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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 16 min 13 sec ago

Bishops Petition US Congress for Emergency Aid for Catholic Schools

9 hours 56 min ago

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap. of Boston, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R. of Newark and Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ of Oakland and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Catholic Education cosigned a letter requesting that emergency aid to Catholic schools be included in the next federal COVID emergency relief package.

“The economic devastation that has hit so many of America’s families has made it impossible for many struggling families to continue paying tuition,” the bishops wrote. “As a result, already 140 Catholic schools have permanently closed their doors, and hundreds more are in danger of being unable to open in the fall. The closure of schools that serve urban areas are disproportionately harmful to low-income and black children served by these schools.”

They continued, “Not only is this devastating to each of those school communities, their staff and business partners, but it has a detrimental impact on local taxpayers. For every student educated in a Catholic or non-public school, taxpayers save thousands of dollars. Nationwide, Catholic schools save state and local governments more than $20 billion annually.”

The letter asked for the U.S. Congress to designate 10% of emergency K-12 education funding for scholarship aid to low-middle income private school families.

According to the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Catholic school student enrollment for the current academic year is 1,737,297 across 6,183 schools. 21.8% of students represent racial minorities and 19.1% of the total enrollment in non-Catholic.

The full text of the letter to Congress is available here.

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US Bishops Express Solidarity With Those Suffering in Lebanon

10 hours 1 min ago

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement in solidarity with Lebanon after the explosion in the Port of Beirut:

“The world watched with shock and horror the catastrophic explosion in the Port of Beirut Tuesday. Over 135 have died, thousands are injured, and the suffering has only begun to be told.

“Lebanon was already reeling from economic and government corruption along with the novel coronavirus pandemic. The plight of the Lebanese people is now even more dire. We received Lebanon’s patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai’s Appeal to the Nations of the World with fraternal love and solidarity. We encourage Catholics and all people of good will to pray for the afflicted and give generously to Catholic Relief Services’ Lebanon disaster response at www.crs.org. In addition, we call on the U.S. government to accelerate any and all humanitarian assistance to Lebanon in this hour of critical need.

“Joining in Pope Francis’ prayer Wednesday that Lebanon may ‘overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing’ and beseeching the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, we place our sure hope in Him who reconciles all things unto himself.”

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Cardinal Turkson’s Message for Annual Day of Tourism

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 5:45 PM

Here is a ZENIT-working translation of the Message that the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, H.E. Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson sent, on the occasion of World Tourism Day, observed every year on September 27.

* * *

The Message

Tourism and Rural Development 

The 41st World Tourism Day is observed this year in the uncertain context marked by the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, of which the end is still not in sight. From it stems a drastic reduction of human mobility and tourism — international as well as national –, placing itself at a historic low. The suspension of international flights; the closing of airports and borders and the adoption of severe travel restrictions, also internal, is causing an unprecedented crisis in many sectors connected to the tourist industry. It’s feared that in the worst of cases, witnessed at the end of 2020 will be a decrease of about a billion international tourists, with a global economic loss of close to US$1.2 billion. It will be followed by an enormous loss of jobs in the entire tourist sector. According to the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, “tourism has been among the sectors most affected by the global lockdown, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the economy’s sectors of highest intensity of work.”[1] Such a disquieting scenario, unthinkable even a few months ago, must not paralyze us and deprive us of a positive vision of the future. In this connection, Pope Francis affirmed: “Worse than this crisis is only the drama of wasting it [. . . ] Now, in the great effort to begin again, how damaging is pessimism, to see everything black, to repeat that nothing will be as it was before!”[2]

“Tourism and Rural Development,” the topic chosen for the present Day by the WTO before the COVID-19 emergency, points out providentially one of the ways towards the possible recovery of the tourist sector. It begins with the invitation to take seriously and to put into practice the sustainable development, which, in the realm of tourism, means a great interest in the extra-urban tourist goals, small villages, hamlets, streets and places little noticed or less frequented: those most hidden places to be discovered or rediscovered precisely because they are more enchanting and uncontaminated. Rurality lives in these places, far from the crowds’ ways of tourism. Therefore, it’s about the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism that, carried out according to the principles of social and economic justice, and in full respect of the environment and of cultures, recognizes the centrality of the host local community and its right to be a protagonist in the sustainable and socially responsible development of its territory; hence a tourism that fosters positive interaction between the tourist industry, the local community and the travellers.[3]

Such a typology of tourism can become an incentive to sustain the rural economy, which is made up of agriculture and, often, family businesses, small dimensions, marginal areas and low incomes received by the food supply chain. Tourism and rural agriculture can thus become two essential components of a new world that it is hoped to build, a tourism made by people and through people. The small farmers, moreover, are the first custodians of creation through their patient and toilsome working of the earth. The tourists are visitors that can become supporters of an ecosystem, if their travel is done in a conscious and sober way. To travel to rural destinations, then, could mean concretely to sustain the local productions, the small agricultural business realities, carried out in a way compatible with the laws of nature. Thus a trip can have the flavour of history and open the heart to the wide horizon of fraternity and solidarity.

Tourism that is able to look at and share the gifts of the earth in the rural realm becomes also a way to learn new lifestyles, in a concrete way. The wisdom of one that cultivates the earth, made up of observation and waiting, can certainly help the frenetic modern world to harmonize the times of daily life with those that are natural. To bring tourism and rural development close is a good way to learn new cultures, to allow oneself to be contaminated by the values of the custody of creation and the protection of creation that, today, are not only a moral duty but an urgency of collective action.

“Rural tourism” thus becomes the place in which to learn a new way of entering in relationship with the other and with nature. And every personal change must begin by truly transformative behaviour. To do this one must start out and, to start out, one must have a goal: the rural world can be all this. Tourism meets development if it is done attentively and tranquilly, sustainably; this means to respect the agricultural practices, the rhythms of life of the rural populations, appreciating the genuineness still preserved in whole internal areas, being surprised by the thousands of small things that can be seen, choosing local agricultural products. In this way one can accept the small or great differences that exist between the traditions, places and communities encountered. Why, then, not turn to a tourism that values rural and marginal areas, finding them while walking? This will enable us to slow down and to avoid the risks of frenzy.[4]

In fact, in this period tourism can become an instrument of closeness. Yes, our post-modern world needs closeness, namely, closeness in relations and, hence, of hearts.

And tourism, which in every case foresees the movement of people and goods, must now show its transformative face, as recreational activity that makes grow the spirit of fraternity between peoples.

In a period of uncertainty of people’s movements, of which tourism suffers the major consequences in an immediate and direct way, we believe that one must act for the support of the income of the labourers of this sector, as well as the care and defense of the most fragile rural communities in each territory. By doing so, the tourist economy will be able to take up its course again, although in more reduced levels of circulation.; the circulation of people, of goods and of money will be the tangible sign of a closeness, which has begun in the heart. Responsible and sustainable tourism, valuing the local resources and activities, is desirable as one of the turning factors in the fight against poverty, which the COVID-19 pandemic has made increase exponentially.

By way of conclusion, we want to assure our closeness and support to all those that are committed in opposing the impact of the pandemic on the life of individuals and of societies that live of tourism.

We appeal to governments and those in charge of national economic policies, to promote and encourage responsible tourism, acting according to principles of social and economic justice and in full respect of the environment and of cultures. May the rulers turn their gaze to marginal areas, giving these territories concrete occasions of development, valuing the peculiar vocations, the participation of the local communities in the decision-making processes, and the improvement of the income of those that work the land. We turn particularly to the ecological movements and to all those that are committed in the defense of the environment so that they contribute with their own work to the conversion of hearts to a healthy and correct integral ecology, in which the value of the human person is combined with the protection of the conditions of life of the rural communities settled in marginal areas. May the economic program have as reference the defense of the poor and of the weakest subjects of the economic cycle; may the agricultural labourers of the rural zones be considered direct recipients of significant economic and financial aid and of recovery projects and the promotion of rural family agriculture.

To the Bishops and those responsible for the tourism pastoral we ask a concerted commitment so that each one, in his own territory, can assume concrete initiatives of aid to tourist activities. May the faithful and parishes respond with solicitude and generosity to the exigencies and needs of tourism workers, in difficulty today and, together, develop networks of closeness in relations and of help to support the income lost. May new ways of tourist fruition of rural areas be constructed, in which to combine respect of the environment and occasions of support of local tourist operators.

Finally, we express our most cordial gratitude to all those that, in this time of trial, have shown solidarity and support to those that live of tourism, in particular in the rural areas. With God’s help, let us all put ourselves on the same path towards a better future.

From the Vatican, August 6, 2020, on the Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration.

Peter K. A. Cardinal Turkson

Prefect

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

[1] https://www.unwto.org/news/covid-19-world-tourism-remains-at-a-standstill-as-100-of-countires-impose-restrictions-on-travel

[2] Francis, Homily during the Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 31, 2020.

[3] Definition adopted by the assembly of the Italian Association of Responsible Tourism, October 9, 2005.

[4] Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 18.

 

[Translation by Virginia Forrester]

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Message to Zenit Readers About Sending Newsletter

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 1:28 PM

Dear Readers: Due to technical reasons, the usual newsletter of Zenit has not been sent in recent days.

As soon as these issues are resolved, both daily and weekly dispatches will resume.

We apologize for this inadvertent interruption. However, we continue to update the website every day and all our articles can be consulted on it.

It is also possible to follow us through our Twitter accounts , Facebook, where we also broadcast live daily, and Instagram.

