PENTECOST: THE CHURCH, RECONCILED AND READY FOR MISSION

Pope Francis had an unusually busy weekend with two events on the Saturday May 30 vigil of Pentecost and three more on Pentecost Sunday.

The Saturday highlight was the rosary at the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens, transmitted throughout the world and in linkup with 50 Marian shrines. The Pope also sent a video message to CHARIS (Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service) on the eve of Pentecost. Francis warned that life after the pandemic will not be the same so we must take advantage of this opportunity to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. CHARIS was created by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in 2018 to foster unity and communication between the different Catholic charismatic realities. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-05/pope-francis-vide-message-charism-eve-of-pentecost.html

May 31, Pentecost Sunday and the feast of the Visitation, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair with a small number of faithful mpreent, shared a video message with “The Kingdom Come,” and recited the Regina Coeli for the first time from his study window with faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “Thy Kingdom Come” is an annual global ecumenical prayer movement promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that started in 2016. The Pope’s message contrasted God “infecting” the world with life at Pentecost with the “deadly virus” that has ravaged the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-05/pope-thy-kingdom-come-pentecost-archbishop-canterbury-welby.html

PENTECOST: THE CHURCH, RECONCILED AND READY FOR MISSION

It was a thrill today to be in a warm and sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square with perhaps 200 people for Pope Francis’ noon recitation of the Regina Coeli. After months of addressing the faithful via television and live streaming from the library of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father seemed delighted to be back at his study window that overlooks the square. And the faithful were overjoyed, too, and showed their enthusiasm with sustained applause.

Pentecost seemed like the ideal feast day to resume this more personal sharing of faith, reflections and prayer. Pentecost is considered the birth of the Church and today we were once again, in person, with the Successor to Peter. Many churches throughout the world were having their own kind of re-birth as doors opened, many for the first time in three months, to the faithful for Mass.

I posted a video on Facebook at the Regina Coeli and here are a few photos I took while in the square.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In his remarks before the Marian prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the missionary nature of the Church, recalling that Pentecost marks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. He said, “By forgiving and gathering His disciples around Him, Jesus makes them His Church: a community reconciled and ready for mission.” When Jesus said “Peace be with you,” he was forgiving those who had abandoned Him in his Passion.

After praying the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis noted that seven months ago concluded the Amazon Synod, and he invited the faithful to pray in silence for a moment that “the Holy Spirit might give light and strength to the Church and to society in the Amazon region, sorely tried by the [COVID-19] pandemic.”

The Pope prayed for the “the poorest and most defenseless” in the Amazon and other areas of the globe, saying, “I plead that they may not lack health care.” Then, in off the cuff remarks, Francis said that saving money by not providing health care is wrong: “Persons are more important than the economy. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. The economy is not!”

Those words generated great applause among the faithful in the square, including many nuns.

COVID-19: VATICAN URGES OSCE TO PROMOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMID RISING INTOLERANCE – THE CORONAVIRUS AND ITALY: SHORT TAKES

Things are moving very precipitously in Hong Kong and I am worried for all who live there, Catholic and not. The following is an excellent piece by UCAN staff and indicates the reasons why Catholics and the Church in Hong Kong are and should be worried, as we should be worried for these our brothers and sisters. https://www.ucanews.com/news/hong-kong-catholics-are-right-to-fear-beijings-henchmen/88189?fbclid=IwAR3jrncgy-8kkcCLNL2kIsZF8F00jVwMjnN96dDi9jAXuLPVirmYwP5HGMI

COVID-19: VATICAN URGES OSCE TO PROMOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMID RISING INTOLERANCE

The Holy See warns that religiously-motivated hate crimes are on the rise, as the Covid-19 pandemic increases intolerance and inequality.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk took part this week in an OSCE conference aimed at raising awareness about intolerance and discrimination. The Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe focused his remarks at the 25-26 May event on the impact that intolerance has on Christians.

The OSCE is an intergovernmental organization whose members include most countries of the Northern Hemisphere and is concerned with conflict prevention and crisis management.

