VATICAN INSIDER: A LOOK AT THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE – POPE SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES AND PRAYERS FOR CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

Pope Francis tweeted the following on this historical day – 100 years ago, the final Marian apparition to the three shepherd children at Fatima: In this centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, we thank God for the countless blessings we have received under her protection.

It’s probably far-fetched to say “If you happen to be in Honolulu next week….” but I will say that to the many friends (and fans!) I have in the Hawaiian capital, inviting one and all to come to the Hawaii Convention Center on October 20, 21 and 22 for the Saints Damien and Marianne Conference (www.dmcchawaii.org) . I’ll be there to write about the conference, interview guests (including Cardinal Mafi of Tonga!) and post some videos on Facebook Live. I’ve also been asked to speak and have been working on what I hope will be an informational and inspirational talk that I’ve titled, “A PhD in Sainthood.”

I leave Sunday and, after a very long trip, expect to spend Monday researching and writing and preparing several televised segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy.” Catholic TV in Honolulu has kindly agreed to tape those segments for us!

Aloha – until we meet again!

VATICAN INSIDER: A LOOK AT THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE

Tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend when my guest on the interview segment is Vicki Thorn, a recently re-appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. You have heard Vicki before as she is the founder of Project Rachel and also Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee.

The academy, founded by Pope St. John Paul II and professor Jerome Lejeune in 1994, is dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic and carries out research on bioethics and Catholic moral theology. Over the years it has promoted and developed the Church’s teaching on various areas of medical ethics, including procreation, in vitro fertilization, gene therapy, euthanasia and abortion.

The academy’s entire membership completely was dissolved last December by Pope Francis. He has since re-appointed some former members, appointed new ones and ordered that the statutes be completely re-written Listen to Vicki as she talks about the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Academy.

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 SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES AND PRAYERS FOR CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the families of victims of widespread wildfires in northern California, and promising prayers for all those affected.

Signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and jointly addressed to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the Holy Father expresses his prayerful solidarity with everyone affected by the fires.

The wildfires sweeping through California have killed at least 31 people and damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings. More than 20,00 people have been displaced by 21 fires, and as many as 400 people remain missing amid the chaos of displacement and the ongoing battle to bring the blazes under control.

Following is the papal telegram:

The Most Reverend Salvatore Joseph Cordileone ,Archbishop of San Francisco

The Most Reverend José Horacio Gómez ,Archbishop of Los Angeles

Informed of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of property caused by the wildfire in California, the Holy Father assures you of his heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster.  He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.  His Holiness offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this tragedy. To all he sends his blessing.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State

 

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VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL (PART II) – POPE CONDEMNS “BLIND VIOLENCE” OF BARCELONA ATTACK – SPANISH BISHOPS: TERRORISM IS “MOST TERRIBLE FORM OF INTOLERANCE AND TOTALITARIANISM”

VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL (PART II)

Tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend for Part II of my conversation with Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and the Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee. Vicki was recently re-appointed as a corresponding member of the Pontifical academy for Life.

I will be taking a look in the future at the Academy since its strategies, membership and statutes have been reformed under Pope Francis.

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 CONDEMNS “BLIND VIOLENCE” OF BARCELONA ATTACK

Friday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, sent a telegram in Pope Francis’ name to Cardinal Juan José Omella y Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, for the attacks in that city:

“In the face of the cruel terrorist attack that sowed death and pain on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Pope Francis wishes to express his very deep pain for the victims who lost their life in such an inhuman action and he offers prayers for the eternal repose of their souls. In these moments of sadness and pain he wishes also to send his support and closeness to the many wounded, to their families and to the entire Catalan and Spanish society. The Holy Father condemns once again blind violence which is a most serious offense against the Creator, and he offers his prayers to the Most High that he help us to continue working with determination for peace and harmony in the world. With these wishes, His Holiness confers his Apostolic Blessing on all the victims, their families and on the dear Spanish people.”

