By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis expressed solidarity, closeness and concern to inhabitants of the Amazonian city of Manaus and for indigenous, traditional and poor people of the region.
A statement released by the Archdiocese of Manaus, the largest city of the Brazilian state of Amazonas and a gateway into the Rainforest, revealed that the Pope made a telephone call on Saturday afternoon and spoke to Archbishop Leonardo Steiner.
According to the daily Covid-19 monitoring carried out by Repam (the Ecclesiastical Pan-Amazonian Network), the Manaus region is the one hardest hit by the pandemic in the Amazon region.
The statement said the Archbishop thanked the Pope for his “words of comfort and consolation”, and said he told the Pope about what the archdiocese is doing to care for those living on the streets, distributing food to those in need, reaching out to people who are suffering, and caring for migrants.
“This Saturday, the rains brought even more suffering to our peripheries,” Archbishop Steiner told the Pope.
At the end of the conversation, he said, Pope Francis thanked the archdiocese, the faithful, the religious and the priests for what they are doing to alleviate the suffering, assured his prayers for the deceased and their families, and sent a special blessing to the Amazon.”
“We are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for his paternal-ecclesial gesture”, Archbishop Steiner said.
The health care system in Manaus was the first to buckle under the pressure of the Covid-19 emergency. All the ICU beds in the city’s public hospital are reportedly taken and city authorities have started to bury coronavirus victims in mass graves due to high demand.
The state of Amazonas to date has reported over 3,600 infections and nearly 300 deaths.
By Robin Gomes
The Catholic Church of India has welcomed a new ordinance that criminalizes as a punishable offence attacks against healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Indian government’s amendment to the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, approved on April 22, stipulates stiff jail terms and fines for violators.
“Health workers who are trying to save the country from this epidemic are unfortunately facing attacks,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on April 22. “No incident of violence or harassment, against them will be tolerated. An ordinance has been brought in, it’ll be implemented after the President’s sanction,” he told a press conference in New Delhi.
“The law is needed at this juncture as there were reports of ‘corona warriors’ being attacked in some states, which is very unfortunate as they are risking their lives to save us from this world pandemic,” said Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu of Visakhapatnam.
The healthcare workers “are like angels at this time of emergency who have put their duty first, not even thinking of the consequences of dealing with such a disease,” he told UCANEWS. They “are not only putting their lives at risk but their family members as well,” said the archbishop who is chairman of the Office for Health Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
“If we don’t appreciate them,” the archbishop said, “then we don’t even have the right to attack them as they are doing their duties religiously.”
“If the injuries are serious, the punishment will range from six months to seven years [in jail] and carry a fine of between 100,000 and 500,000 rupees,” Javadekar told reporters.
He said that the amended law will also be invoked if healthcare workers face harassment from their landlords. The offence under the amended law will be cognizable and non-bailable, which means the police can arrest the accused and only courts can release them on bail.
The minister added that the amended law also has provisions to provide compensation for damage or loss of property of health workers.
The media has been reporting numerous attacks on medical professionals in India, including sexual harassment of female doctors and nurses and police being pelted with stones, that have caused concern among health professionals and the government during the pandemic lockdown.
A video on mobs chasing and throwing stones at two female doctors in Indore went viral online. There have also been reports of many other attacks on health professionals in other states, such as Gujarat, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Health workers and the families also face harassment and discrimination at home from their landlords and neighbours for fear of infection.
Healthcare professionals and workers had planned a nationwide silent protest on April 22-23 against attacks on them.
Father Paul Parathazham, director of St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences in Bangalore, also welcomed the new law saying it “was much needed and long due as medical personnel are going through physical as well as mental stress,” which could affect their work. (Source – UCANEWS)
By Suzy Hodges
In a nationwide television address the Prime Minister gave details about how Italy would move into Phase Two of easing its strict coronavirus lockdown.
Under the measures, factories, building sites and parks will reopen from May 4th and Italians will be able to travel within their regions to visit relatives. However, movement outside their home region will still be banned unless for work or other emergency purposes. On the same date bars and restaurants will reopen but only for takeaway services and the ban on funerals will be lifted.
In the next stage, retail shops, museums, galleries and libraries will reopen on May 18th and sports teams will also be able to hold group training. Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars and restaurants are due to reopen on June the 1st.
However, the government said schools in Italy are not set to re-open until September.
During his address, Conte stressed that social distancing measures would need to remain in place for many months and said life would be about co-existing with the virus. He urged Italians to always stay at least one metre away from each other, saying “If you love Italy, keep your distance!”
Italians have been confined to their homes since March 9th in Europe’s longest nationwide coronavirus lockdown. The nation has also suffered Europe’s highest official death toll from the virus and the second highest in the world.
By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The coronavirus pandemic has triggered fears of an economic downturn in many countries. As business, employers and even countries continue to adapt to these trying times, millions of people’s jobs around the world are increasingly endangered.
In light of this, the Bishops in the Ivory Coast have called on the Catholic Education Secretariat in the country to “maintain the jobs and salaries of employees.” They made this call in a press statement released on 23 April under their umbrella body of the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast (CECCI).