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Pope Francis Sends Donation of 250,000 Euros to Church of Lebanon

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 12:46 PM

Pope Francis has sent a donation of 250,000 euros to the Church of Lebanon.

This gesture was done through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human
Development, and published by the Holy See Press Office today, Aug. 7, 2020.

The initial aid of 250,000 euros, it explained, is to meet the needs of the Lebanese Church
in these moments of difficulty and suffering.

“This donation,” it explained, “is intended as a sign of His Holiness’s attention and closeness to the affected population and of his fatherly closeness to people in serious difficulty.”

The aid was sent through the Apostolic Nunciature of Beirut and will serve to assist
those affected by the terrible explosion in the port on 4 August, which has caused
hundreds of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injured and displaced persons, in
addition to destroying buildings, churches, monasteries, facilities and basic sanitation.

An immediate emergency and first aid response is already taking place with medical care,
shelters for the displaced and centres of basic needs made available by the Church through
Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Internationalis and several Caritas sisters organizations.

“We all join,” the release concluded, stating, “in the invitation of Pope Francis, expressed during his General Audience on August 5: “We pray for the victims and their families; and we pray for Lebanon that, with the commitment of all its social, political and religious components, it will be able to face this tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the serious crisis it is going through.”

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The Fazendas in Argentina – There is no Revenge Better than Love

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 8:35 AM

Living trapped in addiction is a hell, not only for the addict but also for his family and all those around him. The Fazendas – the “Farms of Hope” – seek to give an answer to this suffering. Originating in Brazil, today there are 139 Fazendas in 22 countries around the world. Analía Rodríguez is Argentinian and today she is in charge of the Fazendas in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. The international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been supporting the magnificent work of the Fazendas from the beginning. In an interview for the weekly TV program “Donde Dios Llora” (Where God Weeps) she shares her heartrending story.

“We come from a very humble, very simple family. We are five brothers and sisters, together with my mother. My brother had already had other experiences of trying to overcome addiction, which were not good. Then he went to a Fazenda in Brazil and came back with a group of missionaries in order to open the first one in Argentina, in the province of Cordoba. He knew what was happening in our home, and with me especially; I was sexually abused from the age of 14 by my stepfather. I already had a child aged seven, as a result of this abuse, and I was pregnant again with another child. I thought that my life would always be like that. Then my brother came to the house and told me he had something to give me that wasn’t money, that wasn’t a house; it was something that had got him off drugs; it was God. A hope was born within me then, because the life I was living was not the life I wanted to live. And so, with the help of a priest, he got me out of that place.

When I first came to the Fazenda, I wasn’t the person I am today. I arrived there empty, without dignity, without self-esteem, without any aim or direction in life. I was in the world because there was no other one for me to live in; I had attempted suicide on several occasions. I wasn’t a drug addict or an alcoholic, but today I understand that drug addiction in people is a secondary effect, that the wounds come before the substance abuse and that every person has a different path to follow in order to survive them.

What helped me within the Fazenda was the spirituality. I knew nothing of that; I went to the Fazenda because I had to get out of my house or else die there, that was the only reason. Today I can see the path of God in my life because I didn’t know how to pray, I didn’t even know how to read properly, I only reached seventh grade in school… In the Fazenda, I saw how the young people tried to put into practice the Word of God, and this really fascinated me. For example, on Fridays, we had a “communion of souls” session, in which someone would speak about their feelings. For me, these were a very powerful experience because people would speak about the suffering they had been through. The Word inspires us to love in concrete ways, and they would say: I try to love beyond the pain… I asked myself, how can they live like that? I couldn’t manage to do it, because the pain overwhelmed me, the memories, the nightmares: why did it happen to me? These questions left me no peace.

I recall that I went to confession in the Fazenda, to a bishop who supported their work in Argentina. It was the second time I’d been to confession. I told him, “I want to get my revenge because it’s not fair, it’s not fair. I didn’t hurt anybody.” And he said to me, “There is no revenge better than love. You must forgive.” I answered, “But why should I forgive? It’s the other people who should ask forgiveness of me.” I cried all that day because I saw how much of my life I had lost. I was 26 and I had not had any adolescence I had not lived my childhood. And he said to me, “If you are here, even though you don’t understand it today, it’s because God has brought you here. He wants something good for you and you have to start loving. You have to stop asking why, or why you should be weeping. You have to start living today.” And I began to do just that. I tried hard because it was a struggle the thoughts kept invading my mind, the memories, but I remembered what that bishop had told me: live the present day. And I began to experience this, living the present day, loving, thinking kindly of others, and the desire began to grow to forgive my mother and to forgive this man who did not know what he was doing.

Life in the Fazendas is based around three pillars – spirituality, which is the fundamental aspect; then work and living together in community. Spirituality, because it helps us to come to terms with ourselves and with God, because my personal experience, like that of so many other young people, had so much caused us to lose ourselves, to lose all sense of belonging, of what we belonged to. Then afterward, the work: it gives you back your dignity, helps you know that you are useful, to begin to form new habits and know that what you eat that day is the fruit of your own labor, because you go out working in the garden, planting things, or you work in the bakery, and the bread you eat is what you have made yourself, what your family in the community eats is the fruit of your hard work. And in the communal sharing, you learn to live with yourselves and with others, which is something we never knew outside.

Today I understand that every person who comes is a suffering Christ, just as I was one day when I arrived. I was this Christ who was suffering and who was welcomed and loved, without asking about the suffering that lay behind. There were many other experiences like mine, and still more painful ones. When you get together, chatting and sharing your experiences while you’re working, while you’re cleaning, or cooking, you learn about all kinds of painful experiences, but the mere fact of wanting to live the present moment, to which God calls us, is what causes the miracle to happen, the miracle He desires for every single person. Only the grace of God, in the day-to-day events we are involved in, can make this possible. But He is not merely a God to read about or study, but a God whom we must live.

 The foundation ACN International is one of the charities that have supported the Fazendas ever since their foundation. In the last 10 years alone ACN has supported the work of the Fazendas in 16 different countries with 68 projects and with a total of almost 4 million Euros. At present, ACN International is supporting a Fazenda for women in Angola, in Africa.

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Peruvian Solidarity: 100 Dining Rooms for 10,000 People

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 8:09 AM

The Church in Peru has transferred the funds raised during the campaign “For a Peru without hunger”, a great crusade of national solidarity, to the 100 dining rooms to assist the most needy people suffering from the economic and social crisis as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru.

As Fides informed, the Fundación Teletón San Juan de Dios together with the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference, through its initiative “Give them something to eat” (Mt 14:16) and Cáritas del Perú, carried out the national crusade, which managed to collect S / 698, 669 Peruvian soles, thanks to the solidarity of all Peruvians, including companies, institutions, artists and the general public at a national and international level.

These funds were distributed to the network of dining rooms in the 46 ecclesiastical jurisdictions located in all the regions of the country, to serve 10,000 vulnerable people with lunches in the 100 parish dining rooms for a period of two months (August and September).

The jurisdictions of Lima, Callao, Chosica, Carabayllo, Lurín, Trujillo, Iquitos, Jaén, Huancayo, and Huánuco will serve food thanks to 3 dining areas each, while the remaining 36 jurisdictions will have 2 dining rooms to provide food to those who need it most.

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Pakistan’s Minorities Denied Housing in Muslim Areas

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 7:14 AM

Hard-liners in Pakistan are forcing Christians out of Muslim neighborhoods and refusing to give them lodgings, according to a high-profile minority groups’ politician championing human rights.

Speaking following the death of Christian man Nadeem Joseph – who was repeatedly shot by a neighbor for refusing to leave his house in a Muslim neighborhood – Pakistani politician Joel Amir Sahotra told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that there is a worrying trend of non-Muslims facing fierce opposition if they try to move to Muslim areas.

The politician, who has served on Punjab’s Provincial Assembly, said: “Discrimination against religious minorities, unfortunately, is very common in Pakistan – there is no respect or acceptance for them.”

He added: “People are not even willing to rent their properties to non-Muslims. They even advertise it openly that non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the properties – it’s like the Stone Age.

“What kind of mentality is this? I really don’t have an answer for it.”

Sahotra said that minority faith groups supported the foundation of Pakistan in 1947 when they made up a significant part of the population, but that there have been drastic changes since.

He said: “From 25 percent of the population, they have fallen to two percent of the population now – they are deprived of basic human rights.”

Sahotra added: “I don’t know if people in the West can understand what kind of difficult situation we are facing here on religious grounds.”

Qamar Rafiq, a friend of the Joseph family, described the events that led to Nadeem Joseph’s death.

“In May this year, Nadeem bought a house in TV Colony in Swati Gate, in Peshawar, where he lived with his two children, his wife, and his mother-in-law.

“Nadeem’s family was repeatedly harassed and threatened by Salman [Khan], a Muslim neighbor, who tried to force him to leave the area and move elsewhere since this place was ‘not for filthy Christians’.

“On 4th June Salman and his sons once again threatened Nadeem’s family, ordering them to leave the district in the next 24 hours or be ready to face the grave consequences of having moved into a Muslim neighborhood.”

According to Rafiq, Joseph called the police to report the threats but, later that day, he was shot three times in the stomach, reportedly with an AK-47.

His mother-in-law, Elizabeth Masih, was also shot in the shoulder.

Rafiq said: “The neighbors, on hearing the shots, shut their doors and none of them came to the aid of the wounded men or attempted to call the emergency services.”

