REFUGEE, MIGRANT TRAGEDIES CONTINUE. HUNDREDS DIE AT SEA – POPE TO JESUIT REFUGEE CENTER: “I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU INVITED ME IN” – SAY A FERVENT PRAYER FOR THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR….AND A PRAYER FOR NUNS WHO DIED IN EARTHQUAKE

PAPAL TWEETS:

April 18: We pray for the earthquake victims in Ecuador and Japan. May God and all our brothers and sisters give them help and support.

April 19: The royal road to peace is to see others not as enemies to be opposed but as brothers and sisters to be embraced.

REFUGEE, MIGRANT TRAGEDIES CONTINUE. HUNDREDS DIE AT SEA

Just two days after Pope Francis visited the Greek island of Lesbos to meet with refugees fleeing their native countries because of war, violence and poverty, hundreds more died in an attempt to reach the shores of Europe.

Hundreds of refugees are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe, one year after a similar tragedy, Italy’s president confirmed Monday. Italian President Sergio Mattarella said during a prize ceremony in Rome on Monday that Europe faced “yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean in which, it seems, several hundred people have died.” His comments are the first official remarks on a recent incident that had previously been denied by Italian authorities. Italy’s foreign minister also confirmed the tragedy on Monday but said that details were still scarce. (Washington Post)

Just over a week ago, over a period of four days, the Italy navy rescued as many as 6,000 migrants attempting a dangerous sea crossing to Europe. Italy should have more assistance from allies, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Friday. It estimates that more than 40 boats crammed with migrants, many fleeing wars in the Middle East and Africa, have been rescued as they struggled to reach the coasts of Sicily and Calabria. (photo: telegraph uk)

migrants telegraph

Syrian, Iraqi refugees arrive Lesbos:

syrian iraq migrants arrive lesbos

POPE TO JESUIT REFUGEE CENTER: “I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU INVITED ME IN”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday delivered a video message to the administration, staff, volunteers, and guests of the Centro Astalli, a welcome center for refugees in Rome, which is operated by the Society of Jesus through the Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy. The Centro Astalli is marking the 35th anniversary of its founding. Following is the Pope’s message to his Jesuit confreres:

Dear refugees, volunteers, workers and friends of the Centro Astalli,

During this year of Mercy, we’re marking the 35th anniversary of Jesuit Service for refugees in Italy, an activity that has been above all a walk together, as one people. And this is beautiful and just!

We must continue with courage: “I was a stranger and you invited me in” cfr Mt 25,35

I was a stranger… Each one of you refugees who knock on our doors has the face of God and is the body of Christ. Your experience of pain and hope reminds us that we are all strangers and pilgrims on this Earth, welcomed by someone with generosity and without any merit. Whosoever has fled his own land due to oppression, war, nature defaced by pollution and by desertification, or the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources, as you have, is a brother with whom we share bread, homes and life.

Too many times you have not been welcomed: forgive the closure and indifference of our society that fears the change in lifestyle and mentality that your presence asks for. Treated as a burden, a problem, a cost, instead you are a gift. You are the testament to how our gracious and merciful God can transform the pain and injustice that you suffer into a love for all. For, each one of you can be a bridge that unites distant peoples, which makes the meeting of different cultures and religions possible, a road to rediscover our common humanity.

…and you invited me in. I was a stranger and you invited me in. Yes, the Centro Astalli is a concrete, daily example of this welcome, born of the prophetic vision of Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ. It was his dying wish, [expressed] at a refugee center in Asia. Thanks to you all, women and men, lay and religious, workers and volunteers, because in fact you show that if we walk together we are less afraid. I encourage you to continue. 35 years is only the beginning of a journey that is ever more necessary, the only way for a reconciled co-existence. Always be witnesses of the beauty of this encounter. Help our society to listen to the voice of refugees.

Continue to walk with courage by their side, go with them and be guided by them: the refugees know the roads that lead to peace because they know the acrid odor of war.

SAY A FERVENT PRAYER FOR LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR….

(From the BECKET FUND) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, April 20, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. EST, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty will hold a press call to discuss the briefs being submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Little Sisters of the Poor case in Zubik v. Burwell. Both the Little Sisters of the Poor and the government will file briefs, due by 3:00 p.m. EST, in response to the supplemental briefs filed last week (Available here) to answer the Court’s question whether the government has other ways to distribute contraceptives without forcing the nuns to violate their faith.

Less than a week after the Supreme Court heard the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Court made an almost unprecedented move asking both sides to provide additional arguments about whether the government could find ways to distribute contraceptives without the involvement of religious non-profits and their health plans.

Currently the government exempts 1 in 3 Americans from this regulation. It also exempts large corporations such as Exxon, Visa and even the government’s own Military family plan. A total of 100 million Americans are exempt.

…AND FOR NUNS WHO DIED IN EARTHQUAKE

Six members of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, including a young nun from Northern Ireland, are among the dead in the strongest earthquake to strike Ecuador since 1979.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, 33, of Londonderry, died while leading children to safety in a school at Playa Prieta, where she was teaching the youngsters to play the guitar, according to the Spain-based order.

Her body was found under rubble April 18, about 36 hours after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the Pacific Coast region of the country. Five Ecuadorean postulants also died in the collapse.

The order identified them by their first names: Jazmina, Maria Augusta, Maira, Valeria and Catalina.

The six women were among at least 272 people who died in the massive earthquake that struck communities in the northern part of the country. Authorities reported that nearly 3,000 people were injured and that an unknown number of buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ relief and development agency, was partnering with local relief organizations to determine how best to respond in the communities most affected by the temblor. Water, food and emergency shelter are the biggest needs, the agency said on its website. (CNS)

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