POPE TO RECTORS OF SHRINES: KEEPING POPULAR PIETY ALIVE – THREE CHRISTMAS “GIFTS” FOR SYRIA

Here’s a great video of the little boy who interrupted the general audience yesterday – the little boy from Argentina who is mute: https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2018/nov/28/pope-francis-chuckles-as-boy-runs-around-swiss-guard-video

POPE TO RECTORS OF SHRINES: KEEPING POPULAR PIETY ALIVE

From November 27th to the 29th, at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University,the 1st International Conference for Rectors and Shrine Operators took place on the theme “The Shrine is open for the new evangelization.” At the end of the conference on Thursday morning, in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope received the participants of the conference.

Pope Francis encouraged shrine rectors and pastoral workers to make pilgrims feel “at home” and to help them enrich their popular piety.
By Seàn-Patrick Lovett (vaticannews)

A Shrine is a church, or other sacred place, which is visited by people who come as pilgrims to pray, or to seek grace and consolation. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such locations all over the world. And the tradition of visiting and praying at a Shrine is as old as the Church itself.

Shrines are irreplaceable
Reflecting on the contemporary importance of Shrines, the Pope described them as places where people gather “to express their faith in simplicity, and according to the various traditions that have been learned since childhood.” In this sense, he said, “Shrines are irreplaceable because they keep popular piety alive.”

Places of welcome
Shrines must always be places of welcome, said Pope Francis, and pilgrims must always be made to feel at home, “like a long-awaited family member who has finally arrived.” Many people visit a Shrine, said the Pope, because of its works of art, or because it is located in a beautiful natural environment. “When these people are welcomed,” he said, “they become more willing to open their hearts and let them be shaped by Grace.”

Places of prayer
Above all, said Pope Francis, the Shrine is a place of prayer. Most of our Shrines are dedicated to Our Lady: “Here the Virgin Mary opens the arms of her maternal love to listen to the prayer of each and every one”, he said. “Here she smiles, offering consolation. Here she sheds tears with those who weep… Here she becomes the companion on the road of every person who raises their eyes to her asking for grace, and certain of being heard.”

Places of reconciliation
No one visiting a Shrine should feel like a stranger, said the Pope, especially when they come weighed down by sin. “The Shrine is a privileged place to experience mercy that knows no boundaries,” he said. “When mercy is experienced, it becomes a form of real evangelization, because it transforms those who receive it into witnesses of mercy.” Praying in silence, or with pious formulas and gestures learned as a child, “each one must be helped to express themselves in personal prayer.”

It is this prayer, concluded Pope Francis, that makes Shrines such fruitful places “where popular piety is nourished and grows.”

THREE CHRISTMAS “GIFTS” FOR SYRIA

The Pontifical Foundation “Aid to the Church in Need” has launched their Christmas campaign: three new projects to help Christians remain in Syria.
By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

7 years and 552,000 deaths later, the war in Syria is still not over. As the country is being destroyed, the small Christian communities which, before the war broke out made up around 10% of the population, are trying to survive.

“Aid to the Church in Need” in Italy has launched their Christmas campaign. Three “gifts”, as an effort to help these Christians in th hope that Christianity does not disappear completely from the Middle East. The gifts tackle three difficult areas that have been affected by the war in Syria: Food, Sanitation and Education.

Food
The first involves the distribution of 1,725 food parcels to Christian families living in absolute poverty. 1,090 of these live in their own homes – though they have been severely damaged by the war. The remaining 635 families live without any roof over their heads.

Sanitation
The second project aims to help 700 people in Aleppo who are suffering medically. Due to the incessant warfare, the number of people in need of medical assistance, whether to tend to wounds or illnesses, is huge. The war has not only caused the illnesses and wounds, it has also destroyed over half of the health facilities that would have previously provided assistance. The war has caused poverty, and when poverty stops you from being able to feed your family, it also prevents you from being able to buy medicine.

Education
The third project is aimed at children, those who are suffering most from this war. The Pontifical foundation in Aleppo is providing the money necessary to rebuild and render functional a nursery, destroyed by bombs, that welcomes 15 autistic children. Here, Sisters from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, will be able to once again assist and love those who need them.

This Christmas, Aid to the Church in Need in Italy has found a way to make a difference for these Christians who are suffering as a consequence of others’ indifference.

YOU GOTTA LOVE HIM! – THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE “A GUIDE TO AN AUTHENTIC HUMAN LIFE” – POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO “MARTYRED LAND OF SYRIA”

YOU GOTTA LOVE HIM!