The Bishops’ plea comes on the heels of another recent call made by the President of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA-CERAO), Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama. He urged governments in Africa to ensure the payment of workers’ salaries to alleviate their suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bishops expressed their concerns that the loss of jobs or reduction of salaries for those who are able to continue working would cause many families to suffer. For this reason, they urge the Education Secretariat to “give priority to the payment of salary arrears accrued when schools were closed”. They also invite the Education Secretariat to “enter into negotiations” with their staff in the case of financial difficulties.
The Ivorian prelates also indicated their closeness to Catholic education personnel in the country. The Bishops asked that teachers in Catholic schools remain at the disposal of their employers for possible professional solicitations, and “show understanding and a spirit of sacrifice in negotiations” with them. The Bishops also call for Christians “to unite in prayer for a rapid end to the pandemic.”
All schools and universities have been closed in the Ivory Coast since 17 March. This is one of thirteen precautionary measures adopted by the government against the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The government has also imposed a lockdown in Abidjan, the West-African nation’s capital city.
The closure of schools in the country has been felt by Catholic-run educational institutions and as many of them have been plunged into financial difficulties.
This is due to the “unresolved payment of the 2018-2019 subvention and the non-payment of the 2019-2020 subvention by the state,” explained Father Jean Luc N’dreman, the Catholic Education Secretary. He also noted the “impossibility of recovering the totality of school fees owed” the Catholic schools.
The Ivory Coast has recorded at least 1,150 cases of Covid-19, 14 related deaths, and 468 recovered patients. A total of another 31,000 people have been infected in Africa.
By Devin Watkins
In a letter sent on Monday to over 100 street papers around the world, Pope Francis acknowledged that the coronavirus outbreak has severely tested the people who rely on them for an income.
“I would like to acknowledge the world of street papers and especially the vendors – who for the most part are homeless, terribly marginalized, or unemployed: thousands of people across the world who live and have a job thanks to selling these extraordinary newspapers”, Pope Francis writes.
Street papers are publications produced to support those who write, edit and distribute them. These newspapers often seek to give the marginalized a voice in their community.
More than 100 street papers are published in 35 countries, in 25 different languages. They provide 20,500 people with employment and an income.
Pope Francis expressed appreciation for this mission, and warmly recalled a Caritas Italy project called Scarp de’ tenis.
The publication provides an income and “access to fundamental citizens’ rights” to over 130 people facing financial and social difficulties.
Pope Francis also lamented that the Covid-19 pandemic has kept those who rely on street papers from working. He said the “most vulnerable, the invisible, and those without an abode are at risk of paying the highest price” from the coronavirus.
“I would like to express my solidarity with the journalists, the volunteers, and the people living thanks to these projects and who these days are doing everything they can thanks to many innovative ideas,” he said.
The pandemic, said the Pope, has made their work difficult. “But I am sure that the great network of street papers will come back stronger than ever.”
In conclusion, the Pope encouraged everyone to turn our attention to the poor during this unique moment.
He said the poor can “help us all realize how much is actually happening to us and what our circumstances really are.”
“Thank you for the work you do,” said Pope Francis, “for the information you provide, and for the stories of hope that you tell.”
By Vatican News
The Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) responded shortly after the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, revealed “phase 2” of the response to the coronavirus crisis on Sunday evening.
In a note sent to the government, the Bishops addressed the policies that would continue to restrict the Church’s ability to carry out its pastoral activity. The Bishops of Italy made it clear that any move to compromise the “exercise of freedom of religion” is unacceptable.
Noting the important services the Church provides in Italy, the Bishops write, “It should be clear to all that the commitment to serving the poor, [which is] so significant in this emergency, stems from a faith that must be nourished at its source, especially the sacramental life”.
In their message, the Bishops indicate that they have been in negotiations with the government. As a result, CEI proposed “guidelines and protocols” for the transitional phase of the response to coronavirus, “in full compliance with all health regulations”.
Nonetheless, the note continues, the plan presented by Prime Minister Conte “arbitrarily excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass with the people”.
The Bishops remind those responsible for the plan – the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (the prime minister’s office) and the Technical-Scientific Committee – “of the duty to distinguish between their responsibility – to give precise indications related to health matters – and that of the Church, which is called to organize the life of the Christian community, respecting the measures laid down, but in the fullness of their own autonomy”.
The Bishops also take note of an earlier statement by the Minister of the Interior, who said that “new measures were being studied by the Government to allow the widest possible exercise of freedom of worship”. That statement came “after an ongoing and constructive discussion between the General Secretariat of the CEI, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Council Presidency itself”, the Bishops say.
In the meantime, “the Church has painfully and with a sense of responsibility accepted the limitations imposed by the government in order to deal with the health crisis”.
In the dialogue with government offices, the note continues, the Bishops’ Conference has stressed, repeatedly and explicitly, that as soon as the measures taken to deal with the pandemic began to be lifted, “the Church would demand to be able to resume its pastoral activity”.
The Presidency of the Council (the administrative structure that supports the prime minister), acknowledged receipt of the Bishops’ communication on Sunday night.
The statement from the administration “confirms what has already been announced” in the Prime Minister’s press conference, adding, “In the coming days we will already be studying a protocol that will allow the participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations, in conditions of maximum security, as soon as possible.”
Reuters – Havana, Cuba/ Vatican News – Vatican City
Cuba has sent around 1,200 healthcare workers largely to vulnerable African and Caribbean nations but also to rich European countries such as Italy that have been particularly hard hit by the novel coronavirus.
