POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES TO ANKARA AND BERLIN FOR THE “MURDEROUS FOLLY OF TERRORISM” – CARDINAL MARX CALLS FOR UNITY AFTER BERLIN ATTACKS – A WOMAN TO HEAD VATICAN MUSEUMS FOR THE FIRST TIME

POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES TO BERLIN AND ANKARA FOR THE “MURDEROUS FOLLY OF TERRORISM”

Pope Francis has sent two messages of condolences today, one for the cold-blooded murder at an art exhibit in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, of Russia’s ambassador to that nation, and a second one for the victims of an alleged terror attack in a Berlin Christmas market.

berlin-flowers

The first message was sent in the Pope’s name by the Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation.

“His Holiness Pope Francis,” starts the Message, “was saddened to learn of the violent attack in Ankara, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Andrei Karlov.  His Holiness sends condolences to all who mourn his loss, and in a special way to the members of Ambassador Karlov’s family.  In commending his soul to Almighty God, Pope Francis assures you and all the people of the Russian Federation of his prayers and spiritual solidarity at this time.”

The ambassador was shot several times in the back by a man in a suit who was believed to be an-off duty police officer. Video of the incident shows Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, firing at least eight shots while shouting in Turkish: “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria.” Special forces killed him shortly afterwards.

Pope Francis also sent a telegram of condolences to Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, where the attacks occurred in an area dedicated to festive, traditional Christmas markets.

This message was also conveyed in the Holy Father’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. The Pope said he is praying for the dead and injured in Monday’s attack on a Christmas market in Germany’s capital city, and that he joins “all men and women of good will” who have committed themselves to efforts “so that the murderous folly of terrorism finds no more room in our world.”

Twelve persons were killed and scores of others wounded in the attack which occurred when a truck came careening into the crowd in what the Pope called, “the terrible act of violence.”

Francis also mentioned gratitude to all the first responders, including security and medical personnel.

CARDINAL MARX CALLS FOR UNITY AFTER BERLIN ATTACKS

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of both COMECE and the German Bishops’ Conference, expressed his compassion for the victims and called for unity after the December 19 act of violence against the Christmas market in Berlin:

“The news from Berlin deeply shocked me. The violence on the Christmas market is the opposite of what visitors were seeking. My compassion goes to the relatives of the dead and injured. For all of them I will pray.

“In these difficult hours for the city of Berlin and for our country, it is important for us to hold together and stand united as society.”

A WOMAN TO HEAD VATICAN MUSEUMS FOR THE FIRST TIME

Throughout his pontificate. Pope Francis has spoken of the importance of women in the Church, and the roles they can or should play. Today he made good on his words, at least in the realm of Vatican City State, and also made some history when he appointed Barbara Jatta as director of the Vatican Museums, effective January 1, 2017.

A brief biography published by the Vatican notes that she was born in Rome October 6, 1962 and previously held the position of vice-director of the Vatican Museums, appointed to that post in June 2016. She is married and has three children.

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She received her Liberal Arts degree in Letters from the ‘Sapienza’ University in Rome in 1986, a Diploma in Archives at the Vatican School of Paleography the following year, and a specialization in Art History in 1991.

Her background includes teaching courses in the History of Graphic Art since 1994 at the University of Naples, and work in the Vatican Apostolic Library from 1996 until 2010.

 

POPE FRANCES: DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE SIN AND THE SINNER – PAPAL APPEALS FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE AND ECUADOR – CARITAS ECUADOR REPORTS ON EARTHQUAKE DISASTER

POPE FRANCES: DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE SIN AND THE SINNER

At today’s general audience in a warm, sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis focused on the Gospel story of Jesus dining at the home of Simon the Pharisee, an stressed that “All of us are sinners, and so many times we fall into the temptation of hypocrisy, believing that we are better than the other.” However, he added “look at your sin, all of us need to look at our sins, our mistakes and look to the Lord,” because “this is the lifeline, the relationship between the sinner and the Lord.”

“Saint Luke’s account,” says the English language catechesis summary, “tells us that a woman known as a sinner came up to Jesus, bathed his feet in her tears and anointed them with precious perfume.  The Pharisee, judging by appearances, is taken aback that Jesus is not afraid of contact with sinners.” But, said the Pope, “The Lord distinguishes between the sin and the sinner.  He teaches Simon that the woman’s act, as an expression of faith and trust in God’s mercy has merited the forgiveness of her sins.”