A young boy upstaged Pope Francis on Wednesday, escaping from his mother and running onto the papal podium at a general audience, tugging on the hand of a Swiss guardsman and playing behind the pontiff’s chair. (Reuters story and photo)


The boy’s mother briefly spoke to the pope as she tried to pull the child away, saying that he was mute. Pope Francis told her to let him carry on playing.

“This child cannot speak. He is mute. But he can communicate,” the pope told hundreds of pilgrims. “And he has something that got me thinking: he is free. Unruly … but he is free,” he added to laughter.

“Let’s ask the grace (of God) that he may speak.”

The mother told the pope that the family came from his native Argentina. As she left the stage, a smiling Francis leaned towards Archbishop Georg Gaenswein sitting next to him and whispered: “He is Argentinian. Undisciplined.”

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE “A GUIDE TO AN AUTHENTIC HUMAN LIFE”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis on the Ten Commandments during the Wednesday general audience, reflecting on them in the light of Christ.
“Dear brothers and sisters, “ he began. “In this, our final catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we reflect on how, in the light of Christ, the Decalogue should be seen not as a series of rules, but rather the guide to an authentic human life that comes to fulfilment in the love, joy and peace born of obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lord came not to abolish the Law but to fulfil it.”

Francis noted that, “the Holy Spirit, by enabling us to live a new life in Christ, takes away our hearts of flesh and opens them to the holy desire to abandon sin and to be conformed to Jesus’ own heart, his love and his desires.”

The Holy Father explained that, “the Ten Commandments invite us first to enter into a faithful and loving relationship with God our Father, to reject every false idol that enslaves us, and to find our authentic rest in the freedom of Christ and the Holy Spirit. They then teach us how to live redeemed lives, marked by fidelity, integrity and honesty towards our neighbor.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said, “the commandments show us the face of Christ and open the door to the new life of grace; by accepting God’s offer of saving love, we find our true selves and the source of a joy that will never end.”

POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO “MARTYRED LAND OF SYRIA”

Pope Francis sends a letter to the Franciscans stationed in Syria, saying the Church sees Jesus’ suffering in the trials and poverty of the Syrian people.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

In a letter sent to Franciscan friars in Syria, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the “martyred land of Syria.”

“I wish to share in your sufferings and tell you that I am close to you and to the Christian communities which are so tried by the pain experienced in their faith in Christ Jesus.”

The Pope’s letter was addressed to Fathers Hanna Jallouf and Louai Bsharat, OFM.
Pope Francis reflected on the great suffering, poverty, and pain that Jesus experiences in the Syrian people. “It is Jesus! This is a mystery. It is our Christian mystery. In you and in the inhabitants of our beloved Syria, we see Jesus suffering.”

Martyrdom
Pope Francis compared their sufferings to martyrdom. “Nothing more than martyrdom can mark the Christian’s way of participating in humanity’s salvation history.”

He said martyrs advance the Kingdom of God and “sow Christians for the future.”
Calling them “the true glory of the Church and our hope”, the Holy Father said the witness of martyrs is “a warning not to get lost even in the midst of the storm.”

“Not a few times the sea of life has a storm awaiting us, but out of the existential waves we receive an unexpected sign of salvation: Mary, the Mother of the Lord, looking in astonishment and silence at the innocent, crucified Son who fills life and salvation with meaning.”

Pain into hope
Pope Francis assured the Franciscan friars stationed in Syria that he remembers them constantly during Mass and prays that their “unspeakable pain” may be transformed into divine hope.

He then quoted Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”

Finally, Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary guard the Franciscans in Syria “under her Cloak of Grace” and that she intercede for them to receive “the gift of perseverance.”

IN BRIEF

Don’t forget to tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” on Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm ET. I bring some commentary or news from Rome each week to both shows. If you watch EWTN in Europe, the Monday shows airs on Tuesday at 10am and Wednesday at 6 pm. The Thursday show airs Friday at 10 and Saturday at 6 pm.

