Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bishop tussles with villagers over mansion

Posted without comment. [Except to say that it's very odd for a bishop to wear his mitre and carry his pastoral staff in a simar]

From the Star:

Villagers tussle with church

MALACCA: About 100 villagers from Kampung Ayer Salak, Bukit Rambai, were engaged in a standoff with church authorities yesterday over the demolition of a RM1mil mansion which was built illegally on church land.

The 10am incident saw Bishop Paul Tan accompanied by several priests and officials arriving at the almost completed home to oversee the demolition work.

[ Andrew: The banner says 'Home demolition?? We protest"] Land matters: Bishop Tan making a stand on the order to demolish the building constructed without approval on church land at Kampung Ayer Salak, Bukit Rambai, in Malacca yesterday amid a protest by some 100 villagers against the demolition order.

The situation became tense when a group of villagers from the mostly Teochew Catholic community moved to stop the demolition by hurling abuse at the church authorities.

State executive councillor for tourism Datuk Seet Har Cheow, whose home is located in the village, attempted to mediate a settlement between the two parties.

However, police had to be called in to defuse the tension when both parties refused to back off and the demolition work was temporarily deferred.

At the centre of the controversy is a three-storey mansion with 18 rooms built by a Lim family without approval from the church or the local authority.

Kampung Baru Ayer Salak is home to about 120 Teochew Catholic families who settled there in the early 1800s.

About 180ha of the village land was handed to the church in the 1840s on which the St Mary’s Church was built in 1886.

Bishop Tan told reporters later that the church had agreed in principle when the Lim family made a request to rebuild their single-storey semi-wooden home on Oct 29, but said the family started construction without waiting for approval from the church or the local authority.

He said three stop-work orders and notices to demolish were issued to the church and building owners between April and June.

The church had to comply with the notice to demolish the building as it did not want to be seen as condoning illegal practices, he said.

“It is not a situation where the church is depriving poor people of a roof over their heads,” he said, adding that the proposed home cost more than RM1mil.

Meanwhile, Peter Lim, 41, a businessman, said it was unfair of the church to restrict villagers from reconstructing their homes.

“Our forefathers were pioneers who opened up the land for cultivation over 150 years ago; why should we need permission now when it was not so in the past?” he asked, claiming that Bishop Tan had refused to meet his family to resolve the matter.

He added that the family would consider taking the matter to court.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mater et magistra

The Church is mother and teacher, imbued and commissioned with Christ the Teacher's authority to teach. We also have other teachers as well, parents, families and friends who hand down to us the truths of faith.

In life we meet 2 kinds of teachers, whose methods are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The first teaches us of God and the Church and the faith. From them we learn the facts and figures, the people and the personalities of faith This is all good and necessary as Christianity is a historical faith, the journey of a people, Israel, chosen by God as the recipients of his favour. When the Son of God became man, eternity entered history which continues in the Church of today. We need to know all this and to understand the Word of God through the Scriptures, God's living Word to us.

The is a another kind of teacher who by their example of living the Christian faith virtuously in charity and, importantly for me, with great joy and mirth, give us living examples to emulate. We want to conform ourselves to them, to be like them, practicing the joy of Christ and the love of God in our daily actions and way of life. People are attracted to Christ by their example, charity, humility and integrity much more than all the words a preacher can preach because by encountering them, we encounter Christ through them.

I've been blessed by God to encounter ( very very very very few) teachers of the second kind which sets the standard, under Christ, for me to aspire to. We really need more people like that. Yes, I know about the saints and all that. I am familiar with the hagiographies and I do have my favourites (who hopefully hold me their favourites as well and are interceding extra hard for me in heaven =)] But these flesh and blood people we meet in the flesh, pardon the pun, seem more real somehow. It's not a dogmatic sentence, but it's my perception.

So, I wish that each one of you will meet, at some point in your lives, men and women of the 2nd kind who will inspire you to live the Gospel values in charity and mirth.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First local Catholic priest ordained in St Anthony’s Church, Bintulu

From the local Star newspaper

First local Catholic priest ordained in St Anthony’s Church, Bintulu

BINTULU: Father Peter Hwang, 28, became the first local catholic priest here after he was ordained by Bishop Anthony Lee Kok Hin on Oct 7. The ceremony was witnessed by thousands of parishioners of the St Anthony’s Church. For the past 54 years, the Bintulu Catholic parish, established by the Mill Hills Missionaries and the Catholic community here had prayed for a local to be ordained a priest.