Cuba, which has confirmed ,1337 cases of the virus at home and 51 deaths, has one of the world’s highest number of doctors per capita and is renowned for its focus on prevention, community-oriented primary health care and preparedness to fight epidemics.
“The advantage of Cuba is that they are a community health model, one that we would like to use,” South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a news briefing earlier this month.
South Africa has recorded 4,546 cases, including 87 deaths, with 161,004 people tested for the virus as of Saturday.
The country has a special relationship with Cuba, which supported the fight against apartheid. After Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990, he repeatedly thanked revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
South Africa sent medical supplies to Cuba to assist in the fight against coronavirus in the plane that is now returning with the Cuban medical brigade, Cuba’s embassy there wrote on Twitter.
“These are times of solidarity and cooperation. If we act together, we can halt the spread of coronavirus in a faster and more cost-effective manner,” Cuba’s ambassador to South Africa, Rodolfo Benítez Verson, said in a statement.
Cuba has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites and disease outbreaks around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 leftist revolution. Its doctors were in the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s.
Cuba has more than 37, 000 health care workers in 67 countries worldwide, according to the country’s foreign ministry.
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis introduced morning Mass on Monday of the Third Week of Easter, with special thoughts for artists.
“Let us pray today for artists, for those who have this great capacity for creativity,” and for showing us the way to beauty.” He continued: “May the Lord give us all the grace of creativity at this time.”
He then reflected on the Gospel reading of the day (Jn 6:22-29) in which Jesus redirects the crowd for seeking Him after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes only because their stomachs had been filled by exhorting them “not to work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
Being good people, the Pope said, they asked him how to accomplish this and Jesus replied: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
Pope Francis explained that the crowd listened to Jesus “without getting tired.” Once sated, they thought they would make Him king, “but they had forgotten their first enthusiasm for His Word.”
So, he continued, the Lord reminded the crowd of their first encounter with the Word, and “He corrected the path of the people who had taken a more worldly, rather than evangelical path.”
This happens to us too, the Pope warned, when we move away from the path of the Gospel and we lose the memory of our first enthusiasm for the Word of the Lord.
But Jesus, he said, asks us to go back to that first encounter: “This is a grace when faced with temptations.”
And the Pope highlighted the grace of “always returning to that first call, when Jesus looked at us with love.” “Each of us has the experience of that first encounter in which Jesus said: follow me”, he said.
Along the way, he continued, we move away, “we forget”, and we lose the freshness of that first call.
Pope Francis invited the faithful to pray that the Lord might give us the grace to return to the moment in which we had our first experience of encounter with Jesus. He recalled how Jesus told the women who went to the tomb early on Easter morning to go and tell his disciples “to go to Galilee and there, they will find me” (see Matthew 28:10).
Galilee, he said, was the place of their first meeting with Jesus.
“Each one of us has our own Galilee within us”, the Pope concluded, “that specific moment in which Jesus drew close…looked on me with love, and said to me: ‘follow me.’ ”
Olivuccio di Ciccarello, Works of Mercy: give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger. Vatican Museum, Art Gallery, © Musei Vaticani
For all those who suffer or hunger for truth,
justice and peace, but with their eyes blurred
by their unsatisfied search, can we not at least
remember in our interior prayer the invitation
that is always addressed to us by the only
One who can hear: “Come to me, all of you,
who are weary and burdened, and I will refresh you”?
(Paul VI, Holy Thursday Homily, 15 April 1976)
Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza
By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis on Sunday said that, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, “we must continue the effort to prevent and cure malaria, which threatens millions of persons in many countries”.
The United Nations observes World Malaria Day each year on April 25.
Following the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father said he is close “to all who are sick”, and to their caregivers, and to those working to ensure that “every person might have access to basic health care”.
The Pope also offered special greetings to the people of Poland who are participating in National Scripture Reading Day.
Pope Francis regularly encourages the reading of the Bible, and once again stressed the importance of having the habit of reading the Gospel, “a few minutes every day”. He also once again suggested that the faithful carry a copy of the Gospels wherever they go, so that the Word of God might always be near us, “even physically”.
Finally, Pope Francis spoke again about the month of May, which is “dedicated in a particular way to the Virgin Mary”. He called attention to his Letter, published on Saturday, in which he invited the faithful to pray the Holy Rosary in their homes throughout May, adding to the chaplet one of the two new prayers attached to the Letter.
He prayed, “May our Mother help us to face with more faith and hope this time of trial that we are living”.
By Christopher Wells
At the Regina Coeli on the Third Sunday of Easter, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).
“It is a story which begins and ends on the move”, the Pope said. On the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, the disciples are sad, although the Lord whom they do not recognise, is walking beside them. On the return journey, they are joyful, because, although they no longer see Jesus, they feel Him near them.
Pope Francis said that these “two different paths” show us “that in life, we have two opposite directions in front of us”. One is the path of those who “let themselves be paralysed by life’s disappointments”, and the other is that of those who put Jesus, and their brothers and sisters who await them, in first place.
“Here is the turning point”, the Pope said: “to stop orbiting around oneself, the disappointments of the past, the unrealised ideals, and to go on looking at the greatest and truest reality of life: Jesus is alive and loves me”.
Commenting on a play on words in the Italian, the Holy Father said we are called to move from “if” (se) to yes (sì). We often think “if God had freed us, if God had listened to me, if life had not gone as I wanted, if I had this or that”. That was the disciples’ attitude that first Easter evening. Yet “they pass to the ‘yes’,” the Pope said: “Yes, the Lord is alive, He walks with us. Yes, now, not tomorrow, we are on our way to announce it”.
