PENTECOST, CHARISMATICS AND RED ROSE PETALS AT THE PANTHEON
It was quite a joyful weekend in Rome! Tens of thousands of visitors and pilgrims for the Pentecost celebrations at the Vatican, including two papal MASSES, one on Saturday evening, the vigil of Pentecost and another Sunday morning. In addition to the huge crowds for those events – 50,000 at the vigil and 25,000 on Pentecost Sunday, hundreds more came to the Eternal City to mark the inauguration of CHARIS – Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service.
Under the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life – and willed by Pope Francis – this new service will “promote communion among the world’s Catholic charismatic communities and “highlight the importance of promoting the grace of baptism in the Spirit, activities for the unity of Christians, service to the needy and participation in the evangelizing mission of the Church.”
The result of a retreat weekend with students and theology professors at Duquesne University in 1967, Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement over the years grew, expanded and flourished and is now in 138 countries in the world, having touched millions of Catholic loves. The new organization, CHARIS, by the way, is not a governing organization but one in service to the renewal movement.
Also over the weekend was the traditional Pentecost shower of red rose petals from the “oculus” of the Pantheon, an extraordinary event that I have attended several times in recent years.
If you have ever been to the Pantheon, you know that its dome has a single, circular opening at the apex called the “oculus.” On Pentecost Sunday, after the 10:30 am Mass, tens of thousands of red rose petals are released into the church from the oculus by Roman firemen who have scaled the famous dome. Red, of course, is the color for Pentecost, and the petals bring us back to the first Pentecost when tongues of fire – the Holy Spirit – descended upon the Apostles.
Monday was a big news day at the Vatican: Pope Francis expressed his desire to travel to Iraq: he convened a 4-day meeting of papal representatives (ambassadors), and the Congregation for Catholic Education released its document “Male And Female He Created Them ” – Towards A Path Of Dialogue On The Question Of Gender Theory In Education.”
Here is a link to the Vaticannews story on this document. It contains a summary of the 57 points presented in 33 pages: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2019-06/vatican-document-on-gender-yes-to-dialogue-no-to-ideology.html
Dated Vatican City, February 2, 2019, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, it was signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect, and Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary. As I write there is no direct link to the entire document on the Vatican news page. If one is not given eventually, I will study the feasibility of publishing part of the document each day.
POPE FRANCIS WISHES TO TRAVEL TO IRAQ IN 2020
Receiving members of the 92nd Plenary Session of ROACO, the Reunion of Aid Agencies that provides aid to the Oriental Catholic Churches, Pope Francis reveals it is his wish to travel to Iraq in the coming year.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)
Pope Francis said on Monday he “thinks constantly of Iraq,” where he wishes to travel in the coming year.
He was addressing representatives of ROACO, the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches.
As he listed countries that fall within the Reunion’s reach and where the faithful continue to suffer – including Syria, Ukraine and the Holy Land – the Pope focused on Iraq.
He said he hopes it is able to build a peaceful future based on the “shared pursuit of the common good on the part of all elements of society, including the religious,” without falling back into “hostilities sparked by the simmering conflicts of the regional powers.”
Iraq’s small Christian population of several hundred thousand suffered persecution and hardship when so-called Islamic State took control of large swathes of the country, but have recovered freedoms since the jihadists were pushed out. The country is home to many different eastern rite churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. It would be a first ever apostolic visit to the nation.
Thanking the members of the ROACO committee, which unites funding agencies from various countries around the world for the sake of providing assistance in different areas of life to the clergy and to the faithful of the Oriental Churches, the Pope said ROACO “attends to the pleas of all those, who in these years have been robbed of hope.”
Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Holy Land
Reflecting briefly on the particular situations in some of the countries and regions ROACO reaches, the Pope expressed sorrow for “the dramatic situation in Syria and the dark clouds that seem to be gathering above it in some yet unstable areas, where the risk of an even greater humanitarian crisis remains high.”
“Nor,” he said, “do I forget Ukraine, in the hope that its people can know peace.”
Then he expressed his trust in a Holy Land initiative in which, he said, “the Christian communities of the status quo are working side-by-side” with the cooperation of local and international actors.
Migrants and refugees
Pope Francis also highlighted the plight of migrants and refugees saying, “We hear the plea of persons in flight, crowded on boats in search of hope, not knowing which ports will welcome them, in a Europe that opens its ports to ships that will load sophisticated and costly weapons capable of producing forms of destruction that do not spare even children.”
Hope and consolation
The Pope did not neglect to underscore voices of hope and consolation that he said “are the echoes of that tireless charitable outreach that has been made possible also thanks to each of you and the agencies that you represent.”
He said that by nourishing hope for the coming generations, we help young people “to grow in humanity, freed of forms of ideological colonization and with open hearts and minds.” He noted that this year, the young people of Ethiopia and Eritrea – following the greatly desired peace between the two countries – abandoned their weapons and are living in harmony.
The Pope concluded by asking those present to help him spread the message of fraternity contained in the Abu Dhabi Document and to continue to preserve those realities that, he said, have been practicing its message for many years now.