Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis leads prayers for peace in Iraq while Church leaders around the world call for the international community to help displaced Iraqis. Also, Pope Francis prepares for his Korean trip with a pre-departure video message for Koreans.
Most of the 80,000 Iraqi Christians forced out of their villages in recent days and weeks have taken refuge around the churches in Ain Kawa, a Christian neighbourhood of Erbil, according to aid officials in Iraq.
A member of the Sant’Egidio Community in Iraq reported to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association that Christian churches are working together in Erbil to create and “emergency unit” in order to provide urgent care for displaced Christians.
Pope Francis renewed his call for peace, this time asking all Christians to pray for peace. On Friday he appointed Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his special envoy to Iraq. The cardinal will travel to Iraq to meet Church and government officials as well as Christians displaced from their homes.
Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi told journalists Cardinal Filoni will travel to the Iraqi Kurdistan region where most Christians have taken refuge.
Cardinal Filoni was the Vatican Nuncio to Jordan and Iraq from 2001 to 2006. He was the only diplomat who remained in Iraq during the 2003 U.S. -led invasion.
In an interview with Vatican Radio Cardinal Filoni said it would not be easy to organize his trip because the region he intends to visit is not easy to reach. He said his first goal is to show the pope’s solidarity with Iraqi Christians.
No date has been set for his visit to Iraq but Fr. Lombardi said Cardinal Filoni would not be joining Pope Francis on his up coming trip to Korea August 13 to 16.
As the Vatican gears up for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in October, one Vatican department is bearing the fruit of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments sent a circular letter to episcopal conferences around the world about the Sign of Peace during the Mass.
Nine years after the Synod, during which bishops questioned whether the sign of peace should be moved within the liturgy, the congregation determined the sign of peace should stay where it is.
However, it should be carried out simply. If for some reason “it is forseen that it will not take place properly” it can be omitted. The congregation also said the priest should not leave the altar in order to exchange the sign of peace with the congregation, and there should not be any special music selected or played specifically for the exchange of peace.
Today on Perspectives: Pope Francis has called on the international community to step up and take responsibility for displaced Christians and religious minorities in Iraq. Sebastian Gomes talks to Cardinal Gerard Lacroix about fraternity, and Canada has a new Ambassador to the Holy See.
Today on Perspectives: The Knights of Columbus annual convention continues. At the states dinner the KofC announced their latest joint project with the Gary Sinese Foundation, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix reflects on the power of fraternity, and Pope Francis’ resumes his General Audiences. Also, the Ebola virus touches the religious men and women working on the front lines in Western Africa.
Last summer Pope Francis was sending millions of young people into a frenzy at World Youth Day Rio. This summer he will be attending the Asian Youth Day in Daejon, Korea, It will be the first time a pope has attended this Asian youth event.
In truth, Asian Youth Day will be one part of a packed itinerary. Only two of the pope’s 11 scheduled public events are related to the youth event. His other activities include a beatification Mass in Seoul, and visits to two shrines dedicated to Korean Martyrs.
Upon arrival in Seoul, Pope Francis will have the usual protocol visits, meeting with Korean President Park Geunhye and civil authorities, as well as the Korean bishops
His first full day in Korea will have him celebrating Mass at the World Cup stadium in Daejeon and meet with Asian youth at Solmoe Sanctuary, the shrine dedicated to St. Andrew Kim. The shrine marks the site where St. Andrew Kim was born lived until he was seven years old. His remains are buried in the nearby Cathedral.
On August 16 the pope will celebrate a Mass at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Gate where he will beatify Paul Yun Ji Chung.
Chung was a young man from a noble Korean family who discovered Catholicism around 1783 and catechized his family. In 1790 the bishop of Beijing banned Asian Catholics from using Confucian ancestral rites. Chung and his cousin burned the family’s ancestral tablets so they could not be used again. When Chung’s mother died, he gave her a Catholic funeral.
News of the Catholic funeral reached the Royal Court. Chung and his cousin were arrested and interrogated but refused to renounce their faith. They were sentenced to death and beheaded. It was nine days before the family received the bodies for burial, but the blood stains were still fresh and there was no decomposition. The faithful soaked handkerchiefs in the still-fresh blood. Reportedly, people who came into contact with these handkerchiefs were miraculously healed.
Chung and 123 companions will be beatified by the pope.
To close Asian Youth Day, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Haemi Castle which was the backdrop of the 1864 Donghak Rebellion.
On the final day of the visit Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass for Peace and Reconciliation at Seoul’s Meyongdong Cathedral.
Today on Perspectives: CNEWA launches a campaign to rush aid to Iraqi Christians who fled Mosul to save their lives. Pope Francis’ travel agenda expands, and Fransiscan Sisters show others how to live carbon-netural with their unique straw-bale house.
Most diocesan news papers and news sites have scaled back production for the summer. This week’s Coast to Coast is a look at upcoming events across the country.
July 31 is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Canadian Jesuits and Jesuit affiliated parishes, schools, and organizations will be celebrating in different ways across the country. Here are some of the “Iggy Day” events:
St. Mark’s Parish in Vancouver (on the UBC Campus) will celebrate a special Mass followed by a gathering “in Plato’s Cave”. Click on the link above for more details.
In Midland, Ontario Martyr’s Shrine is hosting a full day of events to mark the feast day of St. Ignatius. Events include a 4km walking pilgrimage.
and if you don’t have a Jesuit parish or community close at hand but want to mark the day, the Canadian branch of Christian Life Community has a great way for you to spend the day.
If you have stories we should know about, send us a tweet: @saltandlighttv
Several weeks ago Pope Francis, while giving a homily in Cassano allo Ionio, declared that members of the Mafia are not in communion with God, “they are excommunicated”.