(JFL: The cardinal visited a hospital where many of the wounded were taken: photo from diocese twitter account via Crux)

SPANISH BISHOPS: TERRORISM IS “MOST TERRIBLE FORM OF INTOLERANCE AND TOTALITARIANISM”

(Vatican Radio)  The Catholic bishops of Spain have condemned the terrorist attack in Barcelona’s city center, which killed at least 14 people and injured more than a hundred others on Thursday. Devin Watkins reports:

In a statement released shortly after the terrorist attack in Barcelona on Thursday, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference strongly condemned all terrorism and offered prayers for the victims.

They called it a “lamentable and detestable act”.

“Before this mournful and detestable act, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference wishes, first of all, to express its solidarity and prayer for all the victims and their families. We also convey our support for the whole of society under attack by these actions, in this case the citizens of Barcelona, as well as for the Security Forces.”

The Spanish bishops went on to condemn “every demonstration of terrorism” as “an intrinsically perverse practice, completely incompatible with a just, reasonable, and moral view of life.”

Terrorism, they say, “not only gravely infringes the right to life and liberty, but is also an example of the most terrible form of intolerance and totalitarianism”.

Turning to the victims of Thursday’s attack, the bishops invite all the faithful “to pray that God grant them eternal rest” and that “He return the injured to health and grant consolation to their families”.

Finally, the Spanish bishops pray that “these despicable actions may never be repeated.”

13 DEAD, 50 WOUNDED WHEN TREE FALLS ON PROCESSION IN MADERA

Yet another terrible tragedy – but this time a natural disaster, not a terror attack…

Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Bishop José Carrilho of Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madera, to express his condolences for the victims of an accident that killed 13 people and wounded about 50 others when a tree fell on a group of Catholic faithful as they prepared to participate in a procession to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on Tuesday. (photo news.va)

The telegram was sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

The Pope expressed his distress at the many dead and wounded “in the misfortunate accident at Our Lady of the Mount Parish” and entrusted “our deceased brothers and sisters to the mercy of God.” He asked Bishop Carrilho to convey his grief to their families of all the victims.

 

VATICAN INSIDER: WHEN WOMEN PRAY – POPE CALLS TEHRAN ATTACK “SENSELESS ACT OF VIOLENCE” – CENTRAL ROLE OF WOMEN IN INTERFAITH DIALOGUE

VATICAN INSIDER: WHEN WOMEN PRAY

This weekend on “Vatican Insider” I offer a rather unusual edition of the interview segment. For the past 2 weekends you have heard Kathleen Beckman and Dr. Luis Sandoval talk about exorcisms, exorcists and the course they took on this subject recently in Rome. After we had finished the interview, Kathleen suggested we do a special interview and talk about women and prayer – not only the book we collaborated on, “When Women Pray” – but women and prayer in general. So this weekend I offer a real off-the-cuff conversation about prayer. I hope you will be as surprised and delighted as I was Friday when I listened to our taped interview for the first time (I was also truly humbled as I listened to Kathleen’s words).

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 CALLS TEHRAN ATTACK “SENSELESS ACT OF VIOLENCE”

Pope Francis on Friday sent his condolences for the victims of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Tehran, Iran, saying he “laments this senseless and grave act of violence”. The telegram was sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State:

“His Holiness Pope Francis sends his heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the barbaric attack in Tehran, and laments this senseless and grave act of violence. In expressing his sorrow for the victims and their families, His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty, and he assures the people of Iran of his prayers for peace.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State

CENTRAL ROLE OF WOMEN IN INTERFAITH DIALOGUE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who have been discussing the key contribution of women to interfaith relations. (photo: news.va).

Philippa Hitchen reports that the Pope began by noting how often women’s work and dignity is threatened by violence and hatred which tears families and societies apart.

Faced with the challenges of our globalized world, he said, there is a vital need to recognize the abilities of women to teach values of unity and fraternity which can transform the human family.

It is therefore to the benefit of society that women have a growing presence in social, political and economic life – as well as in the life of the Church – at national and international level, the Pope said. Women’s rights, he insisted, must be affirmed and protected, including, if necessary, through legal means.

