Fr Paul talks about the many families from North America and Europe who have come back for Holy Week. Heavy rains are hindering the celebrations, but the desire to participate is very strong. A father brought his daughter from Canada to Mart (Saint) Barbara shrine in Karamles to baptise her. “We must stop looking back and think about the past, about the Islamic State,” says the clergyman. “We must build a future here, in this land, and help those who have left to come back.”
Francis celebrated the ‘in coena Domini’ Mass in a prison in Velletri washing the feet of 12 inmates. "It is true that in life there are problems: we quarrel among ourselves . . . but this must be a thing that passes, a passing thing, because in our hearts there must always be the love to serve others, of being in the service of others."
Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass, which precedes the beginning of the Easter Triduum. To the priests Francis proposes faces of the "crowd" that surrounds, follows, admires Jesus. "In the soul of the people the desire to follow Jesus is awakened, arousing admiration, discernment".
Two months after the signing of the important document on "Human Fraternity", the "House of the Abrahamic family" and a fund to finance cultural activities on coexistence were founded. The search for a tolerant Islam, which avoids Wahhabism and Western liberalism. The pontiff has aroused much curiosity among Muslims. But there are still situations of violence and humiliation towards Christian workers.
During Holy Week, by praying "the Our Father, we can ask for one of these graces: to live our days for the glory of God, that is to live with love; to know how to entrust ourselves to the Father in trials and to say 'dad' to the Father and to find forgiveness and the courage to forgive in enountering the Father. Francis again recalled the fire of Notre-Dame: "the work of reconstruction: it can be a choral work, for the praise and glory of God".
Card Ravasi notes that “at a religious level the dialogue between the official Church and the so-called underground Church has begun,” so "What will happen during the Expo will be a different kind of dialogue, purely cultural. Its task is to create an atmosphere in which it is possible to speak a little more about possible exchange, not only in the religious sphere, but also in the fields of art, culture and scientific research."
Disbelief and sadness at the "terrible fire that devastated the cathedral of Notre Dame, a symbol of Christianity in France and the world".
Bridges, houses and farmland hit; the oil sector spared. The toll (still provisional) is 76 victims and 220,000 displaced persons. 25 provinces and 4400 villages hit. Rouhani asks Khamenei to release two billion from the sovereign fund. Pope sends 100 thousand euros "for the first phase of the emergency".
Persecution and martyrdom are signs of today's Christians. In Holy Week, we should remember our commitment to evangelization. Even as a minority.
Francis met with members of Italy’s National Amateur League, a football (soccer) association, on the 60th anniversary of its foundation, telling them that overcoming “all the walls that unjustly divide people” is a goal that can be achieved “by promoting the involvement and appreciation of everyone on the basis of a team spirit that is the true hope of humanity.”
Vida Movahedi was arrested last October for showing her head uncovered in Tehran’s Enghelab Square. She was convicted of "fomenting corruption and debauchery" on 2 March, but her sentence was made public only recently. She describes her fight as “civic revolt”.
In Lanzhou another priest forcibly taken away. A church destroyed in Xiangtao (Hubei). Underground priests do not feel safe: they can disappear at any time. The faithful are holding a sit-in from this morning in front of the local government office.
Thousands of faithful participate in the different masses. Palm Sunday celebrated on Friday and Saturday to to allow for workers to attend and given the impossibility of gathering all the faithful together at one time. For the Easter Sunday there will be 23 masses in 13 languages, from 5.30 am until midnight. The economic crisis and the unemployed. Bishop Hinder: The Master needs us.
In the moment of triumph and in that of the Passion, Jesus rejects the temptation of the Evil One. For today's Youth Day the invitation "to young people and to all" to pray the Rosary for peace, "especially for peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East".
HIgh ranking US advisors behind Middle East Security Alliance (Mesa) . The goal is to contain the Islamic Republic and stop the growing influence of China and Russia in the Middle East. Among the other internal countervailing factors is the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist Khashoggi and the tensions between Riyadh and Doha.