All prepared: Father Hwang, getting ready for his big day outside the St Anthony’s Church.

The new priest did not show any signs of reservation or hesitation during his ordination witnessed by family and 16 other Catholic priests from throughout northern Sarawak, Bishop Lee himself is the first local Catholic Bishop in northern Sarawak. He reminded Fr. Hwang of the responsibilities that he would shoulder as a priest.

Prayers and obedience to God are the key factors that will help a priest sustain his vocation, said Bishop Lee.

“Pray often. It is through prayers that great things for God can be done. Be obedient to your callings at all times,” said the Bishop.

Fr. Hwang, as a symbolic gesture of total submission of self to God, had to lay on the floor face-down before the Bishop and the Crucifix before he took his vows.

Later, he related to The Star how he went from school straight to the seminary to prepare for priesthood after finishing his secondary school.

Fr. Hwang said another Catholic priest by the name of Father Sylvester Ding was the reason he joined the priesthood.

“Many years ago, when Father Ding came to my house he suggested that I should try out for the priesthood.

“At that time, I was not even a good Christian. and I did not know Father Ding well. But, that meeting was the turning point in my life. Later I became active in the church and discovered my calling,” he said.

Laying of hands: Bishop Anthony Lee of Miri laying hands on Fr. Hwang during the ordination

Fr. Hwang said he will also be serving in other parts of northern Sarawak.

He had travelled far and wide in Limbang division and in the interior of Miri division for pastoral works during the past eight years of his seminarian days during his preparation for the priesthood.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Procession in honour of Our Lady of Fatima

During the months of May and October, the months dedicated to Mary our Mother, my parish has the rosary before each weekday and weekend Mass. The rosary is led by the various ministries in the Church during the weekend Masses such as the various cell groups, catechetics, lectors, etc.

The servers at the rosary in May


If the weather permits, Mass is also said at the Shrine of Our Lady on the 13th of each month.



On the 13th of October, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, to whom our Shrine is dedicated, we normally have a mini procession within the Church grounds. A much grander procession outside is reserved for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast of our parish.

But because the 13th falls on a Monday where the priests are having their weeklong meeting, the Mass and procession was moved to Sunday, the 12th.

The processional image was on the sanctuary during the Mass.


Note that's it's an image of Our Lady of Lourdes instead of Our Lady of Fatima. Perhaps some people think, hey, as long as it's Our Lady.


If you might recall, this is not the same as the nice new Gothic processional canopy we used last year with the image of Our Lady of Fatima. There's a reason for that. Evil people.

If the Evil One does not frustrate us, perhaps it will be used again for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.


Anyway, after the normal Mass, the procession made it's way out of the Church. Several of the canopy bearers were young people who have decided to do God's will by carrying Our Lady despite the heaviness of the canopy. Others wish their way and complain of the weight, denying Our Lady honour, but still insist on having their way and a lighter canopy. Do they think this half hearted 'my will and my way' offering is acceptable?


The procession was preceded by the cross bearer and the servers, flower girls and the processional image of Our Lady.


The priest and people followed bearing lighted candles.




I know the bearers were not standardly dressed. I point out that they were last year and that we were not in charge of this procession.



The procession slowly made it's way around the Church as several Marian hymns were sung (at subsonic keys) and the litany of Loreto was chanted.


The procession then made it's way back into the Church.


Exposition and Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament then followed.


In other places of the world, people bring flowers for Our Lady. Here, we take them away. =) After Benediction the people rushed to despoil Our Lady of the roses and flowers which decorated her image. This is a custom in our parish, to spread the blessings of Our Lady to all homes.




Many left their candles at the Shrine of Our Lady after the Mass.


Some photos courtesy of the photographic talents of Angela.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Librarything

Librarything is a nifty new site that allows you to list the books you have in your library and see other people who have listed the same books. I found it on Si Fractus Fortis' blog. You can also write book reviews and see what others think of the books you like.

