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Vatican: Christ’s cross, antidote to venom of scandals – Pope preaches

… turning his eyes on Nigeria, the Holy Father also on Wednesday appointed Rev. Fr. David Ajang as bishop of the diocese of Lafia, northern Nigeria.

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Vatican: Christ's cross, antidote to venom of scandals - Pope preaches

…Appoints Bishop for diocese in Nigeria

Pope Francis on Thursday kicked off his second virtual Holy Week by telling priests that the cross of Jesus Christ, always present in their ministry, is the antidote to the “poison” of the devil in an “era of scandals.”

In his homily for the Chrism Mass, the pope said, “There is an aspect of the cross that is an integral part of our human condition, our limits and our frailty.”

Yet something happens on the cross “that does not have to do with our human weakness but is the bite of the serpent, who, seeing the crucified Lord defenseless, bites him in an attempt to poison and undo all his work,” he said.

This bite “tries to scandalize – this is an era of scandals – disable, and render futile and meaningless all service and loving sacrifice for others. It is the venom of the evil one who keeps insisting: Save yourself,” he said.

The pope’s words comes at a time when the Catholic Church is still recovering from the global clerical sexual abuse crisis and when the Vatican itself is involved in an ongoing trial for alleged abuse that took place between two underage seminarians at a pre-seminary attached to St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis is also in the midst of a massive attempt to clean-up Vatican finances after decades of mismanagement and scandal.

He stressed that it is in this “bite” of the devil, which tries to bring death that God’s victory is ultimately seen, and he pointed to a reflection from Saint Maximus the Confessor, who insisted that “in the crucified Jesus a reversal took place.”

The Chrism Mass comes just a day the first dose of the Covid-19 papal vaccine was administered to a group of more than one hundred people housed in the dormitory of the Missionaries of Charity of San Gregorio al Celio and others residing in other Roman structures.

The Office of Papal Charities, in response to Pope Francis’s appeals that no one be excluded from receiving the vaccines, organized an initiative of providing 1,200 of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society with an opportunity of getting vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – the same administered to the Pope and the employees of the Holy See.

The vaccines were administered at the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. Present to welcome the beneficiaries was the Papal Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.

A statement from the Holy See Press Office said that in coming days, other groups of people will receive the vaccines, accompanied by volunteers from the Community of Sant’Egidio, Caritas Rome, the Missionaries of Charity and other associations.

Pope Francis has repeatedly encouraged people to get vaccinated, noting that “it is a way of exercising responsibility for one’s neighbour and the collective wellbeing.”

In his 2020 message on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, the Pope appealed: “I ask everyone – government leaders, businesses, international organizations – to foster cooperation and not competition and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy!”

Turning his eyes on Nigeria, the Holy Father also on Wednesday appointed Rev. Fr. David Ajang as bishop of the diocese of Lafia, northern Nigeria.

Msgr. Ajang was born on March 31, 1970 in Zaria Kaduna State, in the diocese same diocese.

As a seminarian of the metropolitan archdiocese of Jos, the bishop-elect studied philosophy at Saint Thomas Aquinas Major Seminar, Makurdi (1987-1990), and theology at Saint Augustine’s Major Seminary Jos (1990-1994).

He was ordained priest on December 3, 1994 and incardinated in the metropolitan archdiocese of Jos. He was subsequently awarded a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Urban University Rome (2002-2004) and a doctorate from the University of Jos.

Until his appointment, he was the parish priest of the Immaculate Conception Parish and dean of Zaramaganda deanery.

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Iraq: Cardinal makes case for religion, state separation

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Iraq: Cardinal makes case for religion, state separation

One month after Pope Francis’s historic visit to Iraq, Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako has outlined his vision for the country going forward, making the bold suggestion of enforcing a stricter separation between religion and the state.

In a written reflection on the pope’s historic March 5-8 visit, Cardinal Sako called the papal trip “an ideal opportunity that all Iraqis must take advantage of to return, with all their confessions and religions, to themselves and their patriotism.”

This, he said, involves “turning the page from the past and opening a new page for reconciliation,” strengthening a sense of national fraternity, respecting differences, fighting for peace, rebuilding the country’s crumbling institutions and allowing displaced people to return to their homes.

Speaking on the importance of human fraternity as the basis of a peaceful coexistence, the cardinal insisted that “Iraqis, in principle and by constitution, are citizens with equal rights and duties, and citizenship cannot be limited to religion, creed, region, race, or number.”

“Citizenship is a universal right for everyone,” he said, adding, “We must discover new horizons for our fellow citizens, so that everyone feels that Iraq is their home.”

In this regard, he suggested that perhaps now is the time “to separate religion from the state and build a civil state, as the Christians West has done for a long time, and as the state of Sudan is doing in these days!”

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Cameroon: Pope mourns as Africa loses foremost cardinal

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Cameroon: Pope mourns as Africa loses foremost cardinal

Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the death of Cardinal Christian Tumi, the African nation’s first Cardinal created by Pope St. John Paul II in 1988.

The Cameroon’s lone cardinal passed away on Good Friday, April 2, in a clinic in the Cameroonian city of Douala.

Pope Francis sent a telegram on Easter Sunday to express his condolences for the Cardinal’s death.
The Pope’s message was addressed to Archbishop Samuel Kleda, the Archbishop of Douala and Cardinal Tumi’s successor.

“On learning with sorrow of the death of our brother Cardinal Christian Tumi, I wish to express my condolences and my union in prayer with the College of Cardinals, the family and friends of the deceased, as well as with all those who mourn him,” wrote the Pope.

He added that Cardinal Tumi “left an unforgettable mark on the Church and on the social and political life” of Cameroon.

Cardinal Tumi served from 1979 as the Bishop of Yagoua, then as the Archbishop of Garoua, and finally as the Archbishop of Douala until his retirement in 2009.

Pope Francis said the late Cardinal always committed himself “courageously to the defense of democracy and the promotion of human rights.”

He also praised Cardinal Tumi’s desire to promote peace and reconciliation “in his old age.”
“He was a faithful collaborator of the Popes, assuming various offices in the Roman Curia,” wrote Pope Francis. “May the Lord welcome His servant into His peace and joy!”

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United States: Easter, God’s remedy for grieving hearts – Cardinal preaches

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United States: Easter, God's remedy for grieving hearts - Cardinal preaches

The risen Christ on Easter offers hope to people experiencing sorrows in their everyday lives and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory said at an Easter Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

“Easter is an unfolding experience of hope – hope at the very moment of grief,” Cardinal Gregory said in his homily, adding that “Easter is God’s remedy for the grieving heart.”

The Washington’s archbishop noted that in the face of the current global pandemic, he as a priest continues to grieve for the sorrow of people who must bear the loss of their loved ones in isolation, as people died of COVID-19 without family members being able to be with them.

He said he knows that he will encounter the loss of more family and friends, and that he himself will die one day.

“Still, Easter promises me and it promises you that the fear and grieving that those moments will surely offer are not our ultimate human destiny,” he said, adding, “Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to grieve; she came away filled with hope and with joy.”

Gregory said Easter “brings together many people who long to change their own sorrows to joy, their own doubts into hope and their own fears into faith.”

The message of Easter, he said, is that Christ is risen and death has been defeated.
“Easter gives us something to say in the very face of death – and that is Life and Alleluia

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