VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY – PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE-STRUCK TOWNS – COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?

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:

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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 –

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…and on the top of the group photo, wearing a gray scarf.

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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.

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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:

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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)

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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.

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VATICAN INSIDER VISITS PARADISUS DEI – JUBILEE DOORS IN THE HOLY LAND TO CLOSE DECEMBER 3 AND 9 – THE LITTLE KNOWN MARIAN SHRINE OF ANJARA IN JORDAN

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS PARADISUS DEI

My guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Steve Bollman, founder of Paradisus Dei, an amazing organization that helps families discover the superabundance of God within marriage and family life. Since its inception, Paradisus Dei has grown rapidly (largely by word of mouth), and has established itself as a large nationwide ministry. It has particular strengths in developing compelling programming and helping individuals discover the presence of God in the midst of communion.

As you will see on the organization’s website (https://www.paradisusdei.org/), during the Great Jubilee, Steve experienced a personal call to found a ministry dedicated to finding God within the context of marriage and family life. In 2001, he founded Paradisus Dei as a lay Catholic ministry and in 2002 he set aside his professional interests as an energy derivatives trader in Houston, TX to dedicate himself full time to the development of the ministry.

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As he was about to hold the first meeting at 6am on a weekday morning, he was told no one would show up. Except, 150 men came to the meeting. And it kept on growing. The growth has been amazing since then and today Paradisus Dei is in well over 500 parishes in the U.S.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

JUBILEE DOORS IN THE HOLY LAND TO CLOSE DECEMBER 3 AND 9

(Vatican Radio) Following the closure of the Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Doors in Jerusalem and Nazareth will be closed respectively on December 3 and 9, during Solemn Masses in the Church of All Nations and the Basilica of the Annunciation.

The Masses will be presided by Patriarchal Vicars Bishop William Shomali in Jerusalem, Bishop Giacinto Marcuzzo in Nazareth and by Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land.

The Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa spoke to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni of the meaning of the event in the Holy Land.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa points out that the Holy Door will also be closed in Anjara in Jordan that together with Getsemane and Nazareth are the three most significant Holy places in the Holy Land.

“The meaning is the same as it is all over the world: first of all to close the Jubilee Year but also to remind the community that the commitment to mercy for us Christians isn’t over, but must continue, especially here in the Holy Land where divisions and hatred are so evinent – mercy is the language that we Christians have to talk” he said.

Abp. Pizzaballa says that the Holy Year of Mercy has not had any visible effects at the macro level of politics and high level decisions, but he says at a ground level “with the people, in the communities, in the schools we have seen many initiatives of encounter and dialogue between Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims.”

THE LITTLE KNOWN MARIAN SHRINE OF ANJARA IN JORDAN

As I read the preceding article, I realized I knew nothing of Anjara and so looked up various sties about this shrine. Here is some information I culled from several web sites.

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Anjara is a biblical city in Jordan that is on most biblical tours of the nation and it is here that we find the shrine of Our Lady of the Mountain (sometimes written Mount). The church itself consists of a large hall to receive pilgrims who come venerate the life-size wooden statue of the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus that was placed in a newly built grotto.

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It is believed that Jesus Christ and his disciples, including the Virgin Mary, passed through Anjara and rested in a cave in the Ajloun mountains during a journey between Jerusalem and Galilee. The cave in Anjara has long been a holy place for pilgrims and has now been commemorated with a modern shrine, precisely, the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain. The cave was also designated by the Catholic Churches of the Middle East as one of the five pilgrimage sites (the others being Mount Nebo, Machaerus, Tell Mar Elias near Ajloun, and the Jordan River region at Bethany beyond the Jordan) in Jordan.

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Anjara, a little-visited archaeological site, is believed to be the birthplace of the prophet Elijah.

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Here’s a link to a great story in the National Catholic Register about this shrine – a shrine I now have placed on my list of places the visit the next time I am in Jordan: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/jordans-devotion-to-our-lady

 

THE NEW ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL: PART ONE – EXPO FUNDS CARITAS JORDAN PROJECT PROVIDING WORK FOR REFUGEES

THE LATEST PAPAL TWEETS:
May 9, 2016: Jesus, ascended into heaven, is now in the lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each one of us.