For the two disciples of Emmaus, this change occurred by meeting Jesus. Pope Francis explained that, for us too, there are three steps we can take in our own homes: opening our hearts to Jesus, listening to Jesus, and praying to Jesus.
“In life, we are always journeying”, the Pope reminded us. “And we become what we go towards. Let us choose the way of God, not of the self… We will discover that there are no unexpected events, no uphill path, no night that cannot be faced with Jesus”.
Manifattura Fiamminga, Brussels; cartoon: Raphael’s School, Resurrection, Tapestry: Scuola Nuova series, wool, silk and silver and gold, 1524-31, Vatican Museum, Vatican Apostolic Palace, Gallery of Tapestries © Musei Vaticani
In the Risen Christ all creation rises to new life.
From the moment when your tomb, O Christ,
was found, there began the time in which
the whole of creation sings your name
“which is above every other name” and awaits
your final return in glory. During this time,
between Easter and the coming of your
everlasting Kingdom, a time like the travail
of giving birth (cf. Rom 8:22), sustain us
in our dedication to building a more human world,
a world soothed by the balm of your Love.
Paschal Victim offered for the salvation
of the world, grant that this commitment
of ours will not falter, even when weariness
slows our steps. You, victorious King,
grant to us and to the world eternal salvation!
(John Paul II, Urbi et orbi, 15 April 2001)
Under the direction of: Paolo Ondarza
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
“Today in this Mass, we pray for all those who are suffering from sadness, because they are alone or because they do not know what to expect in the future”. This was Pope Francis’s prayer intention for Mass on Sunday at the Casa Santa Marta chapel.
He once again listed families who are suffering financially and may be without work.
Pope Francis focused his homily on the day’s Gospel (Luke 24:13-35). It recounts how the Lord accompanied the disciples on their way to Emmaus.
Pope Francis began his homily with a description of a Christian. “A person is Christian because he or she has met Jesus and has allowed Jesus to meet them”. The Lord interacts with us in just the same way that He interacted with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the Pope continued.
It begins with the “seed of dissatisfaction” that we are born with, he explained. Many times, we are not aware of the thirst in our souls for fulfillment. We take many wrong roads seeking what in the end never satisfies us. What we are really thirsting for is “the encounter with God”, Pope Francis stated.
At the same time, God thirsts to meet us. This is why God sent Jesus so that He could draw near and satisfy this thirst. Jesus is extremely respectful of “our personal situation”, “He moves slowly”, “He is respectful of our readiness”, “He is patient”, “He doesn’t rush ahead”, Pope Francis explained. Jesus accompanies us at our side and invites us to talk about what bothers us, even to the point of feigning ignorance.
The Lord likes to hear us speak so He can understand us well and to give the correct response to our dissatisfaction. The Lord does not accelerate. He always goes at our own pace… He waits for us to take the first step. And when it is the right moment, He asks us a question… Then He responds. He explains up until the right point… Then He pretends to go farther, to see how deep our dissatisfaction is… At the moment when our dissatisfaction meets Jesus, the life of grace and fullness of life begins there.
Pope Francis says that he has always been curious to know what Jesus said to those two disciples “so as to do the same”. “It must have been a beautiful catechesis”, he said. Jesus accompanies us along the entire journey, even when we are not aware of His presence.
We meet Jesus in the darkness of our doubts, even in the horrible darkness of our sins. The Lord is always there to help us in our distress. He’s always with us… The Lord accompanies us because He desires to meet us. This is the core of Christianity.
The Pope’s concluding prayer was that “Jesus might grant to each one of us the grace of meeting Him every day, to knowing and to specifically recognize that He walks with us in every moment. He is our companion along the pilgrim way”.
By Linda Bordoni
Baghdad’s parish priests have decided to donate their salaries to help the poor and the people most affected by the new coronavirus pandemic.
Their contribution, that should result in about 25 million Iraqi dinars, will be added to 90,000 US dollars already allocated by the Chaldean patriarchate for the same reason.
The decision came at the end of a meeting on Friday evening between the priests, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Archbishop of Baghdad and Patriarch of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, and auxiliary bishops Shemon Warduni and Basil Yaldo.
The Covid-19 pandemic hit Iraq in late February, when the country was in its most fragile and vulnerable state, with a caretaker government and a wave of mass protests that had started in October 2019.
The devastating economic consequences of a lockdown on the economy, combined with the sharp drop of oil prices and the security and political issues that have undermined Iraq for more than a decade, have set the stage for much suffering.
Discussing the current situation and precautionary measures dictated by the pandemic, the Chaldean Primate reiterated the need to respect social distancing in churches and uphold government health directives and lockdowns to counter the spread of the disease.
To this end, all group activities within the parishes remain suspended until further notice, including catechism and activities for youth.
Cardinal Sako also noted that the Chaldean Church plans to further use the Internet and social media to keep in touch with the faithful.
He confirmed the Church’s commitment and closeness to the poorest and neediest families, and in a plea to the Christian community, the patriarch stressed that “at this historical and fateful time, all Iraqis must put aside their personal struggles and interests” to promote “shared action and solidarity against the common enemy” that threatens lives, the economy and social and religious relations.
