POPE TO WASH FEET OF INMATES AT HOLY THURSDAY MASS – MEDUGORJE HAS MANY EXPRESSIONS OF FAITH, ALSO CHALLENGES – POPE SUPPORTS NONVIOLENCE CAMPAIGN IN CHICAGO DIOCESE

As I start this column, I have no idea if I will have Internet or not when I am ready to post. My home phone landline and Internet have been down for most of three days and that is why I was unable to post a column on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Obviously if the line goes down again, you will not be able to read this explanation!

My cell phone was my vehicle of communication for emails and for posting on Facebook. I was able to go to news.va and, for those stories I wanted to post, I simply hit “share” and it went to both Facebook and Twitter. I could access my blog but not that section that allows me to write, post photos, etc.

Unless I have previously stated a reason for not posting a column and you see a blank page in the future, it means Internet and phone lines are down. Many of us in this neighborhood who use Telecom for phone and Internet service suffered the same fate. What has been really strange is that everything worked in the morning but went down at the same time for 3 days running – between 2:30 and 2:35 pm!

Here are a few interesting stories for your edification. As you recall, when the Vatican published the Pope’s Holy Week schedule, I noted that nothing had been indicated for the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Well, today we got that news…..

Pope Francis issued an invitation at morning Mass at the Santa Marta residence:

“I invite you today to take five minutes, ten minutes, sitting, no radio, no TV; sit and think about your own story: the blessings and troubles, everything. Both grace and sin… I am sure that, in the midst of the things that may be bad – we all have them, many bad things in life – if today we do this, we will discover the beauty of God’s love, the beauty of His mercy, the beauty of hope. And I’m sure we all will be filled with joy.”

POPE TO WASH FEET OF INMATES AT HOLY THURSDAY MASS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will wash the feet of inmates at Paliano prison, south of Rome, during the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.

The Vatican announced on Thursday that the pope will travel to the penitentiary on the afternoon of April 13th for a private visit and the celebration of Mass marking Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on the day before his Crucifixion.

Pope Francis began the tradition of travelling to a prison for the traditional Last Supper Mass in March 2013, just a few days after the inauguration of his pontificate. On that occasion he travelled to Rome’s Casal del Marmo youth detention center where he included, for the first time, women and Muslims among the inmates whose feet he washed.

The following year, he celebrated the Last Supper Mass at Rome’s Don Gnocchi center for the disabled, again including women among those who had their feet washed in memory of Jesus’ gesture of humility and service.

In 2015 Pope Francis travelled to Rome’s Rebibbia prison for the Holy Thursday celebration, while last year he washed the feet of refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Coptic Orthodox men and women at a center for asylum seekers in Castelnuovo di Porto, just north of Rome.

MEDUGORJE HAS MANY EXPRESSIONS OF FAITH, ALSO CHALLENGES

Apr 5, 2017 / 12:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ envoy to Medjugorje said Wednesday that the site seems to be bearing numerous expressions of faith and vocations. However, he added, the final determination of the apparition’s authenticity remains to be seen.

Archbishop Henryk Hoser was sent by the Pope to evaluate the pastoral situation for residents and pilgrims in Medjugorje. He clarified that he was not tasked with anything beyond this scope.

“The same as you, I expect a final decision from the commission, and of course the Holy Father Pope Francis,” Archbishop Hoser said at an April 5 press conference in Medjugorje. “I do not know what the Holy Father thinks, he never told me,” he said. “The Holy Father also needs to see what are the conclusions of the commission.”

The apparitions are under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is to submit its final document to the Pope for a final decision. Read more here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/papal-envoy-sees-great-fruits-but-also-challenges-in-medjugorje-96900/

POPE SUPPORTS NONVIOLENCE CAMPAIGN IN CHICAGO DIOCESE

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, Blasé J. Cupich, in support of local efforts to promote nonviolence.

The Chicago Archdiocese launched a campaign on nonviolence on 4 April to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The event culminates with a march for peace on Good Friday.

In his letter, Pope Francis assured the people of Chicago of his support for the initiative and of his prayers for those who “have lost loved ones to violence”. He wrote that he will remember the city in prayer as he leads the Way of the Cross in Rome that same day. http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-sends-letter-to-cardinal-cupich-prays

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AT GENERAL AUDIENCE. FRANCIS SAYS IT IS “GRAVE SIN” TO REMOVE JOBS WITHOUT CLEAR REASON; HE GREETS EMOTIONAL CHINESE PILGRIMS – PAPAL ENVOY ASKS PRAYERS FOR HIS MISSION TO MEDJUGORJE

Pope Francis tweeted today: The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.