Nadeem Joseph was reported to be out of danger when he was admitted to the Lady Reading Hospital – but, following several operations, died on 29th June.

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European Deputy Asks Action on Crisis in Far North of Mozambique.

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 7:10 AM

The world does not see or does not wish to see, what is happening in the province of Cabo Delgado in the far north of Mozambique. This is the view expressed by Paulo Rangel, a member of the European Parliament and vice president of the European Popular Party, about the situation currently unfolding in northeast Mozambique, where violent attacks by armed groups have already caused hundreds of deaths and leftover 200,000 people homeless. This should be an absolute priority for the international community, he believes; instead, it barely seems to have noticed.

 EP/EP Photo Service

Paulo Rangel (Portugal) – member of the European Parliament (Portrait from 2014) Credit: © European Union 2014 – Source: EP/EP Photo Service

“It is already becoming late to act, yet it is better to do so now rather than later. Since 2017 we have been confronted by this re-emerging and increasing situation, yet the international community is absolutely nowhere to be seen.” Speaking to the Portuguese national office of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International), Rangel described the situation in the province of Cabo Delgado as “a powder keg” and appealed for help for the people affected by the violence, especially those uprooted and internally displaced, the people who have lost everything they have as a result of the attacks by these armed groups, who claim to belong to Daesh, or so-called Islamic State.

“What is happening at present in Cabo Delgado is that people are fleeing to the towns, where they believe the attacks will be less likely because they have seen what is happening in the villages… At the same time, this dislocation of the population is not just a direct result of the attacks on the villages and smaller towns but is even a reaction of panic, which is absolutely justified. As a result, people are fleeing for their own protection, even before being attacked.”

Paulo Rangel is at pains to emphasize, however, that this is not about a religious war. Both Christians and Muslims have been victims of the hatred of these extremist groups. And he emphasizes the position of Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa, the Bishop of Pemba, in his statements on the subject. “The Bishop of Pemba has been absolutely clear in all his prophetic interventions and in all the appeals he has made – and he has been the great apostle of this cause: he has made clear that the Muslims are also suffering greatly. And the Muslim leaders themselves are extremely concerned.”

All the people are suffering from the violence; all of them are victims of the brutal destruction that has afflicted this region, which is already so poor. For this reason, too, the support of the international community is urgently needed. “We are talking about one of the poorest regions in the world”, the European deputy insists. “The people were already living in extreme poverty, facing grave difficulties. The problem is that at the present moment these people are facing the threat of death, of losing their homes, of becoming uprooted…”

Paulo Rangel described to ACN International the atmosphere of fear and extreme violence that has gripped the region. “At present, we know that there are young girls who have been abducted and enslaved, forced into sexual slavery by some of these guerillas, these insurgents, these terrorists… We know that the recruitment of boys and adolescents, some of them very young, aged 14, 15, 16, is also happening. It is obvious that these young boys are under coercion. If they refuse to join the group, they could be killed…”

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60 Years of Independence: the Catholic Challenge in Africa

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 6:39 AM

1960 has sometimes been called the Year of Africa, since in that year 17 African countries gained their independence from former European rule – 14 from France, two from Great Britain, and one from Belgium. Cameroon became independent on the first day of the year, followed by Togo, Madagascar, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. August will mark the anniversaries of nine other countries, namely Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Gabon and Senegal. Three more anniversaries will follow after this, namely Mali, Nigeria, and Mauritania.

 Many experts view this as an occasion not so much to celebrate but rather to reflect upon and for this reason the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) spoke to Father Apollinaire Cibaka Cikongo, a Congolese priest and Dean and Professor at the official University of Mbuji-Mayi. He is also president of the Ditunga Project and author of around 30 books and articles of theology, social commentary, and literature. He was interviewed by Maria Lozano of ACN.

ACN: 60 years after independence, Africa continues to suffer enormous conflicts. In fact you yourself remarked recently that they have been 60 years of failure that have turned Africa into the continent of violence. Is that not a very harsh analysis?

Apollinaire Cibaka: No, it is the truth. The current state of Black Africa is not the fruit of a positive dynamic but rather of a dynamic of violence caused by the Western conquest of Africa – the treatment of Negro slaves, colonialism, the false independences, the Cold War, the dictatorships, and the apparent democracies. Activated both from within and from without, this violence is a constitutive feature of Black Africa, to the extent that it has become a geopolitical entity built upon violence, suffering from violence and living from violence.

This violence is most visible and cruel in the series of wars that have marked the 60 years and which continue to unfold in Africa today. Why is this?

Precisely. The physical violence concludes each year, and pitilessly, with the lives of thousands of people. There are many factors causing these wars to break out, but I will single out three of them: first, the conflicts caused by “failed coexistences”, the result of artificial geopolitical configurations, of the internal and external power interests which manipulate and create conflict between the different African peoples. Secondly, the wars caused by greed and covetousness, by the economic interests of certain indigenous groups and international powers. The struggle for the control and exploitation of its immense human and natural resources is costing many human lives in Africa. And finally, the religious wars by means of which certain peoples and cultures are being forcibly converted and which currently, in the case of Islam, have assumed an expression of violent terrorism, blind, absurd and gratuitous in the name of causes that have nothing to do with the vital interests of the African people.

You spoke of greed. It is a paradox that in Africa, the greater the natural resources, the worse the poverty and abandonment suffered by the people. What are the reasons why, after 60 years of independence, this situation hasn’t changed?

It should not be forgotten that our economy is built around the interests of the major powers which subjected us, and likewise by the new ones coming from Asia. To this day they still get more benefit from it than the African nations themselves because of the unjust laws of a cruel market system. But in addition to this, the economy has been unable to develop or diversify; it has not gone beyond the extraction, transport, and sale of the raw materials. Then afterward we have to buy back these goods at high prices in the markets controlled by others. But it is also the result of mismanagement and theft in the countries themselves. What little is left in the country is not managed for the good of all citizens, but according to the wants and whims of those who flaunt the power of the State and its elected representatives.

Some of ACN’s project partners complain of a “social subjection” in relation to their culture. Many, including even the international aid agencies, impose conditions on them designed to change the “Weltanschauung”, the way of life of the African people … Is this true?

Yes, it is a form of cultural violence exerted by external powers and interest groups who deny the deep-rooted African cultural values with the aim of imposing ideologies that are alien to us and very often contrary to the natural law. This happens principally in matters relating to life and the family, using powerful economic, diplomatic, political, and cultural pressure, and it is likewise an anthropological violence because it deprives us of the right to freely determine our lives, a right which belongs to every human being. I believe this is the principal legacy of the slave trade, which transformed Africa into a veritable hell and in which black people have suffered centuries of denigration, not merely from outside, but also from a sort of “auto-racism” through the interiorization by the African himself of his condition of being “less than human”.

In the midst of this sad picture of Africa, how are we to summarise the role of the Catholic Church during these past 60 years?

I believe the Church is the institution that functions better than any other. Despite the failings and the difficulties, it is the only one of all the institutions inherited from the West that actually functions. In many places, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, you could say that the Church is the State, without which there would be no life, no hope, no future… And this can be seen in many areas, notably in the field of education and healthcare. In the absence of a State that looks out for the education and health of its people, the Church is responsible for around 50% of all the schools, formation centers, hospitals, and health centers, among them the best in the country, but at the same time often the only ones that exist at all those towns and villages forgotten by the State.

What are the difficulties that the Church has to confront today in this respect?

The Catholic Church is carrying out its pastoral and social work in the face of a situation of internal fragility and external hostility which constantly threaten to undermine or ruin its work. We suffer an internal fragility on account of the laity, who have little sense of commitment to their secular vocation, while all the social commitment of the Church rests on the bishops and the episcopal conferences, and this weakens her. Additionally, we lack the material resources and depend on generosity from outside, for without this help the African Church would be unable to survive and serve. Finally, we are facing a situation of fierce religious competition on the part of the evangelical sects and we are decreasing demographically because we have not succeeded in renewing our approach to the Christian apostolate.

You also mentioned external hostility. What were you referring to by this?

By means of her social work, the Church threatens many private interests and for this reason, undermining her influence is the objective of many of them, especially the politicians. As a result, the Church is inconvenient, hated, and even persecuted by some states which, rather than facilitating her work, instead try to silence her voice, using violent and intimidatory methods to suppress every expression of criticism.

One of the strategies used to weaken the Church is by creating division among Christians, and the other is fomenting corruption of the “religious world” through the multiplication of new Christian churches, many of which are pure moneymaking schemes. In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, over the past 30 years the state has granted juridical personality to around 17,000 so-called Christian churches, or to put it another way, an average of three new churches have been created every two days. They’re trying to do the same thing with the social promotion of Islam by the State.

In the midst of this so very gloomy picture, where should our reflection take us? What can we do in order not to be a part of the problem but rather a part of the solution?

Only a Church that is faithful to Christ and to the Gospel, through contemplation, humility, service, exemplary behavior and commitment on the part of all its members can be equal to its spiritual mission within society. It is the one thing that Christ asks of the Church, so that she may be the temple and instrument of his love and his grace.

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Filipino Bishop: Fight Against Coronavirus is ‘Everybody’s Responsibility’

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 6:38 AM

A Catholic bishop said efforts to thwart the coronavirus won’t work unless the public “would do their part”.

Bishop Roberto Gaa of Novaliches, Philippines, said the fight against the pandemic is everybody’s responsibility, reported CBCP News.

“First, we should take care of ourselves. Let us not pass this responsibility to others,” Bishop Gaa said.

