A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort

At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships

So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,

So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and

To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in the world,

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done

To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.


Pope may go online to launch Vatican news portal

Associated Press

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican, whose communications problems are no secret, is taking a leap into the world of new media with the launch next week of a news information portal that Pope Benedict XVI himself may put online with a papal click.
Vatican officials said Saturday that Benedict has been following the development of the portal, which will for the first time aggregate information from the Vatican's various print, online, radio and television media in a one-stop-shop for Holy See news.

The portal, www.news.va, is being launched Wednesday, the 60th anniversary of Benedict's ordination as a priest and a feast day in the church.

Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, who heads the Vatican office that developed the portal and will maintain it, said Benedict may put the site online himself with a click from the Apostolic Palace.

Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli shows to journalists the new portal, www.news.va, during a press conference at the Vatican, Saturday, June 25, 2011. The Vatican, whose communications problems are well known, is taking a leap into the world of new media next week with the launch of a news information portal that Pope Benedict XVI himself may put online with a papal click.

"This is a new way of communicating," Celli said during a preview of the site at the offices of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

It's the latest effort by the Vatican to bring its evangelizing message to a greater, Internet-savvy audience and follows its forays into Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

It's also a significant step for the 84-year-old Benedict, who has been bedeviled by communications woes during much of his six-year papacy, much of it the fault of a large Vatican bureaucracy that doesn't always communicate well internally.

There was his 2005 speech about Islam and violence, his recent comments about condoms and HIV that required no less than three official Vatican clarifications, and his rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop, among others.

While the portal is designed mostly to provide Vatican news in an easy-to-use setting for the outside world, Celli said he hoped it would also improve the Vatican's own internal communications by letting various departments know what one another are up to and help provide a more coherent message.

"I think that we must educate the Roman Curia of what is the real meaning of communication," Celli said. "Little by little they will perceive that this is the real meaning to be present, to have a relevance." Previously, popes have been very much involved in the Vatican's communications efforts: Pope Pius XI personally inaugurated Vatican Radio in 1931, and Pope John Paul II oversaw the 1995 launch of the Vatican's website.

That site will remain as the Holy See's main home page and documentation warehouse. And each of the Vatican media that are represented on the news portal will retain their independent sites as well: Vatican Radio, the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Television Center, the Vatican press office and information service and the Fides missionary news agency.

The portal, though, will aggregate their main news, initially in English and Italian then other languages, and be updated three times a day, Celli said. The portal is outfitted for live-streaming of papal events, audio feeds from Vatican Radio, photographs from L'Osservatore Romano and printed texts of papal homilies, statements and speeches.

It's also designed to be social-media friendly, with Twitter feeds and Facebook links, part of the Vatican's recent realization that it can reach a wide new audience by interacting with the outside world rather than merely preaching from afar.

There are no search functions on the portal or an obvious link to the Vatican's main home page, but that may come in an update of the site, officials said.

iPads replacing note pads as Asian schools go high-tech

Agence France Press

This photo taken on May 18, 2011, shows Singapore students using the iPad in a language arts class in Nanyang Girls' High School. (AFP)

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Technology/International/2011/Jun-05/iPads-replacing-note-pads-as-Asian-schools-go-high-tech.ashx#ixzz1OUr0T98W
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

SINGAPORE: Apple’s iPad and other tablet computers are replacing traditional note pads in some Asian schools and making the lives of thousands of students a lot easier.

Soon pupils could be reading on their tablets about a quaint old communication device called “paper,” especially in Asia’s advanced economies where many schools are racing toward a paperless classroom.

The slim glass slabs slip easily into a bag and can store thousands of textbooks, making a fat school bag full of heavy books, pens and notepads a thing of the past.

“I like the iPad because it is portable and we do not have to carry so many bags and files around,” said 13-year-old Nicole Ong, who now makes notes on her iPad during class at Nanyang Girls’ High School in Singapore.

A sample group of more than 120 students and 16 teachers at the school have been given iPads, at a cost of over $100,000. By 2013, every student in the school will have one.

The number of software applications – or apps – that can be used for educational purposes on tablet computers is set to explode.