AT GENERAL AUDIENCE. FRANCIS SAYS IT IS “GRAVE SIN” TO REMOVE JOBS WITHOUT CLEAR REASON; HE GREETS EMOTIONAL CHINESE PILGRIMS

The Holy Father’s general audience catechesis in St. Peter’s Square today focused on hope, with a look at charity. After the catechesis in Italian and summaries in seven other languages, Pope Francis said, in off the cuff remarks: “Those who for economic reasons or to conclude unclear negotiations, close factories and business ventures and take away jobs, this person is committing a very grave sin.” The comments came after he had appealed for a resolution to a labor dispute at the satellite company, Sky Italia, whose Rome employees are facing job cuts and relocation Sky moves offices from Rome to Milan. The Holy Father called for a solution that respects the rights of all, “especially families.”

In a rather remarkable moment at the audience today, there was a very emotional encounter between the Pope, as he circled St. Peter’s Square in his jeep, and a small group of Chinese pilgrims where he stopped the car. Rome Reports carried video and explained how excited the Chinese were: A father and his son approached Pope Francis to ask for his blessing. The Pope kissed the little boy, who was in the arms of his father, who was crying and then knelt to kiss the ground. Others came forward, crying and filled with emotion, and asked him to bless their statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis embraced them, kissed them and gave them his blessing.

Chinese pilgrims wave flags as Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience, in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

PAPAL ENVOY ASKS PRAYERS FOR HIS MISSION TO MEDJUGORJE

(from Aleteia.org)

I wish to ask Aleteia readers to pray for the success of my mission in Medjugorje, for coming as close as possible to objective truth and for obtaining very good, concrete results, Archbishop Henryk Hoser tells our readers.

Pope Francis appointed the archbishop in February to be the Holy See’s special envoy to the site, where millions of pilgrims have visited since the apparitions were said to begin, in 1981.

The archbishop told Aleteia some of the details of his mission.

Konrad Sawicki: When will Your Excellency leave for Medjugorje?

Archbishop Hoser: I have recently heard that I am allegedly there and that I have been miraculously healed by the Holy Virgin Mary… Joking aside, my first visit to Medjugorje, an orientation one, will start at the end of March.

I will meet first with the Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Archbishop of Sarajevo. Then, naturally, I will meet with the local Bishop of Mostar and the Franciscan friars who work in the shrine. First of all, however, I will listen intently to different opinions and examine the local pastoral situation.

This will be Your Excellency’s first visit to the shrine. Yet this is not going to be Your Excellency’s first special mission, is it?

It is true I have never visited Medjugorje myself, but a lot of the faithful from my Diocese of Warsaw-Praga go there and I am well-familiar with their accounts.

It is also true that this is not going to be my first mission as a special envoy of the pope. I have so far held three such missions. Two apostolic visitations were short; I have spent two weeks in Togo and Benin, respectively. I looked into the questions of seminaries there. The third mission was long; I spent one and a half years in Rwanda immediately after the genocide. This experience gives me courage to embark on another visitation, to Medjugorje.

As to the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje and their authenticity, let us clarify the current situation for our readers.

In 2010 the Holy See appointed a special doctrinal commission led by His Eminence Cardinal Camillo Ruini. In 2014 the commission concluded its operation and submitted its conclusions to the Holy Father. He subsequently forwarded the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. To date, the Congregation has not adopted its final position.

Your Excellency’s mission concerns not only the apparitions themselves; it is pastoral in character. However, not everyone understands why a Polish archbishop received a special mission from Francis. One website announced that Your Excellency is to “examine the conflict concerning Marian apparitions.” 

The mission entrusted to me is auxiliary to what the doctrinal commission has accomplished. Every year the shrine is visited by 2 to 2.5 million pilgrims from across the world. It has become a charismatic place. The fact that Medjugorje is visited by so many faithful, who are no doubt spiritually enriched there, is something to be borne in mind.

A demand for pastoral care in this place is huge. Imagine – there are 50 confessionals on the premises. The problem is that often there are not enough confessors speaking different languages.

My mission, as has been stipulated in the communiqué released by the Holy See, is to closely examine the local pastoral situation, in particular the needs of the pilgrims. I am also supposed to indicate possible new pastoral initiatives. The underlying objective is to enhance pastoral outreach and to better coordinate local pastoral actions.

After the nomination of the special envoy and the publication of a letter by the local bishop, which contests the authenticity of the apparitions, many faithful around the world are concerned. Was their pilgrimage to no avail? Were their prayers untrue? – they ask. Could Your Excellency as a papal pastoral envoy explain the current situation to them and dispel their worries?

We should by no means worry! The Church has not yet spoken on the authenticity of the apparitions. We should calmly wait for the final position. This is by no means the first situation when the Church is slow to take a decision, especially given that the form of the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje significantly differs from that of earlier well-known apparitions.

