PAPAL MESSAGE FOR FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR – SYNOD OF BISHOPS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

Pope Francis tweeted today: In his passion, Jesus took upon himself all our suffering. He knows the meaning of pain, he understands and comforts us, giving us strength.

There have been a few rough days lately, given an infection in my right ankle that has made walking difficult and painful. Several days ago, as I was leaving the Vatican medical center and nearing the Sant’Anna entrance to Vatican City to get a taxi, I had a lovely encounter with a Swiss Guard. As two elderly gentlemen were leaving the church of Sant’Anna, one with obvious mobility issues, the Swiss Guard stepped in and helped the gentleman.  As they walked away, I smiled and said to him, “That’s also part of the life of a guard, isn’t it?  His answer (with a smile): “That’s the best part of my life as a Guard!”

May God bless this young man abundantly! He made my day and I’ve thought of that answer every day since.

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

The Vatican today released Pope Francis’ message for the First World Day of the Poor to be celebrated worldwide next November 19 on the theme, “Let us love, not with words but with deeds.”

At a press conference today announcing the papal Message and the November 19 celebration, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, charged with implementing this World Day, said that Pope Francis wil presidet at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 19, after which there will be a lunch for about 500 poor in the Paul VI Hall.

The archbishop is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. That office was also charged with organizing the recent Holy Year of Mercy.

In his Message, in number 3, Francis writes: “We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.  Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.”

Pope Francis eats lunch with homeless and poor people in Campobasso, Italy (photo Boston Globe)

“Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty,” the Pope wrote. “Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve him in the poor.  If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.  At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life.

“We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is.  Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.  Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money.  What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!”

In Number 6, the Holy Father explains when this world day was born: “At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.  To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor.

“I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father.  This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.  At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity.  God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded.

“It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.  They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday.  The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God’s love.  Jesus’ complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.

“This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favourable moment to encounter the God we seek.  Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently.  With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God’s providence.

Click here for complete Message: http://www.news.va/en/news/first-world-day-of-the-poor-message-released

SYNOD OF BISHOPS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced a new website on Tuesday in preparation for the October 2018 synod that be dedicated to the role of young people in the life of the Church. That site will be active as of tomorrow, June 14: http://youth.synod2018.va

A statement from the Secretariat explains that the site is designed to promote the broad, interactive participation of young people from all around the world in preparations for the Assembly.

The new website includes an online questionnaire addressed directly to young people in different languages ​​(Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), with answer due in by November 30, 2017.

The statement goes on to encourage young people especially to visit the site and respond to the Questionnaire, saying that wide and fulsome response will be of great use in the process of preparing the Synod Assembly, and will be part of the extensive consultation that the General Secretariat is doing at all levels of the people of God. (Vatican radio)

 

POPE TO PRIESTS IN AHIARA DIOCESE: “ACCEPT YOUR BISHOP OR BE SUSPENDED A DIVINIS”

Here is a terrific update from the Benedictine Monks of Norcia about the progress in re- building since last fall’s devastating earthquake. I could not get the Facebook icon in their email to work so this is the next best thing: http://mailchi.mp/nursia/springatthemonastery-494285

POPE TO PRIESTS IN AHIARA DIOCESE: “ACCEPT YOUR BISHOP OR BE SUSPENDED A DIVINIS”

(Vatican Radio) At an audience for a delegation from the Nigerian diocese of Ahiara, Pope Francis said he had been “deeply saddened” by the refusal of the diocese to accept the Bishop appointed for them. (photo: news.va)

During the audience, the Pope requested explicitly that the diocese receive Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, who was appointed to Ahiara by Pope Benedict in 2012. In his address to the delegation, the Holy Father, while asking pardon for the harsh language, said the Church in Ahiara “is like a widow for having prevented the Bishop from coming to the diocese.” He called to mind the parable, from the Gospel of Matthew, of the murderous tenants who wanted to steal the inheritance. “In this current situation, the Diocese of Ahiara is without the bridegroom, has lost her fertility, and cannot bear fruit. Whoever is opposed to Bishop Okpaleke taking possession of the diocese wants to destroy the Church.”

