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Volume 44, Number 4
12 July 2013
Greg Kandra

Altar servers assist in a liturgy at Our Lady of Paradise Cathedral in São Paulo. (photo: Izan Petterle)

As Rio de Janeiro gets ready for World Youth Day later this month, here’s a glimpse at another side of Brazil, from a profile in the magazine two summers ago:

On a cool Sunday morning in early April, parishioners fill the pews of the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Paradise in São Paulo, Brazil.

Numerous icons adorn the walls of the cathedral’s stunning nave. The two most precious icons figure prominently on the iconostasis, an icon screen dividing the sanctuary from the nave: Christ Pantocrator (Christ the Righteous Judge) and Theotokos (Mother of God). Overhead, a Byzantine—style mural of the crucified Christ covers the ceiling. Above the scene are painted in Greek the words “Triumph of Christ.”

Moments later, when the clock strikes 11, Archbishop Fares Maakaroun enters holding up the Book of the Gospels. A hush falls on the congregation, and the liturgy commences.

Located in the Paraíso (Portuguese for paradise) neighborhood in the heart of South America’s largest city and steps from its busiest thoroughfare, Paulista Avenue, the imposing Byzantine—style cathedral seems an unlikely landmark.

Yet, the cathedral and the Arab parishioners who built it have defined Paraíso since the 1940’s when construction began. By then, many of São Paulo’s Arab Christian immigrant families were living in the working—class neighborhood. In subsequent decades, the Arab community steadily grew, at times in sudden bursts, when emigrants fled conflict in Lebanon, Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East in search of a better life in the New World. Hearing about the opportunities in Brazil — often from relatives or friends already in Paraíso — São Paulo quickly became a preferred destination.

Today, the cathedral serves as the seat of the bishop of Our Lady of Paradise in São Paulo, spiritual home to an estimated 400,000 people — the largest Melkite Greek community not only in the Americas but in the world.

Read more about Paradise in Brazil from the July 2011 issue of ONE.

Tags: ONE magazine Melkite Greek Catholic Church Brazil World Youth Day

12 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

An instructor at the Don Bosco Institute oversees the work of his students in a technology class in Cairo. Run by the Salesians of Don Bosco and supported by CNEWA, the institute enables Egyptians from all economic backgrounds to learn a trade to improve their lives and communities. (photo: Shawn Baldwin)

CNEWA focuses on supporting the churches in Egypt and Syria (B.C. Catholic) The Christian population in Syria faces a threat of being “wiped out,” says Carl Hétu, national secretary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association Canada (CNEWA). “It’s become a Sunni/Shia battleground, and that’s not going to go away soon,” said Hétu. “The big losers are the Christians.” That’s why CNEWA is focusing its assistance on supporting the churches in Syria. “The Church in the Middle East is in survival mode, whether under the Ottoman Empire, or dictatorship, it has always adapted to the reality of the time, to play its humanitarian role,” he said. That humanitarian role is why the support of the churches is crucial, he said. In Egypt in the wake of a military coup that deposed the Islamist government, the future may be somewhat brighter for Christians there than in Syria, Hétu said. The patriarchs of the Catholic and the Orthodox Copts are working together in a new spirit of ecumenism, uniting the Christians, he said. Christian leaders and working “hand in hand” with Muslims who reject the repressive regime Muslim Brotherhood were imposing on Egypt. “The work of CNEWA is focusing on sustaining, helping and working with the local Catholic Coptic Church of Egypt,” Hétu said. That includes supporting their seminary, their seminarians, and religious in formation, as well as churches’ work in education, social services, health care and aid for children…

Catholics urged to pray for victims of Syria conflict (Vatican Radio) The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, is presiding at a Mass in London’s Westminster Cathedral on Friday to pray for all those suffering the effects of the civil war in Syria. In a statement issued earlier in the week, all of the English and Welsh church leaders call on Catholics to pray for a peaceful solution to the conflict and to offer whatever practical support they can through aid agencies that are operating in the region. For further details, Philippa Hitchen spoke with Dr. Harry Hagopian, Middle East advisor to the bishops in England and Wales…