IN BRIEF

VATICAN WELCOMES THREE NEW SYRIAN FAMILIES. They have found shelter and welcome in the Vatican as part of an ongoing effort to provide the means and the tools for integration and a new life of hope for those fleeing conflict and persecution. All told, 13 people from two Christian families and one Muslim family have been able make their homes in three Vatican-owned apartments recently vacated by other refugees who have since moved on to more permanent situations. Two of the families fled violence and discrimination because of their Christian faith. They arrived in Italy in March. The refugees hosted in the Vatican have all been able to travel safely to Italy thanks to the “humanitarian corridor” project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldesian Table. (http://www.news.va/en/news/the-vatican-welcomes-new-refugee-families-from-syr)

POPE SAYS IT IS TIME TO END “WORSENING TRAGEDY OF CHILD trafficking and slavery. He said this in a Message sent Monday to a Vienna “Trafficking in Persons” conference. The Pope’s words came in a message read out by Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He was in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)’s “17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference.” In hisMessage, Pope Francis spoke about the goal of prevention: “It should be acknowledged that very little has been done to address the “why” of many young people being tricked or sold into trafficking and slavery.” He said, “Demand and supply, in turn, are deeply rooted in the three great issues of conflicts and wars, economic privation and natural disasters, or what the victims experience as extreme poverty, underdevelopment, exclusion, unemployment and lack of access to education.” Protection against human trafficking, the Pope said, begins with protection of the family. (http://www.news.va/en/news/popes-message-to-osce-human-trafficking-conference): Click here to read the full text of Pope Francis’ message to the OSCE Conference.

CARDINAL LEONARDO SANDRI URGES GENEROSITY FOR ANNUAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION. The cardinal, who heads the Congregation for Oriental Churches, called on Catholics to be generous in their supòport of projects in the Holy Land. In an interview with SIR, the news agency of the Italian Bishops Conference the cardinal talks about the importance of contributing to the upkeep of the sacred sites, while at the same time supporting the search for peace in the land where Jesus lived. Faced with the events that “take place in this troubled region of the world”, the cardinal says, there is a risk that we see them as unconnected to our own lives, “as if we had no responsibility.”  (http://www.news.va/en/news/card-sandri-on-good-friday-collection-for-the-holy)

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT THE WORK OF PRIESTS FOR LIFE – POPE ENDS RETREAT, THANKS RETREAT MASTER

Today, at the end of his retreat, Pope Francis tweeted:  Let us strive to fast during Lent with a smile, rather than a long face.

I wish I had a lot of time right now to tell the story of my amazing day but in a short while I will be going to Mass at St. Mary’s basilica, a celebration of the Eucharist I have come to love and look forward to every evening. I’ve not had too much time at the computer today but, if time allows after dinner, I’ll write something.

For now, just a brief bit of news on the return to the Vatican of Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia after their spiritual exercises in Ariccia. I saw some photos on news.va – the ones you see below – and I do have a comment (probably the same as you have) on the Pope and cardinals and bishops in the bus. They really do not look too happy. It made me re-read today’s papal tweet!

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT THE WORK OF PRIESTS FOR LIFE

Don’t forget to tune in to Vatican Insider this weekend when I speak with Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. You last heard Janet here when we spoke of the life and death of Norma McCorvey, famous for being Jane Roe of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal. Norma later dedicated her life to attempting to overturn that ruling.

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 ENDS RETREAT, THANKS RETREAT MASTER

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has thanked Fr. Giulio Michelini for directing the Spiritual Exercises from which the Holy Father returned on Friday.

Before returning to the Vatican, the Pope expressed his and the Roman Curia’s appreciation for Fr. Michelini’s preparation and direction.

“I would like to thank you for the good you wanted to do for us and the good you have done us. Above all, thank you for having shown yourself as you are and for being natural without ‘putting on a face from a holy card’.”

Pope Francis also thanked him for the work put into his preparation: “This implies responsibility, taking things seriously.”

“There was a mountain of things upon which to meditate, but St. Ignatius says that when one finds something in the Exercises something that gives consolation or desolation, one must stop there and not go forward. I’m sure all of us found one or two among all of this material. The rest is not wasted; it remains and will serve for another time.”

The Holy Father went on to tell the story of a famous Spanish preacher to show that “sometimes a little word, a tiny thing” can serve as a point of reflection.

“After giving a grand, well-prepared sermon, a man – a great public sinner – came up to him in tears, asking for confession. He confessed in an outburst of sin and tears, sin and tears. The confessor – shocked because he knew the life of this man – asked him: ‘But, tell me, in what moment did you feel that God had touched your heart? With what word…?’ [He responded,] ‘When you said, Let’s move to another topic’. Sometimes it is the simplest words that help us, or sometimes those more complicated: To each the Lord gives the [right] word.”

Finally, Pope Francis told Fr. Michelini: “Above all, I wish you [the grace] to be a good friar.”

The Holy Father returned to the Vatican Friday morning and celebrated Mass for Syria.