In such a situation, Pope Francis continued, where the Church is suffering, “the Pope cannot remain indifferent.”

In response to that situation, which he described as “an attempted taking over of the vineyard of the Lord,” Pope Francis asked “every priest or ecclesiastic incardinated in the Diocese of Ahiara, whether he resides there or works elsewhere, even abroad, write a letter addressed to me in which he asks for forgiveness; all must write individually and personally. We all must share this common sorrow.”

Whoever fails to do so within thirty days, the Pope said, “will be ipso facto [by that very fact] suspended a divinis [‘from divine things,’  such as the celebration of the sacraments] and will lose his current office.”

This course of action was necessary, he continued, “Because the people of God are scandalized. Jesus reminds us that whoever causes scandal must suffer the consequences. Maybe someone has been manipulated without having full awareness of the wound inflicted upon the ecclesial communion.”

Following the Pope’s address, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja and Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara, thanked the Holy Father. Following his remarks, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, asked the Holy Father that the Diocese of Ahiara, with its Bishop, might make a pilgrimage to Rome to meet with him when the situation was resolved; a request the Pope accepted.

The audience concluded with a prayer to Mary and the blessing of the Holy Father.

Complete text of Papal letter here: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-receives-delegation-from-nigerian-diocese-of

SOME BACKGROUND FROM CNS:

When Okpaleke was appointed to the diocese, the announcement was met by protests and petitions calling for the appointment of a bishop from among the local clergy.

Nevertheless, he was ordained a bishop in May 2013, although the ordination took place not in the Ahiara diocese, but at a seminary in the Archdiocese of Owerri.

Ahiara is in Mbaise, a predominantly Catholic region of Imo State in southern Nigeria.

Okpaleke is from Anambra State, which borders Imo to the north.

A petition to Pope Benedict launched by the “Coalition of Igbo Catholics” said, “That no priest of Mbaise origin is a bishop today … is mind boggling. Mbaise has embraced, enhanced the growth of and sacrificed for the Catholic Church, has more priests per capita than any other diocese in Nigeria and certainly more than enough pool of priests qualified to become the next bishop of the episcopal see of Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise.”

According to the Vatican, the diocese has close to 423,000 Catholics and 110 diocesan priests.

Trying to calm the situation, in July 2013 Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Onaiyekan to serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese, and the following December he sent Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to Ahiara to listen to the concerns of the diocesan priests and local laity.

Onaiyekan joined Okpaleke on the “ad limina” visit to Rome, as did Kaigama and Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri. Three priests, a religious sister and a traditional elder also made the trip.

 

 

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.

AN OWL IN VATICAN LIBRARY – ONLINE WINDOW INTO LIBRARY – KATHY GRIFFIN AND THE VANISHING OF ARGUMENT

I hope you were able to follow Pope Francis’ advice yesterday at the general audience when he asked the faithful, in the square and around the world to dedicate one minute to “Prayer for Peace” today, June 8, at 1 pm. If you didn’t make it at 1 pm local time, I’m sure the Lord will hear your prayer now!

I posted the second story on my Facebook page today. For those who do not have FB, this article by Bishop Barron is just brilliant and perfectly defines today’s society vis-à-vis Kathy Griffin. This truly is a must read.

AN OWL IN VATICAN LIBRARY – ONLINE WINDOW INTO LIBRARY

I received the following email today from the Vatican Apostolic Library and want to share this exciting news with you. I have visited the Library only a few times over the years and have always been awed by its beauty, history, and amazing collections. It is not on the average Vatican tour and that is both good news and bad news. However, now there are several ways to go online and that will be a great help.

