Pope Francis on Twitter today: The Christian heart is always full of joy. Always. Joy received as a gift and kept in order to be shared with everyone.
Shall we all try to share a moment of joy with one new person this weekend!
If you follow events in the Holy Land, having perhaps made several pilgrimages to Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon (yes, all are the Holy Land), there are two websites you really might want to visit to keep well informed on all that is happening in the area, especially vis-à-vis the Catholic Church.
The first is http://en.lpj.org/
The LPJ stands for Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and it is a fact-filled site with daily news stories (such as “Don’t Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Bishops Ask Secretary of State), videos, upcoming events, a look at the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (to which I belong) and information for visitors and pilgrims. You might already be familiar with this site: if not, it is a must-visit site if you love the Holy Land, or are simply curious to know more.
A second site will probably be less familiar: http://en.abouna.org/
The “en” in the site refers to the English version, as you probably guessed: the original is in Arabic (abouna.org). “Abouna” is Arabic for Father. A good friend of mine in Amman, Jordan, Fr. Rifat Bader, put this together a few years ago and he and his team (a fairly small one) are doing a great job. He is the founder and director of the Amman-based Catholic Center for Studies and Media.
Father is pointing at me – we are at the Beirut Airport in September 2012 for the arrival of Pope Benedict:
I saw a story here this morning (also on lpj.org) about the arrival in Amman today of another friend, Bishop William Shomali, as the new patriarchal vicar of Jordan (for the Latin Patriarchate). He succeeds Bishop Maroun Lahham whom I interviewed in 2014 on my trip to Jordan. When Bishop Shomali and I first met, he was rector of the Patriarchate seminary in Beit Sahour, not far from Bethlehem.. I had lunch with then-Father Shomali, the seminarians and staff just before they all left on Christmas vacation.
He is on the right on this photo –
…and on the top of the group photo, wearing a gray scarf.
VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY
My guest this week on “Vatican Insider” in the interview segment is Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. As I wrote last weekend on these pages, she was in Rome last week with Fr. Frank Pavone and I had interviewed her about their work at Priests for Life, the March for Life in DC, etc. She suggested that we do a separate interview about someone big in the prolife movement and a good friend to Janet and Father Frank who was in failing health – that is, Norma McCorvey, the Roe of Roe v Wade in the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.
It was Norma’s courageous decision later in life, to renounce abortion – the goal she had espoused as the plaintiff in Roe v Wade – and to denounce it as the deliberate killing of a human being in its mother’s womb that led her to spend successive decades trying to overturn the law she had been instrumental in creating – even though she never set foot in court.
Listen as Janet tells the inside story of Norma McCorvey who died one hour after we did our interview!
PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE- STRUCK TOWNS
(Vatican Radio) The Office of Papal Charities this week helped out the earthquake-hit regions of central Italy at the express wish of Pope Francis, buying typical food products from local producers and distributing it to several soup kitchens in Rome.
Central Italy was hit by a powerful 6.3 magnitude quake in August 2016, which killed nearly 300 people. Other earthquakes have since caused major damage to the area.
Farmers and merchants in the affected areas have since suffered a drastic reduction in their revenues.
A communique from the Office of Papal Charities said the organization selected “several groups of farmers and producers at risk of closure because of the damages provoked by the earthquake” from which to buy alimentary products.
Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, is standing on the right:
It said vendors were chosen in conjunction with Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, and Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.
“The Office of Papal Charities bought a large quantity of their products with the intention, expressed by the Holy Father, to help and encourage them in their activities. It is a gesture in line with the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who in his meetings has often said that ‘when a person does not earn their bread, their dignity is lost’”.
The food products bought in the name of the Pope were distributed to several soup kitchens in Rome to make meals for homeless people in need.
The Vatican supermarket currently sells products from the earthquake hit zones of central Italy, in an effort to help out the local economy.
COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?
(Vatican Radio) A bishop in Scotland has high hopes for his diocese as a new fundraising initiative was recently launched at his cathedral.
Bishop John Keenan is encouraging the faithful of the Diocese of Paisley to become ‘Friends’ of certain diocesan projects in a bid to combat a £3 million (€3.5 million) deficit. Bishop Keenan explained in a letter read out at all Masses in St Mirin’s Cathedral that the cause for the deficit is not surprising. “It is the same deadly combination of rising costs and falling income that you know all too well from your own home finances.” (photo: news.va)
The bishop emphasised that a change in culture is needed. In his letter, he tells the lay faithful that he would rather put his trust in his own people than in professional fundraisers. If his desire for a deficit-free diocese is to be realised, then annual savings worth £300,000 must be found. He added that the “bulk of our efforts to eradicate the deficit will come from fundraising.”
He has appointed Fr Oliver Freney, administrator of St Mirin’s Cathedral, as the new diocesan Director of Fundraising and has challenged him to raise £100,000 annually. He said that the ‘Friends Project’ will be the “heart and soul of his fundraising campaign.”
Fr Freney was joined by several young people from the diocese for the launch at St Mirin’s. His fellow priests will be launching it in their parishes over the coming weeks. He said after the launch: “If every member of our diocese signed up to give just £5 a year, we would be in surplus.” He added that he encourages parishioners to “think about our situation and give thoughtfully and generously.”
The diocesan treasurer attended the launch. Fr Stephen Bailey explained that the faithful could opt to become ‘Friends’ of particular projects like ‘vocations’, ‘education’ and ‘youth’. He added that Bishop Keenan wants to let people know how their money is being spent.
Bishop Keenan recently led the diocesan community through a synod, during which the important role of the lay faithful within the Church was highlighted.