirit of the early nuns who arrived in Gibraltar 175 years ago is kept alive in the Loreto Convent School at Europa Road that continues to thrive.

The events originally planned for this important anniversary have had to be trimmed down hugely because of the Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic. The staff and pupils of the Loreto Convent School will nevertheless mark this milestone internally. It is also expected that a series of messages of congratulations and support will be received from abroad.

Pope Francis proclaims “Year of St Joseph”

By | News, Vatican

In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.

The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph,” beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.

Read more in the article posted on the Vatican website

 

PRAYER:

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.

Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil.  Amen.