Dear Friends, With this brief message I would like to deliver you the link to OWL, Online Window into the Library, our newsletter, with which we would like to share facts, anecdotes, curiosities, insights on our historical Institution, so that it could be better known with its rich collections, its activities and initiatives, and people who made the Library great. I wish to invite you to follow us, to participate to the life of our and your Library, and to remain in contact with us, also through OWL.

https://www.vatlib.it/newsletter/201705EN.pdf

Msgr. Cesare Pasini

Prefect

KATHY GRIFFIN AND THE VANISHING OF ARGUMENT

By Bishop Robert Barron (auxiliary, Los Angeles Archdiocese)

By now the whole world has heard about comedian Kathy Griffin’s appalling staged-photo of herself holding a mock-up of the bloody, severed head of Donald Trump. Despite her rather pathetic apology, a firestorm of protest has broken out pretty much everywhere. To say that this stunt was in poor taste or, in the parlance of our times, “offensive,” would be the understatement of the decade. At a time when the most barbarous people on the planet are, in point of fact, decapitating their enemies and holding up the heads as trophies, it simply beggars belief that Griffin would have imagined this escapade as an acceptable form of social protest.

But I would like to situate what Griffin did in a wider context, for it is but a particularly brutal example of what is taking place throughout our society, especially on university campuses. Speakers of a more conservative stripe, ranging from serious academics such as Charles Murray and Heather McDonald to provocateurs such as Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos, have been shouted down, obstructed, insulted, and in extreme cases physically assaulted on the grounds of institutes of higher learning throughout the United States. Very recently, at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, a tenured professor was compelled to hold his biology class in a public park. His crime? He had publicly criticized a planned “Day of Absence” during which white students, staff, and faculty were coerced into leaving the campus, since people of color claimed they felt “unsafe” at the college. For calling this blatantly racist move by its proper name, the professor was, of course, himself labeled a racist and mobs of angry students shut down his classes, forcing him to lecture in the park.

Click here to continue: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/kathy-griffin-and-the-vanishing-of-argument/5500/

THE MYSTERY OF CHRISTIAN PRAYER IS SUMMED UP IN “OUR FATHER” – HOLY SEE TO HAVE PAVILION AT EXPO 2017 “FUTURE ENERGY”

THE MYSTERY OF CHRISTIAN PRAYER IS SUMMED UP IN “OUR FATHER”

Pope Francis today, in yet another picture perfect St. Peter’s Square, in his catechesis, explained the prayer Jesus gave us – the Our Father – centering on “The Fatherhood of God, wellspring of our Hope.”

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began, “In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now consider the source of that hope in the fatherhood of God.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them to call God Our Father. “in fact, said, Francis, “the whole mystery of Christian prayer is summed up here, in having the courage to call God Father.”

The Holy Father said that, “God is a Father but he is not like human fathers; instead, Jesus offers the parable of the prodigal son, where the father welcomes his child with supreme forgiveness and unconditional love. That is perhaps why St Paul, when referring to this mystery, prefers not to translate the term ‘abba,’ which is more intimate than father, and might better be translated as ‘papa’ or ‘daddy’.”

“Here we see the great religious revolution introduced by Christianity: taught by the Saviour’s command, we dare to speak to the transcendent and all-holy God as children speak, with complete trust, to a loving father.

“As God’s adoptive sons and daughters in the Holy Spirit,” explained Francis, “we share in the intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father, and this is the basis of our sure hope in God’s saving help.  Each day, as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, may we be confirmed in the knowledge that, in his merciful love, our heavenly Father will watch over us, respond to our petitions, and never abandon us.

Speaking of prayer: Pope Francis asked the faithful present in the square and those around the world to pray “One Minute for Peace” tomorrow, June 8, at 1 pm. He said, “this represents a short moment of prayer on the recurrence of the meeting in the Vatican between me, the late Israeli President Peres, and the Palestinian President Abbas.”

That meeting occurred in the Vatican Gardens on June 8, 2014, during which the three men prayed together for peace. That meeting followed the Pope’s visit to Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem over a three-day period in May 2014

The Holy Father said this morning that, “in our days, there is a great need to pray – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – for peace.”

Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis on Wednesday blessed an altar destined for a Marian sanctuary in South Korea during his general audience. The “Adoratio Domini in unitate et pace” will be placed in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary in Namyang, South Korea. Francis mentioned the altar in his greetings to Polish pilgrims, noting that the request for his blessing of the altar was made by the Queen of Peace Community Association in Radom, Poland.

The association is setting up 12 centers for Eucharistic Adoration and perpetual prayer for peace in “hotspots” around the world. The Pope said the group drew its inspiration for the Adoration centers from the “12 stars in the crown of Mary, Queen of Peace..

