TONGA CUT OFF FROM THE WORLD
Among the many news stories I have been following with great interest is the news from Tonga, in particular because I know Cardinal Soane Patita Mafi, archbishop of Tonga. We’ve corresponded and met several times since he was named a cardinal in 2015, including in Honolulu in the fall of 2017 for a Catholic conference at Hawaiì’s convention center at which we were both speakers. (Hawaii Catholic photo)
I wrote Cardinal Mafi yesterday but have no real hope of hearing from him or even thinking he got my email. I assured him of prayers, for one thing, and the prayers will re-double for all the inhabitants of Tonga until we get some updated news.
Tonga now has widespread areas covered in ash from the after effects of an underwater volcanic eruption and is cut off from the world because of the rupture in an undersea fiber-optic communications system. I read that the repair of Tonga’s critical 514-mile fibre-optic link to Fiji depends on the arrival of a specialized ship that is currently in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea.
There are so many tragedies in the world, both man-made and natural, that it is hard to know where to start praying. Today, put Tonga and its people on your list!
TOP VATICAN OFFICIALS, VACCINATED, HAVE COVID
The Vatican press office this morning announced that Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has Covid with “very light symptoms” and Abp. Peña Parra, his deputy or substitute, has Covid but is asymptomatic. Both are in quarantine.
Just recently stricter rules came into force in the Vatican to try and prevent the spread of Covid and the Omicron variant: Employees must be vaccinated to enter their offices and have documents – the famous Green Pass – proving vaccination or that they had Covid and recovered. They must also wear the FFP2 mask, now obligatory to enter most venues, travel on busses, trains and planes, etc. in Italy as well.
Un-vaccinated employees will be considered absent from work and will forfeit their salary until the meet Vatican requirements. Visitors to the Vatican must also show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid and must wear the FFP2 mask.
According to Edward Pentin, in an email to the National Catholic Register about exemptions from vaccination, “Cardinal Parolin said Vatican employees seeking to be exempt from the Vatican’s new vaccine mandate because they oppose the vaccine’s link to abortion ‘seems not to be justified’ as it was only tested rather than produced using the cell lines of aborted fetuses.”
He added that, “In Jan. 9 written comments to the Register, the Vatican Secretary of State said that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine administered at the Vatican does not use such ‘cell cultures’ in its composition or production but ‘only in the preliminary stages of vaccine testing in the laboratory. On the other hand, other vaccines (Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson) are actually produced from cell cultures that were donated about 40 years ago for scientific purposes.”
PAPAL AID TO PHILIPPINES AND MIGRANTS STRANDED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS
Pope Francis has sent €100,000 to the Philippines for the devastation wrought on vast parts of the island nation by typhoon Rai, according to a communiqué from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, responsible for disbursing the funds. United Nations sources say 8 million people in 11 regions have suffered extraordinary consequences.
Monies will be sent to the Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines, which has also received aid and financial support from many organizations such as Caritas, other Catholic charities and organizations and Episcopal conferences worldwide.
According to the dicastery communiqué, Pope Francis is also sending a contribution of €100,000 “in favor of groups of migrants stranded between Poland and Belarus and in aid of Caritas Polska to deal with the migratory emergency on the border of the two countries, due to the situation of conflict that has been going in for over 10 years.”