According to official statistics, Iraq has almost 1,800 reported cases of the new coronavirus with 83 deaths.
However medical sources and independent analysts claim the toll is much higher and some doctors have reportedly been targeted by police for reporting three times more cases.
By Vatican News
Up to half of Europe’s Covid-19-related deaths have occurred among the elderly living in nursing homes and other care facilities.
A report released this week by the World Health Organization said European nations have focused their attention on hospitals and left those in care homes without proper help.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, lamented these statistics in an interview with Vatican Radio.
Cardinal Turkson also urged societies to take care of the elderly in a sign of inter-generational solidarity.
Old age and the type of experience that the elderly face in society today, the cardinal said. There are a lot of issues attached to this experience coming from the cultural dimensions and values systems.
Basically, he said, we need to recognise that there are two very vulnerable and fragile phases in the life of the human person. The vulnerability and fragility of life begin in the womb and continues after the baby is born. Here, parents have a big role in protecting this life.
Cardinal Turkson then went on to point out that there comes a time when these parents age and themselves become vulnerable and fragile. They, in turn, need the care and protection of those they protected before. There is a need for reciprocity of attention and care between the generations so as to protect life both at its beginning and at its end.
Unfortunately, he noted, the present Covid-19 situation is exposing the fragility and vulnerability of the elderly in the homes for the aged. When the disease broke out, it was already understood that it would be tough on the elderly due to the vulnerability of advanced age, weakened biological systems, depressed immune responses, etc., which compromises the health of the elderly.
Cardinal Turkson said that there is another aspect of vulnerability that society needs to look at. Since human life itself is vulnerable, the vulnerable and imperfect human person creates imperfect or fragile systems and structures.
This becomes visible as inequality in society. Access to healthcare is not equal for everyone and it is not even available everywhere.
In this context, he recalled Pope Francis who calls for appreciating the elderly in society because they are the “bearers of memory” and witnesses to the culture of society. The inter-generational solidarity that we often talk about, the Cardinal said, is not only for the sake of creating a safe future for the young but also for the sake of the safety of those who are responsible for our being here at this time and point of history.
John Charles Putzolu
It is necessary to go back to the 15th century to Pope Sixtus IV to find when the Rosary was officially approved by the Catholic Church. The practice probably originated with the Cistercians in the two previous centuries as an aid for illiterate people. The recitation of prayers and psalms in succession, gradually became a series of 150 Hail Marys. Greeting Mary so many times was compared to offering her a wreath of roses, the “Rosary”.
Promoted by the Dominicans in the 15th century, the Rosary took the form of a meditation on the life of Christ, while the Our Father and the Hail Marys were recited. In the 16th century, the Dominican theologian, Antonio Ghislieri, who became Pope St Pius V, structured the Rosary around 15 mysteries. On 7 October 1571, he instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
John Paul II in 2002 completed the Rosary with five new mysteries: The Luminous Mysteries were added to the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries.
Between 1571 and 2002, the Popes never ceased to encourage the recitation of the Rosary. In September 1893, in the Encyclical Laetitiae sanctae, Leo XIII stated that he was “convinced that the Rosary, if devoutly used, is bound to benefit not only the individual but society at large”, whose evils he denounced at the dawn of the second Industrial Revolution, which was deepening the imbalance between the social classes.
Pius XI foresaw the wave of National Socialism (Nazism) and Stalinism coming. In 1937, two years before the beginning of the Second World War, in his Encyclical Ingravescentibus malis, he observed that if the people of the twentieth century, “with its derisive pride, refuse the Rosary, there is an innumerable multitude of holy men of every age and every condition who have always held it dear”. He addresses the faithful, asking them to recite the Rosary at home so that “the enemies of the divine name (…) may be finally bent and led to penance and return to the straight path, trusting to the care and protection of Mary”.
Pius XI added: “The Holy Rosary, besides, not only serves admirably to overcome the enemies of God and Religion, but is also a stimulus and spur to the practice of evangelic virtues which it injects and cultivates in our souls”.
On May 4, 1963, while the Church was engaged in the Second Vatican Council, St John XXIII welcomed the first Italian Living Rosary pilgrimage, during which “Good Pope John” met many sick children. “You are dear to us, like the apple of our eyes,” the Supreme Pontiff said to them. “You are dear to us above all because, with the natural liveliness of your years, you are little children who pray,” he told them. He praised their “commitment to recite at least one decade of the Holy Rosary every day,” adding that a day without prayer is like “a sky without sun, a garden without flowers”.
Already in 1961, an attachment to the Apostolic Letter Il religioso convegno, noted that St John, in his daily Rosary, prayed for babies born in the past 24 hours, as he recited the third decade of the Joyful mysteries. He offered the “ten Hail Marys” in order to “recommend to Jesus all children born (…) from all human lineages, who, (…) by night, by day, have come into the world on the whole surface of the earth”.
In the Encyclical Grata recordatio of 1959, John XXIII encouraged daily recitation of the Rosary, affirming that the Rosary is an excellent means of meditative prayer, which, he said, “We never fail to recite it each day in its entirety”. He invited the faithful to pray the Rosary for the upcoming Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) and for “the renewed vigour of all the Christian virtues” expected of the Church.