May 10, 2016: May today’s challenges become forces for unity to overcome our fears and build together a better future for Europe and the world.

After very memorable days in New York City, I am now in Washington, D.C. for some big events for my book, culminating this Sunday morning, starting at 10, with a book-signing at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

One of the highlights of my entire U.S. visit will take place tonight at a restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland where I will have a “class reunion” with a sizeable group of students to whom I taught French five decades ago! I was new as a teacher at 24 and they were 14 and 15, freshman and sophomores at the Academy of the Holy Names in Silver Spring, Md.

AHN no longer exists but there is a wesbite for alumnae, two of whom, Anne Quinn and Monica Knudsen, “discovered” me on EWTN two years ago, got in touch with my through Facebook and we had our own reunion in Rome in March. I did write about that and posted some photos.

Since that time we have stayed in touch and Anne has organized the dinner that will take place at the Positano restaurant in Bethesda. I’ve also been in the AHN Facebook page an been in touch with a lot of former students. I’ll take photos and share those with you right here! And maybe a few of me signing my books – we have a shipment just for AHN!

In the meantime, today I want to share some of the photos of the newly restored and stunning St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. And also a great story about Jordan and its aid to refugees and ties with the Vatican. Caritas is doing magnificent work in Jordan and I’ve been privileged to spend some quality time with them in Amman.

THE NEW ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL: PART ONE

I have to say that I was absolutely dazzled when I visited St. Patrick’s cathedral twice last week, not having seen it since its recent restoration. The beauty of every square inch of this massive church was beyond description – everything gleamed and glittered, the stained glass windows, after years of hiding their true colors, are now sublime, the statues beckon to you, as if coming to life.

Here, in Part One, are some of the photos I took during those two visits. I had taken photos in 2009 during Cardinal Dolan’s installation and will have to go back and review those pre-restoration pictures. In the meantime, click here to see ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the exterior! http://saintpatrickscathedral.org/restore-st-patricks-cathedral

This beautiful floral arrangement greeted me upon my arrival in New York and I was delightfully surprised to see they were a welcome gift from Cardinal Dolan, a longtime friend.
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Some FYI trivia (but not trivial!), interspersed by photos:

Including the St. Patrick’s Cathedral staff, the architecture team, the construction management team, the owner’s representatives and the Archdiocesan team, more than 200 people a day worked on this project.

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The Bronze Doors: Meticulously restored by G & L Popian, these 9, 200 pound doors had seen the wear and tear of more than 50 years of overlooking 5th Avenue. Walk out front now and see saints depicted on the fully-restored doors, shining for all to see.

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Narthex ceiling: When you walk in look up. Darkened by soot, pollution and years of heavy traffic, the ceiling had turned black in some places and the plaster had cracked. It shimmers and gleams majestically with the restoration.
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Exterior: Outside the Cathedral, check the spires as they now gleam as they first did when they were finished in 1888. Srones were cleaned and re-cut to return them to their original glory.

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St. Patrick’s mighty pipe organ has been refurbished and its roughly 9,000 pipes play in perfect tune. The interior pews, murals and religious statues have all been restored, as were all the stained glass windows that now allow much greater light to filter into the cathedral.
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Links to media stories about the restoration:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-restoration-of-st-patricks-cathedral/

EXPO FUNDS CARITAS JORDAN PROJECT PROVIDING WORK FOR REFUGEES

(Vatican Radio) A new project providing work for Iraqi refugees in Jordan will be inaugurated in the capital, Amman, on Thursday May 12th by the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’, Mgr Segundo Tejado Munoz.

The project will be funded by money raised by the Holy See’s pavilion at the Milan Expo which took place from May 1st to October 31st 2015. Pope Francis personally requested that the 150.000 dollars, collected through visitors’ donations, should go directly to the development scheme entitled ‘Promoting job opportunities for displaced Iraqis in Jordan’. Philippa Hitchen reports:

Caritas Jordan will oversee the launch of the project which guarantees a regular income for 15 Iraqi refugees and their families, employed in making preserves, as well as the production and sale of oil and vegetables.

