EASTER, THE RESURRECTION AND RECONCILIATION AMONG TWO PEOPLES – PASQUETTA IN ITALY: POPE FRANCIS WELCOMES 50,000 TEENS

EASTER, THE RESURRECTION AND RECONCILIATION AMONG TWO PEOPLES

It has been a truly wonderful, very special Easter this year in Rome! Huge numbers of tourists fill the city’s squares and restaurants and monuments and churches! After two years of Covid restrictions, for the first time since Easter 2019, there was the Good Friday Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at the Colosseum, and Easter Sunday Mass was once again celebrated in St. Peter’s Square!

The police estimated that 100,000 were present in and near St. Peter’s Square Sunday, including the thousands who filled Via della Conciliazione, almost down to Castel Sant’Angelo! Gorgeous weather has framed all events of this splendid Holy Week and Easter season!

Holy Saturday night, I had dinner at a restaurant, Pummarola, owned by a friend. Towards the end of my dinner, Salih sat down and we began talking and he asked a couple seated one table over where they were from. They said they were both students and very close friends and visiting from Israel: she was Ukrainian and he was Russian!

I was especially touched by their close friendship, given, of course, the current situation in Ukraine, invaded in February by Russia. We began a fascinating discussion and I only wished we’d met earlier in the evening, not just as we were paying our bills!

I could not help but think back to the previous night, to the Via Crucis at the Colosseum where the meditations and reflections were written by families – families with adopted children, a widow with two children, families who had lost a child, families hit by many hardships, families who wanted children and had none, families with special needs sons and daughters. Each family carried the cross at the specific station assigned to them.

The Vatican published all the reflections several days before Good Friday.

At the 13th Station – Jesus Dies on the Cross – two women, very good friends and colleagues at a Rome medical center – Albina from Russia and Irina from Ukraine – carried the cross. However, the reflections they wrote caused great concern among Ukrainians, and the first to express his disapproval of the written text, which focused on the women’s angst, their sorrow, their pain at the current war, was Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. He said “such an idea (is) untimely, ambiguous and such that it does not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.” He was not alone on his criticism of the Via Crucis text.

While the printed booklet, published online and carried by the faithful Friday at the Colosseum did carry the original text, as the event unfolded at the Colosseum, we learned that the prepared text, in a last minute change by the Vatican, was not read. Instead, a reader said: “In the face of death, silence is more eloquent than words. Let us therefore pause in prayerful silence and each one in his heart pray for peace in the world.”

The two women did carry the cross and exchanged knowing glances between them. It was quite an extraordinary moment for anyone following this story related to the 13th Station.

This was definitely a coin with two sides.

On the one side are those who agree that the Vatican did the right thing by not having the original text read, thus showing it shared the deep feelings of the Ukrainian people who daily watch their family members and friends die, see their homes and businesses destroyed and lose great numbers as people flee to neighboring countries, becoming refugees. They asked: how could the Vatican seem to equate aggressor and victim?

On the other hand are those who, like Pope Francis, sincerely believe that reconciliation is possible, healing is possible.

As Andrea Gagliarducci wrote in his Monday Vatican column: “Pope Francis wished the cross to be carried at the 13th station by two women, one Russian and one Ukrainian, who were already friends, to testify to the possibility of reconciliation between peoples. Pope Francis wanted to exemplify his ideal of social friendship outlined in Fratelli Tutti with this gesture. For him, it was a sign that peace is possible and that this peace comes from friendship among peoples.”

He wrote much more but this captured one side of that coin.

As I sat and spoke briefly with the couple seated at the table next to me, saw their friendship, but also saw how they also shared pain at the thought that the homeland of one of them had invaded the homeland of the other, I almost could see both sides of the coin.

Their friendship, as that of Irina and Albina, was not a question of “reconciliation between peoples.” They already had a deep friendship, irrespective of the war, and knew they’d have to work hard to maintain that, and to perhaps even become instruments of reconciliation among the peoples of their homeland.

All of this really makes one pause in prayer. Lord, what is the right ‘feeling,’ the right emotion, the right judgment at this time?

PASQUETTA IN ITALY: POPE FRANCIS WELCOMES 50,000 TEENS

As I write, it is Pasquetta – Little Easter – a big holiday in Italy and the Vatican. It’s also known as Monday of the Angel – the Angel, of course, who told Mary Magdalene and the disciples on that first Easter that the tomb was empty because “He is Risen!”