Religious intolerance on the rise
Hate crimes against Christians and members of other religions, said Msgr. Urbańczyk, negatively impact the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. “These include threats, violent attacks, murders and profanation of churches and places of worship, cemeteries and other religious properties,” he said.

The Vatican representative expressed “great concern” about a divide between religious belief and religious practice.

“The false idea that religions could have a negative impact or represent a threat to the well-being of our societies is growing,” he warned.

Believers are frequently told that prayer and religious convictions are a private matter that have no place in the public sphere.

Discrimination in digital space
The Internet and social media, said Msgr. Urbańczyk, often become a place to put others down or incite hatred of cultural, national, and religious groups.

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the trend, since people are spending more time online during lockdowns.

Discrimination on social media, he noted, can lead to violence, the final step in a “slippery slope which starts with mockery and social intolerance.”

Dignity and unity
Msgr. Urbańczyk also urged OSCE member states to promote the inherent dignity of every person and the fundamental unity of the human race. He said these two principles form the basis of all truly democratic societies. National minorities, he added, should be free to profess and practice their religion.

Rising inequalities
Lockdowns to stem the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to rising inequalities and “de facto discriminatory treatment.” “Rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Msgr. Urbańczyk, “have been limited or derogated throughout the whole OSCE area.” These include the closure of churches and restrictions on religious services.

Tolerance and freedom
In response to these threats, the Holy See’s representative urged OSCE member states to promote both tolerance and fundamental freedoms, which include religious liberty.

“Tolerance,” said Msgr. Urbańczyk, “cannot be an alibi for denying or guaranteeing fundamental human rights.”

THE CORONAVIRUS AND ITALY: SHORT TAKES

ROME: PANTHEON TO LIVE STREAM ROSE PETAL CEREMONY: Thousands of rose petals will rain down into the Pantheon on 31 May 2020 but this year the event takes place behind closed doors. The spectacular tradition of rose petals fluttering down through the oculus of the Pantheon is scheduled on Sunday 31 May from 10.00 following Mass for the Feast of Pentecost. However, due to the covid-19 crisis, this year the annual tradition will take place behind closed doors for the first time, broadcast live from the Pantheon’s official website, beginning at 10.00. The ancient ceremony involves fire-fighters dropping tens of thousands of rose petals 43 metres into the interior of the Pantheon, symbolising the Holy Spirit’s descent to Earth. Hopefully we will be able to return to witness the fascinating spectacle in person next year but in the meantime we can be grateful to modern technology and watch from afar. For full details see Pantheon website.https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-pantheon-to-live-stream-rose-petal-ceremony.html

HERE’S HOW MUCH TOURISM ITALY CAN EXPECT TO GET THIS YEAR: Italy is hoping to restart tourism again from June, but how many visitors will actually come back this year? The Local spoke to the president of Italy’s National Tourism Agency to find out. Italy’s tourism sector, and its economy as a whole, has taken a major hit as visitors stay away this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Huge losses were reported as travellers cancelled their bookings even before Italy shut down in early March, when all but the most essential travel to Italy became impossible. The resulting economic hit to one of the world’s most-visited nations is profound. Tourism employs an estimated 4.2 million people in Italy – just under a fifth of the entire official workforce. The tourism sector accounts for 13 percent of Italian GDP. Up to 420 million people visited Italy annually in the past few years, and until the coronavirus outbreak, that figure was only expected to keep growing. With Italy now planning to restart tourism in June, many hope this will be enough to keep tourist businesses afloat. But will visitors return in the same numbers? And if so, when? Giorgio Palmucci, President of Italy’s National Tourism Agency (ENIT), told The Local that hundreds of thousands of people are already planning to return to Italy in the second half of 2020 – with Brits and Americans leading the charge. “At the moment there are 300,000 reservations, a provisional figure which we hope will keep growing,” he said. https://www.thelocal.it/20200526/heres-how-much-tourism-italy-c can-expect-to-get-this-year