He also sent €100,000 to the poor of Aleppo, thanks to a contribution of the Roman Curia. The donation will be made by the Office of Papal Charities, the Elemosineria Apostolica (Apostolic Almoner).

On Friday evening, Pope Francis is set to travel to the Vicariate of Rome where he will meet with the prefects of the Diocese. The meeting, a normal part of the life of the local Church, will be strictly private.

POPE APPEALS TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT TO RESPECT HUMANITARIAN LAW – POPE FRANCIS TURNS 80 ON DECEMBER 17 – WHO IS THE PATRON SAINT OF TELEVISION .. AND WHY?

Papal tweet for December 13: Today I would like each of us to reflect on his and her own past and the gifts received from the Lord.

POPE APPEALS TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT TO RESPECT HUMANITARIAN LAW

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, through Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, appealing for “an end to the violence and the peaceful resolution of hostilities” in the country.

zenari

A communiqué from the Holy See Press Office released on Monday read as follows:

“In naming Archbishop Mario Zenari to the College of Cardinals, the Holy Father sought to show a particular sign of affection for the beloved Syrian people, so sorely tried in recent years.

“In a letter sent through the new Cardinal, Pope Francis expressed again his appeal to President Bashar al-Assad and to the international community for an end to the violence, and the peaceful resolution of hostilities, condemning all forms of extremism and terrorism from whatever quarter they may come, and appealing to the President to ensure that international humanitarian law is fully respected with regard to the protection of the civilians and access to humanitarian aid.”

I wonder if Pope Francis has seen this and similar stories appearing in news media today:

ALEPPO CIVILIANS KILLED IN ‘COMPLETE MELTDOWN OF HUMANITY’: U.N.

Dozens of civilians were killed by Syrian forces in “a complete meltdown of humanity” during the final battle for Aleppo, the U.N. said Tuesday amid separate reports that women and children were burned alive while some families chose suicide over surrender.

The U.N. human rights office said it received reports of pro-government forces killing at least 82 people as they tightened their grip on the shrinking rebel districts in the east of the city.

Rupert Colville, spokesman of the U.N. human rights office, said he feared retribution against thousands of civilians holed up in a “hellish corner” smaller than one square mile.

Complete story here: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/aleppos-children/aleppo-civilians-killed-complete-meltdown-humanity-u-n-n695286

POPE FRANCIS TURNS 80 ON DECEMBER 17

On Saturday, December 17, when he turns 80, Pope Francis will preside at a concelebrated Mass in the Pauline Chapel with the cardinals resident in Rome. The rest of the day will be a “normal” one for the Holy Father, a day filled with commitments and appointments, including receiving the president of the Republic of Malta, the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the bishop of Chur, Switzerland, and the Nomadelfia Community.

priests

Those wishing to send birthday wishes to the Holy Father, can email him at the following addresses:

Papafranciscus80@vatican.va (Latin)

PapaFrancesco80@vatican.va (Italian)

PapaFrancisco80@vatican.va (Spanish / Portuguese)

PopeFrancis80@vatican.va (English)

PapeFrancois80@vatican.va (French)

PapstFranziskus80@vatican.va (German)

PapiezFranciszek80@vatican.va (Polish)

A special hashtag has been created on Social media for the Pope’s birthday: #Pontifex80

WHO IS THE PATRON SAINT OF TELEVISION … AND WHY?

There’s a patron saint for practically everything in the Catholic Church, whether it’s gravediggers, stress relief, or protection against pirate attacks. But did you know there’s a patron saint for television – and she’s from the 13th century?

By the end of the 1950s, it was clear that television was becoming one of the most important new forms of media in modern society. And Pope Pius XII wanted to offer both the Church’s blessing and protection for the new technology. So, in 1958, he issued the document Apostolic Letter Proclaiming St. Clare Patron Saint of Television.

In it, the Pope proclaims that the Church supports technological innovation and advancement, and recommends the use of modern technology for the proclamation of the Gospel. He acknowledges that television is capable of both good and evil, which is why he wants it to have a patron saint for spiritual protection.

So he chose the 13th century St. Clare of Assisi, associate of the famous St. Francis of Assisi, and for a fascinating reason.

He tells the story that on one Christmas, St. Clare was sick and unable to leave her bed to attend Mass. Yet, miraculously, God gave her a vision of the Mass in her convent in real-time – sort of like a spiritual television. So she’s the perfect patron!

St. Clare of Assisi, please pray for the holy use of television and all media!