A further 200 refugees will be offered professional training in carpentry, agriculture and food technology, while another 500 will be given temporary employment throughout the year.

After the first six months of funding by the initial donation, the project is expected to support itself through income from the sale of the produce.

The project was presented and approved by ‘Cor Unum’ as a direct response to the Pope’s desire to help the most vulnerable people suffering from the effects of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Jordan currently hosts around 130.000 Iraqi refugees and over 1.3 million Syrians who have fled from the fighting in their country – and those are just the numbers who’ve been registered by the United Nations.

The director of Caritas Jordan, Wael Suleiman, noted that despite the efforts of the local Church and of various government authorities, it remains extremely hard for refugees to find regular work.

VATICAN INSIDER: DANA SHAHIN PROFILES CARITAS JORDAN

VATICAN INSIDER: DANA SHAHIN PROFILES CARITAS JORDAN

Just a very brief “Joan’s Rome” today and a line to introduce you to this week’s guest on “Vatican Insider.” My special guest on the interveiw segment is a friend from the Middle East!  No Q&A this week but stay tuned after the news for my conversation in Rome with Dana Shahin, head of communications of Caritas Jordan. Dana is one dedicated and amazing young woman and we spoke during the recent Caritas International General Assembly. She’ll tell you about the general assembly in Rome, about Caritas’ specific work in Jordan and about Jordan’s King Abdullah.  You won’t want to miss a minute of this conversation, especially given the situation in the Middle East where Jordan is one of America’s best allies.

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https://www.facebook.com/devpeace/posts/10151550038895846

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

PAPAL ADVICE ON PREPARING FOR HOLY WEEK – PROLIFE VIGIL MARKS 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF “EVANGELIUM VITAE” – PATRIARCH INVITES PRESIDENT ABBAS TO VATICAN FOR PALESTINIAN CANONIZATIONS

If you want to visit a fascinating website in English about the Holy Land, go to  http://en.abouna.org/en/

Stories about the finding of Jesus’ home in Nazareth, an address to Arab women in the media by Jordanian Princess Basma, and religious tourism in Jordan are just of the few that will hold your interest.  Here are a few of the photos that are on the website today:

Religious tourism is image of Jordanian hospitality – Pope Francis at baptism site in the Jordan, with King Abdullah of Jordan and his wife, Queen Rania:

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Jordanian women in the Media:

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Jesus’ Home in Nazareth:

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Our Lady of Peace Center, Caritas welcome displaced Christian Iraqis:

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I have a ton of photos from the Peace Center as this was the very first place that Pope Benedict visited on his weeklong trip to the Holy Land in 2009 – and the first place I visited as well!  It was on that trip that I met Fr. Rifat Bader, director in Amman, Jordan, of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media and responsible for the en.abouna.org website. You have seen his photo and heard his voice several times on “Vatican Insider” when our paths have crossed over the years during my trips to the Holy Land.  We also met up in 2010 in Cyprus when Pope Benedict went there on a pilgrimage.

Here is Fr. Bader (R) with Fr. Lombardi of the Holy See Press Office at a briefing for the media in Amman during the 2009 papal trip.

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PAPAL ADVICE ON PREPARING FOR HOLY WEEK

(Vatican Radio) – In his homily Tuesday at Mass in the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis invited all Christians to accept God’s love without being critical and making objections.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day that speaks of how the children of Israel complained against God during their journey through the desert when they objected to the “wretched food” provided, the Pope pointed out that God offers us salvation in a thousand different ways but too often we are incapable of accepting his “divine ways.”

He said that in that Gospel passage the Lord sent in punishment saraph serpents which bit the people and many of them died. Thus, Moses prayed for the people and, obeying the Lord’s command, he mounted a bronze serpent on a pole giving salvation to anyone who looked at it after being bitten.

Only Moses’s intercession, and the symbol of the cross on which Christ will die, said the Pope, provides salvation from the poison of the snakes.