ITALY’S FRECCE TRICOLORI JETS GO ON NATIONWIDE TOUR: Italy cancels Festa della Repubblica parade in Rome. Italy’s Frecce Tricolori fighter jets are conducting a nationwide tour ahead of the 74th anniversary of the nation’s proclamation as a republic on 2 June. The tour, which began on 25 May with Trento, Codogno, Milan, Turin and Aosta, will fly over all the Italian regions over the coming days, culminating in an aerobatic display in Rome on 2 June, Festa della Repubblica. To celebrate Italy’s national day the jets will fly over the capital as Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella places a wreath at the Altare della Patria in the centre of Rome. The tour, which sees the jets emit plumes of the green, white and red of the Italian tricolour, is designed as a symbolic embrace of all regions during the coronavirus emergency in a sign of “unity, solidarity and recovery.” https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/italys-frecce-tricolori-jets-go-on-nationwide-tour.html

AIR FRANCE-KLM GROUP TO RESUME FLIGHTS TO ITALY: Fiumicino, May 28 – The Air France-KLM Group will gradually resume links with Rome, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Naples and Bari from June 1, the group said Thursday. By the end of the month, 78 weekly flights will be operational by Air France and KLM to Italy, a statement said.  “Resuming flights to the Bel Paese is cause for great pride for us and confirms the importance of the Italian market for the Air France-KLM Group,” the statement said.

BOY, 18, GETS NEW LUNGS AFTER COVID-19 ‘BURNED’ HIS: May 28 – An 18-year-old Italian boy had a successful lung transplant 10 days ago after both of his were ‘burned’ by COVID-19, leaving him in a life-threatening condition, medical sources said Thursday. It is the first operation of its kind in Europe. The organs were rendered incapable of breathing in a few days, medical sources said. The operation was carried out at Milan’s Policlinico Hospital, under the coordination of the National Transplant Centre, with the regional transplant…Such an operation had only been tried before in some rare cases in China, while another one was carried out in Vienna a few days after the Milan one, which took place on May 18. The boy was put on an urgent waiting list on April 30 and less than two weeks ago suitable organs were found, donated by a person who died in another region, and who was negative for the coronavirus. centre and the northern Italy transplant program. The boy, who was named as Francesco, started suffering a fever on March 2 and on March 6 was taken into intensive care at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital. https://www.ansa.it/english/news/2020/05/28/boy-18-gets-new-lungs-after-covid-19-burned-his_c164e7c4-2e2b-41bb-8549-d96fbad9a10c.html

DAVID BACK ON SHOW JUNE 2: Florence, May 27 – Michelangelo’s David will be back on show on June 2 as Florence’s Accademia Gallery reopens after almost three months of lockdown, the gallery said Wednesday. The gallery will boast a new airing system while tickets will be discounted from 12 to eight euros, it said. Another novelty is the app The Right Distance, downloadable onto visitors’ smartphones, which will beep when they get too close to anyone else.

(Sources: Wanted in Rome, The Local, ANSA)

POPE FRANCIS TO RECITE PENTECOST REGINA COELI FROM STUDY WINDOW – POPE TO PRAY THE ROSARY WITH THE SHRINES OF THE WORLD – SHORT TAKES FROM VATICAN NEWS

I hope everyone had a meaningful and happy Memorial Day yesterday. It’s a day off for EWTN staff and, while I did not post my usual blog, I did a lot of other work-related projects. I admit that I yearned (dreamed!) all day long for a family-oriented bar-b-q around a pool and in a lovely garden, visiting with my nieces and nephews (and great nieces and nephews!) and catching up on family news. If you actually did something similar (with or without a pool), I’m sure you obeyed all the health protocols and managed to have a good time notwithstanding everything.

I actually went to dinner at La Vittoria! everyone had masks except clients. of course, as we eat. In the envelope on the table was a letter from my best friend in Hawaii and a special mask made by a friend of hers. One side depicts St. Damien who worked for years alongside victims of leprosy on Kalaupapa, Moloka’i and the other side, as you see, colorful crosses!  I might be the only person in Rome to have a Hawaiian mask!

oI

POPE FRANCIS TO RECITE PENTECOST REGINA COELI FROM STUDY WINDOW

This Sunday, May 31, Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Father will celebrate Holy Mass at 10 am in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Vatican Basilica, without the participation of the faithful.