Survey: Lebanese support for Syrian refugees flagging (Fides) A recent poll claims 54 percent of Lebanon’s citizens want to see their borders closed to further refugees. As many as 90 percent expressed a desire to limit the heretofore unrestricted access granted to those fleeing Syria’s civil war. The survey was sponsored by the Norwegian Fafo Research Foundation and published only because of the reactions raised by the Lebanese people due to the size of the influx of refugees. The reasons for the growing discontent are mainly economic and social order: 82 percent of respondents believe that refugees take away work from the Lebanese causing a fall in wages, while 66 percent of their prolonged presence is likely to undermine the management of water and energy resources of the country. These results also indicate the growth of xenophobic inclination: More than 80 percent of respondents respond negatively to the possibility of one of their relatives marrying a Syrian, while 53 percent are worried by the idea that Syrian children are eligible to attend the same school classes as their children…

Egypt calls for new look at Morsi prison escape in 2011 (New York Times) Egypt’s new rulers gave new credence to a court case against the ousted president, Muhammad Morsi, and members of the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday over their escape from prison during the uprising that toppled his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. No charges have yet been filed. Its acceptance by powerful prosecutors follows the arrest of many Muslim Brotherhood members and is a new blow to the group by the military-backed government. The detentions have been criticized by rights groups and the Obama administration, which spent Thursday walking back remarks made early in the day by a State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, seeming to criticize Mr. Morsi as undemocratic and in so doing seeming to validate the military’s move to oust him…

Orthodox Church formalizes objection to constitutional declaration (Egypt Independent) Today, the Coptic Orthodox Church submitted to the Egyptian presidency a memorandum of legal objections to the recent constitutional declaration, a state-run news website quoted the Rev. Felopateer Gamil Aziz of Virgin Church in Faisal as writing on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. The church understands the nature of the constitutional declaration in the transitional phase and proposes the preparation of a new constitution for the country, different than the suspended constitution, he said. A meeting will be held today between the church and advisers of the interim president to discuss these objections, he said…

Tags: Egypt Refugees CNEWA Syrian Civil War CNEWA Canada

11 July 2013
Velma Harasen

Velma Harasen, former national president of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, meets children at the Infant Welfare Center in Jerusalem. (photo: CNEWA)

Velma Harasen is the past national president of the Catholic Women’s League (C.W.L.) of Canada. We asked for her reflections after participating in the C.W.L.’s Holy Land pilgrimage with CNEWA. She shares her thoughts below:

What a blessing, what a gift to have journeyed in pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a small group that soon became like family. My daughter, Lori, was my accompanying family.

Our guide Alex, a Palestinian Christian, was an amazing source of information and referred to Bible readings at the various holy sites that we visited. A tearful departure spoke volumes of the love and respect we had for him.

Father Geoff celebrated Mass for us and truly served as our spiritual leader, including when we renewed our baptismal promises at the river Jordan. He may never know how much he meant to all of us but hopefully our gift of the handmade purple stole expressed our thanks.

I have been to the Holy Land twice before but this pilgrimage was very special to me. We met, mingled and ate with the Christians of the Holy Land and learned more about their daily struggles. Life is not easy!

In a local parish in Reineh, we attended a Latin Mass celebrated in Arabic and were treated to a reception afterward. We visited a number of projects supported by CNEWA, plus the two projects that were part of Velma’s Dream.

The Shepherds’ Field Hospital in Beit Sahour is operated by the Cooperative Society for Health Welfare, which is comprised of local families maintaining the hospital for the poor of the area, mainly pregnant women and babies. With limited resources, they serve their community with Christian love. We met the board, the midwife, nurse and a doctor who volunteers his time.

In a very small, sparse labor and delivery room with two narrow beds, I wondered aloud how they could manage should there be two mothers in labor at the same time! The response: “Sometimes we have three; we can manage!” The board is working hard to build a larger facility and was proud to show us the excavation!

The Infant Welfare Center is in the heart of Old City of Jerusalem. Children from the age of 4 months to 5 years are accommodated in the daycare. When we were there, the babies were enjoying their afternoon nap. However, we spent time with the older ones assembling puzzles, talking and singing. One class made thank you cards for each of us while, in another class, we joined in singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”! The center also operates programs for teens to keep them in school and off the streets.