In their role as educators in the family and beyond, the Pope continued, women have a particular vocation to foster innovative ways of welcoming and respecting others. Whether or not they are mothers, the contribution of women in the field of education is invaluable, he said.

Women and men, Pope Francis said, through their different roles and intuitions, are both called to the task of teaching fraternity and peace. Women, who are so intimately connected to the mystery of life, can contribute much through their care of life and their conviction that love is the only power able to make the world more habitable for each one of us.

Women, the Pope noted, are often the only ones to be found accompanying others, especially the weakest members of families or societies. Through their care of victims of conflict and all those facing the daily challenges of life, they teach us how to overcome our throwaway culture.

The Pope concluded by highlighting the importance of these values in the work of interreligious dialogue. In the so-called dialogue of life, where women are often more involved than men, they can help us better understand the challenges of our multicultural societies.

But beyond that, he stressed, many women are well prepared to contribute to the religious and theological discussions at the highest levels, alongside their male counterparts. It is more necessary than ever that they do so, he said, so that their skills of listening, welcoming, and openness to others can be of service in weaving the delicate fabric of dialogue between all men and women of good will.

POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR PLANE CRASH IN KYRGYZSTAN – BISHOPS VISIT HOLY LAND ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE

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)

cargo-crash

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.

holy-land

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.)

BRUSSELS IN MOURNING, THE POPE AND BISHOPS SPEAK

BRUSSELS IN MOURNING, THE POPE AND BISHOPS SPEAK

Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels following the attacks on Tuesday morning in the Belgian capital Brussels. In the telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis prays for the victims, the injured and their families and again condemns “blind violence which causes so much suffering.” (photo news.va, AP)

BRUSSELS

Following is a Vatican Radio translation of the papal telegram:

“Learning of the attacks in Brussels, which have affected many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts to God’s mercy those who died and he prays for those who have lost relatives. He expresses his deepest sympathy to the injured and their families, and all those who contribute to relief efforts, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in this ordeal. The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering and imploring from God the gift of peace, he entrusts on the bereaved families and the Belgians the benefit of divine blessings.”

The Catholic Bishops of Belgium have issued a statement condemning the deadly terror attacks on the Brussels airport and underground stations on Monday, calling for prayerful solidarity with the victims and for national unity in response to the assault.

Following is Vatican Radio’s English translation of the Bishops’ statement:

“The bishops of Belgium are appalled to learn of the attack at Zaventem airport and in the center of Brussels. They share the anguish of thousands of travelers and their families, aviation professionals and the first responders who are once again called to service. They entrust the victims to the prayers of all in this new dramatic situation. Airport chaplains are every day at the service of all and provide the necessary spiritual support. May the whole country live these days with a great sense of civic responsibility.” (source: Vatican Radio)

JOAN’S VATICAN AND JOAN’S ROME FOR JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY – THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

It’s the first day of spring and most of us are happy – although New Yorkers and others on the East Coast might be less so because of snowfall! Flowering trees are sprouting their beautiful pink and white buds here and winter coats are generally giving way to spring jackets (except for early morning and late night). The crowds in Rome for Holy Week are immense and, as a result, everything takes longer – longer lines to get in churches, museums, etc., longer waits in coffee bars and restaurants, more time in traffic as hundreds of tourists busses crowd the major thoroughfares. But that’s all OK. It is that time of year: We know it and await it and now it is here. As the Italians say, pazienza – patience!

And I am using the first day of spring to toot a horn, my own – as you will read!

Stay tuned for another post – breaking news about a friend of mine!

JOAN’S VATICAN AND JOAN’S ROME FOR JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY

(Vatican Radio) So, you’ve packed your bags and you’ve booked your flight and hotel: you are coming to Rome on pilgrimage for the Jubilee Year of Mercy!  If you haven’t done so yet, you might want to consider bringing along a companion who knows Rome and the Vatican like the back of her hand: Joan Lewis.