“And if we do that, we also take care of our family and all the people we meet,” he said.

The bishop was urging the public to strictly follow the advised health protocols and avoid going out if not necessary.

According to him, this is a time to act together in order to combat a threat of this scale.

“If we do our part, we are also helping our [medical] frontliners,” Bishop Gaa pointed out.

Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are currently under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until Aug. 18.

The decision was made after the medical societies called for a “time out” to refine pandemic control strategies as Covid-19 cases continue to surge.

The Philippines posted 6,352 new Covid-19 cases on Aug. 4, raising the nationwide tally to 112,593.

The Health Department said there are 44,429 active cases undergoing medical treatment or quarantine.

The total number of recoveries is 66,049, while the death toll is 2,115.

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Archbishop Follo: Communion Overcomes the Storms of Life

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 2:00 AM

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A – August 9, 2020

 

Roman rite

1 Kings 19.9a.11-13a; Ps 85; Rom 9.1-5; Mt 14.22-33

 

Ambrosian rite

9th Sunday after Pentecost

2Sam 12.1-13; Ps 31; 2Cor 4,5b-14; Mk 2: 1-12

 

Introduction:

On this Sunday, the center of today’s Gospel passage is “walking on the water” which is repeated four times, twice for Jesus and twice for Peter. Walking on the water is the fundamental desire of man, that is, not to be swallowed up by death and to overcome evil and death- waters represent the abyss, death -­. Faith is what allows you to walk on water.

The context of today’s story is very suggestive because it represents our situation after Easter. Jesus is absent, he has remained alone on the mountain to pray. None of us see him. He is absent, alone, on the mountain, by the Father. We are at night, on a boat, alone, rowing to complete the crossing that he has ordered us to do.

In fact, He is not absent; he is present in the bread multiplied and shared (see last Sunday). In fraternal concrete love and in the gift of the Spirit we have the very presence of God who makes us pass from death to life. But the Apostles believe that this bread is a ghost, a ritual to be celebrated but that has something to do with life.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we find three scenes on a boat. The boat is always a symbol of the Church and represents the Church in its three situations:

– in the first scene, in chapter 8, Jesus is together with the apostles, but he is asleep and awakens while it seems that they are sinking. This represents the first event of the Church that is on the same boat with Jesus sleeping and awakening, that is, with the risen Jesus. It is the first storm that the disciples had. Just in that first storm, Jesus “prepares” the bread, that is, he gives his life for us.

– In the second scene (that of today’s Gospel) He is no longer there: it is the history of the Church after the Resurrection and the Ascension. He is on the mountain, alone, praying. We here alone, facing the same difficulties, trying to walk on the water as he did. But how can we do it? This is our problem; this is the problem of the Church, this is the problem of faith.

– finally, the third scene, described in chapter 16, where Jesus is on the boat with the disciples who have no bread. Christ asks if they have some bread but the one without too much yeast because they have bread, but this bread is corrupted by the yeast of power and other bad yeasts.

The bread that Jesus gives us is to overcome the storms of life, and to always walk as He has walked. Like the bread of Elijah which served him to walk forty days and forty nights to Mount Oreb (cf. 1 Kings, 19).

As for the boat, let’s not forget that it is something very fragile, between the earth and the sky, suspended in the void, undermined by the abyss, and particularly frightening at night because it is enveloped in nothing, in uncertainty. If then we find ourselves with high waves and contrary wind, it is a difficult situation. This scene is a bit the figure of our life: we are all on the boat, the sea is rough, the wind is adverse, and the abyss is also adverse.

We are in difficulty, but difficulties are the touchstone that scratches away from us everything that is not gold. Faced with difficulty all that is not worthwhile falls. Even all our pious assumptions and our pious elevations fall before concrete reality. It is something else that resists: only the gold that is faith.

This is the reason why Paul boasts of tribulations (from the Latin tribulum= grinder) because tribulations grind the stone that is our heart; and in this grinding the heart is purified and only the hope that does not disappoint remains.

To conclude this introduction, I would also like to mention the fact that today the Gospel speaks of two loneliness, that of the disciples who are alone, or, better, isolated on the boat. Theirs is a solitude of isolation, of closure on oneself and each one tries to save himself. They are held together by fear.

Christ alone on the mountain to pray is not isolated because he is in communication with the Father through prayer. Loneliness is different from isolation when one is in communion with God and, in him, with the brothers. Therefore, it is important to imitate Jesus in prayer.

1) Prayer of Jesus, to be imitated.

Reading the Gospel passage that the liturgy offers today, our attention is drawn to the power of Jesus who walks on the water, and to His word that calms the storm of the lake.

I think that it is useful to mention also what immediately precedes and follows this miracle, which shows how Christ is the Lord who dominates nature and not only multiplies the loaves and fish[1]. In fact, at the beginning of this gospel, St. Matthew speaks of the solitary prayer of Jesus (” he went up the mountain, alone, to pray” – Mt 14:23) and, at the end, tells us about the profession of faith of the disciples “Really you are Son of God!” (Mt 14, 33).

In the intense rhythm of his days, Jesus always found time for prayer, either early in the morning or late in the evening after dismissing the crowd, as we read in this episode of the Gospel. It is certainly not possible for us to penetrate the whole secret of this solitary prayer, but we can at least get a little closer, keeping in mind that Jesus turns to God always invoking him with the name of Father. His prayer is above all filial and, precisely because filial, the prayer of Jesus is obedient. His prayer is at the same time the prayer of the Son and of the Servant of the Lord. In the word Father both dimensions are included: familiarity and obedience. Consciousness of one’s filiation and total dependence are the two poles of Jesus’ prayer, and are the essential structures of his person. Shouldn’t that be the case with every Christian? I would say yes.

Jesus is not only the son of David and royal messianic descendant, or the Servant with whom God is pleased, but he is also the only-begotten son, the beloved, similar to Isaac, whom God the Father gives for the salvation of the world. At the moment when, through prayer, Jesus  is living deeply his own sonship and the experience of the fatherhood of God (cf. Lk 3,22b),  comes the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 3,22a) that guides him in his mission and whom He will pour out after having been raised on the cross (cf. Jn 1,32-34; 7,37-39) to illuminate the work of the Church.

Let us look at Jesus and at his prayer that runs through his whole life (and not only in today’s episode) as a secret channel that irrigates existence, relationships, gestures and guides him to total self-giving, according to the project of love for men of God the Father.

In our prayer we must learn to enter more and more into the prayer of Jesus and renew our personal decision before God to open ourselves to his will, to ask him for the strength to conform our will to his, throughout our lives, in obedience to his plan of love for us.

2) An invocation to be made every day.

Let us come to the central part of today’s Gospel narrative: the boat tossed by the sea, the fear of the disciples, the words of Jesus, and the cry of fear of Peter. The first of the Apostles offers his fear to the One he loves and cries out “Lord, save me”. The important thing is to have faith and pray like Peter. Note the dialogue between this Apostle and Jesus. Peter walks on the water like Jesus, but not by his own power. His possibility depends solely on the word of the Lord (“come!”) and his strength lies entirely in faith. This is a great lesson for everyone. Clinging to faith, the disciple can repeat the same miracles of the Lord. But if faith breaks down (“man of little faith, why have you doubted?”), then the disciple returns to being easy prey to the forces of evil. The doubt we are talking about is not the intellectual doubt about the truths of faith, but the lack of trust in the face of life’s difficulties, the lack of faith in the Love that created us.

St. Peter is afraid when he looks only at himself, at the force of the wind, and not at Jesus’ loving presence. Thus, fear kills courage and makes the encounter with the Lord fragile.

However, Saint Peter was able to ask Jesus to exercise his authority for the benefit of his relationship with him. The request of the Apostle, not without some degree of recklessness, expresses a true faith in the Lord and a sincere affection towards him.

Without thinking about the danger and ignited with spiritual fervor in the presence of the Savior, Peter leaves the boat. But by loving with little constancy and less wisdom, he becomes afraid of sudden gusts of wind and so it is up to Jesus to take him by the hand, as he had done for his sick mother-in-law. It is the hand of the Lord that saves him.

Sometimes we endure heavy trials with a strong heart and then let ourselves be overcome by lighter sufferings. The “sailor”, who until then had fought with the sea, is frightened by the wind.

It was not the impetus of the waves stirred by the wind that changed, it was the disposition of mind that changed. Fear, however, does not create love. It brings out the love that constitutes us and to which it is reasonable to cry out: “Lord, save me”. To this man who screamed his request not to die, Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and said to him: “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”. That outstretched hand and that sweet reproach strengthen, in those present, their faith more than Jesus walking on the water. He always answers the question of faith and when faith awakens, the Lord does not need to give orders to the wind “As soon as they got on the boat, the wind stopped”. And “those who were on the boat prostrated themselves before him, saying: ‘You really are the Son of God’” (Mt 14:33). 

3) Jesus does not extend only his hand.

The response to the cry of fear is an embrace of brotherly love. The Lord Jesus reaches us, at the center of our weak faith. He reaches us and does not point his finger to accuse us but extends his hand to grasp ours and eliminates fear with a hug. Jesus is the splendor of a hug, which he humanly learned from his Mother. Mary is the humble, great woman who was “a virgin humble of heart who placed all her hope in the prayer of the poor” (cf. St. Ambrose, De virginibus II, 2).

