POPE CALLS TERROR ATTACKS “CRUEL ABOMINATIONS,” LEADS PRAYERS FOR VICTIMS
As happens on the Wednesday of Holy Week, the Pope dedicated the general audience to the Paschal Triduum in this Holy Year of Mercy, noting how “we are invited in a special way to contemplate the revelation of God’s infinite mercy in the events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.”
“Holy Thursday,” said Francis, “Jesus gives himself to us as food and, in the washing of feet, teaches us the need to serve others. On Good Friday, in the mystery of Christ’s death on the cross, we contemplate that undying divine love which embraces all mankind and summons us in turn to love one another in the power of the Spirit. Holy Saturday, the day of God’s silence, invites us not only to solidarity with all who are abandoned and alone, but also to trust in that faithful love which turns death into life.”
During the weekly audience, Pope Francis spoke of the Brussels terrorist attacks and appealed “to all people of good will to unite in unanimous condemnation of these cruel abominations that are causing only death, terror and horror. I ask everyone to persevere in prayer and in asking the Lord in this Holy Week to comfort the afflicted hearts and convert the hearts of these people who are blinded by cruel fundamentalism.”
The Holy Father said he followed “with an aching heart the sad news of yesterday’s attacks in Brussels, which caused many victims and injured.” The toll stands at 31 dead and 270 injured and may rise.
At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis led thousands of people in silent prayer for the victims of the attacks at Brussels’ airport and in its metro.
“DO NOT FORGET TRAGEDY OF PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS”
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on people to “not forget the tragedy of persecution” in a letter sent Iraq Christians in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Erbil has been hosting thousands of Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, which was overrun by the so-called Islamic State in 2014.
The letter – along with a gift of liturgical vestments and monetary support – was brought to the city by a delegation of the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need, led by the Bishop of Carpi, Francesco Cavina. “As soon as the Holy Father learned about my journey with Aid to the Church in Need, he called me and expressed a desire to send a gift to our Iraqi brothers in faith,” Bishop Cavina said.
The letter sent by the Holy Father expressed his “friendship, Ecclesial communion, and spiritual closeness” to Iraqi Christians, adding their suffering “grieves me deeply, and invites us to defend the inalienable right of every person to freely profess their faith.”
Pope Francis also asked people “not to forget the tragedy of persecution,” and noted “the witness of courageous faith and patience of so many disciples of Christ represents for the entire Church a call to rediscover the fertile source of the Pascal Mystery from which we draw energy, strength, and light for a new humanism.”
“Mercy calls us to bend down to our brothers and sisters so we may dry their tears; cure their wounds, physical and moral; and console their hearts, which have been broken, and perhaps lost” – Pope Francis writes – “This is not only an appropriate act of charity, but a succour to your own body, because all Christians, by virtue of their common baptism, are ‘one’ in Christ. ”
The delegation from Aid to the Church in Need was scheduled to visit refugee centres in Kurdistan, as well as a school donated by the organization which is allowing seven-thousand Iraqi children to continue their studies.