In the wake of the Council, Pope St Paul VI dedicated an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Marialis cultus to Marian veneration in which he “intended to encourage the restoration, in a dynamic and more informed manner, of the recitation of the Rosary”. He also emphasized “the importance of a further essential element in the Rosary, in addition to the value of the elements of praise and petition, namely the element of contemplation. Without this the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas”. St Paul VI goes on “to recommend strongly the recitation of the family Rosary”.
St. John Paul II, who himself was deeply devoted to the Virgin Mary (Totus Tuus was his episcopal motto), encouraged the recitation of the Rosary many times during the 27 years of his pontificate. In 2002 he published an Apostolic Letter dedicated specifically to the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. In it, he described the Rosary as a prayer which “in the sobriety of its elements” concentrates “all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety”, and through which “the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer”. St John Paul II explains that in his youth he always gave an important place to this prayer, which was his favourite. He had already confessed this in 1978 two weeks after his election. It was in this Letter that he proclaimed the year of the Rosary from October 2002 to October 2003, inviting the faithful to “contemplate with Mary the face of Christ”.
At the dawn of the third millennium, the Polish Pope stressed “the urgent need to counter a certain crisis of the Rosary, which in the present historical and theological context can risk being wrongly devalued, and therefore no longer taught to the younger generation”. Concerned then by the critical situation of the family “increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes”, he proposed the Rosary as “an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age”.
Benedict XVI, too, wished to revitalize the recitation of the Rosary: “The Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia,” he said at the end of his prayer at the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major on 3 May 2008. “Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime”, he said. “Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre”.
Three years earlier, in a Message to young Catholics in the Netherlands, he wrote that “The recitation of the Rosary can help you learn the art of prayer with Mary’s simplicity and depth”. During an Audience in May 2006, Benedict XVI invited the faithful “to intensify the pious practice of the Holy Rosary”. He said to young spouses: “I wish you may make use of the recitation of the Rosary in your family as a moment of spiritual growth under the maternal gaze of the Virgin Mary”. Speaking to the sick, he urged them “to turn with trust to Our Lady through this pious exercise, entrusting to her all of your needs”.
In October 2018, Pope Francis asked all the faithful to pray the Rosary every day, so that the Virgin Mary may help the Church in a period marked by “the revelation of sexual abuse, power and conscience on the part of clerics, consecrated persons and lay people, causing internal divisions”.
Today Francis renews this invitation on the eve of the Marian month in 2020, in order to contemplate together “the face of Christ with the heart of Mary”. Praying the Rosary “will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial”, writes the Holy Father as he assures everyone, and especially “those suffering most greatly”, of his prayer.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
At the beginning of April, Portraits in Faith launched a series of Virtual Concerts for Protection and Healing. Since then, they have hosted 5 concerts, and at least another 13 performances have been confirmed for the future.
These concerts are featured on the Portraits of Faith Facebook account. The concert posts have received over 45,000 views since the concert series began, with about 1,200 hours of viewing time.
Daniel Epstein, Founder of Portraits in Faith spoke with Vatican News about the concept of the concerts and who some of the upcoming artists are.
Speaking about Portraits in Faith, Daniel Epstein says it is “about the oneness of humanity.” His goal is that people “have an experience of receiving the story of someone they perceived to be the other”.
Daniel Epstein founded Portraits in Faith when he was a Marketing Director for Procter & Gamble. As he traveled for business, he began to include a faith dimension to find, and then nurture the “God-sized hole” inside. The spiritual exercise he incorporated into his life was that of interviewing people about their own personal faith lives. Over a period of 15 years, Epstein has interviewed 500 people living in 27 countries who come from 50 different faith backgrounds. So far, 115 of these interviews have been published, for a total of 300,000 views on YouTube. These testimonies can be found on the Portrait of Faith website.
The interview that has received the highest number of hits is that of Maria Carminia Lourdes Cynthia Arnaldo Gutierrez, also known as Chin Chin Gutierrez. At the time of the interview, she was a Filipino actress. She is now Sr Lourdes and has been a member of a Carmelite monastery since 2010.
That naturally led to the idea of providing virtual concerts online, Epstein says. “I just thought about bringing people together and giving them music and prayer from many different traditions so that we might be comforted. I say the concerts are for protection and healing.”
Epstein says that artists have been responding very positively to sign on to the series. Because many artists are not working, he is grateful to offer a small fee “which I know helps in difficult times”, he says. Artists in general, he continues, are “giving such a great gift. The outpouring of the creative community during this crisis has been amazing and that’s been true for all the people I’ve contacted. They’ve been eager to give back”.
The most recent concert featured Roman Orona, a Native American. He shared “prayers and chants and drumming in Native American flute”. Another featured an Israeli artist. Upcoming concerts feature a Sufi spoken word artist, and a “a major Catholic singer-songwriter John Angotti from Nashville who’s going to be performing”. “it’s really been a wonderful mix”, Epstein notes.
Each concert lasts one hour. So far, Portraits in Faith has hosted five such concerts. Every artist is invited to open and close the concert with a prayer from their tradition of their choosing. It’s been really beautiful so far”, Epstein says.
About 15,000 people have tuned in to the more popular artists. “Each tradition brings a certain amount of popularity based on its population in the world”, Epstein explains. He emphasized that it is obvious that people are “also watching traditions other than their own”.
In the end, Epstein hopes that these concerts provide both comfort and hope. “there’s so many unknowns in this pandemic that I think people are definitely holding onto faith and trying to muster up faith”. This, he believes, “is what comes through in the concert for people”.