Signing up is real easy. But a free account allows you to list only 200 books, so that's all I listed.

People in Penang, if you want to borrow any of my books or want to lend me some you think are great or books that might interest me, contact me ok?

The 200 books from my library can be found here. Here's a random sample of 25 books.

Some books from my library

It's been permanently linked on the sidebar too.

So what do you think? Cool, no?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Both love of God and neighbour

I wrote a letter to the Herald, responding to a letter published last week. For those who are not from Malaysia, in the recent weeks, there have been many letters sent to the editor regarding the question of Latin in the liturgy and Gregorian chant. Many favour it but some have come out strongly against it even though Latin is still the language of the Roman Rite and is to be retained and Gregorian chant must be given pride of place as Vatican II had decreed.

Last week, LC wrote to say that all of this was petty and trivial and there were much more important matters such as using the national language, Malay, in the Mass.

Hi LC. Young people in West Malaysia hate, despise, loath using Bahasa in the Mass. For many of us who feel oppressed and discriminated against, it's tantamount to using the Black Speech to sing to Elbereth Githoniel. It may be misguided but that's how we feel. And using Allah in place of God, as in May Almighty Allah bless you? I think it's a stunt which some priests use to thumb their nose at the government which is trying to prohibit the Church from using Allah for God. I sincerely believe that this is their motive but I'm open to correction. I mean in East Malaysia or among those whose first language is Malay, go ahead, but these priests do it in an English Mass and that's just bullcrap.

Anyway, with that background in mind, here's my letter. It's a bit long, so I don't think it will be published in full, but here it is in it's entirety.

Dear Editor,

I'm writing in response to LC's letter.

According to Our Lord, the entire Law, the Prophets and all the commandments hang on these two greatest of them. Firstly, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your soul". After that, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself".

All the recent letters in this column which touch on the liturgy and the retention of use of the Latin language in the Roman Rite as was mandated by Vatican II all stem from adherence to the greatest of the commandments, the love of God. The Mass, the re-presentation of Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is the primary and highest form of worship in the Catholic Church. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian faith. Shouldn't we be more concerned? All the interest regarding how the liturgy is celebrated stem from a deep love of God. We wish to see the worship of God done properly by the priests who are supposed to be servants of the liturgy of the Church. When they monkey around with the Church's public worship of God, they act as masters of the liturgy rather than it's servants.

I am thrilled because people are being concerned and are starting to care about their worship of God. As one priest said recently, "No more you say and we do". The people want a say in their worship because for so long they have been thundered at from on high. Many who wanted more reverent worship or Gregorian chant or Latin were told, in effect, to 'balik China'. You accept what you are given. If you don't like it, leave. This is the way we do it in Malaysia. Don't these people of God have equal rights with those advocating less reverent worship and dancing girls during Mass? Why are no priests, many of whom are so concerned about injustice, advocating the rights of this very marginalized group within the Church? [ANDREW: Click on this link for a fuller description of this by the abusee or the link above for my account.]
[In all fairness, this slide has been removed some time ago, but at the time the original post I linked was blogged, this was displayed during the reception of Holy Communion and was projected for a long time, for years, if I'm not mistaken. And the conversations recorded are all true. Anyway, some clarification in case anyone gets confused that this slide is still up. It's not.]

LC seems to think that this is trivial. I cannot disagree more. Our worship, stemming from the love of God, should be our greatest concern from which our love of neighbour should properly flow. All the corporal works of mercy which we Christians do should be motivated by our love for our neighbour as God has commanded. If our motivation is misguided and we do not have a care for the salvation of souls, then our Christianity has been reduced to a social Gospel and Christians are merely glorified social workers, striving to save the body but letting the soul perish.

Fuzzy wuzzies (above) are ok, reverent worship of God (below), baaaaddddd

I believe that a false dichotomy is affecting many people in our Church. They like to contrast (their own?) interior and supposedly superior faith with a faith manifested by glorifying God exteriorly in the liturgy.

Does Pope Benedict XVI only care about the externals of the faith?