This is a day for families and friends to be together as the Easter break holidays end. Vatican employees are also enjoying the last of their six days off at Easter, starting Holy Thursday and ending tomorrow. However, I’m sure the people happiest to have a day to breathe after so many arduous Holy Week liturgies, are priests!

After preparing a segment for “At Home with Joy and Joy” today, I decided to go to Homebaked for lunch. Jesse and I saw big numbers of young people walking by on both sides of Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. There were many large groups of youth walking together who identified themselves by wearing identical T-shirts, scarves, hats or carrying signs that indicated who they were and from what diocese or parish.

After lunch I went to a nearby bus stop to catch a bus for an errand I wanted to run (some but not all stores are open on such a holiday). After 35 minutes and no bus, I decided no errand was worth the wait, but I had to say I was totally amused during the wait simply by watching the happy, smiling, singing Italian teens make their way to St. Peter’s Square for their meeting at 6 pm today with Pope Francis. And I heard several languages other than Italian!

I know that between 50 and 100 youth walked by each minute of the 35 that I waited. About 50,000 are expected at the encounter with the Holy Father, according to the Vatican.

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The theme of this joyful Easter encounter, promoted by the National Service for Youth of the Italian Episcopal Conference, is “Follow Me.” The teens are being led by bishops, priests, men and women religious, by educators and by leaders of associations, movements, communities and groups such as scouts.

CARDINAL PAROLIN CALLS FOR END TO FIGHTING IN CALL WITH RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV – LENTEN SERMONS FOR ROMAN CURIA SET FOR MARCH, APRIL

There’s an interesting line in the story today about Cardinal Parolin’s phone conversation with Russia’s foreign minister: “Minister Lavrov’s entourage explained that the minister informed Cardinal Parolin “about Russian motivation regarding the causes and objectives of the special military operation conducted in Ukraine.”

Wouldn’t you love to know Russia’s “motivation and causes” of its invasion of Ukraine!

CARDINAL PAROLIN CALLS FOR END TO FIGHTING IN CALL WITH RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone on Tuesday. Cardinal Parolin reiterated the Pope’s appeal for peace and offered the Holy See’s availability for any type of mediation.

By Vatican News

Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone on Tuesday. Cardinal Parolin reiterated Pope Francis’ repeated appeals for an end to the fighting. He also expressed the Holy See’s availability for any type of mediation deemed useful in order to promote peace.

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed that, “The cardinal conveyed Pope Francis’ deep concern for the ongoing war in Ukraine and reaffirmed what the Pope said last Sunday at the Angelus. In particular, he reiterated his call for an end to armed attacks, for humanitarian corridors to be secured for civilians and rescuers, and for negotiation instead of armed violence.” Concluding the phone call, Cardinal Parolin reaffirmed the Holy See’s willingness “to do everything possible to put itself at the service of this peace.”

News of the talks was also reported by the Interfax news agency, citing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. “The parties expressed hope that the next round of talks between Moscow and Kyiv will take place soon and that an agreement will be reached on key issues” with the aim of ceasing hostilities, Russian sources said. Minister Lavrov’s entourage explained that the minister informed Cardinal Parolin “about Russian motivation regarding the causes and objectives of the special military operation conducted in Ukraine.”

During the Angelus last Sunday, Pope Francis had remarked that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine was not a military operation, but rather a war. The Foreign Ministry statement concludes, “Special emphasis was placed on humanitarian issues related to the conflict, including measures to protect civilians, the organization and implementation of humanitarian corridors, assistance to refugees.”

LENTEN SERMONS FOR ROMAN CURIA SET FOR MARCH, APRIL

The Holy See Press Office sent out a note today, stating that the 2022 Lenten sermons will be given on five consecutive Fridays (March 11, 18 and 25, and April 1 and 8) by Preacher of the Papal Household, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., on the theme “Take, Eat, This is my Body” (Matthew 26,26). They will take place at 9 am in the Paul VI Hall.

Invited to attend are the cardinals, archbishops, bishops and prelates of the Papal Household, employees of the Roman Curia and the vicariate of Rome, Superiors General or Procurators of Religious Orders belonging to the Cappella Pontificia and Seminaries and Colleges of Rome.