It’s a brand new business that even media mogul Rupert Murdoch has identified as an area of huge potential growth.

Murdoch said his News Corp group is to push into the education technology market in a speech to the e-G8 conference of Internet entrepreneurs and European policymakers in Paris last month.

He described education as the “last holdout from the digital revolution” and outlined a vision for personalized learning with lessons delivered by the world’s best teachers to thousands of students via the Internet.

“Today’s classroom looks almost exactly the same as it did in the Victorian age,” Murdoch added.

But many Asian schools are already way ahead of the game.

“No longer is language learning solely based on the teacher commenting on students’ works – classmates can feedback on one another,” said Seah Hui Yong, curriculum dean of Nanyang.

Rene Yeo, head of the information technology department at Tampines Secondary School, also in Singapore, teaches science with his iPad. His students learn factorization by simply moving the numbers around on the screen.

They also read about animal cells and the human brain structure by clicking on the various parts. And tablet computers make the double helix structure of a human DNA practically come to life before a student’s eyes.

There are apps to learn English and maths, pupils can do cause and effect analysis on iBrainstorm, prepare for oral exams and speeches with AudioNote and even strum the guitar for a music lesson on GarageBand.

The rise of classroom technology will mirror its rise throughout society, says Sam Han, a US-based expert on the role of technology in education.

Han, instructional technology fellow at the Macaulay Honors College, City University of New York, said he expects some Asian countries to leapfrog the West.

“While the Internet was birthed in the US, Singapore and South Korea [for example) boast far greater broadband Internet access penetration and infrastructure than the US,” he said.

Japan’s communications ministry has given tablets to more than 3,000 under-12 pupils at 10 elementary schools and even fitted classrooms with interactive electronic blackboards under the so-called “future school” pilot project.

In South Korea, where schools have WiFi zones, the education ministry has been testing “digital textbooks” in some schools since 2007. In 2012, the ministry says it will decide whether to supply tablets to schools nationwide.

Singapore has a hugely competitive education system known for its high level of science and mathematics instruction. The education ministry provides a grant for schools to buy this kind of equipment, as well as software and services.

Many schools already have WiFi, making it easy for students to connect to the Internet.

But some teachers acknowledged there are students who get distracted by playing games or surfing Facebook and other social media sites like Twitter.

Education psychologist Qiu Lin cautioned against schools getting carried away and promoting the blind use of technological devices, and neglecting the real goals of education.

“The trend of integrating technology into education will definitely increase,” said the assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, which is separate from the high school.

“But after one month when the novelty of iPads wears down, a good curriculum and teaching materials that can increase deep thinking and problem solving in students need to be in place.”

Stop disintegration of the family in Europe - pope


Pope Benedict XVI makes the sign of the cross as he leads a solemn mass in Zagreb June 5, 2011. The Pope is on a two-day visit to Croatia. (Reuters)

ZAGREB: Pope Benedict warned Sunday that the traditional family in Europe was "disintegrating" under the weight of secularization and called for laws to help couples cope with the costs of having and educating children.

On the second day of his trip to Croatia, a bastion of Roman Catholicism in the Balkans, the pope said in open-air mass for hundreds of thousands of people and hammered home one of the major themes of his papacy.

"Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe," he said in his sermon on the edge of the capital.

The 84-year-old Benedict's sermon was the latest in a series of salvos against what the Church sees as growing anti-Catholicism and "Christianophobia" in Europe.

Speaking on the day Croatia, whose population of 4.4 million people is 90 percent Catholic, celebrates its "Family Day", he railed against practices such abortion, cohabitation as a "substitute for marriage", and artificial birth control.

The pope urged Catholic families throughout Europe not to give in to a creeping "secularized mentality" and called for "legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them".

The sermon reflected the Vatican's belief that the Catholic Church in Europe is under assault by some national governments and European institutions over issues such as gay marriage, abortion, religious education and the use of Christian religious symbols in public places.

Last year the Vatican criticized plans to propose legislation in Britain, known as the Equality Bill, that could force churches to hire homosexuals or transsexuals.