HOLY SEE TO HAVE PAVILION AT EXPO 2017 “FUTURE ENERGY”

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced today that, from June 8 to 11, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of this Dicastery, will visit Astana, Kazakhstan, as the “Commissioner for participation of the Holy See” at the inauguration of the EXPO 2017 Exposition, “ Future Energy.”

The Holy See, which has participated in the Universal Expositions since 1851, will be present with its own pavilion, entitled “ Energy for the Common Good: Caring for our Common Home,” realized with the contribution from the local Church. It explores the theme of energy for the future, interpreted as an opportunity for the promotion of humanity and the improvement of the “common home” on the basis of an equitable and sustainable use of natural resources.

The display structure of the Holy See makes use of digital installations, and will enable visitors to be accompanied along photographic, artistic, cultural and spiritual itineraries, develops four thematic areas: the love of God as the origin of the creation of man and of the earth; energy as a tool placed in the hands of man, who has not always made adequate use of it; energy directed towards the development of the person and the care of the common home; and the strength of spirituality, with particular reference to prayer, the search for meaning, and interreligious dialogue.

The inauguration of EXPO 2017 will take place on June 9, and that of the Holy See pavilion in the morning of the following day. Cardinal Turkson will be accompanied by Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and by representatives of the local Church. The Holy See National Day is scheduled to take place on September 2.

POPE FRANCIS TO MEET VENEZUELAN BISHOPS – POPE PENS PERSONAL LETTER ON DEATH OF CARDINAL LUBOMYR HUSAR

Yesterday, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in London, I preferred to dedicate this column to what the faithful of one parish in London, very close to where the attacks ocurred, did after the attack. As you know, the pastor of that parish, Fr. Christopher Pearson, is a friend of mine, as is a parishioner whom many of you know from her books and EWTN appearances, Joanna Bogle.

There was an important announcement last night from the Vatican about a meeting the Pope will have with Venezuela’s bishops to talk about the critical situation in their country. I’ve spoken in previous posts about the trauma that Venezuelans are going through, with food and medical supplies running short or even, in some cases, totally lacking.

That brief piece of news and Pope Francis’ profoundly heartfelt letter for the death of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Archbishop Major emeritus of Kyiv-Halyč, Ukraine, follow.

We now know that, to prayers for the people of London and the UK, we must add prayers for the people of Paris where a man attacked a policeman outside of Notre Dame cathedral.

Today’s papal tweet: Let’s always remember that our faith is concrete: the Word became flesh, not an idea!

POPE FRANCIS TO MEET VENEZUELAN BISHOPS

Last night, Greg Burke, head of the Holy See Press Office released a statement noting thyat on Thursday, June 8, Pope Francis will receive the Council of the Presidency of the Venezualan Episcopal Conference. The meeting was requested by the Episcopal Conference as it wants to speak with the Pope about the situation in Venezuela.

POPE PENS PERSONAL LETTER ON DEATH OF CARDINAL LUBOMYR HUSAR

(Vatican Radio) In a heartfelt personal letter, Pope Francis has expressed his desire to “be among those praying to the heavenly Father” for the “chosen soul of our Brother” Cardinal Lubomyr Husar.

The Holy Father noted the “extraordinary influx of people” paying their respects to the former head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This, he said, “is an eloquent sign of what he has been: one of the highest and most respected moral authorities of the Ukrainian people in recent decades.”

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop emeritus of Kyiv-Halyč, died on 31 May 2017, aged 84.

In his letter, addressed to Husar’s successor, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Pope Francis spoke of the late Cardinal’s efforts to lead his people beyond “the legacy of the ‘catacombs’ into which it was forced by persecutions.” He did so not only by restoring ecclesiastical structures, but especially through “the joy of his own story, founded on faith” that endured “through and beyond suffering.”

Pope Francis spoke of Cardinal Husar as “a master of wisdom,” who spoke to his people in simple, yet profound words. “His was the wisdom of the Gospel, the bread of the Word of God broken for the simple, for the suffering, for all those seeking dignity.” After his ministry as “father and head” of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Pope said, and with the onset of old age and illness, Cardinal Husar’s presence became “even more intense and rich.”