 

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES REPRESENTATIVES OF IRAQI CHURCHES – CARDINAL PAROLIN: “HOLY SEE READY TO FACILITATE NEGOTIATONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE” – WE WILL NOT ABANDON THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE

I wrote a Ukrainian friend of mine two days ago, a journalist I met when we were covering Pope Benedict’s trip to Lebanon in 2012, to assure him of my prayers for his people and country. He no longer lives in Ukraine but does have family and friends there and he wrote: “Thank you very much for your support. Everything you see on TV is true. We are on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe and really hope that the world community will react ASAP and help us to stop this war. Please, stay with Ukraine!!!”

I am hearing wonderful stories of how the Polish people are welcoming the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees arriving in their country, mostly women and young children older males as able-bodied men aged 18 to 60 must remain in Ukraine.

One Polish journalist who covers the Vatican posted this today: “I am in Poland, where there is a great mobilization. Without divisions: political, ideological, historical. The Poles help everyone who arrives at the border (pretty (much) women and children). Everyone who has a little space, a bed in the house, even in the small apartment where he lives, invites a family, a refugee. There are many priests who, during Sunday masses in small and large parishes, invited them to give this help. For these faithful it would be very encouraging to hear a fraze (sic) of appreciation from the Vatican. Even if they are sometimes believers and sometimes non-believers. Here is the Fraternity, not only in faith but in humanism “

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES REPRESENTATIVES OF IRAQI CHURCHES

Meeting a delegation of Iraqi Church religious leaders on Monday, Pope Francis encouraged the local Christian communities to continue promoting dialogue so as to build fraternity and counteract extremism and fundamentalism. They were visiting Rome on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Apostolic Journey to the country in March 2021.

By Lisa Zengarini (vaticannews)

Courageous witnesses of the Gospel

In his address to the delegatio , the Holy Father recalled that Iraq is the cradle of civilization and of Christianity, remarking that it has also been a land of exiles since biblical times. Referring to the tragic events of these recent years, he expressed his deep gratitude to the Christian communities of Iraq for their “courageous witnesses of fidelity to the Gospel” amid persecution.

“I bow before the suffering and martyrdom of those who have preserved the faith, even at the cost of their lives. Just as the blood of Christ, shed out of love, brought reconciliation and made the Church flourish, may the blood of these many martyrs of our time, belonging to different traditions but united in the same sacrifice, be a seed of unity among Christians and a sign of a new springtime of faith.” Pope Francis receives representatives of Iraqi Churches – Vatican News

CARDINAL PAROLIN: “HOLY SEE READY TO FACILITATE NEGOTIATONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE”

The Cardinal Secretary of State speaks with Italian journalists: “To widen the conflict would be a gigantic catastrophe.”

By Vatican News

Cardinal Pietro Parolin warned that the spread of the Ukrainian conflict into the rest of Europe would be a “gigantic catastrophe,” whose prospect makes one shudder. The Vatican Secretary of State made the remarks in an interview with four Italian newspapers (Il Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa and Il Messaggero).

He called for the avoidance of any military escalation, an end to the violence, and the opening of peace talks, insisting, “it is never too late” for negotiation. He said the Holy See is “ready to facilitate negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.”

The cardinal addressed the possibility of the conflict spreading to other European countries in view of the decision by western nations to send weapons to Ukraine. “I don’t even dare think about it,” he said. “It would be a catastrophe of gigantic proportions, even if, unfortunately, it is not an outcome that can be completely excluded.” He took note of statements “in recent days that have evoked the incidents that preceded and provoked the Second World War,” saying, “These references make one shudder.” Parolin calls for escalation to end and negotiations to begin – Vatican News

WE WILL NOT ABANDON THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE

In the wake of the Russian invasion, many Ukrainians feel abandoned. But as the war continues, there has also been an eruption of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, from Europe and around the world. The Pope has called for a day dedicated to closeness with the suffering of the Ukrainian people: “God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence!”

By Sergio Centofanti

Many Ukrainians have felt abandoned in these dramatic days. They do not want to hear about the “price of gas,” because they feel they’ve been sold out. They know that an external intervention could trigger a much bigger conflict, devastating for the world. Belarusian President Lukashenko has even said that sanctions could push Putin towards nuclear war – a scenario we would not even want to think about.