I was affirmed that both these projects supported by the Catholic Women’s League were worthy and our donations were put to very good use! We have made a difference!

Tags: Children Israel Holy Land Pilgrimage/pilgrims Holy Land Christians

11 July 2013
Greg Kandra

Youths from the South Hebron Hills kick around a soccer ball at summer camp in the West Bank village of Tuba on 28 June. The camp is a welcome break for Palestinian children. Read more about the summer camp at this link. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Tags: Children Palestine Palestinians West Bank

11 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Bulgarian Orthodox Metropolitan Kalinik, 82, was ordained bishop in 1971 and elected the metropolitan of Vratsa in 1974. (photo: Bulgarian Orthodox Church)

Bulgarian Orthodox Church elects interim Varna metropolitan (Novinite) The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church elected Wednesday, after a 2-hour emergency sitting, Vratsa metropolitan Kalinik as interim metropolitan of Varna and Veliki Preslav. Metropolitan Kalinik is to temporarily replace the late Varna Metropolitan Kiril whose body was discovered on a beach near Varna on Tuesday. Bulgarian clergy maintain that the cause of death was most likely hypothermia, contrary to early suspicions of foul play. Metropolitan Kalinik will assume the post after the traditional 40 days of respect for the deceased…

Second Christian in a week murdered in Egypt (Times of Israel) Security officials say suspected militants have killed a Christian merchant in the northern Sinai Peninsula. They said 60-year-old Magdy Habashi was abducted last Saturday from the town of Sheikh Zweid. His decapitated body was found early Thursday in a cemetery. Habashi is the second Christian to be killed in northern Sinai in less than a week. Coptic Christian priest Mina Aboud Sharween was gunned down by suspected militants last Saturday as he walked in an outdoor market. There has been a backlash against Christians by Islamist militants for their activism against former President Morsi…

Syrian Christians become kidnapping targets, flee to Lebanon (Global Post) While the war has increased animosity between Sunni and Shia, it has also devastated Syria’s Christians, some of whom have now fled to Lebanon. Their story is rarely told. When the Syrian uprising broke out in March 2011, Christians remained neutral or sided with Assad. They saw that Muslim extremists — both Shia and Sunni — had driven Christians out of Iraq after the US invasion of 2003. They feared a similar crisis in Syria. Even in the early months of the uprising, some local Sunnis were chanting the slogan, “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the tabout [coffin]”…

In Aleppo, hunger stirs protestation against rebel blockade (AsiaNews) Citizens of Aleppo have been spurred to protest against the blockade imposed by the rebels on the districts controlled by the government. “We lack food and medicine,” shout the inhabitants of the neighborhood of Bustan al Qasr, “the people want an end to the blockade.” According to the Syrian Observatory for human rights, protests against the scarcity of basic necessities began early Tuesday, 9 July, when dozens of protesters gathered near a checkpoint. In the protest, one demonstrator has allegedly been killed, struck by a bullet in the head; it is still unclear whether he was shot by the rebels themselves or by an army sniper…

Chaldean patriarch extends greetings to Muslims in honor of Ramadan (AsiaNews) “On behalf of myself and of all the of Christians of Iraq, I extend my best wishes to all Muslim men and women for the beginning of this blessed month,” said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I in an address to his brothers and sisters of Islam at the start of Ramadan. His Beatitude wishes that it will be a time of “doing good and peace” for the country and its inhabitants. He stressed the primary duty to preserve “our national unity” and adopt a “language of dialogue in solving problems” — because, the Patriarch added, “we are one community, despite our diversity…”

Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Bulgarian Orthodox Church

10 July 2013
Greg Kandra

Women from the village of Manhari weave religious articles in a program supported by the local eparchy. (photo: Sean Sprague)

While much of Egypt is in turmoil, faith somehow endures. Several years ago, writer-photographer Sean Sprague visited a Coptic Christian village in Upper Egypt for a closer look:

“People here,” [Father Matta] asserted as we strolled through the muddy lanes of Manhari, “don’t experience Islamic extremist aggression, but they do feel economically repressed.

