Today is Religious Freedom Day in the U.S. and, in the event you were not aware of this special day, here is a link that will explain it: http://www.religiousfreedomday.com/
There is a separate internal link for churches: http://www.religiousfreedomsunday.com/
I leave tomorrow for Washington D.C. where I will be able to participate in many inaugural events. I’m delighted to add that I’ll be staying on through the January 27th March for Life, the annual event that EWTN covers from gavel to gavel, so to speak. Perhaps I’ll even see some of you there! If you come to D.C. for that event, try to look me up – I’m hoping I’ll be near a microphone!
While in D.C. I will have some office space in which to work and will do my best to bring you news, photos, perhaps even some videos and Facebook Live postings. I do not know where my schedule will bring me but I do know my days will be filled with fascinating people and events!
POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR PLANE CRASH IN KYRGYZSTAN
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his condolences after a cargo plane crashed in a residential area outside Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The Turkish plane was flying from Hong Kong, and was scheduled to stop at Manas Airport, before continuing to Istanbul.
At least 37 people were killed in the crash, most of them on the ground. Over half the houses in the small village next to the airport were reported destroyed in the accident. (photo news.va)
Following is the telegram sent in Pope Francis’ name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin:
“Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic crash of a cargo plane near Bishkek, Pope Francis sends his condolences to all those who have lost loved ones, particularly in Manas, and commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of Almighty God. In praying for the search and rescue efforts, His Holiness invokes upon the nation the divine blessings of strength and consolation.”
BISHOPS VISIT HOLY LAND ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE
(Vatican Radio) The Holy Land Co-ordination, comprising bishops from across Europe, North America, and South Africa, is on its annual pilgrimage to the area with the aim of visiting and supporting the local Christian communities.
Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces in New Mexico, USA, is participating in the pilgrimage which runs from 14-19 of January. In an interview with Devin Watkins, Bishop Cantú said the Co-ordination’s theme this year is on the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine.
This is the third year that Bishop Cantú participates in the Holy Land pilgrimage.
“The settlements continue, and there are some small signs on the part of the Israelis that seem to show some good faith, but it’s one step forward and two or three steps backwards.”
But Bishop Cantú said the elements of good faith seem to be “disingenuous”.
He said the reality is “just a gradual taking-over of land and closing the possibility of a two-state solution. And that’s particularly what we’re concerned about: the dignity of persons, no matter their religion or their ethnicity, and their self-determination. That is a basic human right that is disrespected.”
Bishop Cantú noted that issue is complex and that the motivations for the settlements vary between families, “some are political, some are economic, some are religious”. “No matter what the motivations are, the Palestinian people are becoming a people without a land, and they are certainly people without rights.”
In conclusion, Bishop Cantú said that, as the group walked through the city of Hebron on Monday, “the tension is palpable…, and I can’t imagine having to live in this kind of tension”, which he said “day-in and day-out certainly weighs on the human spirit. So it allows us to enter into, a bit, the minds and the psyche of the Palestinians living under occupation.
(As Vatican Radio noted last year, Each year Bishops from around the world travel to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage to support the Christian community in the land of Jesus’ birth. Organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the annual Holy Land Coordination brings together Bishops from different countries, especially countries that have historically had an influence in the Holy Land. This year’s visit included Bishops from the Europe, North America, and South Africa.)
(You may remember that the Holy Land and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were among the topics discussed last Saturday by Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican.)