Today was a very busy day for Pope Francis, and will only end when his 6 p.m. meeting with the Cursillos Movement (underway as I write) ends. A lot of news today so I offer the top stories in a more or less shortened form.
Tomorrow, May 1, feast of St. Joseph, is Labor Day in Italy and a huge holiday in both Italy and the Vatican. Pope Francis’ sole scheduled activity is a video link at noon with Expo Milan 2015 to participate in opening this 184-day long exposition on the theme: “Feeding the Planet, energy for life.” I’ll bring you that story and any other breakling news and will update you on this week’s “Vatican Insider.”
And now, on to the news:
IN BRIEF (MORE OR LESS)
POPE FRANCIS ON THURSDAY ADRESSED members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission – known as ARCIC – and told them the cause of unity is not an option undertaking. The 18 Anglican and Catholic members of the commission, known as ARCIC III, are holding their annual meeting this week outside Rome. ARCIC was founded after an historic meeting in 1966 between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury – the first since the Reformation and the Church of England’s breakaway from Rome. And thus the Anglican-Catholic dialogue was started. (photos: news.va)
The Pope said: “There is a strong bond that already unites us which goes beyond all divisions. It is the testimony of Christians from different Churches and traditions, victims of persecution and violence simply because of the faith they profess. And not only now, that there are many of them; I think also of the martyrs of Uganda, half Catholics and half Anglicans. The blood of these martyrs will nourish a new era of ecumenical commitment, a fervent desire to fulfil the last will and testament of the Lord: that all may be one. The witness by these our brothers and sisters demands that we live in harmony with the Gospel and that we strive with determination to fulfil the Lord’s will for his Church. Today the world urgently needs the common, joyful witness of Christians, from the defence of life and human dignity to the promotion of justice and peace.”
NEW COMMISSION INSTITUTED TO STUDY REFORM OF VATICAN COMMUNICATIONS (VIS) – During the April 13-15 meeting of the Council of Cardinals who assist the Holy Father in the governance of the universal Church and the reform of the Roman Curia, the final report of the committee charged with proposing a reform of Vatican communications, the so-called Vatican Media Committee (VMC), was examined. The C9 subsequently proposed to Pope Francis the institution of a commission to study this final report and to suggest feasible approaches to its implementation. The Pope accepted the proposal and, on April 23, instituted the commission and appointed its members. Commission chairman is Msgr. Dario Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Center.
Members are Paolo Nusiner, director general of “Avvenire” daily newspaper, Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican Internet Service, Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” and Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
POPE FRANCIS SENT A TELEGRAM of condolences to Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar for Rome, upon learning of the death Thursday at the age of 97 of Cardinal Giovanni Canestri. He was archbishop of Genoa, Italy from 1987 to 1995. Originally from the diocese of Alessandria, the late cardinal belonged to the clergy of Rome and was at one point an auxiliary bishop there. Francis wrote, in part: “The passing of the venerated cardinal elicits in my heart profound emotion and sincere admiration for an esteemed man of the Church who lived with humility and devotion his long and fruitful priesthood and episcopate in the service of the Gospel and of the souls entrusted to him.”
THURSDAY MORNING POPE FRANCIS WELCOMED TWO CATHOLIC ASSOCIATIONS, the Community of Christian Life in Italy and the Missionary League for Italian Students. He asked them – and Italian Catholics, through these organizations – to spread a culture of justice and peace, support families in difficulties and show solidarity with the world’s poorest and most needy. In fact, the two have come together to work on a joint project calling for greater support on the part of Europe in welcoming migrants from overseas and to help Christians in Syria.
THE POPE ALSO WELCOMED President James Alix Michel of the Republic of the Seychelles.
AT 6 P.M. THURSDAY IN THE PAUL VI HALL, the Pope met with members of the Cursillos in Christianity – Cursillos de Cristiandad (meaning “short course in Christianity”). Cursillos is an apostolic movement founded in Majorca, Spain by a group of lay people in 1944 seeking to refine a technique to train pilgrimage Christian leaders. The Cursillo focuses on showing Christian lay people how to become effective Christian leaders over the course of a three-day weekend. The weekend includes fifteen talks – known as “rollos” – some given by priests and some by lay people. The major emphasis of the weekend is to ask participants to take what they have learned back into the world, on what is known as the “fourth day.” The method stresses personal spiritual development, as accelerated by weekly group reunion (after the weekend). Cursillos always operates within a diocese with the permission and blessing of the bishop.
VATICAN PRESS CONFERENCE (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the concert organized to support the Pope’s charitable work. It will take place on May 14, solemnity of the Ascension, at 6 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall. The concert will be conducted by Maestro Daniel Oren and performed by the Philarmonic Orchestra of Salerno, Italy, together with the choir of the diocese of Rome led by Msgr. Marco Frisina. The event is sponsored by the Papal Almoner, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, and the St. Matthew Foundation, in memory of Cardinal Van-Thuan, and unites culture with charitable concerns. For the occasion, the donations gathered will be entirely donated to the office of the Apostolic Almoner, the dicastery responsible for the Pope’s charity. The evening’s protagonists are the most needy, the poor and the sick, who will occupy the front rows and have been invited through charitable and voluntary associations: the Great Priory of Rome and the Order of Malta, the Circle of St. Peter, diocesan Caritas, the Sant’Egidio Community and the Centro Astalli, which assists migrants and refugees, the Daughters of Charity and other associations present in the diocese of Rome.