Here we are, the first weekend of December and the start of Advent – seems like just a few months ago we were putting away Christmas gifts, taking the tree down, etc.
This weekend the American Catholic community of St. Patrick’s celebrates its annual gala dinner for charity, the Saint Nicholas Serata. As I write, a big crew of dedicated and loving parishioners is at Marymount International School, hard at work to transform the student dining room into a ritzy, glittering holiday scene where lucky ticket holders will experience a gourmet meal, enjoy the strains of Christmas music and dance to a live band and then partake in a live auction, a silent auction and the drawing of raffle tickets.
The proceeds from the evening go to benefit six Roman charities – something we at St. Patrick’s (formerly the Santa Susanna Catholic American community) have done for decades. Here’s the website, by the way: https://www.stnicholasserata.org/
Friends and colleagues bought some raffle tickets and, late Saturday evening, we will know who won the iPhone 8Plus, a weekend for two in Venice and a weekend for two in Matera!
VATICAN INSIDER: THE JOB OF AN INTERN AT THE U.S. EMBASSY
I have two truly remarkable guests in the interview segment of Vatican Insider this weekend – Bridget Rickard and Bryant King! This summer they were interns in the political and economic section of the US embassy to the Holy See. One of their many tasks was preparing the Briefing Book for the incoming U.S. ambassador. Ambassador Gingrich is now in Rome and Bridget and Bryant were able to meet her in November when they returned to Rome to attend a Vatican sponsored conference on a world without nuclear weapons.
Bridget is a senior at Notre Dame and Bryant a senior at Georgetown. Listen to these two extraordinary young people – intelligent, articulate and passionate -, as they talk about their time in Rome and their dreams. This is a do-not-miss conversation. I am sure you will feel that, if their college peers were anywhere near as intelligent and well spoken as Bridget and Bryant, our nation’s future would be in very good hands!
In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) 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. 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 9:00am (ET). 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 YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=
POPE ASKS PARDON OF ROHINGYA AT ECUMENICAL MEETING
Pope Francis on Friday in Bangladesh did something he could not do in Myanmar – say the word Rohingya.
Sunday night Pope Francis left Rome for Myanmar and Bangladesh on his 21st apostolic journey abroad, arriving Monday in Yangon, Myanmar. This is the first ever papal visit to the nation, formerly known as Burma, which suffered over half a century of oppressive military rule until elections in 2015, won by the National League for Democracy. Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon, told Vatican Radio before the papal trip that in the past the country’s ruling party was made up exclusively of Burmese Buddhists, but now the party includes other ethnic groups, and “not only the Buddhists, but also the Christians and other religions. That’s big progress.”
There are 400,000 Catholics in Bangladesh out of a population of 163 million, while in Myanmar there are 700,000 Catholics in a population of 53 million.
Cardinal Bo told Pope Francis he should not to say Rohingya while in Myanmar: “It is a very contested term, and the military and government and the public would not like him to express it.”
The Rohingya are persecuted and stateless Muslims in western Myanmar who are — according to the United Nations, the United States and much of the global community – the victims of ethnic cleansing, mass murder and systematic rape at the hands of the Myanmar military and extremist monks. Pope Francis has in the past, denounced the “persecution of our Rohingya brothers, saying they were being “tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith.”
Looking back at the Holy Father’s three-day stay in Myanmar, a summary can be made of his speeches and homilies but the impact of his trip on political, military and religious leaders will only be told with the passage of time. Francis walked a fine and very delicate line as he addressed hot button issues in Myanmar, especially the plight of the Rohingya people, avoiding the word Rohingya but speaking to the bigger issue — the cycles of violence by ethnic militant groups and the Myanmar military.
On October 22 this year, the United Nations reported that an estimated 603,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 25, 2017. There are about 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Friday, the Holy Father put the Rohingya on the front page of the news. Here are the words (in my translation) that he spoke to a group of Rohingya refugees at the end of this afternoon’s inter-religious and ecumenical meeting at the home of the archbishop:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, all of us are close to you. And there is so little we can do because your tragedy is so great. But we can make room in our hearts. In the name of everyone, of those who persecute you, of those who have done harm, above all for the world’s indifference, I ask your pardon. Pardon! All of you have told me of the great heart of Bangladesh that has received you. Now I appeal to your great heart – may it be capable of giving pardon to those of us who ask.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Hebrew-Christian account of creation tells us that the Lord God created man in his image and likeness. All of us have this image. Even these brothers and sisters. They too are the image of the living God. A tradition in your religion says that God, in the beginning, took some salt and threw it in water and this was the soul of all men; and each of us carries within us a little of the divine salt. These brothers and sister carry within them the salt of God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, only let us show the world what the world’s egoism does with the image of God. Let us continue to do good to (these people), to help them; let us continue to move so that their rights are recognized. Let’s not close our hearts, let’s not look the other way. The presence of God today is also called Rohingya, May each of us give our own answer.
Two more photos from today in Bangladesh –