By Vatican News
The Rt. Rev. Lambert Bainomugisha was born 12th July 1961 at Kashumba, Bukanga, Isingiro in what was at that time the Diocese of Mbarara. He studied both in Uganda and in Canada and obtained a degree in Canon Law through the University of St Paul of Ottowa. He was ordained priest on 13 July 1991 at Mbarara Cathedral.
He exercised his pastoral ministry for several years in St Joseph the Worker Parish in Rubindi, Mbarara. He then returned to Canada in 1994 to complete his studies. After returning to the Diocese, he was the Chancellor of the Archdiocese from 2000 to 2005.
On 2 July 2005 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Mbarara and Titular Bishop of Tacia Montana. He received episcopal consecration on 1 October the same year.
On 13 November, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Apostolic Administrator sedes plena et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the Diocese of Hoima, until a new Bishop of Hoima was ordained and appointed on 29 February 2016. Bishop Lambert then returned to the Archdiocese of Mbarara to continue his duties as Auxiliary Bishop.
Arcbishop-elect Bainomugisha is also the President of the Legal Service Commission and is a member of other commissions of the Uganda Episcopal Conference.
By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis is encouraging the faithful to pray the Rosary during the month of May, “when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary”.
In a Letter for the Month of May, published on the feast of St Mark the Evangelist (25 April), the Pope notes that it is a tradition to pray the Rosary at home with the family during this month. This year, he continues, “the restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this ‘family’ aspect, also from a spiritual point of view”.
That is why he is proposing to everyone to “rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May”, whether individually or personally, “making the most both opportunities”.
Pope Francis says, “the key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow”
Pope Francis also proposes two new prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which can be recited at the end of the Rosary. In his letter, he assures the faithful that he too will be reciting those prayers throughout the month of May, “in spiritual union with all of you”.
The Pope says, “contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial”.
He concludes his letter with the promise that he is praying for all of us “especially those suffering most greatly”; and he asks for our prayers as well.
Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
to the Faithful for the Month of May 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.
For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.
I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.
Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA – Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya’s Bishop of Ngong Diocese, John Oballa Owaa, who is also the Bishop-Chair of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) at the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops empathised with the affected families. There have been floods in Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Bungoma, Homabay and Kisumu Counties. Families have lost loved ones, while many others are displaced. There has also been significant loss of material property.
The Bishops said that even “service facilities such as hospitals, churches, care homes and schools have either been swept away or badly damaged by the raging waters.”
The disastrous floods and landslides caused by unprecedented heavy rains in parts of Kenya resulted in over 400 households being affected. The Bishops have appealed to government and well-wishers to help families in the affected areas. They observed that the disaster has happened at a time when the country is also grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We commend the government’s multi-agency team, led by officers from the Ministry of Interior and Coordination, for their speedy response and intervention in the Elgeyo Marakwet incidence,” reads part of the statement signed by Bishop John Oballa Owaa.
“We, however, call on the two levels of government to immediately allocate adequate resources to address the immediate needs of the affected population. This is important, especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, as those rendered homeless become even more vulnerable,” the Bishops said.
Sharing his experience of the floods, Fr. Shadrack Malo, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Ahero in Kisumu Archdiocese also worried that the floods would compromise the COVID-19 fight. “With the issue of COVID-19, it might not be very easy because…observing safety measures (of COVID-19), while people are searching for food and security is a bit difficult,” Fr. Malo said.
By Robin Gomes
At the start of the Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Saturday morning, Pope Francis urged for prayers for those working in funeral services.
“What they do is something very painful and sad. They are touched closely by the pain of this pandemic,” he said.
Celebrating the liturgical feast of St. Mark, the Pope in his homily reflected on the Saint’s Gospel, where Jesus, before going away to the Father, sends forth His disciples saying, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
Stressing the missionary nature of faith, he said, “Faith is either missionary or it is no faith at all.” It is not something only for oneself. One grows with faith which leads one to go out of oneself to others, which is what “sending forth” means, the Pope said. “Faith must be transmitted, it must be offered, above all through witness,” he stressed.
The Holy Father recalled a priest working in a European city complaining of much gnosticism and lack of faith among Christians. The Pope said this is because of the lack of the missionary spirit. Faith is something that we offer, above all, through witness.
The designation of a Christian or a Catholic on the identity card is a mere data, something cultural. “This is not faith,” the Pope said. “Faith necessarily takes you out, it leads you to give it to others, because faith must be essentially transmitted. It does not remain quiet.”
Being a missionary does not consist in just going to distant lands. It means that if you have faith, you necessarily have to get out of yourself and show your faith socially. This does not mean proselytizing, as if recruiting people for a soccer team or a charity.
The transmission of faith is to reveal God through witness and service so that the Holy Spirit can act in people. Service is a way of life, the Pope said. If I say that I am a Christian and live like a pagan, no one will be convinced. Instead, if I am a Christian and live as a Christian, people are attracted, and this is witness.
A university student in Poland had asked the Pope what he could do to convince many of his atheist friends. The Pope said, “The last thing you need to do is say something.” “Start living, and, seeing your testimony, they will ask you: ‘Why do you live like this?’.” Faith, the Holy Father explained, must be transmitted, not to convince but to offer as a treasure.