But in the face of the Russian attack and nightmarish threats, solidarity is growing. The invasion of a free country has united Europe as never before. Europe, so divided on so many issues, has never been as united as it is today: it stands by the Ukrainian people. Neighbouring countries have opened their borders to the refugees: Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia have opened their arms. Other countries are ready to host those forced to flee. Demonstrations and initiatives for peace and solidarity with Ukraine are taking place in Europe and on other continents. We will not abandon the Ukrainian people – Vatican News

POPE TO CELEBRATE MASS FOR MIGRANTS, REFUGEES JULY 8 – POPE TO CANONIZE CARDINAL NEWMAN AND FOUR OTHERS OCTOBER 13 – MOSCOW ARCHBISHOP: POPE-PUTIN MEETING A QUEST FOR DIALOGUE, PEACE

Three important stories for today (supposedly the first day of a monthlong “working” vacation for Pope Francis). The big story today, however, is from the Apostolic Penitentiary and regards the seal of confession and I’m posting that in a separate column.

POPE TO CELEBRATE MASS FOR MIGRANTS, REFUGEES JULY 8

From Holy See Press Office July 1: In memory of the 6th anniversary of his visit to Lampedusa, on Monday, 8 July, the Holy Father Pope Francis, will celebrate a Mass for Migrants, at 11:00, in St Peter’s Basilica. Around 250 people will participate in the celebration, among whom will be migrants, refugees and those who are dedicated to saving their lives. Taking part in the Mass, presided over by the Pope at the Altar of the Chair of St Peter, will be only those persons invited by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, to whom the Holy Father has entrusted the organization of the event.

While Vatican Media will provide a live broadcast of the Mass, the presence of the press in the Basilica is not anticipated. The Holy Father desires that the moment be as recollected as possible in the remembrance of how many have lost their lives fleeing war and misery, and so as to encourage those who strive day after day to sustain, accompany and welcome migrants and refugees.

POPE TO CANONIZE CARDINAL NEWMAN AND FOUR OTHERS OCTOBER 13

The Vatican announced the date of the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman along with four others on the second Sunday of October 2019.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

At a consistory of cardinals on Monday, July 1 Pope Francis formally approved Blessed John Henry Newman’s canonization along with that of Sister Mariam Thresia, Giuseppina Vannini, Dulce Lopes Pontes and Margarita Bays.

In February, the Pope signed a decree recognizing a second miracle attributed to Blessed John Henry Newman, the inexplicable healing of a woman with a “life-threatening pregnancy.”

Blessed John Henry Newman was one of the most prominent converts to Catholicism from Anglicanism of the 19th century. He was already an esteemed Anglican theologian when he founded the Oxford Movement to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots, before himself converting to the Catholic faith. He was renowned as a brilliant thinker and was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He died in Birmingham in 1890, aged 89, after founding the Birmingham Oratory (of St. Philip Neri).

MOSCOW ARCHBISHOP: POPE-PUTIN MEETING A QUEST FOR DIALOGUE, PEACE

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet Pope Francis in the Vatican on July 4. According to the Catholic Archbishop of Moscow Paolo Pezzi, issues such as dialogue, peace and the environment are likely to dominate the talks but he is not optimistic about a possible papal visit to Russia.

By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, Russia, is enthusiastic about the next meeting between Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for Thursday in the Vatican.

Dialogue, peace, common home
“Even though we are not aware of the program of the meeting, I can imagine that themes dear to the Holy Father such as peace and safeguarding our common home, are likely to be on the agenda of discussion,” the Italian-born archbishop told FM radio Radio Vaticana Italia.

The July 4 meeting will be the third between Pope Francis and Putin in the Vatican. They first met on November 25, 2013, and in less than two years they met again on June 10, 2015.

The Holy See and the Russian Federation re-established bilateral relations in 1990 and re-established full diplomatic relations in 2009.

While underscoring Russia’s importance in the quest for world peace, Arch. Pezzi noted the pope’s deep commitment to peace among peoples. What the Church expects from this third meeting between Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said, is to be able to continue to dialogue.

Even though the agenda of the upcoming meeting is unknown, the 58-year old archbishop hopes that issues very dear to Pope Francis, such as peace in the world and the defense of our common home, creation, will be on the table.