The Vatican was also at the forefront of a campaign that overturned a ruling by the continent's top human rights court that would have banned crucifixes in schools in Italy.

At the start of the trip on Saturday, the pope criticized the European Union, saying its bureaucracy is overly centralized and sometimes neglected historical differences and national cultures.

The Vatican strongly supports Croatia's bid to become an EU member, which it is expected to achieve in 2013. This would put another overwhelmingly Catholic country in the bloc.

Vatican invites bloggers to first-ever summit

Associated Press

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican Monday invited 150 bloggers from around the world to a first-ever blogging summit, increasingly aware of the important role faith-based blogging is playing in spreading Catholicism.

Monks, priests, nuns and lay bloggers hunched over their iPads and Tweeted updates to their followers as Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Vatican’s social communication’s office, told them of the Vatican’s desire to get to know them better and establish a genuine relationship.

“We’re here for a dialogue, a dialogue that from our side means the conviction of the concrete, important and unique role of your presence in the world of communication,” Celli told the bloggers.

The Vatican has been seeking to engage more with the online world: for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican created a special Facebook page, Twitter account, ran clips of his 27-year pontificate on its YouTube channel and let the faithful send electronic postcards to one another about what they were experiencing via its youth-based news portal.

The blogging summit was another step in that direction.

The Catholic blogging community is as diverse as Roman Catholicism, with a range of views and topics: Some people blog about spirituality, others take a more political tone about the direction of the church, others share information about liturgical questions.

Elizabeth Scalia, who writes a popular blog http://www.patheos.com/community/theanchoress/ said the diversity of Catholicism runs into challenges when exposed to the limitless boundaries of the blogosphere, a reference to the often mean-spirited jabs that can sometimes define online debates about faith. She called for greater sense of charity among bloggers to keep the debate civil.

“Let’s face it, when the ego is ignited and the passions are galloping, we all too easily ignore our own better angels and sacrifice charity for the satisfaction of what we consider a good jab at someone who got it wrong,” she said.

The Rev. Roderick Vonhogen, a Dutch blogger and CEO of the http://sqpn.com site, said blogging for Catholic priests was a great way to spread the faith to people who aren’t necessarily looking for it. He says it can be even more effective than sitting in his remote parish celebrating Mass for 200 because he can reach 40,000 people around the world.

“If we just do what we do in our churches, behind closed doors, we will have empty buildings by the end of the day,” he said.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, the No. 2 in the Vatican’s social communications office, said the idea of bringing together a cross-section of bloggers had been kicking around the Vatican for some time, but that the occasion of John Paul’s beatification Sunday seemed like the logical time to do it since many bloggers were going to be in Rome anyway.

“It’s very much a first step, to meet with, to hear their concerns, to try to talk about some of the things we’re doing and see if people want to take it further, or how they think it might be helpful to take the discussion further,” Tighe said in a recent interview.

He stressed that the Vatican wasn’t interested in trying to organize or police the Catholic blogosphere, which has its own fair share of extremist views.

“I think we recognize that even if it were our agenda, it would be a very futile exercise,” Tighe said.

As befits the rapid-fire way news travels in the blogging community, the conference drew 750 requests from would-be participants from around the world. Tighe said only 150 were accepted because of space constraints, and that they were chosen by language groups and then by lottery.

Some of those who didn’t get in – many of them conservative or who write tradition-minded blogs –planned to attend an alternative summit scheduled for a Rome pub Tuesday, where organizers promised pizza and beer, and that “all the cool kids will be there.”

In Which Conditions Are the Armenians from Armenia Living in Turkey?

Many of us do not know about the whereabouts of the Armenians in Turkey, and the conditions under which they are living. Very few, following the news, may know that today, in Istanbul, Armenians from Armenia have migrated to Turkey, looking for work. Many have taken their families with them, which creates difficult conditions, where the parents will have to work and the children will have to go to school.
The Armenian citizens of Turkey, and the Armenian schools do their best to help the Armenian children learn the Armenian language, despite the restrictions in Turkey.

Below are few of the photos that we received from Mr. G. Orunöz. They are the photos of Armenian children, who are being reared as Armenian, learning the language, the history and the culture.