Outside of Italy the homily got attention because it was so unexpected and didn’t really make sense. For Italians in the south, the declaration was long overdue. Priests have been killed in the southern Italy for standing up to parishioners who are involved in organized crime, for not giving in to their “requests”, for preaching forcefully against everything the mafia represents, and for working to keep youth from being sucked into the mob by community pressure and promise of wealth.
This week’s “Vatican Letter” from Catholic News Service’s Cindy Wooden looks at the complicated relationship between the Church and the Mafia in southern Italy. :
Catholic mask: Italian bishops try to reveal truth behind mafia’s faith
By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The godfather who stands up for a child’s baptism one day and spends the rest of the week running a brutal crime ring unfortunately is not the stuff of movies.
In southern Italy, the Mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta and other organized criminal gangs still cloak themselves in symbols of Catholicism, and the region’s bishops have had enough.
It’s not that the bishops have just begun to act — they have been coordinating their anti-mafia work since the 1970s — but they have seen just how deeply tied the mafia is to local Catholic cultural expressions and how essential those fake religious ties are to the continued thriving of mafia relationships.
The bishops of Calabria met in late July to discuss ways to cut those ties and make it clear to people in their region that hanging onto a holy card or applauding when a statue of Mary is carried past does not make a criminal Catholic.
One possibility they are considering is petitioning the Vatican for an exemption from canon law that would allow them to ban godfathers, godmothers and confirmation sponsors completely.
It was not a coincidence that the blockbuster film series based on the book by Mario Puzo and directed by Francis Ford Coppola was called “The Godfather.”
Archbishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini of Reggio Calabria asked the Vatican months ago if he could suspend for 10 years the naming of godfathers in his archdiocese.
“There are two problems,” he told Vatican Radio July 1. “There is the use of religious symbols and even a sacrament to present a ‘clean’ face to society, but there is also the concrete fact that being a godfather at a baptism or sponsor at confirmation forms a bond between families.”
While that can be a good thing, the archbishop said that “the ‘Ndrangheta is built on the foundation of collaboration and strict bonds between families,” and serving as a godfather “extends the family’s bonds, allowing them to better dominate more territory.”
In an interview a week later with SIR, the Italian bishops’ news agency, he said some parents “put off baptism for years — even until adolescence or beyond — because they are waiting for the godfather to get out of prison.”
Father Enzo Gabrieli, spokesman for the president of the Calabrian bishops’ conference, said the bishops of the 12 dioceses in the region all agree on the need for “re-evangelization” about the role of godparents and sponsors, but the situation varies so much from one diocese to another that concrete measures also should vary.
The choice, he said, is to “either suspend the naming of godfathers for a time or concentrate completely on education.”
In his Archdiocese of Cosenza-Bisignano, Father Gabrieli told Catholic News Service, the biggest problem with godparents and sponsors is that friends and relatives tend to be chosen as a sign of affection with little or no awareness that their role is to assist the growth in faith of the baptized or confirmed.
For Father Gabrieli, like for the region’s bishops, the solution lies not simply in condemning gangsters, but in helping Christians live their faith seriously and coherently.
Pope Francis made headlines June 21 when he visited Calabria and said, “Those who follow the path of evil, like the mafiosi do, are not in communion with God; they are excommunicated!”
Using the term “excommunicated” got people’s attention, but it was not Pope Francis’ first condemnation of the mafia and organized crime.
In March, almost exactly a year after the solemn inauguration of his ministry, Pope Francis met in a Rome church with mafia victims. In addition to listening to them and praying for them, he used the occasion to address mafiosi: “Men and women of the mafia, please change your lives, convert, stop doing evil. We pray for you. Convert, I ask on my knees! It is for your own good.”
“Convert,” he said. “There is still time not to end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path.”
The need for local bishops to take concrete steps to educate their people and purify church practices became evident soon after Pope Francis visited Calabria: In what media described as a threat to boycott Mass, mafia members jailed in Locri asked their chaplain why they should bother going to Mass if they are excommunicated; and scandal erupted in early July when participants in a Marian procession bowed — with a statue of Mary — in front of the house of a presumed mafia boss.
The bishop of Oppido Mamertina-Palmi, where the bowing incident took place, banned all religious processions for the time being. The bishop of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea banned a procession scheduled for July 16 in Vibo Valentia after local law enforcement officials notified the parish that men suspected of having mafia ties were among those scheduled to carry the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Archbishop Salvatore Nunnari of Cosenza-Bisignano, president of the Calabrian bishops’ conference, suggested a two-year stop to all processions to give church leaders time to ensure future processions would be strictly Catholic.
The bishops’ conference of Calabria, led by Archbishop Nunnari, will publish joint pastoral guidelines in October, Father Gabrieli said, but each bishop also is expected to issue his own rules for ending the mafia’s access to public expressions of faith. Unless, of course, they are ready to repent.
Photo courtesy of CNS
Italy’s prime minister declared “today is a day for celebration” after an Italian diplomat escorted Meriam Ibrahim and her family safely from Sudan to Italy. Hours after landing, Meridam met with Pope Francis. Find out more about that special encounter. Also, we look back on the factors that led to WWI.
In Vancouver, the Catholic school board has created a policy for dealing with transgender children after one family pulled their child out of a lower mainland Catholic school and filed a human rights complaint.
The dioceses of Edmonton and Mackenzie – Fort Smith have signed a covenant of cooperation, inspired by John Paul II.
In Winnipeg, the Jesuit Centre for Catholic Studies got a big boost thanks to a major donation to St. Paul’s College. The gift will help further develop the Jesuit centre.
Can you imagine paying $25.14 for a 295ml container of orange juice? (think of the size of a can of juice concentrate). That’s reality for families in Canada’s north. The Vincentians are now working to bring food security to northern residents.