“Many families cannot support themselves, although there are some wealthy Coptic families.”

Father Matta’s family, however, is not one of the wealthy ones. Typically, Eastern Catholic married priests in the Middle East must also hold down jobs outside the parish to support the family, thereby reducing the parish burden. The priest’s wife, in addition to rearing a family, must also work.

Father Matta led me on a tour of Manhari’s four-story Catholic Social Services Center. Here, working parents leave their children in a well-run kindergarten. School dropouts improve their reading and writing skills while young women learn to weave tapestries. The center offers additional vocational training in its tailoring workshop. Mothers and their children receive medical care in a mother-child clinic and the center conducts courses in health and hygiene.

“The villagers survive by raising livestock — cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats — and by growing clover for fodder,” Father Matta said. “Fuul, or fava beans, and wheat provide the Egyptian staple diet. They grow in fields around the village,” he added.

…A few miles from Manhari at an Orthodox church, which once served a monastic community, we met a priest revered by all Copts — Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant — Father Yacoub, an old man with a long white beard. Father Matta greeted him with elaborate embraces and kisses. Father Yacoub sat in virtual silence while we drank tea and spoke with his young colleague, Father Bola. His eyes gleamed with obvious pleasure at our visit.

“Relations between Orthodox and Catholic Copts in Manhari are warm,” Father Bola said, taking a sip of his sweetened tea.

“Caritas serves the entire community. Intermarriage is common. So it doesn’t really make much difference which church you are from. We are all from the same cloth.”

Read more on Upper Egypt’s Copts from the July 2002 issue of the magazine.

Tags: Egypt Coptic Christians Coptic Orthodox Church Copts Coptic Catholic Church

10 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Egyptian Copts gather for the funeral procession of Rev. Mina Aboud Sharween, a victim of sectarian violence, on Monday, 8 July 2013. (photo: The Coptic Orthodox Church)

Christians fear the new Egyptian constitution will be equally divisive (Fides) Christian churches in Egypt are expressing concerns over the temporary constitution enacted by decree on Monday by the Egyptian president ad interim, Adly Mansour. The ecclesiastical hierarchy is likely to announce its official position soon. “We are concerned. … The provisions that in the old constitution seemed bad in the eyes of Christians are highlighted in the new text. If we do not speak now, we will not be able to say anything,” says Coptic Catholic Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna of Minya. What worries Christians is in particular is Article 1 of the new constitutional declaration, which refers to Sharia as a basic source of legislation adds that the interpretation of the Sharia law should be in accordance with the body of laws developed in the early centuries of Islam. In this step the content of Article 219 of the previous constitution is retrieved, which at the time was the center of the disputes of Christians, ultimately resulting in the withdrawal of their representatives from the constitutional assembly in protest. In addition, from the provisional Constitution enacted by Mansour, former Article 3 has disappeared, which guaranteed Christians and Jews the opportunity to use their own canonical principles to regulate personal issues and religious aspects of their communities…

Egypt orders arrest of top Muslim Brotherhood, Islamist officials (Washington Post) Egypt’s top prosecutor has ordered the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader and nine other top Islamist officials for allegedly instigating violence that led to the killing of more than 50 demonstrators Monday. The arrest warrants for Brotherhood supreme guide Muhammad Badie and the others came a day after interim President Adly Mansour appointed a prime minister and vice president, moves designed to lend an air of normalcy to the country even as indications mounted that the president is little more than a civilian face for military rule. Mansour also has outlined a path to quick elections and a return to democracy after the 3 July coup that overthrew Egypt’s first freely elected president, Muhammad Morsi…

Women deacons in the Armenian Apostolic Church: a history (Armenian Weekly) Women deacons, an ordained ministry, have served the Armenian Apostolic Church for centuries. In some instances, the mission of the Armenian deaconesses was educating, caring for orphans and the elderly, assisting the indigent, comforting the bereaved, and addressing women’s issues. They served in convents and cathedrals, and the general population. Their vestments are exactly like those of nuns or sisters, except that on their forehead they have a cross; their stole hangs from over the right shoulder. The woman deacon served on the altar, as did her male counterpart, and the bishop did not limit her liturgical service to convent churches only…