At 12:00 noon, from the window of his private study, the Holy Father will resume the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. Law enforcement will ensure safe access to the square and will ensure that the faithful present can respect the necessary interpersonal distance.

POPE TO PRAY THE ROSARY WITH THE SHRINES OF THE WORLD

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has announced that Pope Francis is to join Marian shrines across the world, to pray to the Virgin Mary for help amidst the pandemic.

By Gabriella Ceraso (vaticannews)

“Devoted and with one accord to prayer, together with Mary (cf. Acts 1:14)”. On this theme Pope Francis will lead the recitation of the Rosary on Saturday May 30, joining the Marian Shrines of the world that, due to the health emergency, have had to interrupt their normal activities and pilgrimages.

The Pope will once again be close to humanity in prayer, to ask the Virgin Mary for help amid the pandemic. The prayer will be broadcast live to the world from the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens at 5:30pm Rome time.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization that is promoting the initiative, has given dozens of rosaries to families and individuals who represent the areas most involved and most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These include doctors and nurses, recovered patients and people who have suffered a loss, a hospital chaplain, a pharmacist and a journalist, a Civil Defence volunteer with his family and a family who welcomed their newest member into the world during this difficult time. They will all be present to express hope.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization writes that at the end of this Marian month, Pope Francis will place the sorrows of all humanity at the feet of our heavenly Mother, certain that she will not fail to help.

The largest sanctuaries of the five continents will be connected online. These include Lourdes, Fatima, Lujan, Milagro, Guadalupe, San Giovanni Rotondo and Pompeii.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, sent out a letter addressed to the rectors of the shrines to invite them to organise and promote this special moment of prayer in accordance with current health regulations and relevant time zones.

The appointment for the end of the Marion month is a further sign of closeness and consolation for all those who in various ways have been struck by the coronavirus in the certainty is that our heavenly mother will listen to all requests for protection.

A separate note from the Council stated: “The rosary decades will be recited by several men and women who will represent various categories of people particularly touched by the virus. There will be a doctor and a nurse for all of the sanitary personnel committed on the front lines of hospitals; a person who has been healed and another person who lost a family member for all of those representing all of those who have personally been touched by coronavirus; a priest, a hospital chaplain and a nun who is a nurse will represent all priests and consecrated persons close to those who have been so tried by the illness; a pharmacist and a journalist representing all persons who, even during the period of the pandemic, have continued to undertake their own work in favor of others; a volunteer from civil protection with their family representing all those who gave themselves to face this emergency and for the entire vast world of volunteerism; a young family to whom was born precisely in this time, a baby boy, a sign of hope and the victory of life over death.

SHORT TAKES FROM VATICAN NEWS

POPE RENEWS ECUMENICAL COMMITMENT ON ANNIVERSARY OF UT UNUM SINT
In a letter marking the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s landmark encyclical “Ut unum sint”, Pope Francis calls for a renewed commitment to ecumenism. Pope Francis has recalled the Church’s “irrevocable” commitment to the task of ecumenism on the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Ut unum sint.In a Letter addressed to Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Holy Father notes that Ut unum sint was published on the Solemnity of the Ascension, “under the sign of the Holy Spirit, the creator of unity in diversity”. It is in “that same liturgical and spiritual context”, the Pope says, that “we now commemorate it and propose it once more to the People of God”.https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-05/pope-renews-ecumenical-commitment-on-anniversary-of-ut-unum-sint.html

HOLY LAND: BASILICA OF THE NATIVITY REOPENS
The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem reopens its doors to the faithful limiting access to 50 people at a time. As restrictions due to Covid-19 begin to ease many countries are making their first tentative steps into the next phase of the pandemic. Churches that have been closed for physical worship are opening their doors to the faithful who are asked to observe a series of precautionary measures. In the Holy Land, Tuesday 26 May is the turn of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem where 50 people will be allowed inside at a time. This comes on the heels of the official reopening of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday, as announced by the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francis Patton, OFM, and the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Theophilus III and Nourhan Manougian. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-05/holy-land-churches-naivity-bethlehem-reopening-patton.html