Commenting on the style of dialogue of the Holy Father, he said the Argentine pope wants to know about and listen a lot to the other while at the same time allowing himself to be questioned and be challenged by what he hears. At the same time, without being verbose, he prefers to go to the heart of the matter with gestures and few words.

Possible papal visit?
Even though everyone would greatly wish that Putin’s visit would result in a possible invitation for the Pope to visit Moscow, Archbishop Pezzi believes it is not likely. Even though it is the political power that formally invites the pope, most importantly it is the religious authority of the place that seeks to have the Pope as a guest.
“As it appears up till now,” the archbishop said, “there hasn’t been any official invitation from the part of the Russian Orthodox Church, the most important religious element of the country, and it is not likely the Russian president will invite the pope on his own without the backing of the Orthodox Church.

Catholic-Orthodox relations
Pope Francis and Putin are meeting this week amid improving relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The two leaders will be meeting for the first time since the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in 2016, regarded as a major step in healing the bitterness of the Great Schism of 1054 that split the followers of Christ into Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism.

With 165 million faithful out of some 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest in the Orthodox world.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, and Boris Yeltsin, the first president of post-Soviet Russia, had invited the late Pope St. John Paul II to visit Russia.
Pope Francis has made several trips to countries with predominantly Orthodox populations.

VISIT TO RUSSIA BY CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE PAROLIN

Pope Francis tweeted today: When we are feeling sad, when it feels like everything is going wrong, we should remember: “God loves me. God never abandons me”.

VISIT TO RUSSIA BY CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE PAROLIN

DAY ONE – MONDAY, AUGUST 21

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on Monday described the tone of his two-hour meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow,  as “very constructive”.

The cardinal is on a four-day visit to Russia during which he is scheduled to meet the Russian Patriarch Kirill and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday before holding talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday.

The website of the Moscow Patriarchate showed a picture of Parolin clasping hands with Hilarion and holding talks in a room decorated with Orthodox icons. It said the two men discussed “key topics of bilateral relations… in the context of the current international situation.”

Answering journalists’ questions after the Monday meeting, the Vatican Secretary of State said that a good part of the conversation touched on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine as well as on the Holy See’s concern for the situation in Venezuela.

The Russian news agency Tass highlighted the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See reportedly share the same position regarding “the need for a peaceful solution for the middle-eastern region and in particular for Syria” and that a return to normality in that country will be possible only after the total expulsion of IS militants from the occupied territories.”

Cardinal Parolin reportedly noted that Christians are beginning to return to the areas that have been taken back from the so-called Islamic State, but said that notwithstanding some positive developments, the general situation remains very difficult, especially from a humanitarian point of view.

DAY TWO – TUESDAY, AUGUST 22

(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov for talks on Tuesday, during which they discussed issues of international concern and agreed to visa-free diplomatic travel. (photo news.va)

During the press conference following their talks, the Holy See and the Russian Federation signed an Agreement waiving visa requirements for holders of diplomatic passports.

Cardinal Parolin and Foreign Minister Lavrov called this a sign of the two countries’ desire to continue to work together on bilateral relations and issues of international concern.

Cardinal Parolin said he raised questions regarding the Catholic Church’s life and activity in Russia with his counterpart.

He said difficulties remaining between the Vatican and Russia include “working residency permits for non-Russian personnel and the restitution of several churches necessary for the pastoral care of Catholics in the country.”

Christians in Middle East

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov evoked the need for solutions for Christians living in the Middle East.

“We need to find similar solutions that would provide proper balance between different ethnic and religious groups in Yemen, Libya, and Iraq, where state building processes are underway,” Mr. Lavrov said.

Cardinal Parolin said he recognized the difference in approach between Russia and the Holy See on these issues. But he said the two share a “strong concern for the situation of Christians in several countries of the Middle East and the African continent”.

“The Holy See nourishes constant concern that religious liberty be preserved in all States and in all political situations,” Cardinal Parolin said.

Dialogue in Venezuela

Responding to a question about the situation in Venezuela, Cardinal Parolin said he believes Russia can help to overcome this very difficult moment.”

He said Russia can promote the Vatican’s efforts to create dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the opposition.

“This is the only solution the Holy See sees for an exit to this situation.”

Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday.

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.

barbara-jatta

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.”