He prayed for all, and when he spoke, “everyone felt that a Christian was speaking, a Ukrainian passionate about his identity, always full of hope, open to the future of God.” Pope Francis praised him for “the warmth of his great humanity and exquisite kindness,” and especially for his ability to welcome and communicate with the young.

“It moves me to think that today all of Ukraine weeps for him,” the Pope said, “but also that many people are certain that he already rests in the embrace of the heavenly Father.” They are certain, he said, that after the example of his “credible and coherent life” they will “continue to benefit from his prayer, with which he will continue to protect his people who are still suffering, marked by violence and insecurity, and yet certain that the love of Christ does not disappoint.”

Pope Francis concluded his letter with a note of gratitude for “this unique religious and social presence in Ukraine’s history,” encouraging the faithful to remain committed to Cardinal Husar’s “constant teaching and total abandonment to Providence.” He called on them to continue “to feel his smile and his caress.”

 

LONDON BRIDGE IS STANDING STRONG

This past weekend was one that millions will never forget. You might have been touring in London, or perhaps you live there and were celebrating a Saturday night out with friends or family. Maybe you were one of the tens of thousands of faithful in Rome about to attend Pope Francis’ Pentecost vigil at the Circus Maximus. Or, quite likely, you spent the evening at home in any one of millions of cities, towns and hamlets around the world.

Wherever you were on Saturday, June 3, you’ll never forget how your joy was interrupted by the news of the horrific, indescribable act of butchery in London, performed by madmen.

I was enjoying dinner with a priest friend from California and we did not have our phones out on the table as so often happens at mealtime today. When you constantly check your phone, you’re always up-to-date on emails, news, etc. Sometimes, however, you don’t want to be updated. You simply want to enjoy the moment, the meal and the friendship. We did use our phones to film the amazing opera singer I have featured lately, Antonio Nicolosi, but that was it.

It would only be later when I got home and turned on the television that I learned of London.

My first thought was, of course, for the victims (an imprecise number when I first tuned in) and then for my friends in London, especially Joanna Bogle (whom you know for her books and her witty, wonderful style on EWTN) and Fr. Christopher Pearson who became a friend almost the very day that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was announced on January 1, 2011 (Joanna explains the Ordinariate, as I have done many times on these pages).

Both are key to the story that follows. Joanna wrote this for the National Catholic Register.

This photo is from Fr. Christopher’s blog – he was ordained a Catholic priest 6 years ago, yesterday, June 4, Pentecost Sunday. He is on far left.

And, Joanna, we are praying for London.

LONDON BRIDGE IS STANDING STRONG

COMMENTARY: The centuries-old city is no stranger to violence, and it will survive this latest chapter with its spirit intact.

Joanna Bogle

On Saturday afternoon I was sitting in the parish room at the Church of the Most Precious Blood at London Bridge, working on a children’s project, while two fellow members of “LOGS,” our parish-based ladies’ group, were busy with the flower arrangements in the church for Pentecost.

We chatted briefly over cups of tea with Father Christopher Pearson, the parish priest, before separating again to go about our various duties. And then I made my way home through the warm, rather oppressive, evening.

Late that night, I was woken by the buzzing of my mobile phone. My sister, texting from New Zealand, was asking if I was all right. London Bridge was the center of a frenzied attack by an Islamic terrorist group — people lay dead and dying in the streets.

Today, news is instantly communicated worldwide, and by morning, we had details of the numbers of dead and wounded and a basic outline of the events, despite the inevitable confusion. And, among much else, Father Chris had texted and emailed to parishioners to announce that a police cordon meant that the 8:30am Mass had to be canceled, but he had hopes for the 11am sung Mass.

When I arrived, he was busy dispensing tea to relays of tired policemen. The two main Tube stations — London Bridge and Borough — were closed, streets were sealed off, and there was a general air of order restored after the night’s ghastly events, the aftermath still being tackled.

The police cordon was lifted so that people could get to the 11am Mass, though many couldn’t make it because of the transport difficulties, but the church was still fairly full. We have a new, and rather good, children’s choir, and they sang beautifully. The parish is part of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham — Anglicans who came into full communion with the Catholic Church a few years ago — and the children’s choir, plus a popular Sunday school, are among a number of thriving initiatives. There are many young families.