A 3 decade-long Rome resident and veteran Vatican watcher, she’s the Joan in ‘Joan Knows,’ Vatican Radio’s weekly program looking at the Pope’s activities and Vatican events.  Joan is also the Rome bureau chief for  EWTN, the prominent, U.S.-based Catholic Radio and Television.

Her new book, “A Holy Year in Rome: the Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy” (Sophia Institute Press) promises a lot, and it delivers.

Click here for the rest of the story! http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/03/21/joan%E2%80%99s_vatican_and_rome_for_jubilee_year_of_mercy/1216928

A HOLY YEAR IN ROME

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

FRANCIS EXPRESSES SADNESS AT STUDENT DEATHS IN SPAIN.  Pope Francis has expressed his sadness for the tragic deaths of 13 international university students in a bus accident in northeastern Spain this past weekend and has assured the families of his “heartfelt” prayers. All of the victims were young women students on the Erasmus university exchange program.  They included seven from Italy, two Germans, an Austrian, a French woman, a Romanian and an Uzbekistani and ranged between 19 and 25 years old. The bus carrying 57 university students crashed Sunday near Freginals, halfway between the eastern coastal cities of Barcelona and Valencia. They were returning from a firework festival in Valencia. In a telegram to Bishop Benavent Enrique Vidal of Tortosa on behalf of the Holy Father, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Pope hopes that the injured will recover swiftly. Pope Francis, the message reads, wishes to express his closeness to the families who have suffered “irreparable loss” and invokes the Lord’s blessing for their spiritual serenity and Christian hope in this time of grief. (photo news.va)

CONDOLENCES SPAIN

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF ATTACK IN ISTANBUL. Pope Francis has expressed his “prayerful solidarity” with victims of Saturday’s bomb attack in Istanbul. In a telegram addressed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Pope Francis “[grieved] to learn of the casualties caused by the bombing in Istanbul yesterday morning, and he expresses his prayerful solidarity with all touched by this tragedy.  His Holiness asks you to convey his spiritual closeness to them, as well as to the personnel assisting the injured.  Commending the souls of those who have died to the mercy of the Almighty, Pope Francis invokes divine strength and peace upon those who mourn, and upon the entire nation.”

 

IN DARK VALLEYS, PLACE YOURSELF IN THE LORD’S HANDS – PAPAL MESSAGES TO VICTIMS OF TERROR IN AFRICA, TURKEY

IN DARK VALLEYS, PLACE YOURSELF IN THE LORD’S HANDS

While I rarely offer the Holy Father’s homilies delivered at Mass each morning in the Santa Marta residence, they are always available at news.va where many people have formed a daily habit of reading them.

Today’s homily was so special (not to imply that others are not!) that I want to bring you Vatican Radio’s summary. As I’ve mentioned before, the homily is delivered by Pope Francis in Italian, and when the audio arrives at the radio, staff members transcribe and/or summarize what they hear. Those summaries are then posted on the news.va website. Today the Pope spoke of the “dark valleys” in our lives and he asked questions that we all ask about evil and sickness and suffering.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday spoke of a series of events and situations that shed shadows on our lives and lead us to ask difficult questions.

Speaking during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope remembered a homeless man who recently died of the cold here in Rome; he recalled the sisters of Charity who were killed in an attack in Yemen; and his thoughts flew to the many people who continue to fall ill in the so-called “triangle of death” in the southern Italian region of Campania where the illegal burning of toxic waste causes cancer and despair. As we are forced to face these “dark valleys” of our time, he said, the only answer is to trust in God. (photo: news.va)

MAss LENt

“Even when we do not understand – such as before the illness of a child – let us put ourselves in the hands of the Lord who never abandons His people,” he said.

Reflecting on the reading of the day that tells of Susanna, a just woman who is “soiled” by the “evil desire” of two judges, but chooses to trust in God rather than succumb to their wish, Pope Francis said that that even when we find ourselves walking in a“valley of darkness” we need not fear evil.

How many dark valleys; where are you Lord?