St. Andrew’s Cross to be delivered to Belarus (Belarus Telegraph Agency) The cross on which the Apostle Andrew the First-Called was crucified will be delivered to Minsk. By decision of the Holy Synod of the Belarusian Exarchate, the relic will be on display in the Apostle Andrew Church and the Church of All Saints in Minsk from 29 July to 2 August, BelTA learned from the Minsk Eparchy of the Belarusian Orthodox Church. This relic is ordinarily kept at an Orthodox church in Patras, Greece, in Peloponnese. The cross will be brought to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and Minsk. “The event is meant to remind us that the spiritual life of the three nations has the same roots — the blessing St. Andrew gave in the first century and the christening in Kiev in 988,” said an official statement from the Belarusian Orthodox Church…

Regional upheaval prompts Israeli Arab Christians form new political party (The Times of Israel) Christian Arab citizens of Israel are forming a new political party. The party’s Hebrew name — B’nei Brit Hahadasha — means “Sons of the New Testament,” although the word “allies” is hidden in the title as well. The effort is part of a growing assertiveness on the part of Christian Arabs in the wake of the Arab Spring, as they increasingly sound calls for an identity distinct from Israel’s broader Arab society, which is around 90 percent Muslim. According to its Facebook page, the party’s platform includes full integration of Christians in all fields, peace with a democratic Palestinian state and all of Israel’s neighbors, increased tourism and trade, and the return of Israelis who have left the country…

Tags: Egypt Israel Saints Egypt's Christians Women Religious in Europe

9 July 2013
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2009, a Palestinian woman prays on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in front of the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine, also has significance to Jews and Christians. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Muslims around the world are marking the beginning of Ramadan. Two years ago, Rev. Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., CNEWA’s external affairs officer, wrote about what this month means and how it is observed:

Ramadan is the most important event of the year for Muslims. There are five pillars of Islam: the šahada, or creed that there is one and only God and Muhammad is his messenger; salat, or the five daily prayers;zakat, or almsgiving; sawm, or fasting during Ramadan; and hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr, the feast ending it, have become increasingly visible in Europe and North America in the past two decades. Immigration has increased the number of Muslims in the West and more and more people are becoming aware of the monthlong fast and celebration.

In places where Muslims represent a religious minority, recognition of Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr increasingly symbolizes a degree of social acceptance by the majority. In the United States, for instance, the postal service issues a postage stamp for Eid ul Fitr every year. And more and more often, shops sell greeting cards for the holiday, and many non—Muslims now send or give them to their Muslim friends and neighbors.

During the 28 days of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. The fast begins at dawn when one can distinguish a white thread from a black one (Quran 2:188) and ends when the sun has set below the horizon. The fast is absolute n that nothing enters the body. Thus, fasting excludes not only eating food but also drinking fluids, smoking and sexual activity.

Since the month of Ramadan moves “backward” through the solar year, it occurs at some point in every season of the year in any given location. In the summer in both northern and southern latitudes, days can be quite long and the fast can go on for more than 15 hours. If 15 hours without food is difficult, 15 hours in the summer without water is even more so.

In many places in the Muslim world, the end of the day’s fast is announced by a cannon shot or some other major public announcement after the sun sets, informing people they may now engage in iftar, or the breaking of the fast. Muslims often first eat a date to break the fast, as did Muhammad. The nightly meals during Ramadan are often quite festive and families gather and enjoy specially prepared dishes.

Read more from the September 2011 issue of ONE.

Tags: Muslim Islam Ramadan

9 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this 9 December photo, Bulgarian Orthodox Metropolitan Kiril of Varna and Veliki Preslav celebrates the Divine Liturgy at Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church (The Church of Seven Saints) in Sofia. (photo: The Bulgarian Orthodox Church)

Bulgarian bishop found drowned, foul play suspected (France24) A powerful and controversial Bulgarian Orthodox Church metropolitan was found dead on a Black Sea beach on Tuesday. Metropolitan Kiril was initially thought to have died from drowning but Bulgarian state radio, citing police and prosecutors, said the 59-year-old’s death appears suspicious. An autopsy was being carried out to determine the cause of death, which happened in the city of Varna, the diocese the bishop represented. Kiril was one of the best-known members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church…