This creature, by her fullness of grace, the same fullness of grace with which she had been filled from the first moment of her existence, lived as a virgin, that is, as a person conscious of being always loved by God. Virginity is that gratuitousness that being loved donates to life.  She lived as virgin. Of humble heart because she had been always loved. She had not given herself this always being loved. One cannot give oneself being loved: one can only receive it. She was of humble heart and so placed all her hope, all the hope of her life in the prayer of the poor, in asking that this love be renewed in every moment, that this fullness of grace be renewed continuously.

St. Thomas Aquinas says that charity, as an attraction, for a man wounded by sin is more powerful, as an intensity of attraction and delight, than any natural attraction (Summa theologiae II-II q. 23 a. 2). Charity is incomparable, as a compelling attraction, to the natural attraction of man towards woman.

Virginity lived by consecrated persons in the world is love that arises from the happiness of being loved by God, does not arise from a lack, and is no less than conjugal love. Indeed, it is fullness.

These consecrated virgins show with their lives what St. Augustine said about the beauty of Jesus: “For us therefore who recognize Him, may the Word of God come towards us in every beautiful occasion ( pulcher Deus, Verbum apud Deum) beautiful as God, Word with God, (pulcher in utero virginis,) beautiful in the womb of the Virgin, where He did not abandon divinity and took on humanity, beautiful the newly born child; because, even while He was a child who sucked milk and while he was a babe in arms, the skies spoke of Him, the angels praised the small child He was, a star led the Magi to him, He was adored in the manger, food of the meek. Beautiful therefore in heaven, beautiful on earth; beautiful in the womb of Mary, beautiful held in his parents’ arms (Mary and Joseph), beautiful in the miracles, beautiful also in the scourging[2]. Beautiful when He invited people to follow Him, beautiful when He did not disdain death, beautiful when He died, beautiful when He rose again ( pulcher in ligno, pulcher in sepulcro, pulcher in coelo) “(Saint Augustine, Enarrationes in psalmos, 44, 3).

The Virgins consecrated themselves happily to this beauty as the solemn prayer of consecration also indicates: “Happy are those who consecrate their lives to Christ and recognize him as the source and raison d’etre of virginity. They have chosen to love the one who is the Bridegroom of the Church and the Son of the Virgin Mary “(Consecration Rite of the Virgins, n 24)

 

Patristic Reading

St John Chrysostom

Hom. on Mt 49 -50

For what purpose doth He go up into the mountain? To teach us, that loneliness and retirement is good, when we are to pray to God. With this view, you see, He is continually withdrawing into the wilderness, and there often spends the whole night in prayer, teaching us earnestly to seek such quietness in our prayers, as the time and place may confer. For the wilderness is the mother of quiet; it is a calm and a harbor, delivering us from all turmoils.

He Himself then went up thither with this object, but the disciples are tossed with the waves again, and undergo a storm, equal even to the former. But whereas before they had Him in the ship when this befell them, now they were alone by themselves. Thus gently and by degrees He excites and urges them on for the better, even to the bearing all nobly. Accordingly we see, that when they were first near that danger, He was present, though asleep, so as readily to give them relief; but now leading them to a greater degree of endurance, He doth not even this, but departs, and in mid sea permits the storm to arise, so that they might not so much as look for a hope of preservation from any quarter; and He lets them be tempest-tost all the night, thoroughly to awaken, as I suppose, their hardened heart.

For such is the nature of the fear, which the time concurs with the rough weather in producing. And together with the compunction, He cast them also into a greater longing for Himself, and a continual remembrance of Him.

Accordingly, neither did He present Himself to them at once. For, “in the fourth watch,” so it is said, “of the night, He went unto them, walking upon the sea;”2 instructing them not hastily to seek for deliverance; from their pressing dangers, but to bear all occurrences manfully. At all events, when they looked to be delivered, then was their fear again heightened.

For,“When the disciples,” it is said, “saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit: and they cried out for fear.”3

Yea, and He constantly doth so; when He is on the point of removing our terrors, He brings upon us other worse things, and more alarming: which we see took place then also. For together with the storm, the sight too troubled them, no less than the storm. Therefore neither did He remove the darkness, nor straightway make Himself manifest, training them, as I said, by the continuance of these fears, and instructing them to be ready to endure. This He did in the case of Job also; for when He was on the point of removing the terror and the temptation, then He suffered the end to grow more grievous; I mean not for his children’s death, or the words of his wife, but because of the reproaches, both of his servants and of his friends. And when He was about to rescue Jacob from his affliction in the strange land, He allowed his trouble to be awakened and aggravated: in that his father-in-law first overtook him and threatened death, and then his brother coming immediately after, suspended over him the extremest danger.

For since one cannot be tempted both for a long time and severely; when the righteous are on the point of coming to an end of their conflicts, He, willing them to gain the more, enhances their struggles. Which He did in the case of Abraham too, appointing for his last conflict that about his child. For thus even things intolerable will be tolerable, when they are so brought upon us, as to have their removal near, at the very doors.

So did Christ at that time also, and did not discover Himself before they cried out. For the more intense their alarm, the more did they welcome His coming. Afterward when they had exclaimed, it is said,

“Straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.”4

This word removed their fear, and caused them to take confidence. For as they knew Him not by sight, because of His marvellous kind of motion, and because of the time, He makes Himself manifest by His voice.

What then saith Peter, everywhere ardent, and ever starting forward before the rest?

“ Lord, if it be Thou,” saith he, “bid me come unto Thee on the water.”5

He said not, “Pray and entreat,” but, “bid.” Seest thou how great his ardor, how great his faith? Yet surely he is hereby often m danger, by seeking things beyond his measure. For so here too he required an exceedingly great thing, for love only, not for display. For neither did he say, “Bid me walk on the water,” but what? “Bid me come unto Thee.” For none so loved Jesus.

This he did also after the resurrection; he endured not to come with the others, but leapt forward.6 And not love only, but faith also doth he display. For he not only believed that He was able Himself to walk on the sea, but that He could lead upon it others also; and he longs to be quickly near Him.

“And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, and came7 to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous,8 he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”9

This is more wonderful than the former. Therefore this is done after that. For when He had shown that He rules the sea, then He carries on the sign to what is yet more marvellous. Then He rebuked the winds only; but now He both walks Himself, and permits another to do so; which thing if He had required to be done at the beginning, Peter would not have so well received it, because he had not yet acquired so great faith.

Wherefore then did Christ permit him? Why, if He had said, “thou canst not,” Peter being ardent would have contradicted Him again. Wherefore by the facts He convinces him, that for the future he may be sobered.

But not even so doth he endure. Therefore having come down, he becomes dizzy; for he was afraid. And this the surf caused, but his fear was wrought by the wind.

But John saith, that “they willingly received Him into the ship; and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went,”10 relating this same circumstance. So that when they were on the point of arriving at the land, He entered the ship.

Peter then having come down from the ship went unto Him, not rejoicing so much in walking on the water, as in coming unto Him. And when he had prevailed over the greater, he was on the point of suffering evil from the less, from the violence of the wind, I mean, not of the sea. For such a thing is human nature; not seldom effecting great things, it exposes itself in the less; as Elias felt toward Jezebel, as Moses toward the Egyptian, as David toward Bathsheba. Even so then this man also; while their fear was yet at the height, he took courage to walk upon the water, but against the assault of the wind he was no longer able to stand; and this, being near Christ. So absolutely nothing doth it avail to be near Christ, not being near Him by faith.

And this also showed the difference between the Master and the disciple, and allayed the feelings of the others. For if in the case of the two brethren they had indignation, much more here; for they had not yet the Spirit vouchsafed unto them.

But afterwards they were not like this. On every occasion, for example, they give up the first honors to Peter, and put him forward in their addresses to the people, although of a rougher vein than any of them.11

And wherefore did He not command the winds to cease, but Himself stretched forth His hand and took hold of him? Because in him faith was required. For when our part is wanting, then God’s part also is at a stand.

Signifying therefore that not the assault of the wind, but his want of faith had wrought his overthrow, He saith, “Wherefore didst thou doubt, O thou of little faith?” So that if his faith had not been weak, he would have stood easily against the wind also. And for this reason, you see, even when He had caught hold of Him, He suffers the wind to blow, showing that no hurt comes thereby, when faith is steadfast.

And as when a nestling has come out of the nest before the time, and is on the point of falling, its mother bears it on her wings, and brings it back to the nest; even so did Christ.

“And when they were come into the ship, then the wind ceased.”12

 

1 [R. V., “distressed by the waves.”]

2 Mt 14,25.

3 Mt 14,26. [R. V., “It is an apparition,” but Chrysostom has the indirect form, “saying that it is an apparition. ”The Greek term, is favntasma, not pneu`ma.—R.]

4 Mt 14,27.

5 Mt 14,28.

6 Jn 21,7.

7 [So R. V. margin. The rec. text has ejlqei`n.—R.]

8 [R. V. text, with a few of the oldest authorities, omits “boisterous,”, ijsCor.ovn, which Chrysostom accepts.—R.]

9 .

10 Jn 6,21. [R.V., “They were willing to receive him into tho boat: and straightway the boat was at the land whither they were going.”]