Those who love the liturgy of the Church are seen as somehow deficient in their love of neighbour, as being unconcerned about the 'bigger things' such as social justice and holding the hands of terminal AIDS and cancer patients, as being out of touch with current issues and squabbling over petty and frivolous things. Can't people who are concerned with the worship of God because they love God also be concerned about all the social issues because of their love of neighbour? Why must the practice of the 2 greatest of the commandments be separated?

What about Pope John Paul II?

Let true authentic Christianity, which professes and practices love of God and of neighbour replace the Socialianity many practice today.

Andrew Khoo

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yay me?

H/T to Fr. Daren. But I only scored 93% for the expert level. I wonder what I got wrong though.

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test ...

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 93% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Compared to other takers

  • 58/100 You scored 100% on Beginner, higher than 58% of your peers.
  • 37/100 You scored 100% on Intermediate, higher than 37% of your peers.
  • 84/100 You scored 100% on Advanced, higher than 84% of your peers.
  • 78/100 You scored 93% on Expert, higher than 78% of your peers.

How everyone did

  • Beginner Distribution Beginner
  • Intermediate Distribution Intermediate
  • Advanced Distribution Advanced
  • Expert Distribution Expert

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

Monday, October 13, 2008

Built on the Rock: Understanding the scriptural foundations of the Petrine Primacy (Part 1)

Dear Non-Denom friend,

You have raised many questions regarding the position of the Pope, the Successor to St. Peter in the See of Rome. Before answering the specifics, I’m going to try to provide a brief overview of the scriptural foundations of the Petrine Primacy.

I’m going to try to put this in the simplest terms I know how without compromising the points I want to make.

In Matthew 16, we find the foundation of the Catholic Church’s belief in the Petrine ministry and the primacy of the Apostle Peter in the College of Apostles. Let’s look at this text, Matt 16:13-19.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Note that Jesus says that Peter's confession is no human conclusion but rather the result of a Divine revelation. It is God the Father Himself who reveals this to Peter. This is something special, to receive a Divine revelation from the Father. But this is a something that would occur again, for example, when Peter received the revelation that all foods are kosher and that Gentiles were to be received into the Church as narrated by the Acts of the Apostles.

Back to the passage. Take note, first of all, of how the passage is structured. After Peter's confession, Our Lord is the speaker and Peter becomes the subject of the discourse. Note the pattern of multiple 'you's' appearing.

Now, what sense can we make of this passage? Briefly, upon Christ’s question of “Who do you say I am” to the disciples, Peter, as is usual, answers on their behalf and offers this confession of faith:

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

To Peter's "You are the Christ", Jesus responds with his own "You are" statement:

You are Peter (petros, masculine form of the Greek word for rock), and upon this rock (petra, feminine form of the Greek word for rock) I will build My church.”

In the English language, you can’t really see the play of words but it’s much clearer in the Aramaic, Greek, Latin and French.

καγω δε σοι λεγω οτι συ ει πετρος και επι ταυτη τη πετρα οικοδομησω μου την εκκλησιαν

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam

In the language Jesus spoke, Aramaic, both Peter and rock would have been rendered as kepha (meaning Rock) so He would have said:

You are Kepha, and upon this kepha I will build My church.”

Pretty clear there. It also comes out in the French:

Et moi, je te dis que tu es Pierre, et que sur cette pierre je bâtirai mon Église

That’s why Peter is called Cephas in parts of the New Testament. It’s a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic kepha which means rock. Our Lord is basically saying to Peter you are Rock and on this Rock I will build my Church.

Our Lord changing Simon's name to Peter is also significant which finds parallels in the Old Testament where God changes the names of individuals to reflect their new vocation. A name change signifies a new task and destiny. Abram became Abraham and Father of Nations. Jacob became Israel and father of the 12 tribes, ever wrestling with God.

Here, Simon son of John is renamed Peter, Cephas, Kepha which means Rock because he is to be the Rock on which Christ would build His Church. Christ, the cornerstone and foundation here becomes the builder, so there's no question of us laying another foundation besides Christ. Because here, it is Christ, the ultimate foundation Himself, who makes Peter as the Rock and foundation of His Church. This rules out the interpretation that Jesus is naming Himself as the Rock-foundation of His Church in this verse.