We had, of course, special “Bidding Prayers” at Mass and a minute’s silence for the victims of the night’s horror.

This corner of London, south of the river, is special for me: It has my cafés and pubs, the shop where I buy my newspapers and the supermarket where we are always hurrying for extra tea, milk, wine and snacks — whatever — for church events.

London Bridge with Tower Bridge in the background:

Flowers laid by the public on London Bridge. Aftermath of London terrorist attack, UK – 05 Jun 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Much of my social life happens here. My father’s office — and his father’s before him — was just off Southwark Street, with a fine view of St. Paul’s Cathedral across the Thames.

A bridge has crossed the Thames at this point since Roman times. The song London Bridge Is Falling Down relates to a Viking battle at the end of the 10th century, when the Saxons tore down the bridge to stop the invading Vikings from gaining the city. It was on Sept. 8, and the Saxons attributed their success in the battle to Our Lady, hence the reference to the “fair lady” in the last line of the song.

Oddly enough, I was just relating that story a few days ago to a group, including some visiting Americans, standing on the bridge and looking out across to London’s skyscrapers.

The pubs and restaurants that TV viewers across the world saw in the scenes of carnage on Saturday night are part of a vibrant social scene: On summer nights, the streets around the pubs are crowded with people enjoying a drink or settling down for a meal at the outdoor tables at the many restaurants.

This is The Borough, across the Thames from The City, the square mile around St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Borough was known for centuries as a rather lawless area — outside the city’s boundaries, a haunt of crime and, also, incidentally, known for its special character, a place where Catholics met and had Mass, away from the prying eyes of the authorities in the days when the Catholic faith was outlawed.

Today it’s a lively, rapidly changing area. Old pubs jostle with new cafés, wine bars and restaurants. New generations of immigrants have arrived — from Africa and the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s to Poles and Filipinos more recently.

The Borough Market now sells all sorts of specialist luxury foods. There are coffee shops galore. The old industries — brewing, as this was where the hops were brought from the Kent hop fields, and printing, because of the water from the Thames — are no more. But people live here who work in shops, in catering, in hospitals — Guy’s and St. Thomas’ are nearby — and in all the myriad things that make up London’s life.

It was here that the Islamic terrorists — with shouts of “This is for Allah!” — plunged into crowds, on the corner where London Bridge meets the Borough High Street. Their van crashed into several people, and the terrorists then rushed out to stab others in the face. More than 40 people were rushed to hospitals.

At the time of writing, seven people are confirmed dead, including a Canadian woman and a French woman. Some 20 people are still in the hospital, some with severe injuries.

The police had arrived swiftly, as did medical services. And even as panic and terror took hold, there was practical action, help and common sense. As the police sealed off the area, local hotels opened their doors to all who needed help. A family at church later told me how they and a crowd of other people had been given sandwiches and comfort — “and everything, even coloring books for the children” — as they waited for the all-clear so that they could get home.

London is centuries old, no stranger to violence, and a great city that will survive this latest chapter with its spirit intact. At Precious Blood parish, we aren’t about to abandon our cheery gatherings at a local pub after Mass or our big street processions honoring Mary in May and the Blessed Sacrament for Corpus Christi (just coming up next weekend) or our celebration barbeques for special events, or our carol singing at the local railway station at Christmas … or any of the other activities that are part of normal London parish life.

“Look — this area had eight months of the Blitz in World War II,” one parishioner at Precious Blood commented after Mass. “And there were the IRA bomb threats, too. This latest horror isn’t going to destroy London.” Which is certainly true, even while we mourn for the victims of this weekend’s attacks. And there has been an outpouring of kindness, goodwill, mutual help and neighborliness.

Father Chris praised the “courage, skill and professionalism of the police and the emergency services” and said that they united swiftly to establish order and reduce panic. “When I stood at my window for a final look before going to bed sometime after midnight, there was a sense of security,” he told me. “I felt safe. They really deserve our gratitude and thanks for that.”

Pray for London.