11 Compare Ac 4,13.

12 Mt 14,32.

 

 

 

[1] See the Gospel of last Sunday, 18th in Ordinary time, Year A

[2] Yes, even in the scourging because – Augustine says – in the scourging, when He was all disfigured, if you consider why He had become so, why He had let himself be struck by the scourge in that way, if you consider the mercy with which for you, for your love, He let himself be so reduced, He is beautiful also in the scourge. When Mary took Him in her arms dead below the cross when she took Him in her arms, there was nothing more beautiful than that son of hers, than that disfigured son of hers. Therefore when the good thief said to Him: “Jesus, remember me when you are in Paradise” (Luke 23, 42), he had never encountered in all his life anything as beautiful as in that moment, in the moment of death, when he heard said to him: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23, 43)

The post Archbishop Follo: Communion Overcomes the Storms of Life appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Pope Appoints Six Women Members of the Council for Economy

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 4:03 PM

Along with seven existing members, Pope Francis appointed six lay women experts to the Council for Economy, organization established by the Pontiff in 2014 to supervise the structures and administrative and financial activities of the Holy See and the Vatican.

The Council is made up of 15 members, eight of whom are elected among Cardinals and Bishops, to reflect the Church’s universality. Seven are experts of various nationalities, of known financial knowledge and professionalism.

13 New Members

According to information published today, August 6, 2020,  by the Holy See Press Office, the new members are: Professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof; Dr Eva Castillo Sanz; Dr Leslie Jane Ferrar; Dr Marija Kolak; Dr. Maria Concepcion Osakar Garaicoechea and the Honourable Ruth Mary Kelly. Included also as a layman is Dr Alberto Minali.

Among the members of the Council for the Economy the Pope has also counted on  the Lord Cardinals Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest; Monsignor Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paulo; Monsignor Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec; Monsignor Joseph William Tobin, Archbishop of Newark; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm; and Monsignor Giuseppe Petrocchi, Archbishop of L’Aquila.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, remains as Coordinator of this Vatican organization, and Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier , Archbishop of Durban, also remains a member until his 80th birthday.

Following is brief biographical data on each of the new lay members of the Council for Economy.

Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof (Germany)

Studied Law at the University of Heidelberg, Genf and Tubingen. Since 2016 she has been Professor of German and Foreign Law and of International and European Law at the Faculty of Jurisprudence of the Heinrich-Heine University of Dusseldorf.

She is also President of the Hildegaris Association, a Movement of Catholic women in Germany that supports needy students.

Marija Kolak (Germany) 

Has had a distinguished career in the Berliner Volksbank,, where she has held several posts. She carried out the Program of Advanced Management at Harvard’s School of business, Boston, the United States.

At present, she is President of the Bundesverbandes  der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffisenbanken, Berlin. She is married and has three children.

Maria Concepcion Osacar Garaicoechea (Spain)

Born in Lecaroz, Navarre, Spain she is a founding member of the Azora Group and President of the Council of Administration of Azora Capital and Azora Management, SGIIC. Azora is manager of independent investments with headquarters in Spain, specialized in real estate assets and energy.

Osacar is a trustee of the ICO Foundation (Official Credit Institute) and a member of the Administration Council of APD (Association for Management Progress), as well as of the Advisory Council of the Think Tank Future Institution.

Previously, she was Vice-President of the Santander Hispanic Central Real Estate Assets and President of Banif Real Estate, as well as President of INVERCO (Association of Collective Investment Institutions and Pension Funds) and member of the Board of Directors of the Civic Bank.  She has a Licentiate in aw from Madrid’s Autonomous University, and MBA from IE and PDG IESE from the University of Navarre. She is married and has two daughters.

Has a Licentiate in Law and Business Sciences from the Pontifical University of Comilas (E-3) of Madrid, Spain. and Pension Funds) and member of the Board of Directors  of the Civic Bank. She has a Licentiate in Law from Madrid’s Autonomous University, an MBA from IE and PDG IESE from the University of Navarre. She is married and has two daughters.

Eva Castilo Sanz (Spain)

Has a Licentiate in Law and Business Sciences from the Pontifical University of Comillas (E-3) of Madrid, Spain.

At present she is a member of the Administration Council of Bankia S.A., of the Administration Council of Zardoya Otis S. A., of the Board of Trustees of the Comillas-ICAI Foundation and of the Entreculturas Foundation.

Previously, she held the following posts: Members of the Administration Council of Telefonica, S.A.; President of the Supervision Council of Telefonica Deutschland Holding, AG; member of the Board of Trustees of the Telefonica Foundation; President and Delegate Adviser of Telefonica – Europe; member of the Executive Committee of Telefonica, S.A.; and President of the Supervision Council of Telefonica Czech Republic, a.s.

She acted as independent adviser of Visa Europe Limited and Old Mutual, Plc, as well as Director of Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and President of Merrill Lynch Spain and Portugal.

Ruth Mary Kelly (Great Britain)

She worked in the Labour Government between 2004 and 2008 as Secretary of State for Education and then joined HSBC’s Global Asset Management as Global Head of Clients’ Strategy.

At present she is Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research and Business in St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, in Southwest London.

Leslie Jane Ferrar (Great Britain)

Commander of the Victorian Royal Order, she was treasurer of Charles, Prince of Wales from January 2015 to July 2017.

She studied at Harvard’s Business School and at Durham University. Upon leaving the Royal Household she took on a series of non-executive functions and those of trustee.

Alberto Minali (Italy)

Was born in Verona in 1965. He obtained a Licentiate in Political Economy at Bocconi and specialized at Yale University, Princeton,  and Brandeis University, Boston.

He has been Director General and Financial Director of Investments of the Gruppo Generali  and Director of Investments of the Eurizon Group . He is also a former CEO of the Gruppo Cattolica Assicurazioni.

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Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 1:05 PM

by Alejandro Vazquez-Dodero, Doctor in Canon Law

The Transfiguration of the Lord, which we celebrate every August 6, commemorates that passage in Jesus’ life in which He showed His divinity to the Apostles John, Peter and James. He “transfigured Himself” for them, that is, He showed them His divine nature. He, who is perfect God and man.

The event took place on Mount Tabor, in the Holy Land, West of the Sea of Galilee, which in Hebrew means  “God’s embrace.” Jesus Christ conversed there with Moses and Elijah, a moment in which the voice of God the Father was heard from a cloud, saying: “This is my beloved Son, my Chosen; listen to Him!”

(Luke 9; Mark 9; Matthew 17).

Evangelical Passage

In reference to the evangelical passage that concerns us, number 555 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that “for a moment Jesus discloses His divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession.’

It also shows that to “enter in His glory’ (Luke 24:26), He “will have to go by the way of the Cross at Jerusalem. “In fact, Peter answered with certainty that the Nazarene is the living Son of God when questioned by Jesus Himself.

To listen to the Lord with a sincere disposition to identify ourselves with Him leads us to accept sacrifice. Jesus transfigures Himself to erase from His disciples heart the scandal of the Cross, to help them to surmount the dark moments of His Passion. Thus we see how the cross and glory are intimately united and the one leads to the other.

In this event, states the number in the Catechism, “the whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man’; the Spirit in the shining cloud.

Through His voice, God the Father invited those three chosen disciples and, extensively the whole of humanity, to consider the Jesus Christ was there, true God, who abides in God and is all that God is.

Divinize Ordinary Life

The celebration of this event invites us to let Jesus’ life and teachings become our ordinary life. It encourages us to ask Him to speak to us, that we may be able to listen to Him and to be attentive to His voice.

Christ’s voice should inflame our will and facilitate its launching to fulfil what He decides for us, for our happiness.

Institution of the Celebration

The Solemnity of the Transfiguration was born, probably, of the annual commemoration of the dedication of a Basilica that, in honour of this mystery, was raised on Mount Tabor.

This liturgical celebration was introduced in the West in the 9th century and, in 1457, Pope Calixtus III incorporated it in the Roman calendar, in gratitude for the victory of the Christian troops over the Turks in the Battle of Belgrade, on August 6, 1456.

The Christian East

In the Christian East the Transfiguration of Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ is one of the greatest Solemnities of the year, together with Easter, Christmas and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Expressed in it is all the theology of divinization of human nature through grace, clothed in Christ, it is illumined by the splendour of God’s glory.

August 6 was established as the feast of the Transfiguration, relating it to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: forty days pass between both celebrations, which, in some traditions means a second “Lent.” Hence, the Byzantine Church lives this period as a time of fasting and contemplation of the Cross; it implies a celebration of the purification of the soul.

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Publishing Responses Regarding Validity of Baptism Formula, CDF Reminds Only Christ Baptizes & Says No Arbitrary Formulas

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 10:55 AM

It is only Christ who baptizes…

Baptism formulas must be legitimate and cannot be arbitrary…

These are the keys of the responses published today, Aug. 6, 2020, by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled ‘responses to questions proposed on the validity of Baptism conferred with the formula ‘We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’

Stressing that Christ alone baptizes, not the community, the CDF said that those who have been baptized with the modified formula “We baptize you…” will have to be baptized again according to the traditional formula ‘I baptize you…’”

Liturgical innovation otherwise, using ‘we,’ the CDF stresses, is invalid.

The doctrinal note clarifies that it is Christ himself who baptizes, and not the community, and given this criticizes and calls invalid any arbitrary modifications to the formula.

Here is the Vatican-provided text:

***

RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS PROPOSED

on the validity of Baptism conferred with the formula

«We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit»

QUESTIONS

First question: Whether the Baptism conferred with the formula «We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit» is valid?

Second question: Whether those persons for whom baptism was celebrated with this formula must be baptized in forma absoluta?

RESPONSES

To the first questionNegative.

To the second question: Affirmative.

The Supreme Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On June 8, 2020, approved these Responses and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 24, 2020, on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.

Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.