Now, some people would say that it was Peter's confession that is the Rock. That's true in a sense as Peter cannot be separated from his confession, but is that the primary meaning of the passage?

Remember the structure of the passage? From Peter's 'You are the Christ', come Our Lord's responses and promises of:

"Blessed are you,

"I also say to you

I will give you

"whatever you bind

"whatever you loose

So, Peter, the confessing Peter, being the subject of Our Lord's response, is clearly the Rock on which Christ's Church is built. When Peter is understood as the Rock, then the following promises make sense.

Only if you're going to make Peter the Rock on which the Church would be built would you give him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, for example. And the Power to bind and loose on earth with the promise that whatever he binds and looses on earth would be correspondingly bound and loosed in Heaven.

If Peter were not the Rock, or if Jesus were contrasting Peter as a petros-pebble with the Christ-Rock-Petra, then the passage and the context would not make sense. Why belittle a guy, whose confession Jesus admitted was from Divine revelation, then calling him a pebble and then give this same small insignificant pebble the Keys of the Kingdom and the attendant promises? But this is exactly what some interpreters try to do to downplay the promises made to Peter and to deny the fact that Christ chose to build His Church on Peter.

The promise that the Gates of Hades will not overpower the Church means the Church is indefectible and cannot fall into error or teach error or else the Gates of Hell would, for a time, have prevailed over the Church, violating Jesus’ promise.

Lets look at the following verse.

Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”.
This promise is given individually here, to Peter as Head of the Apostles and later in Matt 18:18, to the whole group of Apostles as a whole. We know Jesus is talking to the disciples from Matt 18:1.

The promise of binding and loosing is a rabbinical term to indicate the power to allow and prohibit, the power to legislate and make laws for the Church. The promise that “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” means that neither the holder of the Keys of the Kingdom and the college of Apostles as a whole when they meet in council such as the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, can teach error.

What they bind or earth, if it’s error, cannot be bound in Heaven because God cannot sanction error. Therefore, there must be some kind of preventive protection here, preventing Peter or the Apostles as a group from teaching error as truth and binding it on God's people. Then the promise of “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” holds.

This is the basis of the personal infallibility of the Pope as the Successor of Peter, who when he teaches ex cathedra, as the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, cannot formally teach error. Thus the Pope must be protected from teaching error by the Holy Spirit. The same infallibility extends to all the Bishops together as the successors of the Apostles. Their dogmatic teaching too, in council, is protected from error. Thus the Council of Jerusalem dared, in Acts 15, to claim the Holy Spirit as the co-author of the decrees contained in their letter to the Churches:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: (Acts 15:28)

This same protection of the Holy Spirit, active in the Church to this day, is still claimed by all the Councils of the Church, from Nicea to Vatican II and by the Popes from St. Peter to Benedict XVI now gloriously reigning.

Note also that the prerogative of binding and loosing is given to Peter individually in Matt 16:18 and then given to the entire College of Apostles collectively in Matt 18:18? So Peter individually possesses the power to bind and loose while the other Apostles can only do so collectively, with Peter.

We'll next look at the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and what it means to possess the Keys. This is uniquely given to Peter alone and not to the Apostles. We'll explore this theme in the coming days.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Remembering the Pastor Angelicus

Pope Pius XII, the Angelic Pastor who Shepherded the Catholic Church during the difficult times of the 2nd World War and the uncertain post-war years is fondly remembered by many for the peaceful and flourishing Church which he left to Pope John XXIII. Vocations were thriving, Catholics attended Mass and all the indicators predicted a booming and growing Church.

From the Vatican Information Service:


VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this morning, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with cardinals for the anniversary of the death of Pius XII.

Referring to the readings of the Mass, the Holy Father indicated in his homily that the Book of Sirach "reminds those who intend to follow the Lord that they must prepare themselves to face difficult trials and sufferings". He also suggested that in the light of this biblical text "we may examine the earthly life" of Pope Pius XII and his pontifical ministry, which coincided with World War II and with the Cold War.

Benedict XVI spoke of Pius XII's long service to the Church, which began under Leo XIII in 1901, then continued under St. Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI.