SAVE CHRISTIANS, SAVE CHRISTIANITY, SAVE SYRIA, SAYS ALEPPO BISHOP

SAVE CHRISTIANS, SAVE CHRISTIANITY, SAVE SYRIA, SAYS ALEPPO BISHOP

The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Bishop Antoine Audo, was present in Malmo, Sweden, for the one-day event with Catholics and Lutherans that marked the start of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Bishop Audo, who is head of Caritas Syria, addressed the gathering Monday and made a heartfelt appeal for his fellow Christians, for Christianity and for “our beloved Syria” in the presence of the Holy Father. Pope Francis arrived Sweden late Monday morning to join Lutherans in commemorating this anniversary.

bishop-audo

Bishop Audo began his touching, moving testimonial by telling the faithful that, “almost all of the hospitals have been destroyed and 80% of the doctors have left Aleppo. In Syria, 3 million children no longer go to school. Physical and moral exhaustion has touched everyone, especially the poorest and among them, children and adolescents and the elderly.”

The Chaldean prelate added that, “our greatest sadness is seeing the rich and marvelous Christianity of this land is disappearing. He appealed to “the Christians of the world, Muslims of the East and West and all people of good will: Do not allow our beloved Syria to be destroyed and fragmented.”

The bishop also announced that, “Become Christians Together” is the motto of Christian humanitarian work in Syria, adding that that work “is focusing on how serving Christ must include serving others, especially the poorest and most needy.”

Immediately after his testimony, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and President of the Lutheran World Federation, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, read in Arabic and in English a prayer for Syria and Iraq. “May the Lord of history  change hearts,” “may peace can be stabilized among nations on the basis of justice and human rights,” and “may the spirit of peace descend on the peoples of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.”

WE MUST “BE MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER” – URGENT PAPAL APPEAL FOR SYRIA

I leave tomorrow morning for Washington, D.C. to attend the wedding in nearby Maryland of one of the daughters of some very close and dear friends of mine. I rarely get to attend weddings, First Communions and other family events in the U.S. but was able to take advantage of this occasion for a few days.

In the meantime, I’ve been preparing segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy” in my absence and have also been putting together “Vatican Insider” for this coming weekend. In fact, I have prepared a special on the College of Cardinals that I hope you will enjoy.

If time allows I’ll put an update and/or photos on “Joan’s Rome” or on Facebook (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) while I am away. If not, “pazienza,” as the Italians say!

In the meantime, here are two links from announcements in Indianapolis and Chicago about two of the new U.S. cardinals announced Sunday by Pope Francis:

+Monday’s press conference from Indianapolis announcing Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR as Cardinal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw9wIiZMsCg

Link to statement of Archbishop Blase Cupich on being named a Cardinal: https://www.archchicago.org/news_releases/news_2016/stmnt_161009.html

WE MUST “BE MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER”

Today is a glorious day in Rome, following an overcast Tuesday and some torrential rain in the afternoon. That rain seemed to have cleared the delft-blue sky of clouds and the air of pollution as thousands of pilgrims joined Pope Francis for the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Continuing his series of weekly catechesis on mercy, the Holy Father reflected on the reading from Saint Matthew’s Gospel in which the Lord tells us that we will be judged by the the mercy we show to others.

appeal-syria

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began the Pope, to great applause. “During this Holy Year of Mercy, we have reflected on God’s mercy, revealed especially in the incarnation of his Son, and on our duty, as followers of Jesus, to be ‘merciful like the Father’.  In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord tells us that we will be judged by the mercy we show to him, present in the least of our brothers and sisters.

“His words,” explained Francis, “have inspired the seven traditional ‘corporal’ works of mercy – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.”

He noted that “the Church’s tradition also adds seven ‘spiritual’ works of mercy – counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offences, bearing patiently those who do us ill, and praying for the living and the dead.

“As expressions of living faith,” said the Pope, “these works are often carried out quietly and with simple gestures.  Yet, as Saints like Mother Teresa of Calcutta show us, they reveal the merciful face of Christ and can change the culture around us.  Let us keep them always in mind and strive to practice them daily.”

URGENT PAPAL APPEAL FOR SYRIA

After the Wednesday general audience catechesis on mercy, Pope Francis once again appealed for peace in Syria, Pope Francis said, “I want to emphasize and reiterate my solidarity with all victims of inhuman conflict in Syria. It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging, with all my strength, those responsible, to take steps toward an immediate ceasefire, one imposed and respected at least for the time necessary to allow the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under cruel bombardment.”

News agencies report that, in the last 24 hours, Russian-led airstrikes have resumed, once again targeting the besieged city of Aleppo. At least 25 people are reported to have died, including children.