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Vatican: Church agency to give $9.5m to Nigeria, other Africa’s persecuted Christians



Vatican: Church agency to give $9.5m to Nigeria, other Africa's persecuted Christians

…As Pope ordains 9 priests on Good Shepherd Sunday

A pontifical charity has announced more than $9.5 million in aid for persecuted Christians in Nigeria and other African countries facing increased extremist violence.

“Christians have been targeted by Islamic extremists in many countries in Africa. In no other region have so many priests, religious and church workers been murdered in the last three years,” Mario Oliver of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said in the announcement.

The aid will fund trauma rehabilitation for victims of kidnapping and violence, help rebuild churches destroyed by terrorism, promote interreligious dialogue initiatives and provide logistical support and spiritual retreats for priests and religious sisters who minister under dangerous conditions.

Christian communities in Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, and the Central African Republic are listed alongside Nigeria among the recipients of the “Heal the wounds of religious extremism in Africa” campaign.

Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN’s international executive president, said he hoped that the aid would “assuage the suffering of the people and enable them to experience a little Easter hope.”

“Africa was on a harrowing Via Dolorosa in 2020 and became the ‘continent of martyrs.’ Violence against Christians, their expulsion and murder have increased dramatically,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has marked the Good Shepherd Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica, with the Rite of Priestly Ordination administered on nine deacons.

In his homily, the Holy Father urged the new priests to focus their gaze always on Christ as they serve His people.

He said their ministry is an expression of Christ’s own office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd.

“Priests,” said the Pope, “are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.”

He added that their task is to “preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.”

The Pope then stressed that in becoming priests “you will be like Him: a shepherd”. This, he said “is not a career”, but “a service”.

He asked the priests to adopt four forms of closeness in their service: “closeness to God, closeness to the Bishop, closeness to each other and closeness to the people of God”.

All these, he said, must be performed with “a style of compassion and tenderness”.

Pope Francis then warned against the perils of vanity and “the pride of money”. The devil comes through your pockets, he said: “be poor, as poor are God’s holy faithful people”.


Jerusalem: Archbishop requests Mass collections go to Gaza



Jerusalem: Archbishop requests Mass collections go to Gaza

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, has requested that the May 30 (today) Mass collections from all parishes in the diocese be donated in their entirety to Gaza’s Holy Family Parish as a sign of solidarity following airstrikes from Israel.

“In the aftermath of the tension and conflict we have recently experienced, let us turn our hearts and gaze to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in Gaza and in places severely affected by the recent exchange of rocket firing for 11 days,” Pizzaballa said in his May 25 statement.

The tiny Gaza Catholic community consists of 133 people — including a recently born baby. There are just under 1,100 Christians among the 2 million Muslim Palestinians in Gaza.

Archbishop Pizzaballa noted that following the “deadly clashes and bombings” the situation in Gaza had worsened, as the residents are also struggling with COVID-19, which continues to spread in the area.
“I ask you to share some of your resources to alleviate the sufferings of our Christian faithful in Gaza,” he said.

On May 21, a cease-fire went into effect, ending the fourth major round of violence between the two in 10 years. According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children. It does not differentiate between civilians and gunmen deaths. Hamas is considered a terror group by the United States and Israel.

Reports said 12 Israeli civilians including two children and one soldier were killed in the worse round of fighting between Israel and Hamas in six years.

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Vatican: Pope expresses happiness over Israel, Hamas cease-fire

Pope Francis blesses one of staffs of Vatican Radio



Vatican: Pope expresses happiness over Israel, Hamas cease-fire

…Encourages journalists to search for truth

Addressing ambassadors from various countries, Pope Francis Friday expressed gratitude Friday at the cease-fire in the Holy Land, while warning that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear the world struggles to find common solutions to shared problems.

“My thoughts turn to the events taking place these days in the Holy Land,” the Holy Father said, referring to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. “I thank God for the decision to halt the armed conflicts and acts of violence, and I pray for pursuit of paths of dialogue and peace.”

The truce between Israel and Hamas began on Friday, after international diplomatic efforts and growing pressure from Israel’s closest ally, the United States, to bring an end to the flare-up. The truce halts nearly two weeks of fighting that has left hundreds dead and parts of the already impoverished Gaza Strip reduced to rubble.

The pope also noted that on Saturday, Catholic bishops of the Holy Land together with the faithful celebrate the Vigil of Pentecost in Saint Stephen’s Church in Jerusalem and implore the gift of peace.
Meanwhile Pope Francis has made a historic visit to Palazzo Pio, the building which houses Vatican Radio, the Holy See’s Radio station; and L’Osservatore Romano, the daily newspaper of the Vatican City State.

The Holy Father’s first ever visit to the House comes as Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano mark their 90th and 160th anniversaries respectively, this year.

Both Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano are part of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See. The Dicastery comprised other sectors including the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Publishing House, the Holy See Press Office, the Photographic Service, the Vatican Internet Service and the Vatican Printing press.

Accompanied on his visit by the Prefect of the Dicastery, Paolo Ruffini, Pope Francis met with journalists from Vatican Radio, who lined the corridors to greet him as well as other functionaries attached to the Dicastery for Communication.

The Pope visited the office of L’Osservatore Romano, where he met some of the journalists of the newspaper and was presented some editions of the daily in different languages. He also stopped by the multimedia office of Vatican Radio where he was given a short rundown of the inner workings of the technical department.

He then proceeded to the Chapel where he spent a few moments in prayer.

He even set aside some time to go “live-to-air” on “Radio Vaticana Italia” chatting briefly with some journalists about reaching out to as many listeners and readers as possible.

All through the visit, the pope shook hands and exchanged friendly greetings, and offered words of advice and encouragement, and even stopped on the fourth floor of the Palazzo for a refreshing drink of Mate tea, a traditional South American drink.

Pope Francis then proceeded to Palazzo Pio’s “Sala Marconi” where he briefly addressed a group of Vatican journalists, urging them to work together more efficiently and to avoid functionalism.

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U’Kingdom: Assisted suicide could become law with new bill –Bishop warns

Nigeria’s Fr. Bede Ukwuije (L) with fellow Holy Ghost Congregation members in Rome
shortly after their Pentecost Sunday Mass presided by visiting Ghanian Cardinal and
Prefect of Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Peter Turkson (M)



U'Kingdom: Assisted suicide could become law with new bill –Bishop warns

England and Wales face “the very real threat” of assisted suicide becoming law, the UK Church warned Catholics on the eve of the introduction of new bill to legalize the practice.

Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster, the lead for life issues of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said the “aid in dying bill” would “fundamentally change the relationship between the doctor and the patient as it would change from treatment and care to assisting another’s death.”

He said the private member’s bill, due to be introduced (Wednesday May 26) into the House of Lords, was based on “false compassion” for sick and elderly patients.

Its proposals, he said in a statement, stood in contrast to the “extraordinary commitment of health care professionals and their loving care for the sick and dying” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These acts of heroic love are a powerful testimony to the fundamental dignity of the human person and to the importance of proper love and care in the face of grave illness and in the last moments of life,” said Bishop Sherrington.

“The Catholic Church remains opposed to any form of assisted suicide,” he said. “We reaffirm our support for high quality end-of-life care, which includes spiritual and pastoral support for the one who is dying and their family.”

The annual “Day for Life,” celebrated in England and Wales June 20, “will call Catholics to pray for good care of those who are elderly, sick and dying and to oppose such legislation,” the bishop added.

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