"In Germany, where he was apostolic nuncio ... until 1929", said the Pope, "he left grateful memories behind him, especially for having collaborated with Benedict XV in the attempt to stop the 'useless massacre' of the Great War, and for having understood from the start the danger of the monstrous national-socialist ideology with its pernicious anti-Semite and anti-Catholic roots. Created a cardinal in 1929 and shortly afterwards secretary of State, for nine years he was Pius XI's faithful collaborator in a period characterised by various forms of totalitarianism: the fascist, the nazi and that of Soviet communism, condemned, respectively, in the Encyclicals: 'Non abbiamo bisogno', 'Mit Brennender Sorge', and 'Divini Redemptoris'".

Benedict XVI then went on to recall "the most difficult moments of Pius XII's pontificate when, aware that all forms of human security were giving way, he felt the powerful need ... to remain with Christ, the only certainty that never fails. The Word of God illuminated his journey, ... during which ... he had to console the displaced and the persecuted ... and weep the countless victims of the war".

"This awareness accompanied Pius XII in his ministry as Peter's Successor, a ministry that began precisely at the moment in which the threatening clouds of a new global conflict were gathering over Europe and the rest of the world; a conflict that he sought in every way to evade. 'The danger is imminent, yet there is still time. Nothing is lost with peace. Everything may be lost with war', he cried out in a radio message on 24 August 1939.

"The war underscored the love he nourished for his 'adored Rome'", the Holy Father added, "a love made manifest in the intensity with which he promoted works of charity in defence of the persecuted, with no distinction of religion, ethnicity, nationality or political views. ... How can we forget his radio message of Christmas 1942? His voice breaking with emotion, he deplored the situation of 'the hundreds of thousands of people who, with no individual blame, are sometimes, because of their nationality or race, destined for death or progressive exploitation', a clear allusion to the deportations and extermination being perpetrated against the Jews".

Pius XII "often acted secretly and silently because, in the real situations of that complex moment in history, he had an intuition that only in this way would he be able to avoid the worst, and to save the largest possible number of Jews".

The Pope indicated that the historical debate over the figure of Pius XII "has not thrown light on all aspects of his multifaceted pontificate". In this context he recalled the numerous messages and discourses his predecessor had given to all categories of people, "some of which are still extraordinarily relevant even today, and continue to provide a sure point of reference. Paul VI ... considered him to be the precursor of Vatican Council II".

Referring then to some of Pius XII's documents, the Holy Father recalled the Encyclicals "Mystici Corporis" of June 1943, and "Divino afflante Spiritu" of September of the same year which "established the doctrinal norms for the study of Holy Scripture, emphasising its importance and role in Christian life. It is a document that gives evidence of great openness towards scientific research into biblical texts", he said.

Benedict XVI also mentioned the Encyclical "Mediator Dei" which was published in November 1947 and concerns the liturgy. There, he said, "the Servant of God promoted the liturgical movement, highlighting the 'essential element of worship', which 'must be the interior element. It is, in fact, necessary', he wrote, 'always to live in Christ, to dedicate oneself entirely to Him, so that in Him, with Him and for Him glory is rendered unto God".

After mentioning "the notable impulse this Pontiff gave to the Church's missionary activity with the Encyclicals 'Evangelii praecones' (1951) and 'Fidei donum' (1957)", the Holy Father pointed out that one of Pius XII's "constant pastoral concerns was the promotion of the laity, so that the ecclesial community could make use of all available energies and resources. For this too the Church and the world are grateful".

"As we pray that the cause of beatification of Servant of God Pius XII may continue favourably, it is as well to recall that sanctity was his ideal, an ideal he did not fail to propose to everybody".

The Pope concluded by pointing out that during the Holy Year 1950, Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin. "In this world of ours which, as then, is assailed by concerns and anguish for the future; in this world where, perhaps more now than then, the abandonment of truth and virtue by many people gives us glimpses of scenarios without hope, Pius XII invites us to turn our gaze to Mary, assumed in heavenly glory".

Following the Mass, the Holy Father went down to the Vatican Grottoes to pray before the tomb of Pius XII.