This, the Pope said, is done with humility as St. Peter urges in the first reading: “Clothe yourselves all with humility towards each other” (1 Peter 5:5).
He said there are many instances of men or women in the Church, in history, in movements and groups, who preached like proselytizers and ended up in corruption.
The Pope concluded saying that the Lord assures us that if we go out of ourselves to witness to Him, we will be fruitful and work wonders. In the transmission of ideologies, he pointed out, there will be teachers but in the transmission of faith, the Lord will be with us and accompanies us until the end of the world.
By Robin Gomes
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), wrote to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the first week of April, offering the Indian Church’s full support and cooperation in the nation’s effort to contain the virus.
Modi convened a video conference with health workers, which included various representatives of the Church, mainly, the Director of Caritas India and the Director-General of the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI).
The government of Modi on 24 March ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown, restricting the movement of the country’s 1.3 billion population as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19.
With many factories, businesses, shops, schools, and commercial activities closed, millions of people have become jobless overnight. The lockdown has been particularly hard on poor migrants and daily wage earners, many of them with families and children. Thousands were suddenly left stranded on the road without money, food and transport to return home.
With the lockdown extended to May 3, the ordeal continues.
On April 2, 2020, the Prime Minister’s Office held another video conference to discuss the situation of migrant workers. Cardinal Oswald Gracias who participated in the meeting, discussed the matter with Mumbai city officials, about urgently providing assistance to the stranded migrant workers.
The Archdiocese of Bombay is based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the capital of the western state of Maharashtra. The bustling city of more than 12 million people is India’s financial, commercial and entertainment capital. It provides a means of livelihood to a huge number of daily wage earners and migrants.
Cardinal Gracias has set up a crisis management team in his archdiocese “to analyze and daily respond to the changing scenario swiftly,” said the spokesman of the archdiocese, Father Nigel Barrett.
In a video message, end of March, the cardinal urged his priests to keep their “eyes and ears open” to help out distressed migrant workers who are stranded in their parishes because of the lockdown. He also urged that the lonely elderly have sufficient provisions during the crisis.
All 124 parishes in the archdiocese are providing food to needy people in their area. “Together, roughly some 7,000 people are given food twice daily,” Father Barrett said.
The cardinal also urged churches not to terminate any staff and ensure that salaries are paid, even if they do not work during the emergency.
As an outreach to tribal and daily wage workers, the Centre for Social Action, through its network of partner organizations across Raigad, Thane and Mumbai, is reaching out to over 5,000 households and over 100,000 beneficiaries, with essential supplies amounting to Rs. 5,000,000 (approx. $65,000).
The beneficiaries include tribal, poor migrants, the elderly, transgenders, rag-pickers and other vulnerable persons. The Archdiocese of Bombay has also made four of its schools available for relief measures, and has been organizing is outreach programmes in collaboration with local authorities and officials in keeping with social distancing norms.
On Friday, the total number of Covid-19 cases in India rose to 23,542 with 723 deaths. Maharashtra leads the nation’s 28 states and 8 union territories with the most number of cases at 6817. The state has confirmed 310 deaths so far.
“This battle against COVID 19 is not an easy one,” said Father Barrett, “but we stand united, armed with faith that we shall overcome.”
By Robin Gomes
Referring to the many migrants who were not promptly and safely disembarked at the closest EU port over the last days, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) calls for “a predictable solidarity mechanism agreed among EU member states”.
In a press release on Friday, COMECE shares the concerns recently expressed by the Maltese Conference of Bishops about the fate of 47 people stuck for days on an NGO rescue vessel in Malta’s search and rescue area (SAR), in an extremely precarious situation and finally taken back to Libya.
COMECE says it shares the concerns recently expressed by the Maltese Conference of Bishops regarding 47 people who spent several days in an extremely precarious situation, stuck on an NGO rescue vessel in Malta’s search and rescue area (SAR), before finally being taken back to Libya.
The bishops’ body says that the EU should support its 27-member states in ensuring the prompt and safe disembarkation of migrants and asylum seekers at the closest safe port, “which should be a European port, as Libyan ports cannot be considered safe”, says Father Manuel Barrios Prieto, General Secretary of COMECE.
As required by the Resolution MSC.167(78) of the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organisation, people rescued at sea can only be disembarked in a safe port.
“Migrants and asylum seekers,” says the priest, “are often subjected to torture, violence, and inhumane treatment when they are taken back to countries from where they embarked.”
To prevent the Mediterranean Sea turning into a vast cemetery, COMECE calls the European Union and its Member States to work for a common response to forced migration, establishing “a predictable solidarity mechanism agreed among EU member states to cope with emergency situations of vulnerable migrants in distress at sea”.
Despite the current difficulties caused by the current Covid-19 pandemic to all EU Member States, COMECE highlights that humanitarian principles should always prevail.
“No one should be left behind,” says Father Barrios, “including migrants in a rescue vessel”.
“The pandemic should not be an excuse to let human beings die in the Mediterranean Sea.”
The EU bishops commission recalls Pope Francis’ message for the 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, where he says, “it is not just about migrants: [it is about our humanity], it is a question of seeing that no one is excluded”.
The EU is a community of values and principles, with the common understanding that human beings are equal in dignity and deserve respect for their human rights and protection, especially when they are in a situation of high vulnerability.
COMECE is made up of bishops delegated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the 27 Member States of the European Union.
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