Describing the attitude of many Christians today as “spiritually whimsical,” Francis said that we often commit the same kind of error, “becoming sullen and grumbly.”

“How many of us Christians find ourselves ‘poisoned’ by the dissatisfactions of life. Yes: God is good but… We are Christians but… This kind of Christian ends up not opening his heart to God’s salvation, but always posing conditions. ‘Yes, I want to be saved but in this way…’ This attitude poisons the heart.”

Pope Francis said that to not accept God’s gift in the way it is offered is a sin. It poisons our soul, deprives it of joy. But Jesus, he said, solved this problem by climbing Mount Calvary.

“Jesus takes that poison upon himself. This ‘tepidness’ of ‘half-way’ Christians who show enthusiasm at the start of Jesus’ journey only to become dissatisfied on the way. The only way to heal is to look at the Cross, to look at God who takes upon himself our sins: my sin is there.”

How many Christians, concluded Pope Francis, today “die in the desert of their sorrow, grumbling and not accepting God’s way.”

“Let’s look at the serpent, at the poison, … the poison of all the sins in the world, and let us ask for the grace to accept difficult moments. To accept the divine way of salvation, to accept this ‘wretched food’ that the children of Israel lamented… Let’s accept the paths that the Lord leads us on. May this Holy Week that begins on Sunday help us to turn away from the temptation to become ‘Christians yes, but…’.”

PROLIFE VIGIL MARKS 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF “EVANGELIUM VITAE”

As I write, a great international celebration is underway in Saint Mary Major Basilica to mark the 20th anniversary of St. John Paul’s great Encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae.

The Pontifical Council for the Family, organizer of this event, announced in a communique that Salus Populi Romani, the icon of Mary so dear to Pope Francis and one that he visits prior to and after his international pilgrimages, will be the centerpiece of tonight’s vigil dedicated to life.

This vigil is intended particularly to give thanks for the abundant fruit produced by St. John Paul II during his life, priestly ministry and almost 27-year papacy, in addition to raising awareness of the benefits of prayer for life.

The vigil will have three successive parts: It begins at 5:00 pm with greetings by the principal celebrant, followed by a moment of reflection on some artistic features of the basilica connected with life. At 6:00 pm, an original Rosary will be recited, with focus on the contemplation of Gospel passages related to the theme of life and interspersed with short testimonies and reflections from invited guests. At 7:00 pm, Mass will be presided by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Archbishop Paglia has said that, “the anniversary of the Encyclical and this vigil commemorating it on the eve of the Annunciation are particularly significant, because they highlight the intimate connection between the mystery of life and the experience of the family, composed of suffering and sociability. Defending life means, then, participating in the alliance between God, man and woman.”

The evening will be marked by an international character because this anniversary will also be celebrated in other parts of the world. The Rosary will be recited and dedicated to life in the shrines of Fatima (6:30 pm), Lourdes and Guadalupe. There will also be celebrations in Nazareth.

PATRIARCH INVITES PRESIDENT ABBAS TO VATICAN FOR PALESTINIAN CANONIZATIONS

Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reports from Ramallah that the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, has invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to attend the May 17 Mass at the Vatican for the canonization of two Palestinians, Blessed Sister Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Blessed Sister Mariam of Jesus Crucified Bawardi.

Jordanian Fr. Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media in Amman and responsible for the abuna.org website, made the announcement on en.abouna.org. Patriarch Twal is Jordanian-born. “Abouna” means “father” in Arabic.

The invitation was addressed directly by the patriarch to President Abbas during the visit paid by a patriarchal delegation at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Sunday, March 22. During the talks, President Abbas thanked Patriarch Twal and praised the role carried out by the local Church at the service of society and the Palestinian people, especially in the field of education, welfare and health.

Blessed Mariam Bawardi was born in the village of Ibillin in Galilee, and founded the Carmel of Bethlehem. Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghattas was born in Jerusalem and helped to start the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary. Patriarch Twal has just published a pastoral Letter dedicated to the two sisters who will soon be proclaimed saints by the Church.