Praying: the Catholic and the Muslim way (Vatican Radio) Jesuit Professor Father Felix Körner is a scholar engaged in dialogue with Muslim theologians in an effort to build bridges between Christians and Muslims and to improve mutual understanding. To mark the beginning of Ramadan, Veronica Scarisbrick speaks to Professor Körner, who currently teaches interreligious theology at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome…

Crisis conditions spur provisional Egyptian government to action (AsiaNews) Continuing protests and 51 deaths since Monday, 8 July, have pushed Adly Mansour, interim Egyptian president, to advance the date of the election. Within seven months, the country will return to the polls. The official date remains to be announced within the next few weeks, during which time the members of the new parliament will attempt to improve the nation’s constitution…

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood rejects timetable (Al Jazeera) The Muslim Brotherhood party has rejected the transition timetable set out by the military-backed interim president. Essam al Erian, a senior Brotherhood figure and deputy head of its Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, rejected the transition timetable on Tuesday, saying it takes the country “back to zero.” On his Facebook page, al Erian wrote that “the people created their constitution with their votes,” referring to the constitution that Islamists pushed to finalization and then was passed in a national referendum during former President Mohamed Morsi’s year in office…

Wounded dying for lack of medicine in Syria’s Homs, activists say (Daily Star Lebanon) People wounded in fighting between rebels and regime troops in the central Syrian city of Homs are dying for lack of medical equipment, activists said on Tuesday. “The army’s continuous bombardment over the past 11 days has made the critical humanitarian situation in rebel areas of Homs even worse,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “An unknown number of rebels and civilians wounded in recent days are dying from their injuries, because there is no medical equipment to treat them,” he added…

Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Catholic-Muslim relations Bulgarian Orthodox Church Democracy

8 July 2013
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis carries a pastoral staff carved from the wood of a shipwrecked boat as he celebrates Mass in Lampedusa, Italy on 8 July. The pope said he decided to visit the small island 70 miles from Tunisia after seeing newspaper headlines in June describing the drowning of African immigrants at sea. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

In a powerful and historic trip that focused world attention on the plight of immigrants, Pope Francis traveled to an island off Italy to celebrate Mass. It was a visit rich with symbolism. CNS has details:

Before saying a word publicly, Pope Francis made the sign of the cross and tossed a wreath of white and yellow flowers into the Mediterranean Sea in memory of the estimated 20,000 African immigrants who have died in the past 25 years trying to reach a new life in Europe.

Just a few hours before Pope Francis arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa 8 July, the Italian coast guard accompanied another boat carrying immigrants to the island’s port.

The 165 immigrants, one of whom said they were originally from Mali, had spent two days at sea making the crossing from North Africa; the immigrants were accompanied to a government reception center, a locked facility where 112 people — half under the age of 18 — already were being housed. Most will be repatriated, although a few may receive refugee status.

In his homily at an outdoor Mass, Pope Francis said he decided to visit Lampedusa, a small island with a population of 6,000 and just 70 miles from Tunisia, after seeing newspaper headlines in June describing the drowning of immigrants at sea.

“Those boats, instead of being a means of hope, were a means of death,” he said.

Wearing purple vestments, like those used during Lent, and using the prayers from the Mass for the Forgiveness of Sins, Pope Francis said the deaths of the immigrants are “like a thorn in the heart,” which spurred him to offer public prayers for them, but also to try to awaken people’s consciences. …

The Mass was filled with reminders that Lampedusa is now synonymous with dangerous attempts to reach Europe: the altar was built over a small boat; the pastoral staff the pope used was carved from wood recycled from a shipwrecked boat; the lectern was made from old wood as well and had a ship’s wheel mounted on the front; and even the chalice — although lined with silver — was carved from the wood of a wrecked boat.

“Who among us has wept” for the immigrants, for the dangers they faced and for the thousands who died at sea, the pope asked. “The globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep.”

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty in the world, in ourselves, and even in those who anonymously make socio-economic decisions that open the way to tragedies like this,” Pope Francis said.

Read more.

Tags: Pope Francis Immigration Italy

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