Besides, this issue will not change anything in the teaching of the Church concerning Marian veneration. If Marian devotion has flourished in Medjugorje, if such multitudes arrive there, it is therefore a place where veneration will continue, since Our Lady can be venerated everywhere, especially in those locations where this veneration is so fruitful, as we hear it has been from so many testimonies.

The Holy Father is aware of it and therefore would like to examine not only the pastoral situation in Medjugorje, but also, if necessary, find methods of improving the pastoral care provided to the pilgrims in this place, so strongly dedicated to Our Lady.

Let me take this opportunity to greet Your Excellency on behalf of the editors and readers of Aleteia and wish you a complete and fast recovery. Would Your Excellency like to address our staff and readers?

I would like to ask the Aleteia readers to pray for the success of my mission in Medjugorje. I embark on this mission on behalf of the Church, entrusted to me by the Holy Father. I want this mission to come closest to objective truth and to produce very good and concrete results.

I am an emissary of the Church but the Church should pray for me, as She prayed at one time for St. Peter and St. Paul. After all, prayer is the driving force of our actions in the Church, both the tangible and the invisible ones.

Henryk Hoser, Bishop of the Diocese of Warsaw-Praga, was born in 1942 in Warsaw. A graduate of a university school of medicine, in 1968 he entered the Society of Catholic Apostolate (the Pallottines). Having obtained degrees in philosophy and theology and having been ordained to the priesthood, he left for Paris and then for a mission to Rwanda (1975–1996). In 1978 he established a Medical and Social Centre in Kigali and led it for 17 years. He also set up the Family Formation Center (Action Familiale). After the civil war in Rwanda, the Holy See appointed him apostolic visitor in Rwanda. In 2005 John Paul II appointed him archbishop and auxiliary secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Chairman of the Pontifical Missionary Works. In 2008 Benedict XVI named him Bishop of the Diocese of Warsaw-Praga. On 11 February 2017 Pope Francis nominated him a special envoy of the Holy See to Medjugorje. At the beginning of 2017 Archbishop Hoser revealed that he is suffering from malaria.

MORE ON MEDJUGORJE….

On January 18, 2014 the Holy See Press Office released this statement: ”The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, confirmed on Saturday that the international commission investigating the events in Medjugorje held its last meeting on January 17th. The commission, created by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. The commission has reportedly completed its work and will submit the outcomes of its study to the Congregation.” JFL: That commission was created in 2010 so the Vatican is indeed taking its time.

MORE ON MEDJUGORJE….

The following National Catholic Register piece by Edward Pentin is interesting for the simple reason that it does not deny the earlier story by a source in Croatia that the Pope will name an apostolic administrator for Medjugorje (here is the original story I put on my FB page https://www.total-croatia-news.com/item/12828-vatican-to-take-over-administration-of-medugorje¨):

“The Vatican has said reports that Pope Francis is to soon name a special administrator for Medjugorje are “premature”, but it is a hypothesis among others currently under consideration.

In a note to journalists today, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said “in recent days rumors have been circulating about the possible appointment of an apostolic administrator for the Medjugorje shrine”, one which would “report directly to the Holy See.”

Such a possibility is a “hypothetical subject for study among others,” Father Lombardi said, but added “there has still been no decision” about it “and so it is premature to speak of it as a direction already taken, or as an imminent decision”.

Over the past few days, reports in Croatian media have claimed that Pope Francis would soon appoint a special administrator of the Holy See for Medjugorje, possibly taking over in the next few months.

If it were to happen, some assume it would mean that Medjugorje would obtain the status of a shrine which would be managed by the Pope’s administrator, while the parish of Medjugorje and pastoral activities would remain in the hands of the Franciscans of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province.

“It would seem that the decision would be a win-win situation for everybody,” reported Total Croatia News. “Herzegovinian friars would lose a part of their autonomy in decision-making, but they will no longer have to deal with the local bishop because the Vatican would take over all responsibilities.”

“Medjugorje would become ‘extraterritorial’ in a way, which would mean the end of 35 years of problems in relations between local bishops and the Medjugorje phenomenon,” the article said. “On the other hand, the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno Ratko Perić can also be satisfied, because the authority of the Vatican would guarantee that there would be no deviations in Međugorje.”

In June last year, the Vatican said no decision had been taken regarding certain doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje following the conclusion of a three-year commission that investigated the Medjugorje phenomenon.

Father Lombardi said around that time that no decision was expected until after the summer of 2015, but gave no definitive timescale.

The latest announcement shows that the Pope is in no rush to issue a judgment on the authenticity of Medjugorje, based on the commission’s findings, but that various concrete solutions are being seriously considered.