PHILIPPINE NUNCIATURE WARNS AGAINST PERSON CLAIMING TO BE CLOSE TO POPE
The Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippine capital Manila has alerted the country’s bishops against a certain Cristian Eduardo Tietze who is falsely claiming to be close to Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Tietze introduces himself as president of the “Peace for Life Foundation”. In a May 22 circular letter to bishops and diocesan administrators, Father Marvin Mejia, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said that Monsignor Julien Kaboré, chargé d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila, has written to CBCP President, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, warning dioceses and religious communities against Tietze. Father Mejia warned that the person is “claiming to be close to the Holy Father and to the Holy See”.
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-05/philippines-nunciature-warns-bishops-false-claim-pope-francis.html

SEASON OF CREATION TO TAKE PLACE DURING SPECIAL LAUDATO SI’ YEAR
As the Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year gets underway, the secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development urges Catholics to take part in the annual Season of Creation. The Season of Creation is an annual ecumenical celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. It takes place from September 1 – the World Day of Prayer for Creation – to October 4 – the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Christians of all traditions are invited to take part by organizing prayer services, community litter clean-ups, or advocacy actions. This year’s event takes place within the context of the special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year that Pope Francis opened on Sunday, May 24. The Year coincides with the 5th anniversary of his encyclical. The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development launched a special invitation on Monday urging Catholics to take part in the Season of Creation. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-05/vatican-climate-season-of-creation-laudato-si.html

PENTECOST: THE CHURCH WAS BORN FROM THE FIRE OF GOD’S LOVE

Here’s something interesting from the Pro-Life Action League: “On Friday, June 28, small teams of pro-life volunteers will take up stations on highway overpasses in 50 cities throughout the United States for the second annual National Pro-Life Bridges Day. These volunteers will display banners declaring “Abortion takes a human life” to commuters in both directions of highway traffic during rush hour. Over one million highway commuters are expected to be reached with this pro-life message.”

PENTECOST: THE CHURCH WAS BORN FROM THE FIRE OF GOD’S LOVE

Thousands of pilgrims flocked to St. Peter’s Square Wednesday morning for the traditional weekly general audience held by Pope Francis. As is also customary at these audiences, people arrived very early to go through the long security lines. The audience today began at 9 am, a half hour earlier than usual, given the very hot temperatures of recent days.

The Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, noting that, “we now turn to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the Upper Room.”

He said that, “On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came, in fulfillment of Christ’s promise, accompanied by violent wind and tongues of fire. These signs evoke God’s majestic self-manifestation to Moses in the burning bush and the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.”

“The Church was thus born from the fire of God’s love and the power of his word,” exclaimed Francis. “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, immediately inaugurates the Church’s mission of evangelization, proclaiming the Risen Jesus before the crowds and calling them to faith and conversion.”

The Holy Father then described the Holy Spirit as “the creator of communion, the artist of reconciliation who knows how to remove barriers between Jews and Greeks, slaves and freedmen.”

He explained that the Holy Spirit “makes the Church grow by helping it to go beyond human limitations, sins and scandals. Only the Spirit of God has the power to humanize” and to create connections, “beginning with those who receive Him.”

Francis went on to say that, “the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost reveals that the heart of the new and eternal Covenant is no longer the written word of the Law, but the living presence of the Spirit, who renews all creation, dwells in our hearts, builds unity from diversity, and everywhere brings about reconciliation and communion.

“May the same Spirit,” he said in conclusion, “lead us to experience a new Pentecost and to become joyful and convincing witnesses to the Risen Christ in our world.”

(Click here to see video of Pope arriving in St. Peter’s Square and to listen to the catechesis: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/papal-audience/2019-06/video-pope-francis-general-audience-19-june-2019.html#play

PENTECOST, CHARISMATICS AND RED ROSE PETALS AT THE PANTHEON – POPE FRANCIS WISHES TO TRAVEL TO IRAQ IN 2020

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.