APril 20 appeals

“The story of the sinful woman,” says the papal catechesis, reminds us that God’s mercy reaches out to everyone; it overcomes prejudice and surmounts all barriers.  Through faith in Christ, we too have received the forgiveness of our sins and the new life of grace.  Having experienced this mystery of redeeming love, may we grow in gratitude for so great a gift, and in turn become witnesses and channels of that love in our families, our communities and our world.”

PAPAL APPEALS FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE AND ECUADOR

After the catechesis in Italian and summaries in the traditional languages of French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish, greetings in two additional languages were added – Russian and Ukrainian.

A Russian-speaking prelate from the Secretariat of State, on behalf of the Pope, greeted “the faithful from the Russian Federation, especially the pilgrims from the Dioceses of St. Clement and Saratov, accompanied by Bishop Clemens Pickel. May the Lord bless you abundantly in this Year of Mercy, making you witnesses of his charity.”

In Ukrainian, another prelate read the papal greetings: “I greet the pilgrims from Ukraine and Belarus on the occasion of the international conference in this 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy. We renew our prayers for the victims of that disaster and express our recognition to the rescuers and helpers and for all initiatives that sought to alleviate the suffering and damage.”

Ag April 20

After greetings in Italian, the Holy Father renewed his previous appeals for the people of Ukraine, “long suffering as a consequence of the armed conflict that many have forgotten.” He recalled his recent invitation to the Church in Europe to support the initiative to alleviate this humanitarian emergency, and thanked all those who will participate in the extraordinary collection in European parishes on Sunday, April 24. In fact, during his April 3 Regina Coeli remarks, the Pope announced a special charity collection to support the people of Ukraine, telling the faithful it would be possible to contribute to the collection in all Catholic Churches in Europe on Sunday April 24, adding that, “this gesture of charity, beyond alleviating material suffering, expresses my personal closeness and the solidarity of the entire Church.”

Also during the audience: Speaking Spanish, Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the people of Ecuador who were struck this past weekend by a massive earthquake that has left over 500 people dead.

CARITAS ECUADOR REPORTS ON EARTHQUAKE DISASTER 

 (Sent from Caritas Internationalis, Vatican City) – Caritas Ecuador president, Msgr. Walter Heras, calls on Caritas around the world to support the current relief efforts in the aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the nation last Saturday.

The quake that left more than 2,500 injured and over 500 dead ripped apart cities and severed access to remote coastal towns. The death toll is expected to climb as rescue workers pick through the rubble. A state of emergency has been declared in six provinces and 10,000 troops and 3,500 police have been deployed to assist the most affected areas.

“Of most immediate concern is rescuing victims,” said Msgr. Heras. “The time when the earthquake took place was when most people were at home. There are a lot of people trapped and are awaiting rescue. We are also concerned about the most remote areas that are difficult to reach.”

“This was a province with many rural areas,” said Gabriela Andrade, Caritas Ecuador Communication Coordinator. “The most remote parishes were very affected. Many of them have no resources or basic services. They lack infrastructure.”

A united front made up of local and international Caritas agencies is needed to provide long term assistance as the communities move from recovery to rebuilding their devastated communities.

“In the emergency zones we are seeing people who have evacuated their homes and are sleeping in the streets,” said Andrade. “People need tents and inflatable boats because some of the affected areas cannot be reached as the roads are destroyed.”

Heavy rains were already showing a rise in cases of vector-borne diseases such as chikungunya and dengue. These are expected to rise along with other infectious diseases in the earthquake’s aftermath. Hygiene and sanitation are of utmost importance in the coming weeks.

While Caritas Ecuador joins national efforts to reach immediate needs of displaced and affected populations it plans on assisting communities long after the earthquake falls off the international radar.

“As a Church we accompany the affected,” said Msgr. Heras. “We see that all our sister organizations are added to our efforts in accompanying the people. After the initial shock people will remain depressed. They will need to rebuild … to move forward in their lives. These are people who have lost their businesses and their homes. They have lost everything. Caritas can help fill this void that remains in people.”

”We know that as a Church we are one entity,” Msgr. Heras said. “The Church never asks people to wait. We are hoping for the assistance of the Church and call on churches from around the world to assist us in our efforts. We need all of you. There is so much to do. We thank everyone who adds their support to this response.”