The Lord, the Pope said, always walks with us, loves us and does not abandon us. And he turned his attention to some of the many “dark valleys” of our time:

“When we look at the many dark valleys, at the many misfortunes, at the fact there are so many people dying of hunger, there is war, there are so many children with disabilities… and, asking their parents, we discover they suffer from something called a ‘rare disease’…  And the things we create ourselves: think of the cancers caused by the ‘triangle of death’… When you look at all this you ask: ‘where is the Lord’, ‘where are you?’ ‘Are you walking with me?’ This was Susanna’s sentiment. And it is ours too. Look at those four slain sisters of ours: they were serving with love; they ended up murdered in hatred! When you see that doors are being closed to refugees who are left out in the cold… you say: ‘Lord, where are You?’ “.

Why does a child suffer? I do not know why, but I trust in God

“How can I entrust myself to God,” asked the Pope, “when I see all these things? And when things happen to me, each of us may say: how can I entrust myself to You?” There is an answer to this question, but it cannot be explained.”

“Why does a child suffer? I do not know: it is a mystery to me,” said Pope Francis.

And recalling Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Pope pointed out that, although he is suffering, he trusts in the Father and knows that all will not end with death, with the cross.

Pope Francis, pointing out that Jesus’ last words before dying on the cross were ‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit’,” said: “To trust in God who walks with me, walks with His people, walks with the Church: this is an act of faith. To entrust myself. I cannot explain it, but I place myself in Your hands. You know why”.

Suffering and evil are not final, the Lord is always with us

And this, he said, is the teaching of Jesus: “He who entrusts himself to the Lord our Shepherd, shall lack nothing.”

Even if he finds himself going through the darkest of valleys, Pope Francis said that, “he knows that the suffering is only of the moment and that the Lord is with him: ‘Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me’. This is a grace we must ask for: ‘Lord, teach me to place myself in your hands, to trust in Your guidance, even in bad times, in the darkest moments, in the moment of death’.”

Pope Francis said that, “We would do well today to think about our lives, about the problems we have, and ask for the grace to place ourselves into the hands of the Lord.”

And he invited the faithful to think of the many men and women who do not even receive a last caress before dying.

“Three days ago a homeless person died here, on the street: he died of cold. In the middle of Rome, a city that has all the possibilities of providing assistence.Why, Lord?  Not even a caress … But I entrust myself to You because You never let me down.”

“Lord,” concluded the Pope, “I do not understand you. This is a beautiful prayer. Without understanding, I place myself in Your hands”.

PAPAL MESSAGES TO VICTIMS OF TERROR IN AFRICA, TURKEY

Two of life’s “dark valleys” occurred over the weekend in the Ivory Coast and in Ankara, Turkey where dozens died at the hands of terrorists. Pope Fra cis sent messages to both countries, expressing his condolences  and his spiritual closeness to the victims, their loved ones and to first responders.

In the Ivory Coast, gunmen opened fire on people vacationing at a popular beach resort in Grand-Bassam which is east of the commercial capital of Abidjan. The telegram, sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Bishop Raymond Ahoua of Grand Bassam, said,Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said, “Upon hearing the news of the heinous attack in Grand-Bassam, His Holiness Pope Francis presents condolences to the bereaved and assures the injured his spiritual closeness. The Holy Father again condemns violence and hatred in all forms.”

Eighteen people were killed, including 15 civilians, 3 members of the country’s special forces, and 3 of the attackers. An additional 33 were wounded.

A suicide car bombing Sunday evening in Ankara, Turkey, killed at least 37 people and wounded more than 120 when a bomb was detonated near bus stops in Turkey’s capital.

In a telegram to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote that the Pope was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the bombing in Ankara. His Holiness Pope Francis assures the Turkish people of his spiritual closeness and solidarity.  He prays for the eternal rest of those who have died and for all who mourn their loss, as well as for the recovery of those affected by this heinous act of violence.  Mindful of the generous service being rendered by security and emergency personnel, His Holiness invokes the divine blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”