Prefect

X Giacomo Morandi

Titular Archbishop of Cerveteri

Secretary

* * *

DOCTRINAL NOTE

on the modification of the sacramental formula of Baptism

Recently there have been celebrations of the Sacrament of Baptism administered with the words: “In the name of the father and of the mother, of the godfather and of the godmother, of the grandparents, of the family members, of the friends, in the name of the community we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Apparently, the deliberate modification of the sacramental formula was introduced to emphasize the communitarian significance of Baptism, in order to express the participation of the family and of those present, and to avoid the idea of the concentration of a sacred power in the priest to the detriment of the parents and the community that the formula in the Rituale Romano might seem to imply[1]. With debatable pastoral motives[2], here resurfaces the ancient temptation to substitute for the formula handed down by Tradition other texts judged more suitable. In this regard, St. Thomas Aquinas had already asked himself the question “utrum plures possint simul baptizare unum et eundem” to which he had replied negatively, insofar as this practice is contrary to the nature of the minister[3].

The Second Vatican Council states that: “when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes”[4]. The affirmation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, inspired by a text of Saint Augustine[5], wants to return the sacramental celebration to the presence of Christ, not only in the sense that he infuses his virtus to give it efficacy, but above all to indicate that the Lord has the principal role in the event being celebrated.

When celebrating a Sacrament, the Church in fact functions as the Body that acts inseparably from its Head, since it is Christ the Head who acts in the ecclesial Body generated by him in the Paschal mystery[6]. The doctrine of the divine institution of the Sacraments, solemnly affirmed by the Council of Trent[7], thus sees its natural development and authentic interpretation in the above-mentioned affirmation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. The two Councils are therefore in harmony in declaring that they do not have the authority to subject the seven sacraments to the action of the Church. The Sacraments, in fact, inasmuch as they were instituted by Jesus Christ, are entrusted to the Church to be preserved by her. It is evident here that although the Church is constituted by the Holy Spirit, who is the interpreter of the Word of God, and can, to a certain extent, determine the rites which express the sacramental grace offered by Christ, does not establish the very foundations of her existence: the Word of God and the saving acts of Christ.

It is therefore understandable that in the course of the centuries the Church has safeguarded the form of the celebration of the Sacraments, above all in those elements to which Scripture attests and that make it possible to recognize with absolute clarity the gesture of Christ in the ritual action of the Church. The Second Vatican Council has likewise established that no one “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority”[8]. Modifying on one’s own initiative the form of the celebration of a Sacrament does not constitute simply a liturgical abuse, like the transgression of a positive norm, but a vulnus inflicted upon the ecclesial communion and the identifiability of Christ’s action, and in the most grave cases rendering invalid the Sacrament itself, because the nature of the ministerial action requires the transmission with fidelity of that which has been received (cf. 1 Cor 15:3).

In the celebration of the Sacraments, in fact, the subject is the Church, the Body of Christ together with its Head, that manifests itself in the concrete gathered assembly[9]. Such an assembly therefore acts ministerially – not collegially – because no group can make itself Church, but becomes Church in virtue of a call that cannot arise from within the assembly itself. The minister is therefore the sign-presence of Him who gathers, and is at the same time the locus of the communion of every liturgical assembly with the whole Church. In other words the minister is the visible sign that the Sacrament is not subject to an arbitrary action of individuals or of the community, and that it pertains to the Universal Church.

In this light must be understood the tridentine injunction concerning the necessity of the minister to at least have the intention to do that which the Church does[10]. The intention therefore cannot remain only at the interior level, with the risk of subjective distractions, but must be expressed in the exterior action constituted by the use of the matter and form of the Sacrament. Such an action cannot but manifest the communion between that which the minister accomplishes in the celebration of each individual sacrament with that which the Church enacts in communion with the action of Christ himself: It is therefore fundamental that the sacramental action may not be achieved in its own name, but in the person of Christ who acts in his Church, and in the name of the Church.

Therefore, in the specific case of the Sacrament of Baptism, not only does the minister not have the authority to modify the sacramental formula to his own liking, for the reasons of a christological and ecclesiological nature already articulated, but neither can he even declare that he is acting on behalf of the parents, godparents, relatives or friends, nor in the name of the assembly gathered for the celebration, because he acts insofar as he is the sign-presence of the same Christ that is enacted in the ritual gesture of the Church. When the minister says “I baptize you…” he does not speak as a functionary who carries out a role entrusted to him, but he enacts ministerially the sign-presence of Christ, who acts in his Body to give his grace and to make the concrete liturgical assembly a manifestation of “the real nature of the true Church”[11], insofar as “liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the ‘sacrament of unity,’ namely the holy people united and ordered under their bishops”[12].

Moreover, to modify the sacramental formula implies a lack of an understanding of the very nature of the ecclesial ministry that is always at the service of God and his people and not the exercise of a power that goes so far as to manipulate what has been entrusted to the Church in an act that pertains to the Tradition. Therefore, in every minister of Baptism, there must not only be a deeply rooted knowledge of the obligation to act in ecclesial communion, but also the same conviction that Saint Augustine attributes to the Precursor, which “was to be a certain peculiarity in Christ, such that, although many ministers, be they righteous or unrighteous, should baptize, the virtue of Baptism would be attributed to Him alone on whom the dove descended, and of whom it was said: ‘It is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’ (Jn 1:33)”. Therefore, Augustine comments: “Peter may baptize, but this is He that baptizes; Paul may baptize, yet this is He that baptizes; Judas may baptize, still this is He that baptizes»[13].

_____________________

[1] In reality, a careful analysis of the Rite of Baptism of Children shows that in the celebration the parents, godparents and the entire community are called to play an active role, a true liturgical office (cf. Rituale Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatumOrdo Baptismi ParvulorumPraenotanda, nn. 4-7), which according to the conciliar provisions, however, requires that “each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 28).

[2] Often the recourse to pastoral motivation masks, even unconsciously, a subjective deviation and a manipulative will. Already in the last century Romano Guardini recalled that if in personal prayer the believer can follow the impulse of the heart, in liturgical action “he must open himself to a different kind of impulse which comes from a more powerful source: namely, the heart of the Church which beats through the ages. Here it does not matter what personal tastes are, what wants he may have, or what particular cares occupy his mind…” (R. Guardini, Vorschule des Betens, Einsiedeln/Zürich, 19482, p. 258; Eng. trans.: The Art of Praying, Manchester, NH, 1985, 176).

[3] Summa Theologiae, III, q. 67, a. 6 c.

[4] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7.

[5] S. Augustinus, In Evangelium Ioannis tractatus, VI, 7.

[6] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5.

[7] Cf. DH 1601.

[8] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22 § 3.

[9] Cf. Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae, n. 1140: “Tota communitas, corpus Christi suo Capiti unitum, celebrat” and 1141: “Celebrans congregatio communitas est baptizatorum”.

[10] Cf. DH 1611.

[11] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2.

[12] Ibid., 26.

[13] S. Augustinus, In Evangelium Ioannis tractatus, VI, 7.

[00923-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]

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Pope Makes Surprise Visit to Basilica of Saint Mary Major

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:42 AM

Pope Francis made a surprise visit to Saint Mary Major on Wednesday, the feast of the dedication of the Papal Basilica, reported Vatican News.

At the church, the Holy Father knelt for a few moments in prayer in the Borghese Chapel, before the image of Our Lady, Salus Populi Romani (“Salvation of the Roman People”).

August 5th is marked throughout the universal Church as the anniversary of the dedication of Saint Mary Major. In the Roman Rite, is observed liturgically as an optional memorial.

The origins of the Basilica are shrouded in legend, as Vatican News recalled.

According to a late tradition, on the night of August 4-5, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Pope Liberius, and to a Roman patrician named John, requesting that they build a church on a spot that would be shown to them.

The first part of August in Rome is notoriously hot and humid. But on the morning of August 5, 358, the people of Rome were greeted with an almost unbelievable sight: a blanket of snow covering a part of the top of the Esquiline Hill, indicating the place where the church should be built.

For centuries, the Church in Rome has celebrated the dedication of the Saint Mary Major, also known as the Liberian Basilica, with special rituals. During the singing of the Gloria at the principle Solemn Mass, a portion of the ceiling is opened, and white jasmine petals are showered on the congregation in commemoration of the miraculous origins of the Basilica.

This year, once again, citizens of Rome and visitors to the City celebrate the miraculous fall of snow that marked the origins of the papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major.

The celebration of the Dedication begins with a meditative Rosary followed by Vespers, celebrated on the days leading up to the feast itself.

This year, the Solemn Pontifical Mass was celebrated on Wednesday morning by Cardinal Stanislaw Ryłko, the Archpriest of the Basilica. After the recitation of the Rosary in the afternoon, Archbishop Piero Marini presided at Vespers, where, at the Magnificat, flower petals once more dropped from the ceiling. The liturgical celebrations conclude with a Solemn Mass offered by Archbishop Francesco Canalini.

Saint Mary Major is one of the four “Papal Basilicas” (the others are the Archbasilica of St John Lateran, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside-the-Walls). Of the four, it is the only one to preserve its paleo-Christian structure. The Basilicas bell tower is the tallest in Rome, at 75 meters. It contains five bells, one of which – known as “La Sperduta” or “the lost one” – rings every evening at 9 o’clock to call the faithful to prayer.

The magnificent Basilica is comprised of a nave and two side aisles, constructed according to the Vitruvian canon of rhythmic elegance. Saint Mary Major is home to beautiful frescos showing the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is justly famous for the series of mosaics recalling events of salvation history: the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua, as well as the infancy of Christ.

One can also find in the Basilica the icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani (“Salvation of the Roman People”), which popular piety has always held in the highest esteem.

Pope Francis, too, is particularly devoted to the Blessed Mother under this title and visited the Basilica the day after his election to the pontificate in 2013 to offer prayers in the chapel that houses the image. In the succeeding years, the Holy Father has repeated this visit before and after his Apostolic Journeys, to offer prayers and thanksgiving to our Blessed Mother.

A pious legend holds that the Icon of the Salus Populi Romani was painted by St Luke the Evangelist. It is normally kept in the Borghese Chapel in the Basilica, although it is occasionally moved for special occasions.

Most recently, the icon was brought to St Peter’s Basilica for Pope Francis’ extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Save the Children Fears for Situation of Children in Beirut

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:40 AM

A huge explosion in the Lebanese capital has devastated communities within a six-mile radius. The circumstances of the explosion are not yet known, but Save the Children teams on the ground reported entire streets wiped out, with children unaccounted for as rescue teams work through destroyed buildings to get people out of the rubble. Residential and commercial buildings have been shattered in what is being described as the biggest explosion in Lebanon’s recent history.

Hospitals in Beirut are reporting that they are unable to treat further casualties as hundreds of beds immediately filled up following the blast. A further hospital in the capital has been completely decimated. The military has deployed to rescue those caught in the wreckage, with medical personnel treating casualties on the streets.

Save the Children confirms that its offices in Beirut, around three miles from the harbor, were badly damaged in the explosion, which shook the building and destroyed shopfronts in the neighborhood. Our rapid response team stands by prepared to support the government in their efforts in the coming days.

One of our staff members, Nour Wahid, who lives 10 minutes away, said, “At first, the building started to shake—I thought it was an earthquake. Five of my nieces and nephews were out on the balcony playing when the blast went off. They started to scream and run as the windows collapsed around them; they were all wounded. Hospitals told us they couldn’t take them in because they were prioritizing serious injuries.”

Jad Sakr, Save the Children’s Country Director in Lebanon, said:

“We are shocked and devastated by the explosion today. The death toll may not be known for several days but what we do know is that in a disaster like this, children may be hurt, shocked, and separated from their parents. Our child protection teams are ready to support the government’s efforts, which will almost certainly go on for several days to come. It is vital that children and their families get access to the services they urgently need, including medical care and physical and emotional protection.

“The incident could not have occurred at a worse time and has hit communities who were already suffering from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the economic deterioration. Beirut’s main port, now completely damaged, is vital for much of the food, grains, and fuel that Lebanon imports, and families will immediately feel the shortage in basic needs as a result of this tragedy.”

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Caritas Launches Emergency Plan to Aid Beirut Explosion Victims

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:38 AM

Caritas Internationalis expresses its solidarity and compassion to the Church of Lebanon, to the Lebanese people and to Caritas Lebanon, after the deadly blasts on August 4, that flattened parts of Beirut and killed at least 78 people and injured nearly 4,000.

“It is a terrible and disastrous situation and today we live in total confusion,” told Rita Rhayem, director of Caritas Lebanon, whose staff immediately took action to bring relief to those affected by the explosion. Caritas confederation is also launching an emergency plan coordinated by the general secretariat of Caritas Internationalis to immediately assist victims.

“The situation is critical and this is the first time that we have experienced a situation of such great magnitude, it is apocalyptic, but we don’t stop and we will carry on in order to help all those in difficulty” emphasizes Rita Rhayem. “There are a lot of dead and a lot of injured, and the health situation is likely to worsen quickly, as the toxic gases can cause additional health problems. Caritas Lebanon is preparing for this, but its health centers have no means to face this kind of situation, and rescue operations are made even more difficult by the lack of electricity”.

Caritas Lebanon’s headquarters was also badly damaged by the explosion. Fortunately, the office had closed shortly before the explosion and therefore no staff were injured.

“Since 6:00 p.m. yesterday, the country has stopped and we are living a nightmare. We have nothing to help the population,” says the president of Caritas Lebanon, father Michel Abboud. “Beirut is devastated and we are totally overwhelmed by the scale of the events.”

“The wounded are received in our primary care centers which are overwhelmed, the hospitals are incredibly crowded. They lack everything, including food to support the affected population,” added Rita Rhayem. The young volunteers are mobilized and they go in search of the wounded.

 Caritas is helping victims

Photo by Caritas Lebanon

Photo by Caritas Lebanon

As Caritas Internationalis secretary-general Aloysius John points out, yesterday’s large-scale explosions inflicted a further injury to a Lebanon already on its knees due to the economic crisis, the violence, the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of the economic sanctions imposed to Syria. John says that “the international community must intervene urgently and unconditionally to help the population. There is a need to support the efforts of faith-based civil society organizations, in particular Caritas Lebanon, which is present throughout the country to meet basic and urgent needs, especially in this time of tribulation and trials for the Lebanese people”.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that the effects of economic sanctions and political violence have weakened this country and are weighing heavily on Lebanon, which is facing a food shortage. It is vital that the international community acts decisively to alleviate the suffering of poor Lebanese, immediately removing economic sanctions,” Aloysius John added.

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Beirut: Charity Offers Emergency Food Package

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:35 AM

An emergency food package of £226,000 (250,000EUR) is to be rushed out to Beirut by a leading Catholic charity in the wake of the huge explosion on August 4.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) grant will target poor families worst affected by the blast which devastated the port area of the Lebanese capital.

At least 100 people were killed and 4,000 others were injured when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse exploded.

Speaking from Beirut, ACN project partner Father Raymond Abdo told the charity: “The explosion felt like an atomic bomb with red smoke everywhere and huge damage.”

ACN Lebanon expert Father Samer Nassif, said that the Christian zone of Beirut was “completely devastated”, with at least 10 churches destroyed, 300,000 people homeless and many others suffering, with livelihoods “totally destroyed” by the blast.

He said: “Yesterday in one second, more damage to the Christian quarter of Beirut was done than throughout the long years of the civil war.

“We have to build it again from the ground up.”

Fathers Abdo and Nassif said that, after the long-running economic crisis and the coronavirus, Lebanon is ill-equipped to deal with the emergency and urgently needed international help for the people’s basic needs.

In “An Appeal to the Countries of the World” sent today (Wednesday, 5th August), Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, President of the Conference of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of Lebanon, said: “Beirut is a devastated city.

“Beirut, the fiancée of the East and the beacon of the West, is wounded.

“It’s a war scene – there is destruction and desolation in all its streets, its districts, and its houses.”

Father Abdo described how at a convent not far from his monastery, a sick, elderly religious Sister died from her injuries in the blast.

The Carmelite priest said she was the only one not in the convent dining room at the time of the blast and, had the others been in their rooms, many would have died or been seriously wounded.

Aid to the Church in Need is appealing for prayer for the victims and their families.

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Patriarch Rai: “Mysterious Explosion” in Beirut – We Ask Everyone for Help

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 3:11 PM

“Beirut, the bride of the East, Beirut, the lighthouse of the West, is wounded”. It is a “devastated city”, reduced to “a scenario of war without war”. Thus begins the appeal launched by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai “to the States of the world”, after the “mysterious explosion” (this is the emblematic expression chosen by the Patriarch himself) which took place on Tuesday 4 August in the port of the Lebanese capital, with a provisional toll of more than one hundred dead and thousands injured.

The devastating event – repeated the Lebanese Cardinal – disemboweled the city, spreading death and devastation, destroying hospitals, houses, churches and mosques, hotels, and shops. And this – the Patriarch urges – occurs just as the Lebanese State “is in a situation of economic and financial bankruptcy which renders it unable to face this catastrophe”, with the people reduced “in conditions of poverty and misery”.

The Church – reports the Cardinal – has set up a rescue network throughout the Lebanese territory, but the emergency is such that every effort made by the national community is unequal with respect to the catastrophe that has hit the Country. For this reason, on behalf of the Church in Lebanon, Patriarch Rai thanks in advance “all the States that have expressed their willingness to help Beirut”, and addresses “all the friend and brother States”, and in particular to the great Powers and to the United Nations, asking everyone for immediate help for the salvation of Beirut, regardless of any political and geopolitical consideration and calculation, “because what happened goes beyond politics and goes beyond conflicts”. Lebanon, bent in recent years by a sequence of political, financial, economic, and national security catastrophes – adds the Maronite Patriarch – now “deserves the support of its brothers and friends, necessary to put its capital back on its feet”. According to Patriarch Rai, the most appropriate way to deal with the state of emergency is to set up a “United Nations-controlled fund” to manage aid. “I address you” concluded the Patriarch, “because I know that you love Lebanon and that you will respond to this appeal. I turn to you because I know how much you care that Lebanon regains its historical role at the service of man, democracy, and peace in the Middle East and in the world”.

At the time of the explosion, which devastated Beirut on the afternoon of Tuesday 4 August, the Lebanese, exhausted by the economic crisis and the COVID emergency that had returned to paralyze the country in the last few days, immediately rushed to help their compatriots: doctors and health personnel have opened hospitals and clinics to the many injured, hotel owners have made their facilities available to welcome the displaced people who have fled their destroyed homes. Convents, monasteries, churches, and mosques have done the same. The offices of Caritas Lebanon were also devastated by the explosion.

“This painful tragedy”, reads a statement issued late in the afternoon by the political office of the Shiite Hezbollah Party “and its social, economic, humanitarian and health repercussions” urge all Lebanese, from political forces and all the actors of the Country, to